i. Do not fall in love thinking you’ll float. Ready your limbs to drown in its fickle waters. Perhaps stuff your pockets with rocks so you’ll hit bottom faster — the sooner you break, the sooner you’ll resurface to heal.
ii. But do fall in love. Do it once. Twice. Seven times even. Do it until you’re not so much as falling, but rising into it — until it makes you someone you no longer have to mimic. Because it’s someone you are.
iii. Get yourself a sturdy pair of running shoes. Nothing fancy. Lace them up when your thoughts are most enraged. Or when you need to go breathless to really breathe.
iv. Cut ties when you start saying yes for the wrong reasons.
v. Home can come in the form of a writing prompt, a mentor, a graffitied hiking trail, a friend. Or a drunken piece of baked ziti pizza.
vi. Take measures to practice self-care like you’d practice perfecting cursive. Slow, smooth, steady. Beautiful.
vii. Tell them you’ll go far for the sake of the child in you who dreamt big. Who wanted to be a poet. Or President. Or both. Take that child by the hand and feed them courage like red ripened grapes.
viii. Store your failures in your pockets like loose change. Collect them to remind yourself that though heavy, their lasting impact can buy you success when it costs you most. (You might not need rocks after all.)
ix. Know your buzzwords and your buzz.
x. Keep track of time. It’s stubborn and finds no sense in staying put. Keep it close — in your belt buckle or sleeve cuff. Or bite down on it with an eager crescent smile. One that, though changed, is somehow still your own.