“What to do when I am always f—ing up?”
I typed this into Google last night, in search of an antidote to my recklessness; an anthology of Reddit posts materialized. “I could win a Nobel Prize and [still] feel like a screw up,” one user wrote. I concur; I’ve accomplished things that would grant self-joy to many people, yet the lingering knowledge of my errors always outweighed the urge for celebration.
From the moment I was born, I’ve been a royal screw-up. I admit I’ve had my fair share of “doing before thinking,” but aren’t I old enough to accept my actions without apologizing? If I’ve never deliberately hurt someone, why feel sorry? If I am an airhead, goofball, klutz, so be it; I am who I am. Apologies rescinded. No one should go through life repenting for things they could not control. No one should regret the past.
I was rarely referred to as a “cute” or “clumsy” child because my actions were always punitive. If there was anything consistent while growing up, it was the corner of my living room that I was sent to religiously. And even though I’ve since moved from my first home, building corners continue to serve as reminders to the haunting mistakes I’ve made in my past. It seemed that my siblings’ misdoings had unfailingly gone unnoticed, while I’d spend hours in self-reflection — sandwiched between two walls. The prelude to time-out? “I’m not mad — just disappointed.” Music to my ears.
I cannot count the number of times I felt remorse for my misbehaviour; I must have muttered more “I’m sorrys” for past wrongdoings than present. I am now nineteen and I owe it to myself to say that I can no longer apologize for my history.
Perhaps my parents were right for punishing me when my skipping rock mistakenly landed on my brother’s forehead — or when I blew up a condom to play “keep it in the air” with my seven-year-old cousin. I don’t blame them for sending me to my corner when I threw food at the dog — or when I called my sister a “witch.”
Today, I am still shot looks of disappointment that parallel the sobriety of the notorious corner. I carry guilt for these things that transpired long ago. I haven’t been disciplined with a time-out in years, but the metaphorical corner remains a heavy threat in my mind.
Certainly, there are things I can do to prevent my heedless proclivities. Next time, I’ll wait until the dog is in the other room when I throw spaghetti. If the opportunity arises, I’ll lecture my cousin on safe sex before I inflate the prophylactic.
But other than learning from my mistakes, I can no longer repent for my past. By writing this, I am a little bit closer to letting bygones be bygones.