I don't like being told what to do, and I bet you don't either. So while I know they're well-intentioned, I am so sick of those lists for women like 50 Life Skills Every Modern Woman Should Know or "Thirty Things Every Woman Should Have and Know By the Time She's Thirty." Perhaps because I'm 29, and I still suck at soooo much stuff, like remembering to send thank-you notes or responding to people's emails.
And who is this perfect woman, anyway, who knows how to cook souffles and select the perfect hostess gift? I can barely make it out of my house with an umbrella on days it's raining and I wrap a present like a toddler. I'm pretty sure she's an apparition, designed to make the rest of us feel incompetent. Which we do -- how many of us are walking around feeling like we're just pretending to be adults, that everyone else is operating from a guidebook we're missing? Newsflash: NOBODY has it together.
And anything worth doing is worth screwing up like a million times. So I reached out to my fellow xoJaners and asked them for their mistakes every woman should make, and this list is the result. (I'm not telling you whose mistakes are whose!) Some of these mistakes helped us learn, some of them were just fun. Enjoy! Or tell us to fuck off -- we're not the boss of you!
1. Fuck up your bangs.
You seriously have to completely ruin your bangs and seek professional help about 10 times before you master the at-home bangs trim. Plus, haven't you always wanted to try baby Bettie bangs?
2. Reply all accidentally.
Sometimes people need to know that everybody thinks they're dicks.
3. Get stuck without an opener and have to break into a bottle of wine.
And spend the night picking little pieces of cork out of your teeth.
4. Have sex for money (or just a really expensive dinner).
It's good to know your options, and if you hate it, you know you better start developing some job skills.
5. Do a weird crash diet.
Lose a lot of weight, fast or slow. Gain a lot of weight. Consume nothing but lemonade for 10 days. It's your body.
6. Married man.
7. Date someone like your dad, especially if you have daddy issues.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Break up with him, eventually. Just date him long enough to realize that he's just like your dad. Bonus points: Tell him, once you realize it. Super bonus points: Tell your mom, even though she probably has already noticed -- she will be incredibly relieved to know that you see it, too.
8. Default on a credit card, and then fess up.
Being broke is scary, but it also teaches you how to be better at managing your money. Answering the call from a blocked collections number takes a lot of guts, but it is worth it.
9. Move somewhere where you don't know anyone but the boy you're dating, under the dreamy, misguided idea that "all you need is love."
If you're a well-rounded person, you'll hate it, and when you leave you'll move somewhere better and never want to do it again. Teach yourself balance!
10. Help someone cheat on their girlfriend.
You'll walk away with a little guilt and a lot of wisdom about cowardice. You'll also develop a keep cheater-radar that is useful in your own relationships!
11. Fail to pay your rent* because it comes out a whole 10 days after you get paid, and you've normally spent your money by then.
Apart from anything else, once you've made this mistake once and been threatened with eviction, you'll miraculously learn to manage your finances from that point onwards...
*It wasn't my rent, it was my mortgage.
12. Think that if your significant other is unfaithful/a drug addict/married to someone else/not as nice as your friend's boyfriends that's ok, because he always comes back to you in the end.
You need to go out with a few total morons, and be blissfully niave to the true extent of their moronity for a good six months, to really appreciate all the good guys you'll then go on to meet. Plus it helps you hone your moron-radar so you're not still getting screwed around when you're menopausal.
13. When a bouncer won't let you in to a bar because it's too full/you're too drunk, slur 'big mistake, huuuuge mistake, do you know how much money I would have spent in here?' Julia Roberts stylee.
It never actually works, but it's good to have a funny bouncer story to recount the next day when your head hurts and you realise that you spent all your money on overpriced, watery mojitos.
14. Eat so much you throw up.
Also, eat something out of the garbage. Eat things you know aren't good for you. Eat in bed and get crumbs everywhere. Deliberately avoid finding out how many calories are in something pseudo-healthy so you can keep living a delicious lie.
15. Cut all your hair off a week before you go to college.
You may spend the next three years trying to grow in out in an awkward bob, but it means that when you meet your old college friends again for the first time in 5 years, they'll be amazed at the transformation when they see your long, shiny locks.
16. Somebody too young
17. Somebody too old
18. Somebody who doesn't know s/he's gay yet
19. The bass player (ugh)
20. The wrong twin
21. Date a co-worker.
When you eventually break up (you will), get back by sabotaging each other's work projects and turning half the office against the other party. Also: revenge sex. After the revenge sex, pretend like you don't even know each other.
22. Be financially irresponsible.
Don't balance your checkbook. See how long you can live on the $5.23 in your bank account. When you get paid again, blow all your money on shoes and booze. Rinse, repeat.
23. Move across the country with $1,000 in your pocket and no job.
Go dancing every night for two weeks before you get serious about finding a job. Miraculously land a job on the same day your money runs out, because that's usually how life works.
24. Quit your day job, especially if someone has snarkily told you, in reference to your creative pursuits, "Don't quit your day job!"
The first step to greatness is taking action, and "success" has many definitions.
25. Neglect servicing your car when it needs servicing.
That popping/scraping/whirring noise? Eh. Just drive that sucker until it leaves you stranded on the side of the freeway, donate it to charity, and take the tax write-off.
26. Get your first tattoo at 60.
Just to fuck with the ageist people who say, "But what will that tattoo look like when you're 60?"
27. Have unprotected sex.
Because it feels better that way.
28. Call into work sick when you're hungover.
Because going to work hungover sucks.
29. Get so drunk that you vomit up that 2 a.m. slice of pizza.
Bulimia without the stigma!
30. Cry at work.
So that you get it out of your system and never do that again.
31. Date a nice guy.
So you learn why not to end up with one.
32. Carry on a vague sexual relationship with a friend which you know is going nowhere but is fraught with tension and tears.
Do it for the drama.
33. Scream at someone who does something really fucked up to you.
It's not healthy to bottle all that shit up. plus, they deserve to be screamed at if they are doing fucked up things.
34. Fall down in public and cry.
It might make you drink less.
35. Find your new housemates on Craigslist.
Decide to move in, even though you know in your heart of hearts that they're a liiiiittle too wild for you. Enjoy the strange feeling of being, for once, The Responsible One. Learn to wear earplugs to drown out the noise of cocaine-fueled group sex on a Wednesday night. Join in once or twice. Go out drinking with them until six am and go to sleep in your work clothes to save time the next morning. If nothing else, it makes for a good story to horrify your straight-laced friends -- plus, it'll eventually teach you how to set boundaries.
36. Drunkenly confess your love for a friend with benefits.
It's gonna happen eventually anyway. Might as well use the excuse of alcohol to force yourselves to have The Talk. The sooner you get that life is not a romantic comedy, and that saying "I spent all last summer trying to get over you" is not a key to eternal happiness, the more you'll value the relationships you do have.
37. Instead of Going Out and Living Life, spend 16 hours weeping in the dark over Downton Abbey.
38. Have very, very bad sex with an 18 year old Irish man.
It'll remind you that a hot accent does not guarantee anything between the sheets, NO MATTER HOW MUCH DOWNTON ABBEY YOU WATCH.
39. Get naked in public.
Preferably in a parade setting! Maybe you can wear nothing but rainbow suspenders and galoshes. No matter how much nudity is acceptable in your city of choice, people will photograph you. Your nipples will end up on the Internet. After a while, nipples are just nipples. This will do wonders for your self-esteem / base tan.
40. Get fingered by a hot stranger in a bar.
And actually believe no one can see you. (Additionally, near-sex in a taxi cab, on a park bench or in another public place.)
41. Get super-obsessed with a guy you don't even like, just because he doesn't like you.
Feel the sweet sense of triumph as your interest drains away the first time he expresses interest.
42. Be the crazy ex.
Break into his email and voicemail accounts, stalk his social media accounts, drive by his house, threaten suicide, the usual. It's like the chicken pox -- you usually only get it once.
43. Skip moisturizer.
Skip sunscreen, skip undereye cream, skip water, skip sleep, skip exercise. Notice that the world doesn't end.
44. Talk shit about someone and get busted.
Then apologize. Or don't -- you obviously don't like that person all that much anyway.
45. Overshare to an aquaintance.
And have it bite you in the ass when they use the information against you. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. And what are you supposed to do, sip seltzer at happy hour?
46. Don't open your mail for like a year.
Some problems go away if you ignore them long enough. And there's bound to be at least some good news in there if you finally decide to confront the terrifying pile of paper you've been shoving in your oven.
47. Be super-jealous of your friends' success.
I mean, their success isn't actually hindering yours, but it SURE FEELS THAT WAY. And you can't control your feelings.
48. Go out in clothes that are stained/wrinkled/unraveling.
Cause you think no one will notice until you're in direct sunlight. Use dark clothing to wipe your hands and mop up spills.
49. Play dumb.
Especially when you get caught doing something wrong. Cleavage helps, too.
50. Let someone take naked pictures of you.
Sext. Show your boobs to someone in a bar. They're just parts.
Please note that these are not all mistakes to make when you're in your 20s, or whatever arbitrary age limits we're supposed to ascribe to our stupidity, selfishness, carelessness, ignorance, etc. These are mistakes to make over and over again, throughout your life, until you're done making them. (You may still go back and make some of them again.)
We're human. Life is about learning, not about beating ourselves up every time we fail to measure up to some imaginary standard. Viva la imperfección!
Mistakes contributed by me, Daisy Barringer, Corynne Cirilli, Kate Conway, Jackie Mancini, Rebecca Holman, Julieanne Smolinski, Somer Sherwood and Jane Pratt.
@msemilymccombs is making mistakes all day on Twitter.