1. No one in the history of ever has been given something because they wanted it really badly. Everyone wants things really badly. The people who earn their dreams do so with a lot of hard work.
2. Money might seem fun and limitless and like some weird, arbitrary system that people dreamed up to keep other people down — but it’s real, and whatever your conspiracy theory, it’s in your best interest to learn how to live within your means.
3. Accidents happen all the time. People will understand if you screw up, but only if you cop to it and do what you can to make it right.
4. You can and will stress yourself out more than anyone else ever will. Cut yourself a little slack, stop trying to burn eighty candles at eighty ends, and try to remember that how you react to something is as much a catalyst for stress as the thing itself.
5. Life is the thing that happens offline. Instagram photos and funny Facebook statuses are just one of the many happy side effects of a life well-lived (and if you’re living your life right, you won’t ever have to stage a single lo-fi, artfully blurred still life ever again).
6. No one is out to get you, in part because nobody really cares all that much. This sounds dismissive, but it really isn’t: when everyone else is busy focusing on other things, you can change the game — and make them care after all.
7. Comparing your life to what someone else does or doesn’t have is only going to leave you feeling unfulfilled in some way. Even if you think you’re doing better than they are, you’re still the one searching for validation, and you won’t find that in the sum of other people’s things.
8. Unless your job is to literally be a model, you don’t need to put a premium on looking like one. There are plenty of other endeavors (and a thousand kinds of cheese-fries) more pressing than your jeans size.
9. It is the easiest thing in the word to disparage something for not being useful, for not being of any value, for being slacktivisim, for being narcissistic, and a million things in between. It is much more worthwhile to figure out what you can actually do to help the cause, or at least cheer on those who are.
10. No one is ever obligated to love you back. Sometimes you’re the one breaking your own heart because you anticipated and expected something, and that doesn’t automatically mean they were supposed to reciprocate. You can either dwell, or move on with the knowledge that just because they didn’t love you doesn’t mean you’re any less lovable.
11. You will waste more energy than you could have ever imagined by worrying what other people are going to do. They’ll do what they do regardless. All you’re ever in charge of is what you do, whether that’s in response to or completely separate from their actions.
12. Your attitude — even the unconscious bits of it — toward something is a real component to anything that you do. Your bosses and friends and significant others will pick up on things you weren’t even aware of. If they call you out for something, it’s an opportunity to grow and be better.
13. Some weekends demand buzzing between a half dozen different parties, and some weekends require plowing through some Tostitos on the couch while being pantsless. Both are equally as good for your soul. Never let anyone else’s FOMO (or your own) guilt you into doing what you need right here and now.
14. Your definition for success is going to be different from anyone else’s definition of the term, unless you try to ascribe to what someone else’s definition is to begin with. (And sometimes, if going the old-fashioned, 9-to-5 route is how you define success, then that’s fine. Not everyone needs to be an artisan pickle briner.) Aim for what makes you feel fulfilled, especially since if you go by what someone else expects of you, you’ll always wonder if you’re coming up short.
15. People aren’t going to always share your opinion every single time. That doesn’t make them wrong, it just makes them different. You can either work to explain your own point of view, or choose to respect your differences. (And trying the former doesn’t mean you won’t ever have to concede to the latter eventually, either.)
16. Nothing will matter more than your memories and your experiences. When you look back on your life, you will remember your heartbreak, your resilience, your happiness, all of it. Everything else is just stuff. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth getting excited over in this moment (because, after all, that excitement is a memory), it’s just a matter of putting things in perspective.
17. People are often very happy to go out on the craziest limbs for you — somebody in their past probably did so for them, too — but if you ever catch yourself asking someone, “Just give me a chance!”, realize that you are asking for charity and you don’t need that. If you have to ask, they’ll never give it to you. Figure out how to increase your value to this person and then go and do it.
18. In terms of how you should spend your time thinking and acting, idealism is at the tippy top of the food pyramid. That doesn’t mean it’s not possible, it’s just a further reach. Being realistic and acting within the limits of reality is your foundation. (Read: work towards what you want in your ideal world by manipulating the hell out of the current system.)
19. 90% of the time, you give people cues on how to treat you by how you treat yourself. (The other 10% of the time, people are just going do do what they do, whether they’re the biggest dicks or give you that one brand of kindness you never quite feel like you deserve. Mostly they’re just assholes. But don’t waste your time worrying about them.)
20. The best way to ensure that people leave you alone and let you do you is to let people be where and who and what they are, too. Just because you think they need to ditch that guy or change that job doesn’t mean they should. Sometimes those paths are parallel, and sometimes they intersect, but for the most part, they are on their own path and you are on yours. The best thing you can do for yourself and your sanity is to accept that and keep going.