Tag Archives: mistakes

Shoulda Woulda Coulda

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Hello, you lovely thing!  How goes the world with you?

It is very tempting to look back on certain life situations with regret, annoyance or even anger.  We have all been known to look at past mistakes and wish that we had behaved differently, or that the outcome of certain circumstances had been different.  I am actually a big fan of regret as a motivator, but I think that our main mistake in these cases is a failure to look forwards.  Yeah, ok, we messed up – but it’s not the end of the world.  We can always do better next time.

Previous errors or foul-ups can be broken down into three productive facets, which (shockingly enough) are based on the “shoulda woulda coulda” principle.  We should have behaved in a certain way; we knew we probably would behave in another and next time we could behave in a third way.  For example, I should have gone to bed early last night because I’m off to catch a train very early today; I knew I probably would stay out chatting to my sister for ages; next time I have an early start I could make the effort to get to bed at a reasonable time.

The idea behind this little trio of approaches is to give ourselves a break and admit that, yes, we may not have handled a situation to the best of our ability, but we can always improve.  Just because you mess up once doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to do so over and over again.

For example: the last time you found out that your ex met someone new, you probably knew that you should have deleted them from your phone and Facebook.  You knew that you would get annoyed and rope your friends in to bitch about it with you, but next time you could not even notice it because you’re so busy being happy and successful without the ex.  Just a thought.

Or you might find that when a colleague lets you down or annoys you, you know you should talk to them calmly about it; being British you will probably smile with ice-cold politeness at them, but next time you could ask them what on earth is going on.  It could equally be that you should only stay out for one drink; you knew you would get stuck having a second or third, and next time you could just say no entirely.

Here’s the most important one: when we say we’re going to have a good time, we should, we would and we absolutely could just have a really bloody good time.  We are so susceptible to getting caught up in our own heads and worrying about the mechanics and the “well, you know what happened last time I wore this dress/drank red wine/went to that person’s house”.  Get rid of all of those associations and just enjoy yourself.

I really hope that this post has made some kind of sense.  I’m very tired right now…basically, I think you should enjoy your life.  Don’t get hung up on previous faux pas.  If you know what you should have done, will probably do and could do to get the best possible outcome, then you’re pretty much good to go.

Well, I’m off to Edinburgh.  You have an inordinately joyful Wednesday.

Play It (Again), Sam

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Hello, and welcome to Monday!  How’s everything going with you?  Did you have a nice weekend?

Today is a big day for me, because this afternoon myself and a lovely bunch of actors will start rehearsing for our Edinburgh Fringe performance of Chris is Dead.  We performed the same piece last summer at the Camden Fringe and had a brilliant time, so we’re all very excited about working on it again.

The thing about returning to a project or repeating an activity is that we put a lot of pressure on ourselves (and the project) to do well.  If things went badly the first time, we are determined to learn from our mistakes, but if things went well then we are wary of changing anything for fear that we lose the winning ingredient.  The elements of the production that have changed since the first incarnation of Chris is Dead are largely good things: this time we have an excellent time slot, a very central venue and some nice reviews to put on our fliers.  These are all great advantages, but in a way that makes us feel more aware of the pressure to do well.

I would love for this play to do well, but I’d also really like us to enjoy ourselves.  There’s no point in spending a huge amount of time, money and energy on something if you’re not actively going to enjoy it.  I think that it would be good for all of us to remember that it’s impossible to repeat things exactly, but that it is possible to enjoy them to a similar degree.  When you think about it, that’s the perfect combination, isn’t it?

This isn’t specific to theatre, of course: people who are wary of new relationships due to previous misfortunes may find a little voice in the back of their minds saying “why bother?  It’ll be exactly like last time.”  Someone moving house might secretly be determined that their new place will never be as good as the old, no matter how much nicer the actual building is, and someone who risked a rail replacement bus service once knows never, ever to do it again if they can possibly avoid it.

Comparisons between things in life are inevitable, but they add a layer of pressure and stress that we just don’t need.  Enjoying experiences and making the most out of every moment is a big enough challenge, so perhaps we ought to concentrate on that instead of worrying about predecessors, precedents or prerequisites.  Let’s just get rid of all the “pre”s, in fact.

So, disregarding everything that past experience tells you, get out there and have a brilliant Monday.  It could be the best day of the week.

They’ll Be There For You

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Good morning!  How is everyone today?  Bit tired?  That’s ok, it’s Saturday.  Have a bit of a lie in if you can.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: practically every situation in the life of a twenty-something can be related back to Friends.  In many cases it’s actually necessary to explain things by comparing them to an incident from the programme.  There are also loads of situations from the show that play out pretty much exactly how they would if they happened in real life.  It says a lot about the show that it resonates so strongly with so many people, but I think it also says a lot about my actual friends, who are brilliant.  (Quick side note: I was watching television the other night and the announcer genuinely said “Feel like no one’s there for you?  Why not switch over to Comedy Central Extra for your Friends fix?”  I mean, REALLY.  There are limits, people.)  Here are some examples of times when friends and Friends are at their best:

1) The One Where No One Else Would Understand A Word You’re Saying
In the episode where Rachel has a farewell party before she moves to Paris, she has a heart to heart with each individual friend in turn.  Unsurprisingly, her chat with Monica descends into tearful gobbledegook, as you can see here.  In our own lives, there are many times when we would make no sense to people who don’t know us extremely well.  A real friend will always be able to understand you, even if you talk too fast, mumble or decide to use strange noises rather than actual words.

2) The One Where They Know You Far Too Well
One of my favourite episodes of the series is the one in which the boys win the girls’ apartment via a friendship quiz.  Feel free to remind yourself of it here.  I love this episode for two reasons: firstly, it says a lot about how close the characters are and how much history they have, and secondly I think that the friendship quiz is a genius idea.   Everyone who watches this episode thinks “I must do this with my lot”, because we all have friends that we never need to explain ourselves to: they already know everything.  I would probably abstain from gambling your home on it, though…

3) The One Where They Always Back You Up
My favourite dynamic in the programme is the friendship between Joey and Phoebe.  I love the fact that they’re such different people, but they really respond to one another’s quirks, and they always defend one another.  One brilliant example (which I couldn’t find a clip of, sorry) is just after Ross and Rachel get drunk and married in Vegas.

Ross: We were drunk.  I would’ve married Joey with that amount of alcohol!
Phoebe: Hey!  You could do a lot worse than Joey Tribbiani!

In terms of real life, it’s wonderful to find friends who love you despite your differences, and who will always stick up for you.  Some of my closest friends have entirely separate interests and lifestyles to mine, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t look out for each other.

4) The One Where They Forgive You
The characters in Friends make all sorts of mistakes: Ross sleeps with  someone when he is technically still with Rachel, Chandler drunkenly kisses one of Joey’s sisters and then forgets which one, Joey loses Ross’ wedding ring, Rachel steals Jean Claude Van Damme from Monica, Phoebe ruins Monica’s hair and Monica accidentally chops off Chandler’s toe.  Not a perfect bunch by any means.  But they all forgive one another and move past the problems, which is a great example to those of us who might write someone off for doing anything on the above list.  Although how often does someone chop off your toe?  Yuck.  Let’s not dwell on that bit.  The characters who cannot forgive don’t last (I’m talking about you, Emily), but the ones who do are still friends after more than a decade.  That could be you one day, if you can just move past the toe thing (or whatever the problem actually is).

5) The One Where They’re Not Just Your Friend
The ongoing love story between Ross and Rachel is so well-known that in my generation it’s slang for “meant to be together”.  It even got referenced in Scrubs, as you can see here.  Monica and Chandler are another example of a couple whose attitudes towards one another changed drastically during the course of the show.  I’m not suggesting that you start combing your social circle for potential partners (and God knows that moving a friendship up to the next level is an absolute minefield), but I really do think that good partners should also be good friends.  Whether you start off as platonic and then change gear or fall for someone as soon as you meet them, the person you spend your life with should be as much of a friend to you as they are anything else.

Well, I’m off to help some friends of mine assemble furniture, which is probably going to go something like this classic Friends moment.  Have the kind of Saturday that you’ll tell your grandchildren about.