Dear Allison,

Everyone – and I mean EVERYONE – has something to teach you.

Your assumption that you know more than the next guy (or gal) right from the start isn’t going to serve you well. Whether you are open to it is up to you and, ultimately, will have much bearing on how you live your life and what your journey is like.

Err on the side of being “too” open. To new people, new ideas, new ways of doing things. Just because your parents or friends or teachers told you “it” must be or should be or is supposed to be one way does not make it so. Truth be told, being open was never one of your strong suits. You assumed, you closed off and you judged. A lot! Let all that shit go. Make your own decisions, conduct your own tests, use your own criteria.

You know that relationship your 18-year-old self had with your 18-year-old boyfriend? Yea, it was weird and he was possessive and into you to the point of obsession. It was hard to break it off when you went to college and no, you didn’t do it the right way, with enough force or compassion, but it was a blessing that it happened then. You never had another emotionally confining or scary relationship again.

You’ve always made lots of good decisions. Smart decisions. You thought about the future and you almost always did what was right or best. But…well…it would have also been ok to look for more ways to have fun or draw outside the lines. Perhaps it was a fear of mistakes or of disappointing someone that kept you on the straight and narrow. But, no regrets, baby, and every day is a new chance to breathe, have fun and give to others.

Speaking of that, give. Give more than you think you can. And put yourself first. Always. Yes, these two can co-exist. This means no beating yourself up. When you love and care about someone, you are a no-holds-barred kind of girl. This will get you disappointed at times, crushed even. But to hold back, to not love totally or to not give totally – really it is like not loving or giving at all. Be prepared to be let down. Keep going anyway. Get up every time, stronger and more loving than ever.

Stop trying to do everything and accomplish everything in record time. Fast is not always best. And for the love of God, don’t expect that kind of speed from everyone else. Don’t compare them to you, and stop comparing yourself to them. Speaking of which, don’t waste your time taking the LSAT. Just because the girls you live with are going to be lawyers and your dad is a lawyer doesn’t mean you are meant to be a lawyer:

You. Are. A. Writer. Period.

That doesn’t mean that while you are at that fancy Ivy League institution, you can’t take some left-brained stuff. Take an accounting class, and Econ 101 and cut the “I don’t get math past algebra” crap.

At the end of the day, you are as perfect and imperfect as anyone else and everyone else.

Be you.

Go to New York City after college, you will thank yourself for the rest of your life.

Protect your skin. You have good genes – Bubby lived until her 90s and she looked to be in her 60s until the very end. Drink water like a fish and stay away from alcohol and cigarettes, they will do a number on your face.

Stay blonde.

Don’t cut your hair.

Acknowledging, honoring and speaking your truth is the most empowering, freeing thing you can EVER do.

Be OK with not knowing.

Learn to recognize the flow. Then go with it.

Assume less, talk less, do more.

Don’t brush your teeth so hard and fast, it messes up your gums and you have a beautiful smile.

Don’t reply when you are angry or can’t see straight. And sometimes, don’t reply at all.

You are a morning person, there is nothing you can do to change that. Don’t expect night people to be morning people, and don’t expect the opposite from yourself.

Hype sucks.

Don’t hide behind all that is so great in you. Own that shit.

Don’t take on others’ problems or issues. It doesn’t make you a better friend or loved one.

Make sure you send your kids out into the world knowing how and when to say “Please,” “Thank You,” “I’m Sorry” and “I Love You.” At a minimum.

Yesterday is gone.

Leave what is past in the past, don’t drag it out or drag people along. It doesn’t make you nicer or better.

Forgiving is for you, not for them.

Stop biting your nails now, it doesn’t get any easier.

Chocolate is ok.

Everything happens exactly the way it is supposed to. Trust in that. And in yourself.

It’s never too late.

I love you.

So what about YOU? What would you tell your 18-year-old self?