1. That life will always, always, seek to categorize you. You can spend years trying to fight it or you can embrace and understand it. After accepting your ‘label’ you can then confidently say ‘fuck you.’ In the words of a fictional character, “Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you.” (Ten points to Gryffindor if you know who said it.)
2. Your gender is what you make it. Be feminine, be masculine, be comfortable in your own skin, and screw the rest. Ultimately you’re the only person with the ability to define your existence. People may (okay, will) treat you differently based on your gender but you can choose to make it the bane of your existence, or learn to let it go, be you, and move on. The world is changed far more by actions than words anyway.
3. Making mistakes is a way of life, but you damn well better learn something from them.
4. Someone somewhere is always going to be offended by what you have to say. Don’t let that stop you from saying it though. There is a decent chance those people need to be offended. There’s a reason they say the truth hurts. Alternatively, someone expressing another side of the ‘story’ can be very eye opening and should certainly be taken into account. Either way, don’t be afraid to have unpopular opinions, those are often the best kinds to have.
5. You’re never done growing up. There is never a point where you should be done learning or thinking or adapting. I’d call that a spiritual and mental death.
6. Just because someone else’s experiences differ from mine does not invalidate my experiences any more than it invalidates theirs. Our entire existence is created through our experiences and what we take from them; it is, for better or for worse, the lens we see the world through. They all have merit and insight, be open, be real, and carry on.
7. Maturity is not measured by how clean your house is, by the books you read or the movies you enjoy. It is not defined by your relationship status or how much money you make; it’s defined by how well you handle all the shit life has to throw at you. Everything else is just a cheap veneer.
8. Everyone will constantly try to tell how best to behave, be, and look (yes, hi, including me). Living outside the box can be rough and it can most certainly be lonely, but it’s also where we learn the most, grow the most, and accomplish the most.
9. Learning to say no and sticking with it.
10. Finding the right balance between selfishness and selflessness. The giving are often the unsung heroes in a time when blatant disregard for others is idealized and promoted. No one goes through this life alone, every person we meet holds a lesson, and we should repay kindness by ‘paying it forward.’ Anyone can be an asshole; it’s much harder to be understanding, and far more rewarding.
11. Judgment is a way of life, but is always a reflection of who we are and what we value. Understanding the reasons we judge specific people will often reveal our own failings and weaknesses. You can’t stop others from judging you and honestly, for the most part, it is a waste of your time.
12. Having a sense of humor is seriously one of the most important things in life. Laugh at yourself and your own pretentious bullshit (I’m laughing at myself right now – a lot) every god damn day.
13. Being an adult is about personal responsibility. Children say ‘Well, I did this because she made me!’ Adults say, ‘I could have personally handled that better.’
14. Being an adult is also about re-finding the simple joys in life and not taking everything so damn seriously all the time. Lighten up, be silly, be weird, be yourself and ignore how you’re ‘supposed to act.’
15. Adulthood is about finding your convictions and running with them. It’s about finding that one thing that lights up your soul and letting it guide you forward. Whatever makes you feel alive in this world, hold onto it like your entire life depends on it and never give up.
16. Be an independent, free-thinking individual outside of your relationships. Finding yourself through someone else’s affection for you is overrated. Being yourself and finding the reflection and acceptance of that in someone else is everything.
17. Your way is not everyone’s way and that’s awesome. Surround yourself with different kinds of people — with different beliefs, thoughts, and feelings. Having people agree with you all the time is boring.
18. Social media is there, it exists, it is very influential (rather unfortunately) and ignoring it isn’t going to make that go away. That being said, it is not life. Life is lived beyond your computer/phone/tablet screen. The rest is just a pale reflection of the true adventures that are waiting for you. It can be so easy to lose sight of that.
19. There is a huge difference between self confidence and arrogance. Confident people can absorb and consider criticism; arrogant people think they are above it. It’s a very important distinction.
20. You’ll never know everything but that shouldn’t stop you from trying. Realizing this is the moment you step past childhood fantasies, and into the boundless possibilities of a fulfilling adulthood.