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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

15 Seconds

You ever have a string of days where you're progressively seeing yourself do dumb things, yet can't seem to stop them? The last three days have been like that for me. I've been battling sleep deprivation and it's not the kind where I'm like "Oh, I'm not going to bed early enough" but rather the kind where I'm like "Why am I tired after NINE HOURS OF SLEEP?!"

I've averaged nine hours of supposed sleep the last three nights and have little to show for it-except a dumber, more irritable, and generally dickish me.

The ultimate indictment of this, the true and powerful litmus test of how loserific I've been lately, came yesterday where, in a fit of irritability at myself (on number of levels) I decided to take it out on someone who was innocent. They were innocent and I stuck my nose in a situation that I had nothing to do with to enforce my will and take out some frustration.

15 seconds later, guilt set in and I looked at myself and said, "Way to be a dick."

15 seconds: seems like a small sample of life, doesn't it? Really it's not. In 15 seconds one can go from happy to sad, angry to remorseful, prideful to guilty. In 15 seconds I could do a number of horrible and amazing things. 15 seconds is a lifetime for some things and yet we treat it with very little respect.

It's 15 seconds... most of us will live at least 15 years, if not longer than that. 15 seconds is chump change, right?

In the grande scheme of things, for most, yes. For me... generally 15 seconds is enough for me to evaluate my immediate feelings on something I've done recently. It's a quick gut check: no time for excuses, no time for reasons, no time to let anything crop up to prevent you from an honest to god self evaluation.

And yesterday, I came to the conclusion I was guilty of being a dick.

That's fine, in of itself, but I did nothing to remedy the situation. Pride set in almost immediately afterward and I began to formulate a defense for my actions. A defense that I had to use tonight at dinner and I did use it... I choose to use it. I shouldn't have, I should have merely accepted it, but I used it.

I did stop using it, despite my pride saying otherwise and I survived relatively unscathed... but it doesn't change the fact that I messed it up and, rather than face the music, I tried to make it sound like I was right.

That sucks, just so you know. I thought I had that under control... I thought I could control my outbursts of frustration and instead I messed up, tried to justify it, and ended up feeling worse. I guess it's like they say, one needs to confess the sin immediately after committing it... if you let it sit and stew you end up trying to make yourself sound right.

Which I wasn't, to be clear. I was a dick-there's never any reason to be that.

That said, I can blame my irritability and frustration on my lack of sleep, but that's not entirely the truth. My irritability and frustration is just as much about my dissatisfaction with myself as it was about lack of sleep. Let me lay it out for you, day by day, how this went down.

Sunday: Church... on crap sleep, but church. All weekend I had eaten pretty poorly and I expected to feel like crap Sunday morning, and I did. But despite that I was very much looking forward to church... it's exciting to go to a new church with new people, starting off with a clean slate so to speak. No one knows me at this new church, no one knows the years of stupid things I've done, the horrible shape I was in last summer (and most of the last decade)... they all just assume I'm the same guy I've always been.

Eventually, it'll come out that I'm not, but the relative unknowness is nice. The lack of history, in particular, allows me to start fresh in meeting people. I took advantage of this this past Sunday, sticking myself out there to get to know some people... it's funny how things work out because a lot of the people I meet have the same names as people I know back at my home church.

Anyway, service went well, Sunday School went well, and on my way out I was involved in an extensive conversation with a cute girl and I wasn't making a fool of myself (I don't think so), but my mind was half distracted with things I needed to pick up at the store... so I wasn't all there.

So when she asked, "What are your plans for the rest of the day?"

I responded, "Shopping after this." It was true, those were my plans...

It wasn't until we parted ways and I got into my car, she into hers, that I realized what a golden opportunity I had just missed. She had asked what my plans were... if I had even an inkling of thought, I would have mentioned lunch and asked her for the pleasure of her company.

Instead, I said grocery shopping. After she left the parking lot I slammed my head into the steering wheel a few times and resigned myself to the fact that I suck-really, really suck-at even the most basic social things.

The grocery shopping went little better as I forgot to pick up two things, and then went and ate leftovers that I probably should have thrown out, felt ill, and missed Chinese buffet for dinner.

Well, I went to bed in a fairly miserable mood. Pissed at missing my golden opportunity, miserable at what I ate for the weekend (and lunch that day), and lacking in sleep.

Monday:  It would be little better Monday. I woke up, again feeling tired and more irritable, and knew that I didn't deserve any sort of food, so I decided to fast at least until dinner. I was on the path to Crankyville and despite having a relatively easy day, by the time late afternoon struck, I was in a foul mood.

So foul that someone who doesn't take notice of my mood actually commented on it and how it seemed off. That should have been a warning sign that I was about to do something dumb and I did just that. I went, became a dick for a minute, and 15 seconds later felt horrible for it.

Despite this I enjoyed dinner and did my best to be nice to my innocent victim the rest of the day. Still, I felt bad once again and in order to get sleep, I took a pill.

Tuesday: That pill did nothing for me. I woke up again feeling tired, irritable, and all around unhappy. I was not in a good mood and I again tried to be nice to my innocent victim-which I succeeded in today, but it doesn't make it any better. The day was spent in brain dead mode, my klutzness turned to full.

I then got called out at dinner for being a dick, essentially, and I tried to defend it about halfway through before realizing that the defense of my actions was merely a confirmation of my dickness. I dropped the defense, accepted the consequences, and apologized to an indirect victim.

I'll be apologizing to the innocent victim tomorrow morning.

Bottom line: 15 seconds can put the actions of two days into focus.

It was a pretty sharp focus. Got cut from some of the edges and generally I feel... smaller. Less. Such actions are not worthy of someone my age... they're worthy of someone who's 15, not someone who looks 15 such as myself (still pissed at that).

Ultimately, it shows that human growth can just as easily be overestimated as it is underestimated. We think less of people because people, as the phrase goes, are idiots. We think highly of ourselves because we know ourselves.

We don't know ourselves. We think we do, we hope we do, but we don't. We can revert back to worse versions of ourselves faster than we can try and grow a new version... unfortunately, it's easier for us to rollback to previous behaviors than it is to instill new ones in us.

This fact I am learning first hand this week. Such dickish, irritable, behavior is teenage junk that I should have nothing to do with. I'm pissed at myself but more that, I'm disappointed in myself.

It doesn't mean I quit... it just means I have to commit myself to being better and following through. It's all about personal motivation, as someone and I were discussing today. I used that personal motivation before to lose 126 pounds... I need to use that personal motivation now to shape the internal me rather than the external one.

It sounds hard and it is.

But maybe it's not all bad news... after all, it only took 15 seconds to bring everything into focus.

Well, two days and 15 seconds really. Maybe not the best news but certainly not the worst. I've been known to last longer than that on a bad course of action.

At least it's progress. Right?

... right. 

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