31 years.

I started writing this list as a teenager, and each year I try to add one thing I’ve learned since my last birthday.

1. Don’t let “I love you” become a habit. Feel it when you say it.
2. Look up, and often. Don’t forget what the sky looks like.
3. You learn more about yourself by having your heart broken.
4. Find something to crave, something to yearn for, even if it hurts.
5. Paint the world, even if only with your footsteps.
6. It is impossible to not have expectations and to not be disappointed. The avoidance of either one only holds you back.
7. Only cry when you mean it.
8. Lock your doors but don’t keep the shades drawn.
9. Speak clearly, write vaguely. Only ever whisper or shout in bed.
10. Sweet nothings mean something.
11. There is absolutely no reason to have a favorite color, to keep something “new”, to make someone feel jealous or guilty.
12. Be healthy, and not just physically.
13. Join a group, club or movement that means something to you.
14. You mean the world to someone, so be easy on yourself – they’re counting on you. When you hurt yourself, you’re hurting them.
15. A book, song, or movie exists that is completely and entirely for you.
16. Money is important, but don’t make it significant. It’s the only thing that can’t be resolved by arguing about it. And if you can’t resolve it, accept it.
17. It’s called luck, but it isn’t.
18. Sometimes it is impossible to forgive or forget. When it is, you should leave.
19. It’s okay to change but only if you do it for yourself.
20. Try not to believe in anything more than you do yourself.
21. There are so many things to be afraid of. You should never have to explain yourself. These two things are related, and neither one should make up your mind for you.
22. Keep your own secrets, not someone else’s.
23. If you’re not here to follow your dreams, you’re following someone else’s.
24. Everything is funny.
25. “Living life with no regrets” is ill-advised. If you haven’t felt remorse, you haven’t learned from your mistakes.
26. People will not always show you love in the ways in which you are looking for it. Just because it is not what you would do, does not mean it is not good enough.
27. Make kindness your church.
28. Buy frivolous things for important people. They’ll know why.
29. Pick the ugly pumpkin, the lopsided Christmas tree, and choose the smooshed cupcake just because no one else will.
30. Make your silence meaningful.
31. Professionalism is a facade. No one else knows what they’re doing, either.

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