1. Sometimes the only way to win is to take yourself out of the game.
Your whole life you have been told not to be a quitter, I hate to break it to you but that is horrible advice. Now this doesn’t mean when times get tough you can just throw your hands up in the air and surrender but there are times when it’s okay, even admirable, to hold your head up high and walk away. Not everything is a competition; it’s not always “winners” vs. “losers”. You will find yourself competing for all sorts of crazy nonsensical things: competing with other girls for male affection (that’s an especially dumb one), competing with Victoria’s secret models for thinner thighs, competing with strangers on social media for the imaginary title of “coolest life”, these are really dumb and self-deprecating competitions. They will make you feel bad about yourself and it may take you a long time to learn but, you totally rock. When you put yourself in these types of competitions you lose either way, so just quit. Love yourself enough to take yourself out of the game.
2. Never sacrifice your happiness to look cool.
You know what’s cool? Being happy, and if being weird makes you happy, then being weird is actually pretty cool. Sign up for musical theater instead of playing basketball, even if people think theater kids are weird. Dance at the bar even though you look super weird to everyone else (and you do look weird, you will never be able to dance properly just accept that and dance anyway). Let your freak flag fly, do what makes you happy even though it may not be what most people consider cool, do this and I promise you will go farther than you can ever imagine.
3. Don’t start shaving your legs because everyone else is doing it.
You will regret this decision very much.
4. Drink alcohol; drink lots of it, but only when surrounded by good people, and only in good places.
You will have a very weird relationship with alcohol. Vodka will make you cry, beer will make you fat, and gin will make you break out in hives. I know I could tell you to wait until twenty-one to start drinking, but I also know you won’t listen. Alcohol will show you some ugly truths. It will show you that you need to be careful with your body, and with your trust. Once in a while it will show you another side of yourself, a side you don’t wish anyone to know, especially yourself. It will show you how easy it is to mess up and that forgiveness doesn’t come easily, sometimes it doesn’t come at all. Alcohol will also show you some great times. You will have nights that are so hilarious you don’t think you’ll ever stop laughing. Alcohol will make you feel confident enough to slip a cute boy your number on a September Friday night, and my god will you be happy you did that. Alcohol will make you feel good, it will bring you closer to people, and serving it will even help you pay your way through college. However be smart, don’t drink 99 Apples with senior football boys in a random shed to look cool. Drink champagne with your girlfriends after you get promoted; drink bourbon after a long hard day because you like the taste. Enjoy it, don’t abuse it. Also, NEVER drink Everclear; you’re just going to have to trust me on that one.
5. Your family is not defined by your DNA.
It’s a common myth that you have to live with the family you were born into. That’s not true. If a family member starts to become an overwhelmingly destructive force in your life it is okay to let them go. It is not your fault, and do not accept blame or place any on yourself. You will find that other people come into your life, and you love them so much that they become your family. One day you’ll look around the Thanksgiving table at this hodge-podge of humans, and realize that you can’t imagine your family any other way.
6. You will mess up, and it will be okay.
You will do some stupid shit. I mean really unbelievably dumb shit. Shit that you look back on and just are flabbergasted that any human being could ever be that dumb, let alone you. You will be scared, so scared that you may think it would be better if you just disappeared, ran away, or even died, anything so you won’t have to face the music. You are wrong. Those frightening, stomach knotting, soul shaking moments are the ones that will make you. Those moments will define who you are; they will give you a strength that never leaves you. You will overcome no matter how dark it is, and you will be stronger and better for it. Those are the moments that you will look back on and be proud of, not because you were an ignorant little shit who got yourself in that situation, but because you handled it with poise and strength, and found a way out.
7. Don’t ever be ashamed of your sexuality; don’t ever shame people because of theirs.
You are a woman, and that is one of the coolest things you can be. Your body does all sorts of crazy stuff; it can even make a human being which is a pretty cool feat knowing that you can hardly make scrambled eggs. However it also comes with some baggage. You will deal with something called slut shaming, you won’t know what that means just yet, but a really cool teacher will explain it to you, and it will change the way you look at yourself and other women. Sex is awesome, for the first couple of years you have it you won’t think so, but that’s because you’re doing it wrong. It will take finding someone who really cares about you, and accepting the weird and awkward parts about sex but eventually, it will blow your mind. Sex is great, but you have to be smart. The secret to a fantastic sex life is found in two words: get tested. You could have the best sex of your life, but if you sacrifice your health for it, that “best sex” could easily turn into your worst. Be responsible with your body, own it and make sure you are healthy and so are your partners. Follow this rule: If it’s too awkward to talk to your partner about genital warts, you shouldn’t be having sex with them. Never let someone make you feel ashamed about how you choose to conduct your sex life, and never shame anyone else for the way they conduct theirs. Erase the words whore, slut, faggot, and homo from your vocabulary, the only events occurring in the bedroom that should concern you, are the ones in your own. Most importantly, be proud of being smart, responsible and fantastic in bed.
8. It’s less important to be with someone who is hot, and more important to be with someone who makes you laugh (but aim for both).
You will date some godly looking men. I mean it; you will look in their eyes and swear that Brad Pitt is looking right back at you. There will be quarterbacks, models, stock brokers, and people will drool when you walk into a party with them, but you will find yourself drooling when you are stuck in a car for three hours and all they have to talk about is their workout regimen. The real key, is finding someone who can make you laugh. Yeah, it’s nice to roll over and find some professional soccer player who is 6% body fat in your bed (that actually will happen, cherish that morning) but it’s even better to roll over to a dude naked salsa-ing in your hot pink silk robe for the sole purpose of making you laugh so hard that you pee yourself. “Her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering”….Find that guy. Now I’m not saying you should only focus on humor to keep your relationship alive, there has to be chemistry too. However a six pack is not mandatory, the ability to make you laugh when you’re so sad you think you’ve forgotten how to, should be.
9. Be the stranger people can always depend on for kindness.
You will spend your whole life depending on the kindness of strangers. From the editor who decided to place your client in their biggest issue “just because” to the admissions counselor at your dream college who decided to take a chance on you. These people will unknowingly mold your life, so become one of them. Look for opportunities to make a difference in people’s lives, no matter how small. Donate to a cause a friend supports, buy a coffee for the homeless guy on the corner in December, and tell a stranger you like their shoes. You were lucky enough to be placed in a fantastic life, spend yours paying that back with kindness.
10. People will love you, people will hate you, most of the time it will have nothing to do with you.
This is one it will take you a very long time to learn. It also encompasses a lot. A guy may not like you because you have the same last name as a second grade teacher he hated. Is it rational? No. Can you do anything about it? No. People may like you because you have something they want, not because you have a slammin’ personality. You must be wary either way, and also accept that you don’t have any control over people’s feelings towards you. You can’t make people like you and you certainly can’t make people love you. When a boy tells you he doesn’t love you anymore, you won’t understand, you’ll say “I’ll try harder” but the same dedication you apply to work and school can’t be applied here. Be nice, be the best person you can, and that’s it. Let the rest go.