Let yourself off the hook.
I didn’t know what to expect from The Sopranos. It’s an older series that first aired in 1999... when I was 8 years old. It’s considered one of the best shows of all time and has a 92 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes for good measure.
What lures me into TV shows and movies is relatability, which is one of the reasons why it took me so long to watch The Sopranos.
That doesn’t mean I won’t watch something I don’t consider relatable. Good TV is good TV.
And, well, I'm now halfway through The Sopranos... and I’m hooked. Even though the show doesn’t relate to me in many ways… from the culture difference to never being to New Jersey to my parents not working in the business of danger.
Getting to the point, The Sopranos has many memorable lines, but the one that stuck with me is the one spoken by Carmine Lupertazzi (played by Tony Lip) to Tony Soprano (played by James Gandolfini) in Season 3, Episode 3: “Be a better friend to yourself.”
Since moving to California in 2014, I’ve been a terrible friend to myself. So much so that I can’t believe we’re still friends.
I’ve messed up a lot since 2014.
My first mistake was letting myself accept a $35,000 salary in Irvine, CA, a place that has a median household income of $95,573. It was my first job offer out of college, for a company I believed in and had already been working for on a remote and virtually full-time basis. It was a big pay bump, and I’ve always wanted to live in California. Although my mom urged me to ask for more money because $35,000 is nothing in Southern California, I accepted the position, packed my car, and headed west.
Then there are the personal loans I took out to “supplement” my income and the Audi I bought when I didn’t need a new car (to my credit, it was used). The high-interest rates on the loans and car drove me further into debt, a place I’ve yet to escape and won’t be able to for the foreseeable future.
I also entered an MFA program and took out more loans to help pay for my living expenses. (You can cringe if you’d like — go ahead and join my family.)
Instead of moving back to Colorado or to a more affordable location, I held residence in Newport Beach, Marina del Rey, and now Studio City.
Everything above can be considered mistakes yet my situation is common in America. That’s not the problem. The problem is beating myself up over these mistakes and not letting myself off the hook.
It’s impossible to move on when you can’t forgive.
I let my friends off the hook all the time. Because I have good friends. Because I believe in them. Because I know they’re good people. Because I love them.
Not once have I let me off the hook. Given me the benefit of the doubt. Forgiven me.
If I blackout from drinking too much, I hold myself hostage in my room for a week, while the aroma of stress and anxiety morph into depression. I make myself the villain. I paint a monster. Even when I don’t do anything remotely illegal. That’s because I’m not a monster. But I continue to keep my brushstrokes busy.
If one of my articles doesn’t get X amount of views, I tell myself how bad of an idea the article is, or how bad of a writer I am.
If I don’t successfully pitch a publication, instead of thinking of ways to improve, I guilt myself for rushing the pitch and not letting the words marinate.
I call myself a loser every time I miss a payment. A piece of shit every time I go over my nonexistent budget. These mistakes are careless, I clearly haven’t grown up … and I continue to hate myself.
I eat relatively healthy most of the time, although I’m overweight and binge-eat on the weekends. To be a better friend to myself, I need to put healthier food in my body and move around more.
But I’m not a good friend to myself.
My problems are my problems, but not all of my problems are a result of my mistakes.
I try to treat everyone with respect. Although I come off as a pushover, I still try to give people the time of day, and the benefit of the doubt. The only things I give myself are headaches, stress, and all-you-can-eat blame served on a guilt platter.
I’m a lousy friend to myself. I need to watch what I eat. Root for myself for at least trying to make my life better and pitching publications. I need to give myself a glass of water at the bar and leave well before last call. I need to put myself to bed earlier at night. Teach me better habits. Be a mentor to myself in the sense that I teach and lecture, as well as an apprentice by listening and learning.
I treat my vessel like crap. I now realize, thanks to a TV show that I was hesitant about, that I’m an awful friend to myself.
I’m alive and I have to live with myself every second, minute, hour, and day of the year. I don’t have to spend that time regretting my decisions and hating myself — and I no longer will.
Be a better friend to yourself. It’s good advice … whether you’re navigating the waters of a field flooding with rejection or you’re the head of a family.