I’m fairly quick to trust other people’s opinions and advice. Sometimes this turns out really well, which is how I ended up at my current job and in my current apartment. Sometimes I make unfortunate judgment calls, like every time I’ve gotten bangs.
Regardless of who decides to present me with their (sometimes unsolicited) advice, I usually find myself mulling over it at some point throughout the next one to ten days. This goes for my friends, my friends’ moms, moms I meet in the produce aisle…basically everyone except for my own mom.
Even though I’m 26 and feel more in common with a senior citizen than a senior in high school, I cannot shake my bratty, 13-year-old’s resistance to most of the advice my mom has sprinkled on my life. If a stranger came up to me at Starbucks and said, “Stop putting Splenda in your coffee, idiot,” I would probably quit the white stuff cold turkey (for upwards of three days). If my mom said the same thing (hopefully subbing “sweetheart” for “idiot”), I would probably throw in an extra packet and then complain about how much money I just spent at Starbucks.
However, she was right about a half-dozen things:
1. One glass of wine is just fine.
I usually stretch this to 2.5, but anything after that puts me in the danger zone of making a Denny’s trip later or waking up with second-degree burns from trying to toast a frozen pizza. Empty calories aside, the promise of wasting half of Sunday fixated on my self-loathing and lack of self-control is enough to cut myself off after round two.
2. Actions speak louder than words.
When I say words, I really mean text messages. Judging a relationship based on the vernacular that lights up your phone screen cannot hold a candle to how someone treats you in person. Moreover, if 95% of your communication with someone lives in 3G and the only time you see each other is 3+ drinks deep on a random Friday night (please refer to lesson #1 for a quick refresher), take a step back. There’s a good chance you’re wasting precious hours psychoanalyzing your consistent “banter” about Zen and the art of selfie-taking. Had I known this in 7th grade (replacing texting at AIM for historical accuracy) I would have spent the hours of 7:30 to 10PM on school nights doing something valuable like learning to code or training for Cirque Du Soleil.
3. Always carry gum.
I do this both to discourage myself from eating all the Starbursts at work and also because other people always seem to “need” gum. When all else fails in my life, being the one person who consistently has gum makes me feel like I have my shit together. If you start practicing this, you may notice that friends will also start coming to you for financial advice and insight on foreign politics. You can usually appease them by just offering more gum.
4. Crying is cool.
Maybe not cool, but it’s definitely cathartic and more than acceptable when you’re feeling angry or blue or just generally frustrated/confused with where you are in life (hello, 20s!). Based on some A/B testing, I’ve found it’s important to isolate yourself before a deluge of tears (or at least try not to be at Trader Joe’s on a Sunday afternoon), stock up on fluids (water/tea/vodka—in extreme cases it’s OK to bypass rule #1), and have some sort of errand you need to run sometime later that day. Regardless of how you execute it, everyone is entitled to a good cry now and again.
5. Eating too many carrots will, in fact, turn your skin orange.
It’s temporary and subtle but will haunt you long after your normal pallor has returned. Serving sizes are there for a reason, and eating a whole bag in one sitting will also freak out your friends.
6. Everything in moderation…including moderation.
This isn’t meant to discredit the last five tokens of wisdom, but sometimes you just need to let your freak flag fly. My mom gets the occasional text from me that reads, “I just spent $35 at the Whole Foods salad bar” or “I had five cookies for breakfast!” and her responses are in the general realm of “Glad you are treating yourself—you deserve it!” I’m not condoning that everyone start up a breakfast cookie routine on the 2nd Sunday of every month but when you’re as
neurotic relaxation-resistant as I am, it’s nice to have the occasional reminder to chill out. Thanks, mom. <3