rules schmules.

Is it just me or are there rules for everything? And are they or aren’t they written down, list format, in every magazine you pick up?

Oh, they are. Good, that’s what I thought.

If you ever want to know the five simple rules to being a modern woman, the twenty things you should know before you go swimming in the lake, the seventy-two reasons having high standards is good for you, the seventy-three reasons you need to lower your standards, the ten easy steps towards ordering a shirley temple as an adult, or the standard guide to wearing socks explained not only in list format but also in venn diagrams, open your nearest women’s magazine.

Excuse me, but where is the list of rules, steps, and standards explaining to me why the hell I need your rules, steps, and standards to run my life properly?

I want to be an adult. In years I suppose I am but at times my insides are at the equivalent maturity period of a second trimester fetus. Once in awhile I up the ante by reading something quite adult (and no, not erotica, have you even picked one of those books up and tried to read it? It’s terrifying. Seriously.) or having intelligent conversation with a fellow human being or making proper food. During those times I feel quite grown up and as if the world is mine to conquer. But then I get all cocky and feel like I can ride that high for awhile and start saying things like, “What’s wrong with that guy’s face?” Apparently that’s not what adults do – adults are polite. They also don’t approach adulthood like a sprint – something to be taken on for nine seconds then rest after for much longer.

So yeah, maybe sometimes I need help. My boyfriend just schooled me on why paper towels are, in fact, necessary to have in your apartment at all times and not just when you feel like picking them up (never). I often hear my best friend say, “Caitlin…” in that tone that is at one amused, concerned, and as if she still needs to teach me everything (why stop now?). My parents have given up. Okay, not really, but they did last twenty-four years of raising me and I really am cooked when it comes to the parenthood oven – not much else they can do now.

I’m aware of my shortcomings. I’m aware of my triumphs like making sure my sheets and towels are clean and never letting dishes sit for too long. I also shower daily. So why do I need your list telling me how to improve myself even more? And what the hell is a modern woman other than a human with a vagina who exists in the modern world? Are there actually more steps to being one?

I like lists. Without lists I would never pick up paper towel. I like it when people do cute little lists like, “The Forty Reasons You Still Miss Friends” because I identify with them. Please stop listing all of these things that I need to do to be what you think I need to be.

And stop making lists of what I need to say, do, or buy to be the perfect young professional. You can write all the lists in the world and I’ll still spill coffee down my shirt one day and say “fuck” in front of the wrong person. If there is anything I have learned as I venture into adulthood it’s that there is no point in trying to fix what’s set in stone. I am comfortable with who I am, even the stupidest parts, and I recognize that it is in my best interest to use those things to my advantage rather than try to hide them.

I don’t want your lists. I don’t want your guidelines. I don’t want to know what handbag I need to snag the guy.

And you shouldn’t want to write them. The only list we should need is the one that has a singular rule: Be yourself.

After that it’s all just a bunch of bullshit, isn’t it?


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