1.) A man shouldn't be your entire life. If he is, there's a problem.
2.) There is no set formula to raising a healthy, happy, (relatively) well-adjusted child. (It's up to you to decide if they did well with me. If yes, I was raised with no baby-talk and basic social etiquette before I could walk, so I could hold my own at their friends' parties, in the corners of classy restaurants being fed things like fois gras and steak tartare, hang out on the tailgate of our old Jeep at the airport while my dad flew planes and mechanics babysat me, and in big cities and they didn't have to worry about me and could go about their own things. If no, it's because I was a total mistake and they were never expecting kids and so raised me this way.)
3.) You have to believe in something, because if you don't, you'll fall for anything and cave at the first sign of pressure.
4.) Snails DO taste good, given the right amounts of garlic, butter, and white wine. (In other words, try the weird shit in life. You may find you like it.)
This is what I've figured out either with help or on my own:
The expectations of other people are just that: expectations. They are not the guidelines you have to live your life by. Because a professor tells you how to do something does not mean you should totally reject your feelings on the topic. Because your parents want to see you do well does not mean you have to go to grad school to further studying something you aren't passionate about. Because your friends are the people you're closest to does not mean you always have to agree with them. Because society has a certain view on what is "acceptable" does not mean you shouldn't speak your mind and dare to challenge its' views.
Silly rules make you really limit yourself. For example, saying things like "I will never date a guy with glasses," (enter any other shallow appearance-based topic here), or "I will never be with someone in the same profession as I am," (enter any nervous worry/pig-headed thought/stubborn opinion here), not only narrow your mind, but the universe usually has a really funny way of making the bespectacled co-PR worker/bartender/teacher/superhero the one who makes you forget not only why you ever had those silly rules, but also basic English and all rules of public decency and what an unhealthy amount of time to spend staring at someone is. In other words, the "rules" that you come up with end up having one function in the over-all scheme of things: they are made for you to break. Or, at least, you maybe should at least think of breaking them and why.
"Nice guys finish last." I'm sure you've heard that. I'm sure, at times, you've thought that. I'm sure, if you are the average red-blooded girl, you've ignored the "nice guys" while you chased after the "bad boys" because you thought they were the total end-all, be-all of the Holy Grail of awesome sex and an exciting life. Total bullshit. As someone who has picked herself up, put her broken pieces back together, and dusted herself off after being pushed off of the Dark Horse of Bad Boy Love many a time, I say this with utter sincerity. The trick is to find a nice boy with an edge. Find the sort of guy who opens doors for you and apologizes for being even just a few minutes late, but also has a few dirty habits and gets really riled up and passionate about a few things. "Nice" does not have to mean "boring." "Nice" can mean good enough to introduce to your friends and family without having to worry, even if you know that secretly, they should be, because DEAR GOD, the trouble you can get into.
For men, this is the best way I can turn tables so you understand it: It's how girls want to be sweet and girl-next-door enough to make your mother think, "what a nice girl; I really enjoy her," and not, "despite those pearls, she's the whore whose mouth is going to be around my baby boy later." Sorry if that was shocking. But that what's she's thinking. We know because if we gave birth to a son, that's what we'd be thinking, deep down.
Don't be afraid to push yourself. I shoot myself in the foot quite frequently; I'm used to it at this point. But because of my mistakes, I now know how to handle some things quite well. Those I haven't mastered yet, I'm always learning. We're all always learning. Be patient. Be kind. Help others out. Surround yourself with people who will both challenge you and believe in you. All my ex-teachers can tell you: I'm not at my best and not having fun unless I'm being challenged. Challenges are what change you.
Your friendships are the most important relationships you will have, and just like any other relationship, it takes two sides to make it work. If you're the only one ever doing the planning and the trying and the talking, maybe it isn't as strong as you thought. If it falls apart at the first sign of trouble, maybe it's better to let it go, though we are all human and all make mistakes. If not, make the time to "date" your friends just like you would any romantic interest. Make time to see them, talk to them, take them out and treat them, compliment them, and sometimes, just do absolutely nothing with them for the sake of just being together. (This may mean sacrificing your preferences for a night to do what they want, just warning you. It won't kill you, I promise. And if it would, then you need to re-think why you have friends who are into dangerous hobbies for shits and giggles.) Just stop short of getting drunk and sleeping with them, please.
And for chrissake, do as I say, and not as I do, and eat something more than two lattes, a cigarette, and a piece of gum for dinner. A healthy, well-balanced meal is important to do things, such as the running at the gym I was planning on doing before I realized that I have not ingested nearly enough calories today to burn them off with a mile or two run, let alone even type this without feeling like I'm going to pass out.
...However, the rest of the fit and sweaty people at the gym would get a good (and hopefully concerned,) laugh if I fainted and totally ate it on the treadmill and slammed back into the windows.
And while I'm on the topic, smoking is not something I condone. It's not something I abhor, either. It is a means to an end-- in my case, a way to calm my OCD and manage stress so I do not literally end up pulling my hair out-- and I smoke, friends of mine smoke, my bosses smoke, some of my family members smoke, the president smokes(-s, +d), and that thing that your mother told you when you were 16 and dating the "bad boy" 19-year-old who looked like the hot Australian biker in Grease 2 and who smoked like a chimney and when she caught you making your fledgling attempts at "being cool" said how "no one likes to kiss someone who tastes like an ashtray" is totally not true. I quite enjoy it. It's familiar and strangely reassuring. Though I suppose you have to be a smoker to actually feel that way. It would be like being an alcoholic and finding someone who tastes like vodka. Totally enabling. But not your lungs/liver that's getting the beating for you to get your fix. Rather symbiotic.
Nothing good ever happens at the best time for it. Sometimes, you need to not question what life hands you, even if you really want to, and see how fast and how far you can run with it.
And now, I've got to run. A girl's got to have fun!
(Ohhh...how I hate the Velveeta rhymes, but I can't help myself sometimes.)