The human heart was—and remains—a mystery to me. But I’m learning. I have to. —Anthony Bourdain

Be brave.

Life will hit you with all it’s got. It’s going to be devastating. People will tell you that your troubles don’t compare to those who are starving in the streets, who are going through civil war. Ignore them. Your pain is yours that is why it’s important.

Don’t let anybody tell you what matters. It matters to you, it matters.

Don’t let anyone give you a timeline of what you should be doing at your age, comparing you to others. Do things at your own time. Fall in love at 20, 30, or 60. Do not shortchange yourself to a life that means fitting in, becoming what they need you to be. You have to live with what you choose, who you choose, and that doesn’t have a deadline.

be someoneBut if you’re the type to follow the path, do it. If it feels right. If that is what makes you happy, do it. Find the right guy at 21. Make plans. Marry him at 26, have your first child at 27. Breastfeed. Send them to great schools. Follow the path mostly traveled.

Life doesn’t come with cheat sheets. There is no clear way of how to live it “right”. You have to choose the path that feels right. If your gut is nagging at you about something, listen. Think about it. Figure out why it doesn’t feel natural to you, or something seems off. Change why it is. And as that ubiquitous song goes, “Let it go.” if it doesn’t quite fit. You’ve tried hard enough. You’ve fought for it enough.

Believe that you can do it because you were built to withstand pain, obstacles in your path. Your support system, no matter how obvious or unorthodox, will help you if you can’t do it alone. There are hundreds of ways and a myriad of places where you can connect to others that are going through the same thing, as long as you decide to find it and look hard enough.

Break barriers if you need to. It’s difficult and it will hurt, but it will make you stronger. What you’ve gone through will change you, and hopefully make you wiser for the future. If not, you can chalk it up to life experience, or an amazing story to tell on your next first date.

Love until it hurts, but don’t give up yourself to do it. Make yourself matter because those who love you will treat you like you matter to them. They will not hide you. They will not hurt you, physically, emotionally, psychologically. If you tell them it hurts and if they don’t stop, figure out why. Help them stop a cycle of abuse, of themselves and you. If you’re scared, ask for help.

Love yourself. Bravery is following your own path, and too often, we love others more than ourselves and lose the path we were meant to take. Be brave enough to speak up when you feel unheard. Don’t let them step all over you. Heal.

How brave are you today?


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