1. There will be some days when you close your eyes while crossing the street, maybe because you want to see what fate has in store for you, or maybe because your depression is running rampant again and you don’t know how to calm her. It’s okay. I will still love you.
2. There will be a year, or a series of years when your birthday doesn’t feel special. Celebrate anyway. Because people spent time baking you a cake and buying you cards and even if they’re your family and they’re obligated to, they still love you. Cherish that love. Revel in it. It is the best gift you will ever receive.
3. You will learn that the saddest word in the English language is stay. Whether it’s your mother’s voice whispering it before you leave for college, or your ex-lover’s desperate screams as you walk out of the house, it will always be a hard word to hear. Sometimes you should listen to it, other times you shouldn’t. Trust yourself. Go with your gut.
4. Along with hearing the word stay, you will also hear the word why from every person who is remotely related to you. Why did you get that tattoo? Why did you try to kill yourself? Why aren’t you married yet? You don’t have to answer them. Be selfish. Keep somethings to yourself.
5. Some nights you won’t be able to sleep. You will lie awake at 2 am and contemplate existentialism and wonder if the French had a point. Get up. Get out of your bed. Do something. Because even if there is no God, what you do matters, who you are matters. You matter to me.
6. Some days you will want to run away and never return. So go. Drive to a small town in the Northwest, maybe Oregon, and settle down there for a while. Tell people your name is Elizabeth, because you loved Jane Austen as a child and because this a town full of strangers and who’s to know the difference? Don’t be selfish. Call your mother each night and remind her that you love her. Come back home when you find yourself seeing your sadness painted in the shadows, and when you feel more at home in the arms of a stranger than on your own.
7. There will be several nights when you lose yourself in the medicine cabinet, because liquor and morphine seem like a faster cure than time. It’s okay. I will still love you in the morning.
8. One day, in the midst of work, you will learn to forgive. It will start out with a simple reminder of the past, maybe a facebook notification from an old schoolmate or a wedding announcement from an ex-lover. In that moment you will learn that yearning for the past isn’t romantic, it’s stupid, and that if Gatsby had just let go of the green light he would’ve lived. So forgive your past, it didn’t know any better, and move on.
9. Leaving home will hurt, but soon you will learn that home isn’t a place but a feeling, and that there is a compass on your heart that points directly to that feeling. Follow that compass. Don’t get sidetracked by boys who don’t care or alcohol that doesn’t forgive. If you follow that compass, no matter how lost you get, you will always have a home.
10. The hardest lesson you will ever learn will be to love yourself. But you can do it. There will always be days when you hate yourself, days when you wish you had never been born. But darling you are beautiful, and if Shakespeare had met you you would’ve inspired his 18th sonnet, and if Monet had known you he would’ve given up painting water lilies and chosen to paint you instead. I know it’s hard to love yourself, but sometimes it’s okay to be a little selfish with your love.
11. When you begin to feel worthless, remember that the stars died for you. You are made of elements that are thousands of years old, elements that make up every atom of your being. When you want to cut your wrists, remember that the souls of stars live in your veins. Don’t kill them. Don’t be selfish.
12. Some days will be beautiful. Live for those days. Live for the days when the sun shines on your soul and the smile on your face isn’t forced. Live for the days when you don’t give a fuck what anyone thinks because your scars are a part of your story and you don’t need someone else’s approval to wear them with pride.
Live for the life you always wanted but were too scared to pursue.
Live for you. Live for me. Live for every person who has ever loved you, for the people who have come before you so that you may be here today.
Live for the fire that burns in your soul, that tells you: keep going, you’re almost there, just a little farther. Because when Rome burned down the emperor didn’t run away, he stayed and he sang for his people. Stay. Sing for your people. Sing for us.
Are you listening? Because this is your life, singing a siren song to capture your attention and steer away from the rocks, to guide you back home.