Confessions of a V.I.P. (Very Impulsive Person)
I am one of the most impulsive people that I know. “Are you sure about this?” is one of the most common questions I hear from my friends.
This impulsivity must trace back to my toddler years, where I would throw myself on the floor of the grocery store and scream for cookies. Somewhere deep within my synapses, there was a primal urge to get what I wanted and to get it RIGHT NOW. While my little sister used patience and politeness to get what she wanted, for some reason throwing a tantrum seemed like a more appealing option.
Going on from my toddler years, my impulsiveness spread to places other than the cookie aisle. After watching Spiderman 3 and being captivated by Mary Jane Watson, I hacked away at my hair in an attempt to get the sultry bangs shown off by Spiderman’s girlfriend. This resulted in near cardiac arrest for my mother and a trip to the hair salon.
During an end-of-the-year school pool party, I jumped into the pool with no regard to my straightened hair. There was no one to impress, no reason to do it. I had the urge and obeyed. A similar scenario played out a year later when I jumped off a cliff into Lake Michigan. My cousins and I were scouting out a cliff that we wanted to jump the next day. There were a group of retirees standing around who wanted to see someone jump into the water so they could see how high the drop was. I happily obliged, and took the 30 foot drop into the icy water.
I have at least a hundred stories of sudden, rash decisions I have made. When I got older, my tastes shifted from hair hacking and jumping into bodies of water to more adult things; namely shopping, binging, and purging. If I wanted it, I got it, one way or another.
However, this started to take a toll on my friendships, my grades in college, and my physical well-being. It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with clinical depression and bulimia that I knew I had to clean up my act.
Learning to control my impulses was painful. And I am not being metaphorical. When I first began restraining myself, I felt tightness in my chest and like I had been kicked in the stomach. I was like Gollum panting for his “precious.” I had to hold back from getting another tattoo, another piercing, eating a package of Oreos, maxing out my credit card on an online shopping spree – it hurt really badly. For the first few months, I whispered “no” to myself over and over again when walking through Target, driving past the mall, or hovering my cursor over the “Check Out Now” button. “No no no no” became my guiding chant.
Eventually, holding back stopped feeling so painful. Even better, saying “no” started to show results. My bank account became healthier, and I stopped suffering from the financial hangover I would get after making a rash purchase. I feel more in control of my life, and experience a weird euphoria when I stick to my grocery list or take the ridiculously priced throw pillow out of my cart before heading to the cashier.
It just feels better to not be controlled by whatever idea takes ahold of me. Oddly enough, all of this self-control makes me feel more at peace with myself. Saying “no” to the pretty pair of high heels that caught my eye means that I can say “yes” to paying off my credit card debt. Saying “no” to the desire to get a new tattoo means that I can say “yes” to planning a summer trip to Colorado with my best friend.
So for those of you who struggle with impulses that seem to hijack your brain, or if you have a friend who seems ready to dive off of a cliff at any moment, just know that yes, it is possible to control impulses. You can do it. But you just have to accept the fact that it is not going to be pretty, it is going to hurt, and you are not going to like it at first. But it will pay off one day. Patience young Padawan, patience.