In the opening pages of her book, The Life-Changing Magic Of Not Giving A Fuck, Sarah Knight confesses to being a bit of a perfectionist: “I was a born fuck-giver. As a self-described overachieving perfectionist, I gave my fucks liberally all throughout my childhood and adolescence. I tackled numerous projects, tasks, and standardized tests in order to prove myself worthy of respect and admiration.”
I’ll confess: at this point, on page seven of her book, I wasn’t really sure if Knight was for me. If anything, I thought shamefully, I could do with being more of a born fuck-giver. I don’t think I’ve “tackled” much in my life, preferring to soft-roll into goals with my eyes closed and my elbows tucked in. My teachers railed at my seeming inability to focus, and my parents briefly barred “meh” as a syllable in my house. I doubted Knight’s witty, useful little book – sorry, Sarah, I’m just a little too chill for you.
If you can only give five fucks a day, you can dedicate yourself fully to those five fucks
But, as Knight tackled the first point on her agenda in a section labelled “You need to stop giving a fuck what people think”, I started seeing my own behaviour rise from the fuck-giving swamp. Knight isn’t just talking about the pressures of deadlines, of not seeing your family enough, or of planning a perfect wedding. Knight is talking about the myriad micro-fucks we give every day, from being the only one in the office who hasn’t watched Making A Murderer to the odd anxiety of not yet having a contactless debit card.
In short, I never realised just how many fucks I give, daily, to what others think of me. The fucks I give to impress them, the little lies I tell to please them and the plans I make constantly with people I don’t even want to see. So, I did what Knight suggested: I created a Fuck Budget. Just like a financial budget, where you save and scrimp for the holiday or home of a lifetime, a Fuck Budget can feel restrictive at first, but it’s that same self-denial that grants reward. If you can only give five fucks a day, you can dedicate yourself fully to those five fucks.
Without a Fuck Budget, NGAF can be a slow learning process, and often you’re only comfortable not giving a fuck when the thing in question has granted you too much misery for you to possibly give a fuck about it again. For instance, I once inferred to an ex-boyfriend that I gave a fuck about his basketball team, and then spent several weekends glumly eating an overpriced hotdog and texting through a London Lions game. In my next relationship, I told my boyfriend straight up: hell fucking no, I don’t want to go to a Tottenham match with you. “But it’s a free ticket!” DGAF. “But it’s the match of the season!” D.G.A.F, mate.
In the spirit of an easier life, and better weekends, and an uncluttered, fuck-plenty mind, I am telling you to make a fuck budget
Because, really, it’s good to care about things. It’s good to give a fuck about your recycling and your parents and the situation in Syria. And when you budget the things you give a fuck about, you can really commit to them. It’s when the unnecessary fucks creep in: the fucks you give about Tottenham, or whether your winter coat is a weird length for your legs, for instance – that’s one less fuck you can now give to something you actually care about. To something that “sparks joy”, as Knight says. The fuck I could have given to Spurs that weekend, I instead added to the fucks I gave to the Tate Modern the following one. I gave two massive fucks to the Byron triptych, rather than one measly fuck.
In the spirit of an easier life, and better weekends, and an uncluttered, fuck-plenty mind, I advise you to take Sarah Knight’s advice: I am telling you to make a fuck budget. One list of things you care about, things that spark joy and things that will better your life. On the second list? Things you really, really couldn’t give a fuck about, and will give no further fucks to. Here’s mine.
|DO GIVE A FUCK||DON'T GIVE A FUCK|
|Being good at my job||do other people think my job is cool?|
|is my dad ok?||are my dad's opinions ok?|
|renting a new house||being able to buy a house, ever|
|making new music||listening to new music|
|all costume dramas||all theatre|