Once upon a time, there was a hard-drinking, coke snortin’ waiter in Los Angeles who would go to great lengths just to be right. I’ll give you a hint: it wasn’t Brainy Smurf. But in his never ending quest to be right, this guy was equally as annoying.
Give yourself 100 points if you figured out that pain in the ass know-it-all is none other than me. Yes, nearly as much as I enjoyed being drunk, I loved being right. I adored knowing more on a topic than you. I enjoyed making better decisions than you. And I loved when you were wrong. Like really embarrassingly wrong so I could say, “I knew it!!!” I always knew that you were going to break up with your boyfriend and I knew that you said the wrong name of the place we once had brunch ten years ago. I just knew that you didn’t know who directed that movie we watched on TV. I knew you were gonna mess up that job interview. And I knew that your life was a bigger disaster than mine. But lucky for you– I also knew how to fix it!
Funny. No one ever took my advice or did exactly what I said. Hmm. It couldn’t possibly be because even the most effed up folks in my life knew on some level that I was full of hot air and that taking my advice on how to run their lives would be like taking low-fat cooking suggestions from Paula Deen. Nah. That couldn’t be it.
This “colorful personality trait” or flaming character defect depending on how delusional I am at any given time, has peaked it’s gnarly head out recently and said, “Helloo!!” and I’m not glad to see him. In fact, I think it’s pretty ugly. I’m in several creative work situations where I have to listen to others, bend on my opinions, let things go and collaborate. Lately in these situations, I have been acting like I know best. Like my way is the only way. In other words, I’m acting like a dickhead. This stubbornness and inability to work with others really takes a toll on me today. When I “get like this”, I’m overly passionate and misdirected and angry about things that aren’t worth my explosive behavior. Yeah, it’s admirable to fight for what you believe in but it’s also courageous to listen and work with others. So after days of wanting to be right and show everybody I had the right answer, I let it the fuck go. My psyche operates the best when I’m at a place of “I don’t know.” Once my chokehold on being right was let go, I instantly felt better. Spiritually. Mentally. Physically.
I got sober with a guy who used to always say in meetings, “I don’t know shit!” He repeated it like a prayer or a battle cry or sometimes like he was screaming it at himself. Mainly, it was a reminder that no, I do not know everything and yes I need help. And that my old ways never worked. Sobriety has taught me these things. It’s also taught me that when I forget these things I can also go back to the beginning and keep trying. So that’s where I am today. I’m Sean Paul Mahoney, a writer and a person who doesn’t know shit. And I’m okay with all of that.