If there’s a way to screw a good thing up, I’m going to find it. Relationships, hobbies, new opportunities to move my life forward. It doesn’t matter what it is. As long as it has the potential to be good, then I’m going to f**k it up.
I don’t mean to do it, honest. I try very hard to hold onto the good, but I have freakishly small hands. I tell myself that I’m not going to do it again. We’re going to do this one right. I know it’s uncomfortable and kinda new, but good is good. We like good. We need good. We’re praying for good so don’t… Damn it, how did you mess it up already?
I have the gumption of a toddler with something in their mouth. What are you eating? No, spit it out. Don’t run away from me. Come back, what have you got in your mouth? You can’t eat that, it’s a dog bone. It’s a miracle our species ever reaches adulthood.
I’ll chase myself around the living room, teeth and lips tightly clenched, as long as it takes. I won’t make a mess of it, not this time. I swear, I’ll do it right. Wee, catch me if you can. If only pluck and pigheaded stubbornness were enough to ward off the inevitable.
Oh, but all woe-est of woes start with the words, if only.
It might even be one of the saddest sentences in the English language. If it starts with those two little words, then it’s going to be weighed down with regret and remorse. None of the really good, happy-go-lucky stories begin with them, and they certainly don’t end with them either.
The best stories start with something like: there was this one time… You know that story is going to be filled with giggles, clown-like stupidity, and it’ll end with a sigh of contentment. Yeah, those were good times.
If only, isn’t uttered during those valiant escapades. It’s only said when something goes horribly wrong or fizzles out and disappears. Which is something I’m famous for. Okay, that’s an exaggeration. I’m not famous. Barely anyone knows who I am, and fewer know I exist. Someone said hello to me this morning, and I was shocked. Wait, you can see me?
I am a real person, go figure. Hi, I’m a world-class f**k up.
I should reiterate that I’m not doing it intentionally. My ultimate goal in life has never been an abject failure. If I could figure out a way to do at least one thing right? Well, at least I can bathe myself without getting a concussion— finally. I won’t tell you how long it took me to master that trick. Showers are evil, I’m easily distracted, and it’s slippy in there.
I genuinely fear that one day I’ll slip, do real damage, and that’s how my body will be found. Splayed out in the tub, tangled in the shower curtain, with water splashing everywhere. I sincerely apologize to whoever finds me. Good luck with therapy, and don’t wash your eyes out with soap. Trust me, it won’t erase the memories.
I try my best to avoid what’s become inevitable, but it seems to be, well, inevitable. Despite giving it a 110% or some other cliche; It sorta happens all on its own as if it’s predestined. Did I just open a thesaurus and look up another way to say inevitable? Yep, that’s the only word that adequately does the job.
Because I sure don’t do anything adequately on my own. Haha, self-deprecating jab. Aw, that’s so cute. Get help!
And I probably need it because the second I start to feel happy and excited about something, it falls apart. Looking for a new job? Jokes on you, no one’s hiring someone with your skillset. Do you really enjoy photography and going shooting in new places? Yes, it’s invigorating, and it makes me feel warm and tingly. Great, let’s insert a pile of self-doubt, a hefty dose of social anxiety and explode your life for two months.
Seriously, at this point, I’ve gotta stop making plans. Every time I schedule a day to go shoot, something comes up. Technical glitches in the matrix. That’s the only answer. Or, and I’m just spitballing, God has a peculiar sense of humour, and I don’t get the punchline. Perhaps because he takes the slap in slap-stick too literally.
That’s right, I can be a smart ass too. Please don’t send me to hell. I don’t do well in hot places.
Do I want to do something that offers sustainable happiness? Um, that’s a big thumbs up from me. I mean, that would be wonderful, and I can’t wait, but I’m going to have to wait. Life’s too unpredictable at the moment. What if I start something and I can’t finish it? What if I’m horrible at it? If only…
It’s a wild whirlwind that descends into the classic self-sabotage. I can come up with a dozen reasons why something won’t work out. They’ll all sound perfectly reasonable, and I’d even call them logical. If I explained it to you, you might even agree with me because, on the surface, it rings true.
Underneath the squishy bits where the sensitive parts hide?
There’s a truth I don’t want to acknowledge because it makes me sound weak, vulnerable, and maybe a tiny bit pathetic. Who wants to be any of those things? Nope, not I, my dear internet friend. If it’s not too presumptuous, could I put you down for a, me too?
These three words aren’t where it’s at. Oh, no, thank you. Or should I thank cultural programming that makes me wanna vomit every time I think you’ve spotted my weaknesses? Are we a part of a multi-generational Pavlovian-type experiment? Let’s see if an entire society can develop a conditioned response to these phrases and ideas. Mm, brilliant.
That’s messed up! But here we are, or rather, here I am. Admitting that I am a world-class f**k up who spends too much time saying, if only. If only I could spend less time saying it and more time doing something to change. Ah, such a silly wistful thought. It made me chuckle. Yes, if only.
I’m so good at messing up that I just destroyed an experiment that may or may not have taken a better part of two centuries. Epic. My bad? I didn’t mean to. If only I knew when to keep my mouth shut.
But I don’t so, here we are, and I’m about to tell you something I recently realized. It’s actually quite obvious. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to see it. I’m hyper-aware so, you’d think I’d have spotted it. I once had a therapist tell me, wow, you’re incredibly self-aware. I said, I know, and then waited for a chuckle that never came.
They couldn’t even give me a pity hee hee. A giggle of tired derision. Nothing? Crickets. Tough crowd.
I’m looking for a job in a semi post-pandemic world. It’s going about as well as you’d expect. Most jobs are ones I can’t do because of my physical limitations. That’s not soul-crushing at all. Others require certifications I don’t have. Once again, I wonder why I got a degree in theatrical and film arts. That was a useful experience, wasn’t it?
It’s slow going, and I’m applying whenever something pops up, but most of them seem like long shots. The other day I saw one that could be perfect for me. Not only could I physically do it, but I have the right qualifications. It also happens to be with an organization I admire, and the work would be meaningful. You’d think I’d click on the link ASAP and apply.
I sat there, biting my bottom lip, and the reasons for letting it go came quickly. It’s a long drive, and the traffic will be horrible. The cost of gas will be a nightmare. It’s not my favourite part of the city for no particular reason. Besides, they probably don’t want some like me anyway.
My dog listened intently as I listed all the reasons why I shouldn’t apply. It felt very reasonable, logical, and I was just about to click off when another question came up. Am I just scared? The if only’s are fun and all, but they’re just toys to play with. They’re out there in a magical realm where never and always vacation.
But here I am, trying to take some of my dreams and make them real. To do that, I need a job that will finically make these things possible. Everything else I’ve applied for feels like long shots, but this one seems like it could be something. You know, if the powers that be would give me a chance. Just give me a chance!
Again with the silence and the crickets? Cool.
The thought of accomplishing something meaningful scares the crap out of me, and I think that’s my biggest problem. I’m not a f**k up; I’m a coward. The thought of changing my life scares me to no end. The idea that it will stay like this is equally jarring. It’s fear upon fear, and I don’t know which one to ignore and which to embrace.
And yes, embracing fear is sometimes necessary. It can be a weapon we use to vanquish our dragons. It can motivate us and force us to do things we never dreamed we could do. Leap over buildings in a single bound. Ride a shark-like a rodeo clown or… Too far?
Fear can be useful or debilitating, and right now, I’m not sure which end of the spectrum I’m sliding towards. It’s incredibly uncomfortable, and this is when I usually do stupid things that sabotage any chance I might have. Yay, messed up mental health! It makes life interesting.
If you’ve ever wondered what having a mental illness feels like? For me, it’s constant overthinking, critiquing every aspect of my life, and constructing unnecessary roadblocks. I make things so much harder than they need to be and then wonder why I can’t be happy for more than twenty minutes a day. Wonderful. Brilliant. Make it stop!
Sitting there, staring at the computer screen, I finally asked myself the obvious: Are my reasons legit, or am I just scared? Is fear holding me back for a good reason, or is it stopping me from getting something good? What’s really stopping me?
In this case, and in many others, fear’s holding me back. It’s letting the dragons run wild, and I can’t leap over a crack in the pavement let-alone a building. It’s not the motivator I need, and it’s not helpful. It’s prolonging the agony so, I let out a slow breath and applied for the job.
Will I get it? Probably not. I have very little faith in myself or the possibility that someone will give me a chance. However, I took a chance, and you never know when life will surprise you. All any of us can do is show up, channel our fears into motivators, and try our best.