03/03/2015 01:28 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Birthday Wishlist: 10 Things I'll Look for When I'm Lost

I'm celebrating my birthday, and everyone's invited! I have no pointed wisdom, but I'll share with you anyway. Don't you feel loved? I hate to-do lists. I'm keeping it light. I'm not making any wordy promises. I'll eat more vegetable and keep up the cardio, but this is no time to be sanctimonious.

I'm just a kid with a party hat and a noisemaker. I'll do what I want, and you'll read this if you choose. This is my list, a gift to myself. These are reminders I'll look for when I'm lost. I'll remember that life is short and I don't matter much. I'll stop and be mindful of how profound simple pleasures are. And I'll just be. I'll be enough.

I have no secrets. Open me, read me, bookmark me where you want. Get out your highlighter if you still do that. Take notes in my margins, where the good stuff is bound to spill out. I'm out here, in the open, no pretense. I despise hiding, skeleton closets, and delicate airs given to people who have zero moral compass and shun responsibility. I'll tell you the truth if you ask me (And even if you don't, usually.) It's my birthday. Knock yourself out.


10 Things I'll Look for When I'm Lost:

1. There's only one you. Yeah, it's cliche. Get over it. Stop and think about how absolutely beautiful you are. Now, go ahead. Stop. Look. Take yourself to a mirror. What do you see? The wrinkle over your eye? You thought you needed Botox? Your voice? You found it too cloying to use? Stop it! Fix your eyes on that mirror. Look in it. Really see. Don't just look. See! Who is that? There are things you don't begin to know. Start there. Start seeing.

2. Embrace your body. It needs work? Really huge, revealing statement here: No body is perfect. Isn't that incredible? Love what you got, all of it. Let your big heart sit with your expanding girth. Draw people in with your genuine spirit. Love them as they are. Love yourself this way, too. Not everyone will be so nice to you. Let yourself be nice to you. Stop hiding. Enjoy your body. Your body is a gift, an ever-present, visible reminder that you're here. Right now.

3. Realize you've failed people, and be better next time. You screwed things up? You forgot to follow through, or maybe you didn't want to, and you acted like you forgot? Who cares? I mean, really. Think about it. You messed up. You wronged somebody. Ask for forgiveness. Make amends. Don't overdo it. Just do it. Move on. Now you know better. Keep going. Don't miss anymore opportunities to do the right thing just because you did the wrong thing a few times.

4. Be kind. Not everything's worth fighting for. Some things are. If an adult bullies a kid with special needs, swoop down and let the adult have it. If an adult is stupid enough to be that cruel, they're probably the one with "special needs." If they're incapable of learning, don't bother. Save your beta blocker for when you need it. Don't be a bystander. Don't assume someone else will take care of things. Be kind, and be active. Kindness cannot fail, even when the world tells you otherwise.

5. Don't let anyone tell you love is not the answer. Yes, it is! Enabling is not the answer. Enabling is not love. Enabling is passive and dirty, harmful and dangerous. Trust me. Love is the answer. Love wins. Forgiveness wins. Be soft. Do the right thing. Don't let anyone convince you that love is not worth your time. Don't throw caution to the wind. Don't hurt anyone. Don't move to Guatemala and drink Kool-aid. Don't buy a pair of purple Nikes. I'm no astronomer, but I'm pretty sure love doesn't require that of us.

6. Be weird. Life is short. If people think you're weird, good for them. And awesome for you! You must be doing something well. If you have a pulse, people will find something wrong with you. Suck it up. You're alive, and people will fundamentally dislike you, even if they've never met you. You're not perfect. Woot!

7. Don't try to be perfect. No, seriously. Listen. When you try to act like you're perfect, people sniff the desperation. If you don't believe me, try being desperate around a dog. Let dogs sniff you. Don't overanalyze this. I'm not (that much) of a weirdo. It's basic animal instinct. Sharon Stone makes no pornographic appearances. Sorry to break your heart.

8. Be realistic. With yourself, with others. You're not Sharon Stone. It's okay. Not everybody can be. Don't be callous. Be gentle. Be honest, but stay grounded. People get creeped out by inconsistency. If you're prone to jump from thing to thing, it's all good. Just be realistic about it. Recognize your limitations, and be decent about that, too. Having limits is good practice. Don't be afraid to tell people you have limits. Also, don't max out your limits and then scream at people around you because you forgot to remember you have limits.

9. Forgive yourself. Allow yourself the same grace you give others. It's awkward when you don't. It's like you're begging for acceptance. Don't be that person. Don't be anyone's pawn. If you're totally set on the red Swingline stapler, okay. Just remember, if you're that kind of rigid, you'll be moved to the basement, shuffling paper with a terminal "Case of the Mondays." If you forgive others, no one said you can't forgive yourself, too.

10. Eat cake, and be happy. You lived to see another year. Many people won't. Don't gloat. Don't be a douche. Being happy is not a transgression. Find yourself a Pharrell Williams hat and dance. Dance it out. Always dance. Eat a big piece of cake. It can be a little bigger than the one you pass to the person beside you. Cake is good. You deserve cake.