Photo by Michelle Tiffany
Life & Lessons

25 Lessons @ 25

Today, I am 25.

On the edge of 24, I actually tried to write a list much like the one you’re about to read. It started out as things I’d learned over the last year, but I couldn’t bring myself to finish it because I didn’t know if I believed all of it anymore. I was living at a fork in the road, experiencing contradicting wants for my life. I erased them all and wrote this (so goth):

This is the most uncertain I’ve ever been in my life. Every reality seems like there’s another reality to contradict it. A lot of the things I found to be true just five years ago have changed. I don’t think I have the hindsight or authority to KNOW right now. There’s kind of something sweet about that. But I’m just going to ask questions right now. Maybe at 25 I’ll be able to answer them.

The divinity of reading this note the night before my 25th birthday sent chills down my spine. Here I am, 25, in a better headspace with the ability to confidently confirm some of my own questions I had written down just a year ago. I didn’t even realize I wished the answers into existence.

Rules and resolutions are made to be broken, and goals are fleeting. This is why I’ve always had an affinity for lessons. Lessons stick. They teach you about the past in an honorable way, while still pointing like an arrow towards the future. Lessons remind you of how strong you are and how much you’ve overcome. They humble you and gently ask you to do better and be better. I’ve found that many things in this life aren’t yours for keeping, but no lesson can be taken from you. And this year, as I blow out the candles, I’m remembering what I’ve learned over the course of my short lifetime.

These are the lessons that ring clear over and over again. These are the answers I have right now. Hold on tight. It’s detailed, it’s long, and it’s raw as shit.

1. Keep some things for yourself. There’s something to be said about keeping something — one thing, anything — for yourself. Whether that be a memory, a moment, a hope, a secret, an idea, a dream; it’s more meaningful, more beautiful, more intimate. I believe that we’re meant to share with one another. But not everything needs to be shared with the world. Some things remain sweeter left unsaid.

2. Revel in every stage. I remember being a child, playing in our wooden treehouse with the infamous big yellow tube slide alongside my neighborhood friends, looking around, and thinking, “Wow. I am never going to get this time back.” That moment, so specific yet so ephemeral, changed my life. Throughout middle school, high school, college, even now — I’ve done my best to stick with this mindset. It’s gotten harder, especially when that quarter life crisis hits and you’re questioning everything. But despite the frustrations, the obstacles, the “scaries” — live this stage in your life like you’ll never get it back. Because you won’t.

3. Don’t rush anything. Regrets are unavoidable. But I’ve found the best way to decrease the chances is to do everything on your own timeline. I can’t stress this enough. From a very young age, I never understood why everyone wanted to grow up so fast. I played with my Barbies as long as I could. I delayed wearing makeup and shaving my legs until I felt the desire to. I didn’t have sex until 22, when I was ready. Now I can’t speak for anyone else — this is just my story. No one age is right, so do you. But make sure you’re doing it because you want to. Not because it makes you cool or because everyone else is doing it. Enjoy your time until you feel it’s time.

4. Be yourself. I have to be completely and bluntly honest. In a world where it’s apparently hard to do, I’ve never really understood this, because to me it’s the most simple thing in the world. If I tallied up the #1 question I received over my lifetime, it would be, “How are you so happy all time?” It’s because I’ve never pretended to be anything but myself. People teased me for acting “too white” (not a thing, btw?) since middle school. People have called me too ambitious, too loud, too excited, too bubbly, too EVERYTHING. It’s not always easy. But changing myself sounds too exhausting. I’m lazy.

5. Don’t hold yourself to one dream. When I moved to Los Angeles, I remember stepping out of the car and feeling my heart sink to my stomach. “This is it,” I thought. My whole life I dreamed of this and here it was, at my toes. I was scared, because I did it. Now what? When I moved two years later, I was terrified I’d be viewed as someone who “settled” because I didn’t stay. Don’t listen to the voices in your head trying to box you into one idea or one vision you’ve had for yourself. You are allowed to grow. You are allowed to change. You are allowed to have more dreams.

6. You don’t have to make bad decisions just because you’re young. You’re allowed to make bad decisions. But don’t intentionally make destructive decisions just because you’re young. I’ve accomplished a lot of what I’ve set out to do, and honestly, I credit it to a few things: 1) Amazing parents 2) Always having my eyes on the prize, and 3) Valuing doing the right thing.

7. You don’t have to be hasty in making decisions, especially emotional ones. I’ve messed up a lot over the last year by making small decisions too quickly (Overbooking? So guilty). Give your brain the time it needs to process. As far as emotional decisions, I think I’ve hurt a lot of people — and myself —by deciding how I feel too late. I realize now that “deciding how I feel too late” isn’t the issue. It’s the ability to communicate how I feel once I do. Ownership of that is important. I’m trying to get better.

8. Sunlight is restorative. It’s best remedy in the universe. Close your eyes and soak in it for a minute. It’s yours. It’s mine. It’s ours.

9. Real friends don’t just cheer you on from the sidelines. They play the game. The people that hold you close… hold them even closer. They aren’t just in your corner. They are in the trenches when you have to go to war. And you do the same for them.

10. Pit bull on the outside, Golden Retriever on the inside. In 2017, I did an entertainment program where I had to rotate departments. One of them was the most fake, non-inclusive and unpleasant work environments I had ever experienced to date (to put it in perspective, think Mean Girls x5). But I had a supervisor who told me this and it helped me get through it. I don’t think I’ll ever forget this one.

11. A good movie or a good book is hot soup for the soul. It warms you from the inside out. Seek out amazing stories, and seek them out often. Most of them will be lukewarm. But every once in a while, you’ll experience one that makes you remember why humanity is so beautiful.

12. Flower and plants make everything a little better. Real ones. Fake ones. I put them everywhere and it’s honestly made me a happier person in general.

13. It’s okay to shut off for a little while. I don’t trust anyone who says you should know what’s going on in the world at all times. That thinking is what led the 24 hours news cycle driving our society insane. WE DON’T NEED IT. Turn off the news. Shut down your laptop. Let your phone die and leave it like that for an hour or two or ten. Don’t answer your texts. You have the right to be in your own head, and your head only. With that being said…

14. Take yourself on dates. I had a social-psych professor in college named Eric Pappas. At the beginning of the semester he told us to hold one Saturday for a full day field trip. We trekked to campus the morning of and when we got there, he told us there was never a field trip planned. Now we had a whole day to do nothing. We were allowed to do anything, but we a) couldn’t do anything productive, b) couldn’t use technology, and c) had to do it alone. So I took myself to the Harrisonburg International Festival I saw flyers for, and it was the best day of my life. I danced with strangers, learned about different cultures, was on my own time, and made all the choices myself. Some of my favorite memories since are the things I’ve been brave enough to do alone. Concerts. Comedy Shows. Brunch. Walks. Beaches. When you let go of how weird you might look, you can pretty much never have a bad time with yourself. The best thing I’ve ever done (and have to constantly do over and over) is train myself to hear my own voice again.

15. Make a three month plan. When I was in a really bad spot last year, my mom gave me really great advice. She told me I had three months. In that time I could mope and dwell, or I could make a plan that would get out the hole I was in — whatever that looked like. When I get to the end of those three months, I could start over in a different direction or keep building momentum on the same track. These boundaries gave me motivation. In turn, the universe started sending blessings my way. Three months is the perfect amount of time. It’s also my favorite number, just saying.

16. You can always make a u-turn. My family-friend Cherese once imparted this wisdom on me. So many people don’t leap at all because they’re afraid they will be wrong. But they forget they one thing about our friend called life: you’re not ever really stuck.

17. Work ethic gets you far, kindness gets your further. I work like a mad woman. But I also try my hardest to be kind while doing it. Selfishly, I want to have good vibes where I spend most of my time, but it naturally makes an impression on others, too. My favorite boss ever told me that “I’m a breath of fresh air.” I don’t know why, but this stuck with me. Be the kind of person others want to be around… it just… helps.

18. Sometimes you have to put certain dreams on hold. A coach named Kim once told me: Just because you have an idea doesn’t mean you need to do it. Some of the best concepts need to marinate.

19. Do! More! Yoga! Breathing more deeply, stretching my body, and quieting my mind has done wonders. I’m not good at it? But it makes me feel good.

20. Stand up for yourself. Know your value. Fight for it. I can think of a number of times I have felt taken advantage of or talked down to or walked on or even underestimated. A lot of my life I feared fitting the “angry black woman” stereotype if I was upset, so I bottled my frustrations up. But one day, I stopped letting people step all over me. I started commanding respect. I’ve had people get really mad at me for this. Confrontation is not easy. But at the end of the day, you deserve to be treated how you want to be treated. You deserve to feel comfortable. You deserve to take up space. Period.

21. Close your eyes and make wishes. It doesn’t just have to be on candles. Don’t be afraid to ask the universe for the things you want. It’s uncanny, but everything I’ve written down over the past three years has come true. And things that haven’t, they’re coming.

22. Love is more important than anything in the world. When I moved to Washington D.C. right after college, I remember telling my mom, “I’m not looking for a relationship. I’m going to LA in a year, it’s pointless.” And then the most wonderful man walked into my life. We knew it was different, that it was special, so we stayed together for two more years — even across the country. I can’t tell you the amount of times I questioned if I should “break it off” just… because. I should be out hooking up and staying out all night, right? But every night I missed him. Every day, I wanted to come home to him. And it scared me. Then one day I realized: INDEPENDENT WOMEN CAN BE IN LOVE. I had my dream job but I was still so sad because something huge was missing. My friends. My family. My love. At the end of the day, people are what you will remember at the end of your life. Love on yours well.

23. You can have your cake and eat it, too. You’re not a bad person for wanting more; for wanting the best. Yes, it will come at a small price. But in the grand scheme of things, the big outweighs the small. Don’t listen to what anyone says: design the life you want. I personally think you can have all the things that mean the most to you. It’s the people that are too scared to that don’t.

24. Trust your instincts. This one is really hard for me. I struggle with the idea that I don’t know enough. I doubt myself often. Yes, yes, take advice. But I’m learning that only you know what’s best for you in any given moment.

25. Follow your heart. If you follow your gut, you might be listening to fear. If you follow your heart, you will never regret your deepest desires. To this day, it’s never led me astray.

Hello, 25. This is our year. I’m claiming you.

Life & Lessons, Open Letters

On Decisions | Open Letter Series

Dear Friend-in-Transition:

Today I took myself to breakfast. I sat alone, I thought alone, I ate alone. On the way there, I didn’t turn on the radio, or music, or a podcast. At the table, I didn’t pull out a book or my phone. The funniest part is, by choosing to be alone today, I felt less lonely than I have in a long, long while because I was finally with myself.

Every year around this time, I’ve been in transition. Every. Single. Year. Without fail. After graduation, I moved to Washington DC. After a year in Washington DC, I moved to Los Angeles. After a year in Los Angeles, I decided to change jobs completely. And here I am this year, about to make another huge decision. I laugh to myself because I often feel like I’m living a hero’s journey full of choices and decision and bravery, although I don’t feel like a hero and I definitely don’t carry a sword. Maybe I should.

It’s always the same set of feelings. Excited and hopeful. Mostly nervous, terrified. I think through every possible outcome and doubt every single one, then wait until the very last minute to choose. Somehow, it’s worked out great for me so far. But this time it’s different. It’s different because for the first time, I’m not running away from anything. Not a job I’m not passionate about, not people I can’t seem to cut off. Everything is going great for me, but I feel inexplicably compelled to go; to leap into something that doesn’t promise instant or traditional success and that doesn’t look pretty on the outside. Something I could fail greatly at. And I think that makes this time the hardest of all.

After breakfast I walked a few blocks on Ocean Avenue. I stopped to stare down at the beach from the overlook. I had no clock, no timer, no where to be. I wished life was like this. But then I remember it is.

I started walking down the two-mile ramp to the sand and stop halfway when I remember my beach blanket is in my car. It crosses my mind that I would have no where to sit and would’ve walked a long way for no reason. But it also crosses my mind that I may stumble across something to sit on, even if it wasn’t the ideal beach lay-out I was envisioning.

I decide to keep walking, feeling adventurous. I’d sit on top of my bag, or even on my jeans in the sand. What’s the worst that could happen?

When I get to the bottom of the long and winding ramp, the cement transitions into beach. Right there is a little cafe with beach chairs sprawling across the sand — one that I couldn’t see from the overlook. They were perfect and comfortable and cute and even better than my old ratty blanket in the back of my car. I sat there for hours in total bliss.

I could have written you this letter to tell you how I’ve dealt with change in the past, or how tough it is now, or that we’re going to make the right choice. All of that is true. But both you and I already know all of this. The decision is already made. Our hearts knew the instant it was presented to us.

Instead, I wanted to tell you this story. The story about how I took this confusing, noisy time to be finally be alone, to be grateful, to be present, to thank God for all that was and all that will be, and to love myself before the beautiful storm begins. I wanted to tell you to take the ramp, to pause and look out over everything you’re creating for yourself, and to keep going. Something you didn’t even know existed will be there waiting for you. Something spectacular; something quite possibly greater.

PS. The blanket will always be right where you left it.

In this Open Letter series, I tackle various life topics by writing a letter to an anonymous and real friend who is going through it firsthand. My hope in writing to one is that it resonates with and helps all. This letter is for you, too. If you would like a letter, please email  Thank you for reading, sweet friend!

Life & Lessons, Open Letters

On Heartbreak | Open Letter Series

Dear Broken Friend:

I remember the day I found out. The exact moment, actually. As fuzzy as it all was — I still can recall it as clear as day. Walking to work, breaking down on the crosswalk. The gray brick building with tall white columns crumbling in front of me, the sky falling. When a heart breaks, there’s no way for it to not sound dramatic. Because it is. When you give someone a part of you and they hand it back mangled and unrecognizable, it’s hard for the world not to turn on its head.

I wanted to drown in the pain. I know we’re different and you like to move on by keeping yourself busy, but I wanted to sink in it. I wanted to devour it and savor it and have it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I wanted to wrap myself up in it like a blanket; I wanted it to protect me and keep me warm. I wanted to feel and feel and feel because it’s all I knew for months and months — feelings. It was then I discovered the opposite of loving someone isn’t heartbreak — it’s feeling nothing. In him breaking my heart, I was still connected to him. It was his last gift to me. If I let it go, that meant that I was letting him go, too. Everything about him.

Do whatever you need to do to get through it. Some days I imagined us together again in two years just to make it until the end of the day without breaking down. Some days I forced myself to recall his lips on hers just to remember how much I hated him. Some days I reconjured the hopeful memory of his hand on my lower back under the soft neon glow of the rooftop bar, repeating the things he said to me over and over in my head. Some days I couldn’t listen to certain songs without crying for an hour. Some days those songs were all I wanted to hear — and I still cried. Some days I needed to see him, so I did, and then regretted it. Other days I wanted to kiss someone else to forget, so I did. I didn’t regret that. It doesn’t matter what you do — as long as you don’t do anything destructive and stay true to you. But do whatever the fuck you have to do. Heartbreak is a war.

But each day it becomes more bearable. The little things he said, you won’t be able to remember. They turn to dust; a speck in your universe. Then one day, while you’re busy minding your business and picking up the pieces, someone else will come along when you least expect it and make you feel loved. Truly, deeply loved. Don’t wait around for it. But look forward to it.

I say all of this because I’ve found that sometimes someone else’s story is exactly what we need. We don’t need serious advice or someone telling us they know exactly how we feel. We just need to escape. Not into something annoyingly happy, or even more depressing. We just want the opportunity to feel something outside of our own pain and still relate to it. To be alone, but not feel alone.

I know he was supposed to be the one. But none of that matters right now. Now. Now. Now. Be here with me now. Hold my hand. I got you, babe. You can make it through this.

As you know, there’s no step by step guide to healing and putting yourself back together. You will wonder how you could have been so dumb; you’re not. You will try to get him back; don’t. You are allowed to be angry. You are allowed to be furiously sad. You are allowed to be — at last — relieved. You will feel it all. And as one of my favorite books Tuesdays With Morrie says, don’t stop yourself from feeling any of it. Let the pain flow through you and out of you; let it run its course like a cold. Emotions are thin and fleeting. The bad ones will go. The good ones will come. And soon, you’ll feel like you all over again. And a new adventure will begin.

That day, I dried my eyes before stepping into work. I forgot they were still red and my face, puffy. My boss took one look at me and it was like she knew. “The reality of it now is not the reality of it forever — I promise.” She was right. It gets better. Great, even.

In this Open Letter series, I tackle various life topics by writing a letter to an anonymous and real friend who is going through it firsthand. My hope in writing to one is that it resonates with and helps all. This letter is for you, too. If you would like a letter, please email  Thank you for reading, sweet friend!

Life & Lessons

Cheers to the new, and to the year.

This is not your typical New Years post.

For starters, it’s not January 1st.

In fact, it’s fourteen days after the new year has begun. The buzz of newness has probably already started to wear off for most of us, and the hangover already seems to be kicking in.

But for me, the party is just beginning.

This year, I decided not to make or take any resolutions seriously in the first few days of our new slate. I’m learning something: keeping score before you’ve started the game is dangerous. We are creatures of habit, yet we can’t seem to stay on track when it comes to the things we want the most for our lives. I thought to myself: maybe I should walk on the playing field before I run the play.

I chose to start January 1st, 2018 as any another day. New year, same shit. The only difference is that this go-round I let the thought of resolutions and goals and wants and plans whisper a melody in my mind without hanging on to any one lyric, and without turning off the music either. I didn’t cling to or claim the first “I want to go the gym three times a week” or “I want to make more videos.” I typically write everything that crosses my mind down, but I wouldn’t even let myself near a piece of paper in these first few weeks. I wanted to let the possibilities ruminate in the room of my mind; I wanted to see which desires would emerge as the truest of the true.

And I think we have a winner.

Err, winners.

This may be odd, especially to people like myself who try to find balance and find symmetry in everything, but the resolutions that reoccured, protruded, and rose high above the others don’t match and don’t quite make sense in regards to the traditional “New Year Resolution” narrative. These resolutions were what my heart was singing very clearly through all of the mess. So I listened.

Here are my three resolutions:

  1. Read one book a month. Feed your mind.
  2. Celebrate the small victories.
  3. One thing at a time.

Like I said, they’re a bit strange. They go from detailed to abstract, and they might not make sense upon reading them. But there’s something quaint about that, at least to me. They are special little snowflakes; they are mine. I will explain.

I used to love books when I was little. I was a very bossy child (still am) and I would insist on reading my books to my parents rather than the other way around. My mom loves to tell me this story about my 3rd birthday: how when I unwrapped toys and Barbie dolls I was overjoyed, but when I opened a book it was all over. I couldn’t stop flipping through the thing. I didn’t want to open any more gifts. And after the whole thing was said and done, the first present I picked up again was the book. Nothing else was as fascinating. This still rang true on my college graduation day when I did the same thing at 21 and my mom reminded me of this story. “Nothing has changed,” she said. During college you get your fair share of books, but the “fun” reading was reserved for summers only. When I graduated, I read a book here and there. But this year, I want to make it a realistic priority. My soul misses the words.

I have an issue with always living in the future. I’m always planning and plotting my next project, my next hang-out, my next job, my next problem: the list goes on. But this year is about the victories — and very specifically, the small ones. I think there’s something so beautiful about celebrating the small stuff. And I’m going to need it to get through this year, because it’s going to be a tough one. I just moved across the country away from the love of my life and my family to chase my dreams (that I’m not even sure of anymore). I’m not too keen of my job. But I have to keep it in perspective to keep myself afloat. Every day is one step closer to being reunited with a loved one. Every day is one more page I’ve written for my web series, or my film. Every day is one more day I have the opportunity to meet someone special or make a connection. Every day is one day closer to something. I’ve found a loophole around always anticipating what’s next: tricking myself into living in the present to make for a better tomorrow.

Finally, I need to start taking things one by one. I’m guilty of taking on too much. Not for anyone else, but for myself. I try to start five projects at once, see four friends in a week, and do a million things in a day. Not. possible. In fact, I always end up neglecting all of it because I’m so overwhelmed. One of my very good friends used to tell me all the time, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” I know that’s disgusting and weird and you’re like “Who are you, you freak,” but it’s just some metaphor that he’d heard (OK?!). And it makes sense. But for a person like me who thinks BIG, I don’t have one elephant. I never have one elephant. I have five. Lined up down the block. And for me, I just need to take each thing in my life one at a time. Dive in, make it whole and give it my all, then move on to the next. No matter how hard it is, or how long it takes. It’s better to get one thing done than to get nothing done at all.

Now that I’ve given you full insight into the thought process behind my resolutions, here are my two-cents on making yours for this beautiful, promising year:

Make it specific. 

If you are going to choose something concrete, such as the gym or a specialty diet or volunteering or listening to more podcasts — make it specific. Avoid the words “more” or “a lot.” Choose. Declare. One time a week. Three times a week. Every other week. Once a month. Commit and repeat.

Make it general.

You know I love a good contradiction. If you’re going to choose something abstract, make it general. I guess that’s sort of a given, but that’s the point. Think outside of the box. Don’t be afraid to make your resolution(s) a mantra or a motto. That’s fun AF. You can attribute it or place it onto anything and everything into your life.

Write it in pencil.

If you’re a writer like me, try this with me: write your goals in pencil. You can write it big or small; on a whiteboard covering an entire wall or in a notebook tucked away under your nightstand. This sounds silly, but I swear pen can sometimes mess with your brain. It’s so scary!!! It’s so permanent!!! Well flip the script. Write it in something erasable. This way, you know you can change or adjust it whenever you want and it’s not as daunting. Which brings me to my next point.

Be kind to your progress.

We live in a world that fears commitment. I think this is mostly because we aren’t committing to the things we actually love. But the catch is, even when we do it’s still never easy. That’s why it’s a commitment. But trial and error is a real, true thing. Be kind to your progress. You have to try something to know it’s not really what you want to do or what your heart desires. That’s okay. It knocks down one possibility and moves you closer to the one that will actually move your soul and change your life. Don’t be afraid to change, adjust, or make a new resolution. Heck, try out one thing a month. But once you find the thing that you really do want to hold on to, don’t quit. Even when it gets hard.

Happiest of days to you. Wishing you all the love in the world this new year. Go get ’em, tigress. xx


Life & Lessons

14 Things I Learned From My Last College Spring Break

What is known to be the week of unimaginable amounts of alcohol, major sun burn, and bikinis so small your 13-year-old sister shouldn’t even be able to fit into them turned out the be quite the opposite for me—unless you count the bathing suit bottom I’ve had since middle school, the sun rash on my inner thigh, and the single spontaneous shot of tequila we took on the strip. After catching up with a few high school friends in DC, I traveled south with three of my college friends to spend the week kicking back on the beach in Clearwater, Florida. It was my first and last tropical spring break, but believe me, it was no Panama City. There were lots of old people and ice cream shops. We watched sunsets next to families and shared peanut butter and jelly donuts and went on walks to nowhere. The wildest party we had was falling asleep after too many crab legs. But we laughed a lot. We even cried a little. We talked, and sat in silence, and smiled, and made memories. It was a wonderful time.

My favorite part about getaways and vacations (aside from the fancy stationary pens they leave you in hotel rooms) is the brain space it grants you. Staring at the sea and the sky makes you think. I did a lot of this. Staring out a car window also makes you think. I did a lot of this too. Also—I’m just a sappy, thinky person. So naturally this blog post makes a lot of sense. Here’s a run down of what ran though my brain this past week. I hope you get as much out of these moments and realizations as I did, or even come to your own truths. Let’s start shallow, like the questionable pool at our three star motel.

1. Phones suck.

I don’t understand why we are addicted to distraction. I don’t know why we choose the people on our screens over the people right in front of us. I constantly evaluate whether I am going to burst from the amount of news and entertainment and blogs and emails and updates that I want to (and feel like I have to) read. But when I put my phone away for an entire day while we were here, I remembered what it’s like not to question any of that. And it rocked.

2. Phones rock.

I love sharing my experiences and thoughts with the world. I love being able to take notes when something cool happens and email them to myself so I can write blog posts like this. I love capturing moments with lenses, and seeing what my friends are up to on the other side of the world, and being able to let my parents know I’m safe. I hate Apple maps, but I am grateful every time I open it that I don’t have to unfold a blanket-sized paper one. Thank you, technology.

3. Walks are the best.

I forgot how much I love these things! You get active! They generate thought!  You see cool things! You smell the roses! They make you feel like typing sentences with exclamation marks!

4. So is the sun.

Sunshine doesn’t fix everything, but it fixes a lot. I’ve been trying to figure out why I’ve felt so weird and unmotivated lately, but then I remembered it’s because I’ve been spending the past month with my head in a hood stomping through snow and cursing at the cold. Sunshine feels good and it reminds you to be grateful for life. It recharges your soul. When there’s sun, take advantage of it. Where there’s sun, go. I like to think of it as a natural medicine or herb or drug. Get the D. (But use protection, specifically sunscreen, thank you and you’re welcome)

5. Things can be mended. 

Bad things happen. People will hurt you, intentionally and unintentionally. But I know two things. One, people make mistakes. Sometimes really big ones. And two, people can change. I know these things because I’ve done both. The second was a result of the first. Humans suck, and you and I are not excluded. But humans can also be really great, too. Forgiveness is hard, but it is important. And I’m still learning. The third thing I’ve learned may be the most important, and that is that things can be mended. Broken friendships and relationships get better with time (key word is time). But know that while some things fix themselves, a lot of things things don’t fix themselves—at least not at first. It involves communication, and effort, and proof that that person is not just trying to make things better for the heck of it, but that they actually want things to be better.

6. Mending looks different every time.

No scar or crack heals or gets filled in the same way or in the same amount of time. I’ve learned that you can’t put an expiration date on hurt.

7. Some people just won’t get it.

Every situation is unique. Some things mend differently than others, and not everyone will understand. And it’s not your job to convince them.

8. What people think of you is not a reflection of you.

It is a reflection of themselves, or where they are at in their head or day or process. I’ve discovered that when people are being rude, it’s usually because something has happened to them. If a person says something mean, it’s because of an experience they’ve had or a perception they’ve created in their reality that isn’t necessarily true of your reality (Thank you, The Four Agreements). When someone is acting annoyed or irritated, they are dealing with emotions they may be handling or hiding. I know that doesn’t really make what they say or do any better or less hurtful. But it helped me stop questioning myself and my actions when I realized this. There is something that person has to figure out for themselves. Let them, and you go on with yo bad self.

9. Sometimes what other people think of you is a reflection of you.

Are you noticing patterns?

10. Your parents are your ultimate teachers.

Stop right now and go thank (or give thanks if they are no longer with you) your parents for being them. I don’t care if they are or were the best or the worst—they provided you with a foundation for your life to mold and learn from. I am infinitely grateful for mine. I have realized so much about myself and my habits; who I want to be and who I don’t. How your parents raised you and where they raised you is a part of your life story—more than you even know. I realized this while talking to my friends this week. This is my moment to tell the world that my parents are fantastic, fantastic people. I love them not only for giving me life, being in my life, and providing for me in life, but teaching me what I know and how I know it.

11. Nature is talking to us.

I’m going to be honest with you. I’m 21, and big waves freak me out. But I noticed something: the big waves were never as scary as I thought they were when I swam straight into them, or turned around and rode with them. But they were always scary when I ran away and hope they didn’t hit me. Nature is always trying to tell us something. Catch my drift?

12. Seagull attacks are a real thing.

A seagull literally took a bite out of my friend’s sandwich. I couldn’t make this stuff up, folks. But what was really fascinating and infinitely less upsetting was the evening we watched a 12-year-old boy play with a flock of seagulls by leading them with a single Cheez-it. Magic. At first I was terrified for his life, then I laughed with him, then I was transfixed in pure awe. It was one of the most beautiful things I have seen a very long time. I felt liberated through this little boy; he was having the time of his life. He was so innocent. So free. The most amazing part is that he was in control, and he didn’t even know it. This made me think about my own life.

13. The times you feel the most lost, you never actually are. 

This is a common theme in my life, because I’m graduating and I’m scared and sad. This would not be the first time, but I’ve realized that this is probably going to happen a lot in life and I am okay with it. I started thinking of all the transitionary periods in my life. I look back and realized I got through all of them. Every single one. And the best part is, when I think about where I am now, every “next” stage turned out even better than I imagined it. I felt lost, but now I realized I never actually was. I was just scared. The plan for our lives is already mapped out, and even better than we know. A friend told me “If you don’t feel lost, then you are safe. And if you’re safe, then you will never grow.” Fear is a sign that you are putting yourself out of your comfort zone, and that’s where all the good stuff happens. Guess what? Everything is going to be okay.

14. Light follows.

Just like the seagulls, light follows. Or at least—that’s what we thought. We watched the sun set every night. The first evening, I noticed the reflection of the sun in the water created a path of orange light leading straight to my feet in the sand. I smiled to myself. A sign from the universe just for me, right? The second evening, my friend Meredith said something about it. I told her I was thinking the same thing yesterday, and we shared the moment. The third evening, we noticed the path of light led back to us yet again. All of a sudden, it was not cute anymore. I walked down the beach to solve the mystery. As it turns out, the trail of sun traveling across the water directly to my feet followed me wherever I went. It followed everyone. I was pissed! This was supposed to be a sign, what the heck! I returned with the bad news. They gasped in horror. Then we laughed for a long time. I felt so stupid. We were mad the magic wasn’t ours. But then I realized that wasn’t true. The magic was ours; it everyone’s. And that made it even more real. The world doesn’t revolve around me. It doesn’t revolve you. There’s enough light to go around.

The world is a big place. But the sun will find and follows us wherever we go.