I hardly consider eating a whole pint of Ben and Jerry’s rocky road ice cream in one sitting or picking your nose in public an act of rebellion. Although I must have done one or the other at some point in my life. (Possibly both as I recollect my second birthday party, which definitely comprised of both boogers and ice cream cake.)
My perception of rebellion stemmed from Britney Spears’ shaven head stunt back in 07’, and from my high school history teacher, who chastised us for forgetting the Boxer Rebellion the same way your first born would if you, heaven forbid, forgot ballet was on Tuesdays. It seemed that rebellion could only be inherent to extremities and war-type phenomena’s. The common denominator, however, of these small vignettes is something far greater than rebellion— it’s defiance. It’s openly resisting a social norm without caring what people think.
It’s one thing to do something defiantly, and it’s another to do it without caring about what people think. The man who picks his nose in public, but later regrets it because of repelled onlookers does not have the quality possessed by people whom, for use of a better word, DGAF. The aforementioned term, I believe, has never been mastered by anyone. I extol the person who can overcome holding back the ability we have to do tasks never imagined in front of the public eye.
I hear it from girls mostly. “I don’t care about what people think.” That’s after they’ve abused the gym pre-vacation, and refreshed their feeds to see if they got any likes on a tweet they screenshot seconds before and sent to their group chat to get confirmation that it was, in fact, favorite-worthy. Everyone cares about what people think that it’s almost pretentious to think otherwise. The guy who sticks up his middle finger to the world is only doing it on the condition that his mom isn't watching him through her bedroom window. I’m sure Big Sean who in his new song reveals so eloquently, “ I Don’t give a Fuck,” surely gives a fuck. And after Icona Pop crashed her car into a bridge, I doubt she loved it.
The crux of my social experiment was to do three things I’ve always wanted to do and never did because of unrelenting inhibitions triggered by a social benchmark set by myself.
1: Cut my hair short: And not Britney Spears’ 07’-inspired short. I promise.
I think the stigma associated with short hair is flawed, and unjustifiably so. I always had a penchant for short hair; it seemed chic and sophisticated. When I was a freshman in high school people used to ask me, with a tone of both inquiry and disgust, “Why is your hair so short?” Their tongue would roll in agony over that last word. And now that my hair is longer I simply want to chop it off Emma Watson Post-Perks of Being a Wallflower debut.
2: Sit this one out: Most human beings innately feel the need to make a good first impression; to put their best game face on. But what I really want to do is go to a party and tell the social butterfly to crawl back into its shell and be an awkward caterpillar— to sit this one out.
3: Dance like nobody’s watching: I really mean it. I’d love to dance in public the way I would after nursing a few tequila shots—only to stop because the alcohol is slowly draining out of my system and I’m hyper-aware that I’m at some 12 year old’s bat mitzvah party where dancing is kept at a feet-shuffle-and-slide minimum. I’d love to sing the way I do in the car when Queen’s Bohemian Rhaposody comes on 104.3— only to stop when the chorus gets good because a man in his motorcycle nearby is looking at me like I’m from a third world country where singing, among other things like owning a pet dog, is prohibited.
The Social Experiment never happened. It was a total flop. The first step to recovery is admitting: I care what people think.
Maybe you’re braver than I’ll ever be. What are three things you would do if you didn’t care what people think?