On Saturday, December 20th 2014, I will turn the ripe old age of 27. I have successfully been around the sun 27 times. Although I do not pretend to have all the answers to my life (in fact, I really don’t know most answers… isn’t that what your 30s are for???) I feel like I should gather up my knowledge I’ve gained in a little over a quarter of a century, and share it with you lovely folks. Some of my points are introspective, some of them are general things I’ve gathered, some of them are tidbits of advice. Take them as you will.
Because I felt like 27 things is a lot to write, I hired the help of two of my favorite people, Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen of Portlandia, to help me deliver the impending information you are about to receive.
(Also… I’m going to change my POV from 1st to 2nd to 3rd a lot. So you tense nazis can fuck off because I just don’t care. I’m aware of my incorrect usages of several tenses.)
Here are Shan Babe’s “27 Things I’ve Learned in my 27 Years”
1. There is always time to learn more
If I learned anything from going to college for six years, it’s that my education is never truly finite. I’m always looking for new ways to educate myself, whether it be academic or socially. We as humans only have a limited amount of time on this earth and I believe that learning should not be something that stops once you exit school.
I’m a big reader and try to read a piece of fiction and non fiction simultaneously. Most of the time I can finish books in about a week, and then I start right back up with a new set. The Strand Bookstore is my favorite place in New York City. No. Not just my favorite bookstore; it’s actually my favorite place to be in all of New York.
Sometimes I feel like I’m over-educated for the type of work I do. Then I remind myself that just because I don’t use all of my knowledge all day every day, does not make me less educated. It does not mean my brain is worth any less.
Plus, smart girls are the prettiest. 🙂
2. Never apologize for loving someone too much.
This is a doozy for me. I’ve often felt that I love a little too much, and often receive not enough love in return. My love scares people away. My love is too big for most people, ESPECIALLY when it comes to romantic situations.
But you know what? I don’t really care anymore. I used to do a lot of apologizing for my big heart. I like to shut it up in a box and keep it to myself. Sometimes it peeks out of its cave and makes an appearance like the Loch Ness monster of hearts, and then quickly disappears once it feels the hint of a threat.
Someday, when the time is right, my heart will come out of it’s Walden Pond and live in the real world again. But you will never hear me apologize for the way my heart feels. I will be sorry for things my heart has made me say, but I own my feelings.
I own my feelings.
That is a nice thing to say.
3. I’m much better alone.
With all the above being said, I think I function much better off when I’m left to my own devices. I can wake up every morning and let whomever into my life, at the time and place that I choose, on my own terms. I don’t ever have to justify my feelings, who I am, what I want to be, or how I choose to spend my days.
Being alone is not being lonely to me.
I fulfill myself. I don’t need anyone else to do that for me.
4. Waking up every morning and telling yourself you are beautiful/amazing/perfect/loved in the mirror really works.
If I’ve learned anything by being a strange person, it’s that not everyone will accept your weirdness. If I could count the times I’ve been told I’m not pretty enough, good enough, skinny enough, talented enough, etc, etc, I would be a rich person.
However, on the flip side, if I counted the number of times I’ve been told I am enough, whether it be from friends, family, casting directors, mentors, random strangers, and (most importantly) myself, I would probably be even richer.
Too often, we focus on the negative, not the positive. Sure, I’ve been on the other end of some pretty palpable vitriol in my 27 years, but I also get told regularly that I bear resemblance to Jennifer Lawrence and I WILL TAKE THAT TO THE BANK!!
Reinforcing myself, to myself, every day is just another thing that makes my life a little happier.
5. Keep a journal
I love to write, which should be pretty obvious, as I’ve been blogging steadily for about three years. But I also keep three journals.
Now you are probably asking yourself, “Shan, what the fuck do you do with THREE journals!?”
Well, I have one general journal where I write my thoughts, one where I write down how I’m feeling that day based on a “glass-half-full” vs “glass-half-empty” scale, and a five-year journal that asks me a question a day for five years.
Keeping these private journals helps remind me of who I am. It allows me to release my thoughts on a paper, so that they don’t cloud up my mind. I see my journals almost like Dumbledore’s pensieve in the Harry Potter novels (NERD ALERT!).
6. Never apologize for being a Feminist with a capital F!
I love being a woman. It does not mean I hate men. Being a feminist does not mean I don’t shave my armpits (which by the way, is absolutely okay if you are a woman and you don’t). Being a feminist does not mean I don’t allow men to hold doors or pull out chairs for me. Being a feminist does not mean I don’t like it when a gentleman (gentleman being the operative word) tells me I look pretty, or sexy, or cute.
Being a feminist means that I believe in equality of the sexes. Plain and simple.
7. All men aren’t ass holes. All women aren’t crazy.
The battle of the sexes never ceases. I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve heard a friend call a man a “douche,” “ass hole,” “prick,” etc. I also cannot even tell you how many times I’ve heard my guy friends tell me a girl is a “bitch,” “insane,” or the worst label anyone can give to a woman, “crazy.”
Millennials are conditioned to believe that we have to give extreme labels to everything. (ie. “I LITERALLY CANNOT EVEN.” “He/she is SO crazy.” “He/she is the WORST”)
This is bad. It hurts us in the end.
8. With that being said… Dating sucks
I feel like I can embrace most of my generation’s quirks and qualities, but dating is not one of them. Maybe I’m a little too old school with this one. The fact that we are all supposed to be okay with everyone dating, seeing, fucking everyone at the same time is just something I’m not into.
Whether or not you embrace the new wave of dating, it still does not change the fact that dating is pretty awful. Dating someone, especially post-college can be exhausting. Having to meet someone awkwardly at a bar after chatting with them online a few times, and then do this whole dance of “should-I-or-shouldn’t-I-tell-him-this-or-that” just feels like complete bullshit to me. There are too many games in dating. If you don’t show enough emotion, you’re fucked, but if you care too much you’re also fucked.
Perhaps this is why I’m single. I don’t know. As I’ve stated earlier today, I’m okay with being alone.
9. It’s okay to eat a pint of ice cream, drink two bottles of wine, and cry by yourself watching Crazy, Stupid Love when your heart is broken
We’ve all been there. Honor your feelings when you are heartbroken. We aren’t robots.
10. MAKE TIME for the family, friends and lovers
There is nothing worse than falling out of touch with a good friend or family member. We are all busy. We all have crazy lives. Make time. Don’t just send a text or write a message on Facebook. Make a phone call. Write a letter. Take the L Train to bum-fuck Brooklyn and smoke a friendly joint and watch Mean Girls. Send your family gifts just “because.” Tell the people you love that you love them as often as possible.
11. Do not make time for negative people.
Negativity only feeds negativity. When I’m around negative people, this is what I turn into:
12. You only get one body: treat it with respect and kindness.
Do NOT work against your body; work with it. I am built curvy. I have big legs, a big butt and thick arms. When I started working with my personal trainer I made it very clear that I did not want someone who was going to try to shape me into a size 0. That is just not realistic for me. Instead, we focus on strength and agility and endurance.
Guess what? I look and FEEL better than I ever have.
Also, can we all just agree to stop picking ourselves apart? You are the only person in the world with your body. Let that fact sink in and embrace it.
13. Good makeup saves lifes. Also… fuck it if I don’t want to wear makeup sometimes
I love makeup. I like the way it makes me feel. I feel like my face is a blank canvas, and my makeup brings out my best features.
I also love a blank makeup-less face sometimes.
14. It’s okay if I don’t get married in my 20s
ALL RELATIVES IN MY LIFE: Stop asking me when I’m going to get married. I’m making a life for myself in New York. My life does not revolve around dreams of a white dress.
15. It’s also okay if I don’t get married at all
Deal with it.
At risk of sounding preachy, I’m just going to say that with everything that has been going on in our country lately, our voices are important. Voting is imperative.
17. Do not be afraid of things that are strange, new or different
I often find that people and things that are strange, different, new, obscure, quirky, and unfamiliar are the most beautiful. Just because something is different does not necessarily mean that it’s wrong. If everyone and everything were the same, this world would be a boring place.
18. Good mothers and good fathers are hard to come by. If you are lucky enough to have both, keep them close.
Ok. Let me get preachy for a moment. I don’t have a mother. If you do, I implore you to pick up the phone and tell you that you love her. Same with your father. I tell my dad I love him every time we text or call each other. Just remember, not everyone has their parents, and not everyone has good ones. If you are fortunate enough to have both, spend every moment you can with them. Ask them questions about their past. Drink a beer with your dad. Hug your mom and let her get nostalgic over your baby pictures. Help your dad get rid of his hideous tie collection and then shop for new ones together. Let your mother relax on the couch while you clean the entire family’s Christmas dinner dishes.
I love my parents.
19 . Good brothers and sisters are hard to come by. If you are lucky enough to have both, keep them close.
Again, not everyone is fortunate enough to have loving brothers and/or sisters. I have both a wonderful brother and an amazing sister-in-law. I got to spend an entire week in Houston with them for Thanksgiving and for that, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude.
20. Good friends are VERY hard to come by. If you are lucky enough to have even one, keep them close.
Just because you don’t necessarily have the best biological family, does not mean you cannot have a “family.” My friends, both in New York, and across the country are integral to keeping me sane. I wish I could take the time to praise each and every one of my friends right now, but then the blog post would become so much longer than it already is! (If you’ve made it this far btw, kudos! This is a long motherfucking post!)
Get into trouble with your friends. Be silly with your friends. Be weird with your friends. Let your friends into your lives and love them deeply. And always, listen.
21. BE PASSIONATE.
I will quote one of my favorite poets, T.S. Eliot, “It is obvious that we can no more explain passion to a person who has never experienced it than we can explain light to the blind.”
Find your passion(s). Make your entire existence revolve around these passions.
22. Bad relationships need to terminated as soon as they get bad
Learn to let go. Do not hold onto someone because of who they “used to be.” I learned the hard way in my last relationship. By romanticizing a person based on the good times, we hinder ourselves from moving on.
Most relationships end. Learn when to say goodbye. It doesn’t mean that the love you had was not real. It doesn’t mean those feelings weren’t real. It just means that it is over, and you will both be better people without each other.
23. There are things I love about being a Millennial
I love that my generation follows their dreams. I love that we dream big, and take huge risks. I love that we are individualists. I love that my generation cares less about skin color and sexuality, and cares more about character content. I love that we have the power to connect with people instantly from across the globe. I love that we are innovators and believers even when the odds are stacked against us.
24. There are things I absolutely despise to my core about being a Millennial
I loathe our dating culture (as noted previously). I don’t like that we are so wrapped up in our digital words that I seldom ever hear someone’s voice over the phone. (I’m SUCH a phone talker. I want to HEAR you. Meaning and emotion get lost in texts). I hate how selfish we can be. I hate that we are often so disconnected with reality when we are so connected with the Internet. I hate how we seldom ever show our true emotions to one another, because caring is overrated.
25. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
We are human. We cannot do everything ourselves. Sometimes a fresh pair of eyes, a fresh set of ears, or a shoulder to cry on is the best thing we can ask for.
26. Do not be afraid to disagree with someone, even if it is someone whom you love and respect.
The wonderful thing about living in America, and being a free-thinking individual is that we can have different opinions, cultures, religions, lifestyles and still simultaneously exist. If you see something that you disagree with, or someone is treating another person unfairly, or someone is being racist or homophobic or sexist, do not be afraid to disagree. The tough part about this is when this person is your family member or friend. It is okay to disagree. It is also okay to agree to disagree. Use your best judgement.
27. You will not receive the kind of love you want from others, until you learn to fully love yourself.
This last one is basically just reiterating what I’ve been saying this entire blog: Love yourself.
There was a point in my early 20s when I did not love myself, or even really like myself. I was confused about why others didn’t love me and figured there was something wrong with me.
I know what each and every one of my flaws are. I know I talk to much. I know I talk too loud. I know I overthink everything. I know I push people away the moment I feel threatened. I know I can get a little too drunk sometimes and make a fool of myself. I know I’m stubborn. I know I’m selfish sometimes. I know I don’t have skinny legs or arms. I know I can come off as pretentious, especially when I talk about music. I know I have a lazy eye that is only corrected by glasses or contacts. I know that I wear too much black and probably too much makeup sometimes. I know I’m weird.
But there are a lot of wonderful, amazing things about who I am. I also don’t love myself any less because I have flaws. It’s not very easy to love yourself all day every day, but it must be done if you expect anyone to ever love you. Whitney called it the “greatest love of all.” (RIP Whitney)
And with that, I’ll leave you with a quote from Mr. Leonardo da Vinci: “Life without love, is no life at all.”
Here’s to the next 27!