9.03.2009

On Not Caring What Other People Think

We all have our defenses and our cast-away statements we make when we want to pretend we don't care what people think. And we all care what people think... Most of the time. About what we say, or what we look like... We all care. It's natural to care. Only a sociopath actually doesn't care.

In my case, I tend to say whatever comes to my mind. I give a pretty pure reaction to anything that happens around me. I do so honestly, not because I want to inflict myself on anyone, or prove how "edgy" I am, or live up to some strange ideal of honesty in how I react to people. I simply don't have that little trap that is supposed to sit at the faucet of speech.

And of course, there's a LOT of times I've said some shit that's really offended people. It's happened more than it probably does with the average person. And because I can't really control it, I've learned to defend myself internally with the "well fuck them if they can't handle it" line. But I don't really think that. I do care what people think about the things I say and do. I've just learned how to get past caring and do it anyway.

I'm always concerned with how people see me. I'm abnormally large. I'm absolutely fine with my form - there's not much changing it, aside from losing some more fat bits. But fat or not fat, I'm still a gigantic person. And I'm happy with that person. I like being that person. That doesn't stop me from caring what other people see when they see this person.

But I've began to notice something, and I'm not sure if it's a "coming of age" thing or just something that I've always done, but never paid attention to. I've found that there are moments in my day when I actually don't care what anyone thinks, about what I know or say, or what I look like.

When I'm talking about something I know a tremendous amount about (Akira, or comic books, or information architecture, or how to use a power drill), and someone tries to confront one of my facts, I couldn't possibly care less about hurting that person's feelings with the truth. I actually do not care what they think, because what I'm saying is honest. There's no disputing it. You can argue with me if you want, but one of my character traits is that I spend as much time as I have to to know everything that I can possibly know about something I'm interested in. I know how many hours I put into knowing these things, and how many sources I've double and triple checked my information against. And anyone arguing with me about it falls into two categories:

a) they've read old material, or only one source, and think they're an expert because they shortcut the process, or

b) they legitimately know something I do not yet know.

The percentages of one to two is something on the order of 99.99998% to 0.00002%. And when I run into a b), its their worst nightmare, because I squeeze them like a sponge to learn everything I can possibly get out of them about whatever it is I don't yet know.

And when I'm at the gym or on the football field and I'm absolutely completely drained physically - soaked with sweat, covered in grass or dirt, and huffing and puffing... Arguably at my "ugliest" - I just don't care what anyone else sees when they see me. I can't. I feel too damn good.

I wish for everyone the ability to be an expert in something and to feel their best. I wish I could give that to everyone I know; that feeling of not having to think about how much they don't care what other people think, because they actually DON'T.

Maybe I'm just strange though. Maybe everyone already doesn't, and I'm just the weird obsessive guy who does.