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20 Semi-Important Things I’ve Learned Over 20 Semi-Important Years

1. No one is paying nearly as much attention to you as you are to yourself. Trust me. You can walk around most of the day with your fly open, and approximately 1.5 people will notice, and there’s an extremely slim chance any of them will notify you to this open barn door situation. 

2. Tea and/or water can fix just about anything. Hair dull? Drink more water! Breaking out? Put some water in your body! Feeling stressed? Green tea, it does wonders. Sterile? Ginseng can supposedly fix that and they put it in some teas, go for it. Stomach hurting? Need some focus? Peppermint tea. This is the advice that has won me probably around 50 best answers on the beauty section of Yahoo Ask! Just increase your fluid intake overall. It’ll make your life infinitely better. Once you start peeing colorlessly you won’t go back.

3. Regardless of whether it’s good writing, write when you feel high emotion. A professor told me once that you produced your worst work then, because you’re thinking irrationally and dramatically and you become too attached to the work. Screw that. Write, because getting that shit out on paper (or a word document, whatever works for you) will simply feel better. Sometimes you can’t simply express yourself out loud — put it on paper. It’s the best way to vent, even if you produce less-than-stellar work, and it’s all tear-stained-y. 

4. Don’t let anyone let you feel bad for liking a certain artist/writer/book/band/movie/TV show/comic/actor/restaurant/anything. If they’re being an asshole about what you love, they’re an asshole. Somebody awesome and more worthy of your time is out there who appreciates what you appreciate. Find that person and make friends with them.

5. Speaking of friends, some don’t last forever. Acknowledge this. When it starts to fade, let it go peaceful, and relish the time you had together. Somethings — greek yogurt, ponchos, and (hopefully) Sperrys — will have their heyday, then fade. Friendship is one of these things. Don’t cling on to something that isn’t working. It’ll start to suck. Things will get dramatic and messy. 

6. If you’re going to buy anything fan-related, get a mug. You’ll use it for ages, it’ll alway fit, and quirky mugs accessorize better at the office than quirky t-shirts.

7. The memorable things are the unplanned things. Like, taking a 8-hour drive across state to visit a haunted axe murder house. I remember those days more than the in-and-out, day-to-day routine. Do the “stupid” thing occasionally. Oftentimes, it’s far more fun. 

8. Sleep is great and all, and so are clothes and shoes, but experiences are worth…well, their valuable is immeasurable. If you’re going to blow a stupid amount of money or time, do it on something that will make you memories to cherish when you’re old and in some futuristic nursing home alone, because let’s face it, your children sure won’t be visiting you.

9. It’s okay to not know what you want. I left high school with a plan. Two years later, that plan has dissolved into a black nothingness of uncertainty. And you know what? While it’s terrifying and sometimes keeps me up a night, that’s okay. Door will open. Having no plan leaves a lot of options to choose from.

10. On that note, every time you make a choice, a door closes. Pick a university? Doors slam. Want to be an English major? A door shuts. Getting married? Having kids? Life is like research — as my sociologist professor puts it, “a decision-making process.” When I first realized that making choices meant that doors were closing around me, I freaked out. Until, that is, I realized that metaphorical hallway of closed doors was really acting as a pair of blinders, leading me towards a cleaner path with fewer distractions. Understand this, and make peace with it.

11. Meditate. You don’t have to do it every day at the crack of dawn surrounded by sunlight and a circle of candles, and you don’t need to learn how to do it like a master yogi. But it is a good idea to take sometime once or twice a week to sit in silence (or maybe to the slightly fake-sounding rain/nature apps you use to fall asleep), eye closed, breathing deeply. Taking a few minutes of gathered calmness can’t hurt, right?

12. Find a book or a poem that brings you some kind of sense of balance or peace. And then, when you’re distressed, read it. A few of mine include Sarah Kay’s “Point B,” To Kill a Mockingbird, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Hamlet, Pride and Prejudice, and a selection of Keat’s pieces. There is nothing quite like the calm of a familiar piece of literature, especially something associated with a good memory. For instance, Harry Potter strongly reminds me of my mother reading to me before bed when I was a kid. It’s a safe and happy association that can really relax me in panic-y situations. 

13. Potted plants are the best pets. You can leave them alone of a week with nothing more than a cup or two of water. They hardly shed, they’re great listeners, they don’t make much noise or messes, and they’re not overly needy (unless they’re an African Violet, those bitches are essentially the whiney girl who is so desperate for attention and love that you’re driven to deprive her out of sheer disgust. You know the type), and when they die they’re not prone to stinking up the place as a goldfish would. Potted plants are the first step to learning how to care for others. Remember, ease yourself in: plants, cats, fish, babies, dogs. 

14. It never hurts to be genuinely happy for other’s achievements. Pride and happiness for others certainly can’t be forced. However, if you think of it as living vicariously, your friends’ happiness can be pretty awesome to enjoy, right? Besides, sincere friendships are the best friendships, amirite?

15. Compassion is never overrated.

16. And neither is crying. But crying in public can be awkward, so, let’s try to find a place that’s semi-public — like a bathroom, or a secluded park, or your car. And if you have to cry in public, fingers crossed it’s not an ugly, snotty kind of cry. Because those are the ones people steer clear of. A pretty cry, with big, tear-filled eyes and red cheeks are chill enough that people feel safe in approaching you.

17. Being an atheist zealot is no better than being a religious zealot, and being a hateful douchebag is never in style. Take sometime to gain perspective on the opposing view of others. It will help you not only better understand what you’re not a fan of, as well as help you better relate to the person(s) who possess those views. And never forget when debating ideas and philosophies, that’s precisely what you’re arguing against — ideas and philosophies, not people. Be civil. Hurt feelings help no one. 

18. While lively and spirited debates can be all kinds of fun, somethings just are not going to end well. Know your limits and others when arguing sensitive issues, and hesitate in stopping things short once the discussion gets heated, else you’ll have a front row seat to watching a train wreck. Relationships could potentially be ruined when nerves are struck. 

19. Know when to burn your bridges — and do so with great care. You never know who you’ll need in the future.

20. If poetry, tea, or writing can’t fix it, chocolate and rainboots probably can. 

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