Losing yourself is one of the easiest things to do. One day you’re your fresh, fun, breezy self, listening to all of your favorite music and hitting up the places you feel the most comfortable and the next thing you know, you’re fucking some carnival employee in a van while your boyfriend guards the door in exchange for crack cocaine.
Or maybe you get the job of your dreams and a year in every last bit of youth has been sucked out of your soul and you’re being called a cunt by your boss and you don’t do anything about it because that’s supposed to be normal or something.
Or maybe you’re looking for some new friends and you find someone you think you can call your BFF and before you know it, she’s forwarding the vicious emails you sent her because she fucked your crush to half of Hollywood and now you’re not invited to parties anymore.
You know? Like one of those types of things.
Here are 9 things I do to make sure I’m not negotiating on my soul. Within reason. Of course you’ve gotta suck it up and do stuff you hate to pay your bills or survive if you’re into that kind of thing.
1) Aim for 50/50 in any relationship. Your friend picks the bar this week, you pick the bar next week. Your girlfriend picks reverse cowgirl tonight, you suggest anal tomorrow.
2) Don’t let go of your media. I’ve suffered from this myself. I’ve stopped listening to the music I like and watching the kind of movies I enjoy and adopted the habits of the people around me.
3) Be nice. I say this all the time, but the easiest way to get through life is to be kind to others. Not so kind that you’re swallowing a balloon of heroin and flying to Bangkok for someone, but generally pleasant. Like, share half of your cookie.
4) Don’t budge on things you think are wrong. If you see an injustice, say something. If one of your co-workers is conspiring to take someone down, tell them that you think that’s fucked up. Don’t be a coward. Saving your own skin doesn’t always feel that great and it will eventually turn you into a selfish asshole and you’re not a selfish asshole, are you?
5) If you feel a sense of dread when preparing to attend a party or event, do not go. This was the hardest lesson for me to learn because I spent so much time worried about networking and my social standing. There were so many nights I found myself in rooms with people that I didn’t feel comfortable around but I went anyway because I was convinced that that’s what I needed to do. It hurt more than it helped.
6) Don’t turn to substances. This seems obvious but think about it in relation to #5. You go to a party where you sense you’re some kind of a joke, you drink too much, and you make a fool of yourself and in turn, become a joke. Or you can’t handle the people you’re hanging out with so you pop a Xanax half of the time you see them. Or your job is grinding your nerves to the extent that you come home, pour a glass of whiskey and stare at the TV like some depressed dad from the 50s who maybe hit his wife once.
7) Write daily. I feel really #blessed to make a living as a writer but I also feel like I’m committing highway robbery because I enjoy it so much. The thing I find so pleasurable about it is that I really get to discover my deepest truths. When I don’t write everyday, I find myself unable to answer a lot of the questions that life poses to me and I walk around in this haze of unawareness. Even if writing isn’t your thing, I suggest everyone keep a Word document or a private Tumblr or a public Tumblr or whatever and just talk it out with your fingers.
8) Take some time to remind yourself of the things you’ve done that have made you feel like a less than decent human. People always say it’s not smart to dwell on the past, but beside the future and the present, it’s the only thing we’ve got. If a situation or a person reminds you of a negative experience that you’ve had in the past, pay attention to it. You don’t even have to move out of your new building, just tell your landlord you’re not comfortable with him coming over unannounced to binge watch Orange is the New Black and get black out drunk.
9) Speaking of inappropriate relationships (I do miss that landlord sometimes, though), set boundaries. This is something I’m still working on. Clearly. That’s why my acupuncturist and his fiancé were two of the ten people invited to my 30th birthday dinner. But I’m getting better at it, I swear. When someone tries to pressure me into staying out later than I wanted to or going to see their friend from college’s horrendous one-woman show, I’m like, “No. This is a boundary that benefits both of us because I won’t resent you and no one likes to be resented. God bless,” and everyone gets to move on with their damn lives.