To Vene on her 17th birthday:
Happy birthday you little weirdo! Take a pause while I shower you with advice. Life is about to come at you fast and you’re going to need this:
1. Stop worrying what people think. So nobody likes your taste in music or movies or clothes. And you look odd. It’s ok. You’ve got good instincts. And that counts for a lot.
2. Question everything. Your head has been filled with so much bullshit it can be hard to keep an open mind. The only antidote for that is travel. Go anywhere and everywhere your heart desires. If you let fear rule you, you might as well dig a hole, jump in and cover yourself with dirt.
3. People are going to ask you to compromise your soul for money, for fame and for love. Don’t do it! If you set your price so low how do you expect anyone to value you?
4. Quit being such an asshole. You might think it’s cool to be mean or pretentious, but cool is worth fuck all. Be kind. Give love freely without expectation or terms.
5. You know that little obsession you have with hot musicians who have good hair? It’s why you’re so into INXS. Yeah, stick with that. You’ll thank me later.
6. There will be times where your vast imagination and drive will outpace your skills. Don’t get frustrated by this. Get better. And keep getting better. Your ego isn’t going to do you any favors. Your humility and persistence will.
7. Keep your nose clean. When the world is falling apart around you, you’re gonna need your head. Have fun by all means but keep your eyes on the prize. Don’t get sidetracked. You don’t have that much time. You’re going to realize that having goals will allow you to weigh the value of experiences and friends with more objectivity. If they don’t further your goals, what are they doing in your life?
8. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt at least twice. I know, you’re so overprotective of yourself because there’s no one in your corner right now. But you need to soften. You need to learn compassion. And people will surprise you. They’ll come back stronger and better and you’ll want them in your life. And you never know who is going to present you with an opportunity.
9. Learn to keep your mouth shut and your eyes and ears open. If you’re so busy going around telling everyone all the things you know, you don’t get to learn from anyone. Even if the lesson is to get as far away as possible. How can you know that if you’re busy flapping your gums?
10. Some day, and I can’t tell you when, you’re going to look back on the past and see how hard it really was for you. And maybe no one ever will understand. At least they won’t if you don’t learn how to communicate it well enough. It’s gonna be ok. Whatever you’ve gone through, you’re gonna learn to carry it with grace…eventually. In the meantime, it’s gonna hurt like holy hell. Learn to be comfortable with the discomfort.
You’re gonna fuck up, kid. That’s ok. You don’t always learn the lesson right away or the first time around. Just try not to make the same mistake twice. So go get ‘em. It isn’t the splash that counts, it’s the ripples.
Vene, aged 41