Hey, you know what you should do? Get some life experience under your belt. It's an important part of transitioning from the hope-filled glory days of youth to the soul-crushing regret fest that is growing old. You need to go through a few things, you know? Not just the major things, either. Sure, getting married, having kids, and then subsequently wrecking those kids by getting divorced is fun and super important ...
"Of course it's your fault, don't beat yourself up about it though."
... but you want to make sure you set aside a bit of time to go through some of life's lesser struggles. If possible, get them out of the way when you're young and not yet bogged down with legitimate adult problems. We talk about some of those awkward but necessary life situations on this week's Unpopular Opinion podcast ...
Be honest, you have shit your pants once or twice in your life, most likely at one of the least ideal moments possible. After all, if things were ideal, you wouldn't be shitting your pants. Part of the definition of the word "ideal" involves being close enough to a bathroom that you run little to zero risk of making a disgusting mess of yourself because you have lost control of your bodily functions.
It's going to happen, however, and if you're lucky, it will happen while you're still young. I mean, it's obviously going to happen a lot when you're first starting out in life. That doesn't count. I'm saying it should happen at a point in your development when you understand what kind of crisis you're facing. You certainly don't want to shit your pants for the first time ever as an adult, right? You should have already choreographed your routine for dealing with that calamity by that point in life.
Just follow along.
For me, the first really vivid memory I have of shitting my pants happened when I was maybe 9 years old. I was about as good at making friends back then as I am now and, as such, had walked to a nearby church to throw a ball against a wall. So, I was basically playing catch with a building when I had that undeniable rumble in my stomach and knew disaster was imminent. It was. So imminent. I don't recall what I had for breakfast that morning or for dinner the night before -- I just knew my body wanted something out of me, and it wasn't going to wait for me to throw an imaginary perfect game against a house of worship to make it happen.
The span of time between me realizing what was going to happen and that awful thing actually happening was unspeakably slim, to the point that I didn't really have time to plan. I only had time to react when it was over. And that's the important part! That's the thing you don't want to have to sort out as an adult. Go into your responsibility-filled years confident that you know exactly what to do if you shart (or worse) while out in the wild.
Stare back at them.
I had a friend who shit his pants on the first day of school in sixth grade, but managed to make it through the entire rest of the year without being known as "that kid who had the power runs on the first day." Why? Because he handled the situation without making a spectacle of himself. That's what winners do. In fact, if my quick Googling of his super-common name in conjunction with the state I grew up in are any indication, that guy runs a bank now.
I also handled my introduction to public explosions pretty well. The first order of business, as it should obviously always be, was to find the nearest bathroom. For me, that meant an Apollo gas station six blocks away. From there, as should be the case for anyone, animal instinct took over. That's the part of a pants-shitting story you don't tell -- the gritty details about the cleanup. You're stewing in your own filth. Get that filth off in whatever way you need to, and dispose of the evidence, even if it's just long enough to flee the scene without anyone getting a good enough look at your face to form an accurate description.
Beyond that, shitting your pants is like a snowflake -- every experience will be a little bit different, which is exactly why you want to equip yourself with the skills to deal with it while you're still young.
James Woodson/Digital Vision/Getty Images
Ah, the public fall. It's our earliest introduction to shame and failure. We try to walk, we fall, and we cry because we know our stupid baby brains aren't developed enough to operate a pair of legs, and we know that we should be ashamed. We are totally right about that. But, over time, our natural relationship with falling is torn asunder by the rigors of coordination and forced uprightness.
Then, one day, it all comes crashing back down -- literally.
Again, I was lucky enough to experience this way early on. I was in second grade at the time, in the thick of the final round of a class spelling bee. The girl I was competing with somehow managed to misspell the word "lion" twice in a row (L-I-N-O, each time), and I knew that victory was imminent.
I was full of pride, like the mighty lino.
In my excitement over the prospect of taking home a meaningless award that I would have just as much of a chance of winning at the exact same time next week, I did that thing where you put your hands on two desks, raise yourself up, and swing your legs around a bit.
And then, I just fell -- straight down, face to the unforgiving tile floor below, and right in front of every colleague I had in life at that point. Even worse, it happened in a high-pressure situation during which people were expecting greatness. Instead, they got the sound of second-grade face connecting with solid ground.
This is not how you win a spelling bee.
It was humiliating. I don't think it even hurt. If it did, the overwhelming sensation of shame coursing through my body numbed the pain enough that I didn't notice it as I trudged to the principal's office, sobbing for no other reason than I had just hit my face on the goddamn floor in front of an audience.
I'm glad it happened, though. There's no better way to drink down the bitter taste of failure like fucking up the basic human function of walking on two legs. It doesn't even matter how it happens. A fall is a fall, be it off a stage while Kelsey Grammer-ing ...
... or as one-half of the two expendable parts of Destiny's Child.
It's a beautiful thing that should absolutely be embraced, for a few reasons. One: It teaches you how to react when you see it happen to someone else. Quick -- think back to your most brutal fall ever. You were fine, right? I mean, maybe you broke something or whatever, but in the grand scheme of things, you were fine, right? In fact, you were probably so fine that you can even laugh about it now. If you weren't, you would be dead, which totally happens sometimes.
Anyway, the next time you see someone fall, spend the exact same amount of time you just did to reflect on your own mishap, but assess if that person is badly hurt. Once you are confident he or she isn't badly hurt, feel free to start laughing. Pause to check for injury and then point and laugh -- it's an unwritten rule of society, and you only learn it from falling a few times yourself.
Also, as I said before, it's the perfect metaphor for life. Think back to the worst thing that has ever happened to you. Whatever it was, you're still alive, and you're at least fine enough that you're here now reading this article. I accept that could and probably does mean you're homeless and killing time in a public library, but even then, at least you overcame being outside for a bit, you know?
The point is that sometimes you're down, and the only thing you can do is to get back up. There's no better way to remind yourself of that than by falling in an embarrassing fashion in front of a lot of strangers.
You know how you huff and puff whenever a grandma whips out her checkbook in the checkout lane at the grocery store? Be that grandma one of these days. It will be good for you for a lot of reasons.
For starters, it teaches you the value of money. My first experience with holding everyone in line behind me right the fuck up was when I bought 2 Live Crew's As Nasty as They Wanna Be on the day the album came out, using a Crown Royal bag full of change.
This is what everyone collected their paper route money in, right?
You don't know hate until you have looked into the eyes of a young cashier as he prepares to count out $13.99 in nickels, dimes, and pennies.
What the fuck was I supposed to do, though -- not buy the album? Just because my only spendable money was in metal form? I was 12 years old at the time; it's not like I needed to be saving up to pay my electricity bill. I had a bunch of goddamn change and a burning tween desire to hear people rap about sex. I was supposed to push all of that down because I should be worried that five highly inconvenient minutes of counting was going to temporarily break someone's day? How long should I have carried that phobia around with me? Forever?
No, fuck that -- I'm glad I got it over with early. Overcoming the shame of spending money in weird amounts could one day mean the difference between being the person in the house who complains about how there's nothing to eat and being the person who forages around the house for enough change to buy three days worth of Taco Bell.
Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images News/Getty Images
It's the sawdust in their "beef" that makes it so good!
After all, that's your money -- you earned it and then promptly discarded it in the nooks and crannies of your home because it wasn't in the form you most like to spend. Good thing you did that! Because it's now just lying there for spending, provided you aren't too proud to spend it.
Besides, to be completely honest, using a debit card at the grocery store has become an incredibly depressing experience. Just once I would like to buy something without also having to go on record as not wanting to help cure breast cancer or end child hunger. No, I don't want to round up my change to support the troops, but thanks for making me feel bad about it every single time I shop here, local neighborhood grocery store. I come to you for milk and eggs -- not a heavy conscience.
Too much more of that and I'll be back to writing checks and spending cash, like it's the '80s all over again. When that happens, I'll be glad I overcame my fear of holding up an entire line of people by making a purchase in the most labor-intensive manner possible, a long time ago.
Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images
Right off the bat, I should make it clear I'm not talking about an argument or a disagreement here. I'm talking about an actual fight with punches thrown and everything -- a consensual, same-sex fight, just as God intended fights to be. If you're a youngster who thinks you might enjoy that kind of thing, go talk someone into fighting you and then get beat the fuck up. Trust me, you need it. What you definitely don't need is to go through life thinking you'll win every fight. If you do, you'll start to like fighting because you think you're good at it. Boom, you're suddenly 40-something and getting your face caved in at a bar by someone half your age who still has reflexes and a reason to live.
This could be you!
That situation happened to someone I know, and that someone wasn't me -- because I had the good sense to get my ass beat early in life, which was all I needed to know about whether or not I should solve my problems by punching things. I was 15 years old at the time and, of course, I got in a fight over a girl. She had cheated on me with this creepy older dude who was in his 20s and drove the shittiest Geo Tracker I had ever seen in my life.
The vehicle of champions (of taking high school chicks to prom, even though you're of legal drinking age).
So, I was avenging a statutory rape more than anything. Whatever the case, I saw him at this carnival type of thing that my hometown put on every year and decided we should probably get after it. He was talking to a girl I didn't know when I walked up to him, tapped him on the shoulder, and then punched him in the face as soon as he turned and looked at me. It was dirty as fuck, to be completely honest, and I'm still so glad I did it ... even though it didn't end well.
That first punch landed way better than I had ever expected it to -- it was like a movie. The girl he was talking to screamed. He was all hunched over and shit. I was dominating my first fight ever, just seconds into it, and I had no idea what to do next. I pushed him a bit, which mostly just startled him back to life, and that's when it happened. He jogged a few steps in a vaguely circular pattern before he faced me again and jumped what seemed to be about 25 feet in the air, in a full-on "I'm about to karate" pose. Like some "crane kick" kind of thing.
Are those even legal outside of a tournament setting?
I assumed I was about to die like so many Van Damme villains before me, but it turns out that karate isn't always an exact science. Or, maybe it's supposed to be, and, this time, it wasn't -- because his foot just kind of gently tapped my chest a bit. It didn't hurt in the slightest.
Unfortunately, I spent the next couple seconds in silent awe of my ability to withstand a karate attack, which made me especially susceptible to the "I'm going to punch you in the side of the head now, and, oh yeah, I'm wearing a ring" attack that followed. I mean, he just really fucked me up with that ring, you guys.
The next thing I clearly remember is my parents picking me up and me trying to play off the fact that I had profuse amounts of blood streaming from my ear as a minor thing that they need not worry about. But, they took me to the hospital. I got stitches. I still have a scar.
It was worth it, though. At that point, I knew fighting was just not a thing that I wanted to do again. I mean, don't get me wrong, I will punch a motherfucker if the situation calls for it, but I figured out a long time ago that it shouldn't be my go-to option when resolving conflicts.
If you haven't yet, do yourself a favor and go get beat the fuck up right now. It will be good for you and everyone else.
Adam is very much willing to fight you on Twitter @adamtodbrown.
For more from ATB, check out 4 Things You Should Never Do in Front of People You Love and 4 Irrational Fears That Aren't as Irrational as They Seem.
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