At some point, I’m going to have to accept that upon college graduation, I elected to take a socioeconomic class dive. There might’ve been a time when lucrative jobs were within the realm of possibility for me, but for the foreseeable future, I’ve chosen a life where parking at a meter seems decadent.
Problem is, at 21, I was far from a blank slate. Inside my incredibly comfortable formative bubble, I’d unwittingly grown accustomed to the finer things in life. We were never, like, yacht-rich, but we had enough money that I felt an impulse to give to charity sometimes.
But then I started paying my own bills. Screw that.
What I don’t get is: I had so fewer needs when I was younger. I wish my parents would have let me fend for myself in reverse, not abruptly decided I was “responsible” and capable of things like “prioritization.”
I know I’m not alone in this. For all you aspiring aspiring artists out there, I present:
Things Not To Get Used To:
1. The Dentist
Sure, it used to be a regular staple of your bi-annual routine, but check-ups are seriously like, hundreds of dollars. Isn’t that better spent on teeth whitening? Come on. I’m not going to squander my alcohol money on the passive aggression of being asked if I floss.
2. Hair Salon Shampoo
My relationship with my hair shampoo started four years ago, when some wily stylist remarked that my hair was “damaged” and required “intense repair.”
“Why don’t you try this special green tub of French shit?”
I obliged, paying nearly $40 a pop for something that lasts eight weeks, tops. And when your hair gets That Soft after every shower, well, you become accustomed to things like running your fingers through it. And if you ever attempt to switch shampoos, well, your hair gets pissy and tangled. And that means your fingers get stuck mid-run, which induces frustration, which subliminally increases anxiety over whatever it was that caused that hair-stroking habit in the first place.
$1040 later, my hair is softer than the underside of a chinchilla, but I cannot afford to visit my family in Chicago. Ever.
3. Hot Yoga
A friend of mine dragged me to a hot yoga class six months ago, claiming that it’s a manageable workout for even the most physically inept among us. And she was right - the 100-degree heat provides a wonderful distraction from the inherent discomfort of exercising. Plus, you sweat a lot, so it *feels* like you’re losing weight, even if it’s just water. It’s a fantastic mind-fuck. However, once that becomes the *only* way you can get yourself to work out, you’re basically shelling out $23/class at least once a week. And that just makes it too easy to be like, “I can’t afford that! Guess I can’t work out.” But then you get fat, and since you can’t afford new jeans, you figure you should probably get back into hot yoga. They now own you.
A cheap “mani/pedi” with your friends seems innocuous - what’s $18 every now and then? and it’s a fun non-alcoholic bonding experience! - until that one day when your paint chips, and you discover the underlying destruction. Manicures are not actually good for your nails. No one will tell you this until it is too late, and your default nail color has become a scratchy semi-pink. So what do you do? Attempt to paint them yourself? Let’s be honest - you will never approximate the dexterity of Soo Jin Kim. So you return, despite the recognition that Mrs. Kim’s tips will mean you cannot get your mother a birthday present this year.
5. Hair Highlighting
This one should be classified as an addiction. I started highlighting my hair back in eighth grade: partially at my mother’s behest, partially to emulate Britney Spears, partially to appear more Aryan in case there were to be another Holocaust. Now, the minute my roots get slightly too dark, I can’t not go crawling back to my overpriced colorist, for fear of being perceived as “trailer trash” or “that girl who doesn’t shower regularly.”
6. Bikini Waxes
Okay, seriously? If you’re not dating someone seriously and it’s not beach weather, this is $55 for something that might never be seen within that six-week cycle. So the rational part of your brain is like, fine… I’ll just… keep it kempt. But then along comes Easter and/or Fernando, and you’re reallllly wishing you hadn’t gone so long between appointments. Motherfucker.
7. Eating At Restaurants
Friday nights at Chilis were a staple of my high school experience (shut up). Enabled by my parents’ card, I learned to associate lengthy, sumptuous meals at restaurants with having a social life at all. So yeah, I continue to blow my bank account eating out multiple times a week, but at least it’s not a meth habit.
8. Driving Places
I just recently realized this costs money. I’m not giving out rides until this Libya stuff clears up.
9. Functional Socks
Why buy new socks when you can visit home and snag Wigwams from the bottom of your drawer? The elastic might no longer function, but hey, if you ever lose them in your apartment’s laundry room, they’re still labeled with your name in permanent marker from when you brought them to summer camp in ‘98. NO ONE LOOKS AT SOCKS.
In a city of minimum-wage assistants and unemployed youth, how does everyone afford a smart phone with an average plan of $20+/month? I am lucky enough to have a family with a Family Plan, but that comes with the Family Guilt of having your parents not accept reimbursement. And that comes with the need to indulge your mother in “not eating like that.”
11. The Pill
So fucking unfair. Can someone subsidize this already? I can’t afford to get or not get preggers.
12. American Girl Dolls
Can we make a trade? My $500 doll collection for rent money?
So yeah, to conclude: hygiene is overrated and haircare leads to the decision to go to law school.