November 25, 2015

Dear Young Hearts

Dear young hearts,

Love is a weird thing, and as you grow older, it doesn't stop getting any weirder or more complex. The love you felt for friends and first loves in high school shifts to a different kind of love in college, which shifts again as you enter adulthood. And each time you fall in love, it'll be different, too. You are, after all, the only thing that stays the same in each relationship you enter, no matter how much you think you have a "type" or that you're doomed to repeat the same relationship over and over again. 

When you're in your 20s, though, there's a lot that flies up in the air all at once. You're juggling a job and debt and a social life and trying to figure out who you are, now more than ever, and some things feel like they slip through the cracks here and there. Relationships sometimes seem like more trouble than they're worth unless you're in them (and sometimes even then, on the bad days), but that doesn't mean that you won't fall in love. You can try, to avoid it, but it'll happen. You can't outrun falling in love.

And whatever the outcome, heartbreak or happiness, forever, or just that momentary second, it'll teach you something about yourself, and about what you do and don't want in your life. Because you need love, and you need it in multiple forms. But what does it mean to love, when you can barely juggle your bills and your student loans and everything else in between? And who do you choose to love? Do you even choose at all? (After all, sometimes it's the love that finds you.) But those are different questions for a different day. So here's the 5 people you'll fall in love with in your 20s.

1. A complete stranger. 
It'll be the cute guy with the perfect hair you see on the bus, or the girl whose carefully-edited Instagram lures you into thinking you really know who she is, or the sales rep who you swear always flirts with you when they make the rounds to your office. It could be anyone, someone whose coffee you accidentally grabbed for at the shop, someone who interacted with a tweet once, someone who you saw in a restaurant and imagined a whole future with in 5 seconds, only as long as you keep them at a distance. This is crucial. You might never see them again, or you might see them under the circumstances that you can't make a move to be something more. But you'll unload all your craziest fantasies onto them without their ever knowing, both because it's less of a burden for you to carry, all of these goals and no one to share them with, turns into all these goals with a make-believe someone else, and because it's less of a risk. You never have to put your heart on the line. You can love from afar. And even unreciprocated love is real. But it's not sustainable, and you'll have to give them back their stranger status eventually, even if you felt like you knew them inside and out. You never did. They were never yours to know. Your idea of them was the only thing you had a right to love. 

2. Someone who could have been.
This can happen frequently now that we live in a world where our memories are preserved forever online. You'll see someone's name pop up on Facebook, or in a throwback photo or at a reunion, and you'll wonder. What could have gone differently? What would you have to do differently to keep them in your life, to keep the relationship going, or to have a relationship at all? And when your 20s are a crazy whirlwind of ups and downs, it seems like a great escape to revert back to your past, and what was once familiar and safe. This is not where you grow, however. Sure, sometimes you realize someone's been under your nose the whole time, but not always. Life isn't a Hollywood romantic comedy, and often, people were left in your past for a reason. Playing a game of could-have-been is an endless free fall. See what lies ahead. You know what could have been, but you don't know yet what could be. And that surprise is magical. 

3. Someone who could give you everything.
You will fall in love with them in the abstract way, that you love the idea of who they are, of where they've been and what they've achieved, because you'll either want to follow in their footsteps, or glean off their success. It's natural to do the latter; in your 20s, you're still young and starry-eyed despite your crappy walk-up, and going on a date with your boyfriend with a Ferrari seems like the way to beat the system. But beyond the material, you'll also fall in love with a boss you really admire, or a mentor whose career you'd love to learn from, and you'll realize that falling in love is not always romantic. Sometimes, it's just fuel. Sometimes it helps remind you why you need to keep pushing to achieve your goals. Sometimes it's just a sign that the path you're on is the right one. (Just don't get inappropriately moon-eyed around your boss. That's weird.) 

4. Your best friend.
Your early adulthood is going to be cold and quiet and lonely at times, and you're going to wonder how it is that people meet other people, and you'll reach out and latch onto the few people who you already have in your life. You'll never want to let go, and you don't have to. Help each other move into crappy apartments and eat pizza on the floor before you unpack. Call each other and text each other and chat each other off the record and snapchat ugly faces and cling as tightly to one another as you possibly can. Learn what it's like to worry about another person so unconditionally that you can tell they're having a bad day just by the length of their texts. Have people wonder if you're actually in a real relationship, but know that this is the truest relationship either of you have ever been in (and that this is not a bad thing). We say best friends are forever in school, and we test these notions in college, but it's in your 20s that you learn the true depth of being in love with your best friend. 

5. Yourself.
At the very least, I really hope you do. Everyone deserves to know what it's like to know that someone loves them just as they are in that moment. It doesn't mean anything less, and sometimes, it even means more, if that person is you.

November 17, 2015

Looks May Fade, But Selfies are Forever

I've never been very big on compliments. I never quite learned how to take them, in part because I always thought that if you accepted a compliment, people would think you're conceited (and surprise, surprise: they do) and in part because it took a long time for me to believe these things. When people complimented how good I was at school, I shrugged it off because it was never like I tried. That's not a humblebrag, I promise. When they told me I was funny, I balked. And when they said I was pretty, I...well, I'm still working on that one.

It's not lost on me, then, that I work in a world that's very surface, What you wear, how you do your makeup, what your scarf looks like on any given day, how you can arrange your life to look just so on Instagram. And I've learned that sometimes, the bits of your life that you want to capture and share with the world are the moments where you feel your best. And a lot of the time, you can feel your best when you feel like you look your best. Also, why are we still so pegged on this idea that caring about how you look is inherently bad?

Sure, there are deeper things in this world to think about. There's atrocious poverty and war and people are constantly fighting for equal rights. But to capitalize on these things for what? The likes? For people to think that we're aware of what's going on in the world and that somehow makes us better than the people who aren't posting about it? If all you're doing is joining in on the social trend du jour, and you're not actually doing anything to change the world for the better, is that really less surface than an iPhone photo of somebody's eyebrows?

Because if there's one thing I've learned, it's that learning to love yourself is a lifelong process. There are days when I wake up and I think I'm pretty (so you agree, you think you're pretty? Lol.) and then I'll wake up the next day and think I'm nothing special. And those are the days I'll put a little extra effort into my makeup, or choose my outfit a little more carefully, because I know I'm going to need the confidence boost to power through. But I'm not chronicling that for the compliments. I never want to be someone who exists online to be pretty. I want to empower. I want to show people that yeah, you can own how you look and what you do and that you shouldn't apologize for either. I want people to not only know that it's not a bad thing to have high self-esteem, but to believe it, and to have it themselves.

You deserve that. Really. And so I don't think I'll ever get "good" at accepting compliments online. I hate it when men try to slide into DMs or try to hit on me, because that's not what I'm here for. That's not the space I'm trying to occupy, and to be frank, that detracts from the message that you can be here for yourself. Not for anyone else to think you're pretty, but for you to think that you are pretty, and not to need validation from anyone else. 

Learning to say "thank you" wouldn't hurt, of course. But the next time you catch yourself judging someone's 5th selfie in a week, ask yourself when was the last time you complimented yourself. And then do it. Revel in yourself. Because you should. Because there's nothing wrong in that. And if someone has an issue with it, it's just too bad that they're too blind-sighted to revel in how awesome you are with you, too

November 13, 2015

Grow a Thicker Skin

Something I've been thinking about lately is toughness. Being tough, being strong, being resilient, being scrappy, being brave, being stubborn, being unfazed and unrattled and unshakable and relentless. Being confident. All of these these things are synonyms in places, overlapping like a weird venn diagram of words and emotions and feelings. These are all good things to be and to have, and work as assets no matter who you are or what you do. Everyone's faced with criticism and critique, and everyone has to rise again from setbacks. That's how life works. It ebbs and flows.

But of all these tools in the spectrum of human emotion that help get you from valleys to peaks and back again, I don't want to have a thick skin. I don't want things to bounce off of me. I want to feel. Even if the feeling sucks. But the feeling's a reminder that I'm human. 

In some ways, thinking you're not human, that you're superhuman, and maybe even invincible, is helpful. It's the adrenaline that pushes you through something scary and challenging, and makes you think you're stronger than you are. Fire isn't as scary if you don't feel the flame. And whether you work or even just spend part of your life in a digital space, you learn pretty quickly to let things bounce off you. We're told to know better than to read the comments. People send nasty messages to complete strangers, either forgetting or ignoring the fact that there's another person and not just an anonymous computer screen on the other side of those words. It seems like the news is reporting on another atrocity every single day. Life would, in theory, be so much easier if you felt and reacted less.

But I don't think that's the way to go about it. Often, telling someone else to grow a thicker skin is to excuse the actions of everyone around them. "People are awful, don't let them get to you." But of course awfulness is going to get to a person. Of course it'll bug someone. That's human nature. You can't tell a person to not feel, just because it keeps the status quo intact.

And okay, sometimes people can be hypersensitive about some things, but they have the right to feel any which way they choose. You can't tell them that a feeling is wrong. And excusing the actions of other people, that oh, people are just overwhelmingly shitty, grow a thicker skin, move on, is to excuse that shittiness and let it keep happening. Sure, you can only control your own actions and not the actions of other people, but your actions can also include taking other people to task when their actions are bad. You don't have to ignore, and you don't have to roll over, and you don't have to simply accept things as they are. You don't have to grow a thicker skin. 

You can and should be resilient. You should stand your ground as much as you can, and especially when it's for things that are right. But don't grow a thicker skin. Don't teach yourself how to not feel. Let things affect you. Let things get under your skin and crawl up your veins and sit uncomfortably with you until you do something about them. Call people out when they say mean things to you. Stand up for yourself, and for anyone else you see being bullied or put down. 

We may mostly be grown ups, but we're still not so far from the playground. And sometimes on the playground, you'd skin your knee and it'd sting and you'd get gravel and grit in your scrape, and it'd hurt, but you'd remember that sting and you'd learn. Sometimes it's your own damn fault. But sometimes it wasn't. Just because somebody else pushed you over didn't make that sting hurt any less. And sometimes, those scrapes left scars. Sometimes, those moments of vulnerability lead to lessons and breakthroughs. Those moments of weakness often tell us who we really are.

Be strong and confident and believe in yourself and know when people say things, sometimes they say wrong things just to get to you. By all means, be stubborn and be smart about the fact that the internet is often dumb and people on the internet say dumb things and it's often smart to ignore these things. But having that wisdom is different than having a thick skin. Don't confuse the two, whatever you do. Don't grow a thick skin, or at least keep parts of it vulnerable. Feel. Be human. Be imperfect. Be alive.

November 11, 2015

What I've Unlearned

When I was working with kids, I've noticed something. I've noticed that the older the students, the more fearful they are in the classroom. Of learning. Of putting themselves out there, making mistakes, and doing it differently next time. My point: there's a ton of stuff I learned growing up that I'm spending my 20s trying to unlearn. Didn't Picasso say something insightful about how it takes a very long time to become young? Related: we teach ourselves our limitations, you guys. I started to write the following manifesto as a notebook entry, but to hammer it home I wanted to make a public declaration of it. (Don't I always?)

Here's what I'm unlearning:

Life's hard
You have to fight for what you want. It's not designed to be easy. Prove yourself. Urgh. My new year's resolution for 2015 was to do more of what feels good, and less of what doesn't. And you know what? It's awesome. And that's because life wants me to be happy. Life wants me to pursue my dreams, and see the magic in the everyday, because the universe wants to be noticed for the glorious work that she does. We notice the presence of the divine by personifying love, by leaning in to what feels amazing for as long as it gets us off. What if I believed that I deserve every lovely thing that happens to me?

Chase facts, not feelings
Nope. You know what facts do? Distort the truth. There's not a single statement that can't be justified with a percentage or statistic or number. We prize numerical data above all else because we can quantify "facts", and feelings are slippery little devils that change and alter, that can't be "proved". I don't have to see something to believe it: I can see it if I believe it.

Being alone is lonely
How many times must I learn the lesson, that I feel one thousand times worse spending time in the wrong company than I do if I pass the time in that of my own? I recently declared to myself that for any social occasion, I'll only go if the thrill of it outweighs the thrill I feel of being at my desk writing or reading: my happy place. That means my social life will shrink exponentially, then, and I have to be comfortable with that. FOMO (fear of missing out) is for the insecure, and I have to be determined to find peace in my own (much less busy, much less outwardly interesting) path.
(Shockingly, I'm applying this to fellas, too. You don't need to have a romance in order to have a romantic life, said a very wise woman. I hear that so hard.)

Likeable girls are modest
This is absolutely the hardest non-truth for me to navigate. Oh, how I want to be liked! LOL. I consistently talk myself down, making jokes at my own expense (getting to the punch line before anyone else can), so as not to appear threatening. But actually, I'm a badass. I'm smart and kind, self-aware and determined. I'm a good person. But beyond that, I have talent. I can write. I'm over the moon about that. It makes me wonder: What would I do if I wasn't so afraid of what other people think?

Disagreement is bad
I find comfort among those who agree with me, but growth among those who don't. Not seeing eye-to-eye with somebody is where the good stuff happens, and I wish I could be braver about that. See: stop trying to be so likeable. Furthermore: I am enough.

Screwing up is failure
You know what? My mistakes have taught me so much that I'm thinking about making a few more. The only failure is not trying. Failure is not trying again, when that 1st attempt didn't work. Failure is fear. And fear is a learned state. It's the flawed, imperfect, mistake-riddled path that leads to the best games adventures

November 2, 2015

An Open Letter to Socality Barbie

I spilled my coffee this morning trying to take a photo of it. It's dumb to even ask why I was trying to document the experience, I wanted people to know that I'd gotten up, made my own coffee, and was now preparing to conquer the first Monday of November. Why else would I need the perfect morning lighting and my cellphone at 6am? My mom looked at me and blinked twice like, "why are you even taking a picture of it?" Now not a single soul knows how authentically I managed to live this morning with my coffee. If you felt like your day's missing something then it's probably that photo. Happy to solve the mystery for you, Barbie.

But do you know what happened after the coffee spilled this morning? Life moved forward without the documentation. I made my new coffee. It's still good and piping hot. No one's made better or worse because of some inspirational caption I planned to pair with a photo softened by VSCO Cam. I tasted real life for a second and it felt pretty foreign on my lips. I wrapped myself in a blanket and a little bit of conviction for this day: why is it necessary to obsess over making life look perfect for the others? We all know it isn't. Why does the charade play on until something breaks? Glass or a heart, why can't I actually show you my real mess?

You weren't made to have my actual, day-to-day mess. It's you and a couple hundred or thousand followers who are not equipped for what happens when my junk actually hits the fan. You and I both know it, Barbie: the day you get drunk and leave Ken, and act like an angry train wreck with a megaphone on all your social media streams then people on the fringes won't want you anymore. It's harsh but probably true. Ken's friends will unfollow you. So manage your mess, Barbie. We want a mess we can monitor from the people we follow. We want honesty without the bruising. We want the kind of pain that's digestible and won't disturb our days. The day you use social media as a megaphone for your pain, the kind of pain latte art can't touch, people will leave you.

Some people will start talking in their circles the day you start to let the anger and the rant statuses flow. They'll start psycho-analyzing and putting the pieces together from a safe distance. They'll take social media and turn it into a soap opera, sigh out of relief as they say, "at least I'm doing better." But when did tiny glimpses of our lives, cropped to perfection, become the measuring stick for who's doing better and who's doing worse? When did life, and managing to live it, become a competition and a comparison? When did we confuse the real with fake and the fake with real?

Maybe I'm being a little too cruel to you, Barbie, seeing as you're not really 'real' but I reminded her of all the times people manage to say, "well, that person was fun to follow until that happened." And we all know what that thing was. Point's this: we want you right now, Barbie. We like you right now. You're doing something awesome and managing to make some really great puns of out of posed coffee shots and #liveauthentic hashtags. When you're doing something awesome people will always want to claim you and tag you. When you're making life look easy then people want to follow you.

Social media's in the DNA of our relationships now. It scares me to say that but it's true. I wanted to see how a friend's doing the other day and I clicked into her Instagram. I checked her off my mental list without even using the phone in my hand to perform the task it's always meant to do, dial and hear a person's crackly voice on the other line, find out they're okay. I know how damaging that action of mine was. I know because I sat across from a friend, and I heard them say to me, "from the looks of social media, you are doing just fine."

Them saying that, it broke my heart. It broke my heart to think that, because I had white walls in all my pictures, it meant there's no longer a reason to reach out and ask if I was really doing okay. Barbie, I'm so afraid to check people off my list because of surface level visuals. I'm so afraid to find out, too late, that I needed to ask "how are you" before someone died inside and no one could get to them. Please don't hide within the cracks of the exposed-brick breweries and trendy tiled coffee shops you find. If you're lost, pick up the phone and call someone. If you think you're about to lose someone (and yes, there's a gut feeling for that), pick up the phone and call them. Ask them 4 words: are you really okay? We save lives everyday when we just manage to speak up.

This whole letter might be a terrible waste. Maybe your life's as perfect as you portray it to be, Barbie. In that case, congratulations! You beat us all with your plastic lattes and trendy hiking boots. Regardless, I hope you find something real today. Something tangible and intangible, all at the same time, that you would skip the act of documenting it just so you could live inside it for a little bit longer. I hope you spot a rare, soon to be extinct, moment. And I hope it's all yours, no need to share it. Maybe it's the smile of an old man who's going to leave this earth real soon. Maybe it's a piece of a mail from a friend you used to be able to trace the scent of when they showed up in a room. Maybe it's a single dance from a cute stranger at a wedding who makes you feel like you're the most beautiful thing in his orbit.

Either way, I hope you feel known. I hope you feel picked out and chosen. I hope something grabs you so hard, shakes you so good, that even the notifications can't touch it. You're not fake, Barbie. You, like the rest of us, are probably just doing the best you can within a world that wants to trace and tag every tiny, beautiful piece of itself.

October 26, 2015

Ask the Question

You want more love. To be in love. In love with your life.

You want more adventure. More chances, and with it the guts to grab them with both hands, greedily and hungry, knowing you deserve to dive into every opportunity your belly aches for when nobody else is looking.

You want to understand how it feels to try, really try. To trust yourself in succeeding beyond your wildest, most inventive daydreams. You can't even comprehend what's waiting for you yet: that's how daring your future is.

You want the security of self to demonstrate, without permission, without restraint, that your vulnerability is your biggest strength, and that your humanness is your greatest asset.

You want to know, mind, body, heart and soul, that who you are is already exactly perfect.

You want to be enough.

I know that sometimes you settle for less because the prospect of daring to ask if you can take up more space, of demanding more, is crippling in its "but people might not like it" murmurs. There's that voice. a voice stubbornly rooted, deep down in your belly, that whispers, even at your best: nope, you can't do this.

"What if it doesn't work?"

"I'll prove everyone right when I screw this up."

"It's better to be safe than to be sorry."

"People like me don't live lives like that."

Listen, sugar. You deserve to conquer the absolute shit out of your kingdom. To be the protagonist of your own beautiful life. You're worthy of the room it takes to spread yourself wide open, legs akimbo, hands behind your back, surveying the land from your throne as you say, without a trace of shame, here I am. Here's what I want.

Know your place. Who the Beyoncé are you to keep yourself small? Who the Virginia Woolf told you to not to swell, not to open your heart and your wings, lest you fly? Are you telling that to yourself? Quit it. Re-write the script. Right now. Actively choose, demand, from yourself and from the world, to direct your life according to your rules. Because your place? Your place is in the sky, soaring. Your place is front and centre. Your place, your purpose, is what you say it is.

The alternative is a half-life. A half-truth. A half-you. The good stuff isn't designed to only happen to other people. The universe wants the good stuff for you. It's not a privilege to know who you are. You don't need to await consent to show all of your parts. To be you. To possess your truth. The show has already begun. The cameras are rolling and it's your line. What are you going to say?

- me writing to myself

October 19, 2015

We're Strangers Once More

I was sitting in a Starbucks in the hazy middle of daybreak. It's barely light out, despite the clock hitting 10 am. The rain's dripping, falling slowly and softly on the windows flushed green from the gray sky. Outside, trees were blowing. In just seconds, it went from a pale gray to charcoal horizons. It's dark indoors, the outside spreading a smudginess into the flickering light of Starbucks. Cars zipped by quickly, skipping the drive through, skipping the place, and slip through the rain.

People come in, wet and tousled from the deluge, laugh, say they're escaping from the storm. Instantly, strangers become friends for minutes, united over terrible weather, worried about the storm that's passing, gathering around each others phones to glance at radars, bemoan over the clouds of blackness coming in. I've got a caramel Macchiato, and then they're gone. The tables outside echo with the slap, every second more droplets tap out their pattern, the sound dulled by heavy glass windows and the faint hum of electricity. The water outside is soupy, splashing in puddles up to the middle of car tires as they rush through. It's so deep outside that waves are made and they crash on the cement. It's strange, unsettling, to see cars that size swallowed up in water that was just minutes ago suspended in air. Every so often, lightning opens up the dimness of the sky and reminds us that the power could disappear in an instant.

People come and go, regulars filter through those looking for a decent cup of coffee, and people see each other for the 1st time. These bonds created over a strangers phone, from people trapped inside because of the weather, who only know each other based on their daily cup of coffee, surface. A group of people, finding solace together. It's a rainstorm that brings us together, and yet, the sun persists in coming forward, pulling apart what's being built. And so we go about our days, waiting for these collective glimpses of humanity, reading between the lines and usual orders to see something a bit more, a yearning for relationships above else.

The rain pounds but the sky clears. A bird flies across the murky clouds, an ink stain in the weather, and the cars roll by unknowingly on the freeway, forever apart, forever mysteries. Thunder rumbles, the rain abates, hardens, rolls on surfaces and fills the pooling tables and streets, and yet, we're strangers once more.

October 15, 2015


An incomplete list of things that are mostly inconvenient but all true, concerning values, and how they change.

- I self-identify as a documentarian. A sort of variation on a memoirist. I want to write things down as a way of taking their picture and framing them. To capture something. But I'm not a "writer". I'm just a human.

- To that end, what I do decide to chronicle has an agenda, and that agenda is mine, and changes, and is dressed in the sure knowledge that every narrator's unreliable. The eye doesn't see, it transmits. And it transmits to an information processor, the complicatedly simple brain, that's loaded with feelings and past hurts and triumphs and feelings.

- Living out loud isn't a character defect...

- ...but the best plan's to just do good work and shut up. That says more than I can, anyway.

- I have a list of regrets that I try to shed a little more light on every goddamn day. A chronicle of shitty things I've done, and shitty things I've tolerated, and humiliations on both sides because of it. But you'd better believe those things have been my best teachers, or, at least, the most vociferous ones. I'm only an asshole if I don't learn from them. 

- "A fight is going on inside me," said an old man to his son. "It's a terrible fight between 2 wolves. One wolf is evil. He's anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other wolf's good. He's joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight's going on inside you." The son thought about it for a minute and then asked, "Which wolf will win?" The old man replied simply, "The one you feed." This fable is my true north.

- People are built 3 ways: as subtractors, adders, or multipliers. Subtractors are energy vampires, adders contribute to your energy, and multipliers make you see stars. A person's categorization is directly related to the amount of drama they bring to your life: if they add to it, they're a subtractor; if they subtract from it they're a multiplier. Friendships are maths, and your tribe's a reflection of your vibe.

- Less is always more in word counts, and in accessorizing.

- An author said that the heart's a muscle and so should be exercised regularly. Show up. Practice loving. Practice some more. A few dents is the trade-off.

- I hate being the boss, and I hate having a boss.

- There's more than one self. I'm hard and soft, confident and unnerved, ready to go big and also ready to go home. No one thing's any more or less true than the other, and I can be all of them at once.

- Charisma is the ability to make both of you feel good.

- I think I'm scared, but my fear got me this far. That's surely a bigger victory than feigning fearlessness. If I wasn't afraid, it wasn't a challenge, and it's the challenges I rise to I'd like to be counted by when you read my eulogy.

- I have 3 core desired feelings: strong, committed and inspired. If what you're offering doesn't tick all of those boxes, it doesn't feel good. If it doesn't feel good I don't wanna do it. Life should be lived in the joyous zone, else what's the point?

- I can never go deep enough. I confront my fears. Go into it willingly. That's juicy, to me, exploring aliveness for aliveness' sake. 

- Life's a conversation. A dialogue. We have to sit down with her regularly and ask, "Hey. this working for you?" We have to seek out the pain and own it before the pain owns us. We have to look for the happy and show her who is in charge. We must be active in our peace.

- I secretly think my feelings are more valid than your feelings, but I'm working on it.

October 11, 2015

I Bought a Plant

I bought a plant. A beautiful green and pink and leafy thing. Plants are having a moment in my life right now. They have a way of making a home of a place. Not to mention they suck toxins right out of the air. Which is to say, superpowers.

I was away from home for weeks and there's no one to water the plant. I almost killed it. I was hopeful that it might yet come back to life. I mean, not too terribly hopeful, but hopeful enough. The pink's gone and the leaves, cold to the touch, have folded in on themselves, but things are cyclical, plants, especially. And I was willing to invest a little a bit of time to see how it played out. And to practice hope, even when it didn't feel reasonable. Or rational. I was investing in radical self-love. Which is what the plant was all about.

Things are cyclical. Especially life. It took me a very many years to untangle the mess of all the many things I felt. A giant ball of yarn. A thousand small threads that I called one thing.

And now a spade is a spade. Sadness is a thing. But happiness, too. The latter shaped almost entirely by the former. Which is a nearly impossible thing to try and explain to someone who hasn't lived through it. There's a quote that I've been searching for. Something like, only the nearly-drowned-man can understand the person who stands on the shore laughing just because there's air in his lungs. I have bastardized these words. Someone else said them much better, and to much greater effect, but as I can't find them, I offer up my poorer version.

When I was living in that shoebox of Usia apartment there was a night when I turned to the girl I was living with and read her a set of words, not my own, and she looked at me, head half turned, and said, but what do they mean? I long ago gave up wondering what words mean. I'll wonder about gestures and events and the idiosyncrasies of almost anything, but never words. Far more concerned, as I am, with what they feel like. You can't explain suffering someone to someone. You can't tell them of the beauty that exists inside of that very dark place. You can only wrestle with the warring feelings of not wanting a person fail, and knowing that they need to.

Plants die and they come back to life. And hope in the face of ridiculous things is important. Even if it's absurd. Sadness is a part of my life. Because it needs to be. Because it's important and good and telling. Because it shapes who I am. Because it's one hell of an educator. Because sadness rears its head and says, fight for yourself! And I know enough now to listen.

October 8, 2015

Priceless Birthday

Brunch at Upperstar with my fiance, his mom and sister

My family threw me a surprise party at KFC

Fruity ice cream cake, my favorite

Twenty five 

My 25th birthday was sunny, simple, sweet and full of fabulous surprise. There were time well spent with my family, long and lingering dinners with Ifo, coffee with friends, and a whole lot of special, pinch-me moments from the birthday weekend. My cheeks are rosy, my stomach aches from laughing too hard and eating far too many food, and, well, 25 is off to a pretty good start. For me, birthdays tend to inspire a bit of reflection. Each year I look back at the year behind me, and I have to say, if 25 treats me half as well as 24, I'll be a lucky girl indeed. Fast forward a year and everything's changed, everything but the people beside me. And that's really all that matters, isn't it? Thanks again for all the sweet birthday wishes! :)

October 3, 2015

Who Am I at 25

I've been thinking a lot about what I would, what I should, write for this. And the thing is, well, I haven't come up with much. Other than...

I'm okay. Here I am. 25. And I'm okay. Thrilling, right? Well, for me, it is. Okay is nothing short of utterly and completely thrilling. Because for so long I was not. Okay. And then I was not quite.

I have moments. All the time. Moments where I feel like I should have done more. Been more. Said more. Moments where I feel so far behind. I'm 25 already. This is it? This is all I've accomplished? But then I quietly remind myself that we all have different paths. Different life trajectories. Our stories vary. And my accomplishments, my multitudinous (yup, I just used that word) victories are mostly private. Things that others might never understand. But for me those victories are the difference between not okay. Not quite. And just fine.

And just fine, okay, whatever-you-want-to-call-it is the beginning. The beginning of everything. The part of my story where my successes become (i hope) a bit more public.

So who am I at 25?

I'm someone who believes that unsolicited smiles by strangers are one of the most profound acts of kindness possible.

I still use the pajamas that my mother gifted me for my 18th birthday. It immediately brings me back to a time of naivete and endless possibility.

The quote that makes the most sense to me right now, right at this very moment: Sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I'm not living  - Jonathan Safran Foer 

If I could go anywhere tomorrow I'd hop on a plane and land in Paris. Then I'd go to Rome. And sit in cafe after cafe after cafe. Saturating myself in beauty and history. And a lot of gelato. 

I'm engaged to an amazing man. I'm full of more love than I ever expected to be and I'm sure of him than I've ever felt about anything. 

I don't know where life goes from here. But I'm so excited to go boldly into the unknown. To try. and to fail a little, as inevitably I will. But also to start gathering successes. Collecting them one by one in the cradle of my arms so I can lay them on the alter of this life as my humble (and multitudinous) thanks.

I am so thankful to be 25. To be 25 and just fine.

Happy birthday to me. 

October 2, 2015

Perfect Backdrops

Past few days, the weather's erratic: rain one second, a brief intermission of blazing hot sun, and then it's raining again, and sunny again. And I try to be the sort of person whose mood isn't linked to the weather. But it's hard, you know? Sometimes it's hard not to let your environment affect you from the inside out. And this fitful weather, I must say, is just way too appropriate. 

This weather is probably more true-to-life than anything else. It's rare to find a day when you feel only sunny, or a day when melancholy is all you can muster. Most days are unpredictable. Inconsistent and unstable and entirely contradictory. Funny how exciting and difficult so often come hand-in-hand.

And yet. October showers have arrived. Rain is wonderful. Sometimes rain reminds me of some moments and places, days spent with my cats, evenings at a cafe laughing and swapping stories with friends. Sometimes rain helps me sleep. Or provides the perfect backdrop as I read or write. Or sets the mood for a melancholy, romantic kind of day.

Like anything else, it's not all bad and not all good either. But I'll take it as a good sign that for these days, I've woken up hours before my alarm, feeling light and lively. It's been nice. Really nice, actually. There's just nothing quite like first-thing-in-the-morning happiness, if you ask me.

Besides, the whole point of October showers is to cool down this heated earth and bring flowers and fruits, right? Something to endure, something to find beauty in before beauty's simply handed to us.

September 30, 2015

Words To Live By

The flower doesn't dream of the bee. It blossoms and the bee comes. | Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

If you have never changed your mind about some fundamental tenet of your belief, if you have never questioned the basics, and if you have no wish to do so, then you are likely ignorant. | Vera Nazarian

You can't keep the birds of sadness from flying over your head, but you can keep them from nesting in your hair. | Sharon Creech, Walk Two Moons

Of course I'll hurt you. Of course you'll hurt me. Of course we will hurt each other. But this is the very condition of existence. To become spring means accepting the risk of winter. To become presence means accepting the risk of absence. | The Little Prince

Tell me Atlas, what is heavier? The world? Or its peoples' hearts? | Darshana S, Atlas Still Stands, But Does Anyone Else?

Everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand, as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love. | Claude Monet

So the universe is not quite as you thought it was. You'd better rearrange your beliefs then. Because you certainly can't rearrange the universe. | Isaac Asimov

And thus the heart will break, yet brokenly live on. | Lord Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage

September 29, 2015


You are a good person. And I'm in awe of this immediately. It makes me nervous. How kind you are, and how honest. How pure-of-heart, as they say. There's no white horse, no dazzling suit of armor, just your soft voice and quiet footsteps. Your kind eyes and slow, deliberate smile. I spent those first few months just watching you, wondering what to make of you. Suspended in a thick, buoyant tangle of my own bewilderment.

September 28, 2015

Of Ambivalence

I've had to do a few things of late that have been really quite difficult. Mostly because I've been deeply ambivalent about doing them. For the majority of my life I thought ambivalence was about not caring, when actually it's about caring in different directions, wanting 2 things that seem to oppose one another. I both desperately want this and desperately don't. I can hold those opposing truths in both hands at the same time. The Libra in me tries to weigh them, but that's not really the point.

I'm fine. And I'm not.

This is okay. And also, it's not.

I both want this and really, really don't.

I recently had to make a decision about something and was torn by my warring desires. I spoke to my girlfriends and got their advice, but realized, at the end of the day, the decision was mine alone. And that decision didn't really have anything to do with my wants or needs, so much as what I believe. What I believe in. Which is to say, my value system. Which is to say, who I am.

Value systems are incredible because they cut through the noise very, very quickly. And a path erupts before us. But very often that path is the most difficult, mostly because it has to do with vulnerability and telling the truth. So I swipe on an extra coat of lipstick for courage and practice remaining soft, feeling the things, all of the things, that are so very hard, but give life nearly all of its meaning.

September 22, 2015

For When You Forget

Plastic surgery doesn't age well, ever. Put your phone down. Detox your body. Daydream about the good things. Always keep a good book in your bag, it's both a secret and an escape plan, two good things to have. Make the bed. Hold the door open for strangers. Smile. Look other people in the eye. So, you're scared? Good, fear indicates worth. And guess what? Everyone's afraid. Which means fear doesn't absolve you from the attempt, or the conversation, or the adventure. You can always try again, good people are pretty marvelous about the whole forgiveness thing. And, oh yeah, put your phone down! Eat greens. And toasted pine nuts. Ask yourself if it'll add value to your life, will it be good for you? Prioritize your health, and happiness too, because life's short. Humility, humility, humility. And kindness. Words are important, so don't give them away too carelessly. Honesty above all else. And the music of Billy Joel. Roses. A clean purse. Write. Chip, chip, chip away at a body of work. Not everyone's good. The core of a very many people is a rotted root. And that's just...well, unfortunately, that's just the way it is. Offer them kindness and then walk away. You can't save people, you can only live your life the best you know how, with a strong set of values and a clear set of boundaries. Values are strong trees that bend in high winds, trust their ability to adapt. We get better when we risk, and grow, and move forward. A lot of things are contagious, fear and anxiety and ideas, even. Keep your door open because that's who you are. Take the 20 minute walk because that's who you are. Small revolutions are born of small, everyday actions. The current can change. And occasionally a plant will thrive where you least expect it to, it's green leaves sprouting new buds, growing wide and tall in defiance of your expectations.

September 21, 2015

Curated Life

Years ago I went to a prom night. It wasn't fun. It should have been fun, but it's really not. When images of that party appeared on Facebook days later it looked like a blast. In fact it looked spunky and joyful and really, really lovely. And that's when I understood, really and truly, that almost nothing on the social media is as it appears. That, in fact, the appearance of a life is often at the expense of life itself. 

I know this. I've seen this. From both sides. And still occasionally I'll see photos and feel the knee-jerk reaction of I-wish. I wish that was mine. I wish that was my life. More and more I've seen think-pieces about how we need to examine that impulse in ourselves. There's finger-pointing, but we pointing the finger at ourselves. And I get that, I do. I'm the first person who will take on blame, even if it's clear the blame isn't mine to take (this is not a good quality). But this self-reflection assumes, to a certain extent, that everyone's willing to take the time to do that. And it lets the medium, which is to say the internet, off the hook. But the thing is, while you can put a verified checkmark next to a person's twitter handle, there isn't any real policing of validity beyond that. Search algorithms are based on popularity, not truthfulness, and certainly not value.

We see a curated picture and we want the handbag, the heels, the husband, the wedding, the life. And okay, yes, we have to approach the image with critical awareness, but that takes a pretty high level of intelligence. It's like asking consumers not to gain weight in a society where food is specifically designed to get us to eat more than we need, or even want. Not-gaining-weight nowadays is far harder than maintaining weight and yet we blame the consumer. I think there has to be change on both sides, how we produce and how we consume. 

And I fear sometimes, that the bloggers who respond to the criticism that their life's too curated, aren't actually the bloggers presenting the most highly curated lives. Because there's a difference between boundaries, meaning what one's willing to discuss and what one keeps private, and a stylized representation of what's presented. I guess what I want to say is this: it's okay to feel like shit sometimes when you're looking at other peoples' lives online. In fact, a lot of people are banking on it, they all make a lot more money that way.

September 8, 2015

By Grace I'll Carry On

I read a book entitled Your Perfect Right. It's all about assertiveness and it's one of the very best things I've ever read. I suggest that all people everywhere read it..we'd all be much kinder and better if we did, hopefully. 

Here's the long and short of it: there's passive, there's assertive, and there's aggressive..and oh yeah, passive aggressive, which is umbrella-ed under the aggressive category. Assertiveness has to do with speaking honestly, in the moment, in a way that allows all parties to be heard. 

One of the things that really stuck with me is that in situations where you already know that no good will come from speaking up, to do so, is aggressive. This one bothered me. Because it felt somehow unfair. Because I wanted to be heard, darn it. But the thing is, in both professional and personal settings, sometimes whatever you might say, even if it's the most thought-out, reasonable thing in the world, may change nothing. And if that's the case, it's not worth saying in the first place. Some things are like drought season, all you can do is live through them and wait for the season to change. And if the season doesn't change, then it may be best to walk away or leave, with as much kindness as you can muster. Because as Drew Barrymore once said: endless love and constant boundaries. Which occasionally means the boundary becomes: walk away. With grace, walk away. 

I read something recently about letting grace be bigger than our mouths. That's what I'm grappling with right now. Grace. To assert my worth, to set some boundaries, and to do it with as much grace as I possibly can, which very often means not saying everything I want to. Or, in other words, shutting up. 

Because here's the thing about life: there are end-dates. People move out and friends grow apart and the season does pass. And sometimes a person gets on a plane and goes somewhere else entirely and life begins again and we do our best, even if it's a stumbling, stuttering attempt, we do our best.

September 1, 2015

Why the Sky is Blue

"Do you know why the sky is blue?"
"Because the sky reflects the color of the sea,"
He laughed and said, "When the sunlight enters atmosphere, it works like prism, the lights are scattered in colors. But the blue light is scattered more than the others, and that's why see a blue sky."

He's been busy lately, with work and struggle to get promoted. And I also have been busy hunting for jobs, it's like a never ending activity since I started last month. I've been shooting so many arrows but none of them have landed on the moon yet, not even stars. It's quite a tough time for both of us, but we manage to create our own happiness by phone calls at night, talking about stuff, forgetting the problems and just embracing the moment. That's why we need each other. I love it when he tells me stuff. Science, animals, politics, religion, everything. Then I find myself browsing through the news and articles on NatGeo page. Call me a nerd, because it's what I really am. I love books so much but there's a time when I feel like reading non-fictions like the articles on NatGeo. You should read them too. It's incredible and amazing to learn something new, and important too. It's another way to remind myself that my problems are so insignificant compared to God's gifts. Knowledge is power, knowledge is sexy they said. Well, even though I can just ask Google, most times I prefer to ask my fiance because he's my living Wiki and it becomes my habit to bring the "geek" out of him. I wish someday he would tell our son or daughter why the sky is blue. :)

August 28, 2015

With Love, Hayley

So the girl from Paramore, Hayley Williams, my girl, wrote this on her blog recently and I can't help but reblog it ;)

the last 4 years are gonna play like a movie in my head for the rest of my life. it was the best time from start to finish. everything that has to do with the self-titled album is my favorite memory. even the stuff that wasn’t so easy to go through. cause now i look back and i see why it all happened in the order that it did. we will never make another album like that one. that’s something i’ll always be proud about, and a little sad about, and that’s just the truth.

but what do i know? the next album might be even better than S/T. i should know better by now than to ever question the process, the plan, or the deep belief that i have in paramore… more so than i even have in myself, alone.

every night on Writing The Future, while we were on stage, there was always a moment of realization that we can never relive anything. not any single thing. it’s cruel. seriously, we are a generation who lives almost exclusively through our photos and videos and captions, trying to freeze moments in time but it’s all only a shade of us and our experience. what’s real is what those moment create within us… and that’s what we carry with us and that’s what shapes the moments to come. or at least how we perceive them, feel them, live them. memories do serve us when we are the most nostalgic and i suppose i’m always the most nostalgic… but even my memories of the last 4 years won’t fill me the way actually living it all did.

and that’s got to be why it’s so important to move forward and never live in the past. we can never be fulfilled by a moment that’s gone. if we’re not living in the now (wayne’s world ref) and struggling, striving to find ourselves and each other here in the present then what even is our point? yeah, i know the whole “be present/be content with where you are” spiel sounds like bullshit but it’s true… and no one needs to hear it more than me. con-stant-ly.

speaking of the present: i’ve been wedding planning, attempting to write and sometimes actually writing, moving into a new place, and building a hair-dye company from the ground up. all at the same time. yes, i am completely insane! you should see my crazy eyes. i think they’re permanent now actually.. i’m going to try my best to share bits and pieces of some of all of it as we go along but no promises cause some days i forget the internet exists (and i think that’s a good thing).

last thing:
thank you again for Writing The Future. never cried on stage the way i did during “Future” in Portland. the signs you guys made and held up for all the shows were moving and served as a reminder of our purpose and the hope we had for the band in the beginning. thank you guys for creating a community within our “fanbase”. we do what we can to keep it feeling like a family because that’s truly what it feels like to us… but you guys are daily doing all the work to really make it real. nothing felt more right than celebrating S/T with you guys in those gorgeous theaters.
i’ve typed for long enough now. writing lyrics with carpal tunnel sounds great and all but i’d rather not.


I love you, Hayley!

August 20, 2015

Little Treasures

When I was young, I collected tiny, shiny things. Inside a small music box, I kept a random array of little treasures: a black sequin that fell from my mom's dress, a stray color-light that wedged itself into the carpet, a silver button that probably belonged to someone's sweater. There were earring and broken thumbtacks and colorful strands of thread. I remember putting in a birthday candle and a pink eraser, and a small piece of plastic I grabbed only because it was gold. I sought out small tokens of joy, little slices of light and color. It's not that I did anything with them, really. Every once in a while, I'd open the lid to survey my stock, pulling each tiny, forgotten thing from the box and arranging them on the windowsill in my bedroom just so. Then I'd put all the gleaming, vibrant gems of garbage back into my music-turned-treasure box. (Maybe I kept small pictures of Justin Timberlake in there, too, but that's not the point)

The point's that I actively, purposefully searched for beautiful, charming things to pocket. When I was young, I looked for little slivers of joy to call my own, and I still do. In a different way, I still do, because more and more I've come to understand my own responsibility in finding joy. I understand happiness as a choice, and how happiness comes from making choices.

Recently, I was having a not-good day. A day of spilled coffee, sad news, and some truly unfortunate timing. I could tell early on that something within me wanted to wallow in the gloom, and as I got home, I had every intention of crawling under the covers and turning up my melancholy, rainy-day playlist.

A stripe of sunlight stopped me, though. It's shimmering across my bed, the room all aglow, and I thought, a cup of tea, Aemy. I brewed a cup of English breakfast tea, I opened up one of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors, and I went straight to my favorite chapter, rereading my favorite lines. When I was finished, I picked up the phone and called someone, and I told him what I was doing, why I was calling, what I know to be true: happiness is a practice. A collection of tiny, shiny things in our everyday that make it feel just a little bit like magic, like something we should treasure.

August 10, 2015

On Friendship

The best part about growing up in a small town is the inevitability of close, lifelong friendships. The sense of community is overwhelming. Everything feels familiar. Some shops are owned by family friends, you spot your kindergarten teacher at the post office, and you can't quite do errands without running into at least 3 people you know. The togetherness, it's a physical thing, too.

For me, that reality of lifelong connections has led to a clear, specific quality of friendship, namely, that it lasts forever. A sense of closeness, to me, comes from knowing anything and everything. From knowing each other's families and homes, from sharing meals and holidays and traditions. To me, the border between friendship and family is so thin and insignificant so as not to exist at all.

It's been interesting, then, to make friends later in life, to leave that small-town environment and try to establish forever with fresh faces. In college and ever since, I've found that I do everything I can to fill in the backstory between me and another person. My friends could list all my clearest memories from elementary school, high school. They could call out every heartbreak, every small victory. There's not a name they wouldn't recognize, not a story they couldn't retell, and I could point out all of theirs, too, because that's the kind of friendship I love: where all the lines between yours and mine are blurred, where everything becomes shared even if it wasn't at the time.

Of course, that may not work for everyone. That sort of open-book, become-part-of-my-family kind of connection can sometimes feel like too much for a person. Truth is, I find that all-out familiarity comforting, though, as if building a forever is the only way. Or at least the truest.

I'd love to know: Do you feel the same? What defines your ideal friendship?

August 7, 2015

Show Up and Break Open

Here's the thing, I am trying to show up for life. I'm trying to give voice to my days. Trying to break open. But right now, my life's in a middle-ground. It's neither here nor there. Frankly, I'm exhausted.

Yesterday, I was sick and slept all day. It was the strangest sensation to watch an entire 24 slip by and to be an observer of my life and not a participant. Yesterday was a fog, a veiled face and an unassuming moment. I woke up at 10, perhaps I'll feel better at noon. Then it was a quarter to 1 and I was uncomfortable. I stood up and almost fell over. I went into another room and curled up on a couch. How are you feeling? Better, I said, when I really meant worse. Sickness does something to your head. Mine shook.

I laid down on the couch and when I woke up next, it was 4. I wasn't sure where I was. I heard voices and couldn't place them to faces. I was going to do yoga this evening, I laughed and moaned and rolled over. When I looked at the clock next, it was almost 7. In a span of 10 minutes, the light in the room went from butter yellow to deep blue shadows like the evening was a bruise heavy under the skin. My stomach hurt but my head felt better. I fell asleep again. Then it was 8 and afterwards 9 and I ate sandwich, watched Running Man, and finished the day like I had started it, asleep.

This morning I woke up and felt better. Not perfect, but better. Side note, isn't that the case with almost everything in life? I feel better, but not perfect. Digressing. And mulling. Besides feeling better, I also felt panicked. It was irrational but the thought of missing 24 hours of my life set me into a frenzy. 24 hours.

Sometimes life's really hard. That's an understatement. Writing about it seems like trying to collect water by pouring it through a sieve. Everything runs through me and I wonder, where to begin? Or, why? What's the balance between over sharing and being honest, and is there a disconnect that lies with the two? What happens when you have nothing to write at all, or what you have to say is boring, underwhelming, inherently ordinary? What then?

Sometimes, it seems like too much. I'm inundated with things I need to say, words that crawl under my skin, moments that leave me open-handed, chasing wind. Other times, I'm a dry well, scraped raw and emptied of everything. Then I say to life, pour into me, in all your beauty and pain and joy. That's when life asks, will you give back? And there lies the act of showing up. Morning and morning. Returning to the page. Returning to the road, to the pavement, to the poetry, to the music, to the rhythm of your life. So I do and we do and we hope to make something honest, something that matters, in our 24 hours.

Because, goodness, I don't want to live my life asleep.

August 3, 2015

Like A Fool

We take a chance from time to time
And put our necks out on the line
And you have broken every promise that we made
And I have loved you anyway

Took a fine time to leave me hangin' out to dry
Understand now I'm greivin'
So don't you waste my time
Cause you have taken
All the wind out from my sails
And I have loved you just the same

We finally find this
Then you're gone
Been chasin' rainbows all along
And you have cursed me
When there's no one left to blame
And I have loved you just the same

And you have broken every single fucking rule
And I have loved you like a fool

July 3, 2015

Words to Live By

Between what is said and not meant, and what is meant and not said, most of love is lost. | Kahil Gibran

Someone once asked me what I regarded as the three most important requirements for happiness. My answer was: A feeling that you have been honest with yourself and those around you; a feeling that you have done the best you could both in your personal life and in your work; and the ability to love others. | Eleanor Roosevelt

What wonderful thing didn't start out scary? | Isaac Marion, Warm Bodies

Believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it. | Rainer Maria Rilke

We don't learn to love each other well in the easy moments. Anyone is good company at a cocktail party. But love is born when we misunderstand one another and make it right, when we cry in the kitchen, when we show up uninvited with magazines and granola bars, in an effort to say, I love you. | Shauna Niequist, Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table, with Recipes

The sad truth is that man's real life consists of a complex of inexorable opposites - day and night, birth and death, happiness and misery, good and evil. We are not even sure that one will prevail against the other, that good will overcome evil, or joy defeat pain. Life is a battleground. It always has been, and always will be; and if it were not so, existence would come to an end. | Carl Jung, Man and His Symbols

One hears it a lot on airplanes: "Make sure you have your own mask on, before helping others with theirs." | Lemony Snicket, on what is the best life advice

June 23, 2015

What I'd Tell My 15-year-old Self

You're right: they will be your lifelong best friends.

Someday, you'll have more skinny jeans than flared.

Eat more vegetables.

Embrace your natural hair.

Just because he's older, doesn't mean he's cooler.

Don't worry, you'll travel, a few times, and you'll love it even more than you expect.

Wear sunglasses and sunscreen.

It's okay to be "the best friend." It's the better role, because you'll know him forever.

High-five for being a good girl. You'll be glad you were.

When someone offers to help, let them.

You don't need to have it all figured out. Cut yourself some slack.

Eventually, the Internet will take over the world.

Take more pictures. These memories will be some of your best.

Your crush will take you on a date in two years, but you'll be over it.

Those pathetic journal entries will be hilarious in 10 years.

Stand up for yourself and speak your mind. It's not rude, it's self-respect.

Learn to sew. Mom can't always be there.

Your insecurities are absurd. So are 99% of your fears. Let them go.

Go all-out with the melodramatics. This is their time to shine.

Never stop writing. The dream plays out.

Let your heart fill and then shatter. It can handle it. It will rebuild.

Treat everybody as if it's their last day on earth, because regret is stronger than gratitude.

Change your ambition. Be a teacher instead.

Yes, you do end up with a city boy. A charming one. He's everything.


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