The world needs you. It doesn’t need you at a party having read a book about how to appear smart at parties – these books exist, and they’re tempting – but resist falling into that trap. The world needs you at the party starting real conversations, saying, ‘I don’t know,’ and being kind.

Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion, it is not the desire to mate every second minute of the day, it is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every cranny of your body. No, don’t blush, I am telling you some truths. That is just being “in love”, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.

What I’ve figured out in the past couple of years is that you can be shy, but you can also step it up a notch and, you know, be on the level with people. I think the shyer, more insecure people, the really artistic ones, with loads of integrity, loads of pride, often get things done by being an arsehole. It might kill them inside, but that’s the only way they can do it. Everybody who is creative has that to an extent. I think I had it in my head that it was okay to not talk to anyone unless I needed to, and that I could get away with that. But, actually, part of being a good human being is communication and respect. I think the point that I’m trying to make, trying to prove to myself, is that you can be good and kind and easy enough to be around without compromising your artistic integrity. Why did it take me so long to understand that.

Don’t care about the things that will make you feel like shit and the things you cannot change. This can make you a masochist. At the same time, don’t feel guilty for caring about things you shouldn’t care about. Wait, I know that sounds confusing. Care about your ex-boyfriend, Angelina Jolie, an outfit you can’t afford. Dedicate a moment to caring. Drown in it. Soak in it. Live in it. Care some more. And then be done with it. Bye. Bye bye, caring. Hello, perspective and happiness!

For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

Mary Oliver, “When Death Comes

The only thing you should have to do is find work you love to do. And I can’t imagine living without having loved a person. A man, in my case. It could be a woman, but whatever. I think, what I always tell kids when they get out of class and ask, ‘What should I do now?’ I always say, ‘Keep a low overhead. You’re not going to make a lot of money.’ And the next thing I say: ‘Don’t live with a person who doesn’t respect your work.’ That’s the most important thing—that’s more important than the money thing. I think those two things are very valuable pieces of information.

– Grace Paley