1. Everything has an expiration date. Understand that things, people, and relationships don’t have to last forever in order to be great. Stay present and embrace the unexpected moments that appear in your life – especially the risky ones. If you see an opportunity that has an end in sight and your heart is urging you to do it, take the chance. Loss is as much a part of life as joy and success. You will have a richer life for making yourself vulnerable and for taking on projects that are either unexpected or finite. You will become resilient and compassionate and your life will take on adventures it wouldn’t be able to otherwise
2. “Never have sex with someone crazier than yourself.” I read this in a bathroom stall once. Around the same time, a friend of mine told me that “coincidences are anonymous gifts pointing to a deeper reality.” I didn’t listen to the two warnings, but I’m hoping you do.
3. I’m going to go against everything you’ve heard and tell you that I absolutely think everyone needs to reach a level-five mushroom high once in their life. Psychedelics have the power to provide you with some of the most soul-wrenching epiphanies you will ever experience in your life. They are absolutely magical, and terrifying, and wonderful. If you do choose to take on this piece of advice, please be mindful. You are dealing with Mother Nature’s medicine and she doesn’t fuck around.
4. Be kind – not just nice, but really, truly kind and compassionate. Life is so short, and heart-breaking at times. We will all go off the rail at one point or another. It will happen to the best of us, so treat your fellow humans with empathy and grace. Listen to that senile-seeming man ramble about his life to you on the bus. Who knows when the last time he experienced some semblance of genuine human understanding or care is. Who knows what you might be able to learn from his story. Just keep an open mind and stay humble – we’re all in this together.
5. Don’t slut shame. Despite what most people have told you, you can have mind-blowing sex with someone you don’t love, and you can have a terrible sexual encounter with someone you are head over heels for. Relationships and human dynamics are complicated. Don’t ever terrorize/throw someone you know under the bus because you don’t agree with his or her sex life. If you are having safe, consensual sex that isn’t derived from a place of self-hate, then you are golden. We are entitled to living our lives the way we choose, even if that doesn’t coincide with the choices of the people that are close to us.
6. Wear sunscreen. Baz Luhrmann really wasn’t joking around when he recorded that sunscreen song. I partied hard enough in my teens to take out a small herd of baby elephants, yet somehow my skin has still maintained some of its elasticity. I attribute that to sunscreen entirely.
7. It doesn’t get easier, but you’ll learn to make room for loss. Grief, death, and loss will always be treated as these fragile, taboo topics that parents don’t want to bring up and adults will go to insane lengths to avoid. But they happen, inevitably: once, twice, maybe three times – sometimes three times a year, and it’s awful. You will feel things beyond the clichés that tell you that it will feel like your world is collapsing. You will lose sleep, cry, and spend months taking melatonin. You will become angst-riddled and begin to question everything you know. And I’m not here to tell you it gets easier, because I don’t think it does. But you’ll learn to cope with it in better ways. You will be ok, I promise. Just please: keep your head up and your heart open and try not to become bitter.
8. Don’t date anyone who doesn’t vote or refuses to identify as a feminist. This is a no-brainer: If they can’t do these two things, that means they don’t care about the bigger picture, and they don’t think that woman deserve equality.
9. Live by yourself. I urge you to live alone at some point in your life. I thought I had everything figured out until I took a few years to live by myself – no roommates, no boyfriend, just me. It was one of the most terrifying and invigorating experiences of my life. Learning to bypass that restlessness that comes hand in hand with being by yourself is where your life can really shift from loneliness into solitude, and that is a beautiful, awakening moment when you can finally begin to learn so much about who you are, and what you ultimately want.
10. “You’ll never be as young as you are tonight.” I read that quote in a Chuck Palahniuk novel a few years ago and it resonated big time. Think about it for a second. We’re all racing to our graves – make this moment count, make tomorrow your legacy. Time just keeps on ticking baby. This is your chance to shine, so make it magic.