Before I go into this, let me begin by declaring my love for Hillary Clinton. I love her so much that this photo of her sits on my piano (that's my restaurant behind her on Gay Pride when she was the grand marshal). I can’t begin to wrap my head around what it was like to be an educated, successful First Lady scrutinized by the world to see how she’d react to her husband’s affair with a White House intern. I think she handled it with more dignity than most of us would – and her decision to remain married to the President both puzzled and impressed me. I believe it took enormous emotional strength to survive that storm. Hillary not only survived it – she managed to thrive beyond it.
Now that I’ve underscored my admiration for Hillary, let me dig into Monica.
In 1997, Monica was 22 and I was 27. I was still living in my mother’s house, still dating douche bags, still behaving as though my prefrontal cortex (the part of the brain that allows us to ponder the consequences of our actions) wasn’t fully formed. In Monica’s defense, hers wasn’t. It actually doesn’t finish forming until we’re 25. We didn’t know that back then. We do now.
My sister and I, like most of our peers, discussed the Lewinsky-POTUS scandal ad nauseam, often thanking God that neither of us had ever had the opportunity to sleep with the leader of the free world. Would we have done it? I certainly would have. Even at 27. That’s the thing about being in your 20’s. You make a lot of horrendous mistakes. If my life was defined by the biggest moral and sexual mistake I’ve ever made, I don’t know if I’d survive it.
Back then, no one talked about how seductive it must have been to be our age and be the recipient of advances from the President of the United States. Most of my friends were Monica’s biggest critics, launching into moral diatribes whenever the issue came up, behaving as though they’d forgotten when they themselves had hooked up with married men without a thought as to how it would destroy their wives if they ever found out. We were in college when we behaved like that. It was acceptable then. Monica, two or three years beyond college, was nothing like us.
I’m glad that this time around I’m not alone in defending Monica or in attempting to contextualize the vulnerability inherent to being a 20-something. There’s a reason why our military targets 18-24 year olds for enlistment. They think they’re invincible. They can’t anticipate the consequences of their decisions.
I’m saddened to hear that Monica's life is still marred by that misstep. So in the spirit of helping her to claim the life she deserves, I’ve taken the liberty to provide her with some free advice, customized directly from my methodology.
1. Admit that what you’re doing isn’t working: You had huge professional aspirations growing up. The POTUS incident derailed you. Since then, your attempt to amass significant money has propelled you to capitalize on your notoriety. I get it. If you can’t beat em, join em. But it’s not the life you want, because as long as you shoot for jobs that either rely on you as a brand, or rely on you to help brand others, your history (I know you hate this term) will haunt you. You have a degree in social psychology. Use it. If you want to brainstorm some creative ways on how to use it, I’m happy to meet with you. It may not appear to be a hugely lucrative degree, but it’s not that far off from mine – and I’m living well.
2. Choose happiness over being right: There are more assholes in this world than there are people who will empathize with you. Let it go. Stop looking for validation. The people who know you and love you understand why you did what you did and that it was a moment in time – not a time that defines you as a person. As long as you continue to talk about it publicly, you remain vulnerable to more criticism.
3. Conduct a fierce and moral inventory of thyself: You may have already done this. You don’t strike me as a victim. But if there’s any part of you that hasn’t identified lifelong patterns that have played a role in your inability to reclaim the life you deserve, do this now. Make a list of every wrong that was ever committed against you. Then go back and identify how your actions or inactions were directly responsible for what happened. This is a miserable exercise, but you’ll come out the other side a new person.
4. Ascribe to the 0/100% principle. It will change your life. I’ve linked to it here.
6. Commit to a daily exercise regime.
7. Begin a forgiveness program. I recommend this book.
8. Let go of the bigsave fantasy. Most women are vulnerable to that wish, consciously or otherwise. There is no prince or princess charming. It’s all you, Monica. You can save yourself.