Have you ever looked at a picture of yourself and thought “Oh. That wasn’t so bad.” It happens to me a lot. Is that weird? It is, isn’t it? Because it sounds like I spend a lot of time looking at pictures of myself. But I don’t. I’m just saying that when I do see a picture of myself, I usually look better than I remember thinking I looked at the time. Usually. There are some pictures out there that exist for the sole purpose of keeping me humble. And keeping my haters justified. But for the most part, looking back reminds me how skewed my current perception probably is.
Because I tend to obsess over the negatives. As part of my goal to launch a theatre company this year, I recently held a reading/listening party for a new show I wrote. And afterwards, a few different friends asked me how it went and if I was happy with it. And I had to answer honestly that no, I wasn’t. But I was never going to be. Because I never am. Because nothing is ever perfect and I am always going to fixate on what went wrong. During the first half of the reading, I was absolutely convinced that at least 80% of the audience was going to come up with excuses to leave at intermission. I was braced for it. And then it didn’t happen. They stayed. And afterwards, their questions and comments seemed to indicate that they didn’t hate it. And I didn’t hate it either… after two days of relentlessly picking it apart and putting it back together in my head. The reading was on Saturday evening and on Tuesday morning I made peace with it. And I’m pretty proud of that. Because that was record time for me.
But I want to get even faster in 2017. Faster to forgive. Faster NOT to forget. And faster to look back.
- Faster to forgive. Not just others but myself.
“The only people who never fail are those who never try.” I’m not gonna like it, but I hope I rack up a record number of mistakes in 2017. Not maliciously, just meanwhile. In my attempts to move forward. And when I do, I hope I’m as fast to forgive myself as I would be to forgive a friend who I knew was doing their best to do their best.
- Faster NOT to forget. To not let the bad block out the good.
I lost two friendships in 2016. I mean cut out, radio silence, won’t-like-my-instagram-posts-anymore (#passiveInstaggression) lost. And because there were no conversations and attempts at contact were rebuffed, the only reasons I can find in retracing our steps are so petty, that they’re almost award-worthy. (With the award being a no-expense paid trip to the nearest White Castle. Enjoy.) But I was shook. I found myself getting paranoid and waiting for my other two friendships to fall apart. Except… I don’t have two other friendships. I can’t tell you off the top of my head how many friendships I didn’t lose in 2016 because I haven’t been obsessing about those.** But I should have been. I should be. When I’m losing things, I need to be faster not to forget all that I still have.
- Faster to look back. And appreciate now for what it really is.
I started re-watching “The Office” in December. So for a few weeks it was my constant background noise. And when it got to the last episode I was blown away by this Andy Bernard quote that I had forgotten: “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.” However faulty and flawed and far from the mark I am at this moment, I’m closer to where I’m headed than I’ve ever been. And when I look back on me three years ago, five years ago, ten years ago and I look back on the things I thought I’d never get over, the answers I didn’t have, the ways out that I couldn’t see… I have so much grace and so much gratefulness for those previous (dumber) versions of me and what I know now because of them. And I’d like to get better at looking back on these days while I’m still in them. And at giving myself grace and the space to learn what I don’t know yet.
I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting bolder or just getting older, but I feel like I’m getting over myself. I’m not necessarily worrying less about what other people think, I’m just not letting that worry have the final word. Because we’re going to fail. We’re going to fall. We’re going to lose things. And our lives are probably always going to look awkward to us as they’re unfolding in the moment. But someday, with some perspective, we’ll probably realize “Oh. That wasn’t so bad.”
** I fully realize and acknowledge that not everybody is going to like me all the time. And fully realize and acknowledge any number of people have legitimate reasons not to. Yourself included, probably. So if you’re reading this and you are still my friend, you are a true Christian and da real MVP. And I promise it’ll be worth it someday.