It’s that time again: The pomp, the posturing, the outrageous spending on political campaigns meant to attract the attention of voters, the candidates who are entitled and completely out of touch with both reality and the common people of America…
Yes, the Academy Awards are upon us.
But if we look past the overblown spectacle of the Oscars campaigns and ceremony, there are actually some great life lessons to be learned from that most grand and unpredictable of traditions: the Oscars acceptance speech. Celebrities! They’re just like us. Except that they’re mostly not.
1. Make sure to thank your spouse
Spouses put up with a lot, and all too often, people don’t give their partners the due credit they deserve. Sometimes that happens. Your love for and appreciation of them is just an understood thing, so it may slip your mind from time to time. But it’s important to acknowledge everything your partner has done for you, particularly if it’s in regard to the support they’ve given you to achieve your dream. So if you ever find yourself in a public setting with the opportunity to talk up your spouse, whether on a grand stage or at a small dinner party, you should follow Ben Affleck’s lead and make sure to thank your spouse, as he did during his 2013 Oscars acceptance speech when Argo won Best Picture. Specifically, you should be completely unprepared for it and definitely, definitely make sure to make an awkward allusion to how rocky your marriage has been over the last decade, setting off a weeks-long firestorm of paparazzi speculation as to what’s really going on with your marriage behind closed doors. It’s the perfect anniversary gift, really. After all, what’s shinier than diamonds and gold? A relentless onslaught of camera flashbulbs, that’s what.
2. Be prepared
We all juggle a lot in this life. A job – sometimes multiple jobs – romantic relationships, sometimes children, making time for friends and family, school, finding time to run errands, work out and maintain a healthy life, cook, do laundry, etc. Our modern lives are as hectic as they are full, so it’s important to be prepared in life. Writing things down, making lists, setting reminders, they’re all things we can do to help keep us on track so nothing important falls through the cracks. And you especially want to be prepared for the biggest moments of your life. For example, when Hilary Swank won the Best Actress award at the 2000 Academy Awards for Boys Don’t Cry, she came prepared with notes for her lengthy speech. Also necessary? Actually reading over and double-checking your notes to make sure you nail the little details, like completely failing to thank your husband on the most important day of your life. Or your wife. Because obviously, your spouse would definitely want you to give them a loving and tender kiss for all the world to see only to immediately be utterly forgotten while you thank literally everyone else less important in your life than them. Who wants to marry a spotlight hog, right?
3. Family is important
Most of us wouldn’t be where we are, for better or for worse, without our families. They are our earliest support network, and without them, life would be infinitely harder. As people grow older and leave the nest, it’s not uncommon for siblings to grow apart. Maybe one goes off the college, or another moves across the country or travels abroad. Maybe they have a falling out that both are too stubborn to repair. So it’s important as an adult to work on maintaining your relationships with your family and your siblings just as hard as you do those with your friends and professional acquaintances. Angelina Jolie set a great example of a close sibling bond in 2000 with her acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actress for Girl, Interrupted, and it’s one you can easily follow: Simply give your sibling an inappropriately long kiss that may or may not involve tongue, showing everyone the bonds of affection between the two of you, then make sure to creepily gush about how “in love” with them you are. Sure, it may make everyone else uncomfortable and legitimately question whether or not you and your sibling are in an incestuous relationship, but that doesn’t matter, because your sibling will know exactly how you feel. No one else will, but you’ll know. You’ll know.
4. Live in the moment
Like I’ve mentioned a few times above, modern life is hectic. With so much pulling at us from every direction and the internet at our fingertips, focus doesn’t always come easily. It’s easy to lose a sense of your place in the world and become overwhelmed, never stopping long enough to enjoy where you’re at. So it’s important to remember to slow down from time to time and appreciate where you’re at. You need to embrace the moment for what it is. Adrien Brody was the perfect example of seizing the moment during his Oscars Best Actor acceptance speech for The Pianist in 2003. Just like Brody, you should take advantage of opportunities that appear before you without hesitation – for example, if you see a gorgeous stranger standing in front of you, you should absolutely grab her and kiss her without asking. Who cares about things like personal space and consent and that it’s almost definitely unwelcome? Not you, because you saw an opportunity and took it, like a badass. Or a sexual assault case waiting to happen. Details.
5. Don’t be afraid to show how much you care
Our culture is weirdly detached now, I think we can all agree. Cynicism is cool, not caring too much about things is cool, being cool is cool. It’s why we’re currently mired in a hookup culture instead of romance and dating, and why entertainment is littered with bad people doing bad things. A genuine display of positive emotion is seen as strange, almost shocking, and earnestness even more so. Which is why it’s so refreshing when you come across someone who isn’t afraid to wear their heart on their sleeve and let people know exactly how they feel. Now, you may be unsure of just how open is too open, but Gwyneth Paltrow proves that there is no such thing. In her 1999 Best Actress acceptance speech for Shakespeare in Love, the actress showed us exactly how to get in touch with our emotional, authentic self, and you can try her trick, too: When in a public setting, simply break down in a sobbing mess as if someone just showed you a video of three-legged orphan puppies on fire. All the orphan puppies. And they’re carrying one-eyed kittens. It doesn’t matter. Just do it. No matter what you’ve accomplished, make sure to express an amount of overwrought emotion about it as if you’d literally just saved the world. If you can cry so hard that you can barely form coherent sentences, that’s when you know you’re doing it right and you’ve connected with your inner emotions. Go you!