I’m an expert in the art of pretentiousness. I was inspired to write this article when a friend said that I need coaching on how to be a good person. He’s probably right and I could use some pointers. However, I like my pretentious side more and wanted to capitalize on the opportunity by writing my own set of guidelines on embracing this bold persona. I don’t encourage practicing compulsive pretentiousness. However, it’s fun to bust out that side once in a while and show a little sass. This piece was a pleasure to write and I hope you find it funny and enjoyable. Don’t take this too seriously. Appreciate it for what it is and understand that you can’t find solid wisdom on pretentiousness anywhere else.
1. Wear things from all over the world
My closet represents well over twenty countries. I have scarves from Vietnam, skirts from Malaysia, tops from Laos, and bracelets from Ecuador. The list goes on. Obsessively brag about all the places you’ve been to and show off your roster of countries visited. Wear your overseas souvenirs with pride. Whenever people ask where something is from, smirk and say, “This is from Sabah.” If they ask where that is, respond with, “You don’t know? Oh my goodness, go learn your geography.” Extra pretentious points if your outfit represents more than one country.
2. Accept compliments for looking good and dressing well
My style game is beyond A+ so I’m always peppered with compliments on how I dress. People even compliment me for having an awesome name. You have to make an effort to accept compliments in a conceited manner. Don’t be humble and modest. Acknowledge and boast how fantastic you look. The compliments you’re given are always entitlements. When people compliment you, it’s supposed to go like ”You’re certainly right. I know I look stunning!” Effortless style takes effort so people need to be made aware of that.
3. Eat exotic food and refer to them with their local names
Malaysian curry pancakes? Nope, it’s roti canai. Vietnamese sizzling pancakes? Nope, it’s banh xeo. Japanese savory pancakes? Nope, it’s okonomiyaki. First, let’s agree that Asian pancake dishes are the best. Whenever you go out to eat, you must use the local names of the dishes and pronounce them in the native accent. Don’t mess it up with the Americanized pronunciation and risk losing pretentious points over that. Mention to people that you don’t even know the westernized names of the dishes because you’re just that cultured. At least for me, my eyes got used to “bun bo hue” over “exotic beef noodle soup with chili oil.”
4. Complain about problems that aren’t really problems
The first world struggle is real. I legitimately have trouble finding clutches that fit my iPhone 6 Plus. I need to replace the nose pads on my Ray-Ban aviators but no stores have them in stock. My MacBook Pro is too heavy for me to lug around and I can’t always draft blog articles whenever I please. You have to first recognize that these aren’t really problems. But you should complain anyway because that elevates your pretentiousness to the next level. If other pretentious people talk to you about their first world problems, bury your face in your phone and don’t bother listening.
5. Prepare a monologue about your workout
Mine usually starts with “I went out for a run last night. Like a real run, not a jog.” Then I talk about how I run after work, which is why my mascara is still on. An evening run in the Upper East Side with makeup on is only a Riri thing. Look, skip the gym selfie. Your epic workout never happened unless you prepare an elegant monologue about it. You absolutely have to go into the details about squatting double your body weight and spending half an hour stretching. Don’t forget to talk about how great your butt looked in those Nike micro shorts. Finally, don’t even pretend like you work out to stay fit and healthy. You work out to look good naked. Own up to that.
6. Be an old soul and be proud
I always refuse to go out with people if the activities involve staying out later than 10:00pm. I am a grandma and I am proud. I derive pleasure from drinking lavender green tea at night and falling asleep to a good book. All the music in my iPod shuffle is stuff from the 20th century. Even if you’re a millennial, talk to others as if they are part of an unfortunate generation. Bring back the nostalgic memories of the past. Reminisce about how much better it was back in the day when there were less technological distractions. Boast about how you are one of the few who still sends handwritten letters. Take your old-soulness to the next level by wearing a grandma cardigan everyday and rocking the yarn out of it.
7. Correct people’s pronunciation of foreign languages
When I taught ESL, one of my favorite pastimes was correcting students’ butchered English pronunciation. They actually appreciated it because it saved them from further embarrassment. That career is far behind me but I still enjoy obnoxiously correcting people. Some people think I should clap for them for trying to speak in my language, no matter how cringeworthy it sounds. Sorry, but effort awards are only valid up to the fifth grade. If people mess around with your language, you better put them in their place and tell them to stop trying. You can also go down the passive-aggressive route by showing a confused expression when they pronounce things terribly. If they ask why you look puzzled, say, “I didn’t understand your pronunciation.”
8. Mention classic books in arguments and gasp when people don’t know them
It surprises me when people know so little about certain works of literature in areas they are passionate about. For example, I’ve come across self-proclaimed environmental activists who don’t know Rachel Carson. I advise you to not waste time with people who don’t know their stuff, but have fun with it once in a while. Go up to people who talk about food politics and mention Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle.” Gasp when they don’t know. Ask people if they’ve read any good books lately. Use that as a gateway to talk about how you’re revisiting Nietzsche and pretend to be startled when they don’t know who that is. Finally, always be that snob that says the books were better than the movies.
9. Make it all about the Instagrammable life
All my friends dress well, have big hearts and are brilliantly smart. Although that’s more than enough, our beautiful friendships still need to translate to my public social media accounts. Therefore, my friends have to be gorgeous and look good on Instagam. And obviously, they all do. If I have unattractive friends, my credibility is on the line and that’s not okay. If you’re ugly, then you’re probably ugly on the inside too and I don’t tolerate that. Collect people in your lives who are beautiful inside and out (more emphasis on the out). Hang out at locations that look incredible in photos. Eat at places where the food is stunningly photogenic. Ask them to help pick the best filters and command them to go on their phones and “like” the picture. When in doubt, always go with the “Valencia” filter.
10. Have no verbal filter
My verbal habit of not holding back is the epitome of #nofilter. I say vulgar things that might give people earaches if they are not used to the way I talk. I have opinions and say what I please. Everyone should. You are more than welcome to emulate my approach to exercising your freedom of speech. Vocalize your opinions on topics that are socially taboo. Call people out who are mean and dishonest. Be politically incorrect. Pull out the race, gender, age, sexuality, religious, class, ethnicity cards in heated arguments to add fuel to the fire. Finally, don’t say anything that is not a representation of who you are. In the case you do, follow it up with “just kidding” and hope that that can alleviate the vulgarity.
11. Use the real universal system of units
While growing up and attending both American and Japanese schools, I was always confused with units of measurements. However, mathematically speaking, the International System of Units made more sense and I stuck with it. My phone’s weather app is set as Celsius, for crying out loud. I just got a haircut and asked for fifteen centimeters off. Look, America decided to be pretentious by having its own special set of measurements. Be pretentious back by sticking to the way that the rest of humanity measures things. Write the date in the DD/MM/YYYY format and confuse the minds out of people. If people say they lost twenty pounds, tell them that we are not in England. Metric all the way! Oh, and no need to acknowledge their majestic weight loss.
12. Own up to it like a boss
When people call me pretentious, mean, outspoken, entitled, sassy and anything else with a negative connotation, I respond with “So?” If I’m feeling extra pretentious, I say, “You think so? Thank you!” I genuinely take it as a compliment when people call me those things because they are looking at the real Riri. Remind people that you never said you were nice or politically correct. If they annoyingly call you out, tell them that they don’t have to be your friend. Embrace the pretentious persona. Grin and be delighted that people recognize you for who you are.
Pretentiousness requires time and effort and you need to know that. But it truly is a rewarding persona to wear. Just kidding. It’s much better to be a selfless humanitarian. In all seriousness, people should always strive to be a better version of themselves everyday. No one should ever stop you on that journey. But being pretentious can be fun and makes life more entertaining. This lifestyle is not for the faint. You have to be bold, confident and a tad bit egotistical.