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?

Dave Grohl is right — the “guilty pleasure” music concept is bullshit.

I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. If you fucking like something, like it. […] Don’t fucking think it’s not cool to like Britney Spears’ “Toxic.” […] Why the fuck not? Fuck you! That’s who I am, goddamn it! That whole guilty pleasure thing is full of fucking shit. — Dave Grohl

Dave Grohl is right — the “guilty pleasure” music concept is bullshit.

Everyone has at least one band (or genre) that is largely considered uncool, but still listens to it. For me, that genre is emo — particularly, Dashboard Confessional. I started listening to Dashboard Confessional in high school, when “A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar” was released. Like all emo music-obsessed teens, I scribbled my favorite lyrics from “Hands Down” (and later, “Vindicated”) on my Converse sneakers. I listened to that album on repeat while typing angsty posts in my livejournal. Later, I discovered that my favorite albums are the earlier acoustic ones.

In college, my journal-writing ritual was this: I’d crawl into bed, put on headphones, and blast “The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most,” followed by “The Swiss Army Romance.” If I still wasn’t done sorting through whatever it was in my composition notebook, I’d put on “Dusk and Summer,” and then “A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar.” There’s something so earnest about Chris Carraba’s lyrics and voice that’s lacking in similar songwriters today. Like Bon Iver — people will wax poetic about “For Emma, Forever Ago,” but fail to address his smugness about being heartbroken and the fact that his voice is terrible.

I digress.

I started listening to Dashboard Confessional out of curiosity, then quickly fell down the rabbit hole of becoming a huge fan. None of their music is a guilty pleasure to me. People think it’s lame because Chris Carraba sings about the full scope of his feelings. But I’ve always thought that was admirable. The root of why people listen to so-called guilty pleasure music is because it makes them happy. It’s contradictory that emo music would make me happy, but it’s the music I’ve always listened to while writing. It’s cathartic. As I write this post, I’m listening to “Alter The Ending” (the deluxe edition with the acoustic versions of each song, naturally).

At some point, you have to stop worrying about being perceived as cool. It’s exhausting to have to keep up with what’s acceptable to admit that you listen to and what isn’t. Most people won’t judge you based on your music taste. They have better things to do. And honestly, self-proclaimed music snobs can be pretentious yet shallow assholes. You don’t have to qualify why you thoroughly enjoy a certain band or artist with “well, it’s my guilty pleasure, but…”

Own it.

Your disregard for people’s opinions will trickle into other aspects of your life and you will be happier for it.