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Former L.A. City Councilman Richard Alarcon:…

'I DON'T CARE!' And Other Words I Wish I Used

the fine line of caring... and caring too much

I was listening to Tina Fey read from her book, Bossypants. She was reading about the time Amy Poehler was in the Saturday Night Live writer's room being, well, being herself when Jimmy Fallon got all uncomfortable with her humor and in a shaming, judging way told her what she was saying wasn't funny to which Amy replied, "I don't (bleeping) care if you like it."

And she went back to what she was doing.

Something about this not only brought a huge smile to my face -- GO AMY! -- it also stirred an enormous amount of envy in my gut. Envy for Amy's confidence. Envy for Amy's strength. Envy to not give a rats ass what Jimmy or anyone else thinks is "acceptable" about her.

She wasn't being evil or mean, racist or aggressive, cruel or abusive. She was simply having fun being Amy. And, apparently, that was not okay.

Oh, friends. I have long cared much too much what people think of me. From my mother to the person serving me my frozen yogurt --  it all seems so important that they perceive me correctly.

There can be a hundred people at a party who are my friends but the one person who doesn't like me? Bingo. That is the person I will focus on. That person will suddenly become the most important person in the room.

I share this not because I'm proud of it. Quite the opposite. It's one of those awful secrets I carry inside of me. From the time I was a little girl I wanted to be understood. If I wasn't -- if I was judged, shamed, rejected or misread it would destroy me.

Now, I have worked on this issue, this demon, this flaw through countless ways (therapy, therapy, 12 step programs and, oh, therapy). However, it is never gone and it likes to rear it's ugly head when I'm most vulnerable.

To make matters worse I went into a career where it's ALL about putting yourself out there for judgment. And I do. I leave my thoughts, my humor, my insights, my McMartin-esq way of viewing the world all on the table. Take a sniff. Have a bite. Bon appetit.

Some will like what they eat. Others will not. And the "not's" will create knots... in me.

Yet, as a mother, I have worked hard to teach my daughter to be strong and confidant. To let her know I see her. Understand her. That who she is okay. More than okay. That who she is I celebrate and to always play where the love is.

And she does. She gravitates to the joy and steers clear of the haters.

So, maybe, just maybe when my girl grows up if there's a Jimmy next to her trying to stop her, shut her down, silence her she will have no problem looking him dead in the eye... and pull a full on Amy Poehler.

As for me? I'll keep working on it.

Mike Szymanski June 18, 2012 at 02:28 PM
Susan, why are you inviting people to your parties who don't like you? :)
Susan McMartin June 19, 2012 at 02:21 AM
John Emerson June 19, 2012 at 08:22 AM
"Hello"...Hi..."hmmm what did he mean by that?" WOW! can I relate. I have known people including myself that have wasted so much time worrying about what people think about me. Being sensitive can be a gift that opens up appreciation of Music, Art, Poetry and Beauty in general. But too much can be a symptom of low self esteem or something needing therapy or meds. I stopped exhibiting my personal artwork years ago. Instead I had a 45 year career doing artwork that was based on other peoples visions. You still were judged but it was not your concept, it was a Animated Feature with hundreds of artists working toward one goal. I didn't have the guts to put myself up on a wall "OUT THERE" where you could get hurt. Now that I'm retired I just do stuff for myself and I get 5 star rave reviews from me! It's great! Oh Oh, YIKES! this comment is me "OUT THERE" I'm sorry, what was I thinking?
Susan McMartin June 19, 2012 at 06:03 PM
thanks, john! as always -- i LOVE your comments and insight!
Yvette Couser June 29, 2012 at 12:31 PM
Loved Bossypants...was fortunate to listen to the audio during my commute, it's read by Tina and so HYSTERICAL. Agree it's a challenge to build a thick skin while keeping vulnerable inside to be good and true, and to teach this to our daughters (and to be true, to our sons)...But the environment your in is the perfect one to do just that. You're doing wonderfully on all fronts, Susan!


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