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Book review: The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck

As you may have noticed, I love to read. My most recent read was “The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck” by Sarah Knight. Perfect, I thought, since my only resolution this year was to “worry less”.

In one sentence, the book teaches you to “stop spending time you don’t have, doing things you don’t want to do with people you don’t like”. Honestly, this should have been my first clue. I don’t spend a lot of time doing things I don’t want to do with people I don’t like. I used to, when I was younger (in high school), but I grew up and started making decisions for myself. I have no problem saying no and I don’t care too much what people think of me.

If you want to learn how not to care what people think and how to not let people get to you, this is the book for you. It basically teaches you how to stop caring what others think – something I am already pretty good at. Here’s four things I learned from Sarah Knight’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck”.

1. I don’t give a fuck about lots of things already

Here I was worried that I spend way too much time worrying, but after reading this book I realize how chill I actually am. If I worried about all the things Sarah Knight writes about I would be a very unhappy person. I don’t worry about pleasing everyone and saying yes to every social event that comes along. I don’t care if I can’t make it to a family party or have to miss a work outing. I don’t spend hours contemplating what excuse to give someone and how I’ll be feeling about it afterwards. And this actually makes me feel pretty good, because as it turns out: there’s lots of things I don’t give a fuck about. And I never even realized it!

2. I am not an asshole

In order to stop giving a fuck about pleasing others, you need to be able to say no, without being an asshole. It’s possible, Sarah writes, to say no to someone or something without hurting their feelings. Yes, of course it is. The problem is, if you’re always very easy-going and say yes to everything, people are going to be a little annoyed if you’re suddenly stubbornly turning everyone down. Here’s what I realized after reading this: I say no to people all the time and I’m pretty sure (almost) no-one thinks I’m an asshole. I’m also a very bad liar, so I tend to just be honest with people. If I simply don’t feel like leaving my house, I will tell them. “Sorry, can’t make it, it’s raining and I’m lazy”. Nothing wrong with that, if people know who you are. I’m not an asshole, I just do what I want, and sometimes I want to hang on the sofa and watch television. And I am not ashamed.

3. People don’t really care this much – do they?

Although the book starts off interesting – I even laughed out loud a couple of times – I couldn’t help but wonder if there are people out there who really care as much as Sarah suggests. She divides the book up into four categories where you need to re-examine the number of fucks you give. Those categories are Things, Work, Friends (Acquaintances and Strangers) and Family. Within those categories there are a number of issues that come up; from telling someone you hate Radio 4 (what the hell is this anyway, some super channel everyone listens to? And why would it matter if you don’t?), to saying no to a friend’s fundraiser. And the list goes on.

While reading about these issues I kept thinking: do people really worry about all these things? I would never get out of bed if I let people get to me like that. I don’t mind telling people I don’t watch Game of Thrones, or Twilight, or that I don’t care about the Olympics and know very little about politics. It’s who I am, why apologize for it? I find it so hard to believe that there are people who go through life worrying about how to tell their pub quiz-loving friends they hate pub quizzes or how to say no to their co-workers karaoke party. Just say no! It’s that easy! It seems like such a massive waste of energy to worry about such small things. And more importantly: it means people will never really get to know you, and I find that a little sad.

4. It’s hard to get fired from a job you’re doing well

When it comes to work-related issues, I thought Sarah Knight made some good points. I guess we all do many things at work we might not care that much about to be seen in a good light by our bosses. And in the end, those things probably don’t matter all that much. When I was an intern at a TV company I worked with this girl, also an intern, who pretty much did whatever she wanted. She often left early, took many personal days and didn’t work as hard as I did (or so I thought). But in the end, it didn’t matter. She did her job and was rewarded for it. She may have cared a little less, but she did the work and she did it well. That’s all that matters really, not if you’re at every meeting, team building event or annual outing. If you don’t care, just don’t go. As long as you do your job well, you won’t get fired any time soon – and you’ll be a happier person.

I might be a little critical of Sarah Knight’s book, but in the end she made me realize how well I actually do at not giving a fuck about things. And that was a comforting realization. I’m going to keep working on worrying less, but I now know that there are people who struggle a whole lot more with this than I do. To those people I say: stop caring and start living. Life is too short!



Emmelyn X

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