I am not lost…

September 20, 2013

Critical Response: 100 Things Every 20-Something Needs to Realize

Filed under: Articles — R @ 2:32 am

I do try not to engage with trolls. My time in live-action roleplaying has taught me that it’s rarely worth the time and effort, since you’re likely to lose – and my time on the Internet hasn’t disproven that.

However, once in a while, I find something that I genuinely believe is trying to be honest…and is failing to get out from under their bridge.

I responded once to an article that talked about things that twenty-somethings needed to hear at this point in their lives, and I agreed with much of it, to an extent. This list is longer, but less in-depth, and is only a list of half-baked sentences that the author believes to be universal truths. While I’m sure that author Paul Hudson means well, his list is…well, flawed.

I agree with some points. I disagree with pieces of others. There are far too many that make me want to fly to Manhattan and shake him violently by the shoulders. A few make me want to shake him violently by other pieces of his anatomy.

But in true critical fashion, I’m going to go through the list (found here, in Hudson’s original article). If I agree entirely, I’ll skip it. Otherwise, you’ll see my response. Original list entries are in bold.

1. You need a minimum of an hour to get ready before work or class.

Small argument – do you need an hour? No. I routinely get ready for work in about 20 minutes. Would I like an hour? Absolutely. It’s semantics, yes – but this is professional. Word choice matters.

3. Shaving is more than a suggestion. That goes for men and double for women.

We’ve reached number three, and I’m already seeing red. “More than a suggestion”? I beg your pardon? I don’t believe that anyone aside from me has any say over whether or not I shave – and where I choose to do such. In the event that I obtain a significant other, can they express opinion on whether or not I shave? Absolutely. Can I comment on whether or not they shave? Yes. Is it their (or my) obligation to shave because they’ve decided that it’s not what they want? Absolutely not. I may choose to, because the having or not having of body hair isn’t something I care much about…but I’m not doing it because of some socially constructed obligation to not have body hair.

Also – “double for women” is a horrifically misogynistic phrase, especially in regards to something like this. It’s not double for women anymore than it’s double for men. Boys have pubic hair too, and I bet it bothers the hell out of some girls. If you want her down there, and she doesn’t like it, doesn’t that make it double for you? There are no differences in expectation.

7. Getting drunk doesn’t. But don’t tell that to your liver.

I disagree. I may still enjoy getting drunk (or being drunk, to some extent), but I have plenty of friends who “partied hard” in their twenties, and their thirties are no longer interested. So yes – yes it can get old.

10. Dating is overrated and usually a waste of time.

I don’t disagree with this so much as I disagree with the angle of attack. When you’re 20, 21, 22 – sure. Go out, meet people, go on dates. That’s how social things happen. Share your sexual debut with the wrong person. Have your heart broken. Eat a tub of ice cream and make out with the cute boy from the club. I don’t think that’s a waste of time, necessarily. Where I sit (coming up on the end of my 26th year of life), I don’t see the point of going out on random dates just to meet people and be social. If I go out with someone, I’d like there to be a possibility of something long-term. I’d like to know that there’s a potential future. Do I think that the boy I’m seeing is going to be my husband definitely in the future? No – because that’s absurd. Might he be? Maybe. But I can’t tell that from here.

It’s not a waste of time, definitely – it’s only a waste if you keep doing it for the whole decade.

13. When you think you’re missing out, you’re not.

Argument: sometimes you might be. Blanket statements are troublesome; there are more than a few times that I said “man…that might be a lot of fun. Maybe I’m missing out on something” – and then when I went, I found out I had been. Don’t paint everything with the same brush.

19. The way people see you is just as important as the way you see yourself.

Yes and no. This is a careful one. Because if the people around you see you as useless and not conforming to what they want, but you are trying to make your path as your own person…then no, what they see you as doesn’t matter. However, I think what the author wanted to say is that impressions can be just as important as the truth – and that, I won’t argue with.

26. Drunken sloppy sex is only good the first time — maybe first two times.

Given that earlier in the list, the author urged that “sex is better when you’re emotionally invested in the person,” the inclusion of this one is a little confusing. I find it difficult to believe that having sex while intoxicated and unbalanced could be good – especially if it’s something that’s “best” shared with someone you have an emotional connection to. I’ve been drunk. Not so much on the emotionally connected bits. (Unless you could drunk emotions, which I don’t.)

30. More tongue is not the answer.

….Generic and vague, and though probably wise words, doesn’t it depend on your partner?

31. Ladies: your teeth are for chewing. We don’t like to be chewed.

You speak for all men in the world? Speak for every place on every man’s body, that he doesn’t want to be chewed, or bitten, or nipped at? I know men who have liked being bitten. I have friends who have been with men that liked teeth on their sensitive bits. I don’t think one man from Manhattan can speak for everyone. Guys, feel free to prove me wrong, but…

32. Guys: she may say it’s an exit only, but that’s only because she’s never given it a try. #Shocker

This is where I decided to write this rant. (And went to check to see if the author was a man. Which he is, as far as I can tell from his name.)

This is obtuse, and insensitive, and entirely demeaning to women. It’s disrespectful. I don’t need to have someone insert pieces of their anatomy in there (regardless of size) to know that I’m not interested in it. It’s something that ever since I learned about anal intercourse, has made me exceptionally uncomfortable. I have a whole series of stories from my youth that explain a whole phase I went through where me and my butt didn’t really get along. I’m not interested – I don’t want to “give it a try” – and no amount of some guy explaining to me that “it’ll be okay; you don’t want it because you haven’t tried it yet” is going to change my mind.

And if anyone – anyone – ever tries to use that argument on me, they’re getting slapped in the, punched in the crotch, and walked out on. End of discussion.

34. If you can get her into bed before date 3, then you’ll get bored with her by week 2.

I live with a married couple. They had sex before date 3. That was 17 years ago. Is that argument enough?

35. If you give it up too soon then he’ll consider you conquered and move onto the next mountain.

I don’t have any personal experience with this happening or not happening, but it’s the type of proclamation that makes me not want to have sex with someone until we’ve been dating for over a year. I won’t speak for its veracity; I don’t know if it is or not. But if it is, then what the hell is the point? (If you’ll pardon the language.) When I was in college, a young man told me that he couldn’t understand my paranoias and hangups about sex, because “it was a perfectly natural part of life, and something that humans naturally did.” If this is true, then why does it matter how “soon you give it up”? It should be something that two people undertake when they are comfortable with each other and choose to undertake it.

Also – the author says in item 37 that “men aren’t only looking for sex, but it is a big part of it.” How big, Mr. Hudson? Big enough that without the chase of having sex, they’ll give up on you – but if you hold out for too long, they’ll get bored all the same and find someone who will give them sex sooner? Which is it?

36. Women are never free.

You, sir, are a chauvinist. What is this even supposed to mean? Emotionally free? Relationally free? Fiscally free?

I’d pay for my dates, but the boy doesn’t give me a chance. Does that make me a pricey date? Am I not free because he buys me dinner? To be crass, bite me.

39. Bad sex = bad relationship.

Again, I can’t speak to veracity or experience, but this seems like an incredibly blanketing statement that doesn’t take into account a vast multitude of things that might be making the sex bad. (Also, it doesn’t take into consideration that occasionally relationships are built on more than just sex, but perhaps that’s just a bit too radical.)

42. You will hate yourself for getting a new credit card.

Only if you treat it irresponsibly.

45. Orgies.

…what about them? I’m overwhelmed enough by the potential of one person having sex with me. I don’t think it’s necessary to have more than that. Again, just because some people might find them excellent, doesn’t mean everyone will.

50. You should live in New York City for at least a year.

When I checked to see where the author lived, I was entirely unsurprised to see he hails from Manhattan.

NYC isn’t the only city in the world. I agree that living in a city setting for a year is not a bad idea. I don’t think it needs to be NYC. Find a big city – learn to ride in it – be around thousands of people who are all nothing like you. Learn to work that system. Then decide if you like it.

51. You should live abroad for at least a year.

When you’re paying, Mr. Hudson, I will. (Otherwise, see above.)

56. If you sleep around with a lot of people, then you are a whore. But who cares? As long as you’re clean, you’re clean.

Slut shaming makes me sad. (So does virgin shaming, but.) If you have a lot of sex with a lot of people, then you have had sex with a lot of people. Being clean is important – knowing your partners are clean is important – being open and honest about this on both ends is extra important. If you want to have a lot of sex with everyone in your dorm building, go right ahead. Be safe, be smart, and try not to get each other pregnant (unless you would also like to be pregnant – in which case, be safe and be smart about that too).

Being a “whore” theoretically implies a lack of consideration for yourself. (I don’t like to use the word at all, but there you go.) Sexual openness and multiple partners doesn’t make you a whore. It makes you sexual.

57. Make mistakes now. Making them later will be too late.

Make mistakes now. Make them in the past. You will keep making them in the future. Don’t act as if once you hit thirty, you’re not allowed to ever make a mistake again because you’ve past the point of no return. There will always be mistakes. Yes, it’s easier to recover from some of them now – so go and be reckless while you’re young. But.

63. They stopped making good music in the 90s.

Avalon Landing. Phantasm. Imagine Dragons. All Time Low. VNV Nation. Dresden Dolls – and by association, Amanda F*cking Palmer.

All musicians that have made good music post-90s. Most that have only been making music since the 90s.

This is entirely subjective.

65. Lower your expectations and you won’t be so disappointed.

No. No, no, no. Absolutely not. Is it true? Yes. If you have lower standards, you will be less disappointed. Is that a good reason to lower your standards? Absolutely not. I refused to lower my standards in college, and as a result, I lost out on several guys I liked a decent amount. I continued to lower my standards and ended up going out on one date over the course of six years or so. Is that disappointing? Yes. Do I regret it? Absolutely not.

You will be more disappointed if you settle. Hands down.

67. Size does matter. It goes for both sexes.

Pardon the crass language, but only when it comes to tits, ass, or dick, apparently. And even then – why? Why does my bra size matter? Can we talk about the size of my brain, or the size of my heart? Unlikely. And of course, as soon as the size of my pants gets into double digits, no size of anything else can save me from the pits of the damned. (Okay, I sound a little melodramatic. Whoops.)

I will note, that I originally read this as a “bigger is better” post, which as I re-read it, it’s not. Size, either bigger or smaller, can be influential.

But this is a terribly worded phrase and there are far too many ways to take it that aren’t useful at all.

76. Your cellphone is ruining your life.

Now who’s being melodramatic? My cellphone is doing no such thing. It is sitting innocently on my nightstand, as I write this scathing article to the aethers. Am I more connected to my phone than I need to be? Yes, probably. Are many people in my generation? Yes, absolutely. Is it ruining my life?

Only if I let it.

The real lesson is that technology can consume and control us – if we allow it to. The author makes the point on entry 77, that there is no substitution for face-to-face interaction. I essentially agree with this. We cannot let computer screens become our faces.

But we can let them show our faces to the world, and allow us to see loved ones from countries away, and meet amazing people on other continents. And nothing that allows me to do that is ruining my life.

80. It is morally wrong to be obese.

My housemate makes the argument here that with the healthcare spectrum going the way it is, and with obesity being a potential gateway for numerous other health issues, it is potentially true that being obese could end up with you putting a strain on the rest of your fellow people in that way.

However, I’m not sure that’s what the original author meant.

And for his argument – …what? How is being obese a moral sin? I was obese for a time. May still be considered obese; I’m not sure. I do not believe that I’ve been made morally deviant because of my weight. This has a very strong scent of fat shaming, and I’m wary of it.

81. A good blowjob goes a long way.

Dear author: Not to be overly personal, but this is the fourth or fifth entry on oral sex. …Are you giving us a hint? Should I find you one of the aforementioned “whores” to come spend some time with you?

All kidding aside, I’m not sure about the obsession with oral sex here – nor am I comfortable with the overly female-as-submissive phrasing. Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve never heard a guy performing oral sex on a woman called a “blowjob.” Ergo, we’re only talking about women performing for their men. (Or men performing for their men; let’s be inclusive here.)

Is it possible that this will win you all the points? Perhaps. I don’t know. I haven’t tried. I’m personally not comfortable with performing on a guy at this point in my life. Maybe this will change in time. I don’t know. But I don’t think that it should sound like a complete and utter deal-breaker to my significant other if I’m not comfortable with performing oral sex on him.

Even as a sexual person, the hypersexuality of our culture overwhelms me sometimes. There’s nothing wrong with being hypersexual – but can we all just acknowledge that not everyone is? Maybe he’d like a nice cake. Bake him a cake. Buy him the next season of his favorite TV show. Get him tickets to his favorite band, or team, or whatever. A lot of things can go a long way.

82. Slow and gentle will always get her off. Rough and intense only works on occasion.

Unless your partner is a masochist, or a sadist, or submissive with fetishes leaning to dominance… or, or, or. Again, we’re painting with very large strokes here. Some girls don’t like slow and gentle. Others do. It’s a personal thing, a personal choice. You have to get to know your partner before you can really know what sets them off.

84. Don’t drink cheap liquor.

Depends on the liquor. Straight up.

87. Meditate.

I have several very good friends that find meditating – classic meditating – to be exceptionally stressful and unhelpful. Instead of sounding like a one-track yogi, I’d say this:

Find a way to center yourself, and practice it.

One of my close friends finds solace in swordsmanship. Another makes spreadsheets and charts in Excel. I write. Meditation doesn’t work for everyone.

89. You don’t have ADD.

Unless you do. But don’t be a first-year-med-student. If you think there is a legitimate problem, don’t use a generic blanket of “I have ADD” to hide a less chronic inability to focus. Go seek help, and see if you actually have a medical condition. If not – there are other ways of helping to narrow focus.

90. You’re most likely to be your own cause of depression.

This is both often true and often not. It is often true that you can run yourself in circles and be your own worst enemy. It is equally true that you may have surrounded yourself with people you call your “friends” who are anything but, and are making you become your own worst enemy. This is not your fault. This is not on you. This is a moment for you to find yourself, and to take a step away and be your own person.

91. The way you see the world is all that matters. But understand that you may be delusional.

This…I don’t even know what to say to this.

This is exceptionally self-centered and narcissistic and immature. The way you see the world is very important – because it’s how you interact with the rest of humanity. But that’s not everything. You are not the center of the universe. The world does not revolve around you. You are not all that matters. If you cannot accept that other people see the world differently than you – that their vision is just as valid as yours – and that you may be wrong, then something is terribly wrong.

94. You are alone in this life. Accept that and appreciate the moments when you don’t feel so alone.

This is an element of truth wrapped in a big hunk of football coach mentality. The “look out for number 1” only goes so far. Yes, no one else is obligated to look out for you but you. But the key word in that is obligated. There will be – and if there aren’t, there should be – other people who will stand beside you, and behind you, and before you. Is is possible that in the end, you cannot honestly count on anyone but yourself? I suppose. But I can point to a couple who have been married thirty-plus years, and know that there is nothing in heaven or in hell that would keep them from standing beside the other. They will never be alone until the day they die.

A person may stand alone in their skin, but they never have to stand alone in the world.

95. Family is more important.

As long as we are accepting that family is not made by blood.

98. You are always better off than most people in the world.

…All right, I’ll buy it – since in order to be reading this, you have Internet and thus, probably shelter, at least for a bit. It is unlikely that you are primarily concerned with where your next meal is coming from. You have clothing that probably fits and time to spare reading things on the Internet.

What you need to pull from this is a sense of noblesse oblige, at least in the generic and somewhat detached sense. We are better off than most people. Don’t rest on your laurels. Help out the people that need it. Pay it forward. Give when you can, so that when you are in need, someone will give to you. I’m in the US – we’re better off at our lowest than so many people. It’s something we need to remember.

The rest of the list is fairly solid. I may have more minor concerns, but in the end, I’m content with these. But to sit in your apartment-or-what-have-you in Manhattan and say that these are the 100 things that every 20-something needs to realize is arrogant, particularly coming from the apparent mindset that you are in.

Here’s one thing that I think every 20-something should realize.

You need to learn how the world works on your own – and you need to be able to think for yourself to do it.

Don’t let people on the Internet tell you what you need to know.

Know it yourself.

Make your own decisions. Try to read a hundred of these articles and take from them all what you find most useful. Listen to other people, and know when to stop listening. Experience the world. Take risks. Be careful. Live in terrible contradictions like the one I just listed, and figure out how you can do both and not go insane.

Go out and make the world your own. Because that’s all we can do.

1 Comment »

  1. I really appreciate your article, it really helped me to diminish my internet rage towards Mr.Hudson’s writing. Really nice work!

    Comment by Elisa — September 20, 2013 @ 8:59 pm | Reply


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