That One Person On The Internet

My hand lingered over the send button. Should I hit send?

It was just a Facebook post sharing the book I’d spent months on. I thought back to the time that an acquaintance ranted about people who constantly promoted themselves. Finally I hit send. I hit refresh over and over again. I wasn’t waiting for the Likes to pile up. I was waiting for that one person to Like it. When that person finally liked it, I felt validated. I breathed in deeply. Finally I realized that more than 100 people liked my post, writing encouraging comments. I hadn’t even noticed. I was so focused on that one person. A wave of nausea. Then, an understanding.

That one person on the internet was holding me back.

We all have them. That one person whose approval we care about more than anything. We might have met them, often we never have. They hold us back.

  • We don’t say what we really think. What if they disagree?
  • We try not to promote ourselves too much so they don’t think we’re evil.
  • We don’t charge for our side project so they don’t think we’ve sold out.
  • We don’t speak up, especially if we disagree with them.
  • We worry they’ll think we’re vain if we post that selfie.

Is that one selfie really going to promote you well? Or hurt you if you don’t post it? Probably not. The underlying issue is all the ways you hold yourself back. The way you shrink. The way you look for approval from others, rather than from yourself.

Maybe you think this doesn’t apply to you.

It probably does.

Maybe that person is in your office. The 10x person your company hired for prestige. You don’t want to care what they think. But deep down, you do. You quietly compare yourself to them — so quietly you don’t even recognize it yourself.

Maybe that person is on Twitter. They post all sorts of things focused on social good. They seem to be championing one cause after another. You worry you’re shallow and vain when you talk about your “silly” app or latest food obsession.

You’ll never get anywhere when you focus on what others think.

OK, you might get somewhere but it might not make you want to look headfirst in the mirror in the morning. I know because I had this person. Actually, there were 3 or 4 of them. They drove me mad. Actually, me caring what they thought did.

Watching Heather Armstrong’s talk at XOXO Fest was the beginning of my own I Don’t Give A F*ck (IDGAF) Journey.

There’s a misnomer about what IDGAF actually means. IDGAF doesn’t mean you’re heartless, cruel, trolling or lacking empathy. It’s a radical way to free yourself. It’s a powerful way to let go of comparison, of putting others’ opinion over your own opinion. When you hold back, you end up with a tentatively lived life, doubt, and a whole heap of regret. IDGAF is the antidote. Not giving a f*ck is a way of inhabiting yourself more deeply.

It means you focus on yourself.

You focus on what you think. What you feel. What you want. Letting go of others’ imagined opinions propelled me forward. I started writing voraciously. And publishing voraciously. I shared what I created without abandon. I stopped constantly checking to see if they Liked my Instagram post, shared my latest writing or Favorited my tweet.

I liked myself more.

Let go of that one person on the internet. Just focus on what you think about you today. Embrace who you are, in all your unconventional glory. Bring out the freaky or geeky side of yourself. Stop comparing someone else’s journey to your own. Stop comparing someone’s outer journey to your inner one.

Stop giving a f*ck.


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