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32.

It is my birthday today so let me tell you the things I have learnt in the 32 years I have been alive.

  1. Just because you have an education, does not mean you will get a job.
  2. Just because you have a dream, does not mean it will come true.
  3. Just because you love someone, does not mean they will love you back.
    (Whew. Tough lessons but I learned them all.)
  4. Kindness is underrated. Even when you have no one being kind to you, be kind to others. You could save a life. Or many.
  5. If you see something wrong being done, speak out about it. Being silent means being complicit.
  6. Smile at strangers. They may need a smile as much as you do.
  7. You should not define yourself by the things you don’t have but you do anyway.
  8. Do not love the person you want to be more than the person you are.
  9. It is okay to cry.
  10. Happiness comes in many shapes and sizes. It is the small ones, the every day little joys like the feel of a baby’s hand on your face or your niece’s chatter, that will keep you going.
  11. Pain gains textures and depth when you are older. Things that you used to be able to shrug off and move on become boulders whose sharp edges hurt long after you have broken them down and walked on.
  12. You only recognize the value of memories once you get older. You can unpack a memory–the shape of an island day, the feel of the air, the scent in the air, the sea in the distance, the laughter of your cousins–and live as the person you are for the brief time you remember.
  13. Books are more than just words collected in pages and bound in square shapes. They are the only reasons, sometimes, that you keep being strong to continue on.
  14. When you have nothing else, you have your dignity.
  15. Your parents are people. They will make mistakes.
  16. Do not be afraid to apologise.
  17. Celebrate your differences.
  18. There are things in the world that you will not understand. No matter how you try. Move on.
  19. As difficult as it may be, don’t judge anyone. You cannot define everyone with the same set of words.
  20. Words like ‘never’ ‘ever’ only work for mountains. And even they capitulate to time and weather.
  21. You can only be who you are.
  22. Forgive yourself your flaws. You may be the only person who does.
  23. Friendship requires an equal amount of listening from both parties. You can’t be a friend if you don’t listen.
  24. Also, listen to what your friend doesn’t say.
  25. Envy is ugly. This is the most difficult one but celebrate someone else’s achievements.
  26. No is perfectly acceptable.
  27. Your time is your own and you owe it to no one apart from the people you want to give it to.
  28. The world is a big place and you are powerless to change it unless you have a ton of money and political power. This still doesn’t mean being silent in the face of atrocity.
  29. There are people who will hate you no matter what you do.
  30. There are also people who will not change no matter how long you wait.
  31. Writing rips you apart and you cannot stop doing it.
  32. Sometimes a ‘thank you’ is all it takes.
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