Hey you ;),

Long time, no talk. (How much do you just love that intro? Like an awkward teenage boy trying to rekindle a conversation with a girl he dumped three months ago over text.)

These last weeks have been long and arduous and mostly satisfying, but also overwhelmingly frustrating. It’s given me, and eventually will give you, the opportunity to learn how to deal with a lot of big feelings all at once. As you face down your first year out of college you’ll find that relationships, personal and professional, are the source of both your sanity and your escalating desire to punch walls. Consistency is fleeting and, honestly, come the end of those difficult days you should be proud that at the very least you’re still upright and breathing. There’s something to be said for just holding your shit together, even if it’s as simple not allowing an inevitable fight to cause permanent damage.

This past week or so in particular has been a learning experience in picking battles. It’s something we’ve always had a difficult time with. More often than not you’ll say something you shouldn’t have because your feelings get the best of you. And here’s the thing: when you feel, you feel BIG. It’s just part of who you are. It can make you giggly and happy and overwhelmed with joy (“overwhelmed with joy” makes me sound like I’m fifty fucking years old, jesus christ), and it can also make you the world’s biggest dickhole. That’s the thing about big emotions, they’re a lot. And unfortunately, when they’re negative, they’re harmful. To yourself and to the people around you.

So how do you keep yourself from saying shit that in the moment feels powerful and ten seconds later feels like you’ve blown up every important thing in your life with an atomic bomb that had a baby with another atomic bomb and now there’s just fucking atomic bombs everywhere?

Well. You pick your battles. You learn to bite your tongue. You think before you speak. I hate when people say “think before you speak” like it’s some amazing life changing piece of advice that hasn’t been given to you eight million times before, but it’s been given to you eight million times before because it is a very good piece of advice. It’s a hard piece of advice to follow, but it’s good. Below I’ve listed a handful of pointers that might make picking your battles a tad easier. Knowing which things are worth a heated discussion and which aren’t will save you mucho mucho grief. Everyone has their methods, but here are mine and, in due course, yours.

1.     If your immediate reaction is to say something bitchy, and you KNOW it’s bitchy, take a deep breath first. Seriously, take a deep breath. You might look stupid to the other person, but looking stupid is a whole lot better than saying something you know will have dire repercussions. Taking a deep breath gives you a good 5 - 10 seconds to evaluate your next move. And if your next move is still to be an asshole and you think it’s a necessary move, then go ahead. If not, you just saved yourself an outburst.

2.     Physically bite your tongue. Okay, so dumb, I know. But it’s helped me a lot. I’ve done it so often in the last six months during stressful circumstances that now, as soon as I do it, my body sort of relaxes into a conditioned state of calm. It’s amazing what mediating your levels of asshole-ness can do.

3.     Excuse yourself and walk away. Not forever, obviously. Or forever. Maybe you’re a dramatic ass hoe, idk, but if you’re not do yourself a favor when tensions begin to escalate and just say, “Give me a second,” and walk out the damn door. Following that statement with, “We can revisit this in a minute, I just want to make sure I don’t say anything I regret,” is certainly a helpful secondary move, but first and foremost get yourself out of there. The other person may not take kindly to it in the moment, but returning to the conversation with a thoughtful response is going to play much better for you in the long term. If they’re unsettled for a moment, it’s fine. They’ll live.

4.     KNOW YOUR TRIGGERS AND TAKE A SECOND TO CONSIDER IF YOU’RE JUST BEING EXTRA SENSITIVE. This is a BIG ONE. Chances are, whatever it is that’s upsetting you is the result of you interpreting something incorrectly. The people you spend time with are great and you love them and you chose them to be in your life, so try to remember that when things they’re saying or doing are setting you off. Angering you is probably not their intention (at least I would hope not), and most of the time you feel the things you feel because of projection. Just because you feel one way or another, doesn’t mean they feel that way toward you. Be conscious of that.

5.     Every argument is valid on both sides. For the most part. Some arguments are bullshit, but you’ll know those from the get-go. Bearing in mind that whatever the other person is saying is fair might help keep you from exploding. No one appreciates their reasonable opinion being met with fury. In fact, it usually just proves their point. Which brings me to my final tip:

6.     Stop being so damn defensive. Stop it. Defending yourself to the death usually just makes the other person think they’re right. “If you’re not guilty, why are you being so defensive?” That kind of dumb shit. I’m not saying lay down and take it. But just, you know, put on the brakes a bit.

And that’s about it. I certainly haven't, in many ways, managed to follow the above. I fail at it more than I succeed. But I fail at it less than I used to. Which means you’ll fail at it less than you used to. And that’s something to be proud of. That means progress. It takes a long time to get to the end goal, but patience and thought will do the trick. Never forget that your voice always counts, and that what you have to say is always (usually) important, just try to evaluate when it is and isn’t necessary to light a fire. At the end of the day you’ll be a lot happier with yourself for it.

Much love dingus,