1) A boy telling you you’re pretty won’t make you see the beauty in the fullness of your cheeks, in redness of your lips at 2 in the morning when tequila is making the bar bathroom spin. He can’t take away the ugliness that you see in yourself, you have to do that.
2) You have to be ready to hear someone say they love you. You have to be ready, and you have to be willing, and you have to listen. Because sometimes, they won’t say those three words, they’ll put a blanket over you while you’re watching a movie, they’ll kiss your cheek when they think you’re asleep, they’ll smile when they see you first thing in the morning. But you, you have to be willing to see it, feel it, let it in. Letting someone love you takes practice.
3) Don’t make compromises you can’t live with. Compromise is a different version of what you want, not a whole other Universe.
4) Learn to say no. No – to a movie you don’t want to watch; no – to sex you don’t want to have, no- to a relationship that’s driving you mad. Say no – to things that hurt you, to people that extinguish your fire, to jobs you hate and places that are desolate. There are bad things that we can’t control, bad things that happen and we are sucked into and have to feel with every fibre of our being, but the rest – learn to distance yourself, learn to say no.
5) Don’t expect people to walk through fire for you – not your parents, not your friends, not the person you’re in love with. Love doesn’t mean sacrifice, love shouldn’t mean sacrifice. Don’t expect someone to give away pieces of them, so they could fit you better. And don’t feel hurt when they refuse to – it’s self-preservation. Instead – learn from them. Do it as well.
6) Don’t tether yourself to people. Learn to make connections, to love, with both your feet steady on the ground. Learn to let people pass through your life; like a summer breeze, not a storm that’s just been unleashed.
7) Learn the difference between growth and growing up before it’s too late. Rooftops and water fights and ice cream for breakfast can be a part of your life at 10, 25, or 35. But by the time you’re 35 you need to learn to say enough, to be able to walk away, you need to be able to love yourself. Love yourself the way you loved yourself at 10, before the world had a chance to fill your head with ugliness.
1) You will hurt people. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes without meaning to, but you will hurt people. It doesn’t make you a bad person, but learn to accept that you may be a villain in someone else’s book.
2) Learn to apologize. Learn to mean your apologies. Learn to say them with sympathy. Apologies are not about your conscience, or about your problems – they are about someone else – understand that! Understand that words can’t undo deeds, they do not heal. Do not demand forgiveness, work for it. Accept responsibility, do not shy away from it. But never, ever, apologize to appease someone. It is a betrayal – of yourself, as much as it’s a betrayal of them.
3) Own your body! Own the softness of your tummy. Love your legs even when they’re hairy. Look at your face without makeup and find things to love – the eyes of the survivor and the lips that speak wonders and those cheeks that flush when you laugh. Love the parts that jiggle and the parts that are firm. Love all of you.
4) Do not be afraid to take up space. There is a difference between being polite and being invisible. Do not be afraid to laugh loudly, to smile widely, to talk passionately. Do not be afraid to exist fully, unapologetically.
5) There is nothing you can do to make someone fall in love with you. Let me repeat that – there is nothing you can do to make someone fall in love with you. Because see, the only thing you can do is change, but then they wouldn’t be falling in love with you, but with the person you’re trying to be for them. They’d be falling in love with things you stopped yourself from saying, and laughs you faked and the hairstyle you hate. They’d be falling in love with a person you don’t even like. Find someone who will love you the way you are, someone with whom you don’t have to try.
6) Make playlists. I know, I know this seems silly, but trust me on this one, make playlists. A playlist to help you sleep and a playlist to calm you down at 3am when the walls around you seem to be crumbling. Make playlists, because sometimes there won’t be people around to remind you of who you are, to remind you how strong you are, to tell you to put the razor blade down. And the thing is – the music might. But more importantly, it will remind you of who you are, it will remind you of the sunny Sunday morning when you spent hours compiling it, it will remind you that darkness is only temporary, that tears dry, that you know how to smile, that you love to smile.
7) Learn how to write cover letters well, really well Write a great CV! Take your time. Formatting is important. Use spell-check and punctuation and for the love of God use a decent font! Always come 15 minutes early for interviews. Have a spare pair of tights in your bag. Do not drink coffee on the way! When asked about your flaws, do not say you’re a perfectionist – there is nothing employers hate more! No one cares about that play you were in, in 10th grade and the three guitar chords you kind of know. Always read the company profile. Be informed. Do not lie. Admit when you don’t know something. Ask for instructions again if you don’t understand. Do more than you are required – workplace is not school, there is no limit to what you can achieve!