There’s a lot of stuff people (and by people I clearly mean magazines and also early morning TV correspondents) say you shouldn’t do when you break up with someone.
“Thinking about a fresh new Mohawk?” they might trill, “Hold off until you’ve healed your heartbreak with smudge sticks, Pilates and journaling!”
What they mean is, don’t make any big, life-changing decisions that you might come to regret. Why they always emphasize changes you might make to your hair (which, you know, most of us are eventually going to do anyway, and -- bonus points -- grows back if you totally fuck it up) and not something like moving halfway across the country to live in your car is an unknown.
I get it -- regret is a terrible feeling. Just ask "The Last Unicorn." But every time I read another “Chill It With Body Piercings Until You Have Banged At Least Three New Guys You Don’t Love” article I wonder when -- if ever -- it is the right time to make big time, life changing decisions?
I’m thinking about this a lot lately -- because I feel like it’s time for a Big Life Change for yours truly, and an "enter here" tattoo won't cut it. (LOL butt sexx). While I know a change is necessary, I’ve been programmed to worry that I’m not in the right headspace to make one.
No, I didn’t get dumped. But I’m still single, I did recently find out that a layoff from my job is imminent, my baby sister is getting married, and never forget -- my Dirty Thirties are crouched and ready to pounce come this summer.
In a way, it’s all good stuff (she said with wild, possibly drunk eyes). The layoff means a chance to try and hack it as a writer full-time, and the forced re-evaluation of all other arenas of my life could result in me doing responsible adult stuff like getting a driver’s license, not letting my cat's vomit dry before cleaning it up, and moving to a city where the cost of living is lower and the odds are higher that I will meet someone I want to start a family with.
Oh my god, that just made me all sweaty to write -- I AM OVERWHELMED IN ADVANCE.
The world is my proverbial oyster, right? Which in its way is more fucking daunting to consider than every other big life change I’ve experienced to date, because I'm going to be making these choices actively.
When I think back to every major decision I’ve made as an adult up until now, be it applying to grad school, moving in with a stranger, ending relationships, interviewing for jobs, getting a tattoo (not the fictive butt-sexx one), shaving off all my own pubes and once a portion of my eyebrow -- they can all be characterized by the same, internal thought process: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
They weren’t all made in the aftershocks of a breakup, but they were made with little to no thought or care for the future. Instead, they all shared a panicked confidence that my present situation had to change -- and to change IMMEDIATELY .
And so, the results of said choices were.... mixed. Example: My eyebrow grew back, but now I have an MFA in playwriting. ArthurMillerSwagIGuess?
Whatever the outcome, the feeling of taking a mammoth risk was exhilarating. That's because usually I am the queen of letting shit fester. I take my time to the point of excess. I can sit in a rut for years and love it. I once read that every day, for the entire duration of "Friends," Jennifer Aniston ordered a Cobb Salad for lunch. It was meant as an example of how kooky and weird she was. Maybe some people took it that way. I, conversely, shrugged it off as one more "STARS ARE LIKE US YOU GUYS.”
I wish I took risks more often instead of waiting for things to happen to me. I wish I was proactive instead of waiting for things to reach their logical conclusion and only then being forced into making some sort of decision. I think I’d feel more adult -- at any rate, I’d feel more adult chalking up a decision to say, leave New York and make my home in a city that made me less insane, if I came to that conclusion after a lot of thoughtful weighing of pros and cons.
Instead, it’s when I’m in front of my computer in my skivvies on a Saturday glowering at a Facebook message from a guy who should have called me and didn’t that I begin furiously clicking on housing options in Austin, Texas and cursing a guy who I probably wouldn’t even really like that much if he actually liked me.
We’re supposed to be careful about the choices we make, but there’s something about the bold embrace of making entirely the wrong decision -- and quickly -- that feels, in its way, even more empowering that skulking cautiously around the edges of our own lives.
How do you suss out big life choices? What’s the worst hair change you’ve made in the wake of a breakup? Is it beyond insane of me to literally flee a city in the baseless hope of meeting a dude who doesn't totally blow? Do you know a nice guy in New York? WHY ARE THINGS SO HARD TO FIGURE OUT GUYS?