1. Responding promptly to messages.
This is going to be one of those “Do as I say, not as I do things” that you used to be so fond of with your parents. (“But why can’t I have a highball before dinner? I am a fully-grown six-year-old, I deserve a buzz as much as the next working man!”) Please start answering your messages on a timely basis, because my life has become a digital quicksand of about 100 un-listened to voicemails, 4,000 unread emails, and texts I fell asleep directly after reading. I want there to be a better justification, but I am just so incredibly crazy and messages stress me out in a way I can’t even fully articulate. I’m pretty sure there are at least a dozen really important announcements in there that I missed, but I am at the point where my only recourse is changing my outgoing message to “I DON’T LISTEN TO THESE, ALRIGHT? FUCK” and retreating entirely from society. Save yourselves while you can.
2. Checking in regularly with friends.
Be the highlight of your friends’ days, in the form of finding offensive/disturbing GIFs tailor made to their sensibilities on Tumblr and sending it to them with a precious lil note of friend-love. The little moments of staying in contact and thinking of them during your everyday routine are what turn an Acquaintance With So Much Potential to Soul Sibling.
3. Cooking your own meals.
If for no other reason than all of the money you are going to save by realizing how inexpensive the actual components of a burrito are, and how blind you are being robbed every time you step foot in a Chipotle, do it. Be that person who is able to whip up a killer pasta carbonara on a moment’s notice (and knows that there is not actually any cream in the real version). Be that person who can make the barbecue dry rub which brings friends flocking from the four corners of Westeros, bearing gifts of beer in one of those cornucopia horns. Start to eat healthier by default because you realize that the Secret Delicious Ingredient in the majority of restaurant foods is a metric fuckton of butter. (This is absolutely true, by the way. If you ever see the quantities of oil that restaurant kitchens go through on a weekly basis, your eyes will immediately explode into buttery little ashes.) Improve your life on every front, starting now.
4. Staying informed on important subjects.
Quite recently, someone started talking about Edward Snowden over lunch, and I thought he was a football player for a good five minutes. Thankfully, I managed to resist the urge to pipe up with the maybe one or two basic facts I know about the NFL Draft and confirm everyone’s suspicion that I am cryogenically frozen in my own ignorance. Don’t be me.
(In all seriousness, I am informed. Just about things which literally concern no one and nothing.)
5. Being extra nice to strangers.
Smiles are contagious, be the change you wish to see in the world, you get what you give, and other clichés! Seriously, though, even though there are going to clearly be times in which you are not some less-childcare-inclined version of Mary Poppins, the best thing you can do for the overall vibe of your day is taking time to be polite, going out of your way to help strangers, and being genuinely kind to the people you interact with. Despite what the horrible catcalls might say, you don’t have to go through your commute with the corners of your mouth stapled up to your cheeks, but holding a door for someone is a good way to make things more awesome immediately.
6. Stopping the justification of what you eat.
As we saw from the hordes of, ahem, impassioned comments on yesterday’s article about the kinds of foods we are supposed to give up on by 22, we are not about to be shamed out of our Pop Tarts and Little Debbies. And rightfully so! As we have all learned since the first moment we suckled upon our mother’s swollen titty like the tiny lil perverts we are, food is the best part of being alive. And there is nothing worse than listening to people rationalize or justify or downplay the amazing, perfect food that they are about to ingest. (Not to mention the rampant grilled cheese-shaming that we are clearly combating collectively as a society.) Exercise moderation, move around a lot, and enjoy the shit out of your stuffed-crust pizza. I give you my blessing [makes Pope air-cross motion].
7. Saying “I love you” when you want to.
Many moons ago, when I was waiting for my boyfriend to tell me that he loved me (because I had been too beaten by the cruel hands of gender norms to believe that I could take that leap myself), I was a mess. I was like one of those tiny Italian Greyhounds that can’t stop shaking and look constantly on the verge of throwing up. I was terrified that he was going to ask me to pass the salt and I would reply with a sweaty “I LOVE YOU” as I coughed up a hairball of anxiety into his lap.
And then we said it, and it was great. And I immediately wondered what I had been so afraid of. And yet, when I am confronted with saying it to a good friend or even a more distant family member who truly makes my life wonderful, I can often feel weird about the whole ordeal. But nothing could be more ridiculous. Telling someone that you love them is just about the greatest way of putting happiness and hope into the world, and will immediately make you feel like you have swallowed a little bit of sunshine, without all the esophageal burns. Go tell someone you love them, even if you’re afraid to. Especially if you’re afraid to. You’ll be a better person for it.