Please, just stop telling me to keep my options open.
For some arbitrary reason, being a woman comes with a list of unspoken rules we are constantly expected to follow. But it’s 2021 now: the year where you let go of these dangerous norms, and the year where you stop taking everyone’s bullshit.
- “Never exclude others; include everyone.”
I’m sorry to say this, but you won’t get along with everyone. Your personality will clash with others’, and there’s nothing wrong with that. There is nothing wrong with keeping an arm’s distance from those who do not make you happy. If you’re on the other side of the narrative and do feel excluded (a situation I have encountered more times than I can count), the answer is simple: these people just aren’t the best fit for a friendship with you. Perhaps these people simply cannot appreciate the wonderful parts about you like others can. It is time to accept that we cannot all be best friends.
- “Forgive and forget.”
This statement is not only horrible advice in plenty of situations, but it is also incredibly irritating to hear. When someone wrongs you in a deeply personal and hurtful way and creates detrimental effects on your mental state, forgiving them and forgetting about the turmoil they caused should not be on your to-do list. Forgetting the harm others have put you through may cause you to go through the same situation in the future. Recognizing and overcoming struggles can help you learn and grow. It is okay to walk away from a person or a situation without making amends. Ultimately, it is up to you to determine whether or not you would like to give second chances, depending on the situation. If you decide not to forgive and not to forget, that’s okay.
- “Keep your options open; don’t close any doors.”
I heard this phrase more often than any other in high school when I decided to drop science. “Are you sure you’re making the right choice? What if you want to go into science?” everyone would ask me. To be blunt, I loathe science (sorry Mom and Dad!) and I know I would not enjoy studying it. So why should I have put myself through several years of studying a topic that does not interest me? On the off chance that I did change your mind, I could always go back and open that door again. Instead of basing your choices on this nonsensical mentality, devote your time to the subjects that you are passionate about.
- “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it.”
Now, I’m not telling you to be rude, but sometimes it is more important to have the difficult conversations we all avoid. Letting your unhappy feelings out can help you overcome the obstacles and challenges you may face. For example, let’s say you’re having trouble getting along with your partner in a romantic relationship. Sure, it may be easier to hold your tongue if you feel your partner is not right for you, but the best thing to do is to just be honest. Believe me: holding in your negative feelings can be much worse than letting a mean comment slip out.
- “You’ll cross that bridge when you get there.”
As a Type-A perfectionist, this phrase never made sense to me. Planning ahead is one way to increase your success. It’s always good to be organized and ahead of the game, especially when the “bridge” is such an important one to cross. It is better to be overprepared than to come to your deadline with no clue what’s going on — I think most of us have learned this lesson the hard way. However, don’t forget to enjoy the moment; it’s easy to get caught up in worries of the future, but it’s equally important to stay present.
- “No use crying over spilled milk.”
This just in: it’s okay to express your emotions, even if it’s over something miniscule (raise your hand if you’ve had a nice ol’ PMS cry over absolutely nothing). Suppression will not make you feel better; it’s often best to let your feelings out instead of leaving them bottled up inside of you. So what if it’s over spilled milk; let yourself cry and be upset about it and you’ll get over it quicker than if you had simply denied that you were sad at all.
- “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”
What, is it okay now to settle for less than what we want? Sure, everybody fails once in a while; it’s part of being human. But one of the best parts of being human is that we pick ourselves up after we fall or do not achieve our goal. If you shoot for the moon and miss, try again. And keep trying until you reach the moon.