A couple days ago, some DJs at my favorite radio station discussed lessons they had learned “the hard way.” You know what I’m talking about: through experience. Painful experience. The type of thing that makes you say “ouch” or wince or cry when you remember it. Sometimes it feels like a teacher giving an exam before he has taught the lesson.
Here’s my admittedly incomplete list of lessons learned:
- Don’t spill your guts to a total stranger or acquaintance.
Shortly after I transferred colleges, I met a girl I sorta kinda knew from my church youth group at a party. She was studying for an exam. (I’m not sure how she thought she would remember anything she studied at a Christmas party.)
I plopped myself on the sofa beside her and started this long, rambling monologue about how horrible my life had been for the past year, complete with details about ex-boyfriends, transferring schools, having to move home with my parents.
Poor girl. She nodded and said “mm-hmm” and glanced down at her notes several times and around the room, as if begging for someone to rescue her from this lunatic. I finally got the hint and moved on to my next victim. (I hope she passed the exam. She sure didn’t get a whole lot of studying done while I was babbling.)
- Don’t ask embarrassing personal questions of someone you don’t know really well.
“When are you going to get married?” “Are you trying to get pregnant?” “Why did you get fired from your job?”
I ran into another acquaintance (from the same youth group) the first Sunday she came to my church. “So why did you decide to leave your other church and come here?” I meant “what made you decide to come to this church when there are so many others to choose from?” But it sounded more like “what was wrong with that church?!” Oops.
- Don’t kiss a guy on the third date, especially when it’s glaringly obvious that he’s not serious about your relationship, and it’s your first kiss. You might just get a speeding ticket on the way home. At least, that’s what happened to me. Hey, I was only driving 50 in a 35 zone.
And given the circumstances, the police officer could’ve been a bit more understanding, don’t you think? It wasn’t like I was practicing for the Daytona 500.
And the guy I smooched didn’t even care when I told him. Jerk.
And the ticket was 90 bucks of my hard-earned money. I think he should’ve had to pay half of it, since it was his fault that I was so elated that I didn’t notice my odometer flying past the 35 mark.
Which brings me to my fourth point (that I obviously haven’t learned very well) . . .
- Don’t blame other people for your mistakes.
It wasn’t my roomate’s fault that I overslept one morning and missed Intro to Communication and didn’t get to pick what topic I would lead the class discussion on the next week. (My classmates decided for me: communication in romantic relationships.)
And it wasn’t my husband’s fault that I didn’t balance the checkbook correctly and messed up so badly that the bank statement and register had a $2000 difference. (Now I write the checks and he balances the checkbook.)
And it certainly wasn’t my daughter’s school’s fault that I misread the school calendar and scheduled our vacation the week after fall break instead of the week of fall break. (The beach condo rental agency was very nice, though; they gave us the same condo for the previous week and didn’t make us pay a fee for the date change.)
So how about you? What lessons have you learned the hard way?