the art of not caring
People that know me at different depths probably consider my “care” level to be at vastly different levels. Given the way that I act around most people I don’t care about or know at a surface level, I assume the general public thinks I’m a rather carefree and live for the moment individual. Of course, you can care about things but also live carefree, but I often find that given the personality traits required to be an overall or caring or passionate person, the two are somewhat inseparable. When I say “caring” or “not caring” in this case, I’m not talking about the specific act of saying you care about someone else or tearing up thinking about your friend losing their dog, but the general practice of having even the smallest things bother you because it’s physically impossible for you to not care about something that is within your life frame. I do think that different people care about different things and there are plenty of individuals that drastically care about certain aspects of their life and don’t care about other parts whatsoever.
As much as I’d like to tell myself and others that I don’t care - it actually may be one of the most frequently used phrases in my conversations - people that me best that I care a lot, probably too much. This spreads across all definitions of the word as expressed above (maybe even the dog, even though I don’t like or care about dogs), but most importantly in the general sense of not being able to let things go because I care about every detail of every single thing that concerns me (and sometimes the things that don’t). I think there’s many words to describe this “issue” or characteristic - some may identify it as being a control freak and others may see it as someone with a “heart” or a “passionate individual.” I don’t really care (actually though) for corny titles or classifications, I think what’s far more important is the ability to accept that this is who you are or to actively make a shift in your mindset so that you can live a better lifestyle. Yes - I actually don’t think caring to the extent that I care is all that healthy, in fact I’ve explicitly felt the harmful effects of being so and seen the benefits that others have had by living a life of not caring. Freeing up the mind to not care is one of the most mindful and healthy mental exercises one can do and I think it begins with prioritization.
If you’re someone like me that naturally cares, it’s impossible for you to not care all of a sudden all across the board. To exaggerate a bit, I have met people in my life that genuinely seem to not care about anything at all - some of the happiest (and sometimes the most successful) people I’ve ever met. I think the whole idea that “you need to be passionate to do well in life” thing is a complete lie, and life is all case by case. Going back to the main point of the art of not caring, I think if you’re someone like me who at the baseline can’t help but to care, the much more practical thing to do is decide on what you prioritize in caring about and outside of those things, to let it all go. Especially as you get older, you physically can’t handle caring about everything, or else the care that you’re capable of will be spread thin, and instead of providing value to the things you care about you’ll only cause it and yourself harm. This can start at the sub-group level if easier - if you’re someone that cares deeply about people, you’re going to have to start curating a list of people you actually want to care about, and cut off the people (not stopping all communication with them, but more of not thinking about how they’re doing or not feeling responsible for them) that you care for the sole sake of caring. If you’re someone that demands promptness and can’t fathom how someone can be late, start caring about such behavior only for important occasions or from people you know that can be at the level of promptness you want them at.
It’s hard for me to say whether I’m faking not caring these days or if the faking has taken its toll and I’ve actually started to not care. I’m also not sure whether or not choosing not to care is actually the right way to go or if what people call being “jaded” or just plainly growing old is a healthy practice of its own. I still feel like my default self is to care and there’s a certain high that comes with seeing things come into fruition or when I’m right about something I deeply cared about, but if I’m able to better prioritize what I should be caring about, perhaps I can open up bandwidth to start caring properly for the people deserve my care.