Perhaps the hardest thing about “growing up” and being an “adult,” or at least attempting to be one, is not financial independence, efficient time management, job security, or choosing a life partner. Maybe, just maybe, it’s giving a shit. Giving a shit about things like financial independence, efficient time management, job security, and choosing a life partner.
Call me a cynic, but the older I get, the more difficult it is to find motivation to care about anything. And I do mean anything. Of course, it differs from day to day and sometimes from hour to hour, but in general, there seems to be this void that no amount of alcohol or caffeine could remedy. This bitingly harsh apathy that veils my entire perception of my life. And others’ lives. And life in general.
Call me dramatic, but I’m trying really hard. To care. About my job. What I “do.” About the big issues like money and friends and family and loved ones and “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” About the micro issues such as things that I used to enjoy but no longer have the energy to, like reading and writing and making my own clothes. Why don’t I care?
Call me selfish. Because that’s what I am.
And that’s what we all are. All of us new generation kids forever whining and bitching about our existential “problems,” and how we don’t know what we want to do with our lives. All of us who say we don’t judge or care about status, but we do. We really do. All of us who preach humbleness and modesty but we’re full of it and we’re self-centered brats. All of us who spew this nonsense about being open-minded and open to learning but we’re all pretentious and think we already know everything about life. Except we don’t. No one does. We’re all just trying to do the best we can.
The hardest part about having a 9-5 isn’t working the 9-5. It’s motivating yourself to go to a place you don’t care about, to do a job you care even less about, in the presence of people you care none about.
It’s easy (probably easiest) to be selfish. To bail at the first sign of trouble or annoyance or difficulty. Whether in friendships / professional life / romantic endeavors. For self preservation, for energy reservation, for whatever reason you rationalize to yourself. But usually, we stick around. And that’s where the lines blur. Do we stick around because it’s comfortable and mentally easy? Because we’re too lazy to try and do something different a quarter way through life? We are creatures of habit, after all. Or is it because we genuinely care? Because we made a conscious choice to give a shit. That’s the thing about getting older: it’s way too easy to not care about anything other than yourself and all of your self-diagnosed problems; to care about something or someone other than yourself becomes a conscious choice. It takes effort.
And again, that’s another area that gets tricky. If you’re apathetic towards something, do you make yourself deal with that apathy? Accept it as “part of life” and try to move on? I’m not so sure. Maybe for the people who settle for settling. For a significant other out of convenience. A job and career they hate out of complacency or misplaced loyalty. For security over risk. For comfort zone over adventure.
I have to periodically snap out of it and keep myself in check. When I find that I start to get excited about things like my own headset at work or the fact that the printer finally got fixed or that I finished a report, complete with bar graphs and percentage signs.
I have to remember: I don’t care. Not about those things. That’s a trick of the mind. It’s what settling into an effortless routine will do. And that becomes all the more evident when I inevitably wake up in one of those moods and just mentally shut down. When I’m sitting at my desk, staring blankly at my monitors that seemingly sneer at me as they detail a laundry list of mindless and monotonous tasks. Tasks that I’m expected to not only do, but do with the energy and zest of an employee who, you know, wants to.
The key here is the search. If you’re not satisfied, no, if you’re only satisfied, keep looking. Keep searching. “For the thrill of it.”
It’s tough. But keep trucking. I’ll be the first one to say I feel completely lost. Everything seems backwards. The things I once cared about I no longer do. And much of the time just the opposite is true, too. (And here it is, the 20-something mantra): I’m unsure of what I want to do with my life–what I want to do professionally or where or who I want to be, both literally and metaphorically. But I want to, and will, figure it out.
Because giving a shit about what you actually care about makes all the difference in the world. It’s that not-so-small margin that could be the difference between hating or loving your job, where you live, your partners and friends. It could be the difference between learning from experiences, or being beaten down by them.
Apathy is a cruel disease. The only way to fight it is by figuring out what’s real and what’s not. What’s worth it and what isn’t. Once you do that, the caring will come naturally. At least that’s what I’m hoping for once I figure things out on my own.
“So I sit and wait and wonder, ‘Does anyone else feel like me?’ I’m so over-dosed on apathy, and burnt out on sympathy”
"The Science of Selling Yourself Short" - Less Than Jake