I just turned #Forever31, and I look back on the past year as the best yet–growth, change, struggle, triumph, love, loss, travel, and lots of vodka (per usual). I decided to compile some things I learned this year (or kinda’ already knew, but really had experiences with). There are definitely more (for example, how to zoom in on Instagram), but here’s the highlight reel.

1. If a business deal/arrangement seems too good to be true, it just might be. Ask questions (SO MANY QUESTIONS) and don’t let someone treat you like you’re incompetent or stupid (an effective form of manipulation). People in the business world will fuck you over. Protect yourself, be smart, ask questions, have a contract, consult an attorney, trust your gut.

2. Learn new shit you’re passionate about because it feels incredible. When we’re young/in school, we’re learning all the time. But sometimes when you slip into a comfortable career, this can slow/halt/stop. I had to learn so much with this site this year about hosting, costs, monetization, traffic, etc. and even though at times I wanted to cry from frustration, it was so empowering when I got a handle on it.

3. A spoonful of coconut oil in coffee will make you go to the bathroom immediately. Also, it’s an effective and safe, natural lube. What?

Speaking of…

4. Don’t settle for mediocre sex. Sure, not every couple knocks it out of the park their first go-around, but if you don’t have chemistry with someone (and you’ve TRIED because they’re hot/funny/great on paper/parent-approved), chances are you never will. Sorry. Friend zone him/her and move on. There are always people out there you will mesh with in the bedroom, even if you have to find them on kinkyshit.com (not a real site, sorry).

5. How to fix a jammed garbage disposal. Halloween night, a shot glass snuck into my garbage disposal, and I turned it on the next day to a glorious, ear-splitting sound. I picked out all the shards, but it still wouldn’t turn on. I thought I was going to have to replace the bitch, but I told my dad and he saved the day with a handy Allen wrench (because Allen is his middle name…literally) that fits into a hole at the bottom of the disposal (under the sink). Turn that thing a few times and VOILA! You’re Tim the Tool Man Taylor. More info here.

6. You have to lift weights and do squats if you want to look good naked. Sure, any girl can get skinny. But once she hits a certain age, “skinny” can easily turn to “skinny fat.” And newsflash: All cardio all the time isn’t going to give you that Instagram model body either. I’m not saying go CrossFit crazy, but squats and other booty strengthening exercises keep you out of saggy ass territory; and lift weights to build LEAN muscle, because the more muscle you have, the more calories you’re burning while sitting on the couch watching Bravo CNN. (If you’re in Atlanta, join us for Cara’s Fast Twitch class at the Forum on Fridays at 6 p.m.)
fast twitch friday

7. Bananas are pretty much the cure for everything in life. Peel away.

8. Listening to NPR just 20 minutes a day makes you smarter (or at least appear to be smarter in conversation). I’m a music listener in the car, but when I turned 30, I figured it was high time for talk radio whilst cruising. Of course, you can also stream online or download the app to listen anytime. Plus, lots of hot, successful dudes listen to NPR in the morning while they’re getting ready for work, so you can also sleep over with them to get your fix.

9. People don’t like it when you don’t pay for races, even in the name of a comedic stunt. Also, lots of hardcore runners are BATSHIT CRAZY.

10. Know your worth and ask for it. When you start out in low-paying jobs (ahem, PR and editorial) and are overworked and underpaid and constantly being told budgets are tight and/or nonexistent, it can seriously affect your mindset in future job situations. I’m not saying one shouldn’t intern, struggle, and be broke as shit (everyone should have to experience that #blessed lifestyle), but when you’ve been busting your ass for years, establishing yourself and perfecting a skill set, you have to shake the “There’s not enough money for me” mentality. Money is out there; don’t be afraid to ask for it (just be prepared to explain/show why you’re worth it).

11. Tell guys how you feel, then get back to your awesome life. You know the drill: Girl meets dude, hangs out with dude, likes dude (perhaps a whole lot), then all of a sudden he’s texting and she’s analyzing every word, punctuation mark, and length of response time to figure out if he likes her back. Fuck that noise. Sure, I think a guy should grow a pair, call a chick he likes ON THE PHONE, and ask her out, but there’s nothing wrong with a “So I think you’re awesome/fun/whatever and would love to hang again,” to get the ball rolling and give him a little confidence boost. Say it, then get back to your fab, independent life. If he doesn’t get the hint…NEXT.

12. Women’s magazines are all the same. Ok, so a FEW break the mold (ish), but the main ones have the same surface-level articles EVERY SINGLE MONTH—how to have great sex, how to get six-pack abs, 10 tips for perfect hair, 6 beauty products you absolutely HAVE to buy right now (and don’t mind that there are ads for those beauty products on the next page). I’m so over it. Now when I’m in the airport, I buy GQ. Or a book.

13. Don’t settle for a home you don’t love. When I turned 30, I decided I HAD to move out of my 100-year-old apartment with old pipes, paper-thin walls, and nonexistent insulation (but it had character!) into a grownup place. Once I made the decision, I was so anxious to relocate, but it took me a few grueling months to find the perfect place. I found myself looking at apartments and trying to talk myself into them, but knowing deep down they weren’t right. And when I walked into my dream apartment for the first time, I knew it was The One (exact quote: “I’ll write you a check right now; do NOT let anyone else have this.”). The night after I moved in and curled up on my patio with a glass of red wine, I felt a happiness and relaxation I had not felt in a while. Your home is so important; make sure you love it.

And speaking of red wine, excuse me while I continue to celebrate for the next 24 hours two weeks.

LYLAS and #Forever31,
Ashley

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Fitness + Health, Food + Drink, Inspiration

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