thirteen things no one tells you (& you learn for yourself)

1. you should strive to be good, not unique. (contrary to their name, special snowflakes are everywhere. genuine people aren’t.)
2. once you discover that home is a feeling, not a location, your restlessness dissipates. (you won’t find a reason to plan your next escape.)
3. when you fall in love, your badass armor will crumble. (you will embrace your softness.)
4. it is okay that your parents like you less as each day passes. (they hate everything about you that doesn’t fit their idea of who you should be.)
5. trust your first impressions of everyone you meet. (your bullshit detector gets better as you get older.)
6. do not let people bend your empathetic ear if they can’t reciprocate. (you’re no one’s crutch.)
7. you will tire of the friends who lament about missing you on social media yet don’t keep in touch. (letting them go is easier than you thought.)
8. when someone insults others in order to compliment you, you’re right to be disgusted. (& to decline the intended compliment.)
9. happiness isn’t a constant state. (even the best days have comparatively low points.)
10. your weekend ritual of binge drinking will get boring. (if it doesn’t, your abysmal hangover recovery time will deter you from continuing the tradition.)
11. everything turns out the way it should. (though you won’t see the reason immediately.)
12. you are resilient. (you will bounce back from disappointments quickly because you can’t afford to waste time dwelling.)
13. when you hold yourself (solely) to your own expectations, you will like the person you become. (you may even love her.)

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Real talk from a former party girl.

Last week, Ames was cleaning her closet at Odessa. (Odessa is the house we lived in during college. She’s lived there during med school as well.) While tidying up, she stumbled upon relics from college — notes we wrote to each other, hilarious photos, and gaudy clothes we retired because we had to be respectable young adults after graduation. (We’ve been reminiscing about and laughing at our misadventures ever since.)

The blast from the past prompted me to peruse old entries in my college livejournal. That person is foreign to me now. But I can see her motivations more clearly than I did at the time. During college (and even in LA, to some extent), I jumped headfirst into experiences so that I would have stories to tell. My worst nightmare was to wake up a shriveled old woman who had no exciting memories from her youth to stave off thoughts of her impending demise. (Morbid, I know.)

Most of the lessons I’ve learned between then and now are enumerated in this poem, but each new year calls for reflection. The new year isn’t a blank slate — you can’t erase the previous year’s events in hopes of achieving what you aimed yet failed to do.

Here’s some wisdom I gleaned (so you didn’t have to) from last year (and the previous two) a.k.a. real talk from a former party girl:

  1. Going out and getting hammered can be fun. But if you don’t enjoy it, don’t feel pressure to do so just because you’re young and should be partying every chance you get. If you would rather curl up with a glass of wine and marathon TV shows on Netflix during the weekend, you should. You will be more comfortable and will spend less money that way.
  2. You are in the relationship you think you deserve. If you want to be in a monogamous relationship, don’t settle for being someone’s booty call. If you want to be single but are passive aggressively trying to get your significant other to break up with you, put on your adult pants and end it. Figure out what you want and never convince yourself that you’re happy with something else simply because it’s convenient.
  3. Surround yourself with people who support you and let go of those who don’t. You don’t have time for bitchassness. You don’t have time for toxic relationships (of any kind). If they guilt you for minimizing (or eliminating) their role your life, that should reaffirm (not revoke) your decision.
  4. Don’t dread being by yourself. (This is different from being alone, which implies that you have no one to talk to at any time.) Don’t be self-conscious about grocery shopping or even going to the movies by yourself. “You” time consists of peaceful moments where you don’t have to entertain anyone or worry about saying/doing the wrong thing.
  5. Find at least one positive thing that happens each day. It’s easy to get bogged down in the things that frustrate us. But I’ve found that I’m in a better mindset when I do this. You will find yourself expressing more gratitude and being more patient, if you do this.

But what do I know?

Four reasons you should watch The Mindy Project

Some people have dismissed The Mindy Project as a silly romantic comedy show. While it can be, at times, it’s so much more than that. There are a million reasons why you should watch it, but I’ll give you four main ones for the sake of brevity. There’s over a month until the season two premiere, so there’s plenty of time to catch up on season one.

Four reasons you should watch The Mindy Project

1. Mindy Kaling’s titular Dr. Mindy Lahiri a badass (yet flawed and relatable) woman of color.

People of color are underrepresented in the media. Too often, a person of color’s character is shunted into a stereotypical role, so the character serves as the token supporting character in an ensemble show. Other times, that character plays as a perfect hero/heroine — a symbol of the peaceful movement to overcome oppression or the like. This isn’t the case with The Mindy Project.

Though Dr. Mindy Lahiri is a badass OB/GYN and an awesome friend, she’s also oblivious and (generally) has terrible taste in men. She drinks too much and doesn’t exercise enough. She admits that her body type ranges from “chubby” to “curvy.” She watches too much reality TV and meddles in her friends’ (and coworkers’) lives. She isn’t a flawless saint who represents every woman of color. She’s a relatable woman who makes all women feel better about not having it together 100% of the time.

2. The realistic portrayal of healthy female friendships.

One of the TV/movie tropes that I hate most is that “women are catty and can’t be friends.” While I’ve met women who demonstrate this, my female friends and I are truly like sisters. We protect and confide in each other. We don’t have secret resentments, talk shit, or plot to steal each other’s men. Though Bridesmaids attempted to be a female buddy comedy, it focused a lot of Annie and Helen’s rivalry for Lillian’s friendship. The Mindy Project doesn’t do this.

The Mindy Project portrays healthy female friendships that are like the ones I have with my friends. Mindy and Gwen are the ethnically reversed version of Andrea and me. Mindy, Gwen, and the rest of their friends actually enjoy hanging out together. They’re not passive aggressive, jealous rivals. They don’t just talk about their relationships; they help each other with legitimate problems.

3.  Mindy is half of an interracial couple throughout the show.

Some people complain that there are way too many basic-looking white guys on this show. I agree, but Mindy Kaling (and Mindy Lahiri) digs that type of guy. No one questions why a white woman who plays a lead in a show would be primarily dating white guys, so I don’t think that criticism should be leveraged against The Mindy Project, either.

I don’t think that Mindy Kaling thinks white guys are the best men; that’s just her preference. It’s refreshing to watch a show that doesn’t make this an issue. I doubt that there will be an Indian guy who will turn out to be Mindy Lahiri’s soul mate, just because he’s Indian (another trope that I hate). Still, the show addresses the difficulties that come with being in a relationship where both people are have different occupations, backgrounds, and religions.

4. *Spoiler alert* Mindy and Danny’s begrudging professional relationship that evolves into something more.

I’m a sucker for drawn-out romantic developments on TV shows. At the beginning of the show, Mindy and Danny are coworkers who are diametrically opposed in almost every way possible. After being forced to work together, they reluctantly start to respect each other. They eventually become friends and their bickering becomes affectionate.

Danny is the guy that Mindy never saw coming. They have other love interests, but their chemistry is what keeps a lot of fans (myself included) watching. It’s possible that they will turn into Jack and Liz from 30 Rock. Regardless, it will be interesting to see how their non-relationship continues to evolve next season.

Go watch The Mindy Project, already! Are there any shows that you don’t think enough people are watching?

Seven promises to my future daughter

Seven promises to my future daughter (who is currently nonexistent)

1. I promise not to use you as an extension of my vanity.

I will never push you to pursue my interests. When you’re a baby, I will not dress you as a mini me. As you grow older, the way you cut your hair is your decision. I will not constantly insist that it looked better long if it’s short or short if it’s long. If you aren’t super girly like me, I will not harass you to wear more makeup or own more pink clothes.

2. I promise to laud your accomplishments, big and small.

This isn’t limited to grades, standardized test scores, the number of soccer goals scored, or perfectly played piano pieces. Not all achievements are quantifiable. I will be as proud of you when you’ve mastered potty training as when you can make and stick to a budget (which you’ll learn from your dad).

3. I promise to be there for you, if you need nonjudgmental and unbiased advice.

Unless you are in a situation that is exactly the same as one I had experienced, I will never dispense advice based on what I would do. I will remove my worldview lens in order to help you decide what’s best in your circumstances. I will never project the outcome I want onto you as what you want.

4. I promise to respect that your career choices are just that — yours.

I will support those choices so long as you’re happy, healthy, and self-sustaining. If you never want to work a corporate job, that’s your prerogative. I will never think I’ve failed as a parent if you don’t want to work in an office, if you’re innovative and can do what you enjoy for work.

5. I promise to be an example of how to be in a loving, committed relationship.

You will never question whether you’re genetically wired to love and to be loved, for fear that extreme dysfunction is hereditary. You will never wonder if your parents were together for your sake, or because they wanted to be. You will see what a relationship rooted in reciprocated affection, respect, and values looks like.

6. I promise that while I may not be your friend, I will always be your mom.

I will never overstep boundaries and pry for details about your life, only to criticize you later. I will take for granted that in college, you’ll party (and probably have sex, much to your dad’s dismay), but you should talk to your friends about those events. In turn, I will never rely on you to solve my problems; I will always confide in your dad and my friends, so you will never have to worry about those things.

7. Most of all, I promise to love you at every stage of your life.

As a tiny baby, as little girl, and as the young woman you grow up to be. I will never make you feel guilty for leaving the nest (though you are always welcome to visit). I will never psychologically beat you down so that you doubt the strength of your wings. Instead, I will look forward to our dynamic changing as you get older. I will never treat you as your grandmother treated me.

Reminders to help you live a happier life

Slow down & don’t spread yourself too thin.
There’s a fine line between efficiency and doing too much. Never take on more than you can accomplish. Learn to prioritize what needs to be done, so you can do each well. At the end of the day, you should be ready for rest but not completely drained.

Embrace the positive.
Don’t bemoan the things that don’t go your way. Don’t get stuck in a rut from the daily work/school grind. Instead of getting bogged down by what goes wrong, embrace the positive. Consider what goes right in your day and focus on that.

Let go of toxic people & surround yourself with supportive people.
Stay away from toxic, joyless people. Being around those who constantly complain will bring you down. Don’t put up with people who belittle and degrade you. It’s difficult when family members or former close friends are toxic people, but remember — you’re entitled to be happy on your own terms. Build a support system of people who can handle what life throws their way and who will help you do the same.

Be thankful.
When your alarm starts ringing, it’s natural to dread getting out of bed. Rather than begging your significant other to let you sleep for five more minutes (as I do, most days), be thankful that you woke up to a new day. Be grateful for the awesome people and opportunities in your life.

Enjoy every moment.

Five things to consider before getting a tattoo

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Monaco, Monaco. 09.09.12.

Five things to consider before getting a tattoo

1. Your threshold for pain (and if you have a fear of needles):

Anyone who tells you that getting a tattoo is quick and painless is a liar (or a masochist).

When you get a tattoo, the artist takes a giant needle gun and drills ink into your body for twenty minutes to over an hour. If you shudder at the pain from a phlebotomist collecting a blood sample, don’t bother. If the sight of needles makes you ill, don’t do it.

If you truly believe that you will rise to the occasion once facing your fear, go for it. But be aware that, typically, you can’t change your mind in the middle of a session. (Nor would you want to — an intentionally half-finished tattoo just looks sad.)

2. How you feel about permanence:

Can you commit to a decision, or are do you often tend to change your mind?

If you’re thinking, “I can just get it lasered off later if I don’t like it!” then you shouldn’t do it. Getting a tattoo removed is costly, painful, and doesn’t restore your skin to its previous, unmarked state.

A tattoo is a piece of art that will become part of you. It should be something that you would be happy to have (and look at) forever because of its significance.

3. The design & size:

Do you want a picture, text, or both? Do you want color(s) or a black outline?

Larger and more colorful designs will be more expensive. Pieces that stretch across your chest and full sleeves take several sessions. Personally, I thought that colored inking hurt less than black inking.

4. The placement:

Where do you want to get inked?

Any place where there’s bone will hurt worse than where there’s muscle. Rib and chest pieces are not for the fainthearted. Aesthetically, pieces like arm bands and knuckle tattoos only tend to work for people who look like The Rock.

If you’re applying for a job that wouldn’t hire you because your tattoo are visible and you want to get a full sleeve, reconsider your placement choice. (Or be okay with the fact that you won’t get hired for that or similar jobs.)

5. Which parlor and artist you want to go to:

This decision is crucial.

A great tattoo artist will meet with you beforehand to discuss what you want. He or she will give his or her input as to what would work best (technically and aesthetically).

Different artists within the same tattoo parlor specialize in certain types of work. Choose wisely and you’ll have an awesome piece of art for the rest of your life.

*Photo was taken by my boyfriend, who took it while we were in Monaco.