“I Don't Care” Is Bad Armor
I've leaned into my “Disaffected Gen-X” persona far too many times, and it's not a good look on me, or on any of us, really. I've tried to be aloof and disinterested. It seems like a good way to protect myself from a painful world. Turning off the part of me that wants to care for and protect others means I can't be hurt by things that are out of my control, right? It means other people can't break my heart, right? It's the ultimate answer:
“The ozone layer!” “I don't care.”
“Social inequality!” “I don't care.”
“I don't like you!” “I don't care.”
But it makes the world worse, not better. Not caring is a Pyrrhic Victory. Yes, if I can successfully convince myself that I don't care about what's going on outside my door I can free up some mental space to care about myself and my family. But at what cost? What am I giving up?
Well, [gestures at the world] all of that.
Am I really so jaded that I think that I'm self sufficient? Do I really think I matter so much that I am worth 100% of my own time? Do I really think that I matter so little that I have nothing to give to anyone else?
I don't like these questions. They have uncomfortable answers.
When I'm stressed or feeling like I can't cope any more, it's tempting to fall back into just saying “I don't care” to everything. I try not to. But when I do I try to let my second thoughts kick in and say “yes. I do.” And I try to act on that.
Yes, there are a lot of “try”s in there. I'm not great at this. I don't care.
Wait. Yes. I do. I'll keep getting better at caring even when it's difficult.