Tag: friends

Three lessons I learned from one of the dumbest things I ever did

I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life. That’s how it is – I’m not perfect, and I don’t think there is any use in pretending that’s the case. What’s important to me is that every time I make a mistake I learn something from it, something valuable, and something which ensures that I never make that same mistake again.

When I was 14 a good friend of mine I played football with, got jumped by a few older guys, and they beat him up pretty badly, which obviously upset everyone who knew this person, including everyone on the team.

Except for this one person who said that he thought he had it coming, and made it very clear that he thought what happened to him was well-deserved.

Now, this is not a very nice thing to say about anyone, and again everyone involved was super upset, and this is where my stupidity started rearing its ugly head, because at this point I started talking to some of my friends about beating up this guy who had been running his mouth, and I let myself get talked into it, not because I wanted to stand up for my friend or because I wanted to live up to some sort of personal code, but because I wanted to be cool and popular.

Let me say that again for emphasis – I punched someone in the face because I wanted to be cool and popular.

That is one of the single dumbest things I’ve done in my life.

But what happened subsequently is more important than the event itself for a number of reasons, as I’m sure you’ll agree in a few minutes.

After the episode, which was incidentally caught on camera, with one of the very first camera phones, I got called into the principal’s office, and she tore me a new one, and decided that in her mind I had crossed the line, and she decided to expel me from the school, which meant I had to find a new school.

On top of that, the person I’d hit or his parents – most likely the latter – decided to press charges, which resulted in a court case, and me having to pay a pretty serious fine.

Throughout all of this, my mom was a nervous wreck, which is understandable, because she didn’t know what the outcome was going to be, and I’m sure the uncertainty got to her.

When I think back to this which happened some 15 years ago, I can’t help but to think that I didn’t understand the severity of it all. I might not have actually been able to comprehend what was really happening or the potential consequences. What still bugs me the most however, is my motive for doing what I did, and that leads me directly to lesson number 1:

Never let your actions be dictated by your perception of others’ opinion of you

We all care about other people’s opinion of us. It’s natural and it’s most likely a relic from the time we lived in hunter-gatherer societies and our survival depended on being accepted in the group. That doesn’t mean that it’s the best course of action however – in fact, in our modern society I’d go so far as to say that caring too much about others’ opinion of you is most likely counter-productive, because it can force you to take actions which go against your principles, or which are downright stupid, as my story aptly shows.

And while that story might be an extreme example, it is illustrative nonetheless, and with that, let’s have a look at lesson number 2: 

Our actions have unintended and far-ranging consequences

When I decided to punch someone in the face, I didn’t give one ounce of consideration to the consequences. I just did it and figured that would be the end of it, but that’s not how the world works. The world works in such a way that every action has reactions. Not only an equal and opposite reaction, but many related reactions which influence and are influenced by an unseemly number of factors, chief among them other human beings and the systems of society. Not in my wildest dreams did I figure that I would end up in court, or that I would have to change schools, but that’s what happened nonetheless.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that we put our every action under a microscope and examine everything we do in the minutest of details, but I am suggesting that we take time to reflect on the fact that what we do might affect us later on, and might even affect those around us as well, which leads to lesson number 3:

What we do can affect our loved ones as much – or more – as ourselves

I never knew I could have make my parents – mom and my stepdad – as sad as I did. They were devastated, and I’m sure I would have been if I was in their shoes. If this had been the only consequence of what I did, and I had realized this beforehand, I would never have done it. Not in a million years. But I didn’t think about that, and that’s the whole issue. What we do intensely affect the people we love, and that is all the more reason to give careful consideration to the things we do before we do them – all the more reason to be careful with our actions, because they might affect our loved ones as much or more as ourselves.

 

Who’s got your back?

There is nothing better than realizing that someone supports you even when you’re not at your best – in other words, when you need their support the most.

Good friendships. Strong friendships, which are based on you and your friends love for each other is literally one of the best things in the world. These friendships are rare, few and far between, so we must cherish them when we find ones which are real.

I don’t have too many friendships like this. In fact, I would say I have a single friendship which is truly special, because it is founded on nothing but our love for each other and our common interests in football, books and philosophy.

We are eerily similar, but also very different at the same time. We have known each other for more than 15 years, and at this point I have a very hard time seeing what could ever break us apart.

We can sit in silence together. We can talk about important things. We can talk about simple things. We can talk about the big things and the small things, and the time I spend with him is some of my favorite time to spend.

I wouldn’t trade our friendship for a billion dollars and if someone asked me if I would sell my friendship with him to them for all the money in the world I’d tell them to go fuck themselves long and hard.

He has my back.

I have his back.

Forever and always.

And that is one of the things I am truly grateful for in life.

Who has your back?

What two epileptic seizures in a week taught me about gratitude

As I’ve recently blogged about, I live by the belief that everything is transitory. We live in an impermanent world, and whenever we think we are in control of everything, fate has a way of throwing a monkey wrench in our otherwise perfect cogs.

Most of the time, I feel like I have a pretty firm handle on things. I’m in a career that I love, surrounded by colleagues I appreciate and look up to for the most part. My fiancée is incredible, and by all measures I feel like I’m doing pretty well.

But then last week, after a night of heavy drinking, I got an epileptic seizure for the first time in my life. Not a pleasant experience, but I figured it was a one off, and as soon as the weekend rolled back around I went out for a few more beers with some friends. Nothing crazy, but apparently still sufficient because by the time Friday night turned to Saturday morning I seized up again. This time it lasted for a shorter while, but I bit my tongue like a motherfucker and doing all things tongue-related (insert dirty joke) still hurts pretty badly.

My point is…

… that everything changes, and there’s no point in getting too comfortable or getting too used to things being a certain way, because the only guarantee in life is that things change constantly. This is not a bad thing however, simply because the very reminder can help pull us back into a better state and make us more appreciative of what we have, and focus on all the things which are already good in our lives as opposed to what we want to achieve in the future.

If having two epileptic seizures in a week taught me anything it is to be super grateful for everything that is good in our lives, and that there are many more people who care about our well-being than we might believe at first glance, and we all have much more to be grateful for than we give ourselves credit for in everyday life.

Lessons from that one time I made a true enemy

When I was in university, I decided I would write one of assignments with a person I knew – sort of. We got along pretty well, and we both liked the football (round ball) so what could possibly go wrong? A whole lot as it turned out.

We clashed on almost every front, and we really clashed on the direction of the assignment. We basically wanted to take it in opposite directions, and the direction we ended up going cost us a D. Not the end of the world for either of us, but enough to make us both feel annoyed at the other person.

I blamed him for our bad grade and I told him as much.

Ladies and gentlemen, let this be the first lesson on how to make an enemy. If you want to make other people angry at you blame them for your shortcomings.

Anyways, I soon came to my senses and realized that I’d at the very least been an accomplice in this whole debacle but it was too late.

But whatever, I figured I’d never have to see him again, so who cares right?

Wrong.

We literally work in the same department at a large consulting company and run in to each other every so often. It’s never pleasant, but it’s always a reminder of how to make enemies.

Which is highly counterproductive. I literally cannot think of a single positive aspect of having a enemy, so take it from me and let me advise against it. If you can avoid it, then don’t do it. Don’t make enemies.

It’s not worth it.