Former Party Girl
"Why the HELL do you have to set the alarm for 4:30 am?" my brother screamed.
"Blake! I have to be at a WORK MEETING at 11 in the MORNING you asshole! I have CAREER!" I screamed back at him, hitting "snooze."
I was sleeping on a slowly deflating air mattress next to his bed in his room. I'd been staying with him in Los Angeles for work and because I'm a wildly codependent 30-year old adult woman who is deathly afraid of the dark, I chose to sleep on the floor of his room over the perfectly comfortable guest bedroom three feet away.
"IT REALLY TAKES YOU SIX AND A HALF HOURS TO GET READY?" he roared.
I shot him a smug little sister glare. "No. But, what if I accidentally sleep through the alarm? I have alarms set every 30 minutes between 4:30 am and 7:30 am."
"That is the most neurotic, insane thing I've ever heard in my entire life. Get a new therapist."
I didn't really have anything to say because the truth is, setting seven alarms out of the paranoid "fear" that you're going to somehow sleep through all of them is indeed neurotic and insane.
But what my darling brother, doesn't understand is that I suffer from a common condition known in the medical community as "Former Party Girl Syndrome."
I suffer from a common condition known in the medical community as "Former Party Girl Syndrome."
OK, it's not really known in the medical community, but it fucking should be, babes! It's an epidemic.
From 17 to 27 (a whole goddamn decade!), I was a sex-crazed, over-boozed, high-as-a-kite, sequin-adorned, velvet-mini-dress-wearing, false-eyelash-sporting ~party girl~.
I hadn't really been to therapy yet so I didn't know how to deal with my traumas (Fun fact: 90 percent of party girls are stifling some kind of dark trauma.), so I partied them away.
Fun fact: 90 percent of party girls are stifling some kind of dark trauma.
Feeling sad? Clinically depressed? Struggling with a nasty eating disorder? Recently had your heart smashed into a million little pieces? Riddled with trust issues because you were emotionally neglected by your parents?
Oh, don't cry, pretty girl.
Come to ~the nightclub~, babe. The nightclub is Mecca to the damaged girl.
The nightclub is mecca to the damaged girl.
Get lost in the tall crystal stem glasses of sparkling champagne bubbles that gorgeously POP in your throat, and dance with the beautiful female go-go dancers with their wavy long mermaid hair that gracefully skims down their sweaty, naked backs.
Become entranced by all those pretty twinkling lights (they look like stars!), and get high on all that dance floor glitter too.
You'll forget all about your problems in no time, honey.
Only there is a dark side to being a hard-partying, party girl. Like I've said before: Party Girls Can't Get Hurt Because They're Already Hurt.
Party girl's can't get hurt because they're already hurt.
And in the depths of our hardest partying days, we saw some shit we could never unsee, am I right girls? (Especially in the bathroom -- the bathroom of the club is a dark, dark place after midnight).
And eventually, it all became too much; the party ended. All parties have to end at some point. We sent our inner party girl to rehab. She's still in there, recovering, while we live our big girl lives.
In the depths of our hardest partying days, we saw some shit we could never unsee again.
Even though our inner party is locked up in a padded room or doing yoga at some "facility," she's still alive and she's still in contact with us.
She's the very reason I've come down with a incurable bout of Former Party Girl Syndrome.
She's the voice in my head that tells me to set seven alarms before bed, so I don't sleep through a meeting. She's still terrified that she's too fucked up to wake up to the first alarm, so she's setting back up alarms just in case.
And setting seven alarms isn't the only thingthose who suffer from Former Party Girl Syndrome deal with. There a ton of complicated symptoms that come along with it.
Let's start with fashion, dahling.
We never dress appropriately for work.
As a former party girl, let me tell you, honey babes, I don't own a trace of normal girl attire. I don't own pressed blazers and collared shirts and ballet flats, like all the nice Manhattan girls, do.
In fact, I don't own flats. The closest thing I have to flats are oxblood Dr. Martin boots with a platform heel.
The closest thing I have to flats are oxblood Dr. Martin boots with a platform heel.
Nah, I have party girl clothes only.
My wardrobe is made up of slutty sheer dresses, torn up fishnet stockings, sky-high stripper-chic mega-platforms, ratty clip-in hair extensions, leather jackets with cigarette burns, crop tops and chokers, chokers, chokers.
God, I have more chokers than a bondage shop, Claire's accessories and Nastygal.com combined. I have enough chokers to wrap around the necks of every party girl out on a Saturday in Manhattan. It's sick.
Since I spent the most pivotal years of my life dressing for nightclubs, I never really cultivated an "office style" (thank god).
And I'm always freaking people out in professional settings. I went to my last job interview in lace stockings, black platform Mary Janes and a silver, strapless cocktail dress. (For the record: the dress was Valentino, and I did get the job. Party girls always get the job; they just don't always keep the job).
Party girls always get the job; they just don't always keep the job.
And all of the party girls I know are always going traipsing into work wearing some kind of freaky costume. They don tiny tutus, over the knee boots, winged eyeliner and burgundy lipstick, glammed up like they're going to the club, not to corporate HQ.
It really makes the nerdy boys in accounting uncomfortable. They squirm in their little seats when we stomp by their desks in our loud heels and jingling jewels. But we just can't help it.
You can take the party girl out of the party, but the glitter will be stuck in the party girl's weave forever. Glitter is, you know, completely impossible to get rid of.
You can take the party girl out of the party, but the glitter will be stuck in her weave forever.
We drag a sea of glitter into the office with us all these years later! I find little sparkles in my keyboard all the time. And it's been five years since I was a hardcore party girl.
We can smell a fraud.
I'll never forget when I started a new about job five years ago, and overheard some girl in fucking ballet flats show off about what a "party girl" she is on the weekends.
I almost threw up in my mouth listening to her chirp about the shittiest clubs in New York, ones that not even a D-LIST REALITY star would attend. Clubs that were hot for five minutes in 2007, the year of the great Britney Spears Meltdown.
Homegirl's definition of "party girl" was slipping on a too-short romper twice a month and taking a taxi to some tired club with a group of her sorority sisters. Oh, and if they're feeling really bad maybe they'll get *wild* and split Becky's 10 mg Adderall four (gasp) ways.
Real party girls take Adderall to work, not to party, and would never be caught dead at a tired club. Oh if we were ever in a sorority, you know we got kicked out for skipping some greek life ball.
When you were at the frat party we were in The Boom Boom room drinking champagne with an alcoholic British aristocrat and her supermodel best friend.
We have imposter syndrome.
This is one of the darker symptoms of "Former Party Girl Syndrome." It doesn't matter if you've been thriving in your career for a decade. It doesn't matter if you're second in command at the workplace. All former party girls have a mean case of imposter syndrome.
All former party girls have a mean case of imposter syndrome.
Every single time I'm in a meeting full of important "grown ups," I'll wail inside my dark brain, "At some point, these people are going to realize I'm just a screw-up, no good PARTY GIRL!"
Meanwhile, I work hard! I've published over 1,000 articles on the internet! I'm my own boss!
Yet, my inner party girl is always whispering in my ear, taunting me, "It's only a matter of time that you show up to work drunk, babe. Pretty soon they're all going to find out that you're nothing but a glittery party girl with no brain, bitch."
Partying isn't a "light" subject
"Oh in my early 20s I partied so much, it was so FUN!" Said no former party girl ever.
When you reach a certain level of "party girl," shit gets dark.
'Oh in my early 20s I partied so much, it was so FUN!' Said no former party girl ever.
All the "fun" memories of dancing on table tops are matched with jarringly dark memories of watching innocent young girls snort toxic white powder up their noses with bad boys in bathroom stalls. We have haunting images of creepy men grabbing at us, losing friends to addiction and surviving terrifying blackouts.
So yes, uh, all the partying I did in my early 20s wasn't just fun, sister.
We can always tell when a coworker is on drugs or hungover.
"I'm worried about Stella.* Does she seem a little nervous to you lately? Maybe I'm pushing her too hard," a boss will confide to me late one night at the office (bosses always confide in former party girls. Our seasoned energy makes them feel comfortable).
Bosses always confide in former party girls. Our seasoned energy makes them feel comfortable.
"I don't know," I'll lie. But inside I'll totally know what's going on. Stella is nervous, indeed.
But Stella is nervous because she's hopped up on speed. Stella is anxious because she needs a drink to take the edge off the line she just snorted in the bathroom.
And Stella isn't being pushed too hard, for a regular person. She's being pushed too hard for a hungover person. Hungover people are fragile, Ms. Boss Lady.
No amount of Tom Ford "Violet Blonde" fragrance is going to mask that boozy scent oozing out of your pores from me, girlfriend. I've been there.
I won't tell the boss what's going on with Stella. I'll take Stella out for coffee. I'll tell Stella I get what she's going through, but she needs to chill the fuck out or she's in big trouble.
And I'll help Stella chill out. Because all former party girl's had a former party girl guardian angel who took them out for coffee one day and gently explained to them that life is better on the other side. That actually feeling feelings is actually a better high than drugs.
Feeling feelings is actually a better high than drugs.
And this is the most sacred, most rewarding symptom of "Former Party Girl" syndrome.
It's how we keep each other alive. By teaching party girls how to channel that fire into wild career success. And no one gets successful like a former party girl, pouring her party girl prowess into the workplace.
Good girls, watch out.