I don’t think of myself as particularly wise or worldly. There are many things I need to actively remind myself as I navigate social situations: It’s time to stop talking. When was the last time you asked someone else a question? Not everyone likes to argue for fun. Not everyone likes your sense of humor. There are probably far more things I should be reminding myself that I don’t even know I need to be reminding myself, things I’ll discover in the future after further social stumbles.
But though I may not think of myself as wise, I think I’ve always made a great cautionary tale. I make a lot of loud, public mistakes and I don’t mind talking about them and I’d like to think I carry with me some incorrigible moxie or spirit that gives credence to the few things I firmly insist. Here are nine beliefs I hold very strongly, almost all things I have had to learn the hard way.
Your friends will have one or two deep character flaws. You must accept these if you want them—and yourself—to be happy.
You have a friend who never texts you back, you have a friend who is always late, you have a friend who can’t remember your birthday, you have a friend who gets sloppy drunk every time you go out, you have a friend who always picks fights with your girlfriend, you have a friend who hates the art you love and loves the art you hate. If this is all the same friend: run. But if each of your friends has one or two of these flaws, here is the honest truth: you need to learn to live with it.
It is important to be self-reflexive and to understand that we are fluid beings with the capacity for change. It is also important to be honest with people when they upset and disappoint you. Healthy communication is the bedrock of any relationship, as any cheesy self-help book or contrived Sex and the City plotline can tell you. But there will be things that drive you absolutely crazy about the people you love, and at a certain point it is so much easier to accept them than it is to be frustrated and heartbroken all the time. Don’t allow anyone to treat you poorly, but don’t expect anyone to be perfectly compatible with your needs; oftentimes these “flaws” are not really flaws but incompatibilities, a natural part of any relationship with another person. And it will cause you so much strife to spend all your time angry with your friends (not to mention leaving them feeling like failures), when instead you can accept that they will be who they are and you just have to meet them where they’re at.
Similarly: if you decide to forgive someone, you must take on the responsibility of forgiving them.
Forgiveness is two things: definitive and overrated. More on the second at a later date. If you forgive someone for a transgression they have enacted against you, you have made a choice. You are responsible for that choice, no matter how big or small the transgression was. Thus you cannot constantly remind them of their transgression, you cannot remain passive-aggressive and angry, you cannot make unreasonable demands out of them. You will not be happy, they will not be happy, no one will be happy. Our human feelings will persist and it is, of course, perfectly normal to take time to heal interpersonal wounds, but if you’ve chosen forgiveness, you can’t make that someone else’s problem. The obvious exception, of course, being that if they repeat the same transgression, you have every right to be angry and insane about it.
Some things are worth investing in. These things include: good olive oil, local honey, and sturdy shoes.
Others: taxi cab rides home when you’re feeling like shit, organic cotton underwear, coffee, your backpack, sex toys, loose-leaf tea, seafood, and stable, adult friendships.
Do not talk about how much or little you eat.
We all know that you should not point out how much or little someone else is eating, but by now we should also know not to discuss how much or little we’re eating in casual conversation. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule that can only be discerned by common sense (sorry if I’m a bit snippy, I haven’t eaten enough today, etc), but no one wants to hear how you’ve “only had iced coffee and a green juice” or watch you eat half a caesar salad and then exclaim “I’m so full from my huge lunch!” Quantifying what “too much” food looks like is just as rude as making a point to throw in a deprecating joke about how little you eat. And in the words of Twitter user @freshhel, Ohhhhh my god u only had a iced coffee to eat today? should we tell everyone? Should we throw a party?should we invite bella hadid