It has been one whole year since I graduated from college. This fact officially makes me… One: An adult. Two: A participant in “The Real World.”
This year has taught me a LOT. About careers, about guys, about life, and most importantly, about myself. So for all of my little dearies who just walked that stage, here’s what I’ve learned. Here’s what you need to know.
10 Tips to Prepare Women for “The Real World”
*Disclaimer: this is the advice, based on my experience, that I would give. But every situation is different. **P.S. Every tip below is stuff I am still working on and reminding myself of every day.
1. Get a Job. Any Job. No, I’m not insulting your intelligence. I know it isn’t easy. I also know we’ve been raised with a glamorized view of what our first job should look like. I don’t know about you, but I expected it to look something like working out of the Empire State building in a pants suit, ordering people around and directing Hollywood movies on the side. REALITY CHECK: I graduated from college, quickly realized that jobs, even with connections, and ESPECIALLY in New York are not easy to come by, so I waited tables for the first 7 months out. You know what they say, its easier to get a job when you have one. Just get a job and start making some money.
Photo by Well Traveled Woman
2. Aim for Your Dream Just because you don’t have your dream job, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t aim for it. Make connections, talk to the people that are working your dream job and figure out what its going to take to get you there. Is it really what you want? Do you want it bad enough?And if necessary, start at the bottom. The fact is, it’s going to take hard work. If you are crazy passionate and work really hard, something great will come of it. For me, I started a Wedding Cinematography business and though it is crazy hard work. I LOVE IT. It’s a great thing to pursue a dream that feels alive.
3. Say No to Dates The world of boys and girls outside of college is a different universe.Nothing could have prepared me for it. People don’t have a tendency to maintain casual friendships, or even good friendships with the opposite sex. It’s kinda like, “Hey, what’s your name? Cool, wanna go out to dinner?” Holy Smokes! Can a brotha get a minute? Maybe people are desperate. Maybe people are just more forward. The point is, if you don’t want to go or you’re not into him, say no. Plain and simple. You get to choose here. Enjoy that privilege.
4. Say Yes to Dates Wait…but you just said…? Yes. Don’t be afraid to YES if you are mildly to severely interested. Especially if you’ve been burned in the past. Get over yourself, and try again. Yes, it does mean you run the risk of actually falling for someone again. I know, breathe. You’ll be ok. And if you’re not getting asked out, allow your friends to set you up on a blind date. Yeah, it’s awkward. But it also makes for great stories. Grow up. You’re young, single, out-of-college, and in need of a little male attention. Let’s be real, who doesn’t? So if you’re interested, say yes.
5. Take a Trip Around February, I was so depressed that I decided I didn’t care what anyone thought. I had just interviewed for a good job, and knew that if I got it (which I did), I might not have time for frolicking about the country. So I bought a ticket, and by George, though everyone thought I was crazy, I headed to California for 2 weeks by myself. Was it the best trip of my life? No. Would I necessary recommend an exact replication of my trip? No. But did I have all kinds of crazy adventures? Yes. Do I have crazy stories? Yes. Ask me about them. I can say one thing for sure: I lived. You don’t have to put down 1,000 bucks to go on an incredibly memorable trip. And you sure don’t want to spend your whole life saying, if only I’d gone on a trip before I had kids.
6. Move Out Of Your Parents’ House I repeat, move out of your parents’ house. I know I know, it’s just so cheap. You just can’t afford to move out. You just need it for a little while, which turns into 5 years. I understand living with your parents as your getting your feet wet and finding a job, but after you have the job, settle for a dump that is at least a place of your own. I would put a 6 month cap on the parents’ house thing. It’s not cause you don’t love them. It’s not cause you don’t need them. It is because for your emotional and psychological health, you need that independence.
7. Know How To Set Boundaries. Physical, Emotional, And Professional. Set boundaries at work. This is what you are willing to do, this is what you are not. This is what you are willing to allow other men to say to you, this is what you are not. This is time for work. This is time for friends. This is time for yourself. Also, don’t allow yourself to be talked down to. Learn the phrase, “Wait just one minute.” This is a great opening phrase to show someone they crossed a boundary you set for yourself. Another great phrase: “I don’t want to be talked to like that.” This is my new favorite phrases in customer service and yes, I use it regularly.
8. Know How To Be A Lady I heard a quote this week that said, “If more women stood up for being Ladies, more men would stand up for being Gentlemen.” Or something like that. The saying goes the other way as well. Be classy, even if it doesn’t seem popular. Stand up for what you believe. Comments that turn you into an object should not be OK or tolerated. Speak up. You are strong, confident, beautiful, and by golly, YOU LOVE WHAT YOU LOVE. Some guys like to think that if only girls would like guns, war-movies, rock-climbing, and Family Guy, then they would be perfect. The thing is, if every girl loved all those things, we wouldn’t be girls. We would be men. And I promise, they don’t want that. The guys you want to be with will appreciate the things that make you a woman. You are worth waiting for.
9. Invest In At Least 3 Complete Outfits That Make You Feel Crazy Beautiful Need I say more? It’s worth it. And you will need one of them the day after you ate a pan of cookies after work.
10. Know That You Are Worth It. If you are not married, GOOD. In the South, we are constantly under a social expectation that when we graduate from college, then duh, the next step is to get married. If you did, great. I am genuinely happy for you. If you haven’t found him yet, FANTASTIC. You have been given an incredible opportunity to find things that make you YOU. Invest in girl friendships, watch chick-flicks whenever the heck you want, explore random hobbies cause you can. Craft, cook, run, write, travel, spend time with family, go on dates, develop crushes, buy a poster of Zac Efron, get your nails done, mentor younger girls. HAVE FUN and enjoy this time. All the while remembering, you are worth waiting for. I know I said this earlier, but it is the most important thing. You might even need to write that on your bathroom mirror. Remember the things that make you awesome and wait for a guy who notices those things too.
I have spent a lifetime getting to know women on an intimate level. Growing up, I was the only man in a household full of this mysterious and fascinating gender, under the care of my mother, two older sisters, aunts, and grandmothers. Women with an overwhelming desire to share with me everything that happens to the female anatomy and mind. Things most adult men twice my age still know nothing about. (Whether or not this has done more damage than good is still up for debate.) My first childhood friend was the girl on my block who lived two doors down, and I consider my oldest sister, Julie, one of my best friends today.
I’ve been in serious relationships, and on my fair share of first dates, second dates, disaster dates, and she-gave-me-a-phone-number-with-only-six-digits dates.
Throughout all of this, I have learned a thing or two about how to survive as a proper gentleman, to give a woman what she wants, as well as discover the things I hope the woman I spend the rest of my life with sees in herself.
When it comes to writing a guide for this type of woman, I don’t have all the answers. I’ve just got a few good ideas, and a few things I wish all women knew about themselves.
Like the idea that men weren’t created so you could find out who you are. We don’t hold your identity.
That you know we want to love you and support you, share your dreams and take care of you; protect who you are.
That knowing who you are is why we are attracted to you.
We want you to be the woman who knows that every single morning she gets out of bed, God is smiling down on her because He. Is. Satisfied.
A gentleman is looking for a woman that can come along beside him, and together the two of you can become better than you ever could have been on your own.
This is the kind of woman that fills a good man with the commodity of promise, and provides him with enough strength to tear down an entire city for you; enough love to lay down and die for you…
Originally, Max asked me to help collaborate on writing a woman’s version ofA Gentleman’s Guide to the 21st Century. And being a woman, what I heard was, “Hey Lauren, can you write a guide on dating for women?” Because honestly, isn’t that the whole point of you reading something like that? To learn how to con men into thinking that you are sexy, mysterious, confident, independent, and don’t even own concealer? How to not puke emotions and estrogen all over his hopefully-nice shirt at dinner on Friday night? Then I thought, “Well, wait. Max could have written that on his own. Men are great at telling us how to drip sex appeal, and when it’s much more diplomatic to keep our hearts a mile away from our lips.”
So why was he really asking me to write this? I’ll tell you. And it’s going to mess up your world. It’s the exact opposite of what you’ve been believing since those five minutes after your first break up, or since the day your father walked out on your mother.
He asked me to write this because good men want good women.
The part that’s going to mess you up in that statement isn’t that good men want good women. It’s that good men exist.
The next part of that statement that’s getting to you, is some of you don’t know if you are a good woman anymore. And in that, lies the worst part.
When we stop believing that good men exist, we lose the desire to be good women. It’s incredible how this works. When God created us, He built in some sort of self-betterment gene that’s triggered when another human being desires us. I’m just as aware as you are that we’ve been programmed since Day One to not need men, to not care what anyone thinks of us, to make decisions utterly devoid of others, to “just do you.” But do you catch the contradiction in this? The same world that’s telling you to not care what a man thinks is the same world telling you how to make a man want you. The same world that’s telling you good men don’t exist, is the same world telling you that you won’t be happy until you have one. And that, ladies andgentlemen, is how you identify a lie.
When the supposed-truths counteract, it isn’t the truth.
I’m going to point out here that the definition of counteract is, “ to sabotage, destroy or hinder; to defeat, to frustrate, or nullify the effects of a previous action.”
Women, when you believe that you will be unhappy until you meet a good man, and simultaneously believe that good men do not exist, you sabotage yourself. You frustrate yourself. You hinder and are hindered. You are defeated. You find that your previous actions – your time, your love, your heart, your passion, your beauty, your hope, your sacrifice, your sex, your gifts – are nullified and devastated. And when this happens, when we throw our hearts and bodies into a man less than the one we dare to hope for, the desire to be an incredible woman is slowly stripped from us.
Author John Eldridge puts this another way. “The story of your life is the story of the long and brutal assault on your heart by one who knows what you could be, and fears it.”
Women, that is it. The one who fears what you could be knows that the fastest way to assault your heart is by way of the lie that good men do not exist; that good men do not want you. And that assault is long. And it is brutal.
So, instead of writing a guide to surviving or dating in the 21st century, I write this. I write to ask you to begin believing the truth about yourself.
To believe that you were created to be the masterpiece of God’s creation, the height of beauty, an imitation of your Maker’s heart; that you hold inherent value by simply being a woman. To begin believing that in the same way you would die to be an incredible woman, there are men that would die to be incredible for you.
I find myself today not being concerned with telling women how to act like a lady, or whatever it is you prefer to call the female version of a gentleman. You don’t need to be told how to flash him a smile that stops his world, how to give him your full attention on a fantastic date, how to surprise him with his favorite dinner on his bad days, how to leave him notes hidden in his sock drawer, how to sit in his lap and laugh until you both cry over inside jokes while you eat mac & cheese and watch gutter TV, or how to be a fantasy come to life in his bed. You don’t need to be told how to care passionately about what is closest to your heart, how to work hard, how to put your intelligence to use, how to pair heels with a killer suit, or how to get your Masters and retain a social life.
Okay, well, maybe that last one…
You do, however, need to be told that good men are alive and kicking ass. And they want you with every part of their being.