By the time you’re my age, you figure out one very important fact of life – there are two kinds of people, those who love Friends and those who love HIMYM. You can love both but you’ll always have loyalty towards one of the shows. Never for a second should one take this lightly. It’s basically a roadmap of how different people would make wildly contrasting choices. It’s something as crucial as a choice between coffee and beer/tea and coffee/beer and wine/water and milk (last one is for the segment of people who are crazy enough to avoid both caffeine and alcohol intake altogether, kudos to you. I want to learn more about how bright everything looks from that side of the aisle). Because it says a lot about you.
I always liked both. Until one day, I had to decide – which series can I re-watch a gazillion times without getting bored? I didn’t know the answer to that. So, one fine Sunday, I watched one random episode from each show. Friends Season 4 random episode vs HIMYM Season 4 random episode. What happened next took me by surprise. I chose to watch more episodes from one while the other I just stopped watching halfway through. That’s when I knew. I wish everything in life was something as simple as that. When faced with a tough decision, why can’t we try both options and then decide which one we like better without having any life-altering consequences?
Today, in this moment, I find myself again at those crossroads where I have to decide between two fairly great options that someone else would kill to have. When you’re in a position of privilege, you don’t think about how good you have it. On the contrary, your brain decides to mess it up and present the situation to you in such a way that it seems that you’ve never had it worse. Ironically, the ones who are happiest are the ones who are probably leading slightly miserable lives with minimal options. But they make it work for themselves. Somehow, they decide that this is not that bad even if it’s in this shithole, wherever it maybe. It’s so easy. I wish I was like that.
I’ve asked all of my close friends and family about this decision. Almost everyone has a perspective. Because everyone puts themselves in your shoes while they still have their old shoes on. All advice is based on that. If they would walk in my shoes even for a few seconds, then maybe, the advice would be different? Here’s the bittersweet truth – no one can ever walk in your shoes. No TEDTalk, book, professional therapist, motivational speaker or saint can ever really know what you are going through. They can have a rough idea but in all earnestness, there’s only you.
That’s the hardest part about growing up. At this point, everyone considers you to be adult enough to make your own choices but we never really stop being that kid who was told how to tie shoe laces or how to hold a spoon in your hand without spilling the contents all over. We keep feeling like this at 20, 30, 40, 50 and maybe after retirement too. The choices get harder to make and you keep feeling like you’re shooting arrows in the dark.
Maybe, that’s the reason why we get married. It’s becoming amply clear to me that human beings are not biologically meant to be in monogamous relationships (yes, you can squirm if you like and make judgements about my lifestyle choices etc. but admit it, you’ve thought about this to yourself or debated this topic with your inner circle at some point in your taking-a-break-from-small-talk conversations). Somehow, we still choose to be with one person for the rest of our lives. It’s probably so we can share the responsibility of making disastrous decisions with another person. No matter what happens, two people will be suffering or celebrating together.
In pre-adulthood, we could blame everything that was wrong with us to childhood and flawed relationships with our parents (Thanks Sigmund Freud!) but in post-adulthood, it starts to seem immature to escape responsibility for your bad choices. Did mom approve of that butterfly tattoo on your side-hip? Did dad tell you to pick cheap Chinese food over home-cooked food last Friday? No. Somehow, we tend to make irrational decisions when left to our own devices and we constantly need an adult to tell us not to behave in a certain way. Who is going to be that adult for you?
Sometimes you are your own hero and when you’re not, you project that responsibility to someone else. If you’re lucky (or unlucky, however the dice rolls for you), your parents are still an integral part of your decision making in post-adulthood. Micro-managing your grocery shopping to choosing the colour of the underwear you wear on your wedding night, they do it all. It’s kind of nice to step away from the onus of thinking about small things that actually make a big impact. If not, then you find that adult in your partner, who’s going to bear the brunt of everything that goes wrong thereafter. It’s almost cathartic, the moment you realize that you found someone who’s equally responsible for your life as a parent would be.
And this is when the Friends vs HIMYM people theory comes into play. There’ll always be those who play by the book and those who don’t even know how to read the book in the first place. There’ll always be those who run away from irrational decision making and those who’ll don’t know how else to make decisions. There’ll always be those who make a choice based on what they know and those who’ll make choices based on the unknown. Those who think from their heads and those who feel with their hearts. After you know which side you fall into, you’ll always know which choice you’re going to make. And when you don’t want to make that choice, you find an adult who’ll tell you that you need to make THAT choice because if you don’t then you’ll make this person’s life a merry-go-round of heart to heart conversations where you never listen to what they have to tell you.
And that my dear friend is the reason why we all need to know which show we like better. Friends or HIMYM?