1. Shut out the rest of the world; watch it pass by and feel guilty that you are not the eye of the storm. For some people, the best years of their lives have come and gone. You try to tell yourself that turning twenty-five is not a death sentence. (Maybe hope soured when you had a talk with a friend that is setting sail for the far-off land of mortgages and daycare and four course dinner parties.) Once you took pride in the fact that you had a plan, a way to forever break the threads anchored in the depths of another replaceable suburbia. You hope that this year’s birthday will pass without fanfare, a day that will soothe the dull buzz of ever-present anxiety that is woven into your subconscious. Your life will not be suddenly transformed, and the forward hands of the clock do not necessarily promise profound enlightenment.
2. Make sure that you understand that love cannot be willed into existence.
3. Stop expecting a savior in disguise. You feel like you are always waiting, waiting for the moment when some great love will solve your insecurities. They are like raw nerves, exposed and dangerous like fallen telephone wires. You only know how to cater to the introvert, the one who takes confessionals in the form of writing words on paper. They say that Emily Dickinson was a “textbook recluse,” not the Mad Woman locked burning in the attic, but some genius scribe the victim of self-imposed isolation. You wonder if textbook recluse is just a scholarly turn of phrase, a way to defend an ugly personality trait that turned creativity into martyrdom.
4. Learn that you do not always have to be perfect, but you should always reach towards the light. You have spent years in the darkness, clinging to the comfort of self-doubt. Lately everyone is talking about moving, of packing up their belongings and hightailing it out of New England like flights of birds who feel the weather change before the leaves are just shy of gold. When you realize that the world is filled with many people you will probably never meet, it’s as though the possibility of becoming a version of “your best self” is as about as likely as winning the lottery.
5. Remind yourself of things that you like because you read snippets of Susan Sontag and she always cured the mean reds by scribbling down lists. Things she likes: Venice, tequila, sunsets, babies, silent films, heights, etc. Things you like: New York City, vodka, summer skies, musicians, black and white classics, heels.
6. Never get too comfortable and never suppress the voice that flows from your pen.