*You are about to discover that you are an unprepared idiot with incredible resilience . . . so don't take yourself too seriously. Make mistakes, lots of them. Learn. Repeat. Failure is an option and perspective is everything. If you color something you are proud of, you have permission to put it on your refrigerator. You can be, do and have anything you want, but not everything and not all at once, so make yourself this one promise: I will NOT let myself get stuck in a job I absolutely hate just to pay off my student loans (but do try to make more than the minimum payment.) Being positive brings more positiveness in your life. If you are never happy with who you are, please be happy with whom you are trying to be. It's OK if you don't feel like a grownup right away. If you're lucky, you'll end up exactly where you want to be...and then...some place even better and completely unexpected. Embrace that life is good and lovely and beautiful even when it is hard. Go kayaking. Never text and drive. And always have a haiku ready. Your life is an occasion...rise to it. It's old school, but three things to have in your car at all times which will make your life easier: Library card, local phone book, maps. Spend some time every day doing something you love--knitting, photographing, biking, whatever--and you'll resist wasting time checking up on old classmates via Facebook. Be Here Now. You have what it takes, you just don't know it yet, but you have what it takes to make it happen - keep pushing! Hang in there; tomorrow is a fresh start, and it will be better. You are pure potential and dwell in infinite possibilities. No matter what is going on, try to create tiny moments of magic and joy for yourself and others, including strangers. Don't try to get out of hard work, just DO it. If you want to be an actor, don't. But if you NEED to be an actor, do. More people regret what they didn't do, than what they did . . . but remember, just because you can, doesn't mean you should. Your life belongs to you, no one else. Don’t waste time waiting for life to get better because of an event or a thing or an activity because not one of those things will really make a difference to your happiness; but rather "it" will get better because of you, and what you say, what you do, what you are to yourself and those around you and once you learn that, you will have achieved success by any measure. Never forget a kindness and always aim to return it. Be kind to yourself. If you can't brush, floss. If you make a mistake along the way, remember this motto: "In ten years, no one will care nor remember." You are not alone. Let yourself off the hook when things go wrong. Sometimes life is just hard. But knowing that, never, never, never give up. Be grateful. It's who you are, not what you do, that matters. Be helpful . . . because you never know if that idiot is going to turn out to be your boss next week. (important: your job is not your life, your job is not your life, your job is not your life.) Be open to life. It’s not what happens to you that matters, it's how you handle it. If you think it's impossible, remind yourself of that one time a guy walked on the moon. Listen carefully, be true to yourself, open your heart to forgiveness, and remember there is more than one way to do everything (but never forget to say "thank you.") . . . Today, step forward into the wonder of life that awaits you.
^Right/wrong, history/future, dreams/reality: everything changes eventually, but don't be afraid; the best things still lie ahead . . . so live simply, give abundantly, and love wholeheartedly. Enjoy life. Take time to laugh, not giggle. If they ask you to go to the beach, go to the beach. Live small and enjoy big . . . it is not the goods, but the enrichment of which you partake. Play with children. Dance in the kitchen. Wander. Wonder. Be grateful everyday. Make your bed. When someone shows their love and does you no harm there is no need to test it; learn and pass it on. Be open to love. Be kind to others, you never know what's happening in their life. (The older and wiser you become, the more you realize what you don't know...so appreciate what you have while you have it.) If religion is not your "thing", that's OK...what's important is to live a good life, a moral life, help others worse off than you, be happy for those who are better off than you and believe that your time will come, you just have to take your patience out of your pocket. If you do the things that excite you and challenge you, work with the people who excite you and challenge you, you will find yourself someplace that you want to be, doing the thing that you want to do. (So don't listen to your dad when he tells you that you have to declare a science major instead of studying what you truly are passionate about.) Remember that every day is the first day . . . a new chance to start fresh and live your dreams. As Rodney Dangerfield says in "Back to School": "It's a jungle out there. You gotta look out for number one, but don't step in number two." So prepare for the worst, and hope for the best. Keep moving forward, because the past is just that the past, and it's not worth the trouble to play chicken with your problems. Don't forget to look after your body. If you're hungry, remember to eat. (And if you're a woman, you only have a finite number of eggs, so if you want kids, keep count.) Read forever and when in doubt make tea and think it over. Sometimes, faking it till you make it is the only way . . . but never underestimate what you're worth. Remember your manners; you won't believe the doors that will open for you. Work hard...play hard...sleep in between. You are the only you the world will ever know. Be AMAZING! And don't forget: in the words of Fletcher Knebel: "Smoking is one of the leading causes of statistics."
* Original address on June 15, 2011
^ Updated address on June 23, 2011