Amazon / GIRLS
Amazon / GIRLS

1. Make your bed

You have too many things on your plate. Paying rent, bills, meeting up with friends. Just roll out of bed and get on with your life. You can make your bed another day (at least, that’s what you tell yourself).

2. Say yes

When you’re in your 20s, the most beautiful feeling is that anything is possible. But the worst feeling, as we all know, is the fear of missing out, the ugly FOMO monster living under your (unmade) bed. The truth is that saying no will just guide you to the things you want the most. “Yes” can actually be the most limiting word in the English language.

3. Keep up with ‘friends’

You know all of those “friends” you made during college? You know, when you were in the Graduates Of 2007 Facebook group? You will (probably) never ever talk to them again. Unfriend them. Rinse and repeat. You won’t regret it, I promise.

4. Go out

Say it with me: you. Don’t. Need. Happy. Hour. Well, at least not every day. Or the kind of happy hour that turns into a sad seven-hour night of sweaty bars and street meats. The beauty of adulthood in your 20s is that you’re still young enough to be in touch with your most fun, yet totally innocent self. Get delivery. Watch movies. Do karaoke. Play laser tag, for Christ’s sake. You can do anything you want, and it doesn’t have to involve being rubbed up on by a bunch of drunk strangers.

5. Stay in

Say it with me: DALÉ. Okay, sorry. No more Pitbull. But whatever, you’re 20-something years old. You don’t have to stay home and waste your time on Netflix and Seamless. Go out. Kiss someone you love, or someone you like a little bit. You’re young, you smell good, go have unforgettably wonderful times.

6. Be friends with your parent(s)

Even if it’s out of love, what a parent wants for you may not be the same as what you want for you. While having a strong support system is oftentimes very important, it’s up to you to decide whether what’s being supported is something you’re on board with. I mean, it’s time to depend on yourself. You have a job and a place to live, so what are you doing asking your parents for help? Do things on your own. You’ll come out better for it.

7. Exercise

At this stage of life, it starts to seem like every asshole from high school has a piece of grilled chicken on deck, some tasteless asparagus on the grill, and 17 go-to yoga or weight lifting selfies to post on Instagram whenever they’re feeling particularly #FitFam. It’s all a fantasy and it’s not your life. Unfollow or ignore for your own mental health. You have a life to live, you don’t need to spend it navel-gazing, waiting for your abs to show.

8. Have a ton of sex

Your 20s aren’t the only time you have to get laid or fall in love. You don’t need to feel obligated to have sex with anyone. Take it slow or take it fast, but however you want to take it, make sure it’s the way you want to go, and not the way any friend or media outlet’s value system makes it feel like you should be going.

9. Be in a relationship

You don’t need to be with someone to enjoy your 20s, even when it feels like everyone around you is paired off. Don’t be the single friend who can’t be around couples. As irritating as it can be to be the third, fifth, or even the goddamned seventh wheel, know that your time will come and that it’s not your prerogative to force a relationship with someone with whom you just want to have fun and be casual.

10. Travel

People say there’s no better time than traveling in your 20s. They could not be so wrong. You need a foundation to leap off from and you make that NOW, not later. Don’t regret it later. Secure your dreams now so that you can reap the benefits later.

11. Buy things

Anyone can post a picture of something awesome on social media and act like a baller rich kid of Instagram, but not everyone can keep a damn savings account. Be the ‘not everyone’ now so you can be the baller ‘anyone’ later.

12. Binge watch Game Of Thrones

Just kidding. I don’t know how I’d motivate myself without Tyrion’s speeches.

13. Start a career

Some jobs are just that: jobs. They won’t all be stepping stones on your path to self-actualization, workplace utopia, and career bliss. You might work in a restaurant for three months and never work in one again in your life, but it will allow you to eliminate the options that aren’t right for you. Shitty jobs now make for good careers later.

14. Brag about how much coffee you drink

When it comes down to it, you could honestly brag about just how much tea you drink(if you really want).

15. Cook

Seamless is your best friend! ;o)

16. Upgrade your phone

Apple is the worst and most persistent ex who will text you at 2AM just to update you on something completely insignificant. Go home, Apple, you’re drunk.

17. Talk to that asshole

You read this and you thought of a name. Yeah, you’re old enough now that you can lose this person and have plenty of other things to be happy about. Don’t talk to that asshole.

18. Drunk singing

As we grow up / and get drunker / all the shots we had together / And as we blackout / say whatever / we will have this / hangover forever.

19. Like ‘anything’

You don’t have to click on that, like it, or share it. While you’re at it, you don’t have to say “Happy birthday” or “Congrats!” Stick to the contacts in your phone. Compliment people in person. Don’t feel like you need to constantly give out your approval.

20. Buy that extra drink

Moderation, when done right, can be the night’s biggest high.

21. Listen to other people’s opinions of selfies

You’ll have your shameless selfie savants, and you’ll have your brooding mystery men detractors. They’re probably both wrong. Take however many selfies you like. If you end up losing friends over your selfie excess, consider it a convenient exercise in friend-pruning.

22. Grow up

You can get older without growing up, and that’s not a bad thing. Learn who you are more each day. Talk to the people you love and care about their thoughts, but not about what everyone thinks of you. Be better with age, not older.

All you have to be at age 22 is yourself. TC mark

Thought Catalog

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1. You can’t tell the difference between someone who is just speaking to you and somebody who is trying to flirt with you, so you’re awkward about both.

2. Over half of your ‘first moves’ on people have been preceded by something like “Should I kiss you now?” or the awkward “Uh I think I am going to kiss you now.”

3. When your first date with them is for drinks, you drink two alone at another bar before the date.

4. Birthdays and holidays stress you out because it’s not like you’re just buying a gift for a friend or family member, it has to mean something, and you’re really not romantic enough to get anything that means something.

5. You have gotten the “I think we are supposed to kiss now but aren’t kissing and I’m just going to say goodbye and jog away now” situation down to a science.

6. You’re still not sure who’s supposed to pay for what, so you just kind of wait for them to either grab the check or stare at you awkwardly, to which you then awkwardly take the check, and they say ‘no, you don’t have to!’ but yeah, you kind of do. (You think…)

7. You have inexplicably never called back a lot of the people you had really great first dates with. There is some kind of weird fear that stops you.

8. You have no idea how or when you discuss what you two ‘are so you’ll literally avoid it until the last minute possible, or until there’s no other choice. This also leads to you getting really upset about relationships that were never actually anything at all (at least not mutually).

9. You are so self-conscious of talking about yourself too much that conversation gets boring, fast, because you’re compulsively going through a laundry list of questions for them — anything to avoid talking about yourself.

10. Someone asks if you have a significant other and your response is just laughter.

11. You’ve tried to sext. That’s all. You’ve tried.

12. You’re torn between feeling as though online dating is your only hope and being too awkward and uncomfortable to even complete your profile.

13. And if you have tried online dating you seriously feel like you will never quite “get” how it works. You honestly feel like it’s going through the sales rack. And forget messaging someone first. What do you even say to someone?

14. You’ve started thinking about how the idea of an arranged marriage actually doesn’t sound that bad.

15. Someone asks you the last time you went on a date and you can’t even remember. You think maybe it was that guy your best friend set you up with that turned out to be a total weirdo? Maybe? Your dating life is one blur of sadness.

16. “We’re… talking” is basically your go-to response when somebody asks if you’re seeing anybody. TC mark

Thought Catalog

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Happy Endings: Season 2
Happy Endings: Season 2

1. I promise that when we binge watch shows on Netflix, I won’t skip ahead.

2. Okay, I might skip ahead, but I’ll never spoil anything for you and I’ll act surprised at the good parts.

3. I promise to keep my phone screen face up and without a password, because I don’t have anything to hide.

4. I promise to show you off, whether it means bringing you around my friends & co-workers, or posting our pictures on Instagram.

5. I promise to continue doing the things I did to win your heart, well after you’re mine.

6. I promise I will never treat you like a cliche. I will never expect you to do anything just because you’re a “woman.” Those tropes are bullshit anyway.

7. I promise that every time we fight, I’ll order us make-up pizza.

8. I promise I will remember your coffee order and, when you drink too much whiskey the night before, I’ll bring you your coffee bedside… even if I’m hungover, too.

9. I promise we won’t fall into tired old routines and that I will look for new and interesting ways to keep our relationship fun.

10. I promise I will fight for you and when I say I’m committed, you won’t have to worry about whether or not I mean it. I will make it important to earn and keep your trust.

11. Marilyn Monroe was wrong but I promise I won’t stop caring about you when you’re at your worst and I’ll always work to bring out your best. Everybody needs to be cared for AND pushed.

12. I will call when I say I’m going to call. I will ask you to let me know that you’ve gotten home safe. I will reply to your texts cause I’d want you to reply to mine. My phone game is strong.

13. I promise to let the past be the past. I will not ask about your ex and I will not talk about mine unless you ask.

14. I promise that even when you fall out with your friends I will not bad-mouth them, because we both know it’s probably temporary. They were here before me. Respect.

15. I promise to spend enough time downtown if you know what I mean…

16. I promise to treat our relationship like it’s our relationship, that it’s private, that it’s between you and I. I won’t let the world spoil it or dictate it. I’ll understand that it’s you and I together.

17. I promise not to judge you for how long you take to say “stop” when I’m pouring your glass of wine.

18. I promise I will order you a side of fries, not because I wouldn’t want to share my fries with you, but because I know you, girl, and those fries are what we came to this restaurant for.

19. I promise I will not just tolerate your family, but I will make an effort to know your parents, your siblings, your cousins, because anyone that is important to you has to be amazing and I want to know them, too.

20. Fried chicken. I will make it and you will eat and love it. Also vodka tonics because my vodka tonic game is strong. Nearly as strong as my phone game.

21. I promise I will do everything I can to not be a “typical guy.” I’m as bored with those stereotypes as you are.

22. I promise if you’re sick, I will go to that Italian restaurant you like and pick up some soup for you and I won’t even be annoyed when you tell me you feel awful a hundred times a day. I know you feel awful, I’ve been sick, too.

23. I promise to like your Instagram photo when it’s at nine, and it looks all messy because you see NINE different usernames, and a tenth will make it say , simply, ’10 likes’ — because I know these things matter. TC mark

Thought Catalog

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image - Flickr / Kelsi Barr
image – Flickr / Kelsi Barr

My daughter is reading my favorite book. “I’m on page 112,” she says, “of The Choose Yourself Stories.”

This is my collection of more personal stories about my life. I never marketed it. Just put it out there. But she found it.

Now she has a lot of questions like, “Why did you always want to kill yourself? It seems like you always wanted to die. Why?”

And I said, “well, I felt really sad and scared and sometimes a person can’t see anyway out. But ultimately I did see a way out and now we’re here.”

“But it’s mean,” she said, and I think about what she says. It is mean. Not mean to me. Because I would be dead.

But she’s saying it would be mean to her.

“He has you in the book,” she says to her older sister.

“Where,” the older sister, a teenager, comes out of her teenage daze for a second. She doesn’t quite say “Where”. She says “whe”.

“He writes an imaginary letter from you to him. When you were 14 and I was 11. It says, “You always have to be waiting for me even though I’m always late.” ” She quotes the chapter word for word. They both laugh because it’s still true.

Then she asks me, “Why did that girl not like you? The one who picked you up when you were hitchhiking. The girl with the red hair.” Mollie has red hair.

And I tell her the FIRST RULE OF INSANITY: If something doesn’t work the first time, don’t try the exact thing again. You have to modify it a little bit.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, I called her the day after our first date and she didn’t pick up. So I figured five minutes later, ‘maybe she wasn’t home’ and so I called her again and hung up after a few rings. And then about ten minutes later I said to myself, ‘Maybe she’s home now” and I called again and hung up after a few rings. And I kept doing that.”

Mollie started laughing, “why did you keep doing that?”

Because kids don’t do stupid things like that but adults do. Adults call over and over and over like an iron is sizzling the insides of their brain and it can only be smoothed out once someone picks up.

“Because I was crazy.”

“And then finally around midnight the woman with red hair picks up and says, “Was that you calling all of those times.” And then she hangs up and I never talk to her again so that’s why she didn’t like me.”

While I’m describing this to my younger daughter I’m thinking to myself. Yes, that was clearly insane.

But what was that girl doing all of those times I was calling?

Why didn’t she pick up? Now I think she was having sex with someone all night right after my first date with her. And who has sex for six straight hours? I’m picturing it right now.

23 years later, I’m angry and jealous and, of course, this is the second rule of insanity.

SECOND RULE OF INSANITY: don’t be angry and jealous 23 years after something that was meaningless.

When I dropped my daughter off I went back to the book to see what happens after page 112.


“Imagine you are a 10 Year Old Girl”. I wrote a story from her perspective on the day she turned ten years old. The story made my cry. What’s it going to make her do?

And then I wrote a story, “Why I want my Daughters to be Lesbians“.

I wish my dad had written a book about his life. He never talked about his younger life. His first marriage. The way he was torn apart by jealousy and rage and unemployment and poverty.

But I did find a short story written by my mom when she was younger. It was hidden in a bunch of papers in my basement.

My mom’s short story was about a shy girl who invites a guy over from work. They are sitting and talking about nothing because both are shy. They eat dinner, they drink wine, they don’t talk.

Finally she walks into the other room, comes back naked, and they have sex. End of story.

Maybe that’s how my parents first date went. I hid the story in my room so I could re-read it whenever I wanted to. Still, one story from my mother and it was shocking to me.

Now my daughter’s got a whole book of stories from me.

Ooops, here’s another story, “Why I Want My Daughters to be Drug Addicts.”

Well, nothing I can do about it. I want to teach my kids by example. I want them to love a lot of people. I want them to live a gentle life and I never want them to worry and be scared as much as I have.

All volatility in life causes a story. Just like the big bang that created our universe created a trillion stories. A story is a solar flare from the brain.

THIRD RULE OF INSANITY: not accepting both the good and the bad in life with the same level of calmness.

What goes on in her little brain when she reads these things? What is she wondering about me? About herself? Does she get scared? I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.

What does she think when she wakes at three in the morning and watches the ceiling fan flicker the light of the moon across her ceiling?

One day she’ll grow up and remember every word, just like I remember all the clues about adulthood my parents left on the scavenger hunt of childhood for me.

And I hope when she does, she’ll realize that every single thing I wrote in this book is a love letter for her. TC mark

Thought Catalog

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image - Flickr / Kevin Dooley
image – Flickr / Kevin Dooley

I had this daydream the other day. It was about a guy that goes into a medical facility in the future because his liver or his heart is failing. It’s the future, and so the treatment is actually pretty simple. They’re going to clone him, and then take out the clone’s organ and do a transplant. So the guy walks in, they do they procedure, and as he gets up to, he finds that he’s restrained, strapped down to the operating table, and all of the doctors are like, “Sorry clone, you’re not going anywhere.”

Because the clone has all of the guy’s memories up until the point of cloning, so that’s what it feels like. Right? I don’t know. I’m actually pro-cloning. I would clone myself in a second. Because it wouldn’t be exploitative. I’d be more than willing to share half of my life with a clone. The immediate upside is that I’d only have to work half as many hours. We could just take turns. So that would be great.

But the obvious downside is that we’d be spending double the money on food and drink. Clothes wouldn’t be a problem, because I have more than one pair of clothing. But laundry detergent use would definitely double. Still, I think it would be worth it, absolutely, to be able to go to work half the time. There are so many ways to split it up. It’s like, maybe I would only have to work two days a week. Or, I could work a full week and then have a full week’s vacation, and we could alternate.

Most clone story problems happen because a guy makes a clone of himself and then realizes once the clone exists that there is just too much stuff that he’s not willing to compromise with himself. Like the organ donor story that I started out with. If you want to get cloned, you have to go into it assuming that you’re going to be the clone, because maybe you will be. Because who really knows whose memories are going to belong to which one? And what if the cloning company is run by a bunch of incompetents, always mixing up who is the clone and who is the original?

I’m just saying, if you want to do cloning the right way, you have to plan it out in advance so that if you were to wake up tomorrow as a clone, you’d be happy with all of the decisions the original made in advance. Equal power sharing. Equal work time. And yeah, an extra kidney if something goes wrong. Livers would be problematic still, and I guess the same with hearts. But kidneys, eyes, hands, anything that there are two of, you’d be fine.

Unfortunately it’s never going to be that easy. The first people to get their hands on cloning technology will definitely be the ultra-rich, the type that never want to compromise on or share anything. Because they earned it, the money to fund the futuristic cloning technology, the right to own everything. They’ll take the above scenario, the organ harvesting I’m-not-the-clone-you’re-the-clone story and they’d think about it, they’d maybe acknowledge what would have to be a pretty unpleasant scenario for the clone, and they’d just say, well screw that guy, screw that clone, screw myself. I need an extra heart and I don’t care if I have to bring into existence an identical version of myself to do it.

I would love to clone myself and then challenge the clone to a race, or a game of basketball, or rocks-paper-scissors. I’ve never lost rocks-paper-scissors. Not even once. Maybe we’d walk up to each other, eye-to-eye, we’d both go “rocks-paper-scissors says shoot.” And we’d both draw rock. That’s always my first move. And then I always go scissor. And then scissor. It goes rock, scissor, scissor, rock, scissor, paper, paper, paper, paper, paper, paper, rock, paper, paper, rock, paper, scissor. I always do that combo because it’s unbeatable. But that’s as far as I’ve ever gone. What would it be like against myself? Would it just be an eternal tie? We’d be standing there, for days, rocks-paper-scissors shoot: paper, tie. Rocks-paper-scissors shoot: paper: tie.

And the days would go by and people would come up to us and go, “Robs, you really need to take a break, stop for even just a second, go to the bathroom, take a drink of water.” But neither of us would quit. You know why? Because I would never quit. So therefore the two of us would never quit. But eventually the physical demands of everything that people had been warning us about, food, water, bathroom breaks, they’ll all have taken their toll, and we’ll both pass out at the exact same second.

And we’ll both wake up in the hospital, and the doctors will be saying, “Sorry Robs, but you didn’t go to the bathroom and didn’t drink any water to the point where all four of your kidneys failed at the same time.” And we’d be shocked, but the doctor would tell us not to worry, he’d say, “Don’t worry boys, your insurance covered some pretty fancy procedures, and we were able to clone the two of you. So as soon as your clones are all ready, we’ll just harvest their organs and give them to you.” And I’ll open my mouth to say, “I don’t know how I feel about that doc,” but I wouldn’t be able to actually say it out loud, because my mouth is taped shut, and my arms and legs are strapped to the hospital gurney. And I’ll break into a cold sweat as I realize that I’m the clone here, and they’re going to harvest my kidneys. And my head is strapped down also, but I move my eyes as far as I can to the side and I can see another me, also strapped in, and two more of me to his side, laying down on the operating table as the doctors tell them not to worry, that the procedure will be over and done with in no time, that there’s nothing to worry about, that this is a very common operation. TC mark

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