Get Off My Case


Do you have someone — a parent, a friend,a teacher, anyone — whose full-time job you’re beginning to suspect is “being on your case?”

They constantly tell you how they think you should live your life or how what you’re doing is wrong because it’s not how they would do it. They insist you engage with them on their schedule whenever they want to harass you. They belittle your priorities just because they don’t understand them.

Look, there’s a difference between caring and hounding. If you care about someone, you don’t talk down to them. You don’t pretend you know infinitely better than they do about what they need to do. You are not “father knows best.” You are not sitting on top of the mountain bestowing gems of wisdom on a stupid mortal. You can care, but you can not nit-pick and wound and demand and yell.

This is sort of a grass is greener situation, isn’t it? Someone who never hears from anyone who cares about them might see this and think, “Well eff you, you ungrateful turd. At least someone cares about you.” Someone whose mom is dead probably wishes every day for an annoying series of text messages asking them to become a better person. And sure, yes. That’s true. But this isn’t simply someone showing love or being there for you. This isn’t someone who has your best interests at heart. This is someone imposing themselves on you through guilt and manipulation.

And I’m being slowly driven insane by the constant demands.

I am an adult. You are not helping me feel more okay but bombarding me with lectures and unsolicited advice. You are not helping me feel more okay by taking this weird moral high ground. You are not helping me feel more okay by controlling what I do. You are not helping me feel more okay by yelling at me about the myriad things I need to do to fix my life. I know what I need to do. I don’t need you constantly standing over my shoulder harassing me about it.

Get off my case, please. You are not Benson and Stabler and I am not a criminal. It is not your job to devote your life to making comments and judgements on my life. Do you even have your own life? Because so far, every minute of every day seems to be dedicated to remarking on what I do and then telling me how it’s wrong and needs to change. If I don’t text back immediately, it’s because I’m ignoring you. If I don’t do exactly what you think I should do, I’m willfully disobeying you. If I mess up, it’s because my whole existence is a problem.

How about you concern yourself with your own life and get out of mine? How about you trust that I can make my own decisions and take care of myself? How about you show some faith in me?

Again, there’s no way to say this that doesn’t make me sound spoiled or defensive. Just trust me that there’s a difference between the comfort of knowing someone cares and the anxiety and stress created by someone who is “on your case.”

I don’t need to hear from you with criticism every ten seconds. I don’t need a new idea from you for what I have to change about my life every day. I don’t need someone popping up behind me asking what I’m up to and why didn’t I call and why didn’t I do what they wanted me to do and why aren’t my priorities their priorities and why can’t I just bend to their will 24/7? I am losing my mind over here.

I need someone to care — not an uninvited, maniac caseworker. I am not your responsibility. I am a person. So please, get off my case.

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image – San Diego Air & Space Museum Archives