Nine ways to win at life

Advice. We all seek it until we don’t want it (which is when we actually need it). Its always changing too, both our needs of the advice and the actual advice. As we grow, or refuse to grow, the advice pool is always there. Here are some pieces of advice, that will help you win at life.

  • Worry. This is a must. Do it daily, because when you don’t worry, things don’t get done, or people get hurt, or life changing or threatening things happen. Worry fixes everything, and takes up very minimal brainwaves. So please, make sure to worry every day. Constantly, if possible.
  • Be Impatient. There is nothing that makes other people more happy to help you as when you are completely irrational and impatient—they know you have a schedule, and they know that you are the most important person/thing/happening in their life, so if you keep reminding them with your impatience, this will help you get what you need done.
  • Do everything at once. People who can’t do, multitask. If you try to do everything at once, you have the perfect excuse when you can’t finish anything. And if you get everything done while trying to do it at once, well, that is just a double win, now isn’t it?
  • Perfect perfection. Always focus on being the absolute best. Never settle for anything less. Ever. Never forgive yourself or others if perfection isn’t achieved daily.
  • Rudeness rules. Everyone else is so much less important than you are, and they just don’t understand your life, your needs or your time limits. So why not use rudeness, and pepper it with a LOT of sarcasm, so they understand who you are and will get out of your way so you can be that amazing person, and live your amazing life.
  • Focus on yourself. When you focus just on you, you understand yourself. You will always have to live with yourself, unlike everyone else. No one else has to live with you every day, so you’re the only one who knows what you need and when. Even if you don’t know. You can just sit there and focus on it and commiserate with yourself. Eventually everyone will realize that this is the best way to make yourself the best.
  • Throw everyone under the bus. Remember to get to number one, you have to get there first. If that means you have to pave the way with bodies, do it.
  • Know you’re perfect. Never try to learn anything new, make yourself better, understand others, grow, change, or delineate from your original self or plan. It only leads to destruction.
  • Never, ever, ever stop to breathe or take a moment. Woo-woo people who light candles and believe in things bigger than themselves take time to stop and breathe. You are on your way to winning at life, and your body does those things naturally, so why stop and take the time to do them?

If you’ve read this far, and stayed with me the entire way, I hope you are laughing. This was all sarcasm… To live a great life, do the OPPOSITE of all of these things. There is NO winning life. There is just LIVING life. Mistakes happen. We all get broken and bruised—but you just have to keep getting back up and trying again. Breathe. Be kind. Do the best you can. No one is perfect and we should STOP SEEKING perfection–it doesn’t exist.  Live your life for YOU, but don’t knock everyone down on your way. You’ll be much happier.

Xoxo–Clare

Am I An “Amy”?

I’m reading Gone Girl, and I’m almost done—don’t worry for those of you who are reading it or have plans to see the movie, I’ll talk about the book some, but nothing that gives away any spoilers. I have to admit the book was really difficult for me to read for the first section. I grew up in a small town in Kansas, and I know where North Carthage is. I have been to North Carthage. My Midwestern town seems grossly similar. I also now live in New York—and although I’m not the heiress and namesake of a popular book series (yet), I was feeling a lot of parallels in my own life. Which I’m sure is a point Gillian Flynn is trying to make—are you like Amy?

This fact is almost as terrifying as some of the twists in the novel. Amy talks about being a “Cool Girl” and makes herself a blend of what men think they want—the thin girl who isn’t afraid to eat, likes to be adventurous, and isn’t upset if a guy goes off and does his own thing instead of premade plans with her. There are a few articles out on the subject like this one, that state their viewpoints on “Cool Girl” status.

In the shower, I was thinking of this—I seem to do a lot of deep thinking in the shower, which is a pain in the ass because by the time I get out, I forget the amazing topics I had just brainstormed.  In the shower I wondered if I should shave my legs, but shrugged it off thinking: I’m not sleeping with anyone at the moment, so…why? After the shower, I was thinking about my last few weeks…I’ve been occupied by a relationship of sorts with a man and it wasn’t as engaging as I would have liked it to have been, so I’m moving on. But before it turned the corner, I was out shopping and planning. I bought new razors, thigh highs, and the pretty kind of panties—the ones that after you wear a couple of times just get all frizzy, so you save them in the back of your drawer for “special occasions” and then in a few years clean out said drawer, and end up throwing them away because they’ve somehow ratted up in the back of the drawer, even though they were never worn—yeah that kind. I have all of these things, and am ready “just in case.” Lesley and I had a conversation about this blog, and she brought up that a common complaint people have when dating is that the other person changes after three months of dating, and it isn’t true. People don’t change, they just relax back into who they really are.

I’m a comfort woman, not that I am lazy, but there are things that I don’t care to do, unless its for show. That being said, there are several things I do for myself regularly like wearing pretty smelling lotion, daily mascara, and blowing out my hair. But the myriad of things that I list to do when I think I’m about to hop into a relationship is a bit mind blowing for me. Partially because the list is seemingly long, but partially because I’m so easily willing to slip into a vaguely different version of myself, a better groomed, slightly more sexy, taller (the heels come out) version of myself. Because, in a way, this is what I think I need to be in order to start a relationship. Again, not major changes, but I don’t show up to a first date like I do to daily things.

I’m not just a heightened version of myself only when dating. We all go into different situations where we are a shinier, better, improved version of ourselves. There is a different me at work, there is a different me with certain friends, there is a different me at a networking party. It just happens. It’s when we play into this persona and create even more heightened versions of ourselves that it becomes an issue.

In Gone Girl, Amy confesses that she hates this person who she has made herself out to be, this perfect version of a wife for Nick. The perfect version of a daughter for her parents who are in a cookie cutter relationship. She hates it so much that she doesn’t know who she is. She doesn’t even know what it is that she likes. Because she has created this character, partially out of fun and partially as an experiment, Amy makes herself out to be likeable (to which at one point she asks the reader if “likeable is a compliment”) and therefore makes fake relationships with people by being an amalgam of the things she thinks people want to see.

One of my favorite quotes is: “To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best day and night to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight and never stop fighting.” ee Cummings nails humanity on the head with that thought. What is the better choice: to be yourself, or to take on who you think people want to you be? Amy says it’s a game for herself to step into these people, these different stereotypes to be more likeable. Feminism says you should stand up and be different than the stereotypical woman. I say: I like fancy undies and heels when I’m out on a first date—heels for the first impression and to give a glimpse at how intimidating I actually am, and fancy undies so if my first impression of you is a good one, I can know that I have a secret I’d like to share—maybe not tonight… but sometime.


I’m not a feminist. I’m an equalist. I think that if you want to let your freak flag fly, then do. If you don’t, well… don’t. Your choice, just don’t hurt anyone intentionally. I think that its fine to be who you want one moment and try on someone else’s skin the next—just don’t get so deep in a lie  that you hurt someone, or worse hurt or confine yourself. If you want to buy fancy undies, or fancy wine, or have a fancy shave, do.

Plans to see the movie tomorrow with my book club, are urging me to finish reading Gone Girl even though my inner voice keeps comparing me to Amy. I think, even though the comparisons terrify me, I know that I’m not like her. Yes, I do try on different versions of myself, but all of them are rooted somewhere in me—I would wear the fancy undies and heels more often if they were more comfortable. But ultimately its not the true me. And when I do put on these personas it is for me—possibly driven by others—but in the end, for me. I’m going to go finish the book now… maybe you should go check on yourself and see how much of your outward self is for you, and how much is for the world… We’d love to hear your thoughts below! (Oh, and I JUST finished the book… I’m NOT an Amy.  Not even close.)

Clare

Lying–Is It Really Worth It?

Last week I did something I wasn’t proud of. And even worse, I was called out on it. I lied. It was a small lie, one that really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things… I gave a friend some sunglasses that were given to me, told her not to say where she had gotten them, and lied to get another pair. I did it because I knew I could. Instead of just asking for another pair of sunglasses, I lied saying that mine broke. The friend I gave my other pair to was seen wearing the sunglasses the day after. When asked where she got them, she said I gave them to her.

I’m not of the belief that “no good deed goes unpunished,” however it sometimes reigns true. This article isn’t about being punished for trying to do good. It’s about lying. I hate that I got caught trying to do something nice. It is worse that I thought I needed to lie to get what I wanted.

Sure you’re probably saying, “It was only a little white lie,” or “It was a lie to help someone else,” or “really, it wasn’t that big of a deal.” You’re right, on some levels. Ultimately, no one died, no one was bleeding… so it should be ok. It was only a pair of sunglasses, it helped someone else out, and no one was really hurt. Or were they?  Two friendships were harmed. The person who gave me the sunglasses now has the need to question when I ask for things, he generally trusts me, but that trust was broken down until further notice. He has every right to feel mistrust towards me. The friendship between the new owner of the sunglasses and me is also harmed. I held her in confidence, I trusted her, and now that trust is broken. So, with one tiny little lie that didn’t really hurt anyone, I created questionable relationships.

The major point I want to make is: lying just isn’t worth it. A few years ago, I made a huge effort and stopped lying. I was inspired to do this by my roommate Melisa, who posed the question to me: why do you lie when it doesn’t really benefit anyone? My eyes were opened in that moment. It wasn’t easy always telling the truth. Especially, in those moments where a lie would make someone feel better. It is so much easier just to tell a lie sometimes. But in the long run, lies hurt. Sometimes it’s not a detrimental, life ending, tragic outcome. Sometimes it’s just a friendship level readjustment (if it’s a big change you might want to read Growing Out Of Friends). However, no matter how high the stakes, why do it? Why not make honesty and truth your go-to? I don’t know why I didn’t just tell the truth in the first place. More people got hurt because I told the lie, than if I had just been honest.

Honesty is the best policy. Benjamin Franklin didn’t just say it to sound smart, and add to the thousands of things he is known for. He said it because it’s true. It takes time to be able to be honest. Why is that? It is hard to be honest. Not only to dis-ingrain lying from your natural instincts, but also to be able to hear the feedback to your honesty. I didn’t want to hear “no, you can’t have a second pair of sunglasses because you gave away your first pair and that was your choice.” So, I made the choice to manipulate the situation, and lie, so my chances of hearing “yes” were higher. Re-read that last sentence. If the word manipulate didn’t jump out at you either time, I want to make it clear that every time you lie, you are manipulating a situation. A lie might not be a big deal, but a manipulation should be. No one really likes to be lied to, but most people hate to be manipulated. A lie is a manipulation. When you lie, yes even to tell someone they don’t look fat in that dress, you’re manipulating the situation to make yourself more comfortable. Yup. Think about it. The last few times you’ve lied: maybe you’ve only told a friend who asked you to hang out that you’re doing laundry, when you’re actually hanging out with another friend. (Why not just say you have other plans? If pressed for more info, just say you’re doing something with a friend or you’re helping out a friend. If you say who it is, and the other person is judgy about it—tell them that is why you weren’t as revealing at the beginning, and its none of their business who you are hanging out with.)

If you’ve told your mother/father/significant other that you can’t do something, why not just tell them that you don’t want to do it? These are people you’re supposed to be intimate with, why not just tell them your preference? Yes, there are sacrifices that should be made in close relationships, but if you’re really against something, tell them. I know you don’t want to create fights that aren’t necessary, and maybe to start out, lie now and tell them later, “you know, I actually lied to you before, I really am not into that Indian restaurant/knitting club/model trains/baking cupcakes these days. I want to spend time with you, but can we do something else instead?”

If you are asked the dreaded “how do I look in this?” Don’t lie and tell the person they look great. Instead think of something else to compliment, or if you think the person can take it, say that it isn’t the best choice of outfit, or that they might want to try another look—especially if you’re in the store—don’t approve a horrid outfit!!

In all lying, you need to observe the reason why you’re lying—is it to protect the other person, or is it self-preservation? Why not admit you’re hanging out with the people you are—its your choice, and that is ok. Why not tell the people you love, that your interests have changed? People grow, people change. You don’t love anyone less for having changed. You just changed—go re-read Patterns Versus Change.  If its about a fashion choice, is it possibly that you want to put your fashion choices on that person, or that you, yourself have body issues? Or, is it truly because they look fat? No matter the reason, there are delicate ways to deal with all of these situations, but you have to figure out what is really happening in you.

It takes strength to show vulnerability and weakness. I’m not asking you to change overnight. I’m asking you instead to be strong. To be willing to hear “no.” To be willing to show who you really are.

Let’s start you on the Path of Truth Telling. First: start small. Start with the fibs. (But Clare, you’ve opened my eyes, and I do tell a lot of lies, and manipulate people, and I need to stop, today.) Well, darling hearts, most people aren’t good at quitting anything cold turkey—and even if they are, relapse rate is high. Instead, like a work out, or a new diet, or starting a new job: start small changes and know you’ll have to work at it daily to have results. Start observing when you lie, and see if you can stop yourself before you do. Instead of telling someone that they are wearing an awesome outfit when they look terrible, tell them instead that their hair looks awesome. Or instead, maybe their choice isn’t quite right for where you’re going or what you’re attending.

Second: remember brutal honesty serves brutal honesty. In other words, when you give feedback that is straight up, you might get it thrown right back at you. Find ways to tell the truth but that might not be as harsh as you initially want to respond. (Part of the reason we stray to lying is because we think it is easier to just lie. Instead of putting the work in to readjust our truth to a kinder, gentler version.) Don’t be angry with your mom for not remembering you don’t knit anymore. Instead, kindly tell her that it’s no longer exciting, and instead you’d like to see a movie/art show/ concert with her. Don’t tell your significant other that ballet sucks. Instead, say that you wanted to make him or her happy by attending those few times, but you would love it if they found another friend to go with, and rain check you for some other activity.

If you ease yourself into a life of truth telling, albeit gentle truth, you’ll find it feels better to tell the truth, and its actually harder to lie. Telling my lie about the sunglasses really wasn’t a big deal. I was approached by the giver, and we worked it out. I then approached my friend and talked to her about her side of it—even though she was the one who told the truth in all of this. The funny thing is that I felt horrible for telling a lie. In my truthful world, I was bitten in the ass by telling a lie that didn’t even benefit me. I’m glad it happened, because it inspired me to write this (even though it’s written guiltily). Truth sometimes hurts, but lies are ultimately more painful. Let’s stop lying to each other and make this a more truthful world.

Clare