Bare Necessities

I’ve lived a pretty typical middle-class young adult life. I graduated high school, went to college, and now I have a job and am contributing (?) to society. However, because I went to a university across the country, studied abroad on the other side of the world, and now live completely on my own, I’ve realized that there are a few skills that I learned along the way that everyone should really know by the time they reach my age.

And obviously, as a plucky 22-year-old, I have TONS of wisdom to offer, and everything I say should be taken completely seriously. SO, with THAT said, the list below encompasses things you should’ve been figuring out how to do before you could even drink in this god-forsaken country.

  1. Cooking: I don’t care if it’s pasta, steak, or the meanest grilled cheese ever, you should know how to make yourself a quality hot meal. Extra credit: You can make more than one, and have a few go-to dishes for yourself and when you’re trying to impress! Look at you, you overachiever you.
  2. Skincare: Once again, this doesn’t have to be fancy, but so help me, if you’re not moisturizing your face and body then you are just asking for flaky lizard skin, not to mention, PREMATURE AGING (it’s ok to start screaming, I know it’s terrifying).
  3. Haircare: Get a hair cut regularly. Just DO it. You know it’s the right thing to do, and your hair feels so much better afterward. Also, don’t forget to shampoo AND condition.
  4. Shop for Underwear: You’re not a kid anymore and isn’t it just embarrassing to have your mom do this? You should know by now which kinds you like and what brands to invest in. People with boobs: if you so choose to wear bras, get fitted by an expert, it helps.
  5. Favorite Books: I know reading books for school sucks, but reading is good for you. KNOWLEDGE IS POWER. You should explore some genres and find a few books that blow your mind, the kind you’d recommend to others. A couple of mine: Ender’s Game, Perfume, and Never Eat Alone.
  6. Know how to change a tire: I actually fail on this account, but I know it is something I should learn. You never know when you’ll be in a tight spot with no cell service so your parents can talk you through it.
  7. Set a Schedule: I know this is EXTRA boring (unless you’re a planning fanatic like me) and I know you can set whatever hours you want since you’re an adult, but all that extra freedom is precisely why you need to learn to set your own schedule so you don’t turn into an ambitionless lump that has to peel themselves off their couch every Monday.
  8. Fitness: You knew this was coming didn’t you? I don’t care whether you walk, swim, yoga, or whatever. But pick something, and do it regularly.
  9. Traveling: Traveling alone can be stressful, you should know how to navigate airports, baggage issues, and how to get around in new places without your phone. Traveling is an unparalleled learning experience, and remember what I said earlier about knowledge and power? Yeah, exactly.
  10. Cleaning: Chances are, you have your own space by now, whether it’s a dorm room or an apartment. Being a slob is just unacceptable. Learn to pick up after yourself and how to clean different surfaces properly. There is no excuse for this. Don’t be nasty. Extra Credit: Doing your laundry without shrinking or ruining anything.

And there you have it, in my obviously learned opinion, these are the top ten things you should have figured out by the time you are a budding adult…there is literally no good way to classify this period of our lives is there? Young adult? Young person? Millenial? Comment the best way to classify those in their late teens/extremely early twenties because I have no good ideas for this…

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PC: the AMAZING Clara Yu

 

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Be Naked

We are born naked. That moment lasts a second before our tiny bodies are swaddled in blankets. As we age, we start dressing to flatter our bodies. You’re on the shorter side? Wear shorts and skirts that cut above the knee to elongate your body. You have a bit of a tummy? Wear floaty fabrics that don’t draw attention to it. We are all about covering and reshaping. But what if I challenged you to stand in front of your mirror naked? Just stand there and look. No floaty fabrics, cling in the right places, or spandex. Just you and your skin.

For a lot of people, this would make them uncomfortable. For whatever reason, their naked body makes them blush. This is a concept I never understood. I have never been able to fathom why their own nudity makes some people so uncomfortable. I must assume it is from familial or cultural traditions that I was not privy to.

Maybe my experience with nudity has been a bit different. Ever since I was little, nudity was never a big deal. I’m from one of those families that doesn’t close the door when we shower. When we were on vacation, my mom would make my sister and I strip down so she could spray every inch of us with sunscreen before we put on our swimsuits for the beach. That was just normal. I quickly realized when I would go to my friend’s houses that this behavior was not typical. My friends were horrified at the idea of seeing their family members naked or anyone seeing them naked. They made sure to close the door to the bathroom and it was completely unacceptable to walk in on anyone, for any reason (Luckily, I was an observant child and never made that mistake). But at my house, my sister and I would honestly have full on conversations while one of us was peeing. And if my mom was in the shower, I would be in the bathroom doing my makeup. My parents never made it a big deal and consequently, I never treated the naked body as anything out of the ordinary.

Then, when I joined swimming, nudity and exposure just became even more commonplace. Locker rooms twice a day, swim meets on weekends – eventually, you just lose any sense of modesty purely because it’s inconvenient. Furthermore, speedos and competition suits don’t really leave much to the imagination. I’ve been around nearly naked guys and girls since I was nine and even though we all obviously hit puberty, the nudity was already part of our lives. Swimming is just an exposed sport, and it was never a big deal.

I guess I can understand why people would be uncomfortable being naked in front of others. It’s an extremely vulnerable position to put yourself in. But sometimes nudity makes sense. We all have to change clothes, we all shower, and for the most part, we all have sex – all of which are activities that are made much easier by being nude. Yet some people will still painstakingly hide their bodies. They will only change in bathroom stalls, they will have sex under the sheets with the lights off, etc. But why are they afraid of their own bodies?

If you’re one of these people, I challenge you to stand in front of your mirror for a full minute, naked. Do it when no one is home. Lock yourself in your bathroom. I don’t care what you have to do to feel safe, but try it. Don’t focus on flaws or attributes, just take stock of what’s there and how everything fits together. I promise you don’t have anything that no one else has. This isn’t about body confidence or that whole positivity movement. This is about being aware of what your body truly looks like, and accepting that.

I’m grateful for the way I was raised and for swimming because they made me comfortable in my own naked skin. I was never made to feel that being exposed was bad, or that my nakedness was offensive. It was just there. I know from personal experience, the more comfortable you feel being naked alone, the less scary it is in front of others, and one day it might not even be a big deal to you at all.

WARNING: this confidence will throw some people off. My boyfriend is consistently afraid for my modesty when I strut around my own apartment nude. I assure him I don’t care who sees me naked. Surprisingly, that doesn’t calm him down 😉

 

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Photo Cred: Kiki Moussetis

 

 

Fight it Out

I argue with my boyfriend. I argue with him A LOT. And he argues back…and it’s AMAZING.

Obviously, fighting, crying, shouting, and generally being frustrated with your significant other is never a fun experience, but a relationship without those conflicts is even worse.

Conflict is necessary in a romantic relationship. There will be tons of things you disagree on or dislike throughout your interactions and the worst thing you can do is sit on them and pretend they don’t exist. And while every disagreement should not turn into a knock-down drag-out MMA fight, sometimes it’s healthy to lose your temper a bit.

Personally, I consider myself lucky. My boyfriend has the patience of a middle school teacher who runs an orphanage on the weekends, whereas I have the short-temper of  Yosemite Sam. Most of our disagreements are solved pretty rationally and quickly, but every so often we work ourselves up into a shouting match. These don’t happen too frequently but they do almost always result in extreme frustration for him and tears for me. However, we are never able to go to sleep unless some kind of understanding is found so there is a lot of talking, explaining, and listening, and ultimately we end up feeling even better about our relationship.

First off, as I’ve alluded to above, working through conflict can help you grow closer and can strengthen communication. Honestly, most conflicts probably stem from a miscommunication in the first place and figuring out where you guys misunderstood each other and working to better comprehend each other’s intentions can actually improve your communication skills and in turn, can improve your relationship. Every time you are able to work through one of these conflicts, you will be able to uncover another element of the other person and grow even closer.

Secondly, sometimes it’s one of the ways you can tell that you both care about each other. Nobody gets angry over things that don’t matter to them, but if you get frustrated or angry with each other you know that whatever the issue is, it means a lot to the other person, and it means a lot that you understand them and why they are getting worked up. Now, I don’t mean to say you should use fighting to show you care, but fighting is a by-product of caring a lot. It is also a by-product of feeling comfortable enough in the relationship to argue without fearing a breakup or something equally dramatic.

And sometimes, it is just plain cathartic. Maybe your partner has been leaving their clothes on the floor for the past couple days and you decided to give them the benefit of the doubt and ignore it but finally, you snap and say something snarky and pick a fight. Maybe both of you have had a rough week and it just feels plain good to shout at each other for a little while and then have great makeup sex. Sometimes, that is just what you needed.

However, even though I believe conflict is important in a relationship, I do believe there should be some ground rules

1.) No hitting. This should go without saying, but violence is never the answer and physical abuse is not something to be taken lightly. At no point in any conflict should anyone resort to violence to make a point or to get the other to give in. This is just plain unacceptable.

2.) No name calling. It’s like your playground days again, isn’t it? Once again, this does way more harm that it’s worth in a fight. Never call names or call out personal characteristics because they will probably only hurt or anger the other person more, making the fight harder to resolve. Calling out hurtful past experiences, or using intimate information against the person is also a huge foul.

3.) No dismissals. I admit, sometimes this one is hard for me as I have a mean sarcastic streak, but you cannot, I repeat, CANNOT dismiss your partner’s feelings. Don’t roll your eyes, or patronize them, accuse them of “just being so defensive,” or tell them they are being dramatic. Any of those actions show contempt and show that you aren’t taking your partner’s feelings and statements seriously. This type of feeling is relationship SUICIDE. Your partner is feeling a certain way for a REASON, just as you feel certain ways for your own reasons, and it is not your place to tell them that their feelings are invalid just because you don’t understand them right away. This is a relationship and it is your responsibility to listen to your partner and sympathize with how they are feeling. If you dismiss your partner’s feelings or allow your own feelings to be dismissed, the issue at the root of the argument will never be resolved and will only taint your relationship moving forward.

Fights can be tough, and arguments are not fun to start or to be a part of, but they are inevitable in relationships. However, if you both make an effort to avoid being actively mean to each other, then most of these fights can actually result in improved understanding, and who doesn’t want a wholesome, healthy relationship with mutual respect and love? NO ONE, we all want it, so fight and make up and love each other.

 

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He smiles to hide how frustrated he gets when I lose my temper at the drop of a hat…