I recently turned 26. I’m no sage, but I’ve picked up a couple of lessons in my time. Below are 26 things I would tell a younger me if I could.

1 Read more material that endures. Posts and videos are ephemeral. They come and go. Seek out knowledge and stories that have survived years, decades, or centuries.

2 Write as much as you can. Write anything. Document your days. You’ll love flipping through old journal entries, and seeing what you were doing. Trap your anxious and messy thoughts on paper, so they don’t consume your mind. When confronted with something hard, think through it in writing. It will slow you down, and allow you to evaluate your thoughts more clearly.

3 You have an aversion to conflict. You can feel it in your bones. That’s okay. Stay in it, and realize there are many ways to work through conflict. Guide the conflict into a style that you do well with. Conflict can be important, so do not avoid it when it is necessary. Stay calm and explain yourself clearly, even if you need to tremble through it.

4 You have a guilty conscience. This is good because it means you have a sense of morality but beware of people who will try to use that against you. If someone or something is making you feel guilty, pay close attention to the motives.

5 Smile, make eye contact, and when you ask someone how they are, really ask them.

6 The world is lonely without a community that shares your values. As soon as you realize you do not have this, find it. Or make it.

7 You can become a good public speaker. Like conflict, you feel like you need to run from it, but the truth is you must do exactly the opposite. Seek out opportunities to speak in front of others. It will be uncomfortable, but the more you do it, the better you will get. And absolutely practice beforehand, winging it is a terrible idea.

8 Stay open. Much of the good in your life will come from opportunities you didn’t foresee at all and had no control over. You might miss them if you keep too tight a grip on what you think you need.

9 Related to the above, don’t forget how much you owe to God and luck. You think you know this, but you cannot comprehend its depth.

10 Remember that every lie you tell will be accompanied by a confession, or worse, an exposure. Think of this anytime you consider lying, and do not do it. Lying is like smoking, it builds up tar in your soul.

11 Remember that it’s temporary. In the midst of anxiety, it will feel all-consuming and never-ending. It isn’t so. It will end.

12 Everybody is fascinating if you ask. So ask, then listen.

13 Initiate connection in your marriage daily. It will not initiate itself.

14 Step up and lead. Getting everyone’s opinion and deciding by majority may feel inclusive, but it is not leading. You will need to make tough, uncomfortable, and even unpopular calls. Make them and then bear them.

15 You so desire to be better that you will have a tendency to believe all feedback you receive. Some feedback is neither valid nor helpful. Don’t get stirred up over it. Recognize it for what it is, and move on.

16 Say what you want. Especially to your managers at work. People don’t know what you want if you don’t tell them. Most people will try to help you get what you want if they know what it is.

17 Never disbelieve in what you are capable of. You will learn to love olives. And you will become a master diaper changer. If you can do those, you can do anything.

18 Nourish your curiosity. You do a good job of exploring new things and not caring so much if others think they’re weird. In fact, relish in the confused gaze you get when you tell people about your new abstract hobby or interest. Keep doing that.

19 You follow rules really well. Try breaking them more.

20 Just because everyone is doing it, does not mean it’s good for you. You are allowed to completely cut yourself off from things that are not good for you.

21 Don’t get too obsessed with being better or doing better. You’ll lose sight of now, which is bad because it’s always now. Be present. Accept what is.

22 Start developing habits to maintain your health. Your high metabolism will not last forever, and avoiding the doctor will only cause more problems later. Get a primary care physician, see a dermatologist, and keep up with the dentist.

23 Don’t be ashamed of your age. People use age as a proxy for competence and trustworthiness, so these assumptions will not be given to you easily. Be honest about who you are, and what you are, and lean into your strengths. Wherever you are, you are there for a reason, even if you feel out of place.

24 Please take yourself less seriously. Not everything needs to be about “finding signal” or doing better. Have fun and be goofy. Don’t forget how to take it easy, this seems to get a little harder for you each year.

25 Go to bed earlier and wake up earlier. It’s amazing how much better life feels this way.

26 Be less selfish. Think of others more, and make a system to do so if it does not come naturally.