The Party Girl Paradox: How To Sparkle AND Succeed

Nothing is more powerful than a party girl’s bright light. Nothing. 

I, like many a party girl, have been doomed with a very specific problem — a party girl problem, if you will. Here goes: I’ve always been ambitious. I’ve always longed for big, glorious things to happen to me in my career. I’ve always believed, in the deepest crux of my personal truth, that it’s my destiny to live an extraordinary life.

But sometimes I feel destined to be doomed by the greatest fear in the entire world: wasted potential.

I’ve worried about wasting my potential for the entirety of my existence, because, while I know I’m capable of accomplishing wonderful, glorious, big things, I also know that I’m equally capable of screwing it all up. Not because I have a self-destructive streak or am vehemently afraid of success due to some deep-rooted childhood issue or anything complicated or deep or poetic like that. It’s far more shallow.

Heres the naked truth: I know if I were to waste my life away, it would simply be because I hopped on the good time train and had such a fabulous, drunken time I didn’t realize that I missed my stop.

I’ve envisioned myself on that train, suddenly realizing in a drunken stupor, “OH SHIT, I FORGOT TO GET OFF THIS TRAIN.” I’ve imaged myself running up to the conductor in ripped tights and smudged black eyeliner, reeking of cigarette smoke and cheap champagne, throat raspy from acute dehydration, hair a wreck from a wreck of a night, as I furiously tap his shoulder, frantic and freaked-out, as I ask him, “How many stops ago was Success?”

I’ve imagined him looking me in the eye, his face so freshly scrubbed, his hair so clean, his so uniform stark, his face so disgusted, as he says, “We sailed past the success stop years ago. It’s too late; we can’t turn back now. You’re nothing but a washed-up party girl who will stay on The Good Time Express for the rest of her life. You missed your chance.” I missed my chance. I missed my chance.

I missed my chance?!

For what?

“Memories” that I can’t remember? Friendships that don’t stick? Slurry conversations with subsequent hangovers so dire I’m creatively and emotionally paralyzed the next day? I shudder as I imagine the conductor looking wisely into the distance. I notice his white gloves. I look down at my white dress. It’s stained. His gloves are so perfectly white they look like teeth in a crest commercial. I imagine him whispering under his breath “It’s a damn shame, too. You would’ve done great in the land of Success. But you were too distracted rubbing elbows with $16 cocktails on the Good Time Express.”

I play out this dark, fear-based fantasy at least once a month — sometimes more.

Photo by Owen Gould

When I first met my (now) wife, Meghan, I used to have nightmares that partying was a monster. I’m not kidding. In my nightmares, partying was personified in the form of a scary, multiple-eyed, cartoon-like monster that would come for me in the middle of the night and snatch me out of Meghan’s arms. It would carry me off into a dark underground bar in the East Village and pour liquor down my throat and stick drugs up my nose, and it would tell me I was not good enough for Meghan, that I belonged here, with the other party animals, not in the cacoon of stability I had found with my beloved. I would wake up sweating bullets, convinced the dream was real, and would breathe the biggest goddamn sigh of relief when I realized it was all a bad dream and she was soundly sleeping next to me and nothing bad had happened last night.

There is no feeling more amazing than that deep sigh of relief you take when you realize it was all a bad dream. 

These fears are not as melodramatic as they sound. Actually, I’m fairly certain that 99 percent of the party girls out there can intrinsically understand my fear of wasted potential, because party girls have so much potential. If you have the ability to socialize and dream up the most creative, electrifying outfits, if you get along swimmingly with the freaky creatures of the night and have heaps of natural energy, you, my darling are talented. Regardless of what they told you in school. Regardless of what any bitch thinks of you. Most people don’t have the gifts of a party girl: natural charisma, charm, warmth, style, stamina.

Only, there is a dark side to those gifts if those gifts unwrap themselves in skeevy places.

See, the talents you have that make it so easy to twirl into the nightclub and gab to anyone and everyone can also get lost in the ~glitter~ of the party.


Glitter, party girl, sparkle
Photo by istock

That bright light that beams out of you can be snuffed out by the booze and the bad guys and the blow that lurks in the underbelly of the nightlife culture. The magical energy that magnetizes the masses to you, the electrical cord that holds it all together, can get snipped by the bolt-cutters of too many late nights and too many empty conversations and too many suppressed feelings.

The party can actually stunt you if you’re not careful.

It’s stunted me, I know that for sure. It no longer stunts me because I woke up from my party girl coma a few years back and have learned to channel my wild creativity and insatiable energy into things besides drinkin’ and clinkin.’ But I still identify as a party girl. Party girl is an energy that I feel blessed to possess. I’m just an awake party girl now. An alive party girl. A with-it party girl. I’m present as I make my way through the party and, because of that consciousness, I am in control (most of the time).

In Short: I’ve learned how to sparkle and succeed.

So here are some professional party girl tips to help you do the same — to help you not waste your potential whilst wasted.

1. Check yourself before you wreck yourself.

One thing I do to keep my party girl fire under control is I check myself. Often.

Every couple of weeks I gaze into my reflection in the bathroom mirror and ask myself, “Babes. Are you falling into the sparkle trap?”


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Zara Barrie (@zarabarrie) on

I always know the answer right away because my gut responds quickly. “Yes, you are. You’ve been out every single night this week and have been showing up to work, the work that you claim to love and be passionate about, hungover! You know you can’t perform at a top-notch level when you’re perpetually hungover. So get it together. Check yourself before you wreck yourself.”  Sometimes the party girl fire tries to challenge the gut. “You’re fine! You’re YOUNG. This is what you do when you’re young.” “But are you really that young?” “YES.” “Do you want to let all these basic bitches get ahead of you in the workplace?” That always shuts the party girl fire down.

It’s imperative that you do this no-bullshit check-in with yourself. Get down and dirty with your truth. And if your gut doesn’t respond, check out the bag under your eyes. Under-eye bags don’t lie. We don’t need extra-large totes beneath our eyes. We already have them draped over our arms. Eyes and arms? That’s overkill. Even for tough bitches like us.

2. Wear sequins but beware of sequins.

As I type this I’m wearing a fabulous dress, like, a fucking fabulous, leopard-print dress by one of my favorite designers (Rebecca Taylor). Whenever I wear a fabulous dress, I get a burning desire to go out on the town. (This also happens when I get my hair done, or just, in general, feel pretty!)

And sometimes, it’s best for me not to go out. Like tonight. I have a video shoot tomorrow and I want to be clear-headed, and I’m never, ever clear-headed if I go out on a Friday night. I can fake it like most party girls, but faux freshness is never as effective as real freshness.

So does that mean I should save my fiercest dresses for nights I’m only going out? No. I feel good in the fierce dress. But I have to beware of the temptation that comes with the fierce. I have to realize it’s not me who wants to go to the party, it’s the dress that wants to go to the party. So instead, I’ll take a mirror selfie and upload it unto my Instagram to satisfy that vain fucking narcissistic dress. It usually does just the trick.

3. Choose your parties wisely.

Repeat after me, not every party is worth attending.

Not every party is worth attending.

Not every party is worth attending.

Before you RSVP “YAS!” to every invite under the Tuscan sun, I want you to *really* think about the following: Is this party worth the exorbitant cab fare? Is it worth the dire hangover? Is it worth my valuable time that could be spent creating art and making money and saving the world? Take a breath. You’ll find that most of the time the answer will be a big, fat NO.

If you really want to up your party girl game, you must say no to 90 percent of the party invites that are sent your way. Preserve your energy for the amazing, glittery, empowering parties, not the run of the mill depressing parties. And all real party girls understand this life truth: A lot of parties are depressing as fuck, teeming with addiction and untrustworthy people!

We are the energy we surround ourselves with. Choose who you surround yourself with wisely, because your energy is your gift. Don’t let your beautiful gifts get seeped in ugliness.

4. Channel the wildfire into a project.

I think part of the party girl manic energy that we long to tame with cocktails and chit-chat has to do with unbelievable creativity that lives deep inside of our sequin-scaled bones. Rather than toning the dramatic feels by self-medicating in a glamorous setting, try channeling those dramatic feelings into art! Try leaning into them, instead of taming them, and write your heart out. Draw your heart out. Pour the emotion into something tangible that could impact others and save your own damn soul.

5. Hang out with the party girls sober.

I love my fellow party girls so deeply. I really do.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Zara Barrie (@zarabarrie) on

But for so long, I only knew them on a surface level. Our conversations always had the pretty Instagram filter of booze and strobe lights over it. And filters are beautiful, but after a while they get boring. They feel empty. You need to see something in its raw form to really, truly connect to it.

So I slapped the filter off and started asking my fellow party girls if they wanted to grab breakfast or coffee. A few gasped in horror, and a few said yes as a look of relief danced across their tired, late-night faces. And over coffee, we realized we had so much in common! None of us wanted to waste our party girl potential. We all wanted big things. We all teemed with wild creativity. We decided to hold each other accountable. We decided to collaborate. Now we have plans to run the world.

You’ll find that all these girls you think are only good for clinking glasses of champagne with at the top of the standard hotel are actually as fiery and hungry for real connections as you are. If you plug into each other’s electricity, you won’t believe how vibrant that bright light will be. And nothing is more powerful than a party girl’s bright light. Nothing. 

What Do You Think?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *