Vivian Liu

Minding her own business, little Vivian walks down the stairs in her J.C. Penny sweater. But-oh no! She bumps into the ferocious monster known as the average fourth grader. The creature stares her down and growls a terrible one-liner. No, like an actually terrible one-liner.

“No one cares about you!” That’s a playground insult, a weak attempt at deflecting blame, 50s bully dialogue, and honestly – the best piece of advice I’ve ever received, although I’m sure that Rebecca from Ms. Murphy’s class didn’t intend it to be. 

Yes, nobody cares about you! Now, before you close the tab, hear me out. Here’s a golden rule for you: If you, given that you’re an average and not extremely judgemental person, wouldn’t give a flying flapjack about something, other people won’t give a flying flapjack about that something either. Yeah, I noticed the spinach stuck in your teeth. Yeah, I’m going to point it out. No, I really don’t think you’re a close relative of Bigfoot. Maybe you don’t believe that. Maybe I sound mean. Maybe everyone in your life sounds mean – fine, let’s do some multiple choice. 

You see your friend and they have a big, fat, pimple on their nose. Do you a) laugh and throw tomatoes, b) ignore it, or c) casually point it out? If you said A, please stop trying to be edgy, you’re not funny. If you said B or C, congrats, you’re a normal person! And since everyone else will say B or C, congrats, you’re surrounded by normal people!

Now, why am I talking about this? What does this have to do with the art of not caring? The purpose of my little soapbox stunt here is, not caring is simple-on paper. It’s easy to tell someone to ignore the haters, hey, it’s easy for ME to tell you to ignore the haters. To tell you the truth, I can’t even ignore the haters. An offhand comment about my sweater looking funky will send me into a mental breakdown. The point here is, how do we stop caring? Before, let’s look into WHY we even care in the first place. 

Okay, I’m going to assume that none of you reading this are small children. Little kids are funny. We’re afraid to raise our hands to ask a question, while they ask the most out-of-pocket, stupidest questions known to man-without raising their hands, of course. We feel embarrassed when people see at a bad moment, and ugly photos have served as potent blackmail. For a three year old, though? They’ll gladly lick up their baby gloop and smile proudly as they chew on a TV cable. So, I guess that begs the question: what changed? Why does growing up make us less daring? Less willing to take a chance, to take the risk? Well, to start: some risks are stupid. There’s a reason why we’re not at risk for sticking our fingers into electrical sockets anymore-we start thinking, basically. And, of course, there’s the fact that society doesn’t really appreciate when we act out of line. People don’t want to be around someone who causes drama and disruption, and so our peers start to push us away. 

So, why do we care about what other people think? I’ll sum up every tear-stained pillow and sleepless night in two reasonss: On one hand, it’s because we want to fit in and be accepted. We want to have people who understand us, and so we care about what others think. On the other hand, it’s because we care about our own self-image and want to be seen in a positive light. We want people to think that we’re cool, interesting, and attractive. And so, we start to care too much about what other people think. 

So, how do we stop caring so much? The answer is simple: Stop worrying about what people think and start focusing on yourself. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to be aware of other people’s opinions, but it’s more important to stay true to yourself. Don’t let other people’s opinions dictate your actions. Stop obsessing over social media and start living your life. Don’t be afraid to take risks, even if it means you might fail. And, most importantly, be kind to yourself. Don’t be too hard on yourself when you make mistakes. Nobody’s perfect, so don’t expect yourself to be. Listen, if I met you in real life, maybe I wouldn’t like you. But that’s okay, because I’m just one out of 8 billion people. Why waste your life thinking about strangers’ opinions when you could focus on the people that actually like you? It’s your life, not anyone else’s.

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Youth Voices is an open publishing and social networking platform for youth. The site is organized by teachers with support from the National Writing Project. Opinions expressed by writers are their own.  See more About Youth VoicesTerms of ServicePrivacy Policy.All work on Youth Voices is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License


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