A Crescendo of Counsel: 2016’s Life Lessons (From Least to Most Important)

  1. With hard work, a little planning, and a lot of luck, it is possible to properly prepare for your period and avoid staining your clothing and/or furniture each month. Use one of the myriad available apps to track your cycle and when you begin to crave cheese and chocolate and/or tear up when someone raises their voice a decibel, that’s the time to stuff some tampons and pads in your purse and start wearing the old undies.
  2. It makes no sense to wash your car before a road trip. Even though you may be excited to show the world you are the responsible kind of person who (a) knows where to find the car wash (b) has a spare $10 to spend on a wax and buff and (c) takes pride in a shiny, happy junker, you’ll be throwing your money away on something you’ll have to pay for again at the end of your trip. So screw appearances and drive dirty.
  3. Also, don’t take a 24-hour road trip by yourself when you’re a young female with little to no muscle mass and an anxiety disorder that causes you to carry mace into every gas station and pull over to text your entire family every hour after sunset. It’s just not a vacation if you’re worrying about sexual assault at every rest stop.
  4. It is possible to survive job interviews without shaking out of the hot seat or sweating through your pantyhose. But I recommend preparing as much as possible beforehand. That includes getting enough sleep, eating well, and accepting that you have little control over the questions asked or the outcome. Also, be prepared with at least 5 questions to ask them and take notes during the interview. Treat it like a first date and keep in mind you’re interviewing them too. You don’t want to be stuck with a boss from hell for years of your life. Screen for them.
  5. Don’t make plans with people outside of your immediate family or close circle of friends on major holidays like Christmas day. It won’t work out and you’ll either feel like an asshole for making the plans at all or you’ll make the other person feel like an asshole for making room in their day of family fun for someone who was OK flaking  on them at the last minute.
  6. Back up your hard drive. Just do it. Right now. Before Microsoft or Apple or whoever has the chance to send out an update. Do it, and I’ll take some small comfort that my sacrifice was not in vain.
  7. Even hot rock gods like David Bowie and George Michael are mortal, so take the time to really appreciate their hotness and general awesomeness while you can.
  8. Any article or headline you see about Kanye West or Lena Dunham are not worth your time. Keep scrolling.
  9. Racism, sexism, class discrimination, violence, homophobia, general intolerance, ignorance (and even Nazis for crying out loud) are still present in our country and spreading messages of hate and fear. Combat this with kindness, compassion, and empathy with yourself and others.
  10. No matter how inconvenient your god-given personality may be to you at times, it isn’t realistic or wise to attempt to suppress it to make way for a false persona that you believe will be more accepted and/or financially secure. Financial catastrophe struck in my life, and in the lives of many of my loved ones, after my graduation from college in 2008.  I emerged from those struggles with the new belief that financial security and literacy was my new number one priority.Never again would I find myself sharing a tiny house with one coworker, one “traveling salesperson” who constantly had people in and out of the house exchanging cash, and their newborn son squalling his head off at all hours of the night while I ate Ramen noodles or set rat traps in my bedroom.  From 2009 to 2016, I climbed the little ladder of my small community bank and tried like hell to convince myself that I was practical, business-minded, and tough. And I made myself pretty miserable in the process.

    This was more convenient than admitting that I wanted to spend my days taking photographs, writing, and reading. I thought it was time to grow up. My mistake was thinking that meant giving up my interests and passions and burying my voice and myself in the back corner of a vault where no one would ever find me. This year I realized that growing up meant accepting myself and following my own goals and dreams, while also accepting the reality that in order to do so, I will need to serve my time performing less-than-thrilling tasks at a day job that comes with little pay or prestige. The necessities are taken care of and I have time for the inexpensive hobbies that give my life meaning. That’s worth a pay cut and even a second job.

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