Recently, a friend told me that I was the gay, male version of Taylor Swift. I agreed, we laughed, and then both promptly ordered another round of mimosas.
Okay, that’s not entirely true. This bitch is currently off the sauce—six months and counting. We’ll see how long sobriety lasts, because in these dark and trying times (yes, I’m referring to all of the excess holiday weight I’ve gained), nothing quite comforts me like eighteen dirty martinis.
Anyway, I’m not exactly sure what my friend and I ordered another round of, but it’s a safe bet that it was something deep-fried. Me likes my breading. That’s just the cold, hard truth.
Another cold, hard truth: I started out intending to use this new blog article to bitch about men. Like Ms. Swift, I planned to bi—er—write about the men in my life. Men from my past, men from my present, men who annoy me on social media. You get the idea. As it turns out, I do share some similarities with Tay Tay. I just wish those similarities also included her accolades and net worth.
Instead, I want to use my platform (for today, anyway) and what will be my last piece of original content for 2020 to discuss a very important topic—my most favorite topic of all: me.
I’m kidding! Well, kind of.
Rather than simply write about the men in my life or my specific experiences with men—and there have been some doozies—I want to take a look at my part in various situations. After all, it’s my life, which means I hold some responsibility and control for what happens.
Don’t worry, though. I’m sure I’ll make time and room to complain about something and/or someone. You know how I do. I mean, it’s not really a Cutter Slagle blog or a Taylor Swift song if something/someone isn’t getting called out. Maybe that’s just the writer in us.
As a writer, I’m always thinking. No, that’s not accurate, and some of you are probably even laughing right now. But, as a writer, my mind is always wondering. Contemplating, considering, calculating. (How do you like that alliteration?) And while thinking lately, I came up with a realization I hadn’t paid much attention to before . . .
All of my experiences—good, bad, ugly, illegal—have one factor in common: Me.
Every time I’ve been disappointed or angry or heartbroken or disgusted or anything, I’ve played a part in the events that unfolded. Further, everything that has happened to me has happened as a direct result of a decision I made.
For example, I made the decision to drink and drive ten years ago, and as a result, I totaled my car. I made the decision to stay in a shithole relationship three years ago, and as a result, I got my heart broken (welcome back to our regularly scheduled programming; I told you it wouldn’t be long). I made the decision to eat my weight in holiday sweets this year, and as a result, my socks don’t even fit me anymore.
Decisions. We make decisions every single day. When it comes to making these decisions, the options we have to choose from may not always be enticing, but we still have to make a choice—even if it’s choosing between the lesser of two evils. Though making a decision (of any kind) can often be hard, even painful, or seemingly impossible, it is also the only way we significantly learn.
Back in March 2019, I wrote a blog article about tests and lessons. Basically, it doesn’t matter how old we are, tests and lessons will always be a part of our lives. Hopefully, anyway. The same can be said for learning. If we’re lucky, we will never stop learning, regardless of our age.
At first, coming to this idea (with my therapist, I can’t take all of the credit) promptly made me think, “What the fuck?” You see, I hate learning. My brain is at full capacity. I don’t have room for any additional information. That was until I saw (or, my therapist made me see) the obvious: The day we stop learning, is the day we stop living.
And, I think one thing we can all agree on, is that learning doesn’t just help us live, but also helps us grow.
Two things we can all agree on: Gerald Butler needs to do more full-frontal nudity in his films. Three things we can all agree on: 2020 has been a fickle fuck of a year where we have all had to learn something about ourselves.
What’s the most important thing I’ve learned about myself? Probably that I should always take inventory of my snacks before lighting a bowl. Actually, I learned that a while ago, but I’m the type of person who usually has to learn something eighty-seven times before it sticks.
All joking aside, I learned that I am in control of my thoughts, my actions, my feelings, my decisions . . . my life. I am in control of my life.
And, for fuck’s sake, let’s not even go down that COVID-19 path where some dirty, toothless, Billy Small Willy Bob spouts off some incoherent ramble, like, “Der, we didn’t have no control of our lives ‘cause of those there masks we has to wear.”
We do always have some sort of control over our lives. We do always have some sort of control over our thoughts, our actions, our feelings, our decisions . . . our lives.
Of course, in order for me to come to this conclusion, I had to learn several lessons. After all, the only way to live, to grow, to learn . . . is to experience.
How do you know you don’t enjoy spinach unless you try it? Though, to be completely frank, there is something I know for a fact I wouldn’t enjoy and I have never tried it—or plan to try it. Praise be!
But, the only way for us to know what we want, what we like, what we need, is to learn it. And, in order to learn these things, we have to put ourselves out there. We have to be willing to get hurt, make mistakes, take risks, look like a fool, be vulnerable. We have to be willing to win, lose, strikeout, fail.
And then, we have to learn to get back up and keep moving forward. To take the lesson(s) we’ve learned and use them as we continue on our journey.
I bet we’ve all learned strengths about ourselves this past year. We’ve all learned exactly what we’re capable of, what we’re willing to sacrifice or compromise on, what we want to make a stand for.
Most importantly, hopefully, we’ve learned to have faith in ourselves. We’ve also hopefully learned to trust ourselves, love ourselves, protect ourselves, be kind to ourselves, forgive ourselves, and remind ourselves that life goes on—but only if we want it to.
Only if we never stop learning.