You need two people in order to make a seesaw work. Real, honest-to-goodness love is like that. So don’t put your life on hold for someone who doesn’t get how seesaws work.
I feel like we can all ride this New Year’s train a little longer and, even if that’s not true…I’m doing it anyway because we could all use a listicle of fresh starts, good intentions, and aspirational ideas.
This is the year to love yourself. This is the year to take care of yourself in small ways you typically ignore. This is the year to be the best version of yourself.
The better you are for you, the better you’ll be for other people in your life. Yep, that includes your love. Blah, blah, cliche but true.
Here are small, easy ways you can make yourself feel GREAT this year:
Born: My first acquisitions in this world are two stuffed bears, probably purchased by a friend or relative on the way to visit the maternity ward. One is named “Bunky” because that is what it says on the tag. The other has no such tag, so my parents call it “Teddy” by default.
Age Three: I have decided Bunky is a girl and Teddy is a boy. This feels natural as Bunky is small and Teddy is large, a conclusion which I now realize reveals volumes about how early heteronormative gender associations become ingrained in toddlers. They are my “kids,” and also somehow married (?). I drag them everywhere.
Five: Teddy’s fur rips after a particularly rough trip through the washing machine. My mother operates on him with a sewing kit. It is briefly unclear as to whether he will make it. I bite my nails and pace around the bedroom like an expectant father.
Nine: Both bears are almost* left in a motel room during a trip to Arizona. We have to go back to the room to investigate. Turns out they were in the suitcase the whole time. (*You cannot be “almost” left in a hotel room if you were, in fact, in a suitcase.)
Eighteen: Bunky and Teddy move to my new college dorm. I believe they are now retro enough that they’re back in vogue. Decrepit stuffed bears feel very normcore. I perch them right in the middle of my bed, on top of my pillow, and think nothing of it. It takes a while to make friends.
I’m a woman in her twenties, and yet sometimes, I feel like a woman in her eighties (no offense to all those badass 80-somethings out there.) I just feel like there are certain things in my life I’m getting too old for, and as my birthday draws near, I’m reminded of exactly what they are.
Few things are as horrible as being in sixth grade.
During sixth grade, my class took a weekend trip to Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. Two busloads full of smelly, hormonal, disgusting tweens, sounds like every teachers dream. Throw in all of us listening to The Offspring, on speakers, off of a disk-man, and all of us singing along to every song. I can only hope all of those chaperones got drunk once we arrived to the hotel.
During this particular weekend, I was in love with Andy. He was a stud, super cute, looked great in khakis and a polo, and that’s really all I needed. He had light brown hair that always looked a little too perfect. I now realize that his mother probably put hair product in it for him; it looked that good.
Andy was a new crush for me because he was new to school, which meant he didn’t know me. I totally had a chance, even though, retrospectively, I was going through a tough time in sixth grade. I was awkward, chubby, teased, and I couldn’t keep up with the work at school. I kept a lot of things to myself, because a universal fact about sixth grade is, you can’t fucking trust anyone.
For instance, a girl can be your friend one minute, bonding over shaving your armpits, and the next thing you know, some other girl is making fun of you because you shave your armpits. But the thing is, WE WERE ALL SHAVING OUR ARMPITS.
It’s normal to create arbitrary timelines to determine what we should have achieved by a certain age — normal, but not necessarily helpful or healthy. The truth is, it’s never too late to do what matters most.
…feeling happy, and feeling young?
He reaches across the table before taking another sip of whiskey and asks me, “Why in the world do you still read paperback books when you can just read everything on a Kindle?”
And I fumble around in my head for an answer:
I like the way a book feels in my hands…
Used books, you know, they’ve been places…
I like to surround myself with evidence of the stories…
I couldn’t come up with any groundbreaking reason or mouthwatering argument to fire back at him with.
It’s just that I adore the process of finding and holding on to an actual back. The butterflies that’ll claw at my stomach when I hear the plot summary of a book I absolutely need to read. The way that acquiring that book doesn’t have to be so instant—like the majority of things we want and can get in a single click. There’s a wait time from the library or the internal debate we face at the nearest bookstore over whether it’s worth it to fork over the $13.99 for the book, instead of using that cash to buy a sandwich at Panera for lunch. It’s the heaviness we feel—the ache that tap dances on our shoulder— from carrying that book around with us everywhere we go. How the book has been places before it has been ours and how we can so easily leave our mark on its pages forever—a simple crease or a chocolate covered fingerprint on the edge of a page.
“Sometimes,” I begin to tell him, “There’s comfort in doing things the same way you always have.”
Soon, we’ll start to say the same thing about dating. Why walk up to strangers in a coffee shop, strike up conversation, and potentially ask them out, when you can just scroll through a hodgepodge of online dating profiles? Meeting someone at a concert will soon be I stumbled upon them on Spotifly and thought their playlist was rad! Meeting someone at a networking event will eventually become I connected with them on LinkedIn and endorsed their Microsoft Office skills. There’s even a dating app for the restaurant Just Salad that hooks people up based on the types of salad they like to eat—giving us one more excuse to ignore the people who stand in front of us and behind us as we try to order our lunch. Why communicate in person when you can probably just find them online?
Saying “I’m sorry” is pretty easy. Truly forgiving someone, though, can be a little trickier.
It’s time to abolish plastic red cups, ladies. It’s time to have adult parties. I don’t mean like XXX ADULT parties. I mean, here’s how to have a grown-up party. One that contains zero keg stands but still gallons of fun!
Get proper glassware.
You can buy martini glasses at the 99 Cent Store. It’s worth it. Not only do you look classy, but if someone drops one, you’re only out $1.00 plus whatever tax is. If you really don’t want to use real glasses, then at least use nice fake plastic glassware. NO RED CUPS. NO RED CUPS EVER. We’re adults now.
Make sure you have food.
It can be a bowl of popcorn and a plate of fruit if you don’t feel like cooking. But those who provide booze for their guests are wise to provide food as well. It’s being a smart (and kind!) host. Speaking of booze…
All the decisions you make will lead you to this point. That sounds terrifying, but it’s actually not. You may be sitting around, thinking everyone around you is making better decisions that will lead them to better lives, or maybe they’re already off living these great lives, but if you look around, you probably are too.
Take, for example, my friend Courtney. In our early 20′s, after graduating college, most of our friends moved to Manhattan, myself included. We were cramming ourselves into small spaces with too many roommates and paying too much in rent. But Courtney stayed on Long Island and put herself through grad school so she could become a teacher. She wanted a steady, stable job that had a distinct career trajectory, good benefits and good hours so that one day she would be able to start her own family. She always wondered if maybe she was missing out on something by not living in the city since that’s what all her friends were doing.
I, on the other hand, was wondering if Courtney had it right. While I was working tirelessly and being grossly underpaid, she was able to live in a spacious studio apartment by herself for years, her teacher salary (and tutoring on the side) afforded her a flexible income, and in 2011, was able to put down a down payment on her very own home. That same year, I was still living paycheck to paycheck in the same apartment I had been in for the past five years, cramming in with those same roommates and at the same job.
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