Those were the words I told myself as I placed the can of kidney beans in the plastic grocery bag. It had been a rough day for me at Shaw’s. After I finished the order, another man came up to the counter. “I’ll do a pickup, please,” he said.
“Why the fuck does he need to do a pickup?” I thought. “He has three bags!” I didn’t show my anger as I grabbed the bin to start the order. “Chill son.”
I finished the order after what seemed like hours. “Have a nice day,” I told the man.
Another customer came to the counter. It was another pickup. It was another three bags. I could comfortably carry five bags in each hand, and I’m no superhero. “Have a nice day,” I said again.
The next customer was a bit less lazy. Being a Sunday, there were plenty of pickup orders to do, but there were a few customers who carried their own groceries out of the store. This was one of them. He picked his six bags up, and headed out. “Have a nice day,” I said. Did I really mean that? Did I honestly care what happened to these people? Every time those words left my mouth, there was less of me to go around. I was running on empty. I wasn’t having a nice day myself. How could I possibly wish it for others? “Chill son,” I thought.
You would think that I would be used to what felt like a sledgehammer to the nuts. I had dealt with infinitely more than my fair share of rejection, so this shouldn’t have been much different. For some reason, this one hurt more than ever. To tell the truth, I don’t know what “this one” means. There was no particular instance that caused the feeling, which made it even worse. I couldn’t put a finger on why I was so sad. It couldn’t be depression, could it? None of the other symptoms made sense. I was still enjoying many different aspects of my life. I still enjoyed watching, talking, and playing sports, and I loved hanging with my friends. The girl situation never got any better, though, and that was killing me.
It had always been (and to this day still is) a vicious cycle. You need confidence to get girls, and you need girls to get confidence. Or at least I did. I could pump myself up as much as I wanted, but it was all a lie. Yeah, I made it into a good university in the country with the best reputation for post-secondary education. I was a good person and had plenty of friends. I was moving ahead of my competition with all the internships I had, but getting girls was always my Achilles’ Heel. It was a mystery I could not solve, a puzzle that I seemed to be a piece short every time. Whether it was my fault or not, it happened that way. Failing was all I knew how to do. Many people I knew suggested that I not think and not try. If I knew how to do either, I would have been fine. Because it never came to me, I overanalyzed and overrationalized and overcared and overeverything-I-possibly-could-have. I couldn’t not try. I couldn’t not think. I was too rational. In being rational, I was totally irrational. All I did was reason to myself that it would work eventually and that girls were stupid for not liking me. They couldn’t realize the great guy I was. Everyone told me that they would come flocking to me when I turned twenty-five, but that was a load of crap. Even if it was true, was it really worth waiting four more years? I had already waited eight or nine as it was. I was restless. Everything else in my life was going so well. I had no reason not to be happy with what was going right for me, but I whined and complained and bitched and moaned and ranted and rationalized my way into a big mess.
I don’t know what it was about those two words that was so powerful. Until my twenty-first birthday, I had never even used them together. I passed going to the bathroom that night, and all I uttered when my suitemates told me to get out were those two words, over and over.
“Nick, get out of the bathroom. You’ve been in there for an hour.”
“Seriously man, you’ve been in there way too long.”
“We’ll help you out if you can’t get out yourself.”
My subconscious had been telling it to me all along. That was what I needed to do myself, not how others should deal with me and a night of drinking too much. Chill son. Whether or not I could do that has yet to be seen. I don’t know if that’s the correct solution, or simply an instinctual mistake. I can’t really say that I had ever followed my instincts, which could be my problem. That advice wasn’t just a phrase I had heard playing Star Fox 64 from Peppy the wingman. It is legitimate advice, and it seems the two different pieces of advice I got have a strong correlation to each other.
Maybe not caring and not thinking and using my instincts are one in the same. I have not found that out just yet, despite my best efforts. It certainly doesn’t appear that the solution to my problem will smack me in the face with its obviousness. Although I probably shouldn’t actively pursue girls as much as I do, I should actively pursue a solution (as if I haven’t already). Joe Dirt says to “keep on keepin’ on,” so maybe I should follow his motto, even if he has a glued-on mullet.
I’ve received so much advice from so many people, and often one person’s wise words will directly conflict with another’s. Nobody has the perfect solution, though. All I can do at this point is hope that someone figures it out. Until then, chill son.