Learning to lose your fucks

If there’s any wisdom I could drop on you from my short 27 years on this planet, it’s make sure you don’t give a fuck. At all.

This isn’t an easy lesson to learn. In fact, it’s one of the hardest things you may ever learn. As humans, everything about us is designed and constructed to care, no matter how much we say we don’t. But when you care that much, you ultimately shoot yourself in the face. (I know the saying is ‘shoot yourself in the foot’, but I’m coining a new phrase here and I really need you to work with me on this). In short, caring too much is the same as burying yourself alive. It’s suffocating, you can’t move, there’s not a single thing you can do and you will eventually die.

I have spent most of my life, and mainly my recent years, learning to lose the fucks that society, patriarchy and the working world have given me. I’m not entirely sure I’ve succeeded because there are still moments I curl up and cry, caring more than I ever should. What I do know however, is that I have succeeded more than most, and people often look at me and say, ‘the thing I like about you, is that you just don’t give a fuck.’ I always take it a great compliment, finally feeling like I got something right when they tell me that.

The credit for this goes entirely to my mother who is the queen of not giving a fuck. Any white, Irish, Muslim-convert, woman who stages a sit in at the local mosque and stares down a committee of Saudi princes, insofar as they had to call the police to throw her out, is a queen in my eyes. When you grow up around that, and you’re also getting thrown out of the mosque at 2am by the police force, you learn pretty fast that the things people think are not always right. You also learn that just because enough people think it, also doesn’t make it right.

Having a mother that can teach you that, while also being home educated, which lets you dodge a lot of fucks you would otherwise have picked up during your school years, means that I’m lucky. I had a head start.  

But even all these things haven’t protected me, and along my way, I have picked up many a fuck that I had no business touching. I’ve cared far too much for the opinion of people that didn’t matter, which means you inevitably twist and turn yourself like some tiny contortionist so you can fit into an equally tiny box. People like boxes. They make things tidy and neat, and they’re easy to pack away out of sight. When you have a box, you have boundaries and lines and things within lines are easier to understand. It’s why we have boxes for our ethnic origin. It helps maintain a racist system that keeps everyone in their place. It’s only when you lose your fucks that you can stretch, reach up, and climb out of the tiny boxes that make you easier to understand. It is not your job to make it easy for people, it’s peoples job to work to understand.

I’ve cared too much about work and spent far too many hours in an office late at night, watching life out of a window. Giving a fuck about work and the job you do to earn a living is one of the hardest ones to lose. It’s ingrained so deeply in us that you have to dig right down to your toes to try and pull it out. It’s also terrifying to lose it because then you start thinking about homelessness and how you’ll never be able to afford bread ever again, and a life without bread is not one worth living in my opinion.  

 I’ve cared way too much over boys and how I act with them. I don’t mean that in the delicious way when you really care about someone you’re dating and the world is peachy and exciting and you’re adamant that you could never feel bad ever again. No, not like that. But in a, I’m going to suppress the things I would normally say because I may sound needy, pathetic, ridiculous, crazy, slutty, mental or downright psychotic. Out of all the fucks we hold on to, I think women clutch this one the tightest. No one really wants to look like any of those things, although, I have it on good authority that a quick psychotic incident coupled with the odd slutty message can do wonders for any relationship (you’re welcome).

Above all, society loves making us give a fuck more than anyone else does. It maintains order, keeps everyone’s grass mowed and gardens tidy, and makes sure we don’t do anything embarrassing or remotely human in public. The fucks society give us are sometimes the most painful ones, because they’re the hardest to fight. You have to get up, put your face on, go to work, go home, go to sleep and do it all over again, every day. Giving society the middle finger and stepping out of that pattern is terrifying enough to make you want to shoot yourself in the face. Of all the fucks you have in your life, both literal and physical, this is one you should most definitely, absolutely stay away from. It won’t make you feel good and the morning after you’ll feel cheap, dirty and used. Yet somehow, you have to find the courage to climb out the box, flick your finger and step out of the system so you can concentrate on making yourself happy. It’s something I struggle with every single day and a fuck I have not entirely lost. I have shaken it off many times and thrown it away, only to dig it out of the rubbish the next morning.

Learning to lose your fucks isn’t the same as being rude or nasty, because the way you make people feel always matters and should always be taken seriously. You will give HUGE fucks about people in your life and that’s wonderful. Losing your fucks, above all things, is about having the courage to say what you think, act in a way that’s true to you, and the ability to follow the things you dream about when you lay your head on the pillow at night. Or as you’re staring out of your office window wondering what on earth you’re doing with your life. (I can absolutely advice office dreaming. It’s one of the most delightful things to do. I have had some of my best dreams at my desk, looking over misty London).

Learning to lose your fucks is also just that, a lesson. It does not happen overnight and you constantly have to work at it. New fucks will always crop up and try to stick to your skin, and you have to get really good at brushing them off. You have to accept you’re not going to lose them all straight away. I have many that I still try to run away from every day, hoping to lose them in the crowded tunnels below London. But the encouraging thing is that knowing what you care about, and knowing what you shouldn’t care about, are brilliant things to know. They’re some of the best things to know in fact, and far more useful than the periodic table or perfect spelling. When you know those things, you concentrate less about what you’re supposed to be doing, how you’re supposed to be doing it and what you’re supposed to look like, and instead, concentrate on sweet, delicious, blissful happiness and how you’re going to create a life that makes you smile.

Salma El-Wardany