For my goddaughter.
Here’s what I’ve learned.
Do not be afraid to let yourself feel. If someone breaks your heart, break that locket they gave you, the one with “S+E” engraved on it. Take 2, no, take 5 plates out of the cabinet and smash them, then stomp on the fine china until it looks like there was a mini blizzard in your kitchen. Do not be afraid to scream at the people who do you wrong, or the ones who do you right. If you feel it, show it. Nothing good will come out of keeping the fire inside, trust me. You will end up burning yourself to the ground, and you are not a forest fire. You are a hurricane.
Make art. Cover the walls with it, hang it on the fridge and bathroom mirror so everyone has to look at it. Don’t let anyone ever tell you something you created is not good enough, everything you do will be good enough. Make art in the dead of winter, that’s when the world will need it the most. Make art in the bloom of summer, that’s when you will feel the love radiating from your fingertips. Just please, remember to create.
Travel. Any chance you get to see the world, take it. Even if it’s just a trip to Walmart go. Get in the car, get on the bike, ride the skateboard, walk, run, it doesn't matter how you get there, just go. There is a deep rooted need in human beings to adventure. We are all born with a hole in our soul, sit still, ignore the beating of your heart and the sounds of your insides. Can you feel it, that hole? Good. Now let me tell you something about that hole, no other human can fill that hole, contrary to popular belief. No piece of clothing or cellphone will fill it. The only thing that will ever, ever fill that empty space is the unknown. So, get out there kid, see this beautiful world and all its forgotten nooks and crannies. You will never regret it, this I promise you.
Don’t ever think that you need another person to complete you. I can’t even begin to count the number of nights I wasted telling myself that all I needed was a lover, a shoulder to cry on, in order to be happy. The belief that we all have a “soul mate” is bullshit. It has taken me 18 years to realize that I have been my own soul mate all along, just as you are your own. So spend time with yourself, you’ll find she’s much more beautiful than you ever could have imagined. Take time to just be. Don’t always feel like you have to be doing something, sometimes the healthiest thing in the world is to let yourself go.
Be kind. Be kind. Be kind. If there is one thing I can teach you it is this. Don’t let other people’s bitterness attach to you, like some sort of parasite. Always, always, smile at strangers. Hand out kind words like candy on Halloween. You will never be able to know what others are going through, remember that.
Read. I would never be the person I am today if I hadn't fallen in love with books. On The Road taught me more about myself than any class ever did. Bukowski was the only person I had during some long, dark nights. Plath held my hand as I struggled with urges to end everything, and talked me back from my ledge. Looking for Alaska was like looking into my own soul and reading the small print. If anyone ever makes fun of you for reading, just wink, and kindly say “fuck you”, and turn the goddamn page.
School is not, nor will it ever be, the most important thing in your life. Do you know what the most important thing is? Keeping a hold of who you are. You are going to fail a test, I promise. But you are not going to fail life. When teachers hand you back tests with “F” sprawled in red ink, look them in the eyes, and say “Thank you very much.” Hold your head high when you don’t remember what the vocab means. Don’t let them get into your head, keep your true self guarded. You will already be smarter than them all if you do this.
If anyone ever makes you think you can’t do something because you’re a girl, do it. Ride a chopper, blow past all those assholes who laughed when you tried to talk to them about oil coolers and brake rotors. Get tattooed with portraits of Waylon, Johnny and Merle. Spit in the dirt then rub it under your eyes to show them all this life is a battle and you’re not here to fuck around. Run like a wild horse, howl like a wolf, fight like a lion. You’re going to meet so many boring people in this life, write them off. One day you’ll find your people. In the desert, on the highways, behind the tattoo shops, between graffiti filled walls. Oh, you’ll find them and you’ll know.
Hit this world like the fiercest tornado but be gentle with the details.
And carpe the hell out of your diems.