Part of being human is the desire for attention. We all want to be desirable. Or at least this is what I say to myself as I buy a piggy bank on Amazon that will be dedicated to buying hair plugs for myself one day.

I used to feel like I didn’t belong in Charleston. I never went to cotillion, my upbringing was more food stamp than foodie, and I would rather shit a hot ninja star than wear a blue blazer and khaki pants combo a.k.a. the “my startup is never going to work out” look. But after having lived overseas and having some adventures and misadventures, I am proud of being a little different. So many of the Charlestonians I meet are the emotional equivalent of Stars Bar. Nice view, everything in place, but no originality. I secretly relish standing out like a sore thumb in places like that, mostly because it makes it easier for me to gouge my eyes out from boredom 10 minutes after being there.

To me, standing out isn’t about showing off, but about being yourself at the loudest volume so you attract all the right people into your life. My goal since moving back has been to be so candid that I offend all the wrong type of people out of my life. With all that extra space, I’ve had more energy to do the things that matter most. I feel like our whole city needs some permission slips to live differently.

So consider this list of tips your hall pass. Being basic is a lifestyle choice, and you can be different if you want to.

Here are my top five suggestions:

Have any hobby that isn’t weightlifting, brunch, or yoga.
I know, this is seems counter-intuitive. But trust me, those things are great but no one, and I mean no one cares. If you say the words “Sunday funday” I actively hate you. Brunch is cool, but it’s not a religion. Yoga is neat, but that beautiful mountain view is not enhanced by your shitty downward dog, and if weightlifting makes you strong, maybe it can help you lift the crushing weight of this boring conversation.

Have any failure in your life that you learned from that you can talk about.
Men are worse at this than women. We try to hide the Ls. Don’t. What you have lost at is what made you who you are in some way. Got divorced? Cool. Lived in a different city and it blew up in your face? I’m listening. Left a baby in a hot car? OK, that’s a crime, but I do appreciate your honesty.

Ask other people some fucking questions for once.
I was in my mid-20s before I got good at this. To me, this is the difference between a boy and a man, and a girl and a woman. Being others-focused is sexy, and I’m amazed how bad at it most people are, me included. “How is your day?” is for assholes. Go deeper, give people a reflection of what they say. When you can summarize the map of how someone feels, people feel heard. And it makes the conversation way more fun. Who knows, maybe you’ll get laid from it? No matter what, in a sea of Chad and Brittneys, be an Anderson.

Do something risky, beautiful, or fun with your time.
From the ages of 15-27, I was a very religious person. One of the things I remember from that phase of my life is how almost all circumstances led me to some kind of Bible verse. Now that I am 33 and not religious, my brain works the same way, but instead of Bible verses, it’s pop rap lyrics.

Kanye says “you can still be who you wish you is,” and, for real, I think about this all the time. All the things you ever wanted to do are slipping away from you each day that you don’t have the courage to start.

Dreams don’t age well — don’t let them die inside of you.
Come try comedy for the first time, tell that guy at work you love him, start a fundraiser, travel, have a threesome, buy tickets to my comedy show every Thursday at Elliotborough Mini Bar. Whatever. Follow your bliss.

People say Charleston is a town you have to leave in order to do big things. I’d love for that to not be true. But I think all of us need to increase our appetite for strange. For one of a kind. Let’s make Charleston weirder, gayer, funnier, busier, more musical, etc. If it blows up in our faces, we can all work in a hotel.

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