I just hit my two-year anniversary on TikTok, an app I initially only downloaded because I was lonely and anxious while the world was rounding out the first year of the pandemic. Since then, I started sharing my own thoughts online, and I somehow developed a pretty big following.
I also started posting uncommon or non-clichéd life advice that I think is actually useful but that most people don't talk about. Those videos have received hundreds of thousands of views, likes, and comments (like this one), so I thought I'd share some of my favorites with you here.
1. When it comes to sex, if you're hooking up with someone and they don't ask about what turns you on or brings you pleasure, never hook up with them again. Communication is the biggest turn-on, and you shouldn't waste your time with selfish lovers.
Having a one-night stand? Cool! Enjoying a threesome? Awesome! In a committed relationship? Love it! But if your sexual partner(s) aren't asking about your needs or desires, then you need to get farrrrr away from them.
2. If you're only in a relationship because you're scared of being alone, then you need to end it. Security and convenience are great, but you'll need way more than that for long-term commitments and growth.
Not everyone wants to be in a serious or long-term relationship, and that's totally fine! But if you're only dating/engaged/married to someone because you're scared of being alone, then you need to be honest about it with your partner. Otherwise, you're just stringing them along for selfish reasons, and they'll end up getting hurt.
3. Despite what you might think, there's no actual age requirement to join AARP. You can get a year-long membership for only a couple bucks, and you'll get discounts on things like restaurants, flights, car rentals, and so much more.
I'm serious! This is what it says on their site: "While AARP is dedicated to people over 50, there is no minimum age to join. People of all ages can get an AARP membership." I have no idea why this wasn't taught to us in school.
4. Never be the drunkest person at the party.
Everyone remembers who the drunkest person at the party was except for the drunkest person at the party. Have fun, let loose, but be safe.
5. Sex can be cool and fun and awkward and so much more, but it's also overrated on so many levels, and it doesn't matter as much as younger-you thinks it does, so try not to stress about it. Seriously.
As someone whose entire life was shaped by TV and movies, I developed a false, one-note idea of what sex (especially for the first time) was "supposed to be like." The truth is that everyone's bodies, interests, and experiences are different, so convincing yourself that things have to happen a certain way with a certain person during a certain time will just add a lot of unnecessary pressure for yourself, and that's never fun.
6. Your smile is pretty much the only thing you'll ever have control over in life. Always keep floss next to your bed instead of in the bathroom — you'll instinctively use it WAY more often this way.
Most people hate going to the dentist. I don't. Why? Because I floss. And I do it often! Keeping those handheld floss picks next to my bedside has been one of the easiest and best decisions I've made, because it's literally an arm's length away from me. I knew convenience would be the easiest way to start a new habit, and this one gets me showered with praise and compliments from my dental hygienist every time I go in for a cleaning, and I haven't had a cavity in about 20 years. It's a win-win.
7. Also, don't go more than a week without wearing your retainer. Basically, the older you get, the more your smile is gonna be the only thing you notice or really care about when you look in the mirror.
I always assumed there was an expiration date on wearing a retainer. Like, surely after a few years, my teeth would settle and stay perfectly straight, right? Wrong. I was fortunate enough to have braces from sixth to eighth grade, but there had definitely been long stretches of time since then when I stopped wearing it. I saw my teeth shift a little, and I said never again. Now, I randomly pop that sucker in for a few hours every so often, and it prevents my teeth from undoing those two years and two months of braces. Keep wearing it.
8. I don't know if any str*ight men are reading this, but for the love of god, please wash your freaking butt crack.
9. When it comes to relationships, find someone you can go on a vacation with. Trips are basically pretend-honeymoons, so if you can't survive them without wanting to kill each other, then you should probably just break up.
Every emotion is 10 times as intense while on vacation. Sure, you can handle getting into a silly fight with your partner in everyday life, but what are you both like on hour 12 of a roadtrip when just their breathing is enough to send you over the edge? Consider your vacation a preview of what the future could look like. If you make it out alive and still want to spend time with your partner, then congrats! If not, you probably need to end it.
10. Always tip the waitstaff at least 20%. If you can't afford to do that, then you really shouldn't be eating out.
If you live in a country where tipping is expected, then you need to make sure you can actually afford to do so before choosing to eat out. I don't care how good or bad your service is, because the truth is that everyone deserves a livable wage, and a lot of waitstaff depend on your tips to make ends meet.
For example, the New York Times reported that there are several states in the US where it's legal for employers to pay people "sub-minimum wages." In other words, as long as a server's tips "bring their earnings to the equivalent of the minimum wage in a pay period," then employers can legally pay them as low as $2.13 an hour. If you can't tip them appropriately (or at all), then stick to groceries.
11. Wear. Sunscreen. Every. Day. Especially on your face and neck and the tops of your hands. After all, Jennifer Garner said it best: "Nothing is better in your 50s than sunscreen in your 20s."
If it's good enough for Jennifer Garner, then it's good enough for me. It's the easiest way to help prevent sunburn, skin cancer, and premature aging (like sun spots and freckles). And make sure you're putting lotion on your neck and hands, too!
12. Don't date anyone until you've dated yourself. If you can't go to the movies or a restaurant alone, then you're not ready to be in a relationship.
I think it's very hard to love someone if you don't even love yourself. And it's even harder if you don't even know yourself. Find out what you like and don't like, and then get to the point where you're okay with being left alone with your own thoughts. Then, you'll be emotionally ready for a relationship.
13. I don't care how much money you have (or at least how much you want people to think you have), you're never too good for coupons. Always google store codes before you buy something, and take pride in saving the money.
You can almost always find a 15%-off coupon for whatever you're trying to buy, whether it's online or in person. There are also browser extensions you can download that automatically find coupons for specific products and brands while you shop. Do the research, save the money, and bask in the greatness of a good deal.
14. Similarly, keep your student ID. You can get 15% off at just about any store if you show it to them, no matter how different you look in your picture. Again, you're never too old for discounts.
Y'all know I love a good discount. Most stores offer at least 10% off just for showing your ID, and you can even do it online now. It's basically free money.
15. Take. More. Pictures. And don't delete any selfies until at least 24 hours later. You'll be in an entirely different frame of mind, and you'll magically look better in all of them. I promise.
I don't care if you think it's cheesy or embarrassing to take pictures in public. One day, you're gonna be older and want to look back at your life — who you were friends with, what you all looked like, the cool experiences you had — and you'll realize that there are entire chunks of your life missing because you didn't spend 15 seconds taking a photo. Don't make that mistake.
16. Your job will not tuck you in at night, so stop answering emails after hours or working when you're not clocked in. That's your personal time, so keep it personal.
I mean this in the best way possible, but get a life! If someone asks you to describe yourself, and the first thing you respond with is your job title/where you work, then you need to start setting some work-life boundaries. In fact, go watch Rachel McAdams in the criminally underrated movie Morning Glory right now, and you'll see what I mean. You can thank me later.
17. And finally, your ex is your ex for a reason. Find a way to be thankful for the experience, and then move on. Just remember that you're capable of love, and you're capable of being loved.
Relationship are hard, and breakups suck, but there's always something you can learn from them. Let go of the past and what you wish it could have been like — because, no, things won't be different this time if you get back together with your ex — and be thankful for the experience.