Once upon a time, I had a motto: Don’t sweat the small stuff (and it’s all small stuff)! I didn’t invent it, but I made a great evangelist back in 2009, right around the time I titled a Facebook album “My Life Is In Shambles But Here Are Your Damn Photos.” Term papers? Sorority rush? Costume designing three shows? Small stuff! Here are your damn photos!
I still don’t believe in sweating the small stuff. But I don’t believe in ignoring it, either — precisely because it’s all small stuff. If everything doesn’t matter, then…nothing matters. The itchy business of living is all we’ve got some days. The small stuff will absolutely undo us if we let it. And for no good reason, because small stuff is usually easy to fix.
As someone who chronically stresses over abstract ideas like Maintaining Balance and Finding Love and Designing My Career, I think the small stuff is a fine place for me to direct my attention. Instead of sweating it, though, I’m hacking it — systematically scrubbing until it figures out how to scrub itself. If I flick away the sweat before it drips, I’ll never wind up with a soaked shirt and eyeliner on my chin. And now I’m very much regretting this metaphor.
Small Stuff to Sweat Hack in 2015
No headphones on the train. Without a sense of hearing, I enter an eerie state of half-consciousness. I’m less likely to stare at adorable babies, admire a girl crush’s denim-cuffing technique, read the book I’ve ambitiously tucked in my bag or work through whatever’s on my mind. Instead, I just…zone. It’s not meditation, it’s dead time, and I don’t need two hours of it a day. Saying no to “headphoning it in” will make my commute more engaged and productive.
Up my manicure game. This is one of those things that speaks volumes about where I’m at with self-care. It’s a bit of a hamster wheel, yes, but I feel infinitely more pulled together when my nails are painted. I can spare 20 minutes twice a week to feel pulled together.
Commit to life after bangs. Growing out bangs is the worst, and I’ve now tried and failed on three separate occasions. This time is the last time (meaning, last time was the last time). Suffer the interim shag — like, two months, max! — and ye shall be rewarded with the ability to rock a sloppy topknot on days you DGAF (but it’s fine, cuz you painted your nails).
Dress myself the night before. Not another vanity hack — this is straight time management. My morning routine is quick and dirty, except that I’m horribly indecisive and spend 25 minutes shuffling in and out of various half-outfits before realizing I will be fired if I don’t show up for work and racing out in whatever I’ve land in at minute 26. Somehow I don’t see myself agonizing into the night if I lay out clothes when I’m in a less harried frame of mind. Doing so will also help facilitate early workouts, which is key because…
Run 13.1. I’m not the first twentysomething to run a half marathon, and I won’t be the last. But it’s a big deal to me! I’m registered for the Pittsburgh Half on my birthday weekend (in May), meaning it’ll be the first workout I complete in my second quarter-century. Happy new year, indeed. I’m calling this a preventative hack against small stuff like brain fog and body angst that creeps in when I start slacking on exercise. I’ve got time for long runs, but ain’t nobody got time for that.
Eat sandwiches for lunch. Literally nothing hits that sweet spot of satisfied-but-not-sleepy for me like a sandwich. Not salad, not soup, not souped-up fiber-fied grain bowls (I get gassy, okay?). Every few months, I attempt to go raw/go Paleo/break up with gluten and, after a brief placebo-induced reckoning, find I’ve cured nothing except my ability to function after noon. Stop the madness! Sane amounts of gluten and I are A-OK. Sandwiches are my happy place. And if I wind up back there in March, there is gluten-free bread I can pretend to like until I come to my senses.
Get outta town (and, if possible, the U.S.). I love staycations. I live in an amazing city, and bopping around at a leisurely pace and then coming home to cook in my own kitchen and sleep in my own bed makes me happy. I did so for two full weeks in 2014. But…I need to travel. For my own growth and, once I shake off my control-freaky roots, enjoyment. I’ve already got a few trips to look forward to — five days in L.A., a weekend in Philly for the 1989 tour (h8erz gunna h8!!!!!!!), the aforementioned half marathon — and I’m into living dat nomad life insomuch as my sanity and wallet will allow.
Wear pants on the weekends. Would you judge me if I told you I often go two straight days without putting on clothes? Good, because I judge me a little. As much as I need “me time” to function, weekends can and should consist of more than lounging all morning, forcing myself to the gym, showering, putting on fresh PJs and climbing back into bed at 2pm. I swear I enjoy the outside world — I just get sucked into things (like, um, things made of spandex) until it feels too late to bother getting dressed. Pants would be a game changer.
I’ve also had some frumpy growing pains transitioning into my Adult Look (it’s a thing), and I’m bound to pull it it together more quickly if I get all the terrible ideas out of my system when the stakes are low. More trial = more error, followed by NO ERROR EVER AGAIN. That’s how that works, right?
Unfilter myself. I wrote way more than I published in 2014 (good, but could be good-er), and a big part of that was psyching myself out over images. It’s dumb. I’m not a photographer. If I have a relevant photo, I will certainly throw it up here. But I trust that anyone who jives with my blog can figure out what I’m saying with out a dubious Instagram illustration.
What small stuff are you hacking this year?