Dear self this time last year,

I don’t want to freak you out or anything, but life is going to hit you hard this year. The good times are going to be good, very good, and the bad times will feel so incredibly low that you’ll wonder if you can handle the cards you’ve drawn. But you’ll get through it, I promise. Spoiler alert: The hand you have drawn is a good one, so keep a poker face. I hope you heed the following advice if you have any faith in your older, wiser self.

1. Take care of you. Come a few months from now, you will be working all the time so try to find some time to clear your head and connect to yourself and those who are important to you. Find the things that keep you sane and You. Must. Keep. Doing them. Do yoga almost every day. Read books, actual books, cover to cover. Go out to dinner with your friends. Go see live music, go do anything that is less expensive than the drinks you’d buy at a bar instead. Pet a dog on your walk home from work, savor the little joys and comforts like your pillows and your candles. Take in the familiarity of your routine and your neighborhood — your favorite coffee shop, wine store, and book store. Your favorite building on your block. You’re going to be busier than you could ever have imagined possible, so you can’t forget to look for the beauty in your surroundings, and the people who make up your day to day life. Take them in because this year will take you away from them for a while and you will miss them, but come to appreciate them all the more deeply.

2. Let people go. If someone does not want to be in your life, that’s just a fact. I advise you to let it be. You won’t, but you really should. It hurts, and feels unfair, and you don’t understand. You try to fix it. Approach it from different angles, win the argument. But this isn’t a fight that could or should be won. You have so many people in your life who love you, so let the ones who don’t go, and don’t be so sad over it. You’re going to learn a lot of lessons this year, but one of the biggest lessons is that you can’t make someone stay, or change, or show up. If someone wants to go, let them. And be open to the people who want to be there. Let them take up the space and time and energy instead, because they are the ones who give back.

3. On that note, stay in touch. You’re going to travel a lot this year. Lucky you. Call home. Call your grandmother. She will turn 92 this year. She will continue to amaze you this year. Return your friends’ text messages. Like your sister’s Instagram picture. Let people know you are there, even though you are miles away. Listen when your mom talks to you, ask questions about her life too. Make sure conversations are balanced, and try to approach other people’s problems with an open mind and less judgment. You want people to show up for you, so show up for them, even when you can’t be there in person.

4. ENJOY the new things that you will do and the places you will see. Take so many pictures of the new cities and towns you will visit and live in. Try all the food. Go out. Work hard and stay focused but allow yourself to be grateful for the experiences you will have, and the people that you will meet along the way. Don’t be too stressed out with your to-do list that you can’t be in the present moment. You’ll see some awesome stuff this year, don’t forget to look up from your phone(s).

5. Stay connected with the awesome people you will meet. You’ll meet so many great individuals, and particularly some badass women this year. Don’t be too busy or too tired to connect. Be open to forming new relationships and friendships. Talk about the future with them. You guys are all passionate about the same form of art. Talk about what you want to do in 5 or 10 years, because you very well could be doing it together before you know it.

6. You’ll be tested emotionally and intellectually this year, so the faster you can learn to be a duck, the better. Keep swimming, and let the negativity roll off of your feathers like water. You’ve always been a dweller, and the more you dwell in that emotional, obsessive space of yours, the less you will actually accomplish and learn. Your skin is going to get much thicker this year. It will take more tears than usual to get there, but you will. The cracks will show from time to time, but you won’t break. Know that, and get ready to be a tough mother-ducker.

7. Forgive yourself. You’ll come up against reminders of things you did wrong in your past. You’ll see people that you have hurt. You’ll wish you could turn back time and do things differently. These interactions are important — invaluable even — but how you handle them is more important. Acknowledge what you did wrong, learn from it, but please, please stop carrying around the guilt of wrongs from 5 years, 2 years, or 2 weeks past. You forgive people all the time and find it much easier than excusing your own moments of weakness, your own imperfections, overreactions, and humanity. Remember you have to be kind to yourself too.

8. Be persistent. Make the most of opportunities. This year, you’ll reach sweet clarity with what you want to do with your life. Listen to that, and own it, but don’t sit back and relax or get overconfident. Map your course and do something every single day that will bring you closer to it. Read. Write. Watch films. Talk to people with more experience than you. Ask questions. Be curious. Be humble. Say THANK YOU. Take yourself seriously.

The truth is, 24.999-year-old self, you’ll figure all this out eventually. It just might take all year.

Love,

Your 25.999-year-old self.

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