1. How much time you actually spend online.
You know that nervous laughter and general sense of discomfort that overcomes you when you read some cutting-edge study about how the average young adult spends something like three hours on the internet every day? That moment when you try to calculate the time you spend online, and keep coming up with numbers that exceed the actual number of hours in a day? Yeah, that moment should stay to yourself. Just laugh along with everyone and pretend you cap your web surfing time at a healthy four hours a day, just like a normal person. Don’t let them see you sweat.
2. The one person you dated in a fugue state around the age of 19.
I saw him across the room from me at a party, years later, still rocking that misguided chin strap — only it had somehow been trimmed into even more razor-thin insanity — holding his Dixie cup of sadness, making weirdly chauvinist jokes, and talking about the Alkaline Trio concert he was going to next weekend. I saw him, I acknowledged him silently to myself, and then I pretended not to remember him when anyone would ask, as God intended. There are certain relationships that are meant to dissolve into the time-space continuum behind you, and you should absolutely not feel bad about that.
3. The things you deem acceptable to do while hungover.
First of all, there should always be a tinge of embarrassment to a serious hangover. We joke about it, but what we’re basically saying is “I exercised the same amount of discretion on my body last night as a four-year-old would if you gave them free reign of the kitchen at dinner time,” except instead of eating handfuls of cake until you throw up, you did four more shots of vodka past the point of no return. There is just a general state of greasiness in which you exist whilst hungover, smelly and squinty and unbathed and yet somehow in possession of the mental fortitude to go get a half-gallon of chocolate milk and some barbecue Fritos. It’s a part of our lives about which we don’t need to humblebrag. Speaking as someone who once ran into an ex while walking out of a McDonald’s holding two bags of food for myself and wearing a pair of community college sweatpants, it’s not the person you want to be.
4. What you are jealous of.
While we are always going to be jealous of certain things and people — and that jealousy is always guaranteed to boil to the surface on occasion — some of it must be hidden for dignity’s sake. Recently, I was at lunch with a girlfriend and when another woman came up in conversation I uncontrollably vomited up the words “That bitch needs to get over her eyebrows.” Aside from not making a huge amount of sense, I tipped my hand on the fact that I am, on a visceral level, jealous and bitter over the hairs just north of this woman’s eyeballs. Certain jealousies need to be pushed down to the recesses of our mangled heartspaces, and anything that petty is one of them.
5. What goes on in your Incognito Window.
We all have our secrets, and the inner workings of your Incognito Window is your holy of holies. No matter how comfortable you are with a new person, no matter how much you think you love them, no matter how much you trust their discretion, do not allow a few drinks to loosen your lips when it comes to the cyst-based searches you conducted for 30 straight minutes the night before. It is not meant to be shared.
6. The effort you put into getting ready in the morning.
Live that lie. No one needs to know about the hours you spend lurking on r/makeupaddiction, or how much your glow is based on BB cream and not eating well and getting a good night’s sleep. While it may not be embarrassing, per se, to spend a long time trying to shed the pallid shell you wake up with (not unlike one of those Russian stacked dolls), it’s certainly nicer to pretend like it just happens that way. Don’t talk about the ten minutes you spend de-puffing your eyes, or the little tissues you use to absorb the anime-esque forehead shine stripe. When someone compliments your bouncy curls, thank them without making mention of the technique you’ve honed over years of crying in front of YouTube tutorials. Hey, if models and celebrities get Photoshop, you get the white lie of “Oh, thanks. It was nothing!”
7. The ugliness that transpired in your breakups.
It’s not that we’re granted a pass on all our behavior when we are going through a particularly rough breakup, but we should at least paint a generous portrait when talking to friends. There is no need to talk about the keying of the car, the time someone said the other one had small genitals, or the back-and-forth in which good sex dragged things out about three months longer than it should have lasted. It’s unfair to make people pick sides, or to give all the gory details about something very personal that now everyone’s going to have to try and un-learn over the course of the next few years. Unless someone committed a serious injustice, it’s best to just pretend the two of you just went your separate ways after walking the length of the Great Wall of China and holding geodes, or something of that nature. You’ll be glad you did, once you are no longer blinded by anger.