Swift Recovery

Dear Lisi,

You always give the best advice. I’m in 9th grade and I have been dating my boyfriend for almost a month now, which is the longest relationship both of us have been in. For the last two weeks I’ve made him my #MCM but he still hasn’t made me his #WCW. The last #WCW he posted was a random model he likes, but shouldn’t he be posting about me by now? It makes me think he isn’t nearly as into this relationship as I am. What’s his deal? 

xx Larissa 

 

Larissa,

Let’s take a cue from Sheridan Spencer–a very insecure actress in my novel, PretendersWhen she needs guidance, Sheridan channels a celebrity. The idea is, if she acts like them she will become like them, and her troubles will melt away. The thing is, there are many different ways to handle your issue. You can put yourself out there and tell him how you feel. You can play games that–if played well–will show him how you feel. Or you can be cool and act like you don’t care one way or the other. So who’s a girl to channel? What single person can help you play out all three of these possibilities?

tswift
The problem is which Taylor should you be?
YOU COULD BECOME TAYLOR ONE: “You Belong To Me”
Taylor 1
You feel slighted, insulted, and dissed. Your feelings are hurt and you’re not one to play games. You tell him exactly how you feel. If he loves you he’ll realize what he’s done, and a 3D collage of you will put his sad little #WCW of said model to shame. If he doesn’t love you, he will once he realizes how open you are about your feelings.
YOU COULD BECOME TAYLOR TWO: “We Are Never Getting Back Together”
Taylor 2
Are you seriously going to put up with that? Gawd, I hope not. So what’s the plan? You can’t do something predictable like replace his pic with a model’s. No, you’re going to #MakeHimSuffer. You’re going to #TeachHimALesson. You’re going to #MakeoutWithHisBestfriendRightInFrontOfHim. And then you’re going to #PostThat!
Not only will it teach him not to mess with you, it will teach the world not to mess with you either. Two birds, one stone. #Done.
OR YOU COULD BECOME TAYLOR THREE: “Shake It Off”
Taylor 3
This Taylor would start by knowing her audience–a teenaged dude. Did you see the movie Grease? Did you see how Danny acted in front of Sandy when his buddies were around? Like he didn’t even know her. Why? Because he’s terrified of being made fun of by his bros. Immature as it may seem, guys are supposed to act tough. Sex is the ultimate; love is for wuss-bags. Does he believe this? No. Does he mean it when he tells you how much he likes you? Yes. Does he know he’s going to be berated if he IG’s about his crush? YES! But a hot model is safe. It shows his bros that he’s not wearing his heart on his sleeve (Get it, heart-on?) He’s just being a dude. If that’s the worst thing he does, let him get away with it. It means he’s acting his age. Accept it. He’s just channeling a typical teenaged boy.
If he’s mean to you, disrespectful, rude, or anything else that makes you question his true feelings, skip over Taylor one and become Taylor two. In the meantime, you could stop following him and stick to life in the third dimension. That’s where the real magic happens.
TTYW,
Lisi
PS.  Because hash tagging is my style, my #WCW for the week is the first person to comment this post. Expect a shout out.

Grit or Get Off The Pot

im/possible

“Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, just surrounded by a**holes.” – William Gibson.

Have you ever shared your life’s grand plan with someone and in an instant your dreams were dashed with negativity? We all encounter discouraging naysayers on our path, but it’s particularly difficult to stay focused in reaching our goals when those closest to us can’t or won’t be our support system along the way. Danielle is experiencing this right now and commented about it on my Facebook page. Here’s her story: I’ve wanted to become a writer for quite some time. The only problem is my family doesn’t support me in my decision. They say things that really make me feel like I won’t be able to make it. I get tons of support at school with my teachers and I’m grateful for that, but my family makes jokes at my expense that make me feel self conscious for wanting to write. It’s gotten so bad that I don’t think I’ll be able to become a writer anymore. Any advice?  People who try to talk you down from a dream are usually working from a place of fear. It isn’t necessarily their fault. They might be repeating discouraging words said to them long ago, or they might be too scared in their own life to follow their passion. It’s crucial that you keep this in mind. Remind yourself it’s their insecurity and like a virus, you will catch it if you don’t build up your immunity. Here’s how:

Shut them down.

Tell them to keep their negativity to themselves. If they keep this up you will never dedicate a novel to them. Ne-ver! You could also try giving them a taste of it. Crush their goals and dreams just for fun. See how they like it. Infect them with their own negativity. Then (wait for it…) write a short story about it. Everything you experience—better or worse—is material. At the very least take notes on their behavior. The sound of their voices when they judge. Their facial expressions. The sound of their laughter. Show them, with your writing, how antagonistic they are.

Become Boobs. Now Find Your Bra.

Like a pair of boobs you need support. So go find a few bras. By this I mean people who support you. Share your writing with the teachers who believe in you. Join or start a writing club. Become an online member of a writing community. Read about writers. Read about writing. Surround yourself with other people who share the vision. That’s the bug you want to catch.
goals

Don’t dream it. Do it. 

Right now writing is your dream, but you should make it your reality. Decide upon smaller tasks instead of focusing solely on the final work. Write them down, tack them up on a wall near your desk. Look at those reminder notes every morning and put at least one of them into effect. Maybe that means writing a short story, putting a book of poems together, completing specific writing exercises each week, studying two books on the craft per month. Your family will see you working at achieving your goal and hopefully will respect your vision more and more. Or they won’t. (See: Shut Them Down.) The most important thing a writer can have—more important that talent, skill, education—is GRIT! Stick with it. Thicken that skin. Shut out the noise. Cliche? Yes. But oh so true.

butler quote Now go kick some ass. TTYW, Lisi

BEST FRIENDS FOR NEVER

Here’s what’s #trending right now in my inbox: BFF break-ups. The silent but deadly kind where you both wake up and are no longer following each other on Instagram. If you are female over the age of nine you know what I’m talking about. This is Kendra’s story:

Hi Lisi! I have a problem, maybe you can help. You always give the best advice. It’s about my best friend, now my ex-best friend. We met at work two years ago and became best friends fast but then I noticed that she always had a lot of free time and nobody else except me to fill it. She became really needy. Problem is, I have a TON of people in my life, friends I’ve had before her and then I got a boyfriend. I made sure to be available to her as much as I possibly could. She started making friends with another girl and tweeting about stuff “bad friends” do once they have boyfriends. We just started drifting apart fast and I kept hoping she would reach out to me or I would think about texting her just with “Hi” to see where things go, but I remember all the times she’s said mean things to me in the past and I’m not sure I want to go through that again. It really hurts me still and I wish something could be worked out, but now I think I feel resentment towards the whole thing because I don’t know what I did to make her act this way. Help!Love you! Kendra

Clap your hands if you can relate to Kendra’s story. Did you hear that thunder, Kendra? The entire female population is making some noise. This is the romantic-comedy formula for best friends. Girl has girl, girl gets boyfriend, girl loses girl… Cliche at this point.
Here are your options:
1) Go deep, Kendra, and ask yourself the hard question: Do I want this person as a friend?
Be honest with yourself. Do you miss her or the idea of having a best friend who worships you? Is she more trouble than she’s worth and is this “fight” more of a blessing than a curse? Is it a way for you to get rid of someone who brings you down? Aside from your hurt feelings has life been less complicated without her making you feel guilty and responsible for her feelings? If the answer is, “Yes, Lisi. As a matter of fact, I have been feeling better without her in my life because I don’t feel like I’m being punished for having a life.” Then stop here. Consider yourself lucky and continue to surround yourself with people who support you.
When-Rachel-Calls-Out-Monica
If you truly miss her, explore option #2.
2) You need to talk about this like your ancestors did—without screens, in person. Send a cute card. Yep—pen, paper, stamp, postal worker. Tell her you miss her. Tell her what you miss about her. Tell her you’d like to meet and talk about it in 3D. If she doesn’t respond she’s not the friend you thought she was and it’s done. If she does then go for it. Once you’re together take a moment and describe what it must feel like to be her. Tell her how you think she must be feeling about this fight. She will let you know if you’re right. Then ask her to tell you how you must be feeling. This allows both of you to feel this fight from the other person’s point of view. It helps. Trust me. Then ask her if she wants to make this work. If she says yes, put some new rules in place. What does she need to feel secure in your friendship? What do you need to feel unencumbered by her?
BFF
In a best case scenario you will redefine your friendship and come out stronger. Worst case, you’re done. Which means there’s an opening in your shopping cart for someone new and fantastic. Either way, you win.

TTYW,

Lisi

 

Networking The Room

Last week I mentioned one reader’s comment caught my attention. Here’s what Juliet asked:

Lisi, what is the best way to network? Especially if everyone in the room is richer/more accompished than you are?  I’m about to go off to a fancy college and need to know how!

First, Juliet, you have to know what makes you valuable. To start, get the phrase “everyone in the room is richer/more accomplished than you” out of your noggin because people can sniff out insecurity and it smells like a dude’s locker room. Just because someone is rich doesn’t mean they’re better than you. One of my favorite quotes comes from Dorothy Parker: “If you want to know what God thinks about money, look at the people he gave it to.”  Everyone in the room has value. Before you enter, figure out what yours is. Come from that place.

If your experience is limited, ask smart questions. People love talking about themselves. Ask them what they do, what they love about it, how they got into it… find common ground. “And there I was thinking I had the biggest collection of animal oil paintings. How can I see yours? Do you have a website or facebook page?”

Then follow up. Always follow up.

Make your goal to gather information. This is not the time to pitch yourself. No one wants to feel like they’re being played at a party. They want to feel like they’re fascinating you and that you have no agenda other than being fascinated. But be a detective. Remember names, gather contact information, and leave a good impression (read: limit alcohol, trust me.) Just when you think your brain and bladder are going to explode, excuse yourself and hit the latrine. Lock yourself in a stall and write down everything you remember.  “Sarah just got promoted to VP of Marketing, her favorite part of the job is the free samples she gets from snack companies…”

Then follow up. Always follow up. Sprinkle those details into your correspondence. “Hi Sarah, it’s Juliet. We met at the Olive Garden. We were talking about our love of snack samples and all things marketing. I thought you should know a friend just slipped me a pack of chocolate chip gum. It’s not going to hit shelves until Spring 2016 but if you let me take you to coffee and pick your brain about (some specific marketing thing) I’ll save the last piece for you…”

Before you crash any corporate retreats, start small. Join clubs, ask a stranger where she got her boots, volunteer. Most networking these days happens through friends of friends, family, and social media connections. Start developing those relationships now so you have a base before you’re on the hunt for a job.

Maya Angelou says, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” So make people feel good. Then follow up. Always follow up.

networking the room

(start by following up to this post. Let’s see how you do.)

TTYW,

Lisi

BFF or Bully?

BFF or Bully - Mean Girls GIF
Hi friends. I recently got a message from a fan that tugged at my heartstrings. She asked to remain anonymous and as I promise all those who send me confessions, I will happily grant her anonymity on today’s blah-g post.

But here’s the gist: Picture a clique at your school. One girl is the constant target, the one who the others relentlessly pick on. Maybe there’s an alpha girl in the group–the target’s BFF–who’s slinging all the insults and mean-spirited jokes. The target says she’s allowing it to happen because she sympathizes with the alpha girl and knows she is actually deeply insecure and these insults are a way for her to feel better about herself. But it’s gone on for too long, things have gone way too far, and the target can’t pretend she’s okay with their friendship dynamic any longer without suffering serious self esteem issues.

The target wants to make a change, but she doesn’t want to be mean or start a fight. She doesn’t want to offend the alpha by confronting her in the wrong way about this situation, but things have gotten hurtful and something has to be done. What if this girl was your friend, what would you advise her to do?

Dear Anon,

I can tell you’re a selfless person. What gave it away, you ask? You’ve been too nice to this girl. In this case, it might be that your good heart has allowed you to be taken advantage of by, as you wisely noted, a very insecure person who has chosen to take her insecurities out on you. It isn’t fair, but it’s a high school reality, and sadly the clique mentality can last throughout most people’s lives. It’s your job to stand up for yourself and demand the respect you deserve from friends–the same respect you are giving them. What’s not your job? Taking on the responsibility for your friend’s insecurities and suffering through emotional pain in order for her to feel better about herself. You have a great deal of compassion and understanding for your friend, and your intentions in allowing her to make you the target were coming from a good place, but BFFs don’t try to make each other feel badly, no matter the reason. This girl isn’t your BFF, she’s a bully.

It isn’t your fault she’s made you the target, but it’s your responsibility to show the people around you how you deserve to be treated. I hope you can find the nerve to stand up to this mean girl and know that there are ways you can do this without being mean yourself. You don’t need to play her game by throwing insults back her way, and you don’t need to stick your head in the sand hoping she’ll eventually stop and move onto bullying someone else in your group. At this point, she knows she can get away with it so you need to communicate that the behavior needs to end.

You can’t avoid having “the talk” with your friend. Keep it private, in person, and come from a calm place. Don’t yell or make underhanded remarks or else this mean girl will likely become defensive and this talk may escalate into a verbal fight. Adrenaline will be high at this point, but try to stay poised. Let your BFF know how much her comments and teasing have hurt you and that they need to stop. If you still care about saving the friendship, simply let her know that, adding you won’t be able to have the same friendship until she adjusts her behavior towards you. Do not let her make you feel like you’re making too big of a deal out of her teasing. Remember that BFFs do not make each other feel badly, no matter the reason.

If all goes well and your BFF is receptive, she will rightly apologize and make changes in how she treats you. If she doesn’t? You will have to find ways of separating yourself from her and sticking with the girls who truly have your back and care about your feelings. This can be tricky in a high school setting, but not impossible.

Anon, my heart goes out to you and I hope you decide to confront your friend about this issue. There is no reason you can’t have the friendships in your life that boost you up instead of tear you down, but it’s your responsibility to make that happen. You can do it. Good luck.

TTYW,

Lisi