ADVICE I WISH I HAD GOTTEN 10 YEARS AGO

Thank you @mkz for this thoughtful request!
  1. Know your values. They will be your guide.
    What are your core beliefs? What do you stand for? What kind of person do you want to be? Getting clear about this will anchor you. It will enable you to surf the inevitable vicissitudes of life with greater peace and less trauma. (Hint: Nothing to do with appearances, achievements, approval or affluence.)
  2. There's no "there" there.
    You're putting things off. You're denying yourself. You're compartmentalizing because you think, "Once ABC happens, then I can XYZ." But once ABC happens, another goal will take its place. No one ever arrives. The arrival point is a mirage. Life is a state of motion. Have goals and pursue them with discipline & focus, but know that it's less about the result and more about the experience. The "there" you seek is right here, right now.
  3. Some people are not for you. Let them go with love.
    There are two types of people: your people & not your people. Sometimes people will switch categories unexpectedly. This is not personal. This is life. Resist the urge to force it or mourn it. In your heart of hearts, you know who your people are. Let the others go. Wish them well and send them love (even if they have been unkind). You will feel lighter.
  4. Comparison is the worst form of violence against yourself.
    Your life has nothing to do with anyone else's life. When you really think about the arbitrariness of comparison -- your classmate, your neighbor, your peers who happen to be geographically close -- you realize just how ridiculous it is. Healthy competition is great in certain contexts. But ingrained and persistent comparison (trademarks of the bizzaro industry you have chosen!) are a waste of your precious time and energy.
  5. Expect more in your relationships.
    What you put up with is what you will get. Value yourself. No one will until you do. You deserve to feel happy, loved, wanted, seen and respected. Everyone does. Maybe start therapy sooner than later to work some of this stuff out. It's so good for you!
  6. Abandon hierarchical thinking. It has no use.
    The "cool" kids will age out of the spotlight and be replaced. Untouchables will become touchable. Icons will reveal their flaws. What you worship from the outside probably looks very different from the inside. Consider equality & equanimity. Despite appearances and titles, no one person is more important than any other. The notions of hierarchy with which you reaffirm your "less than" narrative are within your power to change.
  7. Your appearance is not your currency.
    You are very concerned with beauty, approval and the numbers on the scale. I understand. You exist in a society and in an industry where these remain strong themes. You're so much more than that. You're grossly underestimating yourself & giving away your power. Surround yourself with people who are interested in going deeper -- people who inspire & challenge you. Bonus Tip: focus on being strong & healthy, and the appearance stuff will take care of itself.
  8. Speak up.
    Why are you whispering?! We all have tells. Your tell is that you whisper. The sound gets caught in your throat and you make yourself very small and quiet so as not to offend, displease, or be subjected to judgment or rejection. SCREW THAT. I mean, don't be an asshole, obviously. Listen more than you talk. But speak with conviction! Speak up! Make declarations! Make mistakes! Live louder because why the hell not?
  9. Stop eating dairy.
    I know you love TCBY. I know you love Brie. There are other things to love that don't make you feel like this afterward. Pay attention to what you're putting in your body. When your body reacts, TAKE NOTE. You will not be young forever & you have one body in this incarnation -- treat it with respect. You don't know it yet, but healthy digestion is going to change your life.
  10. Exercise.
    Find a type of exercise you love -- anything else will make you miserable, and that's never worth it. And then do it all the time! You are a body-mind-soul being. If one is out of whack, there is little hope for the other two. Plus, endorphins make you happy.
  11. Trust your gut.
    You have excellent instincts. Hone and honor them. Do not ignore them.
  12. Forgive.
    Forgive your parents, your lovers, the world, the injustices and most of all yourself. Forgiveness will set you free. It will also inoculate you against cyclical conversations recounting pointless facts about perceived dramas.
  13. Take action.
    Make something. Build something. Try something. You have a tendency to get stuck in your head. I know it's really fun to sit at Coffee Bean with your actor friends and talk for hours on end. But maybe instead of ordering another latte, GET UP & MAKE SOMETHING HAPPEN. No one is going to appear and hand you the life you want. You must take an active role in building it. Walk in the direction of your fears.
  14. Go easy on yourself.
    Seriously, girl, it's only life. It's a series of experiences. And you're doing great! You're right where you need to be. I love your drive, but there's no need to be in such a rush.