Four years ago today was my first date with my ex-husband. It wasn’t much of a date, we hung out at his apartment and watched movies. The funny thing was I really hadn’t been interested in him to begin with; he was the manager at my coffee shop, and he had interviewed me in my pajamas the day after I had lost my job. He spent a month trying to get my phone number and another two weeks after that trying to get me to hang out with him.
I remember driving to his apartment, it was like 10 o’clock at night, thinking about how he thought this was going to be a booty call but I wasn’t going to sleep with him. And I didn’t. We just talked, it didn’t take long for me to fall for him. He was much older than I was, smart, seemed to have his life together, and he always smelled like coffee. He made me feel safe.
In these past four years, my entire life has changed. I’ve learned so much, grown up so much, changed so much. Everything is different. I would say I have no regrets but that isn’t true. But in the end, all of these regrets have brought me to where I am today. I’m going to tell you what I’ve learned because I think it’s important to know.
Save your money: Seriously, I wish my parents had instilled this in me. Murphy’s law is real and everything that can go wrong will and does. It also happens that it will all go wrong when you have absolutely no money in the bank and are living paycheck to paycheck. Make sure when you are moving in somewhere that you are making enough money to afford, put money into savings, and go out with the girls.
Don’t fuck up your credit: Yes credit cards are great, and everyone should have one, but soon you will find yourself with maxed cards, no jobs and debt collectors calling. This debt will make it hard to dig yourself out, it will make it hard to find a job, and it will mean you have no cushion on the day your gas light turns on and your debit card is declined. Get a credit card, and use it only for emergencies. Seriously, you will thank me.
Live alone: I have lived both alone, with my husband, with male roommates and with female roommates. Ultimately living alone will at some points make you feel lonely, but there is nothing better than coming home to your own space, your own mess, and to being able to shut the door on life when it starts to feel like too much. Of course having a roommate can be both great and terrible but living alone allows you to surround yourself with people when you want them and shut your self in when you don’t. If you can afford it I highly suggest it, even if it’s just for a year.
Get a pet: Seriously, I am fortunate to have two cats and a dog, and they have been my greatest support system. You will never wake up alone, and someone will always be happy to see you when you come home. No matter what, a pet will love you, whether you’re angry, smelly, rich, poor; it is the only constant love in life.
Have a porch and spend time on it every day: Drink your coffee, have a drink, write, read; whatever you do, do it outside, the fresh air is good for you.
Be a little promiscuous: Do it with someone you don’t like, someone you don’t care about, it will make you feel sexy and powerful. I’m not talking all the time but do it at least once. Sometimes that’s what it takes to realize that as much as you try to shut yourself off you do need love.
It’s okay to walk away: Whether it’s family, a friend, a spouse, a boyfriend. Sometimes it just gets to a point where you can’t take it anymore, and you don’t have too. Walking away doesn’t make you weak, it means you’re strong enough to recognize a bad situation that wont change and get out of it; sometimes that is the thing that takes the most strength.
Don’t make the dramatic attention-seeking girl your best friend: Ultimately her desire for drama will negatively impact your life. It’s ok to go out with her every once in a while, but she doesn’t need to know your life or your story. She will drag you in and she will drag you down.
A man will not complete you: Sure a man is nice to have, it’s nice to share your life with someone, it’s nice to have someone to share your success with, to cook for, to come home to. But the most important part of having a successful relationship is being able to love yourself, complete yourself, and have your own life.
Failure is inevitable and good for you: At least the past two years of my life have been a giant fail, but honestly, if I hadn’t been through what I had been through I wouldn’t be where I am. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel, failure is not forever and in the end, you will come out of it better then ever. Failure is necessary for success and you will never succeed if you spend your entire life being afraid of failing because then you will never try.
Don’t take your friends for granted for a man: We are all those girls who to a point forget our friends and chose our relationships over our friends. Don’t do that, a man can and probably will walk away and you may find yourself alone, but truthfully, your true friends will forgive you.
Learn how to forgive: No matter how much someone hurts you, it takes way too much energy to stay angry. Forgive, that doesn’t mean you have to forget, it doesn’t mean the hurt they caused will go away, but forgiveness is the first step to healing. Most importantly, forgive yourself; it’s easy to hate yourself for what’s happened but remember that what you did was exactly what you wanted at the time and someday it will be worth it.
Go to college: Seriously, the job market is tough and supporting an apartment on $12, an hour is no easy feat. Even if you don’t want to, go to college; the adult you will thank you for it.
Dress up: Every day, even when you feel like shit, even when you don’t feel like it. Ultimately it will make you feel better.
Listen to your hairdresser: Even if you don’t like what they say, they are right, remember that, and ultimately you will thank them for it.
Drugs kill people: I don’t mean in the obvious way. Whether it’s your spouse, your best friend, no matter whom it is. Once that person becomes an addict, the person you know is dead, they may still be breathing but they are gone. You can’t save them, loving them will not make it go away, and if you can’ learn to walk away they will destroy you as well as themselves. Maybe they don’t mean to do it, but it will happen. You walking away may be the thing to save them and even at that point, it may be too late. Seriously, be selfish, walk away, the only thing that can change an addict is themselves.
Its okay to love: No matter how hurt you are, no matter how much you say you don’t want it, know that its ok to let someone in. I am a long way from this, but someday it will be necessary to let someone in, and I hope that when the time comes I will be able to do that.
Spend time with the girls: No matter what you’re doing make sure you make time to spend time with the girls, it’s important in many ways. Don’t let anything or anyone stop you from living your life.
Have something to believe in: Whether it’s god, or shoes, whatever, make sure you believe in something, because eventually there will come a day when it’s all you have, and if you don’t have something to believe in it will be very difficult. No matter how you were raised, believe in something.