I wanna write you a letter on why I stopped giving a shit on what others think of me, and how I did it.
I. Thank you mom.
First of all, I wanna start with this Kanye quote:
Geniuses are just kids with good parents.
I had the best (parent). My mom was a living paragon of what success meant to me. She hustled fucking hard, to put me and my sister through school, to pay the rent, and she taught me the meaning of sacrifice. She sacrificed herself and her life to give me and my sister a better life.
When I was a kid, I knew I was different. I thought differently from other kids. I saw everyone else like lemmings, and I was the only sane one.
I remember very vividly when I was twelve years old. My dad was beating my mom by pulling her hair, dragging her on the floor, and at least ten times a day she would call her a worthless bitch. Obviously, this can be very traumatic for a child.
Yet, that helped me grow a iron-studded skin. I built extraordinary mental resilience as a child, because I’ve been through some fucked up shit as a kid.
I remember, I would hear my friends and peers complain that their parents wouldn’t buy them a new PlayStation or Gameboy. I thought to myself:
You have no idea what suffering is. You don’t know what it feels like hiding in your room, hiding under the covers, hearing your mom screaming, as your father is beating her. You don’t know what it feels like having your mom tell you at 11pm at night, “Eric, your dad just gambled away the rent money. We cannot pay rent this month, and we are two months late on the rent. We might have to go into a homeless shelter. Son, I know you’re strong.” [Hug]
One of the ways I got meaning in life was to support and help my friends, to give them words of advice. I remember one of my best friends, Cynthia, who lived across the street from me. She had some fucked up shit with her parents, but in my mind, not as bad as my situation. So I would have her sit in my car with me, and chat with her for hours on end on her depression and mental state. I think I made her feel better.
And that’s ultimately my aspiration with this blog and my life. To empower you. To share my scars, and to give yo confidence in yourself.
II. Spineless jellyfish
Honestly, 99% of humanity are just disempowered, sad, individuals.
I feel so much for people who are stuck at shitty jobs they hate, stuck in really difficult family situations out of a sense of duty, and those who want to express their inner artists, but are repressed.
I feel that every human being deserves the chance and opportunity to become the best versions of themselves. Yet, Netflix, alcohol, weed, consumerism, wanting to buy a new BMW, Rolex, Louis Vuitton bag, Jordan shoes, and other superficial shit has us confused and held down.
I think innately, every human is a creator. Yet, modern society has emasculated us, and turned us into passive consumers. We are like neutered dogs, no more drive, passion, anger, fierceness, or zest for life. Society has us neutered.
To be frank, most “haters” are just sad jellyfish, floating in the sea– with no purpose, vigor, or spine. They have so much great potential, yet when they see others who are hustling, having confidence in themselves, they feel shitty about themselves. Most of these nerds try to take others down (like me), because it is easier to criticize others than to go out in the front lines of battle, like Spartan king Leonidas, and to tell his 300 men:
Enjoy your lunch, for we shall enjoy dinner in hell!
III. Take more risks
“I might take a risk that might fuck up your life.” – Big Sean
To not give a fuck of what others or society thinks of you means to take a risk.
But the funny thing is that the risk in today’s society is so minimal.
The only risk we have is the risk of looking dumb. Of having random YouTube people leaving mean comments. The risk of having your friends distancing themselves from you, the risk of having distant family and cousins and uncles judge you negatively, or the risk of losing your BMW or home mortgage.
Jesus died for his ideas. Socrates died for his ideas. Seneca stood up for his beliefs, and bravely committed suicide than to run away.
The ancient Greeks, Romans, and Prophets died for their ideas. In today’s world, we will not be crucified. Yeah maybe crucified on social media, but can digital 1’s and 0’s harm you?
So for myself, I started to take more risks.
I started to write about really personal shit. Because frankly speaking, it won’t hurt me. There is very little risk. And not only that, I want to inspire and encourage others to share their life story. Because I know for a fact, that my life story is really soft compared to some other folks I know, who had it a lot worse than I did.
I took a risk of believing in my crazy ideals. I gave away all my images as full resolution JPEG images. Because I wanted people to be able to study the images, and for people who are poor to print it out themselves. People thought I was crazy. But I believed in myself, that I could charge a lot of money for my images if I charged a lot of money for them, signed them, and made them limited edition prints. And now, Cindy is selling limited edition Haptic Press prints for $1000 USD (we just sold a City of Angels for $1000 the other day).
People thought I was crazy when I keep all the ebooks, videos, and articles on this site for free. I’ve shared so much free and open information on film photography, and yet we had over 50+ people buy a copy of FILM NOTES. Cindy has also sold over 700+ copies of STREET NOTES even though you can technically get all the information on this site for free. And people buy it because a physical product and book is superior than looking at information on your phone.
One day I wanted to charge more money for workshops. Why? Because I learned to value my own time. I thought I was selling myself for too cheap. My friends Joel and Todd helped me believe in myself, to charge more money. Now I charge $3500 for week long travel workshops, and I plan on making that $5000 USD in the next year or so.
A lot of folks told me, “How dare you charge so much money for your workshops? You’re not even a Magnum or famous photographer.” In my mind, I thought:
I don’t care what others think of me. Ain’t nobody gotta attend if they don’t wanna. Not only that, but I no longer compare myself to anybody else. I ignore the market prices. I’m a category all of my own. I’m the next Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, or Kanye West. I’m also slightly crazy, and I am the most egotistical people I know, which is fine.
So to not give a fuck of what others think of you is just to ignore others, to not read online comments, and just to listen to your own gut.
For example, I am very grateful to Michael Zhang for publishing these articles to PetaPixel. I think PetaPixel is great, probably the most interesting website on the internet on photography. It is fun, juicy, and informative. A lot of people write mean things on PetaPixel, but a lot of people write nice things. But I choose not to read the comments, because I frankly don’t care what others think of me (whether they are negative or positive).
I just follow my own conscience. I am never wrong. I make mistakes, fail, and not all of my ideas are profitable. But I am never wrong, and I have never lost. As my coach Greg Lowe reminds me:
You didn’t lose. You just didn’t win.
To give fewer fucks what others think of you, let me give you some examples of what I have done in my life. You don’t need to do any of this:
- Deadlift: When you deadlift you go into beast mode, and you don’t give a fuck about the petty “opinions” of others. When you have lifted 405+ pounds off the floor, you know that you will never die, at least from anonymous comments online.
- Memento Mori: Imagine you’re going to die tonight. Will you really care what others think of you? For me, whenever my head hits the pillow, and I wonder to myself, “If I died tonight in my sleep would I be happy with my life?” the answer is usually yes. When it is “no”– I try to figure out what is wrong.
- I gave away my phone: I gave away my phone to my friend Natalie, who I consider the next Elon Musk. Ever since I did that, I feel free to stop caring about the rest of the world and for me to be selfish; hopefully for the greater good.
- I love Kendrick Lamar: I’ve literally had his “Damn.” Album on loop the last two weeks. He gives me the confidence to not censor myself to reveal my scars, and to not fake humble.
- I emulate my role models: My role models include Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, and Kanye West. They take insane risks for the sake of humanity. I just try to copy their behavior, but also to be more courageous than them.
Everything I write is my autobiography. It won’t apply to you. But I hope that everyday you can have this daily goal:
Everyday, I will give fewer fucks what others think of me.
Trust me, you will do epic and cool shit.