1. The Girl Who Takes Up Too Much Space, always, her shoulders too wide in stairwells, her hips too big in doorways, her voice too loud in classes. This woman does not understand the art of crumbling, of curling herself tight like the spiral of a fern, soft, delicate, unwilling to reach out the ivy of her fingers to grasp onto what should rightfully be hers. This is a beast, an elephant, a moving mountain and she is capable of flattening you, she is capable of ruining you, she is capable of making you feel as small and insignificant in her life as she is supposed to be. You are this woman’s footnote to history, you are her side note in song lyrics, you are constantly interrupted by her with a witty joke you wish you thought of. I asked what the problem was with being a steamroller instead of a sunflower and I was laughed down.
2. The Beautiful One, the long hair or the slim waist or the pretty eyes or the lips like bowstrings. This woman looks good in everything because she’s confident in whatever you put her in. She’ll cut her hair short on you no matter how you like it, she’ll wear high heels and step on your opinions, she’ll look hot as hell no matter what size she is. See, the reason you can’t trust her is because women like this don’t need your permission, they’ll do as they please and get away with it. They’ll say no to you, over and over. Teach your daughters that beautiful means dangerous, teach them to distrust women who love themselves. Equate beautiful with vapid, equate pretty with stupid, take their power from them. Say they’re vain for their makeup, refuse to see them without it. These women are snakes, they are serpents. I said maybe the problem lies with you being unable to control yourself and was told to get off my pedestal.
3. A Bitch. Women are supposed to be ladies in the street but will tear skin under sheets. I’m told: Never raise your voice. Speak gently. Submit. Hold your opinion against your lips and when you admit to it, make sure it comes out as a butterfly wing suggestion. Don’t disagree. Don’t undermine someone else’s authority, regardless of whether or not they deserve your respect. Someone touches you, just move away from them. Don’t hit. Don’t talk back. Be like the ruins of Rome, only beautiful if you can’t hear your quiet death.
4. The Needy One. I have heard how others spit when they talk about how she gave you everything and you shoved it back down her throat until she choked on it, until she came back crawling and asked you what she did, until her palms and knees were scraped for want of just a little affection - never be this woman, I’m told, because she’s a joke and the joke is that she dared to have more emotion than you did. The truth is, I’m told, the one who cares less in a partnership is the one who wins. I didn’t know this was a competition.
5. The Cock Tease, certified stripper, how dare that girl look like that and not want me to sleep with her. Lust is always personified as a lady in red with a dress slit up her thigh. Lust is sinful because it’s power, it’s not asking for attention - it’s demanding it. I’m told she is the worst kind of woman, that looking good is supposed to be some kind of shame on her kin. I’m told not to leave the house in such a short skirt, not with a shirt so low, not with a lace back, not with high heels, not dressed like that. My lipstick can’t be too red, my hair can’t be too mussed, I can’t just “turn someone on like that and then leave them wanting.” I mentioned that instant gratification actually ruins our psyche and was told that being led on was “exhausting.” I said that there was a difference between purposefully tricking someone into liking you and just being attractive or friendly. I was told there’s also a difference between coffee and tea but both result in caffeine. I said, “I’ve been turned on in class by the girls I talk to but I didn’t expect anything from them,” and they said, “It’s different, you’re not a man,” but couldn’t explain where that difference was.
6. A Slut, obviously ruined by another person’s touch. It doesn’t matter how many people she’s actually been with, it’s all about the rumors she carries with her. Easy. Harlot. You’ll still try to get with her, you’ll still take her into your bed and kiss her and say things you don’t mean - but you’ll defame her name when you talk to your buddies. My father used to say “A slut is fine for the night, but the virgin is who you take home and marry.” Maybe he didn’t know he was teaching his daughter to hate her sexuality. Maybe he didn’t know that every time she’d be kissed, her whole system would shake until she felt ready to combust, shame and self-hatred shivering against her spine. Maybe he didn’t know she’d disconnect emotions and sex because he always told her, “Boys are different, they won’t care about you.” Nobody said to her that it was okay to experiment. See, the funny thing is, I’m a dancer so I know exactly where my center of gravity is. I know how hard I’ll fall in each direction. Yet out of fear of getting hurt, I won’t let a single person inside of my bed.
7. The Soulmate. Never love romance more than you love being cynical. Never show weakness, never like pink, never think maybe you might find someone nice and settle down with them. Someone will find you, I was told, And if you’re lucky, he’ll put up with you when you start getting old. Never be the woman who believes in happily ever after, never be dumb enough to think maybe someone could love you after all of your mistakes. It has nothing to do with whether or not a family is important to you and you’re in a good place where a relationship would make your life better - you’re not a princess. You don’t get married, you settle.
8. The Girl With Strength, who can outrun everyone and who is stronger than her boyfriend. “See the thing about boys,” says my daddy, “Is that you have to let them win.” I sat at home and read stories about Artemis and wanted to become the huntress, too. I wanted to howl at the moon, I wanted to slay the beasts that bested me, I wanted to rule my kingdom with bloody fists. But girls are never athletes, never supposed to be “built,” regardless of the fact civilizations were constructed on our spines and we made homes in war by the steel of our ribs. Never be strong. We are supposed to wilt.
9. The Lady CEO: because if you choose work over family, are you really a girl? How dare you fight your way to the top through every pair of eyes that bore through your blouse, through every meeting where you were hushed by the sound of someone else talking, through every time someone called you “sweetie,” how dare you yearn for something. Is your husband the stay-at-home one? I can’t imagine how that is going. He’s not a real man, after all. I don’t give it long before the divorce. How dare you decide you’re happy being single. Don’t you know you’re supposed to bear children. Where is your honor? Where is your wisdom? Who cares if you are the leader, the best suited for your position, the quickest-thinking, the one who makes the hardest clients come back again. Don’t you see? Across history, women have been terrible at success. They always lose their man in the end. (When I said, “I would rather be a famous author than a mediocre mother,” I was told, “No, don’t worry, you’ll be a fine mommy.”)
10. THE GIRL I AM: FIRECRACKER AND DON’T YOU FUCKING FORGET IT I’LL RIP YOU TO SHREDS AND I WON’T FUCKING REGRET IT I’M NOT YOUR PRETTY GIRL I’M NOT YOUR ANYTHING I’M PERFECT, MOTHERFUCKER, AND I’M NOT GOING TO GIVE UP WHAT I’M DOING. I DON’T WANT TO BE “LADYLIKE” THAT LITERALLY MEANS NOTHING I’M NOT GOING TO STOP STANDING UP AND DEMANDING WHAT’S COMING TO ME. I’M GONNA BE SOMEBODY. I’M GONNA MAKE THEM REMEMBER ME. I REFUSE TO BE OVERSHADOWED IN HISTORY. I DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU WERE TRYING TO CREATE BUT YOU MADE ME A DRAGON YOU PUT ME IN THE FIRE AND WHEN I STOPPED BURNING I LEARNED HOW TO GLOW DON’T THINK YOU CAN STOP ME YOU CAN’T TAME A TORNADO.
“I think a person needs to learn from childhood to find himself alone. It means to not be bored when you’re by yourself, because a person who finds himself bored when alone –as it seems to me– is in danger.”—Andrei Tarkovsky - A Poet in the Cinema (via armix)
1. Appreciate your dad, you don’t know what will happen.
2. If you don’t want to wear make up, don’t. For Christ sakes, you’re young and beautiful. Society can go fuck their self.
3. It’s really okay to love yourself. Appreciate the funny curve of your nose, and that gap in your teeth make your smile prettier. Just because you don’t look like that girl in the magazine doesn’t mean you can’t tell yourself you’re beautiful every now and then.
4. Do what makes you happy. I know you’ve heard this a million times, but I can’t stress this enough. Go after your dream job even if it goes against every thing your parents wanted. If you don’t like where you live, move. Your friends don’t make you laugh until your sides hurt? You don’t have to be friends with them anymore. You’re in control. No one else. Don’t fall under the pressure of pleasing people. Please yourself and live for you.
5. Love who you want. Regardless of gender, skin color, or societal views. Please never give up true love because you’re scared. Love is a beautiful, beautiful thing, and if you’re lucky enough to come across it don’t you dare walk away from it because of what others will think. Take the looks, the whispers, and the criticism with a smile, grab your lovers hand, and if you’re feeling extra happy, kiss them for the world to see. Let me tell you, the world is only jealous because they simply can’t understand.
6. Take long showers and lay on your bed naked after, sing too loud, sleep through your classes one day, and another day just don’t leave the couch. It’s okay to just decide you don’t have responsibilities for a little bit. Everyone needs a day ever so often to just relax. It’s okay to be lazy. It’s okay to sleep for 12 hours straight. It’s okay to go to bed at 6 AM because you’re reading and wake up at 3 the next day. Treat yourself, but most importantly love yourself enough to give yourself time to breathe.
7. Alone time is good for the soul. I truly believe that. I think it’s good to cancel your plans sometimes, close your door, turn off your phone, and play some John Mayer (or whatever your prefer). Maybe you could read a book, or hell even write one if you’re up for it. But take some time to yourself and learn to be happy with just you and the sound of your breathing. At the end of the day, you are the only person that is guaranteed to stick around, so you might as well learn to enjoy the way laugh at your own jokes or the way you pronounce words when you read aloud. Being comfortable alone is more important than you know.
8. It’s okay to be 20 and still love Disney movies. It’s not even a guilty pleasure. Everyone has their favorite whether they admit it or not.
9. Do not compromise who you are to impress someone else. You are a wonderfully constructed individual. Your trials, experiences, and life all together have sculpted you into the most lovely version of you possible. If a person doesn’t like the way you live, from your sex life to your music taste, who cares? You were not put on this earth to impress them, or anyone for that matter. Impress yourself. Stick to what you want, stand up for what you believe, and tell people to screw off if they have an issue with any of it. It’s your life.
10. High school does not in any manner prepare you for college. One time my teacher dismissed class early because a kid fell down the stairs and he was laughing too hard to continue the lecture. That’s all I have to say about that subject.
11. I know you’re making a ton of new friends at this stage in your life, but don’t forget whose been there from the start. Your new friends may be exciting and wonderful and the best friends you could imagine but the ones that knew you back in middle school and were still there for you are genuine. If they loved your through your awkward phase, they’re probably in it for the long run. So send some love their way ever so often. When you’re older, you’ll be glad you did.
12. Your mom will probably cry a lot during the next few years. Let her. Hug her. Cry with her. She just wants you happy at the end of the day. You’re growing up, and life’s exciting, but you have to remember that you’re her baby, and the more you find yourself, the more she feels she’s losing you. I know you’re getting older, but so is she. Spend Sunday afternoons telling her about your life or reading her your new poetry. She’ll appreciate that so much, and you will too later on.
13. It’s okay to get drunk. Whether it be just for fun or that you need liquid courage to text an ex, it’s completely fine. And you know what else is completely fine? Not getting drunk. It’s okay to be the mom, the DD, or to not even show up to the party at all. It’s all okay. But you know what isn’t? Judging whatever decisions your peers make. So what there was a photo posted and that girl you went to high school with was wasted? It’s not really any of your business is it. And if that guy decided to go to that poetry reading and skipped the biggest party of the year, It’s really not effecting you at all, so don’t act like it does.
14. Stop glamorizing sadness. Sadness is not beautiful. It does not glow. Disorders are not something to make light of, and scars are not something to be ignored. Be proud of who you are. Eat that hamburger, and put the razor down. And most importantly, smile. Happiness is by far the most beautiful thing about a person.
15. It will all be okay at the end of the day. Life has a funny way of working out.
16. Speaking of funny, life literally never goes as planned. Don’t waste your time fretting over the future. Faith and destiny work hand in hand to make sure life keeps you on your toes.
17. Karma is a real and powerful thing. Please try to keep it on your side. Your bad deeds catch up with you in a big way. Take your time to build up your good karma, and do some good for other people, even if the deeds are small. Put a quarter in an expired parking meter, serve food at a homeless shelter, or go visit an elderly person at the nursing homes. Good deeds are good for others, and good for your soul.
18. You can never go wrong with pizza.
19. Don’t wish your years away. I know you’re at that age where you’re responsible for your choices, but aren’t really considered an adult but you’ll want these years back. Being young is the most fantastic, exciting adventure you will ever endure. And when you get older you’ll wish for these years back, even all the bad days that came along with it. So enjoy your youth, relish in it. Because you will never be younger than you are right this second.
20. And lastly, if you ever feel unloved and worthless, just know I love you and find the upmost worth in you. You’re destined for big things, now go get them.
”—20 things I think you should know before you turn 20 (via brennanat)