A Decade In Review: Part I (20-23)

Me. 30. I still don’t believe it. In no way does it feel like I’ve graced this world with my presence for 30 FUQKIN years. It seems like such a big number when, in reality, I still feel about 26. I really didn’t think I’d make it (jk, of course I did), yet here we are. I survived, you guys. I made it through my 20s and have lived to tell the tale (which I will in full when I start writing my book). 

I’ve accrued too many stories over the past 10 years to do justice via a single blog post (thusly, again, why I’m writing a book) (y’all hold me to that), therefore I’ve decided to highlight one learning per each year of my 20s. When I sat down to start writing this piece, I mistakenly assumed it would all fit nice and tightly into one big blog post. Silly me — I forgot an extremely verbose writer is attempting to cram 10 years worth of lessons into one post. Therefore, I’m doing us all a favor and breaking my lessons into age-chunks: 20-23, 24-27, and 28&29.

So, without further adieu, let’s dive into the first three years of my 20s.

Age 2️⃣0️⃣: Sex is tight.

I was a late bloomer, losing my virginity at 20. Call it morals, being raised in a stricter household, or sheer terror of what I know my emotions are capable of, but I steered clear of P in V until college. I was proud of this accomplishment until I woke up one day and realized I was a 19-year-old virgin (who COULD drive). All around me, my experienced college friends were fucking like rabbits while I was perfecting the hand job and dry-hump-to-completion. Suddenly, losing my innocence by age 20 became a focal point and something that needed to happen no matter what. Lucky for me, my first college boyfriend entered the picture in January of 2007. We met in a photography class (like with old school cameras and dark rooms and everything (so college)), and the attraction was immediate. He was innocent like me; he wasn’t a virgin, but he had only had sex three isolated times, all of which were terrible incidents. After a few months of intense dry humping and enough hand jobs to last him a lifetime I’m sure, I decided it was time to knock boots but not without one major stipulation. “I can’t have sex until you say you love me,” I told him. Yeah, I really said that. And yeah, I really thought it was okay to say. Years later, I would realize that wasn’t me talking but my mother. Long story short, I basically forced my first real boyfriend to say he loved me as a person but wasn’t necessarily IN love with me yet, decided that was close enough, got really drunk at a pool party, and spent roughly an hour figuring out how to do the sex. Once it happened though, I was like OMG THIS IS SO COOL for a good six months before realizing we both were really terrible at it, and I needed to move on and sex other people to figure out what good sex was. 

Age 2️⃣1️⃣: Farbic softner isn’t detergent.

Huh? What’s that? Oh, you already knew that from a young age because you’re not slightly off in the head? Well, GOOD FOR YOU because I sure as hell didn’t. Allow me to explain.

We didn’t use fabric softener in my household, ok? It wasn’t a thing. Marry that with the fact that I was living with a girl the summer of my 21st year who ALSO didn’t now the difference between fabric softener and detergent (how two of the same type of idiot ended up in a household together, I don’t know). So, you’d understand my surprise and delight when my roommate at the time came home one day with a delicious smelling new detergent for her laundry. I was obsessed with the scent and immediately ran out to get my very own bottle in which I would wash EVERYTHING. During this time, I was on my second, long-term, college boyfriend who I had MUCH better sex with and often. It had been going swimmingly until I started randomly burning down there almost every time we did the deed. My first thought (of course) was: STD. I insisted we both get checked, but once the results came back negative, I was equal parts perplexed and depressed, submitting to the idea that I was just going to have a burny vag for the rest of my sexual career since no one could seem to find the root of the problem. Cut to August with a new semester and new house on the horizon. A new house meant new household supplies, so a trip to Walmart with one of my best friends was in order.

“Oh!” I exclaimed while passing the detergent aisle. “That reminds me. I need more laundry detergent.” As I confidently moseyed down the aisle and grabbed my beloved detergent, my friend stopped me.

“Emma, that’s fabric softener.”

“Huh?” I responded, confused.

“That’s just fabric softener,” she carefully explained, realizing I was maybe slightly touched. “You need a detergent, too.”

“No,” I retorted. “This IS detergent. And maybe fabric softener, too? In one?”

“No. That is incorrect. They’re two different things,” she insisted. “Let’s ask someone.”

Right then, a kind older woman who looked like she’d done some laundry in her day was walking past us. “Mam, could we ask you a question? Are fabric softener and detergent the same thing?”

“No, they’re different,” the helpful patron explained. “Detergent washes your clothes and fabric softener, well, softens them!”

We stood there frozen as the epiphany washed over both of us. 

“Emma, have you been washing your clothes with ONLY fabric softener this entire summer?” My friend asked, already knowing the answer.

“Yes. Do you think that’s why…”

“YES. OBVIOUSLY. YOUR CLOTHES AREN’T CLEAN AND YOU’RE BASICALLY SHOVING IT UP YOUR VAGINA CONSTANTLY. IT’S LIKE AN ALLERGIC REACTION!”

Yeah, guys. I know, ok? I know. That day, I went home, washed literally everything I owned in REGULAR DETERGENT, lit the fabric softener on fire (not really), and my vag almost instantly went back to normal. A hard lesson to learn, but a vitally important one.

AGE 2️⃣2️⃣: DON’T EVER LIVE WITH YOUR BEST FRIEND.

Clichés are annoying because they’re typically true, and this one is the truest cliché I’ve ever lived out in my entire life. 

DO. NOT. EVER. UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. EVER. NEVER. LIVE👏🏻 WITH👏🏻 YOUR👏🏻 BEST👏🏻 FRIEND👏🏻. NEVER.

My bestie and I had been thick as thieves since age 16. Seriously, we were practically sisters. Every massive phone bill and subsequent berating by my father was caused solely by the incessant amount of texting her and I did on a daily basis. We talked constantly, did everything together, and were each other’s go-to for just about everything. Then, we moved in together. Having gone to separate colleges, we figured it was a no-brainer and something we owed ourselves to play house our first year out in the real world. WRONG. So wrong. Between our clashing domestic attitudes, the fact that her and my college boyfriend (who ended up moving to Dallas, but we’ll get to that in a second) got off on the wrong foot, and how we were just two very lost and very intensely dramatic 22-year-olds… well. You can imagine what it was like under our roof. 

Once we moved out after those 12 months were up, we didn’t speak for two full years. I missed her engagement and her wedding — that’s how severe the break was. Not to mention that we shared a best friend between the two of us who was essentially forced into being the middle man those two years, which took a serious toll on her (sorry, K). The only good that came out of that year was that I weighed 115 pounds and was a size 0, because my anxiety about living, working, and being in a relationship I didn’t want to be in was so outrageous, I basically wasn’t eating.

Moral of the story: if you’re considering moving in with your best friend, DON’T. I’m very happy to report that our aforementioned mutual best friend got married, forcing us to reconcile and we’ve been back to normal for four years now. I didn’t miss the birth of her baby, she hasn’t missed any of my ludicrous drama, and we laugh daily about what a terrible idea moving in together ever was.

Age 2️⃣3️⃣: If you don’t love your college boyfriend in college, you won’t love him out of college

Look. I get that some people meet their true love in college, and that’s fine. Good for you. I’m glad you haven’t been subjected to the utter HELL that is real world dating. You should celebrate that. 

However, for a lot of us, college is a time to date around (read: sleep around), explore (read: have a lot of sex), and fraternize with lots of different people (read: basically, be a big ol’ whore). Now, some of the time, one of these seemingly casual college flings may turn “serious.” I put “serious” in quotes because, come on. I hardly think drinking beer 24/7, eating pizza for most meals, and fucking like rabbits constitutes being in a “serious” relationship. Fun, yes. But not “serious.”

My junior year, I started dating a guy and didn’t stop dating him come graduation although I knew even in the most conscious part of my heart that he was not by any means my forever love. In fact, I’m not even sure if he was any sort of love. I think maybe I thought he was, but looking back, when you’re getting oral almost every day during a part of your life in which you consider getting dressed up for frat parties a date night, it makes sense that you’d label love incorrectly.

Instead of being mature and breaking it off at the end of my last summer in my college town, I decided to do what any fresh graduate would do — DRAG THAT SHIT OUT. And drag it out to the point of helping your college boyfriend MOVE TO YOUR CITY because “if we don’t try this in the real world, I’ll never know if it’s meant to be.” HEY, 23-YEAR-OLD EMMA. YOU ALREADY KNEW, YOU STUPID LITTLE GIRL. 

But listen. I don’t beat myself up too much because transitioning from college to real world is brutal, so grasping onto any residual whisperings of my college life was pretty natural I think. I wasn’t ready to fully let go of that irresponsible, carefree, I’m-not-a-girl-not-yet-a-woman lifestyle, so keeping my college boyfriend close was a part of that. However, I knew as soon as he moved here that it had been a terrible idea and broke up with him a month into his new life in Dallas. Don’t worry — it lasted two weeks before we got back together. But then I broke up with him again. But then we secretly got back together (because my best-friend-turned-worst-enemy roommate and family were so against our coupling). And then we gave it another go for real before I finally called it off for good. But then we hooked up six months after that. But then, for real, I was done. 

It was a wild ride and one I would never do again. The bottom line is this: unless you’re sure with every fiber of your being that there is NO ONE ELSE out there in the world for you come graduation day, CUT IT. Even if you’ve had the best time together and you love him as a person and you have grown so used to him and you’re going to miss the simplicity of having sex all day and drinking all night — that shit is ju-ve-nile, you need to CUT ITTTTT.

And that concludes ages 20-23. Check back tomorrow for lessons from age 24-27!

xox,