ruining everything: a 10 step how-to guide // Victoria Yao

ruining everything: a 10 step how-to guide

  1. keep things hip and casual by not capitalizing or punctuating
  2. relate to the kids with your not too extensive knowledge of Keith Haring
  3. use this ~ whenever you feel it appropriate and at the end of things~
  4. impress the people you fear the most by never talking unless provoked and always keeping a pensive face
  5. adopt a subtle aura of “edginess” by purposefully mismatching your socks (think big)
  6. cotton on to elusive phrases such as “cotton on to” and “ethnic cleansing”
  7. carry a full Nalgene® 650mL water bottle with you at all times but never drink from it
  8. there is no step eight
  9. if someone is talking about a book, TV show, movie, etc. that they like and you also like it, pretend that you hate it and make fun of them for liking it
  10. maintain the most precarious level of emotional accessibility possible while still perpetuating the myth that things have been leading up to this

And things have been leading up to this

It’s the last day of your first year of college and you’re looking back. You’ve learned a lot. Some things you didn’t care to know but are better off for anyway. You’ve even fallen yet again into that comfortable old habit of writing in second person like some kind of cool guy. You’ve developed new opinions with your new knowledge. You know definitively now that the font Candara is bad and should not be used. You’re feeling so generous with your newfound knowledge and experience, you’ve broken it down into a 10-step list for the masses to be enlightened by.

But you’re also tired. You’re hands are shaking over the keyboard. You look terrible, get some sleep maybe, you’ve got things to do. You shouldn’t rest on your laurels just because you’ve completed a sort of milestone and are still young and could die in a horrible accident at any time anyway. You’ve got your worries too. Worries to act on. Thinking maybe second person prose is too on the nose but maybe you’re out of options and desperate to be a nonconformist in some small way. It’s probably fine, still accessible, and things have been leading up to this.

No matter what you read or write and no matter how you grow or change you’re still you, you think. Never mind that you’ve spent the last however many weeks without a place to reaffirm you inherent value, with that weird need you have to feel like an individual left unmet. Despite your whining about losing your grip on all the things that make you like yourself, you’ve made it this far, good job, champ. You’ve still got those bands you like, your brother’s dog, Ben & Jerry’s. You’ve still got your cool haircut and your dark circles under your eyes. So nothing’s changed.

You’re supposed to talk about what you read. You should be more serious but you’re uncomfortable trying to be profound or introspective about serious things. Anyway, it was food and murder and all the sorts of things that you shake hands with and then discreetly use hand sanitizer after. This is you with clean hands again. Okay, you learned about those things but did you change? Seems like the answer to the question “what changes who you are as a person?” has to be either everything or nothing. Let’s say everything. Let’s say all occurrences throughout spacetime no matter how small lead up to you and influenced you until you became who you are right now. Well, wow. Good job, pals. Here’s this guy, happening. You’d like to thank us all, but since your thanks would have to be divided and repeated an infinite number of times to account for all actions and people that have existed throughout time and beyond, and since there are a limited number of smiles and kind platitudes you can give before you die, let’s settle for a thumbs up.

Thumbs up image from the public domain (wpclipart)

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