At 28, I am one of the old fogies of Literally, Darling, and would like to impart to you young whippersnappers one of the most important life lessons I have learned in my geezerdom.
Have. No. Shame.
You know those grandmas you see who have their hair dyed pink, or those grandpas who have no problem telling you in detail about their inflamed bowels? That should totally be you. Here’s why:
What’s done is done: I am in no way telling you to ignore your moral compass (just say no to your friends’ SOs/exes, people). However, after a certain point, you need to just let go of shame or guilt you feel for past actions, learn from your mistakes, and move on. Do your friends still give you shit for dating someone whose name is synonymous with “yellow teeth” or do you feel uncomfortable with the length of your post-breakup slut spiral? How long are you going to let yourself feel bad about this? Just say, “We all make mistakes,” equip yourself with the tools to change (glasses, post-breakup community involvement, less judgmental friends), and let it go. You may even turn it into something great – one of the most striking essays I’ve read was about overcoming an eating disorder. You can’t change the past, and you shouldn’t have to constantly apologize like you can.
You will help your friends who are still stuck in Shameland: When you have a Problem that you are too embarrassed to tell anyone about, it just amplifies in your head until you want to ship yourself off to the nearest social leper colony. When someone else starts talking about that Problem, you feel a huge sense of relief – even if you don’t share that you also suffer from The Problem, knowing that other people do makes you feel (slightly more) normal. Wouldn’t you like to help someone else feel that way? With good friends, there should be no shame about bodily functions, crazy behaviors, or life failures – you’ll get through them together.
Shame keeps you from getting things you want: I recently went to New York and only have about 5 pictures from the trip because I didn’t want to look like a tourist. Now my Instagram account is like, totally suffering because of it. Maybe you’re in love with a trendy outfit but don’t think you can pull it off – in the immortal words of Lil Flip, “Buy it, own it, drive it, flaunt it.” It may be trite, but confidence is the best accessory – and seriously, what’s the worst that can happen? A lot of people won’t go to events by themselves because they think they’ll look like a loser. The mentality you should have is, “This event appeals to me, and therefore the other people there will have a shared interest and be my new best friends.” Traveling and doing things solo means doing the things that you want to do – it’s incredibly freeing and gives you a stronger sense of self.
You, darling, are fabulous and unique. Shame can only bring you down and hold you back. Don’t wait until you’re in your seventies to have no shame – be proud of who you are. So tell your friends about that weird thing your stomach’s been doing, write about your past, or go see that show your friends aren’t interested in – and rock the hell out of it.