I don’t doubt for a second that women are harder on ourselves than men. We’ll stare at our thighs and let out a stream of curse words that would make Joe Pesci say, “Whoa, chill out.” We’d stay stuff to ourselves guys would never even dream of saying to us. When men fail, they tend not to take it as personally as we do.
Let’s change that.
As someone going through what we call a “transitional period” (read: “I feel like a total fuck-up” period), I have some tips how how to not feel like a total failure, even though you may really, really want to.
Making friends in college isn’t hard compared to making them once you’re out of college (or are even just in your mid-late twenties.) I went to college with friends I went to high school with, so I thought we’d stay tight forever. Wow, was I wrong. But hey, these things happen. Friendships need work, just like any other relationship. And when you don’t put in the work, they wither, and yes, they can die.
So it was onto new friendships. But how would I make friends? It seemed impossible. And then I realized, the answer was in front of me the whole time.
Confidence is key. How many times now have you heard that in your life? Probably a lot. I see it, or some version of it, on Pinterest almost daily. But it’s true, isn’t it? When I was a little kid I was surging with confidence. As I got older, it ebbed away. Now I’m trying to get it back.
Here are some tips and tricks I’ve picked up for how to be confident. Share yours! We could all use it. There is enough confidence in this world for everyone.
– Tell yourself, “I am confident.” No, seriously. Repeat it in your mind, over and over, as though it’s fact. Then when you doubt yourself, say, “but that can’t be, because I am confident.” Absorb the message.
– Have a physical or mental list of the people in your life who love you and believe in you. When you’re ever in doubt of yourself, look at the list. Let THOSE people be your source of confidence. If you have moments where you don’t believe in yourself, read the name of the one person who does. One is all you need. One day it will be yourself!
– Eliminate weak works from your vocabulary. Start with your emails. Are you pitching a great idea to your boss? Don’t use words or phrases like “Maybe” or “I think” or “I don’t know…” because if you’re going to doubt yourself, why shouldn’t they? Put strength behind your words. Not cockiness. Don’t lead with, “This is the best idea in the history of this company and you’re an idiot not to follow it.” The Dr. House approach only works on TV.
In January 2010, my New Year’s Resolution was to take more baths. But then, I took no baths…for the entire year. I was “too busy” with work and life. I had a mental block. I felt that in order to take a bath, I had to clean the tub and there was no way that was happening. Or so I told myself in an elaborate strain of excuses that grew evermore lengthy and complex.
To my dismay, the one proactive step I resolved to take that year to calm myself down, relax, get perspective, get nourishment, moisturize and exfoliate proved to be the only action in life I was incapable of doing. I couldn’t make myself. I never felt I had the time, and when I did, I would contemplate taking a bath (or worse, remind myself of my resolution to take more baths), and I would feel stressed, pained, panicked, uneasy, stricken and paralyzed. I usually resorted to watching marathon episodes of House or, even better, hanging out with the wrong sorts of men.
For the record: I showered every day. But relax in the bath I could not do.
I write to you now, in 2013, having overturned this bizarre neurosis. A hot, steaming bubble bath is now my nightly ritual. And its rewards are everything I had hoped for three years ago: calm and peace of mind, healthy skin, quietness and escape, a new perspective.
And so I ask, with my skin still emanating lavender from last night’s soak, what the hell prevents us from doing things we know are good and right for us? Why do we self-sabotage our most mundane (and precious) goals? Whether it involves exercise, getting organized, ending (or simply putting distance in) a toxic relationship, eating better, cooking more, saving money (or simply not splurging), there is an infinite number of brain cells in our heads wired for resistance, battling our own good will, defending us from what’s good for us. How do we break through these cognitive barricades and take a freakin’ bath already?
Here’s how I did it and how YOU can do it, too:
There are very few situations when I’m able to graciously accept a compliment. Like if someone said I organized something nicely, I’d believe it and say, “Thank you!” Other instances are limited to when someone praises my:
This is because I’m confident in these areas. I trust that I can name all the members of NSYNC or One Direction, and I pride myself on the tidy to-do lists written in my daily planner. But if someone says, “Hey Meg, you did a great job with that presentation,” my immediate reaction is self-conscious babble: “No, you don’t mean that. I was hunched up and twitchy the entire time, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t look anybody in the eye, and I definitely said ‘ummm’ too often, and are you sure we were even at the same presentation because I don’t think it was as good as you seem to be implying.”
Maintaining a positive outlook and being constantly a ball of cheer and sunshine can be a difficult thing to sustain. I, a human being with emotions, have and still do struggle with this! I know!
Shocking! (sarcasm, sarcasm, sarcasm). I am in no way a person to take official good advice from. I fuck up a lot and enjoy wallowing. I’m a professional brooder. However! I am turning that around! A new leaf! A new tree! Forest! Etc! Anyway you guys, here’s some simple suggestions for achieving and maintaining that same level of purring contentment of which my cat seems to be queen:
1. Treat yo self. WITHIN REASON. I am guilty of buying stuff for myself to feel better and then wondering why I can’t pay my internet bill on time. Keep it basic. Nail polish. Fancy coffee. Cheap shoes. Yes, money can sometimes buy happiness.
2. Get dressed up, dance to Beyonce in your car, and go out somewhere with your buddies. Talk to that weird bald guy after a few too many tiki drinks; leave your hang ups behind. A tiki bar is a magical place. It’s like Vegas, except not at all in any way!
3. Get in there and clean that shit out. I’m a hoarder. I’ve been lording over a box of junk for about five years. I finally did a deep cleaning of my closet and got that mischief managed. Now, I just have to figure out some way to get it down a giant hill to a dumpster. C’est la vie.
Much like earthquakes or Voldemort attacks, running into your ex happens when you’re not expecting it. No one ever really expects to run into your ex, unless you live in the same neighborhood and you’re in that territory where you’re not sure if it’s “your” area or “theirs”. Then you feel like it’s Halloween night, the hair sticking up on the back of your neck, as you look around every corner, wondering which spirits will jump out at you. Even if you had a good breakup, running into your ex can be jarring. Especially if you’re running into them with your car, which hopefully you are not, but hey, things happen. It’s Vegas.
How to handle these run-ins can depend on how your breakup went and what sort of mood they’re in when you see them. Only you know your relationship history so use some of your discretion when deciding how to approach. These are suggestions, not laws.
If you see them, and they see you, don’t pretend you didn’t see them. Unless your ex is an abusive jerk or if saying hi to them would be very upsetting for both of you, it is incredibly cruel and immature to pretend that you didn’t see the person whose tender arms you used to fall asleep in, or did hand stuff with, I don’t know your relationship. Acknowledge them. Sometimes all you need to do is wave. But if it’s the kind of situation where you can go up to them and say hi, you should.
Dating, work, family, love, and money: all common stressors. Having written about dealing with anxiety, it may seem odd that I’m writing about how to relax, but it’s probably because I have so much experience being stressed out that I know how to best calm the eff down. The trick is REMEMBERING to do this. I’m hoping that some of my tips can inspire others, and you can share your tips, and we’re all more relaxed than Roger Sterling at a pool party.
– Light a candle. I know, how silly does this sound? “Thanks, Almie, do you want me to play George Michael’s ‘Carless Whisper’ as I do this?” No, you don’t need to. Something about lighting a candle triggers something in me that signals my brain to settle down. I turn off all the lights, light the candle, look into the flame for a few moments, and I feel better.
– Actually stop whatever it is you’re doing, inhale deeply and strongly, and exhale the same way. I know, I know, another well-worn piece of relaxation advice, but I’m sharing it because it works. Sometimes when I’m working for hours on end, fingers jumping around my keyboard, keeping an eye on the clock trying to meet all deadlines, I suddenly feel like I’m holding my breath. I say to myself, “Whoa, slow down”, stop everything, and breathe. The brief change in pace really helps.
SUMMER! HOT DOGS! SANTA MONICA PIER! UNIVERSAL STUDIOS! ARTIC KISS COCKTAIL (CHAMPAGNE WITH VODKA)! STRAPPY HEELS! INDIE BANDS IN CONCERT! DIRTY SUNGLASSES! WHERE DID WE PARK THE CAR! SUMMER!
There’s the obvious answer: get drunk. But sometimes you don’t want to drink. Like…uh…when you already feel nauseous! Or you’re pregnant (ew). Or you’re allergic. Or someone is paying you not to. Yeah, those are pretty much the only situations where you wouldn’t drink at a party.
In this scenario you have fallen under one of those situations, you poor soul. So what do you do to keep things interesting? I have some ideas.
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