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I’m not quite to Rabboni levels of wisdom here, but thirty years ought to count for something, and sometimes, it takes me a roundabout way to figure things out. I figure I might as well share what I learn, although it seems most of us need to live through the mistakes in order to accept the wisdom in retrospect.

  1. I can customize my Frappuccino order at Starbucks. I’d been asking for custom cheeseburgers for most of my life, but I literally didn’t realize I could ask for my Frappuccino with a shot of hazelnut and no whipped cream until I was about 20. Really, any order I hadn’t been customizing since I was a kid, I didn’t realize I could. It took me a ridiculous amount of time to figure out that menus were suggestions. Oh my god, I don’t have to pick the walnuts out of my salad anymore!
  2. I can eat the thing. Anything. Anytime. I think the moment you become an adult is when you no longer have to ask for permission to eat the thing. If I want Sonic at midnight, I can get Sonic at midnight, period.
  3. Group projects in high school and college were valid life lessons. It’s totally not fair, and that’s exactly how it’s going to be when you enter the work force. As my dad always says, 80% of the people do 20% of the work, and 20% of the people do 80% of the work. Sigh.
  4. Naps are good, and there should be more enforced athletic recreation among adults. Believe it or not, I miss P.E. And sleep.
  5. All bodies are gross and wonderful. Some of our coolest features include copious mucus secretion (that would be cis-female orgasms, for you people in the back…and sneezes). The sooner we accept this, the sooner we can stop giggling over jock straps and acting horrified around tampons like children. Learn all you can about basic human biology; save yourself some grief.
  6. Literally every aspect of fashion is completely arbitrary. High heels used to be men’s shoes. At some point in history, many things that were considered the height of manly fashion can now be worn as a dress. Men’s clothing is generally cheaper and better made, not tissue thin so as to be worn in layers to scam men into buying more. And back when ankles were scandalous, women were practically baring their areolae. Wear whatever the hell you want.
  7. Profanity’s not the problem. I’m still resentful about how much energy goes into stopping people from using four-letter words instead of those that down people’s spirits. I guess it’s easier to police words than intent, but more damage has been done in eloquent speech than in a profanity-laden rant. I’d rather be called a bitch in fun than have someone call me ugly with every intention of hurting me.
  8. I’m allowed to enjoy the art that speaks to me. If you enjoy it, you’re who it was made for. If you don’t enjoy it, you’re not who it was made for. There are some objective standards, but most are subjective (it’s why my horror movie reviews don’t have a star rating system). This revelation got rid of a lot of resentments and defensiveness I had about my lack of ‘taste.’ No more guilty pleasures. Something doesn’t have to be good for me to love it and get something out of it.
  9. A corollary of this is: Let people spend their money however they choose. Sometimes people grow into their interests rather than out of them, and being a grown-up sometimes means you can finally afford the things you love. Nerdy things are not childish things. (This is also why gift-receiving doesn’t have quite the same impact as it did when you were a kid and dependent on other people to buy things for you.)
  10. People don’t know everything they should. Please don’t throw your hands up and give up on them. There are specific kinds of knowledge that I pursue, but just because I walk down those avenues with regularity doesn’t mean other people have. I know all the nooks and crannies, but I can hardly expect other people to be familiar with a street they’ve just considered walking down. I’m tired of people’s sometimes dangerous ignorance, and I’m tired of explaining my Things to people, but guess what? There’s not enough time in the world for everyone to ‘educate themselves’ on everything they should. Other people have different Things than I do, and I’m sure they’re tired of explaining them to me, too. If you’re specialized in a Thing, especially an uncommon Thing, get used to explaining the Thing. You might literally be a person’s introduction to it. And remember they know a different Thing much better than you.