You’re an idiot, bro. It’s okay, though. We all are as 20-somethings, and if you somehow think you’re not, I’ve got news for you: You’re even more of an idiot than the rest of us. It’s an inalienable truth that your average post-collegiate male is an awful creature to behold. I know because I’ve been there. I was just like you once. I was an idiot at 23 and even more of one once I started making a little money at 27. Now, however, from the wizened perch of my early thirties, at which point I’m only slightly less of an idiot than I was a few years ago but still definitely better than you, I offer the following bits of wisdom so that you, too, can blossom into something approximating respectable personhood.
1. There’s such a thing as too much porn.
Porn is great! We all love porn, and god bless the Internet for making it so widely available. But there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. You’ve crossed the line once: a.) you start consuming more than an hour of it per day, b.) your dick starts to chafe from all the self-abuse, c.) you check Tumblr at work so you don’t fall behind on the newest batch of amateur selfies/gifs, or d.) you take your phone into the bathroom so you can watch video clips while your girlfriend is distracted by her favorite iteration of the Real Housewives franchise in the next room. That shit can have a heavily distortive effect. First of all, your dick isn’t that small (it’s not that big, either). Second, real people don’t have sex like that, unless you’re a real person who also happens to be a porn star. So, bro, turn the “Pure Mature” off, wipe the spooge off your keyboard, and try to get outside for a little while.
2. Some women will never want to sleep with you—and that’s okay.
Bro, I know you’ve only recently dropped the make-her-feel-comfortable-and-respected-until-you-decide-not-to-anymore approach to sex and relationships, and while it’s all well and good that you’ve foregone (or so you say) sleeping with people under what are, to be charitable, dubious circumstances, if not outright rape, it’s also high-time you get it through your thick skull that, as sentient beings with free will, agency, and—get this—desires all their own, women are perfectly entitled not to want to fuck you. They even have the right to think you’re ugly, stupid, or just plain uninteresting. So what if a woman rejects you? Instead of crying “bitch,” move onto the next fish in the sea!
3. Condoms are totally worth it.
Let’s assume someone eventually does want to sleep with you. Do you really think you’re capable of caring for a kid? You’re not. You shouldn’t be trusted with a hamster, let alone a child. Oh, but she’s on the pill, you say? That’s her decision, and for plenty of people it’s the right one, but unless you’ve both agreed that “whatever it is we’re doing here” is based on some element of lust plus trust, next time you even think about going “bare back,” just remember: “Sex is fleeting, but herpes is forever.”
4. Binge drinking is stupid.
Take it from a seasoned alcoholic who can’t go a day without drinking at least two bottles of wine and hasn’t had a check-up in over a decade because he’s scared of what the doctor will say about his liver: Cut back on the hooch. If you’re an idiot sober, imagine how much of one you are schwasted. And you know what? The more you drink, the more likely it is to become a habit, and the more it becomes a habit, the more likely you are to find yourself at work at 7:30 a.m. on a Tuesday with what can only be described as an existential hangover, trying hard to make it through the day without crying until you finally go home and curl-up on the couch with Barney and the gang on How I Met Your Mother.
5. Adult conversations are actually rewarding.
I hate to break it to you, but you suck at conversation. In all seriousness—one of the great pleasures in life is being able to, you know, relate to other people with empathy and honesty and with these things called—what are they called again?—oh, emotions. I know you have them because I once walked in on you vomiting in the bathroom, totally housed after Charlotte broke up with you, and you had tears streaming down your face and in between retches you raised your fist up to mine for a pounds and you whispered softly, almost tenderly, “Bros before hos, Luc; bros before hos.” Minus the fact that I always liked Charlotte way more than you it was actually kind of a poignant moment and one of the few times I ever felt close to you in a meaningful way, bro, and it’d be great if we could have reached a sober place where we paid more than just lip-service to the idea of actually getting to know each other as flawed and frightened and complicated human beings—“gay,” right?
6. Books are good.
This will help a whole lot with #4, insofar as books—although maybe you know them better as “idea thingy’s” or “story-timey’s”—are still around because they’re pretty decent conveyors of knowledge and thought. If you find a really good one, it can enlarge your perspective on what’s called the “human condition.” Oh, I know, it’s great that we live in a so-called “Golden Age” of television and that the megaplex around the corner from your apartment always has a super hero action flick playing to satisfy the primal side of you that just wants to wreck shit and set fire to the fabric of society, but, bro, it’s good to have different kinds of aesthetic experiences. It might even make you a bigger—no, not your dick—person.
7. There’s music worth listening to that isn’t made by white dudes with guitars.
I dislike the term “poptimism” just as much as you do. I’m a sarcastic piece of shit so any school of thought that has optimism as its guiding force is, to my mind, highly suspect. (Optimism is for wealthy people, and/or those among us capable of ignoring the inherent sadness of life by distracting themselves with Maroon 5 playlists.) In any case, you should probably feel bad about your taste if you’re still rolling spliffs and rocking out to jam bands every Friday night. There’s a whole world of music out there!
8. No one cares that you can “put up” 275.
This is where I get super hypocritical, because the truth is, I’m vain as all hell and feel like I’ve lost five pounds of muscle mass if I miss a day at the gym, which is to say that I’m the worst. That said, I no longer talk about my “gains” with people other than my gym bros, and, I gotta say, I think I’m respected more now that I’ve stopped beating everyone over the head with my bigorexia. As a side note, please stop comparing your body dysmorphia issues to those of your female counterparts—at least you’re allowed to eat.
9. No one really wants to be your mentor.
To be frank, no one cares about your career or how “successful” you are other than yourself and maybe your parents, whom you should be suspicious of anyways because they raised you and look how “well” you turned out. Maybe you actually are “talented” and “eager to learn,” but that doesn’t change how presumptuous of you it is to think your “development” is worth anyone else’s attention. Now go buy me lunch.
10. You don’t deserve “success” more than anyone else.
I know you work hard. But you know what? A lot of people work hard. Janitors work hard. Your barista works hard. The dude who sells you your clove cigarettes works hard. Women—yeah, bro, get this: women work hard, too. Probably harder than you, from my experience, and yet they still only earn 78 cents for every dollar you make. “But, bro,” you counter, “I’m really fucking smart. I pulled a Gentleman’s B+ at Williams and was on the varsity lacrosse team.” Great, good—that’s fantastic. I’m proud of you. We all are, big boy, but—“So what you’re suggesting,” you interrupt, and I can tell by the New England smirk that’s tracing its ways across your thin, WASP-y lips that you already think I’m some kind of Commie Pinko, “Is that the market doesn’t naturally sort the ‘smart’ and ‘talented’ and ‘deserving’ out from the lesser so and allot the appropriate amount of resources to us all accordingly?” Um, to a degree that’s exactly what I’m saying, but more than that I’m just asking you to stop feeling so entitled, and to recognize that maybe all you have isn’t only a reflection of your “hard work”/“superiority” but also honest-to-god good fortune and/or that you were born a straight white male.