To the Inept
Some people emerge into adulthood as fully formed human beings, confident and able. These are people with clear visions of themselves, people who stride into the world with strong handshakes and winning smiles. I was not one of those people. As I entered adulthood, I had some vague idea about the kind of person I would like to become, but my expectations for myself never quite aligned with the reality I lived, the way a door sometimes hangs badly off its hinges.
In my head, I was a suave, debonair man about town, slayer of womanly hearts. In reality, I was a zitty, awkward introvert and a bad kisser who spent most nights alone in his apartment eating Buffalo chicken wings out of a cardboard box. Then one day I found myself living in the suburbs with a wife and two kids, utterly bewildered as to how I found myself in the circumstances of my own life.
So I wrote a book to figure out how I got here and what to do about it.
The book is called You’re Not Doing It Right, which is a sentence my wife said to me the first time I ever smoked pot, but which I think pretty much describes how I have felt about myself my entire life.
I suspect there are many people out who feel as I used to, that everybody else has their shit figured out, that they are the only ones muddling through life with this intense feeling of incompetence, that any successes that have are accidental and any failures deserved.
But the older I get, the more I realize people like me, the befuddled and inept, are actually the majority. We’re like a massive army of morons. None of us has any idea what we are doing. Yet somehow we remain upright. Somehow we manage to tie our shoes and feed ourselves. Some of us find love. Some of us make babies, and sometimes it’s even on purpose.
And sometimes we fuck it all up.
If writing this book taught me anything, it’s that I cannot figure anything out. Not personally and not professionally. The plans that I make inevitably go awry, the choices I make almost always seem incorrect, and yet somehow here I am, forty years old and happy. Of course, I take a lot of pills, but still.
You’re Not Doing It Right will probably not grant you any wisdom. It will solve none of your problems. It will not give you washboard abs. But if you get anything out of it, I hope it’s this: we are all colossal fuck-ups, every single one of us, and if, by some reason, you are one of the happy few who never takes a false step and always knows exactly what is just around every corner, you’re doing it wrong.