Skip to main content

Learning to Give A Shit

“When I’d get an A on a test, I’d get this good feeling about all the things I could be – and I never became any of them.”-Chris Gardner

I now make my bed every morning. It’s a start.

I’ve known for a while now I had to at least care enough to “keep on.”

I realized this years ago when I was given a “final warning” at my job…basically was told I was careless and did not care.

They were correct.

In college, after high school hell I did have my first epiphany. Motivation had come charging at me, almost as if I created it, conjured it up, with all my pent up energy.

There it was.

I would work hard. I would become an epic news anchor. Tough as nails, a woman people feared and respected. Christiane Amanpour perhaps?  I joined the college newspaper, I became active in the college community, participating in student short films, comedy groups—basically getting “out there”.  I majored in broadcast journalism and became an anchor for the college television and radio stations. I made friends.

I met a boy. He broke my heart. I gave up. It is a tired, timeless story retold in so many forms and variations—and a naïve one.  If I could go back to that girl now, I’d smack her.

But I was that girl,  tired and naïve, and in a sense- thinking life would never change, that the same cycles of hope and despair would continue- timeless.

Since that time I slowly descended over the years into alcoholism and I thought of my job as a paycheck to stay in my apartment and be able to live freely, without my parent’s reign. Though anyone could easily argue, that was not living, if my nest egg were to be pulled out from under me, I would move back into my parents’ house yet again. And I would not be free.

I started paying more attention and stopped screwing up at work, but I realized I didn’t even do these things I was supposed to care about at work, for myself. How could I care at work?

I didn’t put on makeup. My hair was either disheveled and/or thrown back.

And the shape of my apartment…forget it. I was paying rent not only for refuge and shelter with me and my bottle but for the very freedom NOT to do these things. I would clean thoroughly if I was to entertain guests but for me the laundry would pile for days and then the mitoses process would form its twin, hence the pile that was actually clean would build in what needed to be ironed.

So-in short—I was buying a lot of new clothes. And these would just inevitably be added to the twin peaks of basic necessities in my bedroom.

The style in which I lived was utter chaos. And it wouldn’t be hard to pick up on it. All one would have to do is look at me to see that.

How would I change?

I never read The Marshmallow Test but read a review in the New York Times once, and decided to follow its general concept. Change my behavior. And it started at first wake, every day, make your bed.

So I’ve started making my bed. But life needed more than just doing.

I also realize now, I really need start giving a shit. And not just pretend.

In order to do better at work, I would have to live better. Work alone was the reason for my launch into slight progression, not success, but to at least maintain. I cleaned thoroughly at least once a week…just because. It wasn’t that hard to do because once I kicked a few back I embraced my new motivation to be a “better” woman. But I started to notice, even when sober, the piles would get to me. They had to be laundered/ironed regardless. The dust bunnies had to go. I was breathing this in on a daily basis! I would start to scrub the toilets, the windowsills, those hard to reach places that company would not be able to spot should they come over anyway. I cared.

My appearance was the next project. I was as haggard as Cinderella before she went to the ball. If my Fairy Godmother was around in my spiritual vicinity, having not fled long ago for giving up on me, she wouldn’t know to come, because I didn’t care enough to call for her. And when you treat yourself that way, others do to. I was the “sloppy” paralegal. One of the attorneys I work for, shook her head once at yet another project I’d handed her that was thrown together. She sighed and said to me

“I just don’t know how you get through life.”

Cruel. But it gave me something to think about. How did I? How would I moving forward? I was lucky enough to have family that loved me, that tried to help. Various therapists, psychiatrists…and even attempts at configuring me a professional looking wardrobe…if one doesn’t want to help themselves..even family has to give up. My mother was even relieved a little when I moved out.  I think, simply because she wouldn’t be witnessing my self-destruction anymore.

I started to put on makeup. A slight task for the average but for a depressive, and effort beyond belief. But it did make me feel better.

People at work have started to notice, treat me with respect and have told me that they’ve been impressed with my job performance.

The very same woman that had asked me years ago how I get through life, had informed the human resources manager at bonus time this very year, that I was like a “brand new paralegal.”

I’m tired of not living. Being undead was actually worse than being dead. Wandering the earth, trudging along, no feelings, no hope, searching, just to live.

I embrace age 33, the age Jesus Christ was when he died. I’d like to think that of the old me, that she’s died and become something new. I didn’t kill her completely. She is a part of me. And always will be. But I’d like my resurrection to be one of strength, of passion, of confidence. And I’d like to live to my full potential now.

Chris Gardner was age 33 when he established his own firm…and went on his way to be a success. It is a good age, a ripe age. And something tells me its time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *