I’ve barely lived a life in the past 26 years but I have learned a few hard won lessons along the way. I would like to share these with you.
Don’t put your bra in the dryer. Hang it out to dry. I have lost many a good bra because the heat of a dryer deforms the cup and mangles the wiring. Also, sorry but Victoria’s Secret bras are the worst and their measurements are usually SUPER WRONG. Go to a professional for a bra-fitting and then don’t spend more than $30 on a bra.
You’re using too much laundry detergent. You just are.
Don’t ever buy foundation without testing it out yourself. Get a sample, go home, wear it around for the next couple days, and check it out in different lights. There’s something in the lighting at Sephora that makes you look like a glamazon no matter what you try on but as soon as you hit natural light, you look like gray-faced ogre. In fact, get a sample for everything. I recently bought eye cream that a rep gave me without testing it out and woke up the next day with swollen itchy red eyes.
Make sure you have one good friend who will tell you like it is even at the expense of your feelings. We’ve all done that thing where you don’t like what someone’s wearing, doing, or saying and when they seek validation, you feel too bad to give your honest opinion. But you should always have one emotionally mature trustworthy person who can tell you that you’re overreacting, being selfish, whether that dress is doing you any favors, or NO, FOR 500TH TIME, YOU SHOULD NOT GET THOSE HIGHLIGHTS, SARAH. That person will also come in handy when you need emotional support because they are invested in your well-being.
Find an outlet. Whether it’s creative, or physical, or mental, find a damn outlet for your everyday frustrations. I still struggle with this myself. I know I should be writing but since writers are the worst procrastinators, it doesn’t often get done. Maybe you sketch once a week, or go to the gym, or meditate – just do something for yourself.
Don’t believe anyone’s life on Facebook/social media. Just don’t. They’re all lies. It makes us feel like shit as we sit in a dark room, our faces illuminated by the glare of a screen, wondering how that idiot from our freshmen year lit class has it so good. They don’t! WE ARE ALL sitting there at a keyboard or on our smartphones, perusing other people’s lives in photos, posts, and comments they have carefully cultivated, selected, and edited. “We compare our behind-the-scenes to other people’s highlight reels.” Like my profile picture for this site? Do you think I look like that every day? Hell no! I had on about three layers of makeup, a ton of product in my hair, and took about twenty shots before I was satisfied with the lighting and angle. Even this post will go through edits and (hasty) proofreading before I finally publish it.
You are your own worst enemy. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve finally realized this myself, but I find I’ve been having this conversation a lot recently with friends who are also in limbo. Usually, the biggest obstacle in getting to where you want to go is yourself. Come to terms with that, struggle with it every day, and then beat it into a bloody pulp and put in a corner.
Diversify your friend group. Don’t be afraid to make friends outside of your race, ethnicity, background, etc. The more I expanded my friend base the more I gained in insight and became less judgmental. Limiting your friend group to those who look and act like you do also limits your perspective. This world is not made for the myopic. Embrace diversity like the Oscars did this year. *
Stop judging people. Have you been in the exact same situation as this person? Have you had the same life experiences as this person? ARE YOU THAT PERSON? If you’ve answered no to any of these questions, shut your mouth. You may have an opinion, you may feel strongly about it, but at the end of the day, unless you are a judge, it is most likely not your place to pass judgment.
The choices you make in college do not define you but they do affect you. I did terribly my last year of undergrad because I was depressed and didn’t know how to ask for help. This narrowed my choices for post-graduation because I definitely wasn’t going to get into any graduate programs with my GPA. However, it did force me to take a look at myself and evaluate what I could do differently going forward. And I’m glad for it. Had I gone straight to grad school, I probably would have done just as terribly because what I had in mind then is not what I want to do now. Nonetheless, it would have been nice to have a good GPA to fall back on. I also made mistakes in my personal life. Those I do not regret at all because it’s made me who I am now and I like her. College is a safe space to make a ton of ridiculously bad choices because you’re in a bubble. So make sure you fuck up as much as possible so you learn as much as possible before you leave. I definitely couldn’t make those same mistakes now, which makes me especially grateful that I did it back then.**
You’re too old to be making excuses for yourself. Own up to your failures, mistakes, and inadequacies. It’s the only way you’ll be able to move forward. Character, will, and integrity are not something you’re born with, it’s something you develop. Going through mental gymnastics to justify yourself will only inhibit your growth as a functioning contributing member of society.
And lastly, nothing is ever that serious. Well, not nothing. Most things are never as serious as you’re making it out to be. Walk away, watch a funny YouTube video (my fave fall back is the Bridesmaids bloopers), and come back to whatever it is with a fresh mind, and then drop it.
*Maybe because I went to a school with a huge incestuous South Asian population, I find this to be especially important for brown folks.
**Also, if you’re still in college, take a resume and cover letter writing workshop. Just do it and thank me later. I’m sitting in my school’s computer lab and just overheard a kid call his mother and ask her what he did the summer between junior and senior year.