This is a list of things I’ve learned the hard way:
- Don’t fall asleep with a cheese knife in your bed
- Don’t fall in love with a cartoon character
- Don’t blame your spouse for something he did in your dream
- Don’t eat too much baseball park food
- Don’t wear Ugg boots without socks
- Don’t forget to check your purse for wine keys before TSA
- Don’t try to read a map when you’re hungry
- Never have more than one hot toddy
- Always wear underwear
Unfortunately for all of us, we won’t know what “not to do” until we do it. I mean, someone could have warned me that the fairy prince in Thumbelina wasn’t a viable option to become my husband, but trial and error is part of life.
As with the Prince Cornelius disappointment of my youth, “learning something the hard way” is indeed sometimes the result of other people failing to advise our actions. Generally, the lack of direction is not out of spite. It’s usually due to the assumption that certain repercussions are obvious, or because a subject is too taboo to address. Sorry, but it’s not my job to awkwardly stop the new girl from walking past the men’s bathroom in the office around 9 a.m. each morning. I don’t know what goes on in there during that time frame every day, but it’s not healthy.*
*Clearly I wrote this post back when I worked in an office.
Even when someone warns us about a thorny path, however, we still have hard time really grasping the consequences of behavior until we experience them for ourselves. Perhaps it’s a symptom of human pride, or more favorably, mere curiosity, but we’re all bound to say “I wish I hadn’t done that” at some– nay, many– point(s) in our lives.
I’d like to say I have some great solution to learning the hard way, but I don’t. All I’ve got for you is to listen to advice when its given, and use your brain. Try to imagine ahead of time what Nutella will taste like on a Dorito, then get a hold of yourself and just go to the store to buy a piece of bread instead of using whatever you have in your house to fulfill your Nutella craving.
Don’t look at me like that.
The other big take-away here is to learn from your mistakes. When you find out that your door’s extra tight springs will slam your heel on the way out, adjust the way you hold the door as it closes. Or buy new springs. Your choice. If you see a picture of yourself looking like a stuffed sausage in tight leather leggings, go ahead and retire those bad boys. If you say mean things about someone behind their back and lose a friendship because of it, watch your mouth in the future. If you forget to say “no anchovies” when ordering your Caesar salad, remember to say it next time. When your microwave catches on fire because you try to heat up tea in a metal travel mug, start Googling every single material before you put it in the microwave. I’m not saying this happened to me, but I’m not saying it didn’t.
I do have some good news, though! Something for you to look forward to. (Ew, I hate ending a sentence with a preposition.) Part of becoming older and wiser is enjoying the benefit of learning fewer things the hard way…because you’ve already learned them. The more years behind you, the fewer mistakes left to make. I mean, sure, you’ll probably have to learn the hard way that you’re no longer able to sit cross-legged on the ground, but in general, you’ll be well aware of how things work. Except iPhones.
So next time you put too much horseradish in your Bloody Mary, or get ghosted by a guy who sexted you after the second date, have no fear. These are just lessons that will make your life WAY easier in the future. One day, you’ll be that old lady shaking her head and chuckling when she sees teenagers wearing way too much eye shadow. Because by then, you’ll know that learning the hard way is sometimes the best way.