Be, inexplicably, a lovely mess. Don’t dare to claim you have even half the answers to age-old problems or daily problems, for that matter. Buy wine by the magnum when you’re feeling low, kick off your shoes (keep your socks on) and turn off your phone if a boy or girl is being mean to you.
Do dare to care about the little things: exploit your idiosyncrasies by the dozens, and rarely have an answer. When you do have an answer, tell it to people, it doesn’t matter whom. Know that you’re an inimitable person, unable to be defined by age or race or gender, but be proud of your gender, just the same.
Cry when it suits you; cry for hours, because after it, you’ll feel better. Tears are a bravery badge. Call your mother; try to understand your mother as another human being, outside of the parental boundaries you built up as a child. Recognize her as an individual with a past and present and future, a person who dealt with you because of a powerful love that cannot be fully explained or broken.
Don’t allude to dirty diapers. Read old journals. Celebrate the fact that you’re finally over your high school ex. Be fully alive, even when you’re sad. Take every day as a tiny challenge, and be your own heroine. Princes are generally floozies, anyway.
Read books by women. Study women. Learn to make the best damn Bloody Mary, ever. Be healthy, but also splurge. Fried things are good for the soul, just not the waistline. Be smart about dating. Buy shoes. Take a day off, once a week, to do something that’s incredibly lazy and self-serving. Find new music, but don’t buy crap.
Be endearing. Drink a lot of coffee—you’re done growing, so it won’t stunt your growth. Realize that life is a waitlist: mark your place in line, but go do other things in the meantime. Don’t frown; it’s bad for your skin. Have hopes and dreams, but also have a well-anchored foot in reality.
Keep a secret or two. Don’t show all your cards at once, or you’ll really have reason for a royal flush. Find someone to love and argue with. Let people take care of you, but don’t keep people as crutches or collector’s items. Take walks, play with dogs, and understand that cats are mysteries of the universe.
Find a suitable black dress. Crazy salads are okay to eat. Be tough and tender, two parts of a whole lotta woman. Play a game of checkers like you used to. Learn how to take a selfie, but realize the futility of it, just the same. Don’t worry about social media; everyone puts their best face forward on there, anyway. Be emotionally draining and wrong a good portion of the time.
Realize that you’re doing fine, and go buy a candy bar.