Deepti Chopra

Not giving a fuck

Almost everyone cares about what other people think- even if they think or say otherwise. Maybe the point is not to not care, but to not let it affect your outcome.

I didn’t realize it back then, but a key moment of my life came one evening in 2003. Fifth grade. No, I didn't find a way to convince my mom to let me go to school without dousing my hair in oil (that battle was fought and lost a long time ago). But what I figured out was almost as helpful.

This was the day I got the lowest score I had ever received on a test.

Now I wasn't a star student by any stretch. I was the B+ kid — operating in perfect mediocrity —doing just enough to avoid unnecessary attention. But this one time, I must have had more important things to do than memorize dates and facts for a history test. The outcome? 7/20 on the stupid test.

I didn’t particularly care, but our school required parents to sign our test papers to make sure they were in the loop.

If I had scored 14/20 or higher, my mom would have signed it after a few disapproving remarks. That was the bar I had set with years of consistent, mediocre hard work. But 7/20 was dangerously close to clueless-child-territory. Getting this one signed was going to be a task.

I remembered the time when my brother, a straight-A kid had managed to score a 6/30 on a Maths test. It was the first time he had ever failed at anything. My mom refused to sign his paper. Tears, pleas, promises to study harder— to never let it happen again. So much drama. Eventually, my mom signed it the next morning, just in time for school.

I was going to have to pick a different strategy. The only edge I had over my A+ brother was that I really didn’t care what my teacher thought of me. I was already a nobody, there was nothing to lose.

I went home and showed the test paper to my mom. She refused to sign.

No problem.

No apologies, no tears, no drama. I didn't mention it again. As I was leaving for school the next day, she asked, "Won't your teacher ask to see your signed test paper?"

"She will. I'll tell her my mom refused to sign it, so she will probably ask to meet you."

She signed the paper.

And I marched off to school— to bask in my mediocre glory.

Moral of the story: Don’t care too much about what other people think. Kids are jerks.

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