Single Girls Guide

You Don't Know Anything, So Stop Listening to Yourself

Sometimes I feel like our instincts steer us in the wrong direction and the times we really make headway in our life is when we ignore them and do the opposite. When someone pulls away from you, your instinct is to grab onto them tighter. When you’re feeling excluded, you pout and become someone that people don’t want to include. When you need some attention and you spend an immeasurable amount of energy into getting that attention, someone walks into the room next to you and effortlessly takes the air out of the room. Scream at the top of your lungs about how happy you are and everyone wonders what unhappiness made you feel the need to make a scene. Tell everyone how much you don’t care what people think and it’s all you’ve talked about all day.

I don’t think anyone is immune to this, I think some people are better at bluffing. We have to bluff in order to survive. But imagine if we didn’t. Imagine if you ran into your ex with his new girlfriend and you said, “F**k, it’s really hard seeing you together.” I don’t know if it would bring you any closer to what you want, but I feel like something good has to come out of lining up your feelings with your actions. We can distract people from the truth for a matter of time, but they’ll never really respect you for it.

People feel it when you’re trying too hard, even if you think you’re doing a great job of covering it up. And we assume that it’s off limits to just say what we’re really thinking, but I don’t think it should be. Most of the people who look at you with shock and horror are wishing they were brave enough to say it first. And someone has to be the first with anything, so why shouldn’t it be you? I see people, women mostly for some reason, who have all this stuff bottled up inside and when they decide to “find their voice” they’re like a loose canon just vomiting everything they never said.

I’ve been told by more than a couple people, “Honesty is fine, but you don’t have to say everything you’re thinking, Erin. It’s a little much, not everyone wants to hear it.” And they are entitled to their opinion (sort of), and maybe sometimes I don’t have to announce how many people I’ve slept with and that I spent thirty minutes taking pictures of myself on Photo Booth so that I could tweet a casual “candid” shot that I will pretend someone else took of me. Maybe. But I know that I won’t be sitting at a civilized luncheon with my old lady friends some day when I suddenly have a nervous breakdown and feel the need to scream at them all the horrible shit people have talked about them over the years. I will have my composure, because I let out steam along the way.

It’s important to know that there is a difference between listening to your instinct and listening to your gut. Your gut knows everything. But your gut isn’t cocky. It isn’t loud. It doesn’t force you to listen to it. It subtly lets you know what’s right, and then it gets quiet while you figure it out the hard way. Your instincts are trained habits that you created somewhere along the way. And they are usually just what you’re comfortable with. And some of us are comfortable being unhappy, being taken advantage of, being walked all over, ignored, overlooked, under respected, being made to settle. Your gut tells you the truth, it tells you when something is off. It tells you what no one else will. When you’re walking down the aisle in a wedding dress and looking at the faces of two hundred people expecting you to become Mrs. WhatsHisName and your gut is telling you to run but your instinct is telling you to follow through with it, you’re going to listen to your instinct. It’s the easy path. But three years later when you’ve got a baby on your hip and your husband comes home smelling like someone else’s perfume, your gut is gonna be saying, “I told you so.”

Go against what you usually do. Your friends don’t know anything. They don’t want to be held accountable for giving you risky advice. And all the greatest outcomes were born out of taking a risk. Divert your path. Have little mini nervous breakdowns along the way, so you never end up having one in a white padded room somewhere. Embarrass yourself. Scare yourself. Listen to your gut. That bitch is always onto something.

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  • Gemma Sellings

    ERIN!! Girl, you can’t admit to spending 30 mins on photo booth. LOL – you’re too damn honest, but it is very refreshing, I must admit. It’s good to know we’re all somewhat ‘normal’ in the stupid shit we end up doing.
    Also, LOL (sorry, I know you’re a bit of a het up ‘LOL’ snob, but whatevs) at your images – I ALWAYS know it’s your article by the picture!! You must spend as long looking for cool pics than you do writing your column.
    Happy Christmas!!

    • Erin Foster

      ha, i take the picture very seriously. My little sisters who are super hip have tumblr’s filled with them so i have good resources.

  • Lindsay Soleil Rogers

    I recently began doing this more. I have lost friends over it but gained more respect and better friend too. Amen sista.

  • Rebecca Doris

    how on earth do you tell the difference between your gut and your instinct when those voices fly around in your head? you CAN’T until after the fact. there’s no difference between the two until it turns out that one of the possible scenarios that you imagined comes to fruition.

    basically whether you listen to yourself or to your friends’ advice or your grandmother or erin foster, there’s nothing that can protect you from getting hurt. whether you run, stay, speak or not, life’s gonna beat the crap out of you. everyone has doubts. some times our worst, most irrational nightmares come true.

    this kinda talk perpetuates anxiety disorders for chrissake. all you can do is act with the information available to you and shrug it off if it blows up. ’cause it definitely will at some point.

    • Britt Bulens

      I can tell the difference between my gut feelings and my instinct. I think your gut feeling is your genuine reaction to something, but your instinct is how you act to portray whatever reaction you wish you were having, (bluffing). I think that sometimes just sharing how you really feel can be helpful, ’cause a lot of the time you’re not the only one. Maybe it won’t all “blow up” at some point.

  • Amalia Pantazi

    Erin! EXCELLENT! I so needed this today! Thank you for being so awesome! xoxo =)

  • Lindsay Goins

    Definitely needed this after I was Awkward McGee last night. :)

  • Shahjahan Akhtar

    thry war enjoy to each other

  • Michelle Seanez

    Such a great read and just when I needed to read it. Thanks.

  • Genevieve ‘Genni’ Ormon

    YES! This year my new years resolution was just this! Think less and follow my gut more. It’s been a great year! Let me tell you I have made some crazy irrational decisions I would have never made otherwise, some of them quite risky, but I don’t regret any of them. Turns out my gut is pretty reliable. :)

  • Demi Wetzel

    oh erin! this is all too true…thanks for writing this! whew. good to know my mini breakdowns are justified. thank you thank you :)

  • Jessica Mary Lara

    I’ve always felt my gut has always been spot on about guys on dating. Half of the time. Half of the time I missed out on really great guys because my “gut” told me not to date him. Then my “instinct” told me to date this one guy who ended up breaking my heart. I don’t think mine works very well, so I rely on my friends sometimes to help me out with it. I don’t mind taking risks, though. I have a 50/50 chance of it going well. But I’ll try not to be so nieve.

  • Fajr Muhammad

    While I’m all for following your gut, saying what you feel and going with your first feeling, it’s not always the best way to live life non? Sure in giving advice or saying how you feel you should go with your gut but sometimes taking a moment your instincts will let you know that your gut is crazy.

    Your gut is that wild, drunk best friend who will help you toilet paper your ex’s house.

    Your instinct is your mom that will bail you out of jail after you get arrested for toilet papering his house.

    Both totally necessary for life!

  • Peggy Korpela

    thank you for the part about not listening to friends’ advice sometimes. It’s something I needed to hear right now, and it’s also something that I have secretly thought at other points in my existence.

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