The first and last time I ever drank Everclear straight was also the last time I blacked out so hard that I forgot my name the next morning. Prior to those fateful shots, all of my friends cajoled for me to put down the alcohol.
“If you drink that, you’ll be the stupidest person in this room.”
“Do you want to die?”
“Don’t do it. I swear to God.”
Needless to say, I didn’t take their advice.
I think falling in love falls somewhere along those same lines.
You spend your entire life hearing about the dangers of getting attached and swearing that you’d be exception, only to find yourself five songs deep into Adele’s new album with one name on your mind. You know all the rules to the game: don’t date the bad boy, don’t be clingy, don’t backslide with an ex. You walk into the preverbal room with all of these cautions in the back of your mind, only to throw them away seconds later. From there, it’s just a guessing game. What’s fucking you up more? The tequila or your emotions?
I’m a writer, in the loosest and most technical sense of the word. I fling some words on a page and hope that someone, somewhere in the world, will take something away from it. As a result, I’ve written a lot of relationship pieces: most of them assigned, some of them chosen. I can sit here and preach about what you should and shouldn’t do. I could stare at the metaphorical bottle in your hand and tell you that it’s going to fuck you up. I have the opportunity to do all of these things because I am not you and a bystander’s position is always the easiest role to play.
Do not look up to me for instructions on what to do.
If you ask me if you should date that boy, I will bite my tongue and shrug my shoulders. As a relationship editor, everyone seems to think I possess some special insight on romance. I do not. I’m walking through the dark, same as you. If you ask me what you should do, I won’t sway you one way or another.
If you want to date the bad boy, fucking do it.
Make out with your ex-best friend’s crush. Sleep with the stranger from the bar. Drunk call the girl from your marketing class at 3:32 AM in the morning.
You can spend the rest of your life avoiding stepping on land mines. You might even get lucky and avoid heartbreak because Cosmo taught you how to decode cryptic text messages and what it means when he doesn’t want to meet your family. You’ll experience love only through the pages of a magazine and think to yourself, “At least that’s not me.”
Except that sounds like a shitty way to live.
Life isn’t supposed to come with directions, especially not when it comes to your heart. It’s meant to be lived and there’s a lot to be lost when you’re only coloring within the lines. Do all the things that you know you’re not supposed to do so when the next time comes around, you know that you’re saying “no” for you. Give yourself room to fall because the best kind of growth comes from rock bottom. Stop playing it safe because you decided that it’s in your best interest to follow the rulebook. The best kinds of lessons are the ones that you learn for yourself.
After all, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.