1. “I would always rather be happy than dignified.” –Charlotte Brontё, Jane Eyre.
Though a fictional figure, Jane Eyre is one of the oldest yet most relevant examples of women breaking down the troubling walls of convention. She is a frumpy little pistol, and what she lacks in bodily confidence she makes up for with wit and self-awareness.
Take this line however you would like; keep it in your pocket for the next time you wake up beside someone you don’t remember, disagree amidst a friendly political chat, or downright SCHOOL that loud guy at the bar asking if you’re a lesbian because you declined his buying you a drink (or maybe that just happened to me).
Sometimes the choices we make in our brick road to fulfillment are un-classy and in the name of our pleasure rather than the comfort of others. They may want certainty but you are winter in Ohio. And I swear, this is okay. Speak up. Change your mind. Say no. Be a Brontё and say “fuck that” to those preconceived ideals of you. Do what you damn please, always.
2. “Don’t mistake salt for sugar if he wants to be with you he will it’s that simple.” –Rupi Kaur, Milk & Honey
Let them go. This time is no different than the last, whatever it may be.
This is life. This is pain. They promise and promise and put it off and off because they know damn well you’re not going anywhere. They know how much you love them and they are holding this idea as well as you hostage. You’re so young. Let them go. Other discoveries are waiting to be made by you; about the world and about yourself. This will be a papercut in your heartbreak archives, which will grow so thick you don’t even know.
I know I know I know, easier said than done, but I have done it, and actually doing it is the hardest part. But I promise once you do, every day will hurt a little less. Get on with it. You’re gonna be okay. Trust.
3. “We are all stinking messes, every last one of us, or we once were messes and found our way out, or we are trying to find our way out of a mess, scratching, reaching.” –Roxanne Gay, Bad Feminist
I think the scariest thing we all feel in our early twenties is that no one else feels this way. Like climbing up an endless mountain not even knowing if there is a top.
Inside however, I swear we are all the same frightened little child.
Sometimes the easy things trump our thirst for adventure. We give up on our healthy eating for weeks at a time. We neglect emails and text old flames (damn you, whiskey gingers).
Indulging in our stasis or momentary steps backward only makes our triumphs more exciting. We are all messes, so let’s be a mess together. One colossal mess of doubt, wasteful comfort zones, bad sex, breakups and rolled eyes at rape jokes. We’re in this together. You’re killing it. Patience.
4. “I shall stay the way I am, because I do not give a damn.” – Dorothy Parker, Observation
Sit down. Shut up. Listen to the queen of cynicism, romantic quips and mockery of men.
You must remember to have a sense of humor about all of this. You are driven, smart and dangerous as fuck. No amount of Netflix binging will change that. And you should not adjust to anyone’s expectations but your own.
In one of my most recent bar outings, I walked in only to see a rather unpleasantly-deemed ex, a hookup from literally the night before, and a current crush. Sounds like a nightmare, doesn’t it? But instead of asking “why me” or pondering what anxiety my romantic choices as a woman brought me, I chose to find it hilarious: heartache, awkward, and hope all in my vicinity.
Maybe they’re bad, but they’re my actions, my decisions; my questionable behavior which allots me such funny little moments. We screw up. We hurt. We fall. Search for and embrace the hilarities of these times, always. You will find confidence rather than obligation to clean up your act.
5. “’I can’t find a goddamn fucking job and I’m too fat to be a stripper,’ I said as I polished off a stale croissant.” -Lena Dunham, Not That Kind of Girl
Whether you’re mid-college years, upon graduation or have graduated, I know life right now is a little like feeling your way through the dark. What with the social media epidemic rubbing engagement announcements and baby photos in your face. Be happy for them, but that doesn’t mean you have to aspire to be them. A job promotion or acceptance letter of any kind is just as celebratory as the more traditional accomplishments.
If you can’t find a job, it probably means you got a degree in something you absolutely love. So don’t stay afloat- float amidst this unemployed shit storm. A little wallowing is healthy, but don’t make it a habit. Sometimes the blues is just a passing bird- I heard this lyric in a coffee shop somewhere recently.
6. “The thing is, someday the sun is going to die and everything on Earth will freeze.” –Marina Keegan, The Opposite of Loneliness
This writer did not live a week past her college graduation.
I consider us lucky, for she was able to leave what she did here for us before departing this world. You may have picked up on the theme running throughout this list: life and love are just as messy as you are. There is nothing you can do about it except own it.
When the shit hits the fan and you find yourself covered in it, spread your arms and dance in the rain, like that scene in Shawshank. Because the world will not be here anymore one day, and some twinkle in the universe decided to put you here at this time so you could live a life. No promises were made about it being easy. No one our age has a clue what they want to do with their life. And if they do, they’re lying.
Would you rather have a hapless young love life, or not one at all? Would you rather have suffered and clawed for a dream job, or have boringly, trivially been handed one? Breathe. You’ll get there. In the meantime, keep hope close and a bottle of wine even closer. You got this.