As I’m drinking a glass of Diet Coke with no ice (the best hangover cure discovered thus far) in the dining hall Sunday morning, I begin to tune into a man’s voice a table over from mine. The amount of f-words and glass slamming, it’s actually hard not to listen. His deep voice rings out, “it’s actually like, kinda sad how much she cares.” His buddies laugh like his statement was the most ridiculous thing they’ve heard all weekend. I look at my roommate cutting up her omelette, “love you,” I say. She hardly skips a beat, “love you,” she answers without checking to see if I was talking to her. None of the guys at our table notice our side chatter. This kind of squishy-love talk isn't out of the ordinary for us.
There’s this trend of not caring. There’s this trend of “every man for himself.” There is a trend of being apathetic. People are willing to one up each other on how little they care, how they can treat people like property and friends like they are interchangeable. We live in a society where people push “don’t catch feelings” onto each other. Stars like Rihanna want to be photographed with their middle fingers up to show how they don't give a sh*t. People act like feelings are a disease.
This has to be one of the most destructive behaviors I have ever seen. People don’t want to have emotional connections because that seems desperate. People don’t want best friends because they have themselves. People don’t want to make friends because they have trust issues. So what? So you wake up one morning and you have no one laying next to you? No best friend to call up? No buddy to get coffee with? You did it. Congratulations. You cared the least out of everyone. You’re icy exterior and distant behavior really did it for you, huh? Apathy is not a virtue and not caring isn't cool. Having multiple healthy friendships is cool. Dating and breaking up and feeling heartbroken or exposed is normal. Fighting, arguing, feeling angry—that’s healthy. Putting yourself out there even with the possibility of getting hurt—that is a lot braver than dumping a girl because “she actually cares”.
Open yourself up to a full spectrum of emotion. Open yourself up to the possibility of hurt and growth and hurt again and regrowth. Open yourself up to your friends. Find out who is there for you. Feel heartbroken when you find out it isn't the people you thought. Feel lucky when you find out people you didn’t even realize had your back. When you feel something- say something. Don’t run, don’t swallow it. Tell her you like her and if she doesn’t like you back, write a poem about it, cry about it, scream about it. But feel something about it. It is cowardly to take advantage of a person’s emotions. It is the most vial thing to do. Anyone can be apathetic but it takes a strong person to be sympathetic and an even stronger person to be empathetic.
So maybe the cool guy in town is leading girls on and breaking their hearts. You don’t have to be. He’s going to end up with stories but nothing else and no one else. And maybe the girls in town are cutting everyone off. Don’t. You’ll be able to rely on people when you need to. They won’t. There is nothing wrong with emotion. There is nothing wrong with feeling. Don’t try to be the tough guy—that will get old quick. Sometimes you need more than yourself and that is far healthier than forcing yourself to be alone all the time. Be sensitive and be aware. Tell your best friend you love them. Cry over a love song. Open up to someone and make a mistake by doing so. You’ll learn so much more that way. I will not regret wearing my heart on my sleeve when I wake up happy everyday. But I can promise you the people who push everyone to the side in fear of living, they will wake up one morning and realize that apathy is not a virtue. And the road you take to get to apathy is a lonely one.