I was closing the bar the other day and I asked one of the patrons how everything was so far. She said it was good, great even. I did my usual bow, the one that gets the customer to awkwardly bow back so as not to offend, and I was about to turn away to check on the cleanliness of my bartenders. What came next knocked me out of balance: “Are you proud?”. As my friends and coworkers know, I always have a somewhat witty response at the ready, whether it be “Oh you know another day in paradise” – a phrase dripping with sarcasm – or “It’s me. I do the impossible” – cocky, I know but it is true. I responded with a very confused, “excuse me?”. She repeated, “Are you proud? Are you proud of yourself? I can obviously tell that you are proud of your work but are you proud of you?”.
Never in my entire career has anyone ever ask me that, “Are you proud of yourself?” Well am I proud of myself? At the moment yes. I am very proud of myself. I am proud that I am able to support my mom and dad by paying for some of the bills while I build my fortune up for when I move. I am proud that I have been promoted at my current job in less than four months. I am proud that I do my job as if I am the very own CEO of it. But will future Andrew be proud of me now? If there is anyone who knows me best, it’s me and I think I can safely say that future Andrew will look back at me and say, “Shit, Drew you worked hard yes but you sure as hell did not enjoy your 20’s. Late hours, night shifts, and too much gourmet cheese all for what? A title at the end of the line? Your 20’s is supposed to be the time you truly figure out who you are and looking back? You were too cowardly to get out of your safety zone. So look at us now and smell the ashes.” A bit too poetic there at the end but I know the Future Me will be that poetic, I mean it’s me.
I sat down next to the guest and she proceeded to tell me that I need to enjoy my youth while I still can. That right now it may seem like you’re doing a good job but tomorrow, or the very next moment, it can all be over in a flash. Do I want to remember my 20’s as the time that I worked 6 days a week, 11 hours a day? Or do I want to remember all of the close calls I could have had, all the friends I could have made, all the regrets I won’t regret having? I don’t know. I truly do not but that gives me an advantage, I like to think. Not knowing is the first step to knowing something. My life will not change in an instant, maybe it never will, but I have taken the first step by not knowing what will happen. Oh boy I need a drink.