Text 28 Sep 3 notes Should You Give Up?

There are people in the world who think you shouldn’t ever quit.  Baby, I am not one of those people.  I quit shit left and right.  This Caitlin Moran book isn’t reeling me in, I’m closing it.  This mythology class is boring, dropped.  I have to drive to the Turlock campus to major in biology?  Guess what, I’m a psych major now.  I’m too lazy to go work at Target today, I fucking quit.  Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred?  More like Jillian Michael’s 5 day shred.  Now my self-sabotage post is making a lot more sense, huh?  I’m a quitter and I’m okay with that…most of the time.  There are some good questions to ask yourself when you’re considering giving up on something to help you decide if you should stick it out or give it the boot.

1. Have you given it a chance?

Oh you read one page of Samantha’s American Girl book and you don’t like it?  Have you even gotten to the part about how she loves to climb trees?  You’re welcome, now go enjoy your historical fiction book for little girls.

2. Are you any good at it?  Is it over your head?

When you first start an exercise routine, it sucks.  You’re not good at it and it’s annoying to be not good at something.  Don’t give up until you’ve tried it out long enough to at least be passably good at it.  If you still hate it, q-u-i-t.  If you’re taking a tricky subject in school, you may want to quit because it’s too hard.  Don’t be a baby.  Study hard, learn something, and don’t end up like your father. 

3. Can completing it do something positive for you?

If you stay at this job will it look good on a resume?  If you’re a cart wrangler at Raley’s, the answer is no.  Quit, baby!  If you complete this class will it fulfill a requirement for graduation?  Then finish the class, doofus. 

4. Are you doing it to please someone else?  What’s your motivation?

If you started taking a baking class because you’ve always wanted to bake pies during the holidays, maybe you should consider finishing the 6-week course.  You may hate it while you’re there, but it will be nice to have the skill once it’s over.  Are you taking a baking class to please your judgmental mother?  Fuck that fucking class.

5. Does it put you in a bad mood?

Do you act like an asshole to everyone around you because you hate your job?  Maybe you should quit, you dick.  Does watching Bad Girls Club make you too angry to eat your dinner?  Chill out and watch some Animal Odd Couples instead.

6. Does it make you feel bad physically?

Hey, if wrangling carts hurts your knees, you gotta quit.  I know you love this job, but it’s not good for you.  Wait, didn’t I tell you to give this up already?  Are you even listening?

7. Is an outside force causing you to view it negatively?

Maybe you hate this spin class because spinning reminds you of Sandra who was always bragging about how she never misses a class, even when she’s sick.  We get it, Sandra, you’re better than us.  But this spin class isn’t about Sandra, it’s about you.  Keep spinning until this becomes your hobby, not Sandra’s.  Is there an employee at the batting cages who never remembers your name?  Maybe he’s the reason you think you don’t love baseball.  You’re a natural, kid, don’t give up on your dream.

8. Is there something you’d rather be doing?

Is that shitty ballroom dancing class keeping you from your volunteer work?  Foxtrot outta there.  Are you wasting the time you could be spending writing your Third Eye Blind fan fiction forcing yourself to read American Gods even though you don’t think it’s that good?  Toss that book in the trash!  Is getting a Master’s degree keeping you from trying that new pastry they introduced at Starbucks?  Don’t a drama queen, it’s probably not that good anyway.

Text 27 Sep 5 notes How to Avoid Self-Sabotage

I am the queen of self-sabotage.  At least that’s how I think of myself.  Viewing yourself as someone who will ruin everything good that comes your way can be extremely detrimental to you.  I, for instance, have been avoiding all activities involving any semblance of responsibility for years.  I’m convinced I’ll screw it up, so I don’t even try.  And the thing is, I won’t just screw it up, I’ll screw it up on purpose.  How fucked up is that?  I’ll screw it up just to hurt myself.  I’ll screw it up because somewhere in my mind I must believe that I don’t deserve to have nice things.  Well, guess what, me?  Your days are numbered, because I’m not having anymore of this self-sabotage bullshit.

1. Look to Past Accomplishments for Encouragement

Are there habits you’ve formed and stuck to that were difficult to maintain at first?  It could be as simple as attending school or work, or it could be something like sticking to a healthy eating plan or exercise regimen.  If you could eventually form another beneficial habit for yourself, then why should this new thing be any different? 

2. Don’t Think Abstractly, Think Realistically

Sometimes the idea of something seems worse than it really is.  For example, oftentimes the idea of going to a party sounds like torture.  But if, instead of thinking of the party as an abstract idea, I view it in concrete terms, it can sound more appealing.  Kristen will be there and we always have fun talking.  There will be new people to meet that I can try to make laugh (and, obviously, I’ll succeed).  I’ll get to wear my favorite dress and put on winged eyeliner.  Really imagine being at this specific event instead of simply being at a party.

Another example of something that’s better in reality than it is in theory is exercise.  I can’t tell you how much I hate the idea of running, but when I really imagine moving my legs, my feet pushing off the ground, my heart rate going up, sweat dripping down my chest, and listening to “Code Monkey” (my favorite work-out song), it starts to sound pretty fun.

3. Once You’ve Stepped Out of Your Comfort Zone, You Can Create a New Comfort Zone

You may feel like the only safe place to eat is that Italian place down the street.  You’re familiar with the waitstaff, you have a favorite table, you know where the bathrooms are, and you feel comfortable there.  But if you push yourself to try something new, you can quickly make a new place a part of your comfort zone.  It can be hard to step out of our tried and true routines, but once we do we can adjust pretty quickly to a new one.

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Text 23 Sep 3 notes While He Was Working: Grosse Pointe Blank

I sure know how to pick ‘em.

I don’t have a lot to say about this movie.  It sucks.  It thinks it’s funny and it’s not. 

John Cusack is a hitman who’s also kind of a normal guy.  He attends his high school reunion and reignites a relationship with Minnie Driver, his flame from high school whom he hasn’t seen in 10 years.  Their relationship is kind of cute, mostly because Minnie Driver is a vision of loveliness, but that concludes the complimentary segment of my post.

Dan Akroyd is a rival hitman who puts a hit out on Cusack.  I know you’re like ooh, that’s crazy, but it isn’t.  Everything in this movie is on the deepest level of who cares.  It just isn’t good.  The movie think it’s so fucking quirky.  Cusack is a hitman, but he also loves his mom.  Jeremy Piven, as Cusack’s best friend, screams in the car for fun.  Isn’t this zany?  Cusack’s childhood home was turned into a gas station.  Can you believe it?  Cusack is always calling his therapist, Alan Arkin, for advice but Arkin doesn’t want anything to do with him.  He’s not actually his therapist! I know this sounds maybe, possibly a little bit interesting but I promise you it isn’t. 

What else can I say?  It’s just boring and blah.  Maybe with better writing and the addition of a single interesting character this movie could be as good as Forces of Nature.

Text 22 Sep 1 note While He Was Working: Eye For An Eye

I went with suspense this time, because I’m not as predictable as you thought I was.  Sure, it’s gonna be a romantic comedy or romantic drama or romantic action movie 9/10 times but that last time is gonna be something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. 

Eye For An Eye starts out with a normal family planning a birthday party.  Sally Field is the mother, Ed Harris is the husband/stepfather, they have a 17 year old daughter who stutters, and the birthday girl is 6 years old.  Who is gonna die?  Just go ahead and make a prediction. 

I’ll wait.

Okay, yes, you’re right, but you probably wouldn’t have guessed correctly if I hadn’t told you she stutters.  The stuttering gives her rape and murder away.  So she brutally brutalized and Sally Field is like, um, I don’t like this one bit.  Well Kiefer Sutherland did it (I never did like him), but this sick son of a bitch gets off on a technicality!  In court, to rub it in Sally’s face, Kiefer says “S-s-s-sorry.”  This raping murderer is a real jerk.

Sally Field starts going to a grief group that is filled with vengeful nutjobs.  She has found her people.  The first night she attends she overhears some members planning the murder of their child’s killer.  So.. you know.. that’ll affect the story later on.

Ed Harris is kind of a dick in this movie.  I guess we’re supposed to think Sally is just going off the deep end and is obsessing over getting revenge/justice rather than mourning her daughter in a healthy way, but it just seems like he’s a shitty husband.  He doesn’t understand why Sally is being overprotective of her other daughter, he doesn’t understand why she isn’t going to work, and he doesn’t understand why she was so upset when he washed her dead daughter’s pillow.  He washed the smell off of it and he’s basically like WHO FUCKING CARES?

Sally has also started following Kiefer around, because she doesn’t want him to murder anyone else.  He is a delivery boy and he chooses his victims from his pool of customers.  She sees him deliver something to a beautiful Spanish woman and he is obviously going to kill her next.  Sally tells the cops, but they won’t do anything.  So she tries to warn the woman, but the woman doesn’t speak English and she just kind of freaks out on Sally.  Let’s just wait and see what happens with her.

The movie thinks that Kiefer’s colorful history of rape and murder isn’t enough to make the audience dislike him, so they also make him flick a cigarette at a woman, pour hot coffee on a dog, call another dog a “piece of shit”, AND drive recklessly.  Now do you hate him? 

Let’s get to it.  Kiefer sees Sally spying and sends her a message by visiting her daughter at school.  He also tells Sally to her face that he will repeat his crime, this time on her younger daughter, if she doesn’t leave him alone.  So what’s she gonna do?  Talk to her grief group members about killing Kiefer, of course.  She has to kill him herself, so she takes self-defense classes and learns how to shoot a gun.  During this time, another group member whose 4 year old was murdered befriends Sally.  She takes her to pilates - which I didn’t even know existed in 1996 - and then the friend urges her not to murder Kiefer.  Why?  She’s an undercover cop investigating vigilante activity in the grief group and her son isn’t actually dead!  I know!

BUT Sally CAN murder Kiefer if it’s in self-defense.  So…she does that.  Because he kills the Spanish lady and gets away with it somehow.  The lesson here is to avoid Kiefer Sutherland at all costs.

Text 19 Sep 2 notes While He Was Working: Forces of Nature

I almost turned this movie off immediately because it’s so unpleasant to look at.  Everything is gloomy and dim.  The movie looks old, like it should only be available on VHS.  The directing is just awful.  And the whole movie has a hurricane storyline that is always ruining scenes, making them all dingy and sometimes even special effectsy and greenscreeny.  Helping to set the tone is the in-your-face soundtrack of classic 90s angst tunes including Lo-Fidelity Allstars’ “Battle Flag”.  If you don’t remember that song, just imagine a Prodigy b-side and you’ve pretty much got it.  This movie is really hard to like.

People act like Zach Braff created the manic pixie dream girl, but I think Forces of Nature did.  Sandra Bullock’s character can’t keep a job - she’s been a dog walker, a telemarketer, a stripper, etc., she doesn’t see why someone would get married instead of just living their life, and she stands on top of trains and yells into the infinite abyss.  Eat your heart out, Garden State.

I just googled “manic pixie dream girl” and the wikipedia page says that even Belle from Beauty and the Beast has been classified as an MPDG.  Whatever, I still say Forces of Nature created the archetype.

Ben Affleck is boring and he’s engaged to a boring woman.  His grandfather has a heart attack at Ben’s bachelor party and he tells Ben he was never attracted to his wife.  If Ben were 20 years younger, this speech would’ve turned him into a real asshole.  #ShallowHal  Basically the whole movie is about Ben trying to make it to his wedding, which natural disasters (or forces of nature) disrupt at every turn.  And Sandra Bullock is with him.  And every single person he meets fucking hates marriage.

I gotta say, the writing isn’t bad.  I think this movie might even be good if it weren’t for the dreariness and aggressive music choices.  Wait, no, that’s not true.  It’s really dumb that Sandra Bullock screams on top of the train.  And it’s really dumb that she’s the most irresponsible person in the world, yet at 27 years old she has $25,000 to invest in a bagel shop.  I guess the truth is that the writing is funny, but the story is not good.

Steve Zahn is like a thin, living Chris Farley.

This movie does that thing where the guy you’re supposed to like is cheating on his fiancee, but the writer doesn’t want the viewer to hate the guy so they make his fiancee cheat on him too.  Oh, that solves everything.  They should definitely get married now.

The guy his fiancee cheats with is like a living David Strickland.

TWIST.  He still marries his fiancee.  You thought he was going to leave her for Sandra Bullock just because she wears eyeliner, dances with old men, and knows how to make the most out of a trip to KMart?  No, what happens is he tells Sandra Bullock he’s gonna go break-up with his fiancee in front of her whole family on the day of their wedding, but instead he falls in love with his boring soulmate all over again when he sees her in her wedding dress and they go off and get married in Hawaii because, duh, there’s a Hurricane in Savannah.  And Sandra Bullock is happy because she gets to spend the rest of her life sitting in a tree with her son.

Text 18 Sep 1 note While He Was Working: Can’t Buy Me Love

Patrick Dempsey looks so much like Paul Rust.  Immediately I’m convinced I Love You, Beth Cooper is a rip-off of this movie.  I’ll see it one day, then I’ll get back to you.

Okay, so Patrick is a fucking nerd and Cindy (played by an unfamiliar blonde actress) is fucking hot and popular.  Patrick mows enough lawns to earn himself $1500.  He plans to spend $1000 on a telescope until he sees Cindy at the mall with an intense need for exactly $1000.  Cindy, I know someone that can help you!  She agrees to pretend to date him for a month in exchange for the $1000 she needs for a suede outfit to replace her mom’s ruined one (a teenager spilled red wine on her: party foul!). 

Then what happens?  She’s mean to him?  Her friends don’t like him?  Wait, does she slowly grow to like him?  Actually, she pretty much likes him right away and so do all of her friends.  He’s a cool dude who knows about football and he says things like “This [WWII plane] is the real history, not the stuff we memorize in books.”  Swoon.  He also encourages Cindy to continue to write her very, very good poetry.  It’s very, very good.

So Cindy has a big ol’ crush on Patrick and so do her horny as fuck high school girlfriends.  Patrick reminds her of the fake break-up they have to do and he clicks his heels as he leaves her because he just can’t believe he’s popular now.  Oh, so he’s kind of a dick?  Yeah.

The fake break-up is ridiculous.  He says she’s taking all of his money, she throws herself at him, and her boyfriend (away at college, seems to have forgotten about her because he’s a football guy) doesn’t call her because she’s annoying.  Then he dates all of her friends.  When she tries to tell him how she feels about him, he loudly blows her off because he’s trying to fuck the easiest girl in school.  And he doesn’t even care about Cindy’s new moon poem!  It’s probably very, very good and he doesn’t even care!  He does sleep with the impossibly-obsessed-with-sex high school student in the bathroom at a party after reciting some of Cindy’s poetry to her.  This nerd is a fucking asshole.

She drunkenly tells everyone about their bet and the popular people hate Patrick again.  But now his nerd friends hate him too because he’s been ignoring them and throwing poop at their door.  What now?  Basically time passes and they all forgive him and he dates Cindy on a lawn mower.  Now where in the hell did that other $500 go?

Text 17 Sep 2 notes While He Was Working: Steel Magnolias

Joe just got a job working in IT Support for a pharmaceutical company and I just got a job doing fucking nothing while he’s gone.  I’ve decided to watch a movie a day - something Joe wouldn’t be into watching.  I’m going to talk about, criticize, summarize, or say whatever else I feel like saying about these movies.  Today we’ll be discussing Steel Magnolias. 

It’s Southern.  Everyone in the movie has a southern accent.  It’s off-putting, especially because Julia Roberts can’t quite pull it off.  The movie starts on Julia’s wedding day to Dylan McDermott.  Her dad is shooting at the sky to try to shoo away the birds until his wife, Sally Field, hides his gun.  Oh shit, is this gonna come back to bite her in the ass when one of her sons finds it and kills someone?  No.  You never see the gun again.  We’re safe.

Dolly Parton and her new stylist, homely Daryl Hannah, are doing everyone’s hair for the wedding when Julia Roberts has a fucking seizure or some shit while saying she told her husband she couldn’t marry him because she’d never be able to give him children.  Her mom forces her to drink juice and explains that she’s diabetic.  This movie just developed a little more of an impending doom vibe.

They’re married and the next time we see them is at some bizarre carnival where Dolly Parton is serving up fried food from a trough.  It’s highly unsettling.  The cook is dumping corn on the cob, fried shrimp, and god knows what else down this little metal chute, Dolly scoops it up at random and dumps it into a basket.  I wonder if they’ll be serving this with brackish dip? #TomGoestotheMayor

Olympia Dukakis speaks in catchphrases.  “Well, you know what they say: if you don’t have anything nice to say about anybody, come sit by me!”  That said, she’s probably my favorite character.

Julia Roberts is pregnant.  But I thought she couldn’t have children?  “The doctor said she shouldn’t have children; there’s a big difference.”  Sally Field is pretty upset.  Next time we see them the baby is a year old.  Oh, so everything worked out fine?  No, you idiot, Julia Roberts has to have a kidney transplant now.  Oh no, kidneys are hard to come by.  No, you idiot, her mom’s gonna give her one of hers.  Oh, so everything worked out fine?  No, you idiot, she fucking dies. 

After the funeral Sally Field finally lets loose with her emotions.  It’s hot-tears sad.  Then Olympia makes a joke to lighten the mood.  And the rest of the movie keeps up a lightened mood.  Olympia has some fucking issues if she can’t even let her friend grieve on the day of her fucking daughter’s funeral.

Religious dummy Daryl Hannah is pregnant and is going to name the baby after Julia which prompts Sally Field to say “That’s how it should be, life goes on.”  Dolly Parton’s husband learns to appreciate her and she gets a second shop - but who the fuck is gonna work there?  Her salon has two employees!

The movie ends with Olympia telling the little boy a story about a princess — ooh, his mom? — no, herShe’s the beautiful princess and Shirley MacLaine is the evil witch.  Shirley’s character, by the way, is name Weeza.  Or so I thought!  Her name is actually Ouiser, pronounced Weeza.  Goddamn it.  Anyway, this story makes the boy cry and Sally Field kind of gets to be a mom again.  And Daryl Hannah goes into labor.  And hopefully Dylan McDermott doesn’t care that his wife is dead.  So.. I guess everything worked out fine?

Text 16 Sep 1 note

I just made the bed (something Joe usually does) and I turned into a teenager.  About 30 seconds in I became very whiny and thought, okay, I tried, but I just can’t do this.  I guess I’m just not someone who can make the bed.

Now it’s done, which is great, but I’m never doing that again.  Sorry, Joe.

Text 16 Sep 5 notes Why You Should Start Exercising

Exercising regularly is non-negotiable to people who do it, but unthinkable to people who don’t.  I didn’t exercise whatsoever until I was 23.  I simply wasn’t interested.  I liked to talk, read, watch tv, and do pretty much any other activity that doesn’t involve physical exertion.  It wasn’t just laziness that stopped me from exercising, although I was (and am) very lazy.  It was also that I have never been the kind of person who I imagined exercised.  I thought there were go-getters in the world who filled their days with business meetings, half-marathons, and trophy polishing, and there were other people in the world who were cool.  It’s true, I felt like I was too cool to care about something as generic as health.  Like most people I’d joined a gym a few times in the past and then even went a few times before giving up on it, but this time something miraculous happened… I just kept on going.

1. Exercising is only hard at first

When you first start to exercise, it sucks.  It’s hard.  Your feet hurt, your legs cramp, your lungs burn, and you’re tired instantaneously.  The good news is the next time you exercise you’ll last longer.  And the next time you’ll last even longer.  When I first started exercising I couldn’t run for a minute straight.  It was torturous.  Within a month, I’d ran three miles without stopping.  That’s how quickly your body can adapt to physical exertion.  Once you’re in better shape, you have the freedom to push yourself to try harder.  Your workouts can always get harder, but pushing yourself in your workouts becomes really fun and challenging in a different way once you’re in good shape.  Again, just get past those first few tough workouts, then the adventure begins.

2. You’ll see results within a month

If you’ve never exercised before, lil mama, you are in for a treat.  Your legs and stomach will smooth out, your chin and neck will feel firmer, and your butt…Oh lord, your butt.  I would stare, in awe, at my butt in the mirror every time I was in a room with a mirror.  I was mesmerized by the results I was seeing in such a short time.  I became embarrassed of my old butt, proud of my new butt and, I can’t lie to you, I got a lil’ handsy.  And, folks, it feels just as good as it looks. 

3. Music becomes something new and incredible

You don’t even know what music you love until you need something to drive you to kick-up the gears in your workout.  I sometimes get so excited by a certain song that I run so fast I have to take a break to catch my breath afterward.  That’s a beautiful feeling, my friend, and I hope you get to experience that.  You’ll notice your Elliott Smith discography collecting dust as you burn through more upbeat artists like Mike Phirman and Don’t Stop or We’ll Die.  And you don’t even know joy until you’ve re-lived your high school favorites while working up a sweat.  When I’m running to AFI I feel like the coolest normal person and I know my high school self would be ashamed of me.  It’s glorious.

This point is so good it’s taking up two paragraphs.  When I first started exercising I was a diehard runner.  A treadmill runner, so my butt isn’t as rock-hard as it could be, but my joints feel mighty fine.  My first paragraph about the new role music will take in your life pertains to my experience running and doing other forms of cardio at the gym.  At this point, however, I am more of a Zumba person.  That means the songs I’m sweating to now are Top 40 hits with a good beat or songs specifically made for Zumba (so a lot of them literally say “zumba” at some point).  And I can’t even tell you how many beautiful Spanish songs I’ve fallen in love with only to find out they’re about drinking or butts.  I still love ‘em.  It’s who I am now.

4. If you’re on a cardio machine, you can get major reading time in

Whether I’m laughing on the treadmill reading “Humblebrag” or crying on the StairMaster reading “My Boyfriend Wrote a Book about Me”, I always enjoy reading at the gym.  When I was trying to up my mileage on the treadmill, I was reading one to two hours a day.  I went through book after book on my Kindle and it made me more motivated to hit the gym on the days I wasn’t feeling it.  I’d remember that I left off on that hilarious chapter about Dave Hill attending a church concert with his mom in his book “Tasteful Nudes” and I’d decide then and there that I was destined for treadmill greatness that day.  However, just like with music, not every book is an exercise book.  You have to find books you’re really into or else you’ll find yourself screaming “fuck this book” into the ear of the person next to you.

5. It will make you think more clearly

Never am I more motivated to write a blog post, churn-out a killer to-do list, or decide to be a doctor than when I’ve just finished up a tough workout.  I feel powerful, I feel light, and I feel like I just might be the smartest person who ever lived.  Yeah, sure I just ran a few miles wearing shoes with individual cubbies for each of my toes, but the endorphins I produced during that run will stay with me all day and make me feel more motivated and level-headed.  I still want coffee though.  Gimme some of that too.

6. It will make you a happier person

Your self-esteem will soar.  It doesn’t matter whether you lose weight or not, how often you go, or whether you eat a piece of cake afterward, you will feel more at peace with yourself if you exercise.  You’ll see on a regular basis what you’re capable of and you will feel proud of yourself.  You don’t need to rely on external praise or things out of your control, you can give yourself the gift of accomplishing a goal every single day if you work-out.  Not to mention you’ll be too tired to lash out in anger at your friends and family, so it will make you a nicer person as well.  Once I was on the treadmill and American Idol was on one of the televisions on the wall.  I began to watch and found myself thinking, “Wow, Jennifer Lopez is flawless.  I can’t believe how beautiful and wonderful she is.”  Normally I don’t even like Jennifer Lopez.  Exercise!

Not only will you be nicer to Jennifer Lopez, you’ll be nicer to yourself too.  When I was running every day at the gym, I would take a selfie in the women’s locker room any time I had it to myself.  I just felt so fresh-faced and beautiful after pushing myself to go fast and far.  Okay, maybe not far – I only traveled as far as the circling treadmill belt would take me – but I felt like I’d been places. 

7. It’s fun

I’m smiling right now just thinking about exercising.  When you feel that rush of happiness that comes from a good workout, you’ll never look back.  You’ll realize why so many people in magazines do this stuff.  It will make you feel like a kid again, like you’re playing a round of hide and seek and none of the neighborhood kids can find you.  You are unstoppable.  Little Billy sees your hair sticking out from behind the bushes, you stand up knowing you’ve been spotted, and he runs over to tag you out.  You clothesline him.  It’s against the rules, but you don’t play by the rules.  You’re reading The Lovely Bones while listening to Queens of the Stone Age, so you’re not taking guff from anyone.  You’re racking up the miles and it’s fun.  You might even buy a fitness magazine because you are out of control and lovin’ it.

I never would’ve thought I’d be someone who exercised by choice.  I wrote bad poetry and hung out in graveyards; I smoked cigarettes and got an F in Ethics; I had a mohawk and dated a guy named Scabby.  I was a badass.  And yet.  Even still.  I have succumb. 

Text 15 Sep 1 note How to Avoid Becoming Your Parents

This isn’t meant as a criticism of parents as a whole, but rather a call to everyone out there to strive to be your best self.  Most of our parents have made us feel misunderstood at some point, but those memories of alienation leave us the further we get from childhood.  And as life gets harder we tend to let ourselves off the hook for flaws in our personalities, particularly as we begin to empathize with our parents and decide that what was good enough for them is good enough for us.  It isn’t.  The solution isn’t one-size fits all either, rather we have to tailor our behavior to different people and situations.  The goal is to be happy and to make those around you feel understood.  Perhaps this can be accomplished if you try to be your best self every day by using some of these strategies.

1. Use critical thinking skills

Critical thinking is useful as the means to a variety of ends, but some of the biggest issues that can affect how we perceive ourselves and how others perceive us are our political and religious beliefs.  It’s important to decide for yourself what matters to you rather than looking to your parents and the way you were raised as guidance.  Instead take a look at each issue and form an opinion based on facts, morality, research, and logic.  Even if you end up right where you started, you will feel that much more confident in your beliefs once you’ve combed over them thoroughly and decided they are truly your thoughts and beliefs rather than an adoption of someone else’s. 

2. Always strive for self-improvement

Don’t settle for a sub-par version of yourself.  If you lash out in anger when anger is unwarranted, you should attempt to control it.  If someone tells you your behavior affects them negatively in some way, hear them out and try not to be defensive.  As I get older I’m hearing a lot of my friends say things like “You know, my parents were right…” but it’s clear they’re making excuses for their own behavior.  They yelled at their child, stayed in a volatile relationship, or have decided to settle into an all-around negative attitude.  Don’t make excuses for your bad behavior and don’t talk yourself into thinking it’s acceptable by comparing yourself to your parents.

3. Trust your younger self

It’s easy to shrug off the feelings of your young self as you get older, but don’t give in to that inclination.  As a child I felt wronged when my parents didn’t explain their punishments to me and I would be doing myself a disservice if I, as an adult, decided that this no longer matters.  As a 27-year-old I have a hard time remembering what it was like to have to go to school every day, to attend family get-togethers whether I wanted to or not, and to have to suffer the explanation of “I’m the daddy, that’s why.”  It’s important to remember how it felt to be a child and to have so little control over your life.  Adults don’t always know better and it’s important that you remember that once you’re an adult yourself. 

4. Let go of pet peeves

Pet peeves are unimportant and tend to come from simply what you’re used to.  If you become furious when someone puts their coffee mugs on the first cupboard shelf rather than the second shelf, you have to take a step back and realize that is doesn’t matter.  This will make your life and the lives of those around you easier.  I can’t even tell you how upset I get when I set an almost-empty shampoo bottle upside-down in the shower only to find it placed right-side up when I shower next.  But I take a breath and realize that this other person doesn’t care about the same things I care about and it’s really not my place to be angry with them about it.  My parents finished up their shampoo this way, but that doesn’t mean this way is better, it just means I’m used to it.

5. Don’t convince yourself kids these days are worse than you were at their age

As a non-kid, you just couldn’t possibly know that.  Don’t ever let yourself become an out-of-touch adult.  Even if young people use technology you don’t understand, create new slang terms, and listen to music you don’t connect with, you can’t make the assumption that a new generation of kids is any less intelligent or any more rebellious than kids were in your generation.  Give the youth some credit and remember that your parents didn’t like your haircut or your favorite band either.

The main objective here is to be who you are and to embrace growth and improvement at the same time.  If you’re open to change and you’re open to being wrong, you can make decisions based on what’s right for you now rather than what you would’ve done in the past.  Be mindful in your decisions, be open to new ideas, be flexible in your behavior, and be your best self at all times.    

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