(I gotta tell you, I’m not really an advice columnist. But I started this tradition over in my old space, where I wrote letters to myself, looking for the wiser part of me. But as we journey together, if you have a question? Email me [email@example.com]. I’d love to fumble through towards wisdom with you.)
I’m 21. I have been reading a lot of advice for college grads: here, and here, and here. I’ve read beautiful speeches and cried a bit at them. And then I wanted to know – what would you write in a speech like that? What advice would go on your list?
Love, Reading Too Much?
Dear Reading too much,
I’d almost rather ask you to turn the question on yourself today, love. We go looking for advice often when it’s our own voices we need to hear. You read these speeches and letters to graduates, advice columns, but really in all of them you’re looking for something that resonates as true. I don’t know if my list will resonate with you, and I’d encourage you to make your own list, and throw away all the advice you’ve scribbled down on post-it notes from other people until you’re ready to listen to your own heart.
But, still. The list.
1. Never forget how to handwrite a letter.
2. Real love, you will discover as you walk forward, is mostly about keeping your heart open, letting the open sea and time and long runs in the woods heal and restore you when you’re hurt, and then holding it out again to the world. Real love bends us. It should.
3. The mornings burrowing under sheets and sharing your heart with your roommate are treasures.
4. So are the dance parties. And the family dinners. And the walks where you only took right turns.
5. Grace does not look like being a doormat. I know you think it does because it’s always been that way. You like that habit, it feels safe. But sometimes you have to tell the harder truth. And sometimes, you have to go.
6. Do not, do not, believe that lie you want to believe about what makes you beautiful. You’re beautiful because you are. It’s connected to being, not appearing. It’s connected to standing inside your own skin, not that blue dress in your closet.
7. Keep watch over the world. Keep watch over your heart. But don’t overthink. This is contradictory, somehow, and yet it can be done. I think you’ll learn how to do this, this watchful, loving protection that also waits for things to unfold.
8. Rambling Man. Poison and Wine. Holocene. More than Life. The Pearl. We Don’t Eat. Listen, and repeat.
9. East of Eden. Letters to a Young Poet. Dear Sugar. The Elegance of the Hedgehog. In the Time of the Butterflies. Read, and repeat.
10. Live with a wild love.