DO'S AND DON'TS
There are so many underqualified a-holes telling you how to live. Add me to that list and enjoy my summarized “Do’s and Don’ts”, brought to you by the year 2016.
DO: Break the rules before Cosmopolitan or Marie Claire or Tessa Barton (the Queen of Rule Breaking) gives you the go ahead. If you wait until someone tells you its ok to wear black and brown together, that isn’t style, it’s just fashion and fashion is no fun. Fashion is your sweet grandmas well put together slacks and sweater and string of pearls and style is the hot girl in short silk shorts and polyester top with a leather fringe that all your male friends have been stealing glances at. Why are they looking at her? Because she could care less whether or not they did. And that’s about as badass as style gets.
DON’T: Never wear anything that makes you feel less like yourself. If high-waisted denim shorts are what all the girls are wearing (they are) and when you try them on you feel like you look frighteningly similar to a canister of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls that got a little too warm in the trunk of the car in the summer (you don’t) then take them off and give them the finger. Never let a trend get in the way of your confidence. Here is the nasty truth: if you wear something you feel yucky in, you will probably look as yucky as you feel, no matter how good you actually look. The most vital ingredient to looking foxy is feeling foxy. How cute can a minidress possibly be if you can’t stop tugging at the seam?
DO: Block your brows. Over apply your blush. Wear heels that make you taller than all your friends. Do that shit, rock that shit. For the love of all that is holy, FEEL GOOD ABOUT YOURSELF.
DON’T: Never ever EVER allow yourself the indulgence of believing that you were put together using damaged or subpar parts. You see thin hair? I see a fierce, angular bob. You see a gap in your front teeth? I see mother fucking Lily Aldridge. You see big thighs or a large forehead or a flat chest? I see amazing strength, a mysterious fringe, and a deep V that cuts down to the damn floor. There is always someone out there envying the very thing you spend your days wishing away. Cross my heart.
DO: Work hard. Set your goals and demolish them. Handle it. Rock stilettos whose click-clack say, “shut up, I’m in charge.” Be the boss. Be the upper hand. Reach up higher than anyone before you had the guts to.
DON’T: Don't get so obsessed with the hustle you forget to lay motionlessly on the couch in your slippers with all the movies you’ve been meaning to watch. What if you are so busy reaching life goals, you never cross paths with the dreams you dreamed aimlessly as a child? What if you never read that enormous Stephen King novel? What if you never spend an entire day snuggling your pet? What if you never allow yourself enough time alone with your thoughts to realize the goals you are in pursuit of are someone else’s? Stop worshipping the hustle and start being happy enough with your life that you don’t have to fill it up with task after task.
DO: Put yourself first. Honor your own needs and allow yourself the love and grace and acceptance you offer to others. We spend so much time saying yes to the pulling, nagging demands of the world, it’s easy for us to forget our own needs and—take special note of this—our wants. Our wants are vital! Our needs as humans are relatively consistent. We all need food and water and love and shelter. Our wants set us apart and give us an identity outside of the checklist of who we are. Without my desire to write professionally, my deep and overwhelming love for velvet and boots, my infatuation with post-apocalyptic fiction, my obsession with golden retrievers, and my undying love for candy and sweets (these being only a few facets of my everlasting list of “things”) I am just another mid-twenties white female with blue eyes and two story home outside the city. It isn’t the things that you share with others that define you, it’s the things that set you apart.
DON’T: Don’t put yourself first. Put yourself dead last (even Jesus can agree with me on this one). Oh my gosh it isn’t about you. Don’t you see, it never has been? You were born into this world at the exact same moment as countless other humans. You breathe the same, love the same, need the same, want the same and, most importantly, you struggle differently. Open your eyes to some real shit: you aren’t the same as your neighbor and your neighbor isn’t the same as you. Praise God! Maybe you like sweet white farmhouses with gorgeous tile work and rustic furniture that looks like you snagged it from a trash heap, when really you spent loads of money on it because it’s PERFECT for you. Maybe you like classic styles with granite and oak and inlayed rugs that your great-grandma, grandma, and mother can all agree is “absolutely high-class”. Maybe you have a soft spot for the trashy and overdone mix of colors and textures of the mid-century, with its velvet wall papers and desperately ornate carpeting (I am so guilty of this). It is important to know that you are right. Whatever you find lovely, you’re right. And, you are also wrong. It’s not about you so don’t get caught in the trap of believing that your opinion is the gauge from which all others are measured.
DO: Read. A lot. Read about people and places and ideas and discover the capacity of your mind to develop those people and places and ideas beyond the black and white font on the page into the gorgeous and endless colors and concepts that cannot be contained within reality. Exercise your ability to enjoy other people’s imagination and adopt it as your own. Never read something you enjoyed? Try something else! Just because you eat a meal you don’t like doesn’t mean you should starve yourself. It doesn’t mean you don’t like all food, you just don’t like what you had. Don’t starve your brain from all the good nutrients out there because the flavor wasn’t right the first time. Buck up. Add salt. Try again.
DON’T: Stop consuming things you don’t enjoy and stop pretending to not enjoy the things you are consuming. I don’t care how important it is, I just don’t like Mark Twain. He is vitally important and well-loved but not by me and that is ok and does not make me unintelligent. And I don’t care that it doesn’t make me a better human being, I could watch videos of girls applying their make up all day long because I think it’s amazing and enjoyable and that does not make me vapid. Like what you like and don’t explain yourself to anyone. On that note, if what you are consuming is harmful to you or the people creating it, do whatever it takes to stop consuming it. Recognize the vital difference between enjoying something and allowing it to destroy you.
DO: Be a quitter. Oh my goodness, please oh please, be a quitter. Quit your unfulfilling job. Quit your shitty relationship. Quit habitually disrespecting yourself. Quit overspending, underloving, being judgmental, and staring at your phone screen. And while you’re at it, quit bitching mindlessly about things you have total and complete control over. Quit it, cut it out, knock it off, stop. Let this be the moment you decide to quit.
DON’T: Stop letting fear determine your every move. There are two ways to live: in a state of freedom and in a state of reaction. Break the chains, honey.
DO: Ask the people who know you best—really know you—for help making big decisions. Take advice and pray through it and mull it over as a team and invite your community to partake in your life.
DON’T: Never let someone else run your show. Some people would be happy to take the reins; don’t let them.
DO: Party hard.
DON’T: Don’t become a slave to the party.
Happy 2017. Here is to another year of discovery, growth, and, hopefully, too much cabernet sauvignon and espresso to keep track of.