Most advice you hear breeds fear and distrust. It’s all about escaping pain, instead of facing it down. It’s about denying an experience, as if denying it makes it go away. (It doesn’t.) I find that what has saved my life is that I constantly ignore well-meaning advice. I don’t let other people explain to me my experience. I don’t congregate with the majority and adopt their mentality. I experiment. I face down the demons. I sit quietly with myself and get crystal clear on next steps, even if the next step is something as simple as, “get your ass in shower right now, you’re late.” I trust myself before I trust anyone else and that trust in myself opens me up to be more trusting in others. Trusting myself first breeds less of a dependency on what others think and I think we can all agree that the more we worry about what others think, the less we’re living our lives for ourselves. So, ignore most of what you hear. Do the opposite of what you hear. Do what feels right to you. The only person you need permission from to live the fuck out of your own life is you. And, you can give that permission to yourself right now. And, well, you should.
Whoever cares least has the most power, so care less. Be the one who cares the most.
Your heart is already on your sleeve, you have just convinced yourself it’s not. If you’re going to get hurt, you might as well get shattered. If you’re going to love someone, you might as well love them brilliantly. You don’t have to hide your cards and play it cool and make it seem like the person you’re in bed with does not matter to you as much as they really do. Stop letting words unsaid get caught in your throat. Release them into the open air and let them linger there without punctuation, without an ending. Let yourself care and love and express care and love without knowing the end of the story, without knowing how the other person feels. Be radically caring and radically loving. Because, the worst case scenario isn’t that you’ll get hurt. The worst case scenario is that you won’t ever experience the love you could have felt had you vulnerably ripped yourself open to accept it.
Believe in nothing. Believe in the goodness of the world.
This world will never give you a reason to believe in it. You will search endlessly for the persistent light and you will see only pockets of light and long stretches of darkness. This is something worth accepting. It’s worth accepting that you will not be given ample evidence of goodness and love in this world. Yet, you must believe in it. You must not be the person that gives a stranger evidence of the cruelty of the world. You must be the person who convinces others that there is something here worth believing in. Because, there are only two choices you have: you can either give people evidence of the darkness of the world or you can give people evidence of the lightness. That is your choice every day. And, if you choose the former, if you choose to show the darkness solely and you do not emit out the light that you so want to see, then how can you expect to see anything else?
Choose happiness. Stop trying to be happy.
The more you focus on being happy, the more you see the ways in which you are not, the reasons why you are not. If the focus is solely on happiness, then your life revolves around the scarcity of it. People like to say that happiness is a choice, but I think happiness creeps up on you when you start living your life based on your internal compass. I think happiness happens upon you as you’re deep in the business of living and of being alive. I think happiness bursts onto the scene when you’ve been busy accepting your life as it is and building from there. I think happiness is like a diamond you discover after you’ve peeled down the layers of your pain and after you’ve stood knee-deep in the muck of your anger and sadness and guilt and frustration. I think happiness is a brief reprieve, a burst of light, on the long and winding journey of your complex and beautiful life. It’s not something you must chase or choose. It is something you allow to wash over you when it chooses to do so.
Here’s a list of expectations for you to follow. Listen to you and tell the truth about your life.
There is no shortage of expectations on you to Be Someone, to Do Things. You know you need to define success for yourself regardless of a barrage of media telling you what success should look like. You know you need to value your life regardless of how valuable it looks from the outside. You know you need to accept yourself regardless of how “acceptable” you are. You know you need to eradicate the word “should” from your vocabulary and find what makes you come alive. You know all this. But, the other piece of this puzzle is… you have to listen. You have to quiet your mind enough to hear that whisper of a voice that tells you go here, go there, say this, say that. You can’t listen if you’re constantly connected to the internet. You cannot connect with yourself if you do not disconnect from the mind of the world. You need to find pockets of solitude to face down the demons in your mind and to hear the purity of what you desire, what brings you life. The answers will surprise you. And, the moment you get that nugget of truth, that perfectly raw and pure inspiration, you need to scream that out and you need to tell the truth about who you are and what you desire. In doing so, you give others permission to speak their truth out like a siren call.
Do what makes you happy. Do what makes you come alive.
Find the things and the people who make you feel the most at peace. Find whatever makes you feel like you’re coming home. Find whatever makes you feel most you. Eschew all the people and experiences that demand of you to be who you’re not, who need you to be someone you don’t particularly enjoy being. Let go of people who need you to be One Thing for them and don’t encourage you to grow or change your mind or jump off one path in order to follow a clearer one. It’s not worth it. Seek people who make you feel like it’s okay to be you, that your messiness isn’t something you need to apologize for. Seek experiences that enrich you and challenge you and open up further the truth about who you are. Seek the life that is not an avoidance completely of pain, but an acceptance that it exists, that it happens, and that it deepens your experience of being alive.
Guard your heart. Have the courage to crack yourself wide open.
If you wear your mask and you pretend to enjoy that which you do not and if you do not go inward into solitude and find the things that make you come alive, the opportunities and people you attract into your life will not be meant for you. When you clear yourself out to the point of facing the world as the unguarded version of yourself, everything that comes barreling into your life is meant solely for you. You have to let go of the person you think you are, the person who speaks from fear and lets fear dictate their life. The person who uses distraction as a means of coping. The person who is too busy denying the heaviness in their heart to see a way to lighten it at all. You have to let go of that person in order to step into the life that is yours.