You Know How I Get

I knew a fellow in college who was a nasty drunk. Let’s call him Jerry. Jerry wasn’t nasty in a violent way, but he could be very verbally unpleasant after a few. One day, he was being particularly odious, and his friend asked him cut it out (as the kids say).

“Come on man, you know how I get!” Jerry replied.

This story stuck with me over the years.

Seeing one’s behavior this way requires a mind-bending level of narcissism. Now, granted, he was under the influence. But like many people, the fruit of the vine was revealing part of his character. Did I mention Jerry wasn’t exactly a joy to hang with sober?

The point is, Jerry was able to see his character flaw (at least peripherally), but did not see fit to be apologetic, penitent, or ashamed of it (that’s three things, people). Instead, Jerry decided to “own it.” Jerry was a pioneer.

I see a lot of people proudly flaunting character failings and mental illness as immutable elements of their identities. That’s a bad thing. It might feel empowering to “own” whatever is wrong with you (everybody has something), but a lot of the time it’s really you making an excuse for giving up on yourself.

If you are anorexic, you have a moral obligation to yourself and your loved ones to get into treatment. If your anxiety issues are debilitating, you have a moral obligation to find the mix of medication and/or therapy to manage it.If you have cancer, you have a moral obligation to try and beat it.

If you’re an a-hole, you have a moral obligation to work on that, too.


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