For me it started in high school. My first recollection of attempting to win the "I give less of a damn competition" was when I was 16. I had a boyfriend that I really liked and we had been dating for a few months when he just fell off the grid. I mean he was more ghost than Casper. No calls, no texts, no response to any attempt of contact when we usually spoke several times a day. What was my response to this absolutely unacceptable treatment? I tried to make it look like I didn't care. I made sure I wasn't contacting him too often so I didn't look "needy". I blew off my concerned friends questions with "I'm not obsessed with him guys, we can do our own thing". For almost ten days I pretended I was cool with being ignored. When he finally did text me ("Hey babe, what's up? Miss you!") I answered with a casual response, not even asking where the hell someone disappears for ten days without telling their serious girlfriend.
Looking back on this time in my life I still don't know where homeboy went for that amount of time, but I don't care. What I wish I had done differently has nothing to do with him but everything to do with me. I wish I had made it clear how not OK it was. I was so worried that I would look crazy that I overlooked the actual crazy that was going on. Despite being anxious, sad, and angry I decided to bury the damn I gave and put my normal human emotions on the back burner for fear of looking like a needy, crazy girl. Not to anyones surprise this relationship went nowhere fast.
This was the start of something I have done my entire young adult life. I have seen my friends do it too. Maybe we want to be the chill girl. Maybe we want to be so independent, or strong, or sane that we decide to hide any form of emotion for fear of vulnerability. Maybe we think that as women we have to hide our emotions to get ahead. Maybe we think this is normal because everyone else does it. Whatever the reason is, we all really need to cut it out. No one has ever gotten anything they really wanted by not giving a damn.
When that guy you've been seeing blows you off with a minutes notice for a reason you know is a total joke, but you play it off to avoid seeming needy, the only message you are sending is that you have no emotional needs whatsoever, so it's fine to blow you off anytime because you won't get mad. (From personal experience this will only make you miserable girls- promise)
When your frienemy makes a rude jab at you and instead of calling her out you pretend you're just tired instead of upset, so that you don't seem insecure or argumentative, the only message you are sending is that it's completely fine to be rude to you because you won't say anything. (From personal experience this will only lead to a large screaming blow up at a Mexican restaurant six months down the road where you do, in fact, look a little crazy as you throw cheese dip)
When your coworker steals your idea in a meeting and you play it off with a "no worries" to keep from seeming uptight, you are only sending the message that it's totally fine to steal your ideas and you don't want recognition anyway. (From personal experience this will not get you a promotion)
How many times a day do you say "no worries"? Or "no problem"? Or "oh it's cool"? Sometimes maybe there actually are no worries, or no problem, or it actually is cool. Maybe you are in fact the chillest person on the face of the planet and nothing, not cancelled dates or snide remarks or stolen credit phases you even the littlest bit. But I am willing to bet that at least every now and then there is actually an issue you are playing off.
Emotional needs don't make you crazy. Standing up for yourself doesn't make you crazy. Getting what you deserve doesn't make you crazy. Being human with normal human feelings doesn't make you crazy. Giving a damn doesn't make you crazy (or needy, or clingy, or obsessed, or selfish, or uptight).
So here's the challenge: Next time you give a damn, make it known. Let that jerk guy know you aren't the type of girl who gets stood up or who lets someone ignore her for days on end. Tell that mean girl that you aren't going to let her call you names at dinner. Put your coworker in their place. Text that guy first without fear of looking clingy ("Hey, what's up" does not constitute clingy). Tell your best friend when she has really pissed you off. I am willing to bet it will get you a lot further and make you a lot happier, even if someone calls you crazy.