Things I am Taking Too Long to Learn

You can learn a lot about a person by watching the way they approach an Oreo.

Don’t put off your happy life.

Laugh loud, laugh often. You can do this without adding “LOL” to your vocabulary. (Emojis okay!)

Left to its own devices, your body is pretty smart. Think about it: without making any conscious effort, you will begin to sweat when you are hot. You will begin to shiver when you are cold. Trust. You’ve got to trust. Dial down your busybody of a brain, and trust.

It’s a process, there’s a learning curve, you are not slow.

“There is no recipe for happiness. No number of kisses, farmer markets, cups of tea, or core-shaking laughs will fix you. You have to save yourself. You have to fight for that peace.” -Michelle K., Recipe for Happiness

More love letters. That’s what we need.

“Nothing in the world can make you happy; everything in the world can encourage you to be happy.” -Robert Holden

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We are all afraid. We are all afraid of something. (Sometimes I make stream of consciousness lists: I’m afraid I’m going to live with my mom for the rest of my life. I’m afraid I like the still and the quiet too much. I’m afraid I won’t ever write a book worth reading. I’m afraid I will always be lonely. I’m afraid the milk’s going to go bad. I’m afraid I will never fall in love. I’m afraid I never really did. I’m afraid I will eat all of the chocolates on the second shelf in a single sitting. I’m afraid I will never slip my hand into someone else’s, look up and smile.)

No feeling is final.

“We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.” -Carlos Castenada

A splash of your mom’s sherry and a few chisels of that frostbitten orange juice concentrate will be excellent and amazing, on chicken thighs. Use the Dutch oven; sear the thighs first. Add slivers of shallot and baby Bella mushrooms — a bunch. Let the alcohol deglaze everything, when it starts to stick. Let the OJ melt and thicken into a sauce.

Patience. Patience, patience, patience.

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Be you — the world will adjust.

“You shouldn’t try to stop everything from happening. Sometimes you’re supposed to feel awkward. Sometimes you’re supposed to be vulnerable in front of people. It’s necessary. It’s all part of you getting to the next part of yourself, the next day.” -Cecelia Ahern, The Book of Tomorrow

Dream the big dreams. The impossible dreams. The if-money-were-no-object, dreams.

Your pant size, your bra size, all of those arbitrary sizes — they have so little to do with anything.

All the people you run into, click and connect with — they’re not supposed to be there until the day you die. Some of them will get 10 minutes. Others will get 2 hours. It’s just the way of things. Your new guy? Maybe he’ll get 8 months. Maybe he’ll get 40 years. You must find a way to enjoy your own company, regardless.

Keep your chin up.

“I think that when you have a connection with someone it never really goes away, you know? You snap back to being important to each other because you still are. The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are simply the ones who care the most.” -R.R.

It is very hard, to make friends in your twenties. (We will keep working on this. Can we talk more about this?)

Keep the door open. Crack a window, if you’re not quite ready for that.

Write. Write every day. Sometimes you will want to blast it all over the Internet and sometimes you will want to shrink the size font, a lot a lot.

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Use the Lo-Fi filter. (This is the secret to Instagram.)

You see what you look for. (Related: You hear what you listen for.)

Smile. Flex the muscle.

The pan needs to be sizzly-sizzly hot, before you go cracking any eggs into anywhere.

There is always something left to love. Always, always, always.

Notice when you’re being a drag. What’s the matter with you? (Kidding — give yourself the occasional pass, when you’re feeling down and mopey. Even if it’s irrational. Nothing’s really rational.)

Live alone. Not forever — for a little while. Squeeze your stuff into a studio; finagle your way out to a cozy cabin woods. What’s it feel like, to live in the actual middle of nowhere? What’s it like, to really be by yourself? Do you listen to more music? Do you do your dishes right away? How often do you sit by the window? Will you re-read a book; will you watch a movie more than once? Get to know yourself. Let your independence bloom.

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Growth hurts.

Don’t discount your little goals. (Slow down — slow wayyy down. Become a more active friend. Exercise the dryer less. Write to more people. Volunteer somewhere. Make a pretty pie. Continue to challenge your initial reaction. Skip the social media scroll, sometimes. Take the pressure off. Poach a pear. Email Dad. Be more social. Sign up for a class. Drink less coffee. Eat more bread.)

Not all of us are meant for bright lights and city skies, screeching taxis and smelly subways. (Moving to NYC was like the equivalent of going into battle, for me. Portland was like an unexpected skirmish. Could I have a ceasefire? That would be nice.)

“Maybe you had to leave in order to really miss a place; maybe you had to travel to figure out how beloved your starting point was.” -Jodi Picoult, Handle with Care

These are crappy feelings: shame, guilt, anger, fear, jealousy. Don’t forget about the flipside: JOY. Joyjoyjoy. More joy!

Notice. Notice notice notice — notice everything.

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“Unexpected intrusions of beauty — that’s what life is.” -Saul Bellow

Fun fact: most of the world sees a nice smiling face, and leaves it at that.

“You don’t need people who will never be pleased with the human you are. You don’t need the ones who want to dismantle you before they introduce you to the world. You just need to find the good ones — the ones who already know you’re golden. Surround yourself with those people. Praise them often. Thank them always. Keep them in your corner, and remember this: you can change if you want to change. You can become someone new. But do it only because you want to be a better version of yourself, not because you are trying to prove something to the world.” -Hannah Brencher

Examine your definition of “better.”

Zoom in, zoom out.

Do things. Do your best to let go of the outcome — before during afterwards.

Take very gentle care of yourself. (You can do this any number of ways. Take yourself to yoga. Tuck a blanket around your feet. Don’t set your alarm. Make yourself something that tastes really, really good.)

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Don’t fear the following: small batch boiled bagels, crinkly slices of spicy-sweet ham, all of the A++ melting cheeses.

Don’t worry about saying too much. Worry about what might happen if you don’t speak up.

Remember that if you do it right, what you do for work is only a small piece of who you are. What do you do for play? That’s generally a lot more interesting.

“Writing isn’t a job that ends at six-thirty. It’s a mad, sexy, sad, scary, obsessive, ruthless, joyful, and utterly, utterly personal thing. There’s not the writer and then me; there’s just me. All of my life connects to the writing. All of it.”-Russell T. Davies, The Writer’s Tale

And one last one: Say hello to the coffee shop man. You just never know.

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