How To Stop Caring So Much

Start off by caring a lot. Put a great deal of time and energy into your appearance. Change outfits five times just to go to the deli. Second guess every statement you make and take back an opinion if someone disagrees with it. Put all of your self-worth into others. Give your self-esteem to your significant other and pray they don’t destroy it. They will. They did. You felt like you didn’t have a choice.

Get stressed out about the pile of dishes, if someone doesn’t text you back or respond to your message on Facebook. See everything as an opportunity for being disappointed or rejected. Spend most of your time thinking about how others will perceive your actions. Aren’t you exhausted? The war you’re in to love yourself is a war you cannot win.

Then one day, as if by magic, just stop. Stop caring. Something inside of you has snapped. Caring that much about everything sucked you dry and left you for dead. You’re ready to feel alive again. Dump your significant other on the telephone and watch them try to manipulate you and dangle your self-worth in front of your face. “Look what I still have of yours? You can’t leave me. I have everything.” No sir, you’re sadly mistaken. You don’t have crap.

Leave your apartment looking terrible. Walk to the deli and see your usual deli guy’s eyes start to widen at your disheveled appearance. This would’ve horrified you yesterday but today it makes you smile. You’ve decided that everything that made you worry will now make you smile.

Walk with better posture. Order two helpings of dessert. Ask someone to take you to a doctor’s appointment and refuse to feel guilty about it. You would do the same for them so why should you feel like you’re putting anyone out? Stand by your opinion that The Shins are a good band even when you’re friends give you hell over it. This is thrilling. Openly loving The Shins has never felt so liberating.

Tell your father he’s a jerk because he is. Tell your mother that you love her because you do. Don’t tell anyone that you love them if it’s not true, if they don’t deserve it. It’s a privilege to be loved by you. Your emotional slutty days are effectively over.

Think about all the clothes you lent out to friends and never got back. Think about all the times you put in extra for lunch because everyone knew they could get away with paying less. No one’s getting away with anything anymore. You’ll see to that.

Of course this is never quite how it happens. Change doesn’t necessarily happen overnight. The boy doesn’t go to sleep worrying and then wake up not giving a crap. It would be convenient if all of our major growth occurred in our sleep though. But there are ways to care less and to just be who you are. Being who you are doesn’t mean suddenly becoming a giant jerk to everyone you know but it does mean surrounding yourself with people who love you and weeding out the parasites.

Caring about things that ultimately don’t matter feels like eating ten servings of pasta at a buffet. It weighs you down. Eventually your body will start to reject it and you’ll vomit it back up, feeling so free and relieved afterwards. Yes, I just compared having self-esteem to bulimia. I don’t care. Get it?! Got it. TC mark

image – kbcanon

Ryan O'Connell

I'm a brat.


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  • tash

    haha! i love you.

  • courtleee

    Best article you’ve written in a long time.
    Sometimes I feel like this happens in cycles for me. I go through a bit of time not caring, then suddenly I care a lot. Then revert back to not caring, and the cycle goes on.

    • Jesssim6

      What she said!

    • ASURAD123

      I think it has to do with our monthly menstrual cycle. 

  • guesting

    this is almost a really awesome article

  • Anonymous

    That last paragraph is brilliant.

  • Mung Beans

    smoke weed

    • Amanda

      No this doesn’t stop you from caring, it just makes you forget what you would otherwise care about. Then smoking stops being any fun because you can’t get high because you smoke so much and then when you do smoke you care even more. No weed is not the answer….

      • Tizzzzzzbong

        maybe one blunt a week? is that the answer? just one…

    • Anonymous

      took the words right out of my mouth

  • gollysandra

    ryan’s articles are always my favorite. thanks for keeping it real and making me think.



  • Grateful

    I really needed this, after years of putting up with people’s shit all the damn time. Thank you ryan

  • Alasdair

    This is my favourite Ryan article yet. Unfortunately some of us are still stuck somewhere near the beginning of the process…

  • Aja

    I swear, this is what the last half of your twenties are about.  I used to get dressed nicely to go to the grocery store.  Now you won’t catch me doing that.  I’ve found sneaky ways around it, like buying nice black sweat pants which can carefully be disguised as regular pants.  I stopped caring about FB by killing it off.  I eat generous helpings of dessert (always).  I move on quickly from failed romantic endeavors.  I just stopped caring.  And it feels so very nice.

    (But I don’t like the Shins . . . but guess what?  It’s totally cool if you do!)

  • Scott Muska


  • Ivorylim

    Excellent writing. I LOVE The Shins. & No one seems to get that. 
    &YES! Not caring bout what other people think- best feeling ever.

  • Tau Zaman

    Eating ten servings of pasta at a buffet sounds awesome. 

  • Truth

    I can relate to this so much right now. Not caring RULES. It’s so freeing!

  • Rebecca

    This was exactly what I needed to read right this very moment- thanks!

  • Rayan Khayat

    yes, I really hope you achieve this Ryan. I think this also really happens when you realize that there are people you love so much, that you would sacrifice yourself for. This usually goes back to being your family until you create a family of your own.

  • Tanya Salyers

    “Your emotional slutty days are effectively over.” …THANK YOU. I needed this.

  • Guest

    thanks for this. this made me feel so great

  • Sophia

    I feel like I’ve been waiting all my life to read this article. A serious life change is in order.

  • Anonymous

  • Anonymous

    It’s something I call:
    The Art of Not Caring

    No, you don’t start by obsessively caring and then you suddenly vomit it all out. Instead, you delude yourself by inflating your ego, hang out more with your parents or anybody who compliments you on sight. Continue feeding your ever growing self-esteem and ego. Then, you’ll come to the realization that even when you don’t care, everything is still freaking awesome for you. Also, when calamity strikes, everything is going to work out for the better since you’re awesome and the universe conspires to make you AWESOMer. #storyofmylife

  • cf

    i love this. this so accurately describes my feelings and what i want to see happen in my life. 

  • kgb

    I just got my nose pierced with my 13 year old daughter and I’ve been stressing about everyone freaking out that I let her do it…and they’ll all see her at Thanksgiving, so it’s coming up in 2 days.  I always wanted mine pierced, but wasn’t allowed, then just didn’t really think about it all these years.  My parents will freak out, my sister will freak out, and my daughter’s dad will really freak out…but as long as my kid is on honor roll, accelerated classes, and never in trouble, I don’t care about her having a stud in her nose!  Everyone can just suck it if they don’t agree!

    • anon

      i love this. 

    • lalala

      i cried! can u be my mom?

    • Anonymous

      I have a very good friend whose daughter has tattoos and piercings already, and she’s getting ready to graduate high school. The daughter is one of the most decent, settled, intelligent, well-behaved and genuine people I know because her mother had the good sense to let her children be themselves.  Brava to you and to your daughter for being yourselves.

  • ALEX

    Ok listen. I want to agree with you and I hear where you’re coming from. But this is not about not caring, it’s about caring about the right things. Your analogy with a pasta-binge underlines the real issue here: you worry and you worry and you worry and then you snap. It sounds awful, and I’ve been there. Learning to be good to yourself and loving the people who matter is something learned. You can’t arrive there in a crash landing. 

  • Skilled4Men

    Quite True!  Thanks so much for posting this -I thoroughly enjoyed relating to it head-on!  February 15, 2011…  Funny how I remember the exact date this realization finally hit.  It is exhilarating to regain ownership of life as it should be, and everything it is capable of being.  Reading this so perfectly summarizes my journey to date!  ;) 

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