“Men are a-holes, women are the b word and couples in love suck” is one of five key things we learn growing up, according to New York Times best-selling author and advice columnist Harlan Cohen.
Cohen visited the Student Union Theater Tuesday evening to present his lecture on “getting comfortable with the uncomfortable,” something he believes is critical to getting what you want in life.
Cohen’s lecture was based largely on analysis of relationships, particularly on college campuses. He involved the audience members, and used their relationships (or lack thereof) to propel his presentation. He concluded that oftentimes in college honest moments and intimacy are missing, and attributed this to two more of his five key things we learn growing up: sharing feelings is stupid and hooking up is easier than dating. He also suggested that this lack of intimate honesty contributes to the depression and anxiety that is extremely prevalent in college students.
Cohen discussed the challenges of long distance relationships, because that is also common among college students, especially freshmen who try to stay with their significant others from high school. And while the stigma around these relationships can often be negative, or they can seem frustrating or difficult, Cohen asserted that long distance relationships can be really nice. The two partners are happy apart and happy together, and they each have their own people. When they’re together, it’s a choice.
Cohen actually discussed the importance of having “your own people” in depth. When you have people in your corner supporting you, it’s easier to take risks and accept rejection, both of which are essential to success.
And while Cohen chiefly talked of relationships, they acted mostly as a model for getting anything you want in life, something Cohen stressed continually.
Conquering fear of rejection is the key to getting what you want, according to Cohen. He claimed you must train spiritually, physically and emotionally to overcome another of his five key misconceptions: “we are all defective.” He commanded the audience to change the things they don’t love about themselves, and work to love the things they cannot change. This is important because in order to accept rejection you must be self confident, and ask what you want rather than what wants you.
Cohen continued his advice, claiming that excuses are created only to stop yourself from getting hurt, something that Cohen believes is inevitable anyways. And finally, Cohen asserted that success is in action, and it’s not about outcome. Success is “giving without receiving, saying ‘I love you’ without expecting to hear it back.” This was perhaps the most unique perspective Cohen shared the entire evening. He emphasized the importance of acting without expectation, and respecting “No” as a response to anything from a project proposal to a marriage proposal.
Cohen even shared his own personal experiences with rejection, and how understanding “No” has actually brought him success in his career and romantic life.
Third semester accounting major Michelle Waslick especially liked these personal anecdotes. “They were funny, but also really sweet, and gave insight into how his own experiences formed the ideas he shared with us,” Waslick said.
As for first semester, pre-education major Emily Smith, her favorite part was how Cohen involved the audience.
“He asked them [the audience] some pretty personal questions, but it was funny for the rest of us, and he did give them some really good advice, so I guess it’s a win-win,” Smith said.
It was evident from the presentation that Cohen really does enjoy giving advice. He even gave the audience his phone number, concluding the lecture by encouraging them to text him with any questions or problems that he may be able to help with.