So I have this incredibly…fluffy…cat named Godiva. She’s sort of a bitch, but a lovable sort of bitch that will poop in your shoe and then look up with you eyes like “I just wanted you to know that I cared.” Seriously, the other night, she walked past me, bit my toe, and then sprawled out on the floor, purring loudly, in a “rub my belly because I’m cute” pose.

Like I said, lovable bitch.

And also the smartest creature in the world.

Every year, around mid-December, I start to whine about putting up a Christmas tree. I have a fake tree (let’s not even get into all the things that are wrong with that right now), and it’s old and kind of a pain in the ass to set up. It leaves needles everywhere, so I can’t avoid vacuuming, and there are always missing branches, but not the same ones that were missing last year. Where the hell they go during the year, I don’t know. Anyways, Godiva LOVES the Christmas tree. LOVES. She will sit under that thing all day, headbutt the branches, and even chew on it a little. I dare say that the Christmas tree is Godiva’s favorite thing in the world.

So every year, even though I complain about it, I put up the damn thing. Yep. For the cat. I mean, I make it look nice on the off chance that someone other than my roommate actually sees it (I don’t really entertain often), but to be honest, I probably wouldn’t have to decorate it at all. Before I have the first layer of branches in the stand, Godiva is sprawled out under it.

Now, it’s January once again, and I’m complaining about taking the tree down, because that’s just as much work, if not more, than putting the damn thing up in the first place. Only I don’t get to blare Christmas music and justify sucking on a candy cane this time around.

And Godiva hates it. When it’s tree-taking-down day, she just knows. I’ll wake up that morning and find her securely planted under the tree like those hippies that live in trees to prevent logging companies from cutting them down, only wearing less flannel. She looks up at me with eyes that make you want to die, and we have the same conversation every single year.

Me: Godiva, it’s time.

Godiva: But whhhhhhhhhy?

Me: Because it isn’t Christmas anymore. The tree has to come down.

Godiva: But I loooooooove it. I don’t understand why it can’t be set up all year long.

Me: People don’t leave their Christmas tress up all year long. They just don’t. There are rules about this.

Godiva: I don’t think there are rules.


Godiva: I hate you.

Me: I know.

Godiva: Next chance I get, I’m going to poop somewhere unpleasant because it’s my only outlet for complaining.

Me: I know.

And then I take down the tree and Godiva sits under it until the very last moment. When the last branch comes down, she sighs a heavy sigh and shuffles off, contemplating the greater meaning of life and where she should poop to piss me off the most.

The scene from last year when I was taking down the tree.

So why does this make my cat the smartest creature on earth, other than the fact that she always finds new and interesting places to defile when I’m not looking to get her point across?

Because she doesn’t care.

One does not leave a Christmas tree up in one’s house more than a week or so into January. There’s some kind of rule that we impose upon ourselves that says it must come down. It’s stupid. Who cares? If I walked into someone’s house and saw a tree, I would think they were weird. And I’d probably ask them about it. And when they told me, “I keep it up because I love it,” I would continue to think they were weird. But why? What difference does it make if someone is weird if they are doing what they love?

Every single day, we do stuff or choose not to do stuff simply to stay in the realm of normal. Now, don’t get me wrong - if you have a hankering to start a human organ collection, I’d prefer that you do what it takes to stay in the land of normalcy. But most of us have perfectly fine interests and urges and whatnot that we just ignore because we don’t want to be “too weird.”

After all, what will people think? What will my friends think if I keep my Christmas tree up until March? What will my co-workers think if bring an easel to work and spend my lunch hour painting? What will my parents think if I take some biology classes to fill my schedule, even though I’m a photography major? What will my friends think if I pass up beer pong to read a book? What will my roommates think if spend my weekend building a model of the Enterprise? What will my neighbors think if I line my driveway with garden gnomes?

Here’s a better question: When you’re on your deathbed and looking back over your life, what will you think of yourself if you don’t?

Godiva doesn’t care that it’s weird to keep a Christmas tree set up all year long. It sings to her. Luckily, she’s also a cat, so she doesn’t have the difficulties of feeling self-conscious about being labeled a weirdo. We do. Everyone cares what other people think. That’s just a fact of life. People who say they don’t care are lying. They care, they just hide it well.

But sometimes it’s worth it, being a weirdo. I bill After Graduation as a career site, so I could easily relate this to you job and say the same thing everyone else says: do what you love. But it’s deeper than that. Do what sings to you all the time. For work. When you get home. In your relationships, both romantic and platonic. On your blog, if you have one. As part of your business, if you own one. You will never suddenly feel less self conscious about other people thinking that you’re weird…but if doing those weird things makes you happy, isn’t it worth it? And in a small way, doesn’t that mean that you’re doing your part to make it less weird for other people to do what sings to them too? And the people who truly love you, won’t they stick in your life no matter how weird you are?

Yes. Yes. And Yes.

Like I said, my cat is the smartest creature on earth.

Ok, G. Because you inspired a blog post, the Christmas tree will survive for another day. But enjoy it while you can, because that’s your passion, not mine, and until you start chipping in to clean around this place, I get to make the rules.

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