1. Don’t ever think you’ll have your sh*t together.
That is actually the big cosmic joke about life. You always think “by such-and-such date I’ll finally have my act in order.” You won’t. No one does. Every single person you know, in some way or another, is skating through life. From afar, things may seem pretty solid for them. But, let me assure you, that sh*t is held together by chewing gum and paper clips.
2. Friendships don’t just happen, yo.
Seriously. Anyone who’s ever told you that friendships happen with zero effort is probably the same person who told you that thumb ring looked cool. They’re a liar and thumb rings are a joke. Now, this isn’t to say that there aren’t those friendships which form and flourish organically. But those are a rarity. Time changes things, especially people. We grow. We evolve. And something is going to cause the elements to change. It might be distance or a significant other. But, only you can choose whether or not you let it have an effect. I can’t tell you how many adults I’ve spoken to who talk about how much they regret letting friendships fall away because they were too focused on their own lives. I’m not saying you need to see these people everyday. Hell, I have friends 20 mins from me that I maybe see once a month. But, that’s ok. Because we’re important enough to each other that we make time whenever possible and we keep in touch. Come on, y’all. Send a text. It takes two seconds. No one is that busy.
3. Take a trip by yourself.
Yes, you’ll read this in about a thousand Buzzfeed articles, but there’s a reason why: You f*cking should. I took my first solo trip last year to Norway and the experience was indescribable. Sure, I was intimidated at the fact that I would be thousands of miles from anyone I knew in a country where I didn’t know the language, but it also excited the hell out of me. The feeling I felt when I finally threw my stuff down in my hotel room was something only Salinger could describe. I was a stranger in a strange land. No one out there knew who I was. I could be anyone. Literally anyone. And there’s a tantalizing power in that.
But, most importantly, I could be my authentic self. It gives you time to truly feel like an explorer and you meet some amazing people along the way. Being so totally and completely out of your comfort zone is such an inspiring and eye-opening experience. Sitting in the corner booth of a cafe just watching and listening to the life happening around you is the best reminder of how much there is in the world and how small our problems are in the face of it all. So, go somewhere. Anywhere. Disconnect. Look at a mountain. Sit on a lakeshore. Take a breath. Because, before you know it, you’re gonna be [age redacted].
4. Pursue as many “Why not?” situations as you possibly can.
During your time on this bluish-green planet, you’re likely going to be presented with some extremely random and baffling opportunities to do something you’d never expect to do. And, more often than not, these opportunities will require little-to-no initial commitment from you other than tossing your name into the ring for consideration. It’s in these moments that one of the first thoughts to cross your mind may be “Why bother?” And, when those words ring out in your cranium, I challenge you to counter with a determined “Why not?” Honestly, some of the most ridiculous adventures and stories I have were born out of my simply saying “Why not?” and diving head first into unknown territory with a completely unpredictable outcome. It has led to things such as: Appearing as an extra in a terrible sci-fi thriller starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, being featured in a video on the Lifetime television network website as one of the Golden Girls’ biggest fans (shut up) and even interviewing Cyndi Lauper on a major cable network before she launched her “True Colors” tour (Don’t look for it. It’s not on the internet. Seriously. STOP GOOGLING).
So, just go for it, people. Even when you think it’s pointless and the odds are not in your favor, Katniss. Just pick up your bow and shoot.
5. This one here is a work in progress because I can’t say I’ve even mastered this guy. But let ghosts be ghosts.
Simply put, there are going to be people who come into your life and you may have intense feelings for them right off the bat. And then, inexplicably, they will vanish. For a reason that will always remain a mystery to you, this person will cease all communication and disappear just as mysteriously as they arrived. Now, you’re going to do a number of things during the initial aftermath. First, you’re going to wonder what it is you might have done to cause such a harsh exit. Don’t do that. You did nothing and they’re an insensitive turd. Second, you’ll try to get into the mind of that person and try to figure out what they were thinking. Again, don’t do that. Ghosts have no brains. Especially turd ghosts. Third, and worst of all, any rage you might have you’ll likely focus on yourself. THIS. CAN. NOT. HAPPEN. You are not to blame for someone’s inability to be a fully functioning decent human being. If ending a relationship (however brief) is as easy for someone as it is to order off of Seamless, then that person is an emotionless droid who belongs on a floating barge in indentured servitude to an obese space slug.
For reals, kids. Don’t blame yourself for the actions of others. Yes, I will admit, there are times when something we did or said or farted will be the reason why people make a hasty Irish exit out of your life. But, 99% of the time, you will have done nothing more than be your excellent self and some buttnugget just couldn’t handle your shine.
So, next time this happens (and there will likely be a next time because people are the worst), adopt the Pac Man mentality. Chomp on a power pellet, consume that bitch ass ghost for fuel, and keep on wocka-wocka-wockin’.
6. No one sees us the way we see ourselves.
To this very day, I can stand in front of the mirror and point out an endless number of things I’d like to change. And, what’s worse is, the more you focus on these things the more they draw your attention away from the bigger picture. Each day you’ll get up and you’ll look closer and closer at these perceived imperfections and, soon, it’ll be all you’ll notice. But, the joke of it all is that hardly anyone notices these things. And the ones who do probably notice and disregard them immediately while we go on killing ourselves.
There’s a big difference between art critics and art enthusiasts. A critic will go and thoroughly examine a work of art and comb every inch in an attempt to deconstruct, analyze and assign worth. An enthusiast is able to step back and admire a piece of art on a grander scale. They see the bigger picture.
Do not lose sight of the bigger picture. You are not a scar or a slightly crooked tooth or a patchy eyebrow or a couple of weird hairs or whatever it may be you obsess over. You are the sum of your parts. You are a whole person.
And, if you want to work to change something about yourself then that’s fine. It’s ok to have goals to work toward. If it will help make you feel better to make tweaks here and there, then go for it. But, don’t go nuts. Don’t lose sight of who you are.
Step back. Zoom out. Take a look.
No filter necessary.
7. Love yourself and one another. Honestly.
I wish I had something more climactic and powerful to post in the end of this series, but this is the truth of it: There’s so much out there that we face on a daily basis that is designed to bring us down. But, it only can if you let it.
We are amazing physical and emotional beings. We are the only one of us that can and will ever exist. We are chameleons. We can change our hair, our our shape and, hell, even our bone structure if we want to. But, what’s even cooler is the power we have to change our own minds and the minds of others.
If you think you don’t have an impact, you do. We all do. Something as trivial as complimenting someone on their outfit or holding a door or even just blessing someone after they sneeze can dramatically alter a person’s trajectory. And, that has a domino effect. A tiny, seemingly insignificant act can set off a chain reaction that has a dramatic and ultimately widespread response.
So, be good to one another. And, be good to yourself. This is the simplest and the hardest thing to do at the same time because sometimes it feels as if our wiring defaults to self-preservation over self-appreciation.
But, you are the filter. You can retarget an impulse and do some serious good with it. Don’t be too hard on yourself and don’t be too hard on anyone else.
We’re all just trying to find our footing on the dance floor.