I’m 25 today, and I have so little wisdom to show for it. But I know it’s still the beginning, and life is nothing if not fluid. Still, it’s somehow helpful to remind myself what I do know to be true, especially those things that help me deal with stress and worry. This list is not meant to be a downer, it’s just a little bit of a heavyweight. So here are 25 things that I know to be true. True for me, here and now, at this point…
1. Fear is ultimately a luxury. This was first clear to me the night I went home after seeing Paranormal Activity and couldn’t sleep. I stayed up watching It’s Always Sunny until I was just too tired to be afraid anymore. Because that’s the thing. No matter what it is, there will always eventually come a point when you’re just too tired for fear anymore. Your body is actually built that way.
2. I write better than I speak. That is, I process my thoughts better in writing than speech. Maybe it’s the time and space it requires to write. I’m a terrible arguer in the heat of the moment, and I hate being put on the spot. But something about looking at my thoughts in words, having feelings mirrored back at me, helps me to articulate and pinpoint what exactly I mean to say.
3. I feel most fulfilled when I’m good at something. It’s important for me to be good at my job, even if I don’t feel passionate about the work. I always feel passionate about being capable.
4. ”It’s okay” is one of the worst things you can say to someone grieving. ”I want to tell you it’s okay, but I know it’s not” is better. A Grief Observed is the only book you should give.
5. I need alone time sometimes. Like I need time in the sun and a little bit of exercise each week to feel healthy.
6. Cooking something new or elaborate is the best cure for boredom.
7. My life always feels much more interesting when I’m reading a book. I truly nerd out.
8. It will get easier. You will get better at it. It will hurt less. You don’t even have a choice, that’s just how time works.
9. If I give myself ten solid minutes to get used to a new idea, no matter how drastically different, I can usually get on board. I have a really hard time remembering this about myself when faced with change in the moment.
10. They can only say no. My mom always said this when urging to me and my sister, both shy, to ask for things. The worse that can happen is that you don’t get it. No harm done.
11. Weight doesn’t really matter. I once gained about 35 pounds in one month in Italy (thanks, lattes, 3-course dinners, and wine wine wine). I once got terribly thin when I was stressed out of my mind before shooting Snow Jacket. Oscillations are a part of life experiences, good food and good projects are always worth it, and I like how I look at every part of the spectrum.
12. Gender is something we teach and learn more than something we’re born with. I really believe this.
13. Kids are hard. I know just enough about how hard to know I still don’t want them soon. I was a nanny once upon a time.
14. Cats always make me uncomfortable and dogs put me at ease. I feel a kindred spirit in most pups and will never get over how casually cat owners go “oh yeah, she does that” when one scratches you. If dogs behave like cats, people put them down.
15. Thinking is good for you. A middle school math teacher used to jovially yell this whenever we dealt with the most difficult problems. It somehow makes predicaments sound like a luxury.
16. Sweating is good for you. Also: the more you sweat, the less your sweat smells.
17. The best heroes are the girls with rebellious streaks and honorable hearts. My second favorite is usually the wiseass sidekick.
18. I take a lot of pride in being resourceful. Even if it’s just googling, I’m a crazy researcher. I sometimes get unfairly exasperated with people who don’t take the time to google. Maybe it’s an older sibling thing.
19. Hair grows back. Nothing I do to it could ever be permanent.
20. I love New York, but New York is not for me. Los Angeles is home right now.
21. Some things are worth it. Down comforters, mostly. Manicures are not.
22. You should never point a gun at anyone or anything unless you’re prepared to shoot it. My dad told us this when we were little, and the gravity of it has always stayed with me (even though we never had guns). Be careful with all the dangerous things in life. My dad is careful with even his words.
23. I can usually pick up relationships wherever we left off. Adulthood has spread my dearest friends in many different directions, and long-distance check-ins are not my strong suit. I am so, so grateful that this doesn’t mean those friendships are doomed. With many, I seem to fall back into the groove whenever we can touch base. It’s almost an understanding of built-in forgiveness.
24. Eat and sleep before something important. Emotional decisions can be totally valid, so long as you’re not emotional because of exhaustion.
25. Joy is different than happiness. I’ll take joy.