Is it “I COULDN’T care less” or that “I COULD care less”? “History says” according to a few similarly reporting folks , the expression originally birthed in Britain as “I couldn’t care less” and then once it made its way to the US in the 1950s, we shortened it and slurred it like Americans tend to do. I personally say I “COULDN’T care less” just because I think it makes more sense…..but then people think I’m wrong….but you know what– these days— I couldn’t care less.
So (for me) there comes a time when you really stop giving a F. A flip, or whatever. And I mean that in the most respectful way. Historically when people have said “I don’t care what they think” or “I’m not concerned with their opinion” it has been more of a gentle implication to me of a lack of respect or maybe insecurity? Perhaps the notion of either others’ opinions aren’t worthy or from an insecure point of view that you can’t impress them, you quit trying? It’s situational.
For most of my life, I’ve cared. And caring, for the most part is good. I think when used correctly, it can keep you in line. I remember a quote my dad gave to me in high school. He always has good ones up his sleeve. This one was his contribution to my bedroom wall decor. (My parents weren’t decorating my room with monogrammed pillows or custom fabric drapes. I got to do with it as I pleased. Thus I resorted to dedicating quotes to the walls in permanent marker. The Punky Brewster bed was all out of stock, I guess :)) Now painted over, I still smile sometimes sitting in my room at home thinking “if these walls could talk….and- they actually used to!” In the most inspiring way.
“…Character is who you are; reputation is what people think you are.”- by John Wooden.
My dad pointed to this quote in one of his books (which I love even more)… and then asked me to think about it. I remember being conflicted but not knowing why. At this time in my life I thought reputation was of every importance. I didn’t even know what my character was exactly. It is a quote that I think about often because I can’t say I know when it happened, but at some point the importance of character stepped in and reputation’s nearly vanished. My dad knew in high school as social life began to take shape, these words were (hopefully) going to lay heavy on me. They did! It was important for me to know that no matter how “good” of a person you are, a slight poor decision can change the way a person thinks of you. Maybe not permanently, though actions can leave a mark.
I don’t know if it’s maturity or realizing life’s fragility– or both, but the things that I used to care about have seriously shifted. I used to agonize over my comments in passing/small talk running into friends during the day. I tend to get panicky and blurty. I’m just kind of socially awkward during the day. There– I said it. ;) Unless I am in a structured environment, such as a meeting or presentation where I’m on task/a specific subject, I am kind of all over the place. (As if this little blog isn’t an indication of my propensity for chaos :) If you see me at a lunch, on a grocery run, or at a baby shower type of free for all, I’m scattered and awk. I’ve never been good at daytime chit chat. I’m like that on the phone too, so big thanks to those of you still hanging in there with me on phone calls. HOWEVER, recently I’ve reminded myself, “Who cares about that. I doubt anyone cares about this nearly as much as you do. And honestly, you are finally just owning your awk-ness. Call it one of your quirks and move on.”
It has felt so liberating not caring about the things that used to matter. I won’t delve too much into the other “list items” as slightly hypocritically, I will probably fall into the care trenches here and there as my children experience some of the social peaks and valleys as they grow. Though my message will be consistent– it’s okay to care what others think of you. That is important to a degree. Just don’t care toooo much about that. And DO CARE about what matters most to you. What are the motivating interests that make you tick?
I have some great character idols in my life and I want to start taking advantage of their examples. For instance, my father-in-law, MEK. One of the stronger aspects I DO CARE a lot about these days is being a good/better friend. MEK wrote the book on this. He is the best friend to his many friends. He is accountable, loyal and the guy picks up the phone to call you often—or most impressively (especially these days) he picks up– if you call him. The most thoughtful, non-phone-call-screener ever.
And then–back to my dad. Manners. Like a Brooks Brothers blue blazer, his manners are easy, traditional, timeless and flawless—and good manners, like the navy blazer, never go out of style. They will give anyone confidence in a new or unusual setting—for life. Looking confident with a firm handshake and a side of eye contact can be worn like a badge. I think it makes you feel good to give others—anyone from any background– respect — no matter who or what or where you are. So yeah, that’s something else I plan to continue caring about. DO CARE.
Overall health and then making some sort of positive change in the world—or town- or neighborhood or whatever– also, DO CARE. Then I would say most of the noise that can cloud your brain is really starting to lose its luster for me. I’m really having to TRY to care about some of the things I used to care about—and it feels alright!
(I’ll send out red alerts for someone to come punch me in the face if I start giving “the bird” to elderly folks crossing the street or anything of that nature.) I’ll hold on to the (allegedly) right amount of care for now. ;)
So, in review—it’s DO CARE, but care less– about the lame stuff.