I am learning that 24 is not as old as I once thought it was. As years pass, I become more and more aware of how little I know about the world. I don’t have any of the answers, and probably never will.
Most days it just feels like I’m treading in the deep end of a swimming pool, full to the brim with pistachio pudding. (I really dislike pistachio anything, which only heightens my dilemma.)
I do feel, however, that I’ve lived a lot of life in my mere 24 years. I faced forms of oppression, but have also been immensely privileged. I was in love and then got my heart broken. I’ve danced on stage and sat in the audience. I’ve traveled to beautiful places and met wonderful people. I’ve tried a variety of things and gotten most of them wrong, and sometimes I managed to get a few of them right.
My knowledge spans from living through an array of environments and experiences, and through them all, I’ve learned how to create the life I want. I’ve learned how to make myself happy.
My hope is that what I’ve learned contains something that could potentially help someone feel a little less like they are neck-deep in pudding. Something that enables others to from my mistakes, without having to experience them firsthand.
Maybe that’s inaccurate or naive, but I’m going with it anyway. Without further ado…
Lyd’s Guide to Loving Your Life (see also: Being a Decent Human Being)
Let fear lead you to happiness. Let vulnerability lead you to joy.
Embrace change. Run right up to it and give it a bear hug.
Don’t scratch the itch. Just let it sit.
You don’t have to be asleep to dream.
Read, read, and read some more.*
Put yourself in the shoes of another (this is also known as a practice called empathy).
Look inward. Examine yourself and why you do things the way you do. Think.
Seek therapy. It will change your life.
Find the small things that make you happy, and incorporate them into your life.
If you encounter a void, fill it with anything good and lovely and pure.
Strive for routine in the short term and spontaneity in the long.
Listen to the music that makes your soul happy. Even if it’s country music.**
If you are in an uncomfortable situation and find yourself faced with choosing either laughter or tears, choose the laughs. Every time.
If you are in another situation and find yourself faced with choosing either chocolate cake or a kale salad, choose the cake. Every time.
Actually, sometimes you should probably choose the salad. It’s good for your digestion.
Remember that when most things in life go wrong, the world is not actually ending. We already have more than enough zombie apocalypses, thank you very much.
Keep in mind that the end of a day is going to come regardless of how it’s going for you. Might as well find a way to enjoy the ride.
Turn off your app notifications, avoid the comments section, and remember that social media is a vapid black hole intent on sucking out your soul.***
Comparison is the fuel of social media, and our need for validation is the flame.
Discover your boundaries. It’s okay to say no to things that make you feel dread, angry, or depressed. Actually, it’s okay to say no to anything that makes you feel less than great.
You don’t owe anybody anything, and in turn they don’t owe anything to you.
Say what you’re thinking. Be honest about how you feel, but also remember that there is a human being on the receiving end of said truth.
There will come a time in your life when you can no longer remember the name of that person who broke your heart in high school. Hang on until then.
Ask for help when you need it.
If at any point, someone makes you feel like you are not enough, punch them in the face and ask them if it hurt enough.****
If you can’t be brave, be fake-brave. Trust me, it works. #bravado
Ask questions. Then, actually listen to the answers. Seek to understand.
Love the people who look for the best parts of you by reciprocating that same gesture.
Love the best AND worst parts of yourself. (And the smelly and weird ones, too.)*****
And finally, learn how to be alone. This doesn’t mean you have to endure self-inflicted solitary confinement, but just learn how to be comfortable in the company of yourself. There’s a difference between alone and lonely, and both are okay things to be.
At the end of your life, the only person who will have been there with you every single day is you. Love them through all of it. Life is hard enough, and they’ve earned your love.
You’ve earned your love, too.