It’s extremely difficult to navigate life as a female twenty-something. We’re attempting to start a career, pay the bills, and maintain a healthy social life, all while trying to find a little bit of fulfillment and happiness along the way. The problem is that in our quest to establish ourselves, work hard, explore our interests, and find our fulfillment, we feel the need to apologize any time we step outside what we think is the norm.
That needs to stop. We’re in the 21st century, where women are leading countries and running companies and writing wonderful books and founding nonprofits. We are powerful and we’re only going to grow more so. So here are 15 things that every twenty-something female needs to stop apologizing for.
1. Being intelligent. If you went to college or you like to read a lot of books or you’ve had a lot of life experiences, you don’t need to hide it just to make the people around you, especially the men, feel more adequate. I’m not saying you should become the person at the party who likes to discuss the metaphors in Citizen Kane, but don’t clam up in the middle of a discussion because you’re afraid of intimidating people.
2. Correcting someone. If someone calls you by the wrong name, inform them of your actual name and don’t be sorry about it. It’s your name. If someone gives you the wrong order at the coffee shop, tell them what you originally asked for. You’re paying for it. If somebody shares incorrect information about Ebola, correct them because they’re stupid. (Kidding… kind of.) The point is: you do not have to feel sorry for holding people to a reasonable standard, nor do you have to feel sorry for speaking your mind.
3. Turning someone down, canceling plans, deciding you need some ‘you’ time. Whether it’s a guy who asked you on a date, or a friend who wants to get drinks, sometimes you just need to say no. You don’t need to justify your reasons. You don’t need a reason to feel like you just need the night in.
4. Being promoted or otherwise being successful at work. There’s nothing wrong with being a bad ass bitch, and you don’t have to downplay it. No matter what line of work you’re in, some people will most likely feel envious if you get a promotion, it’s par for the course. As long as you’re handling your success with humility and grace, you have nothing else to apologize (or feel guilty) for.
5. Not wanting to get married – now or ever. Marriage is a very serious and lifelong commitment. If you’re focused on building a career or exploring other interests in your life right now, there’s nothing wrong with postponing a future that involves marriage. It just means you’re taking marriage seriously. Do not question yourself for taking the time to seriously consider whether or not marriage is something that you want.
6. Getting married, especially while young. While you shouldn’t apologize for postponing your married life, you also shouldn’t apologize for starting your married life if you truly believe it’s what you want. Some people find their partner earlier than others, so if you are ready to start your life with your partner, then don’t worry about what other people are going to say about it. If marriage is for you, then begin your married life when you feel it’s right, not when the world tells you it’s right.
7. Being happy. In this day and age, we tend to let even the littlest things bother us. People walk around being miserable and they expect everyone else to be miserable too. So if you’re one of the few that’s choosing to look on the bright side, even when your life isn’t easy, don’t feel guilty about it. Embrace your optimism and enthusiasm with everything you’ve got, because it’s a rare quality that too few people possess these days.
8. Feeling attractive. We’re always being reminded to dress modestly and to be careful about wearing anything that’s too revealing. What we should actually be focusing on is not how others will perceive us, but on what makes us feel the best and most comfortable. If you want to wear a beautiful dress to work that makes you feel feminine and confident, do it. If you feel attractive with short hair and piercings all over you, do it. Don’t ever obsess over your appearance, but don’t feel bad for wanting to look and feel your best.
9. Dating around. It’s important to figure out what you want, and what kind of person you want to be with. You can’t do that if you’re sitting on the sidelines because you’re afraid of what people will think of you. If you want to date around, then date around as much as you’d like.
10. Eating what you want. Why is it that whenever we eat something the slightest bit fattening, we feel the need to berate ourselves? We talk about doing penance at the gym and we say negative things about our bodies, especially if we’re eating in front of others. In a world where people are obsessed with having the perfect body, it’s hard to enjoy food when we’re told we should be counting calories and sticking to a strict diet. But food is meant to be enjoyed, and one piece of cake won’t hurt you. So as long as you’re not swallowing donuts by the dozen, relax and live a little.
11. Spending money on yourself. It’s never a good idea to waste away your savings, but you also don’t have to walk around handling your finances like Ebenezer Scrooge. In the words of Tom Haverford, sometimes it’s important to “treat yoself.” If you had a crappy day, go get a massage. If you’re depressed that it’s getting dark at 4:30, go buy yourself a nice bottle of wine. If neither of those things sound good, figure out what does and TREAT YOSELF. Everybody deserves a little pampering.
12. Wanting a career. If you want something, and you want it badly enough, you’ll make it happen. Everyone will have an opinion about your decision to go after a big career. Some people will be encouraging and some will tell you you’re going to have trouble finding the right balance between work life and home life. All you have to remember if that it’s your life, and as long as you’re following your gut, you have nothing to worry about.
13. Not wanting a career. Women now make up over half of the work force. But this doesn’t mean that every woman feels called to a lifelong career. You may have to work now, but if you want to eventually leave the workforce and focus on your family, you don’t have to explain yourself to anyone. Depending on your finances, you may have to work full-time anyways. But there’s nothing wrong with just finding a job and not a career if your family is your main priority. The choice is up to you, and no one else.
14. Spending the weekend in. Thanks to social media, it seems like our every move is being documented. We feel like we always need to be doing something, and we always need to let the world know about it. But sometimes it’s necessary and refreshing and incredibly fun to be a hermit for a weekend. If you’ve done it before, you know how rejuvenating and relaxing it can be. If you feel like you need to take the night or the weekend to yourself, do it. It’s no one else’s business.
15. Being in love. If you’re in love and you’re going to insist on shouting it from the rooftops, I’ll be first in line to punch you in the face. But as long as you’re not being obnoxious, being in love is a wonderful experience. You shouldn’t feel bad about being giddy and happy and head-over-heels. It’s a wonderful feeling and it’s one of the rare times in life where you feel like you’re unintentionally always wearing a smile on your face. Enjoy this time and don’t let anyone make you feel bad about it.