Learning when to give a shit

There’s this is a hard lesson I’m learning. Like I’m actively learning it as we speak. Look, we have to take life seriously right? We have to treat the people in our lives with respect, care for them, give a shoulder and a listening ear? I mean, that’s the way I’ve always lived my life, and up until now it’s yielded a lot of amazing friendships, adventures, and stories.

Twelve years ago, my gross anatomy lab partner and I were waiting for the bus in Grenada after class. I’d known him for only three weeks, but we had already spent a ton of time together in the first few weeks of medical school.  And he said something that resonated with me… forever. He told me, “You are completely incapable of having any sort of friendship or relationship that isn’t intense.”

I didn’t know what to say because he was right. Fuck, he was right. (Ironically, him and I went on to have the most complicated friendship for the next ten years of life that ultimately culminated with a phase out, but that’s for another chapter).  I dissect people, take them apart, try to help them get to the bottom of it all, share in their failures and successes.  I really have no idea what a “casual friend” is like I have no idea what a “casual hook-up” or what “casual dating” is.   So, I lived that way for a long time. A long, long time. Because it was all I knew, and what’s more, it felt right.

But here’s the thing that I’ve recently realized – as you get older, priorities change. And people change. Life gets stressful and complicated.  You realize that not all friendships and battles are worth fighting.  Not every person you come across may be worthy of the energy and heart that comes into making a real friendship.  Self-preservation becomes a real thing, especially as a single female in your mid-30s.

And I’ve realized that something I’ve got to learn is when to give a shit. And what’s more – how to give less shits.

Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean that it’s ok to treat people like crap. And it definitely doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to get to know people.  It just means that judgment, like anything else in your life, is important when it comes to who you share your friendship with.   Not every connection is worth your time – not that they aren’t worth it as people, but they aren’t worth it as an added value in your life.

So, I went to bed last night and resoluted to give less shits in my life about certain relationships.  Because there are so many more things in this world and in life to invest our energy into.  People will come and go, and the ones that are worth your time and energy and love and dedication, well… well, they stick. Everything else is background music

It’s not that we’re scared – it’s just that it’s delicate.

If there’s any reason why my life has been interesting or fruitful in any way, good or bad, it’s simply because of this one fact: I have remarkable parents.  They haven’t always made my life easy – like the time they drove four hours to crash my best friend’s wedding to convince – nay, force- me to go out with a boy – but they equipped me to take the world on with constitution and faith. My parents live their lives with an emphasis on quality and less on the quantity, and this was progressive in a brown world that places great value on success, social status, and power.

I decided to write down my life journey thus far not just because I think I’ve had interesting experiences, but because I was given by my parents unique metaphorical and philosophical glasses to see it all through.  So, when I lived in a third-world country drowning in medical textbooks, down to 86 pounds, clinically depressed beyond belief, I somehow found the strength to pull myself up by my bootstraps to evolve.

This idea of self-evolution was something that happened before I even realized what it was. Along with metaphorical glasses, God also gifted me with a memory power of emotions that was deep. So I am able to recall personal memories in vivid detail remarkably well. I look back at the last 12 years of my life, and I hardly recognize that wide-eyed girl who boarded that plane to Grenada. How I’ve evolved. And how I plan to continue self evolution…

Words were the first thing to go.

Letting go has never been easy for me, not since I was a child. I hold on to people, memories, thoughts, feelings so tightly that they become imprinted on my soul… long after people have forgotten about me.

I don’t know why it’s so hard for me to let go. Unfinished business? Words that were never said? I learned many years ago that sometimes we have to find a different type of closure than the one that we crave.

I met someone a few months ago and things just didn’t work out. We wanted different things, and we didn’t connect with the world in a way that we could relate. We had a nasty dispute but kept in weak contact for months after.

Truth be told, he was kind of a jerk to me. He would be hours late for our dates with terrible excuses.  We spent an amazing Sunday afternoon together in bed… and then he completely forgot my birthday the next day. The last time I saw him he told me that he was trying to sleep with other women in addition to me.

What kept me going? The fact that the guy was depressed as fuck and completely empty. I felt a moral obligation to help him.  He told me once that he rides a relationship “like a wave” until it hits that high. Because that emotional and adrenaline highs were the only thing in his life that mades him happy. The simple things didn’t.

What. The. Fuck.

I walked out romantically but stayed around as a friend keeping an eye on him to make sure he was ok. It’s not like he needed me. Or cared much for me more than another human being in this world. But I cared. I cared a lot.

Not that caring is bad, but I asked myself why I cared so much about the well-being of someone who could have easily replaced me with anything. It dawned on me recently that this difficulty I have in letting go stemmed from some insecurity of mine. The fear of disappointment? The fear of hurting someone? The loss of a connection?

Whatever it is, negativity can sometimes come from holding on too hard… it doesn’t allow for your hands to be free. Letting go is a freeing thing… freeing you heart and your mind. Why hold on to connections that were what they were and will never be what you think they could have been? Why keep people in your life that couldn’t appreciate whatever it is you have to offer someone? Why keep trying? Why?

The fact is that everyone has their own journeys, their own paths. You intersect sometimes but then continue to run perpendicular without ever intertwining again. You are like strangers in a busy subway, bumping shoulders, making eye contact briefly, and then hustling to get your trains.

So here’s to letting go. Letting go of connections, disappointments, whispered words, feelings of vulnerability. Here’s to moving on and learning our lessons of self-worth. Here’s to living.

this life.

My brother’s best friend killed himself over Thanksgiving break last fall.  I hadn’t seen him for years even though we’d known him forever, but his death resonated in the hollows of my soul like enormous brass bells were inside of me. He was good person, and he loved my brother like a blood brother.  It fucked with my core. It made me uncomfortable with the very thought of existing in this world.

The new year rolled around like a sigh of relief. 2016 was a bloody ugly mess for nearly everyone I knew. People in my life were holding on to each other like we were on an overcrowded lifeboat in a shark-infested ocean. And somehow, for some fucking reason, I felt like it was my job to make sure we stayed afloat in this world of negativity I was living in.


My brother came home for the holidays the week following the funeral. We spent the entire break doing everything together – working out, eating, talking about life, reminiscing about Matt.  One day, we went to the gym and I ran my hardest and my fastest. I just ran, like I was running towards a goal, a dream.  And then it dawned on me. What the fuck was I doing with my life? When did I become so complacent? This life. This life. This life could end at any second.

Matt was here a month ago. He made plans to travel to Tibet with my brother in the Spring. He lived his entire life with the sole purpose of doing good. Helping people. Being kind to others. Trying to understand the deeper meaning of it all. And now he was gone, but man did he leave fingerprints. This life. THIS LIFE. Is all we have to prove to ourselves that our existence should ever mean anything.

But here’s the thing. We don’t need to be great peacemakers or artists to make a difference in this crazy world.  That our very existence makes this world a better place. That the negativity that makes us escape on lifeboats should be outdone by the positivity that we spin into the waters. By loving ourselves and each other, we are daily heroes. Because we make the world that much better. And this life is what we choose to make of it.


Two weeks later, I gave my 60 day resignation letter at work, the biggest source of negative energy in my life.

I had committed to making my life a positive experience and sharing that energy and love the best that I could. But I know I have a journey to travel.


Six weeks later, here I am. Writing this. So begins this journey.