I’ve been in my 20s a while now and I wholeheartedly agree with this. Now who wants to help me with 25.
You can’t date a jerk and expect to turn them into a good person. Jerks are fully committed to being unpleasant. Those brief moments of tenderness they give you are designed to trip you up and give you false hope. It’s best to stay away altogether.
The rumors are true: your metabolism does slow down as you get older! That means if you’re still eating whatever you want, there’s a good chance you’ll start to gain an awkward amount of weight. It won’t be too drastic but your clothes will start to hang differently on your body and you’ll feel an overall feeling of unattractiveness. Start to be conscious of what you eat and strive to live a healthier lifestyle if you want to get your teen body back. (Let’s be real though, that might not ever come back.)
You’re going to lose touch with a lot of your friends. With some people, it will be expected but with others it will feel like a punch to the stomach. No friendship is truly safe in your twenties. You’re undergoing so many personal and professional changes that there’s bound to be some casualties along the way. Don’t worry though. You’ll end up with the ones that matter. If someone’s no longer in your life, it’s for a reason.
You’ll be jealous of everyone who’s more successful than you. That’s okay. Just transfer that jealousy into something productive, like working really hard so you can one day eclipse them and make them feel jealous of YOU.
You’ll question every decision you make and never feel completely certain that you made the right choice. It’s pointless to wonder though. You’re here now so you might as well make it be the right decision.
You’re going to give your heart to a few people who don’t deserve it. Then, one day you’ll come to your senses and ask them to give it back.
You’ll see your parents get older. You’ll come home during Christmas break and see new lines developing on their faces. One day it’ll just hit you that your parents are old and going to die. There’s nothing you can do about it, besides treat them with kindness and visit as much as your budget permits.
You’ll have a boss who makes you feel like you’re nothing. It doesn’t have to be in a Devil Wears Prada way. The cruelty can be much more subtle. Don’t let them get to you though. They have no idea who the hell you really are and you’re probably going to have their job someday so…
Doing drugs is fun until it’s not, until it starts affecting your life in negative ways and leaves you feeling guilty and wrecked. If that happens, you should stop doing them.
You’re going to puke in public. It’s fine. No one cares. Just puke.
You’ll know how to make twenty dollars last an entire week because you spent almost all of your paycheck on groceries at Whole Foods and drunk cab rides. This lesson in frugality will serve you well.
You’re going to betray your convictions. You’re going to feel shame. You’re going to continue to put yourself in situations that aren’t good for you. And then, slowly but surely, it will become less frequent. It might not ever go away completely but it won’t be as bad. In the meantime, stop shame spiraling about it. It gets you nowhere.
Loving yourself is hard. Hating yourself is harder.
You’re going to hook up with someone who you would never touch in the daylight sober. Just don’t freak out too much about it. Consider it to be your good deed for the day.
You’re going to have people in your life who are toxic. They may say that they love you, they may say that they have your back, but they don’t. Get rid of them.
You’ll have moments with someone that are so intense, it’ll feel like you’ve been electrocuted back to life. You’ll hold on to these moments for a long time. They’ll give you hope when you’re going through the motions.
You’ll always care about your first love. That doesn’t make you crazy, it just makes you human. When relationships end, it’s not so cut and dry. You carry everyone you’ve ever loved into every relationship thereafter.
You’ll enter your twenties as a fashion disaster and (hopefully) leave them looking fantastic. If you don’t know how to put yourself together by then, I really don’t know what to tell you.
You’ll realize that the Internet can be a cruel son of a bitch but, you know, www.whatever.com.
So much of what you think matters doesn’t actually matter at all. It’s kind of rude. Like, thanks for making me believe in things that are ultimately so inconsequential, you jerk.
You’ll treat someone terribly. Whether it to be a lover or your friend, there’ll be someone whose feelings you take for granted. We focus too much on whether or not someone is hurting us. The reality is that we might actually be the one who’s hurting someone.
Doing “grown-up things” doesn’t make you a grown up. Shopping for housewares, buying a plant, embracing domesticity — these things don’t create maturity. If you’re still a baby who hasn’t figured things out, you’ll remain a baby, no matter how many times you pay your rent on time.
Don’t force yourself into loving anyone. If it’s not working in the beginning, it’s probably not going to work ever.
You are so lucky to have everything that you have. Stop crying about an unreturned text message and get some perspective.
First, I believe there are two types of love. Healthy and unhealthy. Unhealthy love is being powerless, selfish, and enabling. It has no boundaries. Unhealthy love is unconditional and yet contingent. It is immature, irresponsible, and dependent. Unhealthy love is urgent. There is a desperation behind it which produces manipulation and compromise of self. Unhealthy love is a pissing contest, a tug of war, a mute silence, and a kick stand. It is obvious. Unhealthy love promotes the false self and stunts growth. It is a drug.
Healthy love is a choice. It is something you decide to give as a gift. It has conditions, that shape the self and strengthens the other. Healthy love is feeling powerful and independent. Is is grilled cheese and vegetable soup on a rainy day but not every day. Healthy love is patient, kind, and accepting. Healthy love requires a tremendous amount of responsibility which involves communication on all levels and constant reflection. It is building trust, having faith, and holding a commitment. Healthy love promotes growth and two strong containers. Healthy love is rare.
had forgotten about this one… a good read, and something very relevant. i’m trying very hard to rework those moments of “forget it, it’s okay” - the idea of shutting myself down either reactively, or sometimes even pre-emptively, in fear of the shutting down that i’m so sure is about to come.
You’re so sensitive. You’re so emotional. You’re defensive. You’re overreacting. Calm down. Relax. Stop freaking out! You’re crazy! I was just joking, don’t you have a sense of humor? You’re so dramatic. Just get over it already!
If you’re a woman, it probably does.
Do you ever hear any of these comments from your spouse, partner, boss, friends, colleagues, or relatives after you have expressed frustration, sadness, or anger about something they have done or said?
When someone says these things to you, it’s not an example of inconsiderate behavior. When your spouse shows up half an hour late to dinner without calling—that’s inconsiderate behavior. A remark intended to shut you down like, “Calm down, you’re overreacting,” after you just addressed someone else’s bad behavior, is emotional manipulation—pure and simple.
And this is the sort of emotional manipulation that feeds an epidemic in our country, an epidemic that defines women as crazy, irrational, overly sensitive, unhinged. This epidemic helps fuel the idea that women need only the slightest provocation to unleash their (crazy) emotions. It’s patently false and unfair.
I think it’s time to separate inconsiderate behavior from emotional manipulation and we need to use a word not found in our normal vocabulary.
I want to introduce a helpful term to identify these reactions: gaslighting.
Gaslighting is a term, often used by mental health professionals (I am not one), to describe manipulative behavior used to confuse people into thinking their reactions are so far off base that they’re crazy.
The term comes from the 1944 MGM film, Gaslight, starring Ingrid Bergman. Bergman’s husband in the film, played by Charles Boyer, wants to get his hands on her jewelry. He realizes he can accomplish this by having her certified as insane and hauled off to a mental institution. To pull of this task, he intentionally sets the gaslights in their home to flicker off and on, and every time Bergman’s character reacts to it, he tells her she’s just seeing things. In this setting, a gaslighter is someone who presents false information to alter the victim’s perception of him or herself.
Today, when the term is referenced, it’s usually because the perpetrator says things like, “You’re so stupid” or “No one will ever want you,” to the victim. This is an intentional, pre-meditated form of gaslighting, much like the actions of Charles Boyer’s character in Gaslight, where he strategically plots to confuse Ingrid Bergman’s character into believing herself unhinged.
The form of gaslighting I’m addressing is not always pre-mediated or intentional, which makes it worse, because it means all of us, especially women, have dealt with it at one time or another.
Those who engage in gaslighting create a reaction—whether it’s anger, frustration, sadness—in the person they are dealing with. Then, when that person reacts, the gaslighter makes them feel uncomfortable and insecure by behaving as if their feelings aren’t rational or normal.
My friend Anna (all names changed to protect privacy) is married to a man who feels it necessary to make random and unprompted comments about her weight. Whenever she gets upset or frustrated with his insensitive comments, he responds in the same, defeating way, “You’re so sensitive. I’m just joking.”
My friend Abbie works for a man who finds a way, almost daily, to unnecessarily to unnecessarily shoot down her performance and her work product. Comments like, “Can’t you do something right?” or “Why did I hire you?” are regular occurrences for her. Her boss has no problem firing people (he does it regularly), so you wouldn’t know that based on these comments, Abbie has worked for him for six years. But every time she stands up for herself and says, “It doesn’t help me when you say these things,” she gets the same reaction: “Relax; you’re overreacting.”
Abbie thinks her boss is just being a jerk in these moments, but the truth is, he is making those comments to manipulate her into thinking her reactions are out of whack. And it’s exactly that kind manipulation that has left her feeling guilty about being sensitive, and as a result, she has not left her job.
But gaslighting can be as simple as someone smiling and saying something like, “You’re so sensitive,” to somebody else. Such a comment may seem innocuous enough, but in that moment, the speaker is making a judgment about how someone else should feel.
While dealing with gaslighting isn’t a universal truth for women, we all certainly know plenty of women who encounter it at work, home, or in personal relationships.
And the act of gaslighting does not simply affect women who are not quite sure of themselves. Even vocal, confident, assertive women are vulnerable to gaslighting.
Because women bare the brunt of our neurosis. It is much easier for us to place our emotional burdens on the shoulders of our wives, our female friends, our girlfriends, our female employees, our female colleagues, than for us to impose them on the shoulders of men.
It’s a whole lot easier to emotionally manipulate someone who has been conditioned by our society to accept it. We continue to burden women because they don’t refuse our burdens as easily. It’s the ultimate cowardice.
Whether gaslighting is conscious or not, it produces the same result: it renders some women emotionally mute.
These women aren’t able to clearly express to their spouses that what is said or done to them is hurtful. They can’t tell their boss that his behavior is disrespectful and prevents them from doing their best work. They can’t tell their parents that, when they are being critical, they are doing more harm than good.
When these women receive any sort of push back to their reactions, they often brush it off by saying, “Forget it, it’s okay.”
That “forget it” isn’t just about dismissing a thought, it is about self-dismissal. It’s heartbreaking.
No wonder some women are unconsciously passive aggressive when expressing anger, sadness, or frustration. For years, they have been subjected to so much gaslighting that they can no longer express themselves in a way that feels authentic to them.
They say, “I’m sorry,” before giving their opinion. In an email or text message, they place a smiley face next to a serious question or concern, thereby reducing the impact of having to express their true feelings.
You know how it looks: “You’re late :)”
These are the same women who stay in relationships they don’t belong in, who don’t follow their dreams, who withdraw from the kind of life they want to live.
Since I have embarked on this feminist self-exploration in my life and in the lives of the women I know, this concept of women as “crazy” has really emerged as a major issue in society at large and an equally major frustration for the women in my life, in general.
From the way women are portrayed on reality shows, to how we condition boys and girls to see women, we have come to accept the idea that women are unbalanced, irrational individuals, especially in times of anger and frustration.
Just the other day, on a flight from San Francisco to Los Angeles, a flight attendant who had come to recognize me from my many trips asked me what I did for a living. When I told her that I write mainly about women, she immediately laughed and asked, “Oh, about how crazy we are?”
Her gut reaction to my work made me really depressed. While she made her response in jest, her question nonetheless makes visible a pattern of sexist commentary that travels through all facets of society on how men view women, which also greatly impacts how women may view themselves.
As far as I am concerned, the epidemic of gaslighting is part of the struggle against the obstacles of inequality that women constantly face. Acts of gaslighting steal their most powerful tool: their voice. This is something we do to women every day, in many different ways.
I don’t think this idea that women are “crazy,” is based in some sort of massive conspiracy. Rather, I believe it’s connected to the slow and steady drumbeat of women being undermined and dismissed, on a daily basis. And gaslighting is one of many reasons why we are dealing with this public construction of women as “crazy.”
I recognize that I’ve been guilty of gaslighting my women friends in the past (but never my male friends—surprise, surprise). It’s shameful, but I’m glad I realized that I did it on occasion and put a stop to it.
While I take total responsibility for my actions, I do believe that I, along with many men, am a byproduct of our conditioning. It’s about the general insight our conditioning gives us into admitting fault and exposing any emotion.
When we are discouraged in our youth and early adulthood from expressing emotion, it causes many of us to remain steadfast in our refusal to express regret when we see someone in pain from our actions.
When I was writing this piece, I was reminded of one of my favorite Gloria Steinem quotes, “The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn.”
So for many of us, it’s first about unlearning how to flicker those gaslights and learning how to acknowledge and understand the feelings, opinions, and positions of the women in our lives.
But isn’t the issue of gaslighting ultimately about whether we are conditioned to believe that women’s opinions don’t hold as much weight as ours? That what women have to say, what they feel, isn’t quite as legitimate?
“I realized that the quality of relationships in my life were a direct reflection of what I felt I deserved. If I let someone continually treat me like my suffering was of no consequence, what value have I assigned my heart?”—(via stumblingstones)
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, And if you dare to dream of meeting Your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool For love, for your dream, For the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, If you have been opened by life’s betrayals, Or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain.
I want to know if you can sit with pain, Mine or your own, Without moving To hide it or fade it or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy, Mine or your own, If you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes Without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, or to remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself, If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. I want to know if you can be faithless and therefore be trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see beauty Even when it is not pretty every day, And if you can source your life From its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure, Yours and mine, And still stand on the edge of a lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!”
It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, Weary and bruised to the bone, And do what needs to be done for the children.
It doesn’t interest me who you are, how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand In the center of the fire with me And not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you From the inside When all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone With yourself, And if you truly like the company you keep In the empty moments.