Song #21 // Angel Olsen, “Shut Up Kiss Me” [My Woman]

Open letter to myself (or anyone) in my (or their) 20s:

Don’t be scared. It’s only you.

Travel. Move someplace, the farther the better. Leave your family, friends, and familiarity behind. Cry yourself to sleep. Feel alone and lost. Don’t be afraid to go back. Don’t.

Get a job. Get a dream job. Lose it. Get fired. Don’t feel unduly superior to others. Secretly know that you’re right. But secretly know that you’re probably not.

Spend days drinking coffee and listening to classical music while looking at job ads. Feel like you could literally do any of them. Apply to them. Don’t wait to not hear back. Repeat with more coffee, more music. Learn some of the names, the major works. Spend days looking at job ads and fearing that you can’t do any of them. Apply to them anyway. Don’t appear too shocked when you get a call.

Live with other people. Hate it. Live alone. Hate it. Live above your means. Get used to it.

Hold onto some traditions from when you were a child: church on occasion, red pop on birthdays, a stuffed animal that you hide when you bring someone home.

Bring someone home. Fuck around. Have sex with strangers and people you know. Have sex and feel great about it. Have sex and feel awful about it. Regret it. Try to act like it’s not a big deal. Kiss on the mouth the day after no matter. Don’t be a dick. Don’t hurt people. Make out. Call back. Let them hurt you.

Date if you must. Don’t look a month, or a week down the line. It’s only you standing in the way of that view. Any attempt to look around it just tips the boat. Let it glide no matter the seas.

Spend your money on books and concerts and being out with other people. Walk or bus. No cabs.

Don’t be afraid of having nothing to do on a Sunday. Go to the park and try to read again. Go for a walk and get tired too quickly. Let yourself feel sad. Eat alone in the quiet and pity yourself.

Realize that you’re in control. Make the most of it. Take a daytrip without telling anyone. Stay up too late. Keep journals that you’ll cringe at later. Eat food that you’d never cook for yourself.

Don’t get married. Just don’t. No matter what your friends are doing or what they do back home. Don’t.

20 isn’t old. 25 isn’t old, 30 and 35 isn’t old. Your life isn’t over no matter how much it sucks. Your life isn’t over, it hasn’t yet begun.

This is an excerpt from my “Self, Help!” manuscript How to be a Good Dude.

This is a great song that somehow ended up on a lot of people’s year-end list. More power to her. I’m just gonna leave it at marveling at the title. Whether direct and honest or coy and ironic it works. Get out of your way and tell the boy what you want. Get it.