I'M IN MY 30s NOW: THE SECOND ACT. Life has changed in a million ways, not the least of which, socially. And I hate to be Mr. Rules McBossy, but -- Wait, no I don't! The first in a series, here are some rules to live (after 30) by. Some are here for my own good, too. Like resolutions, sometimes good social graces require practise and dedication.
1. NEVER COME EMPTY-HANDED. Always (always) bring something to a place you've been invited.
2. NEVER MISSPELL THERE/THEIR/THEY'RE. If you're still confused, take a class or something. Seriously unacceptable. See also: Where, we're, were.
3. ALWAYS SPLIT THE BILL. Divide the total (after adding tax and tip) by the number of people at the table and pay your sum. Do not split hairs where "I only had one drink," is concerned.
4. CUT PEOPLE SOME SLACK. Life is busy. Refrain from guilting people about hanging out or "never seeing" them. Enjoy the limited time you can share and skip all the bad feelings.
5. REACH OUT. Pay attention to your friends. Send a quick text when you know they have a big day or a stressful meeting or a scary appointment.
6. COMMIT TO A GOOD TIME. If you can't afford to go out and enjoy the evening to the average level of the group, politely decline the invite. Know your limits and don't feel bad about it: We all need to rein in the budget sometimes. But there's no bigger bummer than one party-member opting out of a shared bottle of wine or skipping two courses of a meal because of fiscal constraints. Toss out an excuse and join next time. ALTERNATIVE: You create the social plan so that it works for you. See an upcoming post on The Grilled Cheese Dinner Party.
7. CUT THE COMPETITION. At work or in your creative endeavours (or both if you work creatively) focus on yourself. Not to get all Oprah about it, but try to celebrate each other and your industry. Focus on lifting the baseline and raising the quality across the boards, rather than trouncing others to make yourself seem better by comparison. Also don't beat yourself up by spending too much time looking at your peers as "better" than you. Stop that.
8. BE ACCOUNTABLE. Saying "I'm sorry I hurt your feelings," before someone asks you to is the most-mature thing you can do. Get ahead of it and man-up.
9. GRACIOUSLY ACCEPT GIFTS. If someone snaps up the bill after a round of drinks or a terrific meal, don't fight them. Say thank you and remember to return the favour next time.
10. ALLOW PEOPLE TO CHANGE, TO BECOME BETTER VERSIONS OF THEMSELVES. I want to make sure I'm not holding people to some incarnation which has evolved into something greater. The longer we've known people, the harder this can be. If you think you've changed since childhood, understand and be open to the idea that others likely have, too. Nothing hurts more than being hitched to a character flaw you know you shook a long time ago.
Illustrations by Sandi Falconer.