In stark contrast to my last post offering a prayer for us this new month, this one may offend your sensibilities if you are the type who is easily offended.
Considering that this is meant for middle class men, and those of a certain age at that, I doubt that you would be offended.
In my continuing quest for my own and my readers’ self-improvement, I sought out Marie Kondo’s bestseller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up at my local library last week.
Although I may still read Kondo’s book, another one that sat nearby on the shelves caught my interest more. the life-changing magic of NOT GIVING A F*CK by Sarah Knight seemed more my style in my present state of mind.
I read through this quickly and have long acknowledged to anyone who knows me that I am a natural-born worrier. I worry about myself, my wife, our children, my mother, my siblings, our dog, things at work, money-related things and many others. Sometimes it seems that half of my waking hours are spent worrying about something.
Going hand-in-hand with worrying is giving a fuck. Because I do not feel like utilizing asterisks every time when you know what word I am using, you will actually be reading some f-bombs. Knight’s book must have had a thousand of ’em.
I Was Born This Way
Early on, Kondo admits to being born a fuck-giver.
I am too.
As early as I can remember, I have worked hard to please my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends, neighbors and teachers.
This extended to aiming to please and giving a fuck what my colleagues and supervisors think of me. I have always been a “good guy,” “team player” and “hard worker.” Not that there is anything wrong with being that, it is just that I have spent more time aiming to please others and have given way too many fucks for far, far too long.
Even as I write this, I care deeply and give a fuck what you think of my take on things and my writing skills.
Kondo writes that that is no way to live.
I Give a Fuck About Work
I always have and most likely always will give a fuck about work.
After all, I am not a multi-millionaire entrepreneur or heir to a large fortune that allows me to not give an fuck what other people think or say about me. Quite the opposite.
In fact, I find myself once again proving myself at work on a daily basis to a new and inexperienced boss who is not quite sure what it is that I do and how I do it. Economic development may appear to be black and white to those whose only interest is the end product, but there are more than fifty shades of gray in between whether and what projects actually come to fruition. I can and will write a book about that “some day.”
For now, I must rely on my job to pay the $10,000 or so per month that my family’s middle class suburban lifestyle costs us, from college tuition to our mortgage to insurance to utilities to groceries to pet care to anything and everything.
I give a fuck about work for two main reasons: One, I fear the judgement of my boss, who may come to think that a younger, cheaper and inexperienced employee could do the same job that I do (they cannot now but eventually could) and, two, I fear the judgement of co-workers who I spend a majority of my waking time with during the week.
I need my job just as much as anybody does. Plus, the well-paying jobs in my field in the northwest suburbs are becoming fewer and fewer and more and more competitive.
I am embracing the notion of being thankful for what I have, and that includes giving a fuck about my job performance and security. After all, job security is one of the reasons that I chose to go into government work way back in the day.
Once I get a year or two away from actually being eligible for a decent pension, and perhaps have some extra income rolling in on a steady basis from my writing endeavors, perhaps I will move a bit closer to not giving a fuck at work. For now, I most strenuously do.
Don’t Give a Fuck About Social Media
I am involved with social media just like everybody else is, but with one distinct difference.
I do not have a personal Facebook account and I fucking hate Facebook. That does not stop me from looking over my wife’s shoulder at what some of our mutual friends are doing, where they are traveling or what they are eating.
I also manage a Facebook account that I started for my employer nearly four years ago and have over 5,000 Likes. But I hate doing it. It is like a hungry beast that must continually be fed, and soon I am going to be compelled to create my own fake personal account in order to continue administering this page.
I consider Facebook one of the evil three that you and most other middle class people in the U.S. of A patronize daily – Facebook, Apple and Google.
The best thing about me not giving an fuck about Facebook is that I do not have to ask others to be “friends” and I do not have to feel obligated to accept people who I do not particularly like or care what they are doing as “friends.”
If I could limit my Facebook circle to those that I consider near and dear to me and care about, I would probably have somewhere between twenty-five and thirty “friends,” most of whom would actually be relatives.
I am on LinkedIn and have 658 connections, many of whom I do not actually know. For too long, I would accept anyone that sent me a LinkedIn request, but I have learned to identify and ignore those who only want to sell me something, which is most of the requests that I get.
As a professional economic developer, it would be silly of me not to be on LinkedIn, as it has proven a decent way for me to post a few things about my efforts and keep up with others in the field without being on Facebook. I also read numerous articles on LinkedIn, sometimes up to ten on a slow day.
That said, even though I seemingly do not give much of a fuck about social media, I may just reach out into the Twittersphere and Instagram in the coming year as a way to promote my non-existent brand, the Middle Class Guy.
Fucking Fed Up
There are many days when I feel like I’ve had it. I get fed up with my lot in life, my home in need of repair, my junky vehicles, my chronic pain, taking orders from a new young boss, working on the same types of projects in the same place day after day, week after week, month after month and year after year.
I am getting fucking fed up with looking at my life as a series of obligations to be met, people to tolerate, and meeting slots in my work calendar to be shuffled until a few days to myself and my family come up.
I do keep in mind that many people would find it enviable that I have held down relatively steady government jobs for the past twenty-plus years but, believe me, there is nothing safe anymore about being an economic development professional in a community that continually struggles to attract new development and investment.
Just ask about ten of my friends who have been let go from similar positions over the past ten years or so. Some of them have never bounced back or found gainful full-time employment ever again. Of course, it is the older ones in the crowd that have had the hardest time.
Anyhow, I am writing this and you are reading it to gain some insight into how not to feel like a rat in a cage.
One way is to not give a fuck about quite as many things as you and I both know that we do.
The Holy Fucking Trinity
Knight calls Time, Energy and Money the Holy Fucking Trinity, and on this I wholeheartedly agree.
I suppose that you could add health as a fourth dimension, so perhaps I will here coin the phrase The Quintessential Quaternity. If your life is plagued by poor health of your own or a loved one, all the time, energy and money in the world may not help.
A Middle Class Guy like me has little control over my own time. I have a very rigid work schedule and, in addition to working eight hours per day most days this month, I also have four night meetings to attend, one of which I am the primary staff person who reports to a commission for an hour.
Perhaps you do this already in some capacity, but I always urge people who I speak with to imagine accounting for their work product for an hour every month to a commission of nine people, each of whom delights in asking tough questions. The meetings are also recorded for posterity, so it cuts my joking around to a minimum.
Even though I have over thirty-six vacation days on the books as of this writing, it sure would be nice to use them as I please without fear of falling behind at work or appearing like a slacker to my new boss.
The main thing that I have found about time is that it continues marching forward. Our long days and work weeks morph into years. Our children grow up too fast, just like everybody says. First our grandparents pass away, then our great aunts and uncles, then our parents and, finally, those closer to our own age.
A middle aged guy like me could detail many people who I had been close with who are no longer with us.
I feel that I have many better things to expend my energy on than worrying about what that moron Trump is Tweeting, mowing my lawn although I am compelled to do so, attending Chamber of Commerce events where everyone tries to sell me something that I neither want nor need, and I do not want to waste any brain cells or energy reading or hearing about what any fucking celebrity is doing, especially celebrities who are famous for who their parents are or who they are actually physically fucking.
What I would value more than a few extra dollars here and there at this point in my life would be the ability to control my use of time better. Time is very fleeting, and we should both strive to take more control of our own.
Everything that my family and I want and need takes more of the green stuff. I do not think that I will ever be able to stop giving a f- about money. I am not wealthy and do not appear to be headed that way, yet my family’s cost of living creeps higher and higher every year.
Sometimes, I try not to give such a fuck about money as I pay for some unexpected $500 or $1,000 item, telling myself that it’s just money. After all, I am also trying to embrace the concept of appreciating what we already have and what God has provided for my family.
But a better house, better cars, new phones, a new TV and a nice vacation or two per year would sure be nice. Oh, and to be able to save up an extra million in the meantime so you and I could entertain the dream of being able to fully retire someday.
Knight provides a diagram of the ten time, energy and money things that she does not give a fuck about.
I will close this by sharing my own such diagram, and urge you to think about yours.