1. Be the star of your life. I know. Can you believe that even has to be said? It does. Por ejemplo, my former friend/roommate changed her name, personality, religion and job to attract a guy who, truth be told, was just not that into her. They ended up getting married after years of her first convincing him to date her and finally to make an honest woman of her. It was an exercise in working really hard at something and achieving results. But we’re no longer friends because of the inauthenticity of it—I don’t respect her. And the fact that she let him be the star of her life—while she was relegated to, like, DOLLY GRIP status. #fail
Be a star there if nowhere else.
2. Know your audience (KYA). Be the star of your life. Similarly, recognize you’re not the star of ANYONE ELSE’S LIFE. If your friend loathes animals, why are you talking to her ad infinitum about the outfits in which you dress your cat? That’s being a bore. Your 21 year-old intern is utterly uninterested in what a potty-trained genius your child is. Recognize that everyone thinks their child is a baby Einstein. Maybe don’t complain to your single friend in her 40s about your pregnancy, or insist that she come to the 39 satellite happenings of your wedding (all of them requiring a plane ticket). Find another outlet for that. I know not to get into my favorite makeup items with dudes I’m dating, OBVIOUSLY. That’s why I’ve cultivated an extensive set of girl friends who can’t wait to discuss that kind of stuff. Get into Dickens detail with those who ask and have demonstrated a genuine curiosity. For everyone else, provide top-line updates only.
3. Stay in your lane. This is a big one for me. It goes along with my feeling that fashion is art and beauty is science. That’s not to say that a person can’t dabble. Dabble away! But to claim you’re an expert and devote a time-consuming social media feed to something other than your area of skill, do some fucking research first. Wanting more free stuff isn’t enough. If you can’t speak intelligently about the chemistry of skin care in your vlog, for example, people will be able to tell.
4. If just one person gets your insanely obscure reference, that’s enough. Remember in “Almost Famous” when Jeff Bebe goes, “I find the one person not getting off and I make them get off. That’s the fucking buzz!” It’s the same thing when someone gets your crazy reference. This rule is self-reflexive.
5. You can never see a movie/TV show or hear a song ENOUGH if you love it. I believe that pop culture exists for therapeutic reasons. One of my favorite ways to get through difficult (or even delightful) times is to watch a movie with a similar plotline. Similarly, I listened to George Michael’s “Freedom ’90” on a LOOP during the many, many periods of two weeks’ notice I gave at many of my terrible corporate (and even not so corporate) full-time gigs.
Bonus: Give credit. Seriously. If you’re ganking someone’s rhymes, people are GONNA KNOW. Everyone picks things up from other people. Just give credit. It’s good karma, I promise.
When telling a story, ask yourself, would the future editor of my memoir cut this out or keep it in the book? If the answer is the former, take that into account and perhaps change how you’re living your life. If it’s not compelling to you, why would it be to anyone else?
Have reciprocal relationships. Acknowledge that friendships aren’t forever. The reality is that their entire concept is upended in your 30s and 40s. Are you someone who prioritizes your significant other with 80%+ of your emotional capital? And how about time? If you’re just reaching out to your former best friend when your boyfriend or husband is out of town, how can you expect him or her to be available and ready to help you sort through your problems?
What are your five rules for life?