I think I might be a list addict.
I’m constantly making lists of everything in my life. Most recently, I started thinking about all the queer rites-of-passage that I still have yet to experience, as well as all those that I have had the pleasure of doing.
How many of these bucket list items have you done?
1. Travel to San Francisco, at least once (extra credit if it’s during Pride).
I was fortunate enough to be invited along with some friends going to San Francisco Pride a few years ago, and it truly is a magical experience. I have yet to experience Pride in any other big cities, so I’m definitely open to checking out some of the greats – but San Francisco Pride is definitely a magical celebration that’s not soon to be forgotten.
2. Go to a Pride parade.
If you don’t have the benefit of being a couple hours away from San Francisco (like I am), really, any big city Pride parades are magical, from what I’ve heard. Just do your best to make sure you’re in a gay-friendly area, as unfortunately people aren’t so great, and horrible things can happen. Make sure you’re safe!
3. Make a close group of lesbian friends.
I honestly wish I had more lesbian friends. Don’t get me wrong, I have a few, but most of them have dated one another, so it’s pretty awkward… Seeing as that’s how I met them. It would be so nice to have a group of lesbians to hang out with who didn’t hate each other’s guts, but I guess I’ll settle for Facebook friends… for now.
4. Switch up your wardrobe.
People catch a lot of shade for changing up their style every now and then, but it’s not our natural instinct to stay the same our whole lives. Not too long ago, my “default style” was baggy t-shirts and those horrible pants with all the chains all over them. Now I can’t even stand the idea of either of those things… I’d much rather wear a flowy dress and a tank top. It’s completely normal to switch up your style, and don’t let anyone ever tell you that “going through a phase” is a bad thing. You’ve got to change to figure out who you really are, and who you like being.
5. Drastically change your hair.
For the longest time, I refused to cut my hair. When I was in 7th grade, it actually went down to the back of my knees – it had been probably seven years since I got more than a trim. Now I can’t stand my hair staying the same for so long. I love to dye it, cut it, experiment with colors and textures. And why not? Your hair is literally made of the same stuff as your fingernails. If you paint or cut your nails, there’s no logical reason you can’t do the same to your hair – so enjoy some creative expression!
6. Read some queer literature.
I’m not talking about just steamy erotica novels (although those are sometimes a good read, too). Find some “serious” literature, either by a queer author or about queer subjects, and read the hell out of it! There’s so much out there, and you might have to do a little digging to find it, but the right book can help make up for a little of the bad representation we see in other forms of entertainment. (Here’s a handy list of some queer books you can start with.)
7. Start over in a new city.
Okay, I’ll admit… I kinda do this one a lot. I don’t like feeling like I “have to” stay somewhere, so I’ll move pretty much any time I have the opportunity to. After we recently moved back to the town I grew up in (where my girlfriend had never lived before), we started talking about where we’re going to live next – because one single place is never in my long-term plans. It’s super refreshing to start over somewhere fresh… And there’s no harm in moving back “home” if things don’t work out.
8. Become an active member of the queer community, in a way that makes sense for you.
Not everyone is meant to be an activist or a politician or a performer, but that doesn’t mean that you have to stay a silent part of the community. There’s literally something for everyone – my activity of choice is writing, as I’m sure you can tell. The important thing is that you find your thing and do the best job at it you can. The queer community is counting on you!
9. Have a serious, live-in girlfriend.
Even those who have all but sworn off love will, at some point, end up with a serious girlfriend. Now, there are two main reactions the first time this happens: Some people realize that it’s definitely not for them, and they keep things casual from then on out… Until someone comes along and changes their mind (again) and the cycle starts all over. Others wonder why they didn’t do it sooner, and end up having serious relationships with a good portion of their subsequent girlfriends. Neither one of these is “right” or “wrong”, but you have to at least try it.
10. Get over your insecurities.
Most people are insecure about something, and while there are often “triggers” for these insecurities, it’s up to each person to work them out and move past them. This means that if you’re worried about your weight, do something about it! (And if you’re already exercising and eating well and you’re still bigger, don’t worry about the specific numbers – your health is more important.) If you’re worried about your job, work toward getting a better one. If you can’t bring yourself to ask a woman out, practice until you can do it. There’s nothing wrong with not being perfect, but there is something wrong with complaining about something you’re not trying to fix.
11. Come to terms with rejection.
Almost everyone has been rejected before – either by a crush, a potential employer, or maybe even by a parent (although I hope that’s not the case for most). We, as humans, tend to focus too much on what that rejection says about us, but in most cases it’s more of a reflection of the other person. You are always free to use this rejection as motivation to improve yourself, but take care not to change who you are as a person.
12. Come out of the closet.
If you haven’t come out yet, you should. Not because the world deserves to know your personal details, but because you deserve to live out in the open. Understandably, there are certain situations where coming out would be dangerous and unsafe, and of course I don’t recommend that you out yourself in those situations – but it’s my hope for each and every one of you that you can one day be 100% honest about who you are. And remember, there are different types of closets.
13. Have a good straight friend.
I’ve actually been blessed in this department – I probably have more straight friends than I have lesbian friends. (Although some of my “straight” friends have recently come out as bisexual and pansexual, so I’m not sure where the division really lands now.) But as important as it is to have friends who understand what it’s like to be gay, it’s also important not to alienate those who don’t know what it’s like to be gay. If you’re just collecting queer friends and passing over all the gems that aren’t queer, you’re really missing out on some great friendship opportunities.
14. Date a bisexual woman.
I know there are a lot of bisexuals who don’t want to be treated as a token, so rest assured – that’s not what I mean here. I simply mean that you should be open to the idea of dating a bisexual woman. There is a tremendous amount of biphobia in the lesbian community, and in most cases, it’s completely unfounded. If you’re completely closed to the idea of dating a bisexual woman, you are discriminating – pure and simple. It’s okay to have preferences, but it’s not okay to make someone else feel inferior if they don’t fit into your “type”.
15. Learn how to gracefully say “no” – without feeling guilty about it.
I’m so bad about trying to appease people. I know, you can’t please everyone, but I’d break my back trying before I’d admit that I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. As much as I tell myself that the only approval that matters is my own, I’m still struggling to say no without feeling bad afterward. It’s an important milestone I still have yet to cross.
16. Date someone who’s not your type.
Maybe the person who’s “not your type” is the bisexual woman from #14. Or, maybe she’s not. There are no rules, here, except that you’ve got to break your own rules every now and then. Let me repeat it for those in the back row: It’s okay to have preferences. But if you’re limiting your options, you’re limiting your options. Be open to new things!
17. Purge all the drama from your life.
Most of us hate dealing with drama. Or, at least we say we do. But realistically, if there’s a lot of drama in your life on a regular basis, you’re welcoming it in. If you really want to live drama-free, you’ve got to take a stand and get rid of the drama. Negative friends, people who refuse to improve their lives, and those who are always focused on someone else’s business aren’t right for you. Part of being an adult is recognizing it and putting an end to it.
18. Get over your first love.
I’m sure there are some people reading who are actually still with their first love, and while I’m so happy for you, statistically speaking, it probably isn’t going to last the rest of your life – and that’s okay. The pain from losing your first love is very real, and as much as it hurts, you will be a million times stronger once you get past it. You’ll be smarter, too, and you’ll be able to treat your second love that much better.
19. Evaluate your safer sex methods and diligence.
There are so many lesbians who feel that they don’t need to practice safer sex because we fall in a so-called “low risk” demographic. As nice of a thought as that is, it’s simply not true. Lesbians are at risk for a number of STDs that don’t even have recognizable symptoms in women. No matter how solid your methods seem, it’s important to get tested regularly, and get educated on same-sex sexual health (especially since it’s so rarely taught in schools).
20. Date someone with a significant age difference.
If you date someone much older than you, you get the chance to benefit from your partner’s wisdom and experience. If you date someone significantly younger, you get the chance to give your partner the benefit of your wisdom and experience. While you probably shouldn’t choose someone solely based on their age, we feel that everyone should experience an age-gap relationship at least once in their life.
21. Go to a queer concert.
Okay, I’ll admit: I’ve never gone to an out queer artist’s concert. I feel like I’m slacking, both as a lesbian and as a music lover. But I did attend a Joan Jett concert a couple years back, and she’s a pretty solid lesbian icon, even if she doesn’t identify as a lesbian herself. Once I have the money, I plan to do a little mini-tour of my own, and hit up the concerts of some of the greats. (Feel free to suggest some great queer artists for me in the comments – I’m always looking for new music inspiration!)
22. Use a dating app – and score a date.
Honestly, even with the state of technology being what it is now, there are still so many unnecessary stereotypes about using dating apps. It seems pretty silly, actually – I mean, here is this app that was literally designed because of people who struggled in the dating scene. Most lesbians struggle in the dating scene. So why do we judge each other for using something that was designed to fix that exact problem? And if you’re doing things safely and respectfully, it’s no different than meeting someone through friends, except that you know all the big deal breakers ahead of time.
23. Stop slut- and prude-shaming, both yourself and others.
It’s okay to enjoy sex. It’s okay to not enjoy sex. People realistically fall in all different areas of the spectrum, and it’s extremely unlikely that you’re even going to find someone who’s into all the same stuff you’re into. Why, then, do we assume that everyone else should feel exactly the same way that we do about sex?
The subject of shaming goes even further, though, because it uses misogynistic beliefs and hurtful language to assume things about a person’s identity – things that are, by definition, different from person to person and often unpredictable based on the qualifiers we use. From a logical standpoint, slut- and prude-shaming make zero sense – it’s time to put an end to both.
24. Become completely honest with yourself, about everything.
Life is about balance, and while most of us understand this, we forget to include ourselves in the equation – meaning no matter how balanced things appear, they’re missing a huge chunk. According to Hal Elrod (author of The Miracle Morning), “Creating your ‘level 10 life’ begins with creating an honest assessment of where you are.” Basically, this means that you have to be honest about every aspect of your life, at least to yourself, otherwise you literally cannot actually be happy. (My current favorite blogger has a great post about the Level 10 Life concept – and I’ve actually got “map out my level 10 life” on my to-do list for tonight.)
25. Learn to drive a U-haul and a pickup truck.
Okay, maybe I’m playing to lesbian stereotypes a little bit here, but as someone who’s going to be turning 26 years old and still can’t drive a car without having a panic attack, this is actually a pretty big goal for me. Hopefully I can cross this one off before I turn 30.)
26. Redecorate your room, so you can tell a real grown-up lives there.
If you’re over the age of 25 and your bedroom still looks pretty similar to how it looked when you were a teenager… It’s time to start thinking like an adult. Truthfully, there’s some wiggle room here – you’re definitely allowed to be a whimsical adult. But by age 30, you need real furniture, matching bed sets, and curtains – not to mention the ability to keep up on your laundry. Trust me, if you make sure your bedroom looks like an adult lives there, you’re going to feel a lot more like an adult, too.
27. Forgive yourself for your past mistakes.
Often we feel guilty about the mistakes we’ve made in the past, especially if our actions hurt someone else. But feeling remorse about something is your mind’s way of telling you that you learned your lesson – and it’s time to make sure it doesn’t happen again. The person you hurt has no obligation to forgive you, but you do have an obligation to forgive yourself.
Of course, this won’t happen until you’ve reached a point in your life where you have learned from your mistakes. While you’re still learning, you’re going to be frustrated, tempted, and a great deal of other painful feelings. You can’t move past your mistakes simply because someone else wants you to. You have to move on because you’re ready to, and often this will involve creating a completely new life without the person (or people) you hurt.