1. One of the hardest things to do is to look our demons straight in the face and admit their existence to ourselves. Stand in front of the mirror, by yourself, and tell yourself what you are afraid of, what you regret, what you’re ashamed of. It might be unpleasant and somewhat terrifying because when we say things out loud, they become real. But this is a good thing, because once you’ve identified your inner turmoil, you can begin to alleviate it. We cannot fight off phantoms. Make them real, and then kick their ass.
2. Change is intimidating, even when it’s good. Being afraid or nervous about something new is normal, just don’t let the hurdle hold you back.
3. Our comfort zone is pleasant, but it does not challenge us; it does not make us grow or learn or improve. It does not make us strong. Force yourself to do things outside your comfort zone. In my experience, these are the moments that have impacted me the most, and stuck with me the longest.
4. Recognize the ways in which you are selfish, and then actively try to be less selfish. Make a real effort.
5. If you confidently display your greatest vulnerabilities, you shock your enemies out of their weapons. Laugh at your flaws and people won’t be able to laugh at you, only with you.
6. Accept the process of distinguishing between your flaws and your imperfections. Figure out what areas of your life you need and want to work on, and which shortcomings are as much an inherent part of you as your best qualities. It is fruitless and disheartening to attempt to change the latter, while working on the first is gratifying both in process and outcome.
7. Make improvement less daunting. If you see a goal you wish to achieve on the horizon, set benchmarks for yourself. Achievement and improvement is not all or nothing—it is a growth process, and likely one that will at times be tiring and seemingly impossible. You can do a lot to combat the overwhelming feeling of inadequacy if you give yourself reasonable, smaller goals to reach along the way. Even the grandest plans require small steps. Love the journey—you’ll end up gaining so much more than just the satisfaction of reaching your ultimate goal.
8. Accept that plans change.
9. When your instinct tells you something, listen. If you find yourself doing something out of habit and it suddenly hits you like a sack of bricks that your heart isn’t in it, abandon it. Impostors and shams of happiness are no one’s friend.
10. Be in the moment—I mean, really actively, whole-heartedly, deliberately in the moment. Don’t do reckless things with the excuse that tomorrow may never come. Tomorrow probably will come, and will likely bring with it consequences. We straddle lines between invincibility and pragmatism along the spectrum of our youth and often start out too far on one side and end up too far on the other. But one thing is for sure—every moment has something to offer if you immerse yourself in it. This is most important when you are spending time with people you care about. Don’t sell that moment short by anticipating what’s next, where you’re headed after, or what you’re gonna wear that evening. Be there, and look into that person’s eyes like you mean it.
11. Call someone you’re comfortable with, put on the saddest, most beautiful playlist you can find, and cry together. Cry for no reason in particular and all the reasons in general. Just cry until you’re so exhausted that all you can do is fall asleep or laugh; cry until you’ve bonded; cry until you’re all out of tears, and all that remains is resilience.
12. Know that inspiration can hide in the smallest most unassuming moments. Inspiration isn’t necessarily something grandiose or glamorous. Pinpricks of beauty and coincidence and paths crossing and remembering how much you appreciate being able breathe through your nose while you can breathe through your nose—that’s where the magic happens.
13. With very rare exception, there’s no such thing as too much love or too much laughter. Everything else in moderation, laughter and love in excess.
14. Rejection stings but so does disinfecting a wound. We grow stronger & recover in both cases.
15. When you hold a grudge, you are the one carrying that weight. Let anger thaw.
16. Integrity is not always shiny, but it’s sincere. You may have moments where you aren’t at your classiest, your most gracious, your most confident, or your most poised, but morals and maturity don’t always happen at once. If you have to choose, strong character trumps sophistication.