02 9 / 2012
This is obviously a short and imperfect list, but something I was thinking about last night. In six or so years, I’m sure I will have a new list for 23.
+ Dance. I was that kid at prom and homecoming who didn’t dance because dancing is stupid and why would I want to make a fool of myself blahblahblah sitting by the dance floor with my date being bored out of our minds blahblahblah. Listen, teenage dipshit me, DANCING RULES.
You don’t have to get all grind-y and basically having sex on the dance floor to dance. You can groove in your own happy little space if that is what you prefer. So what if you’re really terrible at it! Who gives a flying fuck? Not you! Because you are out there having a blast and anyone who judges you is an asshole and not worth your time anyway! If you want to get better at dancing and rhythm, there are lessons and youtube videos and friends and music videos that can help you. Or just be really enthusiastic and eventually you’ll be so off-beat that you are actually on-beat (this was said to me very recently and I took it as a compliment).
+ Laugh at yourself in embarrassing situations. So you fall down the steps in front of a bunch of people or you hit your boss in the face with the bathroom door on your way out. You can cry or apologize profusely and be really awkward for the next week…. or you can make a joke out of it! My favorite line for falling is, “That was on purpose! Thank you, I’m here insert-how-long-you-are-there!” and bow; or bumping into people is, “Oh thank god you’re not a hologram. Sorry about that!” You’re human. Clumsy weird embarrassing situations happen to everyone. For 99% of you, nobody will remember or care in a week or a month or a year.
+ Appreciate your parents. I did not get along with my parents. Not that I was a bad kid getting into trouble with the law or anything like that, but my parents were very very strict and I wanted to be a 17-year-old. I was pretty clever most of the time and got away with my shenanigans, but I foolishly ignored a lot of the good advice and lessons they had for me along with the super strict nonsense (the age-old throwing out the baby with the bath water conundrum). I wish I had learned how to cook before moving out. Or take care of plants. Or fold a fitted sheet. Or any of the other bajillion little rejected nuggets of wisdom they left for me every day.
+ You don’t know anything yet. Some people see a lot by the time they turn 20, I admit that. Some teenagers have seen more crazy messed up stuff than I will ever experience…. but most people in this country are not like that. And assuming you know anything about anything is why people over 20 generally despise ‘teenagers’.
Listen- it’s ok not to know because that means you can find out, and maybe tell someone who doesn’t know either! It’s an adventure to learn and grow and experience and explore. You have so much vast potential, but don’t have to hubris to think you’re there. As much as I have experienced and learned there is still so much waiting for me! And that’s fucking awesome. Be open to new knowledge and experiences and stories.
+ There will always be someone better than you (unless you are an Olympian or a super genius). Again, it’s ok! Do the best that you can, because that’s all you can fucking do! Push yourself as hard as you can, but accept that there will probably be someone who is better. We’re all told ever since we are little that we’re the best there is and we can rule the world! Nope. Sorry. You are probably not the best in the world. So what? Are you challenging yourself and trying as hard as you can and maybe failing or succeeding? Great. That’s all you can do. Be realistic.
+ Try it. I used to be the pickiest eater (I’m still kind of picky), but now I try and make an effort to like foods that I always assumed I wouldn’t like. Sometimes it can be as simple as deciding ‘I am going to like this’, and other times it takes awhile. I like to go to new restaurants and order the weirdest sounding thing on the menu. It’s terrifying., but overall I haven’t been let down. Or, for another example, clothes. I was for most of my life a very ‘safe’ dresser: one small subtle pattern, matching color family, neutrals, etc etc. I wore the least adventurous ensembles ever, but I always admired and envied people who would wear multiple patterns, or colors that I never would have expected to work together. Now, I am trying to be more daring with what I wear: mix patterns and colors and hues. It’s really fun! Perhaps a more trivial part of my day, but it enables me to saunter out of my apartment feeling like a mega-badass. So step out of your comfort zone and do something daring- in whatever large or small way works for you- and channel your inner badass.
disclaimer: badassery does not necessarily come with explosions
+ "Tout vient a son heure pour qui sait attendre." Translated: “But everything comes at it’s appointed time,” from The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Bradbury (one of my favorite books). The quote is incorporated in the sparrow tattoo on my shoulder, because I have such a hard time with this- I get so wrapped up in my plans and pre-concieved notions of how things are supposed to go. Things don’t always go according to plan, and life happens; I need to fucking deal with it and get over myself.
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