Truth #1: You're Not That Important
And this truth shall set you free.
Over the last 12 weeks, we’ve travelled from zero fucks (Grandma Norman), transitioned through limited fucks (What Would You Do?), and maxed out at peak fucks (“Goodbye My Goldilocks Cowboy”). We began our descent, dropping some baggage in Time to Stand-Up, which marks our official journey back to shameless.
Reclaiming each of our individual “dancing from the soul at a legion wedding in Northern Ontario” selves is a choice. While shameless is the state we are born into, living out our authentic weirdo is one of life’s greatest tests.
Although ‘zero fucks’ may look carefree (and possibly unhinged), it isn’t haphazard. It requires relearning our earliest truths and choosing to be ourselves even when it’s easier to troll in the shadows, play it safe, and accept middle management’s stability.
Getting in touch with our shameless is a return to the place of knowing. It’s tapping into the self that boldly made decisions before the weight of the world softened our edge.
It’s where our fulfilment lies.
Living out our shameless is how we carry out the missions that our purer, more attune, child-self knew was possible but didn’t have the height or dexterity to pull off. Then, it’s giving this person full-time access to the lessons, tools, and bank account number we’ve secured in the outside world.
And while I won’t (not even for a hot sec) pretend to have it figured out, I will share truths I’m learning to fulfil my back to shameless duties.
So, are you ready to go for a ride? I’ve just pulled up in a top down classic with a pair of matching head scarves (your granny would approve). It’s time to hop in. Let’s rehash some of life’s truths and get the jolt we need to unlock our shameless.
This is gonna be a trip—your trip. Let’s go.
You're Not That Important
As a product of 1990, the 80’s hangover, I grew up just before helicopter parents descended. Although admittedly, there were a lot of Moms in flight school.
When I was young, pregnant women smoked, Dads drank beer on country roads, and Moms kicked you out of the car for bickering. While printers were starting to spew out white participation ribbons, the echoes of “you suck!” still lived on in classrooms, playgrounds, and sport fields.
But the 1990’s was a transitory time. Old school, tough love parenting was fizzling, and a newer, softer wave was emerging. There was a shift away from the aggressive rearing style of our parent’s generation, but the trickle-down trauma was still palpable. We lived with a half-dose of fear, afraid to unleash our parent’s wounded rage.
We were the gateway generation between the old and new world. While we may have been spanked, we weren’t struck with a ruler. While we were presented with little league trophies, we were told that our talents were sub-par. While we were encouraged to dream big, we were reminded that “Hollywood is for hussies and con artists”.
Millennials are the in-betweeners.
Today, kids are coddled. They’re told that they are special and that things should be equal. Parents hover, make better, interject, suffocate, and nut-free/dairy-free/gluten-free the shit out of life.
While this is an Olympic-sized leap ahead of the abusive, parental cruelty from previous generations, it’s not totally right either. The programmed messaging that “everyone’s a winner” and “it’s not you, it’s them” is wrong. It makes people soft, self-centered, and at times, grossly delusional.
Being buffered from failure breeds unaccountability and entitlement.
So, for any young millennials who soaked up first-wave, institutional adoration, there’s something you need to hear. And for every Gen Z’er with binders of white ribbons and parents who encouraged tone-deaf singing lessons, I hope you’re sitting down.
You are not that important.
I repeat, you are not that important.
Let it sink in. Let it marinate overnight in a ziplock bag with Kraft Italian dressing. Simmer on it like beef ends in cheap grocery store wine.
Hearing the words, “you are not that important” has probably put your hackles up. You may be feeling defensive. Or perhaps, you disagree entirely. That’s fine. I don’t like hearing “you are not that important” either and I’m writing this damn thing.
But sadly, it’s the truth. And the truth shall set you free.
Coming to terms with that fact that you’re not that important is actually liberating. There’s real privilege in understanding that you’re not the center of the universe. Granting yourself anonymity and feeling the smallness of your place in the big, wide world is an actual gift—an inconspicuous, brown paper-wrapped gift with your name on it!
As someone who was born naturally and artfully self-involved, take it from me. I’ve had to actively work to override a default setting that suggests EVERYTHING is about me. But in doing so, I’ve gained more space to retrieve my shameless.
When you recognize that not everything is about you, you get away with more. You don’t have to second guess. You can avoid stepping in as the jazz-handed, de-facto host at your grumpy friend’s dinner party. You begin to understand that it’s not on you to make it all better, or better yet, to fuck it all up.
When you no longer see yourself as everyone’s Truman in The Truman Show, pressure is alleviated. You gain space to be yourself without feeling like the world is watching.
Plus, there are few embarrassing things you say or do, that will imprint more than a temporary “ha ha” (*Nelson’s voice from The Simpsons*, duh) in someone else’s consciousness. When you act cringy or say something stupid, know that the recipients of your asshattery probably didn’t notice. Why? Because they’re too busy daydreaming about philly cheesesteaks and replaying their own dumb behaviour.
To register as more than a blimp on the idiot radar, you have to get real slimy. We’re talking pungent, abrasive, grime. For people to REALLY take note of your actions, you have to be truly offensive. You have to go full-on, controversial creep (please, this is not a challenge).
For clarity, here are a few cringy and problematic qualifiers that people will remember: being racist/homophobic/misogynistic, venting political or social extremes, piling on the underdog, shit-talking someone’s mom (even if they just did), and revealing that you never liked the TV show Friends to a group of 30-year-old women.
^ Been there, done that. Do not recommend.
If you’re a good person who isn’t purposely abrasive, your not-very-important-everyday-stupidity will go largely unnoticed. Recognizing the unimportance of your actions should lower the volume on replayings of things gone wrong, and cut the sting out of painful awkwardness. We are all offenders of cringe—even Rihanna.
Acknowledging that you’re not that important, and working towards being consciously unselfconscious, is a freedom. After all, being self-conscious is debilitating, anxious, and annoying. You get to be more of yourself when you’re not fixated on how you appear to others. Accepting that not everyone is thinking about you, nor clocking your every breath and pigeon-toed movement, is the truth.
So, when you think that someone is thinking about you, it’s just you thinking about you.
In the same capacity that you think about yourself and how you come across to others, most people are doing the same. To confirm, thinking about themselves not you.
Nothing is about you until it is.
The people that you’re self-conscious in front of are not the ones thinking about you. Close friends, parents, grandparents, and other loved ones are the ones that are registering what you’re up to. So, if you want to shape any narrative, or be seen in a certain way, start with being a better person to your inner circle. To them, you are the most important.
So, to the hot guy who you blew milk breath onto, to the group of “cool girls” you bombed in front of, or to the boss you nervously told a rambling story about a hospitalization due to a ‘foam party incident’, fuck it. Your moment of cringe probably never registered as a blimp on their radar.
And if it did? We can borrow from the youth of today: it’s not you, it’s them.
Next post, we pair the matching story of Truth #1: You’re Not That Important with another archival story, I hate Grease. Stay tuned, and subscribe why don’t you?