1. Your job. Yes, even if you’re working something that other people condescendingly term “not a real job,” such as retail or service. If you have a job of any kind in this economy, you’ve already won.
2. Whether or not you have debt. If you managed to get out of your education debt-free, that doesn’t mean that your life is a financial walk in the park that you constantly have to be apologizing for. If you are in debt, it doesn’t mean you got a “worthless” degree and now deserve to be shamed for struggling to find work after you were convinced by your school that you were making a good decision.
3. The kind of food you enjoy eating, or why you enjoy eating. (No matter how “uncultured” or “boring” or “gross” someone else might deem your favorite food.)
4. Your decision to have children, or not have them, or to not be sure if you even want them.
5. Your dislike for marriage as an institution — and even if this one day changes, you don’t have to justify having grown as a person and moved into a new point of view. No one should be telling you “I told you so” over something as enormous as your decision to commit for life to another person.
6. Your sexuality, or your desire to experiment with it. You are allowed to have “phases” or “try things out” or be “confused,” and can take as much time as you want figuring it out.
7. Your gender presentation.
8. Your income level, and what you can and cannot afford. If you are having trouble keeping up with friends because you are not able to spend as much as them, there is no reason to risk financial ruin to try and keep up appearances.
9. Your body. The only person whom you need to talk to about with it is your doctor; everyone else can else can go kick rocks.
10. Whether or not you want to go out on a weekend night, or ten weekend nights in a row. The amount of time you spend in a bar or at a club does not directly correlate with how cool or worthy a person you are.
11. Your relationship status. If you’re single and happy, that’s great. If you’re in a relationship and happy, that’s great. If you’re either of those and not happy, you are more than allowed to be, and it’s no one’s business how you should “fix” it unless you ask them for their advice.
12. How many friends you have. One is enough. A hundred is enough. And there is no need to falsely upgrade acquaintances to “friend” status in your mind simply to fill out the ranks. A true friend is rare, and we don’t need to make it a competition for who has the most.
13. How much you drink when you go out, or if you drink at all, or why you choose not to drink if you do.
14. What kind of music you enjoy listening to.
15. What kind of an education you have or don’t have, or if you intend to go back and finish what you’ve started. If continuing your studies is something you want to do, good, but don’t be forced into saying that you want it just because it’s what people expect of you.
16. What you happen to be turned on by. If you like slash fiction, you like slash fiction. If you like people recording videos of themselves popping balloons, that’s awesome for you. It’s all good, and as long as you’re not hurting anyone, have at it.
17. Whether or not you know to cook, even if you’re a woman who “should” know how to do those things.
18. If you stay at home to raise your children, or if you hire someone to help you do so because you have a full-time career. Neither of those choices are more or less feminist, no matter what Elizabeth Wurtzel tells you.
19. How many people you have had sex with.
20. Whether or not you are a virgin, and whether or not you want to wait for marriage to lose said virginity.
21. Whether or not you believe in God, and what you think God actually is. (As long as you’re not imposing any of your beliefs on others, in which case we’d have a bit of a problem. But I trust that you’re cool and wouldn’t do that.)
22. Who you voted for and why. If you want to talk about it, you’re free to. But no one should ever make you feel like you have to tell them.
23. If you have sex on a first date, if you kiss on a first date, or if you won’t even hold hands on a first date. You’re allowed to do whatever you like when you’ve just met a new potential suitor.
24. Whether or not you choose to use dating websites.
25. Not knowing exactly what you want to be when you grow up, even if many people would already put you in the category of “grown up.” If you are considering going back to school, or changing careers, or moving, or starting a family, or doing charity work — it’s all good. And none of it has to be followed up with a longwinded explanation about why it’s a good idea and they should believe in you. If you need to justify what makes you happy to someone in your life, perhaps you should ask yourself why you even care about their opinion in the first place.