Thirty Life Lessons from 2016

Learned the hard way, of course.

humble gift by marielliott
  1. Contrary to what people tell you, talk about your mess while you’re in the middle of it, even if you can’t make sense of it.
  2. People will leave you at your most vulnerable. They won’t leave because they’re terrible people — they’ll leave because they don’t have room for mess in their lives and that’s okay, too.
  3. Walk away from the people who refuse to stand with you when you need them the most. Mourn them, but don’t regret it. Don’t look back. You’re not going that way.
  4. Even when you’re bitter and angry, don’t let yourself live in that place. It’s not your home. It’s not even a sanctuary — it’s a dirty bus stop with clogged toilets and broken pinball machines. Move along as soon as you can.
  5. Hold onto the people who do stay. Even if you spend months apart, greet them with hugs and kisses and all the warmth that you can. Accept their warmth in return.
  6. Refuse to lean in. Lean back. Lean out. Lean sideways onto the people who love you. But fuck leaning in — choose freedom.
  7. No single person can fulfill every desire, dream, or happiness. That’s why we make friends. That’s why we build unconventional families. It’s why we reach across the infinite (and infinitesimal) expanse of the internet towards people thousands of miles away.
  8. Don’t make yourself small because it’s easier than taking up space. Don’t make yourself small because it makes you less of a target. Don’t make yourself small because you think it makes your loved ones’ lives easier.
  9. Take. Up. Space.
  10. Stop apologizing for being who you are. You can’t change your core. Stop trying. Your core makes you you-ier. And you, because of all of your cracks and golden veins, are worth having in this world.
  11. Dreams don’t pay the bills. Actions do. Buckle up for a bumpy ride along the way.
  12. And honestly? Dreams change. They evolve. Sometimes, they completely disintegrate. Don’t judge yourself for your lost or broken dreams. Create new ones.
  13. Misunderstandings and miscommunication happen along the way. Do yourself a favour and learn how to apologize. Don’t just say “I’m sorry” and leave it at that. Endeavour to change. Do better next time.
  14. People deserve a second chance. They don’t deserve a third.
  15. Love is the question and the answer.
  16. When people look in on your life, they see the snippets you show them. They don’t see the whole story. And you don’t owe that story to anyone but the person (or people) crafting the narrative by your side.
  17. Kiss until you’re breathless.
  18. Love when it hurts. Hell, love especially when it hurts.
  19. Laugh until your ribs ache.
  20. Find people smarter (and more talented) than you and soak up their wisdom whenever possible. Don’t be a fucking lackey. Be a human being. Ask questions. Ask for advice. Follow up. Be grateful for every moment.
  21. Drink the good scotch.
  22. Cook (and bake) with people you love. Pass on culinary traditions. Have food fights in the kitchen for no good reason. Wrap everything you cook (and bake) with love. Serve it warm.
  23. Retreat when it hurts too much. It’s okay to hide under the covers today, love. The world will still exist tomorrow. I promise.
  24. Shine. Shine for yourself. Shine for the world. Share it. Pay it forward. Shine more.
  25. Seek out kindred spirits in unlikely places.
  26. Allow yourself to be surprised, even when you’re feeling jaded.
  27. Stop looking for joy. Create it. Cultivate it. It’s all around you.
  28. A little kid’s laugh is music.
  29. Hold the people you love. Ask to be held. Curl yourself around their warmth when you feel frozen. Lend your warmth.
  30. Don’t let your sense of self become so distorted that you forget who you are. Don’t let that distortion turn to self hatred. Don’t let that self hatred destroy you. You are the phoenix. So, rise.