On being a jerk


The WordPress organization puts out a daily prompt or suggested topic. Yesterday’s was about Regrets.

I have done a few pretty dumb things in my life. I’ve done things I probably shouldn’t have, and I’ve done things I definitely shouldn’t have, and I’ve neglected to do things I should have.

And bad mistakes ‒
I’ve made a few.
I’ve had my share of sand kicked in my face
But I’ve come through.

Queen

So what do I regret? Oh, a few things. A few involving my incompetence around girls as a teenager (What might have happened if I had told Cathy W. how beautiful her 9th grade music class performance of Für Elise was?). I regret not having taken a class from Paul Wellstone when I was in college. I regret the loss of a good raincoat that I neglected to carefully dry out, so it wouldn’t have gotten mildewed.

But those aren’t things I regret too much, not any more. What I really regret the most is the times I was a jerk to someone, for trivial reasons. When I was pissed off about something irrelevant and took it out on someone who wasn’t involved. When I did something cruel that I didn’t really have to do.
I was frequently an ass as a teenager and still can be sometimes when I’m not watching myself.

Mostly, I regret the deeds that gave me bad karma.

To the woman who was lost in the chemistry building in about 1989, and I didn’t stop to help you: I’m sorry.

To the waitress I stiffed a very long time ago, because I was low on cash, I’m sorry.

To the very elderly (and unwashed) homeless? lady in a Boston train station, circa 1979: I’m sorry. I hated having your smell stuck to my hands after I helped you carry things. Any “good karma” from helping a stranger was more than wiped out by the disgust and resentment I carried.

To the unknown person I said something unthinkingly harsh to, without even noticing, and therefore made your shaky day worse: I’m sorry. (That’s probably happened more than once.)

To the flamboyantly purple-wearing man in Evans dorm, 1982, who I assumed was homosexual: sorry for judging you. Maybe you are gay, maybe just had a colorful fashion sense. It’s none of my business anyway, and the extremely rude nickname that I tagged you with (privately) is not fit even for the Internet.

I regret all the times I’ve let minor irritation grow into anger, or distaste grow into disgust. I regret not living up to my own standards. I regret resenting people who remind me of my own flaws when they exhibit the same flaws.

My life thus far has grown into a pretty good one. I don’t know how some of the major things I have done (or failed to do) might have made life turn out differently. I can’t really regret those things – even the really bad and stupid ones – because they have shaped who I am now. Had I been able to have a better relationship with my parents, maybe I would not have wanted to be 1000 miles away from home for college. I’m very glad of how that turned out, even if it was not for a good reason. Had I been less dysfunctional in romantic relationships, I might not have still been single when I met the woman who has now been my wonderful spouse for 19 years. So. There are some huge things in my life that I could regret, that I don’t. What I regret are the little stupid things that wound up hurting other people.

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One thought on “On being a jerk

  1. Pingback: Expectations, reality, and happiness | chemprofdave

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