by Ryan O’Connell
Start off by caring a lot. Put a great deal of time and energy into your appearance. Change outfits five times just to go to the deli. Second guess every statement you make and take back an opinion if someone disagrees with it. Put all of your self-worth into others. Give your self-esteem to your significant other and pray they don’t destroy it. They will. They did. You felt like you didn’t have a choice.
Get stressed out about the pile of dishes, if someone doesn’t text you back or respond to your message on Facebook. See everything as an opportunity for being disappointed or rejected. Spend most of your time thinking about how others will perceive your actions. Aren’t you exhausted? The war you’re in to love yourself is a war you cannot win.
Then one day, as if by magic, just stop. Stop caring. Something inside of you has snapped. Caring that much about everything sucked you dry and left you for dead. You’re ready to feel alive again. Dump your significant other on the telephone and watch them try to manipulate you and dangle your self-worth in front of your face. “Look what I still have of yours? You can’t leave me. I have everything.” No sir, you’re sadly mistaken. You don’t have crap.
Leave your apartment looking terrible. Walk to the deli and see your usual deli guy’s eyes start to widen at your disheveled appearance. This would’ve horrified you yesterday but today it makes you smile. You’ve decided that everything that made you worry will now make you smile.
Walk with better posture. Order two helpings of dessert. Ask someone to take you to a doctor’s appointment and refuse to feel guilty about it. You would do the same for them so why should you feel like you’re putting anyone out? Stand by your opinion that The Shins are a good band even when you’re friends give you hell over it. This is thrilling. Openly loving The Shins has never felt so liberating.
Tell your father he’s a jerk because he is. Tell your mother that you love her because you do. Don’t tell anyone that you love them if it’s not true, if they don’t deserve it. It’s a privilege to be loved by you. Your emotional slutty days are effectively over.
Think about all the clothes you lent out to friends and never got back. Think about all the times you put in extra for lunch because everyone knew they could get away with paying less. No one’s getting away with anything anymore. You’ll see to that.
Of course this is never quite how it happens. Change doesn’t necessarily happen overnight. The boy doesn’t go to sleep worrying and then wake up not giving a crap. It would be convenient if all of our major growth occurred in our sleep though. But there are ways to care less and to just be who you are. Being who you are doesn’t mean suddenly becoming a giant jerk to everyone you know but it does mean surrounding yourself with people who love you and weeding out the parasites.
Caring about things that ultimately don’t matter feels like eating ten servings of pasta at a buffet. It weighs you down. Eventually your body will start to reject it and you’ll vomit it back up, feeling so free and relieved afterwards. Yes, I just compared having self-esteem to bulimia. I don’t care. Get it?! Got it.