At the end of the day, it's those (drunken) mistakes you make in your 20s that create compassion and empathy and help you grow as a human.
I'm in the midst of my third quarter-life crisis (Do I get a prize?) and everything I know to be true seems to be falling out from under me.
I continue to make questionable choices.
I decide to party too hard, I forget to sleep and eat, I spend all my money on clothes instead of food and then, I spend my last remaining $20 on pizza.
So, in a desperate attempt to quit making the wrong decisions, I’ve backed off from life.
I’ve taken a step back from the usual attack mode I prefer.
I go to bed at night sober, alone and clothed.
I’ve stopped texting ex-lovers questionable things.
I wake up early enough in the morning to work out, so there are no regrets when I stay late at work to get stuff done at night.
I eat salad more than I eat pizza.
I don’t make hungover pit stops for French fries or Cheetos on my way to work.
I’m a functioning, full-fledged adult and a valued member of society, even.
It’s been a successful endeavor.
I’ve stopped making mistakes.
But, am I happier?
No, not really. Not yet.
I’m bored. I have nothing to Instagram, and I’ve been getting a little arrogant.
Well, good Lord almighty, nothing takes you down a few pegs like a bad drunken night.
Those tactless comments, reckless texts, passionate arguments and hot, messy, public tears strip you of your pride and remind you who you are at your core.
You’re forced to reconsider what you value and what you want out of this life.
The Sunday after my own drunk, messy Friday, I sat in my misery, worked through my problems, configured my goals and my obstacles, gave myself a pep talk and watched a little Amy Schumer stand-up comedy.
(Seriously, she kills me. She's my idol.)
Then, yesterday, out of the blue, one of my favorite ladies needed the same pep talk I gave myself.
What I was trying to say here (before autocorrect got in the way) is I don't want to be perfect.
I want to live, experience, love and suffer.
I don't even want to pretend like I'm perfect.
I don't want to spend my years sitting in the backseat of life, filled with self-righteousness.
How else am I to turn into a worthwhile person who can love and care about other imperfect beings?
How else do I acquire empathy?
Nothing else teaches us not to judge one another like a little (or a lot) of failing ourselves.
Think about that episode of "Friends" when Phoebe finally falls for Mike.
The writers of "Friends" simultaneously realized they forgot to write in some character development for poor Pheebs.
Phoebe has to lie and say she’s had her heart broken before.
She’s ashamed her heart made it to 30 intact, so she makes up a fake ex-lover and claims he wrecked her.
It’s hard not to be a little wary of those who haven’t experienced love and heartbreak.
There are so many mistakes and gnarly life lessons that come with all that.
It’s easier to hang around people who understand and don’t judge, people who know what it’s like to have been made better by their blunders.
Mankind is complacent by nature.
We follow the basic rules of inertia.
Unless we are pushed and poked, we have no incentive to move forward.
Without a problem, we have no reason to look for a solution.
Stupid, drunken mistakes remind us to take life by the horns, to list our goals, to make our plans and to go after what we want, imperfectly and messily.
But, we must do so with passion and kindness.
A condensed version of this article was originally published on A Little Revelry.