Every-day Thoughts in Prose and Verse
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
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        A Few Important "Don'ts."
    A young woman from a Western town wrote
me that she thought of coming to New York
to enter one of the many professions which are open
to bright women in the metropolis.  She has always
lived at home, and while she has been a self-sup-
porting girl, she has had the shelter of a family roof-
    She sees an opportunity of widening her horizon
and increasing her income and usefulness by the
proposed change, and asked me if I had any advice
to give her about life in New York.
    To her and to every young woman about to take
up a new life in the metropolis, I would say first of
all: Don't think everything you see done by the
people you are thrown among is right and fashion-
able and "the thing," because you are in New York.
You are not obliged to express your disapproval of
the novel phases of life you encounter, but neither
will it be sensible for you to fall in too readily with
all these phases.  Adapt yourself to your new
environment, but do not adopt the life in its
    Don't be afraid to express delight and enthusiasm
about the things which please you.  Some people
repress all this lest they betray the fact of their own
inexperience.  But to the experienced, inexperience
is always interesting; and to the blase, enthusiasm
is always refreshing.  If you want to make your
town friends happy, let them realize that some
things are new to you.
    Although you are to occupy an independent and
self-supporting situation, do not think it necessary
to dress in a masculine manner or assume mannish
conduct and attire.  A real man is a splendid creat-
ure.  An imitation man is an insult to God and an
offense to mortals.  Whatever your work or posi-
tion, let the world see you take pride in being a
thorough woman.
    If all the queens and duchesses and feminine
swells of earth set the seal of fashion on the smok-
ing habit for women, don't fall into it.  Almost
every schoolgirl has her era for thinking it is "cute"
to smoke a surreptitious cigarette.  As a folly of
immaturity, it can be pardoned.  As a fixed habit
of maturer feminine life, it is, in America at least,
deplorable and wholly unattractive to the unpreju-
diced observer.  According to medical authority it
interferes with digestion, disturbs the heart action
and causes insomnia and a thousand other ills.
    Keep the weed and sleeping powders at a safe
distance.  No matter how wide awake you find
yourself after a few weeks in this exciting atmos-
phere, don't be enticed into wooing slumber
through drugs.  Too many pitiful wrecks in Belle-
vue and private sanitariums began that way.  Cold
water and fresh air and careful diet will produce
sleep after a time, if you persist in these natural
    Drop tea and coffee from your bill of fare, and
avoid all other stimulants if you want to keep com-
mand of your nerves and endure the strain of a self-
supporting life in the exciting conditions of the
    Don't imagine that by smoking cigarettes and by
drinking all sorts of concoctions and eating mid-
night suppers and frequenting "slumming" resorts
you are making yourself "a true Bohemian."  That
sort of life simply lowers you morally and socially,
and breaks down your physical health just the same
in New York as it would elsewhere.
    Don't deny yourself every pleasure offered you by
respectful and respectable young men because you
have been told that fashionable young women in
New York never go out unchaperoned.
    You are not in any sense a woman of fashion.
The rules and restrictions which govern their lives
do not govern yours.
    You cannot enjoy their advantages, why should
you submit to their conventions?  So long as you
keep your own self-respect and that of your men
friends, and observe reasonable hours, and frequent
only proper places of amusement, you are very wise
to enjoy the society of your masculine acquaintances
and the courtesies they wish to bestow upon you.
All the philosophy, sermonizing and theorizing in
the world cannot alter the eternal order of things
which makes a woman find her greatest pleasure in
the society of an agreeable man.
    Meantime, if you are of a romantic turn of mind,
keep well in view the fact that New York youths
are not, as a rule, marrying men.
    My final word of advice is: Don't run window-mad
and buy everything that appeals to your eye.
Purchase with care and thought, and always keep a
little money in the bank for the unexpected, which
frequently happens in New York.

Every-day thoughts in prose and verse. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Chicago: W. B. Conkey Company, 1901.
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