If you are a human being, you probably have let another person convince you to do something that you didn’t want to do. I have let people convince me to do all kinds of shit, big and small, that I now realize I never wanted to do. Here is a listing, in no particular order of fuckery, of things I was convinced to do and now regret.
Go to college.
I didn’t want to go to college. I wanted to learn a trade and write weird emotional poetry and hang out and do silly art things. What I most wanted to be when I grew up was left alone. The pressure to go to college was intense when I was in highschool, and I’m sure it has only gotten worse for today’s high schoolers.
College is not for everyone. Adults around me were acting like if I didn’t go, I would end up dead on the street somewhere, that there was no way I could survive without a degree. I compromised by going to the most non-college like school I could find (I should do a whole post on the College of Santa Fe sometime). I got a grade for playing in the mud once; it was pretty dope. Then that school closed. I had to go to a “real” school, and it was miserable. I hated every second of it. I felt like I wasn’t learning anything that I hadn’t already learned from working in the field of my interest.
School was a huge waste of time. All I got out of it was a piece of paper that shows that I was able to write an ok paper and turn most things in on time. College ruined my mental health, limited my career possibilities, complicated my relationship with my daughter, and left me with astronomical debt. If given a chance, I would have skipped it entirely and just kept working as an organizer. I have ten years of professional experience, but I am still at a low pay grade because when I was in school, I couldn’t accept the professional advancements I was offered. I couldn’t take full-time jobs that required travel because I had to write fucking papers and listen to some frat bro try to explain why they think reverse racism is real. Nope, big let down all around.
Give my baby daddy a chance.
The minute I knew that I was pregnant, I knew I was going to be a single parent. The person who knocked me up was someone I had already decided I wasn’t interested in having anything to do with, but sometimes you drink a lot of tequila and get pregnant. When I told my friends about my pregnancy and how I was doing it alone, their first response was to say that I should try to co-parent, get child support, maybe try to get back together with the spermperson. I didn’t want to do that. This person was a violent and unstable alcoholic. I didn’t want to be sharing a kid with them.
But the pressure got to me. Everywhere you look there are messages about how a healthy home needs two parents. So I reached out to this person and was given a response that was a little to the tune of, “drop dead you slut bitch, you are such a whore, it isn’t mine, you are lying, go to hell.” So I gave up on that. Then my daughter was here, and the spermperson started feeling like a dick because, unfortunately, she kinda looks like them (thankfully she seems to be turning into an ok person, so I guess being an ass is not hereditary). Spermperson started calling and texting, and I’m up to my ass in liquid baby poop just thinking FUCK YOU SO MUCH. But my friends kept saying, maybe he can help you, you are just bitter, give him a chance, blah, blah. I just want to say now that this is gaslighting, and I will cover it in another post. So when she was a baby, I let him come over a couple of times and chill with her while I did homework (see item 1 above).
When he came around, he would text his friends, talk shit to me, make comments about how much weight I had gained, insist that he should be able to make the rules of engagement, tell me he had no money to help but then show up in a new car, refuse to tell his parents that he had a kid for fear of not getting to live with them rent free, etc. etc. Finally, I realized that my friends were clueless. This spermperson is the worst. If I don’t want them around, I don’t need them around. I had bought into some heteronormative idea about families provided by people who probably didn’t even realize they were perpetuating that garbage. Yes, it would be easier to have help, but sacrificing my mental health and self-esteem just to have some help puts me at risk of being not being stable enough to give my kid a loving and healthy home.
A healthy, happy, home doesn’t need two parents. It especially doesn’t need two parents who can’t stand each other. The spermperson will occasionally try to contact me. His attempts to come into her life are half-assed and self-serving. His presence at this point would only make her life harder and more confusing and complicated, which shows me he is still trying that selfish version of parenting. So I say no. I pay for it all myself; I don’t ask for a thing. I handle every cut, scrape, and tantrum all on my own because that is what is best for my kid right now. When she is older, she can make her decisions about seeking this person out, and I’ll tell her the whole truth always. But right now, no, I will not be convinced anymore to let people into my life who aren’t there with the intention of making it better. Bye. (Also, I’m fully aware that he and his sorry friends will read this and have lots of feelings about it and they can stand in the very long line of people who want to tell me I’m horrible and mean because I already know and I’ve stopped caring, if that isn’t obvious).
I think this has also applied to other fashion things too. I know what makes me look good and what doesn’t. I will no longer be convinced to try to wear hats because other people around me think it is a good look. They are wrong. It isn’t. I won’t.
Being embarrassed by the things I like.
I like pop music. I like going to the club. I like smashing a bunch of makeup onto my face and buying cheap ho-wear from shops in the mall. I like the mall. I like making money. I like spending money. I like Vegas. I like reality tv shows. I like pop culture. I like non-organic, gluten-full, cheese covered, deep fried food. I hang out with a bunch of great people who have convinced themselves that liking the things that are popular, or unhealthy, or not “smart” enough is bad. I used to be embarrassed by what I liked and pretended to like their weird noise art music, and wear ill-fitting thrift store clothes, and go to boring AF house parties or dive bars ironically playing post-punk, and eat nasty asshole flavored organic homegrown mush. I did those things because the people in my life had me convinced that liking the things I like made me less intelligent. They even had me convinced it made me a bad artist and a bad activist.
I love Vegas. I go any chance I get. A bunch of my friends are like, “I don’t like it, I don’t like all the capitalist shit, I don’t like partying.” Cool. It is possible to have a feminist, anti-capitalist analysis while twerking at a Marquee pool party hosted by DJ Khaled. We can do both. We don’t have to make ourselves miserable because we think it’s the “right” thing to do. If you want to sit at home and listen to Noam Chomsky lectures and eat raw kale, I’m cool with you doing that, but I’ll be fucking damned if I’m going to let you think that doing that makes you more valuable to society than me. I dare you to ask me to give you a critical analysis of any of the reality tv shows I watch; I FUCKING DARE YOU. Pop culture is just as important as any academic, boring AF shit you like to do. Even if I wasn’t looking at the things I like through a lens you approve of, you could still fight me because it doesn’t fucking matter. We live in a media-saturated culture. There are so many options to hone our interests and find spaces and things to watch or listen to that feed us. Don’t hate on someone else just because their thing is Drake and yours is some obscure band you saw play in some hippy kid’s dirty ass living room. I refuse to feel bad about the things I like, and you and your all natural cream deodorant can stay mad.
Taking/ staying in a job that made me sad.
This one is hard because sometimes we don’t have options for employment. We have to take what we can get. I got laid off from a job I loved. When I started looking for work, I had a list in my head of what I wanted from my next career move. Everyone in my life told me just to take the first job I could find because I was a single parent in school and all the things, so I did. I took a job, and within the first two weeks, I was going home during my lunch break to have panic attacks and crying in my office with the door closed. I wanted to quit, but people around me convinced me to stick with it because other job options weren’t available.
The job got better until it got terrible. In a very confusing turn of events, I ended up getting fired because I let them know that it upset me when community partners or coworkers said racist shit to me ( ….yes, I don’t get it either. still). This example is complicated because I didn’t have a safety net. I didn’t have another job to go to, and I don’t have any savings or assets. The advice others gave me was based on them not wanting to see me struggle. The opinion of others wasn’t necessarily bad advice, but it was advice I should have ignored. My mental health suffered over the almost two years of working there and damaged my relationships with friends and family.
In my heart, I think I should have quit, but in my logical mind, I knew I didn’t have a real choice. A friend recently went through this (except he willingly left a job where he got paid way more than me for the same work and then spent months looking for the “perfect” job and only applying to things he was underqualified for. #maleprivilege) and I told him to lower his expectations and take a decent job even if it wasn’t perfect. It felt like it was kinda an asshole move but also like a hard truth moment. I think what I’m getting at here is that some advice is good advice, but that doesn’t mean you should be convinced to follow the good advice to a place that feels wrong for you.
The moral of the story here is that sometimes people have good intentions but give shitty advice. Just because someone loves and cares about you doesn’t mean that they can make good decisions for you. Only you know what is right. Which is a depressing way to close out this post because I am always hoping that there is someone out there who can just make all the adult decisions for me. Sadly, that doesn’t exist. So here we are. Sorry.