I write this after a weekend of excess. From my bed. By our thirties we should be able to tell the difference between moderation and excess. We have survived the hangovers, the bloatedness, the guilt. We should know what our vices are and how they affect us. Those habits we crave yet once satisfied, often (not always) make us feel worse, physically and psychologically than we ever did before. But should we quit them or learn to live with them?
Before deciding which way to go, you must own your vice. Admit you have one (or more!) We’ve spent our twenties growing and nurturing these vices in the name of fun and youth. In our thirties we should be able to reach the point and say “This is what I don’t like about me. I’ve had enough of this. It adds nothing to my life but takes away this, this and this. So this needs to go.” Or, you decide you DO enjoy being you with the vice(s) in tow, despite the negative connotations and side-effects and that you want to keep it. Only you can make that decision by owning your vice.
Once you own it, move forward! But how? I’m one of those people who have tried and failed at giving up smoking. For years I have managed to not smoke during the day nor the evenings I’m not out socialising. But when those evenings of fun and games come along, boy do I make up for that smoke-free time! So, instead of lying to people like i usually do when they ask if I smoke by saying, ” Not really, I’m a social smoker,” from now on, I’m going to be honest and admit my vice: “Yep, I smoke. I am a smoker.” This is vice ownership.
There is no inbetween. Those people who have vices and don’t enjoy them are worse than those people who give them up and use their success to harangue those that haven’t managed to do so yet and are secretly suffering. “I want to give up but I don’t know how!” What rubbish. There are millions of ways to give up all vices, the answers are out there, go see your doctor, friends, family, do an internet search, in these modern times, there’s no excuse!
If you have chosen a life without your vice, it’s important to view it with new perspective. Quit defending the vice. Instead, capture how it affects you and your life. Own it by breaking it down. I smoke when I’m socialising because my friends do and I’m too weak to say no. I smoke because I secretly still think it makes me a bit cooler. I smoke because it gives me something to do with my hands when I feel slightly nervous or out of place. All my writing heroes smoked (and all died early too). By telling yourself the truth, it lessens the power of your vice. I am feeling quite ashamed of myself right now. Breaking it down reveals to yourself why you have this vice in the first place. I know what I need to do.
If you’ve chosen a life with your vice, then settle with it and be happy. It’s your choice, no one else’s, so don’t subject the rest of the world to your struggles. If you really wanted help giving it up, you’d ask for it. But you haven’t which means you don’t. So shush up, accept you don’t want to change despite the health and psychological risks (which we ALL know by now about most vices) and enjoy sharing your life (and perhaps less of it) with your vice and all that entails. If people moan to you about your vice, tell them to back off and deal with their own. We are all entitled to make our choices providing we are hurting nobody else but ourselves.
Ultimately, ownership is the key which will lead you to your own natural conclusion, which strangely ends up being the same for most people. I don’t need to tell you what that is. Own your own and find out for yourself.