1. Ordering dessert when you really want dessert. Or that you want to finish all of your dessert, or that you cleared your plate because you were hungry. Or that you ordered a burger when everyone else chose salad. Have you tasted burgers lately? They’re delicious. Life should be a balance between things that are good for you, and things that you genuinely enjoy, and you shouldn’t feel the need to excuse yourself or make a light joke about being “bad.”
2. The kind of music you like. Here’s the thing: a lot of the music in our society is marketed and tested and worked and tweaked so that people like it. Pop is popular for a reason. And even the stuff that isn’t so rigorously engineered by marketing executives may not be everyone’s bag, but you know what? That’s okay. Can it be embarrassing to admit that you’ve got a favorite member of One Direction? Yeah, but come on. Their hair is full of secrets.
3. Being honest about how you feel. We spend so much of our lives bottling everything up, and fighting those emotions is tiring and exhausting. We should be allowed to just be, and tell the people we love when we love them, and acknowledge when you’ve had your feelings hurt. It’s okay to have a dialogue about the things that upset or excite you. It’s okay to care.
4. What your body looks like. Thigh gap, no thigh gap, flat stomach, no flat stomach — what matters most is that you are taking care of this thing that carries your life and your soul around. The people who work hard at keeping fit should be commended for their hard work, but that doesn’t mean that people who don’t have those priorities should be shamed in contrast. If you are treating your body with kindness, that is honoring its function.
5. Having goals, and working toward them. We often feel like we need to apologize for this because somewhere along the line, ambition crossed the line into ruthlessness, and people often fall prey to underhanded tactics to crush other people on our way to the top. So it’s normal to be wary of people who have dreams and goals and plans and want to be successful, but the fact of the matter is, not everyone works this way. It’s okay to have ambitions and crazy, outlandish dreams — these are the things that propel us along, because these things give us hope. And it’s also possible to achieve these goals without putting other people down. It may take a little longer, but it’s infinitely more satisfying.
6. Saying no when you want to say no. It’s really important to keep an open mind throughout your life, and trying new things is how we learn and grow, but sometimes, you just don’t want to do something. And that’s okay. You can decline a dinner invitation kindly, and people who care about you may have their feelings hurt momentarily, but they will appreciate that at least you were honest with them.
7. Who you love. The heart wants what it wants, and you shouldn’t have to justify yourself to friends who tease you or who don’t understand. (Besides, sometimes we ourselves don’t even know why we love the other person — we just know that we do.) The only people who know the intricacies of a relationship are the people who are in it. Sometimes we need friends to help us through the harder aspects of love and relationships (especially when we’re in danger but turn a blind eye), but at the end of the day, your friend thinking your significant other is lacking somehow is no grounds for you to feel like you should love them less.
8. Believing in horoscopes. Or fate, or signs, or anything that isn’t 100% rooted in science, and yet you still believe in it. We need these things sometimes, and whether or not the meaning is inherently stated in them, it’s how we interpret them and apply them to our own lives that matters.
9. Staying in on a Saturday night. Sometimes you need to decompress. Sometimes you need to just unwind and relax. Sometimes you need to go to sleep at 8pm because the week was long and tiring and demanding and if you don’t, you’ll crash the next day and end up worse for the wear.
10. Going out on Saturday night. If that is how you define fun, then that is how you define fun, and you deserve that outlet to unwind. Spend a little more money if you can and if you want to, stay out until 4 am, get a pizza delivered at the bar you wind up at after hours. Spending the whole of Sunday trying to nurse yourself back to health may not be the most productive use of your day, but those lazy weekend days deserve their place in our lives, too.
11. Whether introverts or extroverts are the “better” people. To a certain capacity, we’re all hardwired in how we interact with certain people, and whether you’re outgoing or reserved has little bearing in the long run. What matters is how you manage to meet in the middle. Some people need time to warm up to other people. Some people are just naturally outgoing and loud. You don’t have to make excuses for being the way you are, but as long as you respect that other people may not be that way, chances are they’ll respect you, too.
12. Failing at something you did for yourself. So you tried something. So you failed. So what? At least you tried. You shouldn’t be ashamed of this, because at the very least, you learned. Moreover, the biggest expectations we face are the ones we give ourselves. It’s really satisfying to reach these goals, and we should always believe that anything is possible, but falling short is its own life lesson, and we shouldn’t be afraid to try as often as we are given opportunities to do so.
13. Liking a certain celebrity. We live in a culture of celebrity worship. Giving in every once in a while, and being an advocate for someone you’re just strangely drawn to, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s baffling that we somehow think of other people as lesser for liking people who are successful in part because they’re likable. It doesn’t mean you’re any less smart for it. You can be the kind of person who reads Nietzsche during the commercial breaks of watching the Kardashians. (Hell, you can be the kind of person who can spell both of those names right the first time, and that is a feat within itself.)
14. Your taste in fashion. Fashion comes and goes with the seasons, and something will always be new and something will always be tired, because this is how the cycle works. Your own sense of style is up for you to decide, and if you like crop tops right now, then you like crop tops right now. There were fashion trends we all were crazy about a few years ago but now barely acknowledge. Style is an evolution, and whether or not it jives with another person’s sense of style doesn’t mean you are a better or worse human for it.
15. Having a past. Nobody’s perfect, and to expect us to be otherwise is downright futile. We’ll always be disappointed. We all have a few crappy experiences to our names, and we need to talk about these things because they help us understand how we’ve been molded and shaped into the people we are today, and being afraid of the demons lurking in our closets will only leave us mired in regret. Talk about where you’ve been. Talk about what you’ve seen and how you felt and what you’ve learned. This is how we grow. This is how we become better versions of ourselves. And this is how we heal.