Welcome to the UNDERenlightened

A few months ago, a friend of mine invited me over for dinner. I can easily say that this particular friend is one of the smartest people I know, so when she told me that she had gotten her license suspended for forgetting to pay a cell phone ticket, I was—well, shocked. She’d assumed someone would mail her the ticket, and when they didn’t… Sure enough six months later, she was pulled over for something arbitrary and informed that not only was her license suspended, she also had a giant unpaid fine. Oops.

The thing is, I had absolutely no room to talk. Just the year before, I had found myself in a similar situation. Who knew you needed to call the gas company after you moved into a new apartment? (A fact I’d managed to miss in all my previous apartments.) Turns out saying, “What do you mean? You don’t just send me a bill?” doesn’t magically turn your hot water, heater, or stove back on… for a week! I definitely learned that lesson.

I shared this story with my friend and we both felt profoundly less dumb. Then I asked her, “Wouldn’t it be awesome if there was a place where people could share all these stories, so that other people could learn from them before they made the same mistakes?”

And the UNDERenlightened was born.

Our mission is to create a community that is universal and personal, where knowledge and experiences can be shared without assumption—a place for all the things life forgot to teach you.

We are a community of writers, dreamers, and thinkers committed to the belief that, through sharing our individual experiences and knowledge, we are creating a place where no one has to feel embarrassed, scared, or overwhelmed about anything they do not yet know.

Together, we will share our stories, life lessons, and how-tos so that we can help to enlighten one another.

Here’s how we are going to do this:

Enlightenment should be accessible to everyone no matter their age or experience level.

It’s time to stop pretending like we have a handle on this whole adulthood thing. No one has it all figured out! There are hundreds, thousands, millions of things we don’t know about life and, personally, I wouldn’t mind a little help.

We aim to throw out the assumption that, at any age, you should already know how to do something. We want to be a resource that makes no presumptions about our community’s prior knowledge. Our articles are designed to make allowances for even the most UNDERenlightened readers. We make no judgments. We are your allies. And if we are giving you instructions on how to hang a large picture frame, we’re not going to assume you have a tool kit. Instead, we’ll very nicely point you towards this $7.99 set at Ikea.

The power of shared knowledge and experience can make life just a little bit easier.

Let’s say you get locked out of your apartment tonight. Oh sure, you think you know what to do: “I’ll just Google a locksmith. — But, wait, crap: my phone is inside my locked apartment. Ok, that doesn’t matter, I’ll call someone on a pay phone. We still have those right? How do I find one? And when I do, whom do I call?”

We believe the best way to learn is from each other, through our follies and our triumphs. One shared horror story that answered all—or even just some—of those questions could save the rest of us a world of potential misery. (Good thing one of our contributing writers already has had three different lockout experiences she can draw from! You can read her advice here.)

Learning should be fun, mistakes should be funny, and lessons should be valuable.

There are plenty of other how-to resources out there, and if you want to read a formulaic article about how to use bleach, go to About.com. But we know stumbling through this whole adulthood thing can get pretty ridiculous, so if you want to read about the sardonic experiences of a self-admitted first-time bleach user trying to follow those About.com instructions, you’ve come to the right place.

Our enlightenment should be tested and questioned.

If enlightenment was straightforward, we wouldn’t be here. To ensure that we are providing our community with the best enlightenment possible, we will periodically ask an UNDERenlightened writer to try out one of our how-tos and publish a follow-up. We also encourage you to test our how-tos and tell us about it!

The UNDERenlightened is first and foremost a community and we are here to help each other.

Want to suggest something for us to talk about? Use our NEEDenlightenment? form and let us know! From the silly to the serious, if you don’t know how to do it, we’re here to help.

Have something that you want to share? Join the UNDERenlightened team!

The other day, while I was trying to answer one of the eight million questions I was facing, I thought, “I SO wish I had an UNDERenlightened article for running the UNDERenlightened.“ Daily, we come across ideas for articles—how to tie a tie, how to get a bikini wax, and what to say to a friend who has been diagnosed with cancer—are just a few of the things you are going to see over the coming weeks. Last month, one of our writers had her wallet stolen. As terrible as this is, my first thought (and text) was, “OMG, you can write an UNDERenlightened article about that!” (Keep an eye out for that early next week.)

Thank you for taking the time to check us out. I am so proud of the articles you are going to be seeing over the coming months and of the team that is behind them. I hope you learn as much as we have from their experiences. We know we can’t prepare you for all of life’s hurdles, but we can try to make some of them a little bit easier to jump.

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