Some important lessons I have learned at almost 26 that I would like to tell my 13-year-old self about
1. When it comes down to it every person will put themselves and the people closest to them first. You will turn out to do exactly the same. Don‘t beat yourself up over it. Selfishness is human nature.
2. Your selfishness should, however, not stop you from keeping your mind and heart open and treating people kindly. For every horrible war crime there is an act of sudden, inexplicable gentleness in the world. There‘s balance, and you can add to the good side.
3. When it comes to people you‘re into, you have a type. There is nothing wrong with that, even though some people will claim you have horrible taste. Don‘t listen to them.
4. There is also nothing wrong with wanting someone or something society tells you you shouldn‘t want. The realm of wanting is yours alone and guilt has no place in it.
5. You will have crushes and think you‘re in love. It will be frustrating and obsessive. This is part of your personality. You will, in time, get better at handling it.
6. When you truly fall in love you will fall hard. Let it happen. Write poetry. Write songs. Indulge the feeling, because that feeling is unique and if you try to kill it, it will never come back as it should be.
7. And then, for the love of God, TELL PEOPLE YOU‘RE IN LOVE WITH THEM. Rejection is the worst thing that can happen, and even that will teach you something about the both of you.
8. You will be attracted to people who are not attracted to you. You will fall in love with people who don‘t love you back. And you will be rejected by somebody you will have been in love with for a long time. However, this rejection will also give you something beautiful, because the person who rejected you will still love you in every other way that counts and it will move you deeply how they didn’t run away from you even when faced with something as terrifying as your uncontrolled emotions.
9. Flirt with people you’re attracted to. Flirt with girls. Flirt with boys. Flirt with everything in between. There‘s nothing more exciting than a room full of people and you have so much to learn.
10. Have sex. Have as much sex as you want. Do NOT feel bad about it, ever. And when you have sex, do not see it as the be-all, end-all. Be respectful, be safe, honour your partner, honour yourself, have a blast. Make it intimate and hot and worth both your time, whoever you‘re with.
11. You will have sex with people you don‘t find visually attractive but who have deeply attractive personality traits. This will take you by surprise, but it will also lead to some very positive encounters.
12. You will have bad sex with hot people, and you will be disappointed. That‘s a fact of life. Relax. Move on.
13. You will also have sex with somebody you are in love with. It will be different. It will change you. You will not be able to go back once you‘ve done it, because you felt a touch of something divine on your soul for a moment, and you will honour that memory for years to come. You will also know that something like that is rare and beautiful and you will wait impatiently until it happens again.
14. Dreaming is something wonderful. Do not feel bad for doing it even when people tell you you really should be more realistic. Your life will be a lot richer and your songs a lot better than theirs.
15. Be enthusiastic about things you love. Read that fanfiction. Write that fanfiction. Text your friends about that fanfiction. Squeal, grin, enjoy.
16. Hug your friends frequently and tell them you love them often. Honour their time and give them your attention. They are the ones who choose to stick around with you through this shitshow, flaws and breakdowns and all, and that‘s really fucking awesome.
17. You will have bad body image days. You will have pathological eating patterns. You will be unfair to yourself. It will get better.
18. Most of the terrible repercussions you imagine in ANY situation will never come to pass.
19. Loneliness is a part of you. You never needed to learn how to deal with it. It has always been there, and it doesn’t scare you. You will realise this gradually and it will make you smile. It will also make your life a whole lot easier.
20. You are very lucky to have the parents you have, and you will learn that having parents like yours is not the norm. Be good to them. Give them love and attention, even if you have a shit day. They are human. They have flaws. And in their flawed existence they love you unconditionally. That is something that can never be replaced. Be aware of their sacrifices and honour their gifts.
21. Your parents will not be there forever. This realisation will scare you shitless. It will still scare you shitless at 26. The confrontation with THEIR mortality will leave a much bigger impression on you than the confrontation with your own.
22. If you don‘t want to have children, if you don’t want a long-term relationship, if you don‘t want to settle down, that‘s okay. If you change your mind about any of these things, that‘s okay, too. Live for yourself, not for anybody else. This alone will make you happy.
23. There is no external reason for your existence. This realisation will feel huge and insignificant at the same time. It will also be very freeing.
24. You will find a profession you love and when you’re working in it you will feel like that‘s what you‘re supposed to be doing. This, too, is not the norm. Be grateful for it.
25. You will travel alone often and you will love it. The Castel Sant‘ Angelo will bring you to tears, and the Lago Lugano will soothe your soul. Allow these sights to touch you. Nobody will be there to feel your emotions with you, but that will not make them any less meaningful.