I’ve made some mistakes in my life and now rather inventively I’m going to follow that statement up with, the timeless classic – haven’t we all? And whilst I accept that yes, now these things seems like silly mistakes that I should have seen and for some unknown reason beyond my seemingly acceptable intellect – I never saw them coming. How can you plan a mistake, when every mistake starts out as a choice?
A choice to go home drunkenly with that man that you’ve only known a night and would right at this moment, dry mouthed and staggering through the streets trying desperately not to fall in the road, a stranger that you would undoubtedly do almost anything for. The choice to leave all your paperwork until the very last minute so you have more time to sit in your pyjama’s stuffing your face full of half cooked toast because you couldn’t be bothered to stand long enough to wait for it to pop of it’s own accord, watching the empty hours ticking by knowing that it’s going to be hell to catch up with in the morning, but for the sake of those few blessed hours of absolute peace, you curse the alarm clock and wake with grit in your eyes and lead in your gut, stunned with the comprehension that all of this mania now swimming through you sleep deprived head, all could have been avoided, had you simply just done what you needed to do when you needed to do it. The choice to not take five minutes out of your hectic schedule to call the gas company and explain to them why the bill is going to be a couple of days late this month, instead you procrastinate and tell yourself that it won’t be too bad until the letters are coming through your door and every time someone rings the doorbell you half die of a series of minute heart attacks because you know, somewhere deep down inside you, that you really should have just paid the fucking bill. The choice to ambiguously punish family members with whom you don’t see eye to eye by actively making the decision to not involve yourself in their lives, so when their wedding invitation lands on the doormat in your hallway or when you great aunt Linda calls to tell you that yes, Mark and Jessica have had a baby girl, you pretend not to care and you go about your day content in the knowledge that Mark and Jessica give a flying fuck that there isn’t some generic pink congratulatory card sitting on their mantel with your hectic handwriting adorning it’s inane Hallmark bullshit. The choice to not lose weight and to keep eating all the same shit that has left you feeling akin to the mechanically repossessed chicken scrotum that forms the base of most of the stuff you shovel into your mouth, even though you hate your body and you hate your skin, and you blame the years and say that it snuck up on you when in actual fact every time you eat an entire tub of cookie dough, you feel like a total failure that cannot look their own reflection in the eye for more than two seconds for fear of forcing yourself to throw up just to make the guilt go away. The choice to stick with the same people, day in, day out and never push yourself too far away from your comfort zone even though your Bucket List reads like a Bear Grylls eulogy, apathetically deciding that now isn’t the right time in your life for a summer in India and maybe you want to be absolutely sure before you get your first tattoo, just in case it’s something that suddenly becomes “uncool” over night, because perish the thought that you’d ever be just another brick in the wall. A choice to stay in a job you hate surrounded by people you loathe because what you need right now in your life in financial security and not some half dissolved folly that used to be shaped like a dream, but now sits at the back of your mind only perking up when you watch a truly inspirational drama on the television about underprivileged inner city youths that reminds you just how much you really wanted to be a teacher when you were a kid and how the thought of having to hawk one more piece of clothing made in an Indonesian sweat shop sounds at that particular moment of absolute clarity, like a fate far worse than death. A choice to not fight tooth and nail for the person you love, to let them walk out of your life and down the road into eternity with another person who you know will never be able to love them the way you do, knowing that you have the words to bring them back if only you had the courage to call out to them and tell them the truth, there and then in that broken moment between together and apart, if only you could tell them what you were thinking, if only you weren’t scared of what they’d say.
Every day we make choices and these choices either become blessings or they become curses. At the time that we make these choices, we are not focused on whether or not we will come to regret them, because even if we do, even if we regret them on a day to day basis, we are told constantly that it is okay to make mistakes – that everyone makes mistakes.
So it makes sleeping with someone you hardly know or not talking to your sister for half your life acceptable, because if it’s meant to be it will be – right? Everything happens for a reason, yes? Maybe that one night stand will turn into your idea of a happily ever after and maybe Mark and Jessica really are total cunts that you’re totally better of without – but do you really want to bet the happiness of your one and only life on a maybe?
I don’t know about you folks, but the word maybe leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. The truth of the matter is, and this is of course in my own bitterly biased opinion – everything you do in life from your choice of shampoo to the route you take to work – can end as a mistake. You may purchase a new brand of face cream from the store one day only to find that it has some exotic extract in it’s formula that you never knew you were allergic to because you’d never been exposed to it before. Hell, it might even burn the skin right off your pretty little face and leave you looking like Freddie Kruger V2.0. You might decide to shake it up on a whim one day and get the train to work, conscious all of a sudden about how much shit your rusty little Ford Fiesta actually coughs out into the air, and that train might just decide to come flying off of it’s rails on that particular morning when you started out with best possible intentions.
My point (and I have one, bare with me here) is that nothing is set in stone and however much maybe scares the living hell out of me, sadly – it’s all we have. So instead of living by the sycophantic mantra of “everybody makes mistakes” and cashing in your guilt free well-if-everybody-does-it-that-makes-it-better chip, why don’t you start taking responsibility for the mistakes that were your fault and learn to forget the ones that weren’t? Instead of dwelling on all the ambiguous stuff that you cannot control – e.g. being allergic to random beauty products or dying in a horribly random public transport accident – take responsibility for the things that were always your mistakes to make.
Every decision we make, from what washing detergent we use to who we have kids with, is a choice that we make, on a subconscious or conscious level, that will always, maybe, have the ability to become the worst mistake of your life. Everybody makes mistakes (derp) because everybody makes choices that they are held accountable for. You don’t get to check out of the big fuck ups you make along the way simply because everybody at some point or another has stepped in same dog turd as you. When did we get so obsessed with wanting to be like everybody else, anyway?
I thought we all wanted to be original, have our own tailor made hopes and dreams, you know – go where there is no trail and leave one behind? So, here’s what I propose we do – I propose that we embrace our mistakes as choices that ran away with themselves and got a little lost along the way (judging by some of my mistakes, a couple of my choices may have hopped right on into a dumpster and started huffing glue) and try to make even our biggest mistakes, see the light at the end of the tunnel. And how do we do this, you ask? Well, with a little bit of maybe.
Maybe call that guy you went home with that drunken night, the next day and apologise for throwing up in his lap on the way back to his (maybe even call the cabbie and apologise for the scent of hot vodka and peanuts that is still hanging in his car) Who knows, with a little luck the guy might even ask you out on a second date, blind sided by your audacious honesty. Then, you know, from your runaway choice and the experience gained, that the next time you go out with this guy you should maybe half the vodka and double up on the peanuts. Don’t bury your head in the sand and skulk off into your bedroom for the next few days and let that guy that maybe could have been your happy ever after become you-know-the-guy-with-the-beard-that-I-threw-up-on-that-time. Own your choice and have the balls to admit to yourself (and to perfect strangers) that you were a little bit of a prick. And if you can’t be bothered do get your paperwork or indeed your housework done when you get home from work and sitting in front of the television watching Wife Swap seems like some kind of temporary nirvana for you, then be willing to set your alarm clock a little bit earlier the next morning and wake up before you usually do and get it done then. Don’t spend the whole morning feeling like shit because you’ve got to come home to a mountain of papers or ironing. See the mistake hiding behind the choice and lure the bastard out with some pre-planned strategy on how you’re going to find the time to be both lazy and productive. And pay your bills. And if you can’t, call the company and tell them why you can’t. We live in a world where it is more acceptable to hide behind your debt than it is to step up and own it. Ninety nine percent of companies will be able to work out some sort of payment plan with you and the other one percent usually take “Seriously, dude – I don’t have the money.” as a good enough excuse to give you a little more time to pay it. But own the mistake that came from the choice. You chose not to address the problem when it was small and now it’s gone all mogwai-eating-tacos-after-midnight on you – and you’re looking for someone else to blame? No. Stop it. Face the mistakes you’ve made (in this case your mistake is not having any money) and try to economise where you can, and where you can’t, always remember that you’re not talking to the monolithic British Gas company on the phone – you’re talking to Stacy, from Wales, who works for British Gas and is generally a lovely person who wants to ensure that you can pay your bill regularly, and on time. (*This blog is in no way sponsored by British Gas, Stacy or indeed, Wales.) And for the love of God – will you just call Mark and Jessica already? Yeah I know, they’re cunts (we established this) but they are also your flesh and blood and one day the choice you made of not speaking to them now, and not getting to know that little girl whose birth you chose not to acknowledge, will become possibly the greatest mistake of all, because making the choice of not spending time with your family now means making the mistake of time with your family running out. Seriously, think about it. Or one day you might find yourself standing next to a young lady at her parents funeral without the slightest idea who you are standing next to. And that will be a mistake you will never be able to trivialise. (Though if you give it to me, I’ll give it my best.) And the next time you walk into a clothes shop and get pissed off with the fact that none of the clothes you want to buy go up to your size, remember that possibly the most important choice of all is how we choose to treat our bodies. You cannot eat what the hell you want and move as little as you care to, and blame anyone else for the fact that you are unhappy with your body, any more than someone that smokes forty a day can blame the postman for the tumours in his lungs. Own it. Regardless of how you look, you’re more than likely a freakin’ awesome person – so why don’t you start making yourself look as good on the outside as you are on the inside? The poisonous truth, ladies and gentleman, is that even though it’s what’s on the inside that counts, if you’re not comfortable with yourself on the outside, it’s going to make it a hell of a lot harder for you to let anyone see any of the amazing stuff you keep locked away on the inside. Confidence is the key and if you are one of these people who is in a self esteem rut – make a choice to climb on up out of it. (If you are happy with how you look, I salute your choice to not give a fuck.) And that Bucket List you wrote after watching the movie? (Don’t pretend you didn’t.) Well get it out of whatever hole you shoved it in and start crossing stuff off of that list. Go to India? Now is a good time. You know why? Because maybe is sitting on your shoulders, day in and day out, and yeah, maybe it’s not a good idea to go now – you don’t have the money, you can’t get the time off of work, you have a questionable rash that you don’t want the doctor to look at too closely when you go to get your shots – but maybe you won’t get another chance. Maybe, really is a bastard sometimes, huh? And if you want a dream catcher/feather/peace sign/dolphin/rose/anchor tattooed on your collarbone/hip/rib/wrist/ankle – who the hell cares if millions of other people had the same idea as you? A minute ago you were hiding behind the fact that you were all in the same everybody-makes-mistakes-boat and now you don’t want to be associated with the mainstream? Fuck them. Millions of people have brown eyes, I don’t see anyone jabbing their own out because seeing has become too mainstream. You go get that dolphin tattoo – and kick arse whilst you’re doing it. And if you hate your job – quit. If watching Dangerous Minds makes you want to be a teacher – go back to school and become a teacher. Some dream jobs you had when you were a kid – becoming president/prime minster, a race car driver, a princess, a pro-footballer – well you may be a little to old and undesirable to the masses to pull those vocations off any more, but – teacher, nurse, solicitor, social worker – all of those jobs are out there and you know what? They want you. Don’t let the choice of being a responsible adult force you to make the mistake of being an unhappy one. Do something reckless – quit your job, throw papers in the air, hell if I were you, I’d take a shit on my bosses desk for good measure – then go and do all that stuff you think about doing when you close your eyes at night, because one day your eyes are going to close for good and by then – it’s going to be too late. And even if you ignore every other single word that I have written in this terrifyingly long blog – listen to me now. If and when you find that person, that one person above all others that makes you feel like the second half a whole, and if and when that person makes their own choice to leave, for reasons that make sense to them then, and maybe will forever – tell them how you feel. Don’t get tongue tied and don’t freeze up, scream every single word that is running through your mind as you watch them walk away, and I mean scream them – like your fucking life depends on those words, in that moment, being heard by that person – because maybe, in some strange way, your life does depend on it. Tell them the truth. Tell them that no one will ever love them the way you do and that no one will ever make them laugh the way that you do. Tell them how you could have rocked their world and that by them walking away they are walking away from the one motherfucker on this earth that has never and will never give up on them. Tell them that you’d do anything for them to turn around and come back to you, because maybe you will. And, most importantly, tell them you love them – and mean it. This may be the most damaging mistake born out of the most misinformed choice of your entire life, and it is not a choice to be made lightly. Because the price you pay when this choice goes rogue, can turn out to be the worst mistake of your entire life. And if maybe is on your side, you just might get that happily ever after.
So I don’t suppose I’ll win any awards in the self help literature department, but every choice you make in your life has the potential to be a mistake, but since everybody lives in the shadow of maybe, change is always in the cards – if you have the balls to reshuffle them.