Recently a close friend of mine had a baby daughter. When I held her for the first time, I was overwhelmed with how much love I felt for this tiny person that I was just meeting. All I wanted to do was teach her everything I know, right there, so that she could have the happiest life. While there are so many things I wanted to tell her, as I thought more about it, there were a few things that stood out as important life advice for a zero year old.
1. Be kind. No exceptions. It will feel difficult at times, because others can be so cruel, but I promise you that karma is real and it will eventually come back to you tenfold. It may take almost 30 years, but there will be a moment in time where the world gives you everything you deserve. If you've been kind, there will be incredible people around to you celebrate with.
2. Spend a week binge-watching Friday Night Lights. More than once. It may sound like a waste of time, but it is absolutely worth it. Pay attention to the story lines, to the character development, and to Tami Taylor. You'll learn more than you think possible.
3. Listen to your parents. Sadly, you won't want to. You will believe with all of your being that they are wrong, and you will disagree with at least half of the advice they are offering. They will always, always be right. I don't know how it happens, but it does. And your life will be so much easier if you accept this early on, rather than wishing at 29 that you'd done what they recommended.
4. You don't have to have sex if you don't want to. There will likely be a man who makes you feel otherwise, but he's an asshole and he will never be worth it.
5. When you do decide to have sex, be careful (but have so much fun doing it). Talk to your mom (or dad, or me, or whoever) and your doctor about birth control. It is SUPER awkward the first time, but you won't regret it. Get tested. Be honest with new partners about your past. Don't read Fifty Shades of Grey.
6. Use your blinker. Actually just follow all of the driving rules.
7. Fall in love with as many things as you can. Even though I stole this line from a movie, it is so true. A band, a place, your friends, a significant other, a pet, a quote, a book, a brand... all of them. It will make you whole, and likely you will find others who appreciate the same things, creating an incomparable bond.
8. Learn to love some form of exercise early in life. Whether it's running, yoga, spinning, or those weird work out DVD's -- just do it. (Pun intended).
9. Don't get a tramp stamp. You will regret it.
10. Find something that offers you peace when you need it most. There will be times that you feel overwhelmed, anxious, scared, lost, lonely or sad (I am so sorry for this, but I promise you that even though it feels miserable, these feelings will pass). Whether it's meditation, therapy, writing, or singing, find something that is there for you when you're feeling badly. Rely on that to get you through.
11. Treat others how you want to be treated. They call it the golden rule for a reason.
12. Don't bring your cell phone to the dinner table. Enjoy the time you're spending with the people around the table. Some day they might live on the other side of the country and you will miss them with all of your being.
13. If he doesn't treat you like you're the most important person on the planet, he's not the one. You may want him to be, but honey, he's not.
14. Learn a good joke. And choose your karaoke song at an early age. You'll need both more often than you may think.
15. Give back. You are a lucky girl, but unfortunately not everyone has what you will. Donate your time, your love, your hair, some extra cash... anything you can spare.
I can't wait to watch you grow up, sweet girl.
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