1. You are beautiful. Not just because of what you look like, but because you’re here today against all odds.
2. You never need to apologize for doing the right thing for yourself. There’s a difference between being selfish and making sure that you are safe, happy, and loved.
3. You never owe anyone anything. Not sex, not a relationship, not a friendship, nothing past basic civility (unless they’re completely cut off, which is also your choice). Don’t feel bad for needing to cut off toxic friends. Don’t feel selfish for leaving a relationship you’re not happy in. You don’t need any more of a reason than it’s best for you.
4. Having sex (and liking it) does not make you a bad person. You aren’t damaging some abstract, antiquated idea of purity because you’re having fun. Just, please be safe!
5. You don’t have to dress to please anyone but yourself. Feel like wearing your combat boots with a floral dress and a Cosby sweater? Go for it! You’re not there to make anyone else happy.
6. There probably is no God. And that’s a good thing. Free yourself from the binds of the past and look to the stars. There’s so much meaning in the world without having to get up early on Sunday and feeling bad about yourself. Live for today.
7. Stop judging other women over the choices they make. Stop talking badly about other women. We’re all each other’s got. In this crazy patriarchal world, we need all the love and support we can get from each other. Who cares if she’s fat or homely or has a moustache? What does that have to do with you? You’re better than that, honey.
8. Trust your feelings. Analyze them, but recognize, embrace, and trust them. All women are not irrational, psycho, crazy bitches. That’s a myth used to keep us quiet. Speak out. Get angry. Cry over weddings in commercials. Just feel.
9. Your body hair is not any more shameful or disgusting or unhygienic than any man’s. Don’t shave if you don’t want to. Try it for a month. See what you like.
10. Vanity is a social construct. Why would any woman need to apologize for loving herself? Love your skin, your hair, your thick thighs, your small boobs, your big boobs, your smile, your eyes, your hands, your jewelry, your clothes, your jokes, your neck, your tummy, yourself. Love it all. Embrace every “imperfection” as a declaration of just how fabulous you are. You don’t have to be “perfect” or even at your goal, if you’re trying to make a change, to love yourself and your body. It does some pretty amazing things.
11. Follow your passions with unabashed joy. Like knitting? My Little Pony? Reading SciFi? Then love the hell out of it and never apologize.
12. You can ask for help. Your friends will be there for you, especially if you know how to ask effectively. You can’t be your best for anyone else if you can’t be your best for you.
13. You can’t help how you feel about any given situation, only how you act and how you make others feel. There’s no use in beating yourself up for being jealous or upset or apathetic or sad. Accept the emotion, and follow it until you can be okay with it.
14. Cooking is easy. Pick a few vegetables and a few cheeses you like and learn how to cook them. Then add any other ingredients you like. If you like everything going into the dish, you’ll probably like the dish!
15. Educate yourself. In every way that you can. Foster an insatiable curiosity within and feed it with knowledge. Read Wikipedia articles about things that interest you and keep clicking on suggested pages until you learn about something completely new. Take a new class. Follow an informative blog on tumblr. Listen to public radio. Learn about your own female anatomy. Read everything you can.
16. Read the ingredients on everything you buy. Can’t pronounce it? Consider a whole food instead. Good food in, good energy out.
17. Put effort into a few strong relationships. Make a weekly dinner date or a two-person book club. Don’t let “busy” be an excuse.
18. Don’t accept anyone who puts you down. No real friend or lover would say things that make you feel bad or ask you to change. You are always good enough. You deserve to be surrounded by positivity.
19. Take a women’s studies class. Or at least read some elementary feminist literature. It’s empowering and eye-opening and can really help you learn to love yourself.
20. Watch documentaries. Science, politics, sex, drugs, food, anything.
21. Use your words carefully. In an argument, it may mean the end of a friendship. In public, it may change the word. There is always a correct way to say whatever you want to say. You can let her down easy, you can show them you’re in charge, you can nail that interview, you can nail that hottie. Your words have power and you have power.
22. Every decision you make lets you create the person you want to be. Do everything with intention. Make your own choices. Let every bracelet on your wrist tell a story about you. Plaster your car in bumper stickers. Collect little knick knacks that mean something to you. Surround yourself with people who love you and aren’t afraid to show it. Get tattoos if you want. Shave half your head. Get a pet lizard.
23. Do. Anything. You. Want. Dream, love, riot, cuddle, protest, cook, sew, shoot, edit, write, calculate, nurture, analyze, argue, cry, fight, walk, speak, sleep, sing, sweat, eat, read, make, do… just do it all on your terms and do it with passion. There will never be anyone remotely like you. We all descended from the explosions of suns, we are star stuff, and by the most improbable of improbabilities, we are here, and you are here, and it’s about damn time you celebrated every part of you because damnit, you’re special.