We have a limited number of damns in our lives.
Yet, we somehow end up giving them away on the dumbest, most insignificant things.
I can be a compulsive damn giver-outer.
Doling out the damns like Oprah gives away cars.
You get a damn!
That other person gets a damn!
Everyone’s getting a damn!
People who don’t really matter.
Things that are stupid.
Stuff that happened in the past that I can’t control.
I’ve had it.
I recently traveled out of town to attend a conference. The main attendees were women like me: moms of young children who were bloggers and authors. All of them were in their mid 30s and the majority were married.
When we arrived at the conference, we were randomly placed in small groups where we performed team building activities and brainstormed about how to grow our businesses.
Here’s the problem.
Despite our ostensible similarities, I really had nothing to talk about with these women. Yes, they were friendly and no, there was no drama, but beyond the casual formalities, I just had nothing. to. talk. to. them. about. (The three-hour time change and my exhaustion didn’t help things. Being forced to be “on” does nothing but perpetuate my pre-existing social awkwardness.)
Some people you click with and some people you don’t.
There wasn’t any deep and meaningful clicking.
On the plane ride back, my negative thoughts started getting the best of me.
Why couldn’t I connect with these women?
Is something wrong with me?
I called my close friend and former roommate, Amy. She’s usually the voice of reason.
Tell the truth, is there something I’m doing wrong?
No…. and be honest with yourself, do you give a damn about any of these people anyway?
No, I don’t.
Which forced me to consider why I give so many damns.
In an effort to be proactive, I got out a journal and created a list of people and things I was going to give a damn about in the future.
A Give a Damn List.
Moving forward, the list will serve as the Holy Grail of things and people that do and do not matter.
Things I will make a priority and things I will not.
That way, when I am wallowing in self-doubt and stress, I can open up the journal and refer to the list.
If the “trigger” is not on the list, then I’m not going to give a damn.
(Realistically: I will try really hard to not give a damn. Old habits die hard.)
Here is my hierarchy of people who get my damns.
- My husband and two daughters;
- My parents and sister;
- Other relatives who are close and super special (e.g. my grandparents);
- A group of close friends. Some I have known for twenty years and some I’ve known for only a few years. The type who I love and love me back… amazing friends like the “Ashleys” I wrote about here– the type of friendships where we are there for each other in a bind and can be forthcoming about life’s tribulations; and
- My boss. Because bills.
Then, there was the list of things on my Give a Damn List:
- Fostering a close relationship with God;
- Marriage/ family time and making memories;
- The emotional and academic growth of my children;
- Nurturing the relationships of the people listed in 2-5 above; and
- The blog work and “work work”.
There’s all my damns.
I don’t have any more damns to give. And here’s the thing. None of us do.
Even those damns are damn consuming.
Anything and anyone else is just icing on the cake or nonsense, depending on the situation. If something does not facilitate the growth and nurturing of someone or something on my Give a Damn List, then I’m not going to stress myself out about it.
(Important note: this doesn’t mean to be dismissive or unkind to someone or something that is not on the Give a Damn List, it just means you shouldn’t prioritize it and shouldn’t worry too much overthinking about it.)
Go ahead and make a list for yourself.
It feels good to write those names down.
It feels good to write the things down that will be your biggest priorities and then refer back to the list later when you’re feeling frustrated.
The modern American family is stressed, rushed, and tired. No more. We need to stop spreading ourselves so thin and start worrying about who and what really matters.
Here’s to giving a damn about the people and things that matter most.
Here’s to the Give a Damn List.