My Guest Post for The Confusing Middle

I was honored when Aaron over at The Confusing Middle asked me to write a guest post for him while he’s on vacay. Here it is! (Censored, because apparently “fuck” isn’t everyone’s favorite word).

Hey, kids… I’m out of town this week. Finally taking that vacation I’ve been thinking about for eight years. Anyway, while I’m gone some friends have agreed to write some guest posts for my blog. Today’s post comes from Alex. I asked her the question, what is one experience that has shaped the person you […]

via Sticking to Your Convictions — The Confusing Middle

As Featured on News Cult: How to Get Over Being a People Pleaser

Even though we hate people, we still feel the need to please them. Because we are painfully self-aware, self-conscious, and apologetic, for no good reason. Except oh wait I can think of one—we live in a society that condemns assertiveness, save for self-important, over-compensational, egomaniacal men (although don’t get me wrong—P’s OS come in all genders). But just because we’re decent, humble human beings, doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice our own well-being or sense of self. I, for one, am sick of giving people preferential treatment ahead of myself, especially because most of them don’t deserve it and wouldn’t do the same for me. So if you’re with me, here’s how to get over being a people pleaser.

Nip it in the bud

The next time you find yourself about to bend over backwards for someone, just shut. it. down. I don’t care if you’re literally bending over backwards—pick that shit up—or if you’re mid-sentence: “Sure, I guess we could go to that restaurant…” Just stop talking and turn it around: “… Actually no. That place is really expensive, awful, and I’m not going there at 10 PM on a Monday because they didn’t have any other reservations. That’s three hours past my bedtime and frankly anywhere that ‘trendy’ can blow me. And the horse I rode in on.” If it helps, carry around a spray bottle and spritz yourself in the face every time you start pleasing people (that sounds uncomfortably sexual but you know what I mean)—use pepper spray if you have to. Breaking yourself of this habit is going to take discipline, and if that means severe measures, so be it.

Use rage as your fuel

What I find particularly backwards is that, often, the people we feel the need to placate or appease the most are the people least deserving. For example, when someone is blowing their secondhand smoke in our face, we feel like we would be rude to ask them to stop, so we just breathe it in, even though they’re the rude ones for spreading their fumes. Or when someone is tailing us in traffic, we feel pressure to speed up and accommodate them, even though they can kiss our bumpers. So just let the rage that the intimidating person incites in you fuel your refusal to bow down, and, further, your insistence on standing up to them, telling them what’s what, and pulling the cigarette straight outta their ugly fucking mouth and sticking it right into their big fucking forehead. #WE’RENOTREADYTOMAKENICE #WE’RENOTREADYTOBACKDOWN #NEITHERARETHEDIXIECHICKS

Remember most people aren’t as accommodating

While you’re out there busting your ass to make everyone happy, they’re just looking out for #1. I mean really, how many people go out of their way to make sure all of your needs are met on a regular basis? What’s that, your loving boyfriend/girlfriend/life partner/mom does? Well how nice for you. But the rest of us are faced with constant disappointment in others on an unrelenting basis. So why bother? Quid pro quo, bro.

Know that people aren’t paying attention

As much as you think. You’re worried they’re as wrapped up in what’s going on as you, and that they’ll notice if you don’t go above and beyond to make their every wish come true, when, really, they’re thinking about how fat they do or do not (but do) look in that skirt. They probably wouldn’t even think twice if you didn’t add in that extra exclamation point at the end of your text message, or only had 3 instead of 4 gluten-free snack options for movie night, or decided to sit out clubbing because your pajamas sound more appealing. Trust that people are much more narcissistic than you give them credit for.

Know your worth

You are worthy, and are not obligated to chip away at yourself in order to make others happy or satisfied. You deserve your own attention, too. Now don’t go crazy, here—I’m not saying you should take care of your health by going to the gym or eating vegetables or anything ridiculous like that. I’m just saying that you shouldn’t put others before yourself. Unless they’re like your kid or something, in which case, it’s your fault they exist so don’t be an asshole.

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As Featured on News Cult: How to Deal with Internet Trolls

Internet trolls: people who have nothing better to do than make demeaning/stupid/rude comments online directed at you. They’re their own breed, whose life blood is the immediacy and anonymity of the Internet. These guys go deep into comment threads—apparently none of them have jobs, or life purposes. And, as with all hostile predators, they require special handling. So here’s how you deal with them.

Don’t spend much time on them

Decide whether you want to call them out or not, but do so quickly. They are not worth your time or energy, so don’t waste it on them. And even if you do decide to call them out, put a limit on how long you’re going to spend doing so. Because, remember, they are immune to reason—so even if you respond to them with the most bulletproof statement, they’ll keep spouting their nonsense, because they’re crazy. That said, if you do decide to engage with them…

Shut. them. down.

Pick apart their attack piece by piece, providing evidence that backs up every bit of your statement. Cite sources, diagram your argument, include footnotes and definitions (people love when you quote the dictionary at them)—make one sweeping retort, and let that be it. Even though they’ll keep spinning their wheels, one solid response is usually enough to make clear your position and that they are a steaming sack of shit. Then, walk away and watch the feathers fly…

Block them

Sometimes, they just need to be shut the fuck out. So if you’re dealing with a particularly pesky/psychotic troll, take away their agency. Block them on social media and disable or delete their comments. The benefit will be twofold: they can’t bother you, and they will implode because there’s nothing they hate more than having their platform pulled out from under them. #byeeeeeeeeee

Report them

If it gets real bad, like they’re threatening or stalking you, report them to the powers that be—the social media authorities, the police, FBI, CIA, DHS, ICE, Dateline NBC, Ryan’s Roses.. #it’salothardertotrollfromprison,bitch

Troll them back

If they can dish it, they better be ready to take it. Troll them hard—spam the heck outta them, correct their grammar, accuse them of being a slavery-denier, insult their mom, show up at their doorstep with an actual steaming sack of shit… The possibilities are endless. #theGoldenRule,motherfuckers #it’satrolleattrollworld

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As Featured on News Cult: How to Deal with Rejection

Rejection is one of the many sad facts of life. Whether it’s from a job, a school, a love interest, a credit card application, an unreturned text message to your mother, or the doorman at a club who won’t let you in because you’re wearing flip flops, despite your 30-min long diatribe on the oppressiveness of gendered dress codes, it hurts just the same. But luckily, I am an expert in being rejected, so allow me to give you some tips on how to deal with it.

Stop drop and roll

… it off your shoulders. Take a minute to be disappointed, shocked, and paralyzed, and then move on with your life. You have a lot more being rejected succeeding to do. 


Into the phone of the person who rejected you, mix up the names and numbers of their contacts, and let the uncomfortable text messages begin…. I.e. swap the labels for:

-Their mom’s # and their boyfriend’s (“Jason, don’t panic, but I think I’m pregnant.” ….. “What?? Does Jason know? Is it his? I never liked him! When I met him at Christmas I got a really bad vibe. I wasn’t going to say anything but clearly this relationship has gone too far. You obviously can’t keep it. That boy couldn’t father a goldfish.”)

-Their boss’s # and their BFF’s (“OMG I AM GOING TO KILL MY BOSS HE’S BEING SUCH A PRICK TODAY.” ….. “You’re fired.”)

-Their doctor’s # and their ex-boyfriend’s (“So just to clarify, my HPV test is positive but it’s for the cancer kind, not the wart kind?” ….. “HELLO.. What?? Did you give me HPV? Do I have to tell my slimmer, sexier, dumber new girlfriend that I might have given her HPV?”) [This is assuming anyone is fortunate enough to be able to text their doctor—a privilege for which I would happily give all of my legs and arms. #I’dbeblowin’upthatphone]


What was that? You tried to reject me? No you didn’t. I CAN’T HEAR YOU. OVER THE SOUND OF MY AWESOMENESS. WHICH MAKES ME UN-REJECTABLE.  

Know that everybody hurts

Sometimes. When you think you’ve had too much of this life to hang on, well, everybody hurts sometimes. Everybody cries. So hold on. Hold on.

Throw a tantrum

You’ve always been good at tantrums—just ask your childhood babysitter circa ages 6-8. Scream, cry, kick, scratch, until you either get your way, receive acknowledgment by the other party of their absurd wrongdoing, or the authorities drag your unyielding body off the premises. 

Walk away

Knowing that it’s their loss. If they’re going to reject you, you don’t want them anyway. It’s that simple. Because there’s no scenario in which it makes sense that someone wouldn’t want you—you’re literally perfect and fine, you’ll take your marbles elsewhere; you don’t need this kind of negativity in your life, and if they aren’t capable of recognizing your narcissism greatness, then someone equally sociopathic better will!

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As Featured on News Cult: How to Say No

I think women we can all agree that it’s hard to say no. I’m not even necessarily talking about the rape-y kinds of situations, although those certainly apply, but really just generally in life. It’s hard to say no because no generally means disappointing someone. And even if we don’t give two fucks about how someone feels, and we really don’t, we—(yes, especially women—men, come at me with your arguments here when you get barraged with requests for your number in bars by trolls ONLY, every time you go to one)—are made to feel like we have to accommodate others—their feelings, their needs, their desires. Ours come second, pleasing everyone else comes first. And frankly I’m sick of it. So I’m determined to get better at saying no—not just making excuses and tip-toeing on eggshells, but just flat out saying no.

I think the most important thing to remember is that you’re the boss.

Just like that time you were babysitting that 7-yr old and he tried to run the show and eat a ton of chocolate at bedtime and you put your foot down and were like “No bitchI’m in charge, and you don’t get to eat all of the chocolate because that’s just rude and did you even think about how I feel and how I may want some chocolate??” It’s so easy to feel like your power is taken away from you when someone is rude, intimidating, obnoxiously persistent, etc. But just remember that you control you, and you don’t have to answer to anyone else (unless you’re in prison, in which case idk).

The bitchy nurse at your doctor’s office is trying to rush you and ignoring your questions? NOPE. You’ll take your damn time and she can burn in Hell. The hairdresser is trying to force a pixie cut on you? FUCK no, we’re not trying to look like Peter Pan—life is hard enough for us, we don’t need to add in looking like an asexual leprechaun. The pushy salesman won’t let you out of his vice grip unless you buy his 24k gold face cream? What starts with “N” and ends with “O”? We don’t want your shit skincare products, and you telling us you’ll take a hit by not only giving us a discount but also giving us your personal employee discount because you “can tell we’re a good person and you want to help us” isn’t gonna change our minds—insult someone else’s skin on your own time. And btw you’re not exactly one to talk, pizza face.

Also remember that you don’t owe anyone an explanation.

Saying no only becomes easier when you yourself don’t believe you have to explain it. You’re allowed to say no and end it at that. You don’t want to share your food with someone? Sorry not sorry, maybe they should’ve ordered what you got because your taste is DANK. You don’t have to go on a whole monologue about how this is the only thing on the menu you can eat because of your allergies, plus you haven’t eaten all day and you’re positively STARVING, and on top of that, you’re just like really sick, like they may not be able to tell but you’re basically dying on the inside, so you’d hate to spread your germs. The person with the clipboard you walk by every day at lunch asks you for money and for whatever reason you’re not inclined to give him any? You don’t have to explain to him that you have already dedicated your time, efforts, and money to other (arguably more important) causes, or that you can’t afford to give him money, or that you just don’t want to—you’re within your rights to simply say no. [Except that actually you kind of do have to explain that last one because frankly if you can afford Starbucks every day you can afford to help people who are a lot worse off than you, so don’t be that asshole].

Plus, the more you explain, the weirder it gets. Like, people are ok with hearing “no” more often than you’d think—they only start to question things when you keep digging the hole deeper. If your friend invites you to that music festival and you have no interest in spending 48 sweaty hours in a mob of high idiots who can’t manage to use a porta-potty and leave it halfway decent (it’s literally your worst nightmare, you’d actually rather be boiled to death), there’s no need to tell them all of that and risk forcing the realization that they make terrible life choices. Just say, ‘no thanks!’ Or if a guy asks you out and you’re not into it? You’re not required to protect his ego by going on about how you’re just not really dating right now because you just got out of a messy relationship and you’d really like to be friends with him but are basically becoming a nun—like, trust you, no one is getting up in there, so it’s totally not about him, his personality, or his receding hairline. Just simply tell him no. If he gets to ask, you get to answer.

What’s the worst that could happen?

Someone is upset? Who cares! Upsetting people is our middle name! We’re not about to start giving a shit now. If someone is going to get butthurt because you tell them no, that sounds a lot like not your problem. And honestly, none of this will matter in 300 years anyways. Unless you say no when someone asks you to donate to their cancer research, and had you helped, they would’ve found the cure—in which case, you’re basically a mass murderer. All for a grande skinny vanilla latte.

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As Featured on News Cult: How to Deal with Getting Fired

At one point or another, you’re going to get fired. Everyone does (unless you’re balls-deep in nepotism). It’s just another shit fact of life to add to the pile. And it feels like a much bigger deal than it actually is, which is why you need some effective coping mechanisms so you can survive it. Here’s what I’ve learned about getting fired and the best way to deal with it.

Don’t take it personally

Even if it is personal. If you internalize it, you’ll shame spiral and that does no one any good. Of course, I suppose if you being fired is a result of your behavior, it could be a learning opportunity (excuse me while I choke down the vomit that the phrase “learning opportunity” induces)—but even that only goes so far before you have to move on and up. So whether or not it’s your fault, being fired is water off a duck’s back. It does not define you, it does not say some horrible truth about you, and it doesn’t have to prevent you from living your life. #rollingwiththepunchesrightthefuckoutthedoor #byeeeeee

Be cordial

While the chances are that if you’re being fired, it’s going to be a tense situation, regardless of the circumstances, try not to burn too many bridges. Whether your boss is the world’s largest prick or a nice guy who couldn’t afford to keep you on, be polite, professional, and unemotional throughout the process. If nothing else, this will up your chances of being able to get a good    reference out of them—and we’ll do anything if it benefits us, even if that means feigning politeness to someone we hope with our every waking breath gets hit by a bus, run over, and then backed over again by the bus, à la Suge Knight.

Ask for severance & a reference

If you’re not automatically offered it. The worst that can happen is they say no. Check your state labor laws to see if you’re legally entitled to severance, so that if you face resistance, you can back up your request with facts. And even if your employer isn’t bound by law to give you anything, I think it’s still worth a shot—you’ll never know until you ask. Likewise, ask if you can count on a good reference—ideally you’d get one in writing, but if nothing else, make sure you establish where you stand with your boss’ future recommendation or lack thereof so you don’t have to awkwardly reach out to them after you’ve officially cut ties (not that you can’t still reach out to them, but I find it’s easier to just get these things out of the way). And if they say they won’t give you a positive reference, at least you figured that out right out the gate so you won’t waste time relying on it and can game plan alternative references (and of course also how to ruin their life).

Make sure to document everything

Write down everything that happens and is said, and try to get everything in writing from your employer, just in case you have to file a complaint against them. If we’ve learned nothing else from Hillary Clinton, a paper trail is the best possible indictment. And also you don’t want to have to rely on your memory—it’s going to be really hard to recall exactly how many times your boss called you a “fucking cunt” if you don’t tally it as it’s happening (14).

Apply for unemployment

My understanding is that you’re eligible for unemployment if you’re fired/laid off, but not if you quit. Which is one of the perks of getting fired—we can outlast even the most untenable of employment situations if it means the difference between $0 and $500 per week. Sure, it’s never going to be as much money as you were making, but it’s something, and it will help tide you over until you find your next gig. #you’restillgonnaneedtocutbackonyourlattesthough #andyourbikiniwaxes #embracethebush

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As Featured on News Cult: How to be More Confident

We struggle with being confident—for some reason that’s beyond me, because we are perfect unicorn angels, after all. But the pressures of society and our dickwad peers get to us and are the ultimate cock block to self-esteem. So we have to make an effort to bulldoze through those hoops of confidence-smashing, soul-crushing fire and believe that we’re great and worthy and deserving of good things anyways. Here are some tips for how to do that.

Remember Kenny G

Listen, if he’s allowed to exist and not hate himself, you certainly should be, too. #whodoeshethinkheis,notevenputtingaperiodaftertheG #therulesofgrammarstillapplytoyou,bro

Accept that validation can’t come from the outside

Listen, as much as you want your hunky co-worker, or your judgmental grandmother, or your skinny blonde hairstylist to approve of you, your self-worth isn’t defined by anyone but you. So quit relying on other people to validate your existence, because, spoiler alert, you’re never going to be good enough for everyone. Not because you’re actually not good enough, but because other people have standards that have nothing to do with you and therefore that you shouldn’t be trying to meet. And just generally who the fuck cares what anyone thinks? At the end of the day, spoiler alert numero dos: you’re all you have, so the only person that has to put up with you, is you. So make that bed cozy and warm, because you’re gonna have to lay thine head down to sleep each and every night in it. And eventually die in it. #hopefullysoonerthanlater #beoreyoufreakoutandthinkI’msuicidaltakeamomenttoconsiderhowmuchofaburdenyourgrandparentsaretoeveryonearoundthem #eventhebankteller #dieyoungbeforeyoubecomeanimposition

Realize that you’re actually awesome

You may not believe it, but I, along with your parents, am here to tell you. You’re smart, you’re funny, you’re painfully human, you’re real, you’re beautiful in your own way. You’re great. Not because you meet a list of arbitrary requirements that equals “hot” as dictated by Cosmo, and not because you only ate three celery sticks today and finally fit into those jeans, and not because you got a great LSAT score or you make 6 figures—you’re great for just being you, flawed, confused, and disgusting as you are. Seriously, you’re a winner for just getting out of bed in the morning. Do you know how hard it is to get out of bed each and every morning? Harder than watching Hillary Clinton pretend she’s got the interests of the middle class at heart. You are stellar for just showing up and refusing to throw in the towel, day in and monotonous day out.

Forget looks

I think most of us base our confidence largely on our appearance. Which, when simply put, is blatantly absurd. Yet, with this image-obsessed society we live in, how could you not? Which is why you have to make an intentional effort to defy the beauty standards that are pushed on you every moment of every day. I personally like to do this by refusing to shower, shave my legs, wash my hair, put on makeup, exercise, not eat doughnuts, and other forms of conscientious objection. If you honestly believe your self-worth is bundled up in the size of your thigh gap, or lack thereof, you are in for a sad, disappointing remainder of your life. Why? Because looks fade. And change. Constantly. And trying to look like Barbie is, by definition, impossible, unrealistic and unsustainable. So chuck those expectations right out the window like you did your hopes and dreams upon graduating college and being in the real world for approximately two minutes. And if you’re hanging out with people who care mostly about looks, ditch those jokers like they’re moldy cottage cheese. Because that’s exactly what they are: toxic.

Look around

No one—I repeat, no one—is doing any better than you. They may seem like they are, or pretend like they are, but they’re just as unsure of themselves as you are. So if your lack of confidence comes from constantly comparing yourself to others, and feeling like they have more reason to be confident, cut it out. It’s easy to look at someone else and say, “gee, they really have it great.” But you don’t know what skeletons are in their closets, keeping them up at night, or what lengths they have to go to in order to maintain the appearance of having one’s shit together, or just how much they’re spending on laser hair removal. And it’s safe to say that they’ve got a lot more issues than you’re giving them credit for. So if you’re going to yearn for anything they have, let it be the ability to project confidence when there is really no underlying justification to do so. If they’re faking it til they make it and fooling you, you’re certainly capable of doing the same. All this is to say, look around and focus on everyone else’s shortcomings, misfortunes, and misery, and revel in it.

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As Featured on News Cult: A Letter to My High School Self

Because if I only knew then what I know now…

Dear High School Alex,

You really care too much. About what people think of you, school, fitting in, guys. I mean, you know none of it matters, right? You’re going to go to college, get a job and learn that life is ultimately pointless and the most you can hope for is a good relationship with a dog before you die—mainly because the dog will then be able to alert your neighbors of your death by barking incessantly because it has some bizarre intuition/after a while it will want food.

Let’s start with boys. First of all, stop trying to fit in with all the senior boys. You’re just a freshman. This is your time to try in vain to make new friends your age, and fail at different elective courses, and hate yourself even more when trying out for the soccer team. Don’t get distracted by these magical, dangerous, older boys. The only thing you’ll get from them is a sloppy drunken make out session and a huge gash on the back of your ankle from trying to climb down the unfathomably jagged concrete stairs at one of their apartments, which will be worse than any shaving cut you could ever give yourself. And that scar will never heal. So that’s some symbolic shit.

Fuck guys—don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to be colossally disappointed by them later on in life. For now, focus on getting to know yourself. But lower your expectations—you’re going to change a lot over the 4 high school years, and then even more in college, and then even more when you go adulting. So just go with the flow, man. Roll with those punches. You’re going to want to be a perfectionist, but spoiler alert: perfection is a mirage. So quit taking your homework so seriously, and feeling like you have to take ALL the AP classes, and be in ALL the honor societies and get ALL the awards—you’ll never catch up to the cloistered, pretentious, God-fearing little goody two-shoes valedictorian who you’ll get into a debate with over abortion rights and she’ll cry, not because you said anything offensive, but because she’s a pussy who can’t handle intelligent discussion over the merits of religious moral authority.

In other words: there’s always going to be someone who wins more than you, so really stop trying so hard to catch up. That doesn’t mean you aren’t good enough, it just means you get to give less fucks. Which is the end goal. On our death bed, we want to give equal to or less than 0 fucks. So you may as well start early. And this goes not just for guys, and academics, but making friends, too. There are going to be those girls who seem just so effortlessly cool, and like everyone loves them, and their friends are part of this secret club where life is just more seamless and sooo creative. But let me save you some heartache—those girls are manipulative sociopaths, and that’s how they pull everyone into their web of lies. You won’t see this going in, and before you know it, you’ll be the fly—caught, helpless, while they continue conquering their prey.

And you are NOT a fly. You are not prey, you are not a victim, and you are not as uncool and in need of validation as you think. You don’t need these capricious foes. Yeah, it may be lonely, but at least you’ll be free. Free to be yourself, free to be unapologetic, free to not be made to feel less than. The girls who seem like they have it all peak in high school (it’s really too bad that you didn’t see Mean Girls until after you graduated). And then they all become fat secretaries. You don’t want to be that. You don’t need to be that. What you need to do is work on finding your own center, and grounding yourself in that, because if you think high school is bad, just wait for the rest of your life—it’s awful (cue all the psychology students’ concern for my mental health). But it will be a lot easier to navigate if, at the end of every moment, you have a strong sense of yourself to come back to.

This is all a long way of saying whatever. Fuck everyone and everything in high school. People who like high school are not our people. They’re like people who don’t enjoy pizza and do enjoy running—we just don’t get them. High school seems so permanent, but it’s really the most fleeting thing (outside of your skinny prepubescent body and Britney Spears’ sanity). You just have to get through it, so that as you walk across the stage at graduation, you can bid everyone ADIEU and GOOD RIDDANCE with your middle finger held high.

I won’t say good luck, because I hate when people say good luck (it just makes me hope they fall down a spiral staircase), so I’ll just leave you with see you on the other side. Where, I promise, the grass really is greener (I mean, I don’t know because I never leave my bed, but I hear it’s lovely outside).

Until college,

Present Day Alex

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