Why sometimes in travel – and life – you just have to let go.
Rolling up to the Grammy Awards in a beat-up Toyota Uber, racing limousines and Escalades to make the light, I’m immediately reminded of my place in society.
I got my hair and makeup done at a cheap Ulta – only to fix the horrible ‘80s prom look 10 minutes later.
I’m so behind schedule that I skip my last mirror check – only to realize my hanger straps are blatantly screaming for attention (30 minutes after I’ve arrived).
I don’t fit into the glitz and glam of Hollywood, and while I was elated to score free last-minute Grammys tickets, I could hardly contain my laughter as I wildly jumped out of the Uber in the middle of the intersection and sprinted like mad to make it in by final call.
I’m not meant for Hollywood, and guess what?
I don’t care.
Growing up, apathy wasn’t in my vocabulary. I wanted to be absolutely perfect in whatever I did, whether it was starting on the basketball team or dressing perfect for Homecoming. I think it’s normal to feel this way as a kid (you’re going through all sorts of God-awful hormonal changes, you’re allowed to be nuts). But as you make your way past those self-involved teens and into your twenties, thirties and beyond, something has to change or you’ll drive yourself mad.
If you’re an entrepreneur running your own business, you can’t be perfect all the time. Mistakes are how you learn, grow and improve – and a fear of messing up will only hold you back.
If you’re a new mom, perfection isn’t necessary. Kids are messy, parenthood is crazy (and I’m only speaking from dog mom experience!) – embrace the chaos; it makes for great memories.
If you’re a world traveler chasing dreams around the globe, give up the incessant need to fit in (and please – give up travel comparison for your own good!). Be you, bring your uniqueness to new cultures and don’t cake on makeup if you’re surrounded by unbelievably beautiful people (cough, Hollywood, cough). You’re awesome as yourself, and gobs of makeup will only downplay that.
See the theme here? It’s apathy. Not absolute apathy where you care about nothing – it’s smart apathy, where you enjoy the experiences instead of stressing over perfection.
The art of apathy
The word apathetic often comes with a stigma; people think you’ve given up, you don’t care. But that’s really not the case. If implemented wisely, apathy will save you from a lot of BS while ensuring you enjoy the moments that matter.
Case in point: Had I spent my Grammys night of glory trying to look as beautiful as the celebrities in attendance, I would’ve 1) blown all my money, 2) spent all day and evening fixing myself, and 3) been entirely disappointed because, believe it or not, I can’t compete with the likes of Beyonce. (Love you, Bey!)
Instead, I said “screw it,” bought a dress I love, got my hair and makeup done (dumb move in retrospect) and spent the rest of the night listening to incredible music instead of fixing my lipstick.
While you may feel a little self-conscious letting your guard down and declaring “I DON’T CARE!” I promise you’ll come out the other side with much richer, memorable experiences.
But of course, you can’t be apathetic about everything. That’s when the negatives comes in. Here’s my guide to determining what is – and isn’t – worth your worry.
When you should be apathetic
- Appearances: I won’t dive into this too much as you already very clearly know my stance. Don’t pour on makeup and pretend to fit in; suck it up and stand out as yourself. (Hanger straps and all!)
- Mistakes: I can’t tell you how many mistakes I’ve made, particularly while traveling. I mean, just last week I booked the wrong night in a hotel and didn’t realize my mistake until arriving. Le sigh. Shake it off, laugh at your mishaps and don’t take your mistakes – or others’ – too seriously.
- Meeting people: Sure, there are some people you absolutely need to impress like a boss, but don’t let your fear of feeling awkward or goofy keep you from mixing and mingling. Go to the meetups, approach fellow travelers at hostels, and trust me – the people you’re talking to are just as insecure as you are. Embrace it and let your unique colors shine through.
- Travel plans: It’s way too easy to fall into the “perfect travel” mindset – but it’s also a great way to set yourself up for disappointment. Travel is the time to roll with the punches; if an AirBnB neighbor invites you and your travel companions in for tea, drink tea. It may put you off track, and keep you from reading every sign at the upcoming museum, but seriously – which of those two opportunities will you remember 20 years down the road?
- Instagram: Unless you’re a professional photographer, give yourself a little leeway here. While yes, you absolutely need great photos – especially if you’re a travel blogger – don’t let it get in the way of your trip. My Instagram feed is far from perfect, but it’s because I won’t spend more than 10 – 20 minutes getting the shot I want. I travel to see the world through my own eyes – not the lens of my Canon, GoPro, video camera, smartphone or … wow. I’m officially a robot. (Note: I do understand that for some people, Instagram does pay the bills and therefore, I totally understand needing more time for your photo shoots – you do you, and seriously, kudos to you for a great business!)
When apathy is not the answer
- Loved ones: While apathy is excellent for adventures and experiences, it’s not meant for people. Love your friends and family deeply and feel every part of those relationships. Love can hurt – a lot – but these are some of life’s most important emotions. Accept them, and don’t use apathy as an excuse to turn them off.
- Major life decisions: There’s a fine line between embracing chaos positively and letting it actually take over your life. At some point, you need to think about your future – even if it’s thinking, “Hey, I want to travel another six months.” Take time to evaluate where you’re at and where you want to go, because one day it’ll be too late.
- Finances: Finances suck. They suck, suck, suck. But they’re also no place for apathy. Not caring or avoiding them entirely will only make getting out of the hole tougher, so face those stupid finances head on, and get help if you need it. (Did I mention I hate finances? Bleh.)
- Your passions: You can’t catch your dreams if you’re entirely apathetic; reaching those big, far-fetching goals requires all the passion and hard work you have. Now, apathy can be infused here, because if you mess up along the way – that’s OK. You should mess up, otherwise you’re not risking enough. But don’t let apathy seep into the part of your brain where you’re actively pursuing your dreams, because that’s a recipe for failure.
Life is tough, “adulting” is hard, but you don’t have to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. Lighten up and enjoy – don’t control – the chaos, because it will all work out in the end – even when you’re awkwardly sprinting in heels past the world’s most glamorous people.