Be nice, even when the person you’re talking to isn’t nice to you. These are the people who need your kindness most. Someday they may come back into your life and tell you how much your compassion meant to them. And if they don’t, let them go. You’ve got your own road to walk and nothing to regret along the way.  

Don’t talk down to yourself, limit your abilities, or restrict your potential. The world is full of voices that will make you believe you are unworthy. Your voice must be the loudest voice you hear and you must tell yourself every day, “I am enough. I am worthy. I am strong.” Because you are all of these and so much more. 

Always eat the cake. When you get invited to a party or you’re celebrating an achievement, don’t hold back. Eat dessert. Share a toast. Laugh and be merry. Life is too short to tell yourself, “Oh, I really shouldn’t…” Erma Bombeck said it best, “Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the ‘Titanic’ that waved off the dessert cart.”

When you make a mistake, learn from it. Don’t be ashamed. No one is perfect. The biggest mistake you can make is not admitting your mistakes. Some days you’ll find yourself making more mistakes than “doing things right,” but rightness is overrated. The recipe for waffles came from a failed attempt at pancake batter. Remember that.

Surround yourself with people who make you feel like you. These are your people. Though different people will bring out different sides of you, the key to finding your people is to pay attention to who makes you feel most yourself. When you meet kindred spirits, however you meet them, hold onto them. Treasure them. They will become part of you.

Always believe that your actions matter. You have a voice, a mind, and a heart. No matter how small you may believe your words, thoughts, and feelings to be, THEY ARE HUGE. Never shy away from speaking what’s in your mind and your heart. Change doesn’t happen overnight. It happens because people like you believe they can “be the change.”

Understand that love is a miracle. You won’t know why or how this person can love you back as much as you love them, and that’s okay. Don’t question it. Love is magical. It’s not supposed to make sense. Just believe that whatever brought you two together will keep you together as long as you hold on to each other tight, tighter, tightest.

Don’t wave the white flag until you have to wave it. Everyone goes through tough times in life. During these moments you’ll want to give up, and sometimes, you might. Admitting that something is too hard doesn’t make you less strong. But don’t shy away from a challenge if it’s one you can rise above. History is filled with people who refused to accept defeat. That’s why they made history.

Keep learning. Graduations, degrees, and more degrees have a way of making us feel like we’ve come to an end in our learning, but the truth is, they are just the beginning. Learn something new every day. Stay informed. Keep asking questions. Keep trying new things. Keep applying what you’ve learned to your life and the lives of those around you. Knowledge is infinite and so is ignorance. 

Never doubt that I love you. No matter where you are. No matter when it is. Whether I’m on the other side of the couch, the phone, the world, or the heavens — the love I feel for you knows no bounds. It is ageless, spaceless, and timeless. If or when you have a child, you will understand how I feel and all of my attempts to explain how much I love you will all make sense.