I am 22. I just graduated last spring with my undergraduate degree, and I am hopefully headed to graduate school next fall to pursue a master’s and possibly Ph.D. I have always been a very serious student and socially quiet person. I am working at an internship, and my parents are supporting me per our agreement that I follow through with school. My life is pretty much perfect, but I am feeling an urge to do something wild or different or just unexpected. I don’t want to seem ungrateful, but I see other girls my age, and they have really fun and interesting lives. I haven’t even had a date in the last year. I am not ugly or a snob or anything horrible, just too serious and conservative. I have considered acquiring a tattoo or piercing, or even just coloring my hair, but I am not sure if that is the answer. What if I just look like a fool or a wannabe? I also think I might need something else, like a trip to Europe or China and Japan. Maybe a week in Vegas? I hope this makes some sense to you. I don’t want to wake up when I’m 30 and realize I spent the best years of my life buried in books and theory. I’m not worried about being a spinster. I doubt I will meet my husband till I am in my 30s, but what about all of the fun I should be having now? Can you tell me how a smart girl with a bright future can cut loose without throwing it all away, or pissing off my parents for that matter? Your advice would be very much appreciated. I like your column and find you very funny.
A girl with a hankering for fun
Dear Miss Hankering,
I find it hard to believe a young woman with such fine manners and delightful taste in advice columns could ever find herself in a sea of regret, but I understand your fears of messing up a good thing.
Start with the basics: Make a list of the things you don’t want to do, such as be arrested, lose a limb, wind up in celebrity rehab, or become pregnant. Put this next to the list of things you might want to do, like get a tattoo or take a trip overseas. If anything on the “yes” list could potentially land you on the “no” list, scratch it off.
Where are your friends in all of this? Are any of them having more fun than you? If not, maybe you need to make a new friend or two. Not the crack whore outside the Valero, but maybe another college student who also has a little fun on the weekends. Fun is almost always had with others.
Have you considered asking your parents about this? Possibly they would help fund a short trip to Europe, or wherever. That doesn’t even have to be wild. You can also do this while in school; it’s called study-abroad. A trip doesn’t automatically equal fun. You still have to jump out of your skin a little if you want it to be more than just a serious trip by a serious girl.
As for changing your image, I would start with hair color and have it done professionally. If you don’t like it, you can always have it colored back to match your natural color. I am not a fan of piercings, but I understand that most heal over if you stop wearing the jewelry. You can purchase temporary tattoo paper for your printer and try out a fake tattoo to see what it looks like. If you do get a tattoo, remember to make your first one a reasonable size in a semi-discreet location that will not sag horribly in a few decades.
Your 30s or 40s will most likely be the best years of your life if you keep a positive outlook on life. It is easier to have fun when you know a little more about yourself and the world. And having fun always looks a little foolish to someone else. That is why it is fun — you have a feeling of carefree and abandon that allows you to lose yourself a little. And when it’s fun, you don’t care if people think you look foolish. Now if it worked in reverse and every time I was looking foolish I was having fun, life would be a party.
Much love and big-time fun,
Your Uncle Mat
P.S. Keep an open mind; husbands don’t always arrive on schedule.
Uncle Mat answers questions about relationships, sex, pets, and art. Email him at email@example.com, myspace.com/yourunclemat, or check out the Dear Uncle Mat Page on Facebook. Your true identity is safe with him.