Let me see if I can articulate this correctly: Feel into this phrase, “I don’t care anymore.” Did you experience tension or relief? Most of us associate this declaration with something “bad.” When someone says it, we immediately jump into nurturing mode. “Oh, you don’t mean that,” we say. We search for ways to cheer them up or offer support. We worry about their mental health. We gently suggest that not caring is the same as giving up.
And sometimes it is a cry for help. But other times, it’s a chance to move on in healthy way. It’s a first step toward making changes we’ve needed to make for a long time. For example, you’ve had it with your unreasonable boss. You take an action at work, and your coworker cautions you to reverse what you’ve done. He/she reminds you the boss won’t like it. You respond, “I don’t care anymore,” because you hope the boss will finally just fire you and set you free. Or maybe you do it yourself. You march into his/her office and quit. Reaching your limit has caused you to make a change for the better.
Lately, I’ve been hearing many of my artist friends confess they’ve pulled back or stopped certain practices. For example, after realizing how much time they’ve spent on social media posts that don’t really bring them much attention, they shut down their accounts. “I know they say social media is important,” they tell me, “but I don’t care anymore.” Maybe instead, they take the many hours a week they’d spent on social media and use it to create more and better art.
In the early days of my career, I was desperate for credibility. I wanted to get published in reputable magazines and land an agent and get a big publisher. I wanted to sit on the bestseller list for weeks and rack up awards. At a certain point, that desperate longing only weighed me down. I decided I no longer cared about those things (well, not as much anyway) and that led me to create a unique writing business of which I’m very proud. It’s like that line in the Jason Mraz song, I’m Yours, that says, “Open up your plans and, damn, you’re free.”
Part of the reason I undertook this sabbatical in the past few months is that I was disillusioned with how little had changed in the publishing industry in 30 years. How undervalued and underpaid and underappreciated we authors still are. How devoted the general public remains to the fantasy of the starving artist. How many millions of books are published each year and how hard it is to get your own books noticed. After 30 years of caring desperately, I just kinda didn’t care anymore. And that left me feeling lost and depressed and lonely, until it didn’t.
Until I started to ask what else I was besides a writer/speaker/teacher/coach. What else made me happy. What else allowed me to serve. What else made me feel connected in the wider world. And what, if anything, about writing/publishing I did still care about.
Perhaps the declaration, “I don’t care anymore,” really means “I relinquish control,” and that’s a liberating feeling. No matter how much you try to please that unreasonable boss, you won’t be able to. It’s not in your control. For years, I believed with hard work, ingenuity, courage, and more hard work, I could force certain things to change in my industry and in myself. Letting go of control has allowed me to finally “go with the flow.”
And the flow, as any artist knows, is a creative collaboration between our ego selves and our Higher Selves, our human selves and our guides/muses. The flow is where real magic happens, within our art and within ourselves. The flow is a place of peace and harmony and creativity that feels so good.
So, go ahead and admit it . . . what is that thing you no longer care about? It’s not a failure to stop caring, it doesn’t make you weak or lazy, it doesn’t even mean you won’t ever care again. It’s just a chance to loosen the reins and relax into the ride.
By Teresa R. Funke
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