What I Wish I Knew At 23 (Written By A 23-Year-Old)

These lists are always addressed to their writers’ younger selves. These are the things I wish I knew now – not just enough to know what they are, but to live them:

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1. Allow the examples of others to push and guide you, to show you what you do and don’t want and fuel your fire. Inspiration and education, never jealousy.

2. Your decision to – or not to – eat THAT, whatever that is, is not a reflection of your moral fiber.

3. You really don’t need to go on a juice cleanse.

4. Cheap fast fashion is addictive…but you’ll throw out or wear out two cheap dresses long before one nice one. Fewer but better clothes, sweetie.

5. Figure out how to make social media work for you instead of the other way around.

6. You don’t need to know what you want to pick something and do it. You probably won’t figure out what you want until you just do something, anyway. And if you don’t figure it out you’ll still be doing something.

7. Allow yourself to waste time. Wasted time is sacred. All of the white noise and undirected moments and dead ends will make it into your novel or your memoir someday. And if they don’t, they are still worthwhile as they are, as threads in your lived experience.

8. Sunscreen. Wear it. This is so abstract to you now but when you are looking in the mirror in twenty years it will be very, very real.

9. You will never ever ever ever ever regret just going on that damn run.

10. If you’re having dessert, have dessert. You don’t need dessert all the time ever but when you do eat it, commit. Fuck sugar-free gluten-free whatevers, you’ll want five of them to replace the one real whatever you could have just had in the first place.

11. Ask questions. At work and in life. It’s okay that you have no idea what the fuck is going on. Really. What’s not okay is staying that way.

12. Stop fighting the fact that you need eight hours of sleep a night to function as a human being. Not everyone does. But not everyone is tall or has perfect vision or can roll their R’s. It is what it is.

13. There isn’t actually anything preventing you from arriving on time other than the fact that you didn’t leave on time.

14. When you are reading you are alive, and when you sacrifice reading you sacrifice aliveness.

15. Being young does not mean that your life is “just beginning,” and you don’t have your “whole life” ahead of you. You started 23 years ago, and those 23 years haven’t been a trial run. You’re living your life, your one-shot life, now. Get after it. TC mark

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