1. Stop caring about what people think or say about you. I’m not saying you should act like an asshat and be OK with it. I’m saying do good things and stop worrying so much about what the mom in the carpool line or that guy at the gym thinks about you. They’re mostly busy thinking about themselves anyway.
2. Take risks. In life, in love, in fashion. Whatever. The way I see it, life is just a collection of stories to add to your book – make it a good one.
3. Good and bad things don’t happen to you, they just happen. Sometimes, the bad guy wins. Sometimes the hero doesn’t get the girl. I promise you that no one is sitting around conspiring to make you miserable. Life happens. It’s how you deal with the bad stuff and how graciously you accept the good stuff that makes you who you are.
4. There is a god. Maybe to you, it’s Mother Nature, or Buddha, or that weird tree in your mom’s backyard that kind of has a face on it. But I firmly believe there’s something out there that keeps everything in place. (Gravity, it can also be called gravity).
5. No one besides your mother and your crazy aunt tootie care how clean you keep your bathtub. You are a good person even if there’s a ring. I promise.
6. Your job doesn’t define you. (same goes for men, your friends, your hairstyle, your bra size, your shoe size, your nose size, your thigh size.) What you do defines you. So do good things.
7. There’s no such thing as “better than” or “less than.” there’s only “different from.” We’re all doing the best we can with what we have.
8. Remember that your parents are people who were young and idealistic once too, and forgive them for not letting you go to that sleepover, or for making you pay for college, or for leaving or for dying too soon. That shit is too heavy to carry around forever.
9. There will be wonderful, magnificent joy and suffering in your life. You will be happy and then you will be sad. The baby will be born and the house will be perfect, or he will leave you, or your mother will get sick, and your friends will be there to celebrate your great successes or will come sit with you while you lie face down on the floor crying because that’s what good friends do…
10. Pick good friends. And you’ll know. They’re the ones who love you even when you don’t love yourself. They’re the ones who would pick you up in the middle of the night in a snowstorm from the airport in Denver, no questions asked. Which reminds me…
11. Be a good friend. Return calls. Send birthday cards. Remember that beach trip or that silly thing you did together. Be willing to go to Denver. Give what you get.
12. Stop comparing yourself to others. It’s easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing or wearing or who they’re marrying or where they’re travelling to this month. Don’t compare your worst days to their highlight reel. Remember that everyone has shit they don’t like or that embarrasses them or makes them feel sad. You’re perfect because you’re you.
13. No matter how you feel, get up, suit up and show up. Some days this will seem impossible, like right after your boyfriend breaks up with you because you’re not perfect enough for him. Resist the urge to pull the covers over your head and hide – there’s a wonderful world out there full of a fabulous life to be lived. Don’t waste a single day moping about something you can’t change.*
14. *unless you have the flu, or depression, or your dog just died, or you have to have a colonoscopy even though you’re only 29 because the doctor thinks you may have colon cancer. Those are perfectly acceptable reasons to stay in bed for the day. Mental health days are there for a reason.
15. Don’t marry that guy you date in your mid-to-late 20s just so you can be married. Because you might wake up one day and realize you’re living someone else’s life that you never really wanted and divorce is very.very expensive.
16. You have no idea what you want. You’re in your 20s! You’re an idiot! And that’s okay. That’s what’s supposed to happen. Make mistakes, stay up too late, say stupid things. Go to a music festival even though you hate all the bands and hate music festivals. Date the younger guy. Date the older guy. Date all the guys or none of them, or women if you want. Make mistakes! Take risks. Forget about failure. You have the unique opportunity to be a complete moron and no one can (really) judge you for it! Seize it – make questionable fashion choices or dye your hair purple. Don’t sit on the sidelines because you’re afraid of making a mistake.
17. Don’t be afraid to fail. You will, I promise. You will fall flat on your face and it will be awful, but you will survive. And you’ll learn something in the process.
18. Stop thinking that money is the answer. It isn’t. Money can’t make you happy. It can buy you nice things and send you on nice trips, but if you’re a stinky person inside, you’ll still be a stinky person outside, no matter how rich you get.
19. If you’re dating someone and you hear a little voice in your head that says, “run,” then run. Don’t stay just because you don’t want to be alone. You are capable of being alone. You are happy alone.
20. Rid yourself of the “I’ll be happy when…” mindset. Sure, you’ll be happy when you graduate, or when you buy a house, or get married, or lose 20 lbs. except you might not. You might never do any of those things. You might die tomorrow. The point is, be happy now. It’s not a destination, it’s a choice. Choose happiness.
21. Wear sunscreen. Don’t smoke. Drink lots of water. You will never, ever tire of hearing, “you’re 30?! I would never have guessed! You look 23!”
22. Relax. It will seem hard when deadlines come and the papers are due but remember to take the time to breathe.
23. Exercise. And not because you want to be thin. Or to impress a man. But because it makes you feel good, and powerful and strong and makes your heart rate lower and you will at some point need to carry boxes of things around town and you don’t want to have to rely on someone else to carry the heavy stuff.
24. Fall in love. Over and over. Even when it hurts and it’s scary. Because the benefits outweigh the risks. Because it’s beautiful and fun and painful and terrifying, and totally worth it.
25. Learn how to apologize, sincerely. You will do and say some very stupid things in your life. Admit when you are wrong, and do the right thing. It will be humbling, but necessary.
26. Forgive. Yourself and others. It’s the only way to accept things as they are and move on.
27. Realize that you won’t always get what you want, but you will always get what you need. And sometimes, you’ll come to find out that what you get is what you really wanted all along.
28. Stop living your life in “should.” You “should” have a 9-5 job, or you “should” already be married with kids. Let go of “should” and focus on the reality of what is. Find your passion. Live with purpose. On their deathbed, no one ever wishes they had worked more and lived less.
29. Don’t sell yourself short. You are capable. You are lovely. You are strong and magnificent, and you will accomplish great things. Stop believing you aren’t good enough. You are.
30. And most of all, have fun. You only get one chance in this body — make it a good one.