My friend’s wife was knocking on the bathroom door. I don’t know how long I’d been locked inside. All I know is that it had been long enough to warrant a door knock from a woman I barely knew.
I’d been staring in the mirror, talking to myself.
“What are you doing? What are you doing? What are you doing?”
I asked myself over and over again out loud. I wonder if they could hear me? I couldn’t stop staring myself in the eyes, asking.
“What are you doing? What are you doing?”
I didn’t know what the hell I was doing there, and I was determined to figure it out. I stared at myself in the mirror and asked myself. I didn’t have an answer yet, so I just kept asking. It was late, long after last call. I looked beautiful and totally partied out, so drunk and confused and sad and that special kind of lonely you feel when you’re in a room full of people. Everyone else knew what they were doing there. I knew how I got there. I knew what everyone else was doing there. I knew that I didn’t want to be there, doing what I was doing.
“What are you doing?”
Sometimes, you just gotta ask. We’ve all been there. Well, I hope we have. If I’m the only one that has ever asked, “Why did I do that,” or “What are you doing,” or “ugh, what’s wrong with me?!” my problem might be bigger than I thought.
Your favorite self-help guru would try to comfort me by saying there isn’t such thing as a wrong decision or mistake. They’d say that we’re all doing the best we can, with the information we have, with the thoughts we believed at the time. If you knew better, or could have done better, you would have. That’s all great, and pretty accurate in my experience, but it does little to comfort a person in the moments after they’ve decided and are living with a decision they aren’t sure about, finding themselves not having a clue what they did or how they got there.
And then, what about when somebody else decides these things for you?
Maybe someone breaks up with you out of the blue. You don’t get picked for the job. Your crush doesn’t call. You get fired without any warning. You walk out of the store into the parking lot to find your bumper crushed into your trunk. Your best friend decides to move to the other side of the country. Somebody you thought would be around forever gets sick or dies.
That’s when I stop asking and start shouting, “Hey, nobody asked me if I wanted any of this. Why didn’t anybody ask me?!”
Just kidding. (Kind of.)
I take full responsibility for my decisions and attitude as much as I can, but it’s not always fun and almost never easy. Especially because I don’t always even know why I make the decisions that I do. The bathroom incident happened a few years ago. I hadn’t even thought about it until the other night when I found myself in a similar situation, and can’t remember having been in a similar situation since that time many years ago. I’d say that’s a pretty good track record for finding yourself in yucky situations that your own decisions put you in.
Twice in five years? Damn, that’s winning!
But when it’s me, I beat myself up all over town for days having some sort of existential crisis about who I am and about what I’m doing with my whole life and about how everything I’ve accomplished is silly and completely wasted because of things I did or said, or didn’t do or didn’t say, or what other people think, or who so-and-so thinks I am after one night of a little too much fun.
Stop, Katey. Just stop.
Maybe we need those moments.
The ones where we have no clue who we are or what we’re doing. The moments when you do something that is just so not you. Or maybe it’s who you were at one time, but not anymore. We need those moments to remind us of how far we’ve come, to ground us in the fact that we aren’t invincible or perfect. We need them to prove that we’re all doing the best we can, but that we can also always do a little bit better. We need these moments to remind us of the type of person we don’t want to be so that we can become the best version of ourself.
And the best part is? You get to decide from one moment to the next who you are. If who you are in this moment doesn’t match up with who you want to be in the next, you get to change it. Even if it’s one of those somebody-else-decided, out-of-your-control moments, at the very least you get to choose how you feel about it and how you’re going to be from each moment forward.
As for me, well, I can’t promise that I’ll never have “too much fun” again. But I can promise that I’ll be nicer to myself if it happens. That way, if I do find myself staring at in the mirror again, I’ll love the girl I see for doing everything she can to do better and be better in each next moment.