You Do You. If ever there were a concept that this world needs, this is the one. Yet again, we have Sarah Knight to thank for explaining something so integral to a happy life, so carefully and yet so swearingly. This is the same author who taught us how to “give fewer and better fucks” in The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck and followed up with step-by-step instructions on how to Get Your Sh*t Together. Please can’t there be an illustrated children’s version?
Well, not really a “children’s” version. Just something with little anthropomorphized animals flipping each other off would be fine.
Let’s talk about Lowest Common Denominator Living. This is a theme in You Do You, and it gets its own acronym. This is what happens to us when we feel that we have to conform to external standards and suppress our individuality. No freak flags shall be flown. It always blows my mind when I hear people saying “society tells us” this, that, or the other thing, because I live in Southern California. I have honestly seen bare-ass naked men (plural) walking down the city sidewalk with their danglers hanging out, on more than one occasion. Nobody cares, at least where I live. I was on the bus the other day with a young gal combing out her massive four-foot-long hot-pink wig. There’s a guy in my neighborhood who rides around on a bike covered with rainbow lights and a full stereo sound system. My upstairs neighbor has a little white dog with lime-green highlights in its fur. If you feel stuck in LCD Living, spend a weekend in my town. Nobody is actually watching you, nobody really cares what you look like or what you do with your time, and you genuinely are free. You Do You, honey.
The biggest argument against being your sparkly rainbow self seems to be that it’s selfish. Hashtag ObligerProblems. On the contrary, it’s selfish to hide your light under a bushel and contribute to any vestiges of unhelpful social conformity. You were born with certain irreplaceable gifts and it’s your responsibility to fulfill your destiny, and if you refuse to step up and do it, you’re extremely selfishly depriving the world of those gifts, for all future generations. Geez. How dare you. If you aren’t you, well, then, who will be??
The core of the You Do You philosophy is to follow a social contract, so that you can express yourself and get your preferences met without being a psychopath. How do we deal with peer pressure, fear, and guilt? How do we deal with haters, doubters, and naysayers? This is a very hands-on manual in that respect. It has scripts! This could be the “He’s Just Not That Into You” of learning how to have awkward conversations about your agency and autonomy. (Pro tip: You don’t actually have to keep most people informed of your plans; if you don’t tell them, they can’t naysay you).
You Do You is a great, wise, hilarious gem. It’s a handbook for how to be a free elf and make your own decisions in life, while also participating fairly and altruistically in society. If this is the new wave of ethics and practical philosophy, why, I’m for it. Read it, and then run your freak flag right up the mizzenmast.
PS [Spoilers] Please tell me there isn’t actually a person who spreads pimento cheese on their Pop-Tarts!
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.