By Erin Russell
I turned 29 last month. Before I dry up and turn to dust, I wanted to share some of the lessons I've learned as a twenty-something. One of the greatest things about being older is not giving a sh*t -- I have already written about this some, but today I want to elaborate on the things I don't give a sh*t about anymore. I once cared deeply about these things. But as I've gotten older and "wiser" (debatable), I've realized they just don't matter to me.
1. Celebrity gossip
From about age 19 to 25, I read every article on Perez Hilton every day (plus a rotating list of Go Fug Yourself, DListed, etc.). This was a special achievement when I was living in a completely different time zone (Italy) and would read all the backlog from the entire U.S. day in my morning. But as I got older, I kind of realized I was devoting a lot of time to something that doesn't affect me. Seriously, does knowing about a celebrity's life make me feel emotions? Make me more cultured? Plus, it's the same story over and over: Someone might be pregnant, two people might be feuding, someone's stylist made them wear something I could never afford that is still horrendous, etc., etc. I'm still interested in people's life stories, but my information generally comes from Wikipedia now.
2. Who my boyfriend is messaging
Oh my God, I used to get so jealous. I didn't think I was, but the number of times I read my boyfriends' Facebook messages tells another story. Oddly enough, what changed for me was finding evidence I was being cheated on. I'd been looking and looking and... I found something. Now what? I was miserable when I was snooping and then I was even more miserable when I was right. My way of solving this problem was to stop dating people I didn't trust completely. Your significant other should leave no doubt in your mind that they are completely devoted to you. Feeling the need to snoop is not OK; It's either a problem in the relationship or a problem with you.
3. Finding someone to go with
In high school, I remember thinking that going to the mall by yourself would be sad and depressing. Now the idea of shopping with someone else makes me twitchy. But, on a larger level, doing things by yourself is OK. I remember the first time I went to a concert by myself. I was worried everyone there would think I was a loser, but then again, I realized I didn't know any of these people, anyway, so it doesn't matter what they think. Maybe they will think I'm cool but if not, f*ck 'em, I never have to see them again -- I'm going to dance. I can't say everything I've done by myself has been enjoyable, but it has just as good a chance of sucking if I'm with someone else. I've gone to networking events, book readings and Greece alone, sometimes made new friends and had a great time -- and I'm stronger because of it.
4. "Confessions" articles
Do any of y'all remember grouphug.us? I used to read that all the time in college. After a couple of months, though, I realized probably 90 percent of the "confessions" were fake. Those Whisper secrets you're reading, or the Reddit thread on the horrors of working in a restaurant? Probably some dude in his mom's basement who also comments on YouTube videos for fun. (Of course Literally, Darling's "This Week In Awkward" series was, sadly, 100-percent real).
5. Sex tips
I subscribed to Cosmo in college. Listen, those tips repeat themselves every few months, are incredibly PG-rated and, most importantly, do not work on every person. If you are looking for "50 ways to please your man," ASK HIM. Do not listen to a magazine (which, again, uses made-up "testimonials") telling you that pouring candle wax on his chest a good idea, then try to surprise him with your sexy new trick. Talk to your partner about what he likes and what he wants to try. I know one guy who is totally into anal stimulation (tee-hee, anal! But seriously, it's not a big deal) and another who was turned off forever by someone springing it on him. And if you're reading sex tips looking for ideas for yourself? Sure, I guess it's a fine place to start. Just stay away from anything involving food.
6. Chasing after people
"He only returns like every third text, I always make the plans and he thinks I'd look hotter as a redhead." NOPE, BYE. "You are still mad at me for something I did eight years ago? I must need to apologize some more." AT THIS POINT IT'S THEIR PROBLEM, NOT YOURS. "He can't be attentive to me because he has just been hurt and doesn't want to commit right now, but I need to be there for him." HE'S PROBABLY A SCUMBAG. IF HE CARED HE WOULD SHAPE UP. "I know I shouldn't text my ex, but I just want to win, you know?" THERE IS NO WINNING IN RELATIONSHIPS. YOU WIN BY NOT ASSOCIATING WITH A**HOLES.
7. Cool music
As a native Austinite, there is a large amount of pressure to like the "right" bands. I scoured Napster when I was in high school (uh... I mean, did legal things?) trying to find cool new music before anyone else -- no easy feat on a dial-up Internet connection. Then, I worked as a DJ at our college radio station and was met with a whole other level of music snobbery that I needed to attain to fit in. People cooler than me would zealously discuss whether something was categorized as trip hop or dubtronica, and the effects of the soaring chord on blah blah blah. I didn't even like half of these weird-a** bands but everyone else did, so I had to at least be knowledgeable of Ratatat and The Arcade Fire. I spent SO much time on this. Now, the music can find me, dammit. If I like it, I will buy it whether it's by Disclosure or Drake, Broods or Beyoncé. As long as it makes me sing, dance or speaks to me, I don't care how cool the band is or what damn genre they are.
This is tricky, because sales have the potential to be awesome. I used to be the first person in the store during the Victoria's Secret semi-annual sale, because, $25 bras! But now, with a drawer full of dainty underwear only about a third of which is actually in rotation, I give sales the side-eye. I immediately unsubscribe from newsletters of online purchases because I don't WANT to know about sales. I don't need to be spending money right now, and it's better to just not even have the temptation there. Sometimes the "sale" price is only a difference of like, $5 anyway. Then there are sites that will show you such a huge markdown that how could you NOT buy it? Problem is, no one on earth is selling it for that high original price--they are only trying to make it seem like a deal. Finally, if you're buying something on sale, you should be willing to pay full price for it because you love it that much. If you justify buying a dress because of the price, you probably didn't want it that much in the first place and it will just gather dust in the depths of your closet.
9. Not swallowing your pride
To clarify, I do not say this meaning "be a pushover" or "apologize and not mean it" (see, No. 6). But certain occasions call for a dose of humility in the short-term for good in the long-term. Asking your boss or a co-worker for help when you're overwhelmed and about to lose it. Telling someone you love them. Finding a way to apologize to your girlfriend when you KNOW you were right, but the way you said it upset her. Bite your tongue, talk it out with the other person and be empathetic. Have you heard of "echoing" someone's speech? For example: "OK, so you are upset with me because I made plans with friends on our date night and you wanted it to be one-on-one." It sounds silly, but it's absolutely the best way to make sure you understand what someone else is trying to communicate.
There's a saying I found in my late 20s that I wish I'd heard earlier: "Apologizing does not always mean that you're wrong and the other person is right. It means you value the relationship more than your ego."
10. Trying to be perfect
Look, we're all flawed human beings, even that successful cousin/acquaintance/frenemy your mom is always asking you about. You don't need to throw on a full face of makeup and a cute sundress to go to the grocery store, you don't need to hide the fact that you poop from your significant other, you don't need to be married by 25 so you can be together for three years before baby No. 1 at 28. Life works in mysterious ways, and everyone is not on the same schedule. Just focus on being the best version of yourself. What more can anyone ask?