1. Seeking certainty is a waste of time, trying to piece “signs” or instincts or logic together to predict the future is a mind game that you will always lose.
What’s on the other end of thinking you’ve figured it all out? In what universe does it seem fathomable that people consciously map out their weeks and months and years and have them unfold just as they felt and decided they would and should?
I know it feels uncomfortable to not know, but it’s really worse to think you do. Why? Because all you can actually get attached to, decide on, “figure out,” is an idea. An image of the way you think things should be (and will be) when such will most likely not be the case. You’ll induce so much suffering, neglect so much joy, if you only accept that which you have predetermined to be “okay.”
2. The most important thing you can spend your time investing in is understanding what your instincts feel like.
How do you communicate with yourself? Do you know? Often instincts are not immediately transmutable to ideas or thoughts, so they go ignored. Trace your line of thinking, see if you arrive at a root that is something in the ego, in perception, in fear, in how others see you. Reflect and write down things in the past you had feelings about, and see what those outcomes were, understand the patterns. You, more than anybody else, have to know how to listen to yourself.
3. What you do and don’t have in this moment does not define you, and it doesn’t define your life.
Every day we take mental snapshots, summarize our lives in our heads, see how cohesive they sound, see if we’re writing a story we’d want to share with someone else. If things don’t align with the ways in which our minds need to compromise or suffice or impress, we consider ourselves having failed in some way. A crappy mood is not always a sign of an existential issue. A bad day is not a bad life. Not having love right this second doesn’t mean you will not have love for the rest of your life. Extrapolation does nobody any good.
4. You are not going to feel happy all of the time, and you are not meant to feel happy all of the time.
The things you are most meant for, the things that are best for you, will not make you feel happy and stable all the time. You have to know that you cannot only act when you are certain, you cannot only chalk up a “good life” to when you’re seamlessly, consistently satisfied. That is not how you’re designed. You’re meant to feel, to experience, to be, to grow. It doesn’t matter how perfect the job or how fated the relationship or accomplished your latest accolade – you’re still a human being. People are people and jobs are jobs and issues will arise and days will be tough and you cannot base your life decisions on fleeting, temporary, externally-triggered emotions. (A certain idea of) “success” and (real) “happiness” are rarely coupled neatly together. You usually have to create them separately and then teach yourself to intersect.
5. Every single thing is worthwhile, even if there is no immediately obvious, lifelong outcome.
Sometimes things end for no conceivable reason and you need to allow that. Sometimes you need to do things for the sake of doing them. They serve a purpose, even if you don’t know what it is, now or ever. There’s so much more love that’s worthwhile, aside from monogamous, lifelong commitment. There’s so much more worth doing than just what aligns with your 30-year plan.
If there’s still space between where you are and where you want to be, assume everything in between serves to prepare you for it. Often we aren’t conscious that we’re being grown and created and readied for something great, and we almost always are.
6. Ambitious women tend to be highly criticized. There are a lot of social and gender dynamics that surround this, but the point is that it’s not your responsibility to try to mind-control what people say, only to actively, consciously choose how you react to it.
Girls are bossy and bosses are bitchy and peers are quickest to rip apart the woman who knows what she wants. Get used to it. People do not get better, you just start caring less eventually. They can say what they want, that’s their opinion to have. You can react how you want, that’s your experience to choose.
7. What you sacrifice now you will reap infinite benefits of later.
I worked very hard in college. I did not go out as often as I maybe could have. I was constantly, passively criticized by people for not slowing down and enjoying things more. Did they have a point? Yes, of course. I agree wholeheartedly with being present and grateful and it’s something I’ve done a lot of work toward becoming better at.
That said, I’m glad I didn’t listen to them. College was not the best four years of my life, but what I did then helped me build what I have now, and I would not trade what I have now for a few parties and cheap beers. What I sacrificed then I am reaping the long-term benefits of, and I think its important to be able to evaluate things in a greater perspective.
8. You’re allowed to need love.
We confuse needing someone as a replacement for a validation we cannot give ourselves with the natural human need for intimacy and closeness. You are allowed to not be okay. You’re allowed to be sad. You are allowed to want and need a hug or sex or someone to hold you at night. You are allowed to crave someone, it doesn’t make you defective.
You are not allowed to berate yourself for feeling any one thing. You’re not allowed to let your sadness influence your well-being. You are not allowed to seek sex and relationships from people who do not value and respect you. You are not allowed to cave into the craving of someone who is, undoubtedly, unhealthy for you.
But you’re allowed to need love, (especially your own.)
9. True independence comes from one thing and one thing only: getting your ass on the ground and working for it.
If your circumstances are less than ideal (or worse) you can sit in your discomfort and blame it on external factors, or you can do what you can with what you have – start where you are and build something better, something else. A dream life is rarely the result of what parents or society or genetics or luck has given. It’s what you make for yourself, usually out of loss and disadvantage and disparity between where you are and where you need to be.
Nobody has the time. Nobody has the money. Nobody isn’t worried about their debt or their bills or what they have in comparison to so-and-so. Not everybody lets that paralyze them toward working for something more – and that’s the difference. Not what you start with, but what you do with it.
10. There are few things more valuable than being able to live the life you want, as you want, when you want, with whom you want.
In a home under which you make the rules, with people whom you are not bound to in any way that you do not want to be. Do not let go of this dream. Do not let a grueling day or unseemly hours or exhaustion convince you that it’s easier to live otherwise.
11. Every dollar matters.
Do not work for free – an hourly or part-time job can hold up more of the roof than you probably think. Do not underestimate the power of a dollar (and the punch mindless spending that adds up can pack.) $10 can buy you dinner. The disparity between what you need to survive and what (society says you should) want to live is enormous. Essential to making it work on your own is drawing the line between what you realistically, honestly, genuinely, humanely, legitimately want and need.
12. Every victory is worth a celebration. Every setback is worth allowing yourself to mourn. If you don’t build up the victories, nothing will feel good enough; if you don’t emotionally neutralize the setbacks, every little thing will feel like it is compounding upon your already lingering feelings of “failure.”
Call the people who want to hear about your tiny victories, and let yourself feel happy for yourself with them. Buy yourself wine because it’s Tuesday and you have an extra $15 for once and you’re making it work. Talk through the things that bother you, even just with yourself. Most things are healed simply by bringing attention to them (when you consciously realize they aren’t a big deal, you let them go.)
13. You should ask for help when you know you need help.
Ask anybody, the biggest release is when you just say the thing you were anxious about or afraid of or worried sick over for months. Just say it. Stating it is coming to terms with it. I am worried. I don’t know how to do this. I feel insecure about a certain body part and it’s this one, and this is why.
The tiniest drop of honesty relieves so much tension, gets so much done, heals more than you can ever imagine.
This is what healthy, productive, successful women (and people) do. They apologize when they know they’re wrong, and they have enough wherewithal to know when that actually is. They are not afraid of receiving feedback. One negative comment does not undermine their entire mindset. They’re able to admire that which they cannot do, not envy it because they perceive it as making someone else more worthwhile. They can evaluate their lives in an honest way, and so they’re that much more able to honestly, productively move toward something better.
14. Waiting around for someone, something, or some opportunity to realize how amazing you are is a waste of your time and erodes your self-esteem.
And if the world needs anything, the world needs more genuine, inartistically self-esteem. Go be amazing somewhere else and the people who are smart enough to take notice will do just that.
15. Love is not a competition. Not being loved by one person does not mean you aren’t loved extraordinarily by another. You do not have to be better than everyone (or anyone) to be good enough for someone (and for yourself.)
We have this weird, collective belief system that tells until we are loved and accepted by everyone, we aren’t “loved” or “accepted” at all. As though people are lined up and evaluated and the people who are ranked the highest receive romantic partners and dream jobs. As though you are in a competition to be more of what somebody else wants you to be, as though that will legitimately convince them to love who you really are. (See how silly it sounds, when you think of it like that?)
There is no competition to be appreciated. There is only you, keeping yourself with people and in place where you’re not accepted like you could (and would) be elsewhere. That’s all. You don’t have to change yourself to be loved by the people in your life. You have to change the people in your life to the ones who will love you as you are.
16. You choose.
You choose what you think about. You choose who you spend your time with. You choose what matters, you choose how happy you are. You choose your family. You choose how you spend your last $100. You choose how much you work, and where. You choose how hard you try. You are choosing every second of every day. All it takes is one simple shift, one small decision, to change everything.
The moment you start believing that other people and things control your state of mind, is the moment you are powerless to them.