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I don’t know, y’all. Some days it feels like the world is falling apart around us. Other days I see kids on Tumblr making up words for concepts we should have had when I was their age and I think we’re gonna be okay. I mean, it’s probably a combination of the two, you know?  In the meantime my nephew is graduating 8th grade on Friday. I don’t have kids – don’t want any, either – but I aunt well enough, I think. Or at least I have references from littles who have grown into adults I’m terribly proud to know that say I do.

How old am I? I’m “every graduation played Everybody’s Free (to wear Sunscreen) because it was new” years old. I’m “my friends are all having midlife crises and I got a hand-me-down-scooter” years old. I’m “congratulations on your divorce” years old. So from my exalted tower, mortared in years, I hand you this wisdom:

You can simultaneously mourn the future you imagined you had and celebrate not sharing any part of your actual future with a jerk. 

I get it. You were raised a certain way. You expected happily ever after. Or at least, you expected to be able to work it out. You know what? Not everything works out and that’s okay. If you saw yourself at 50, 60, 70 years old, holding someone’s hand, living in a particular house, wearing specific shoes, go ahead and mourn that vision. Just don’t bother mourning the person.

We all perform. 

In the age of social media, don’t believe everything your ex puts on Facebook. You’ll tear your heart out over nothing. You have no reason to believe that’s what’s really going on – it’s not like they never pretended to be someone they weren’t before, right?

There’s no such thing as an inherently good or bad person.

There are only people. And people do good things and bad things, and it’s your job sometimes to tell them they’re doing a bad thing, even if they don’t like to hear it. Because “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing.” Do something. Don’t assume that because you enjoy someone they’re inherently good and acted without malice, or don’t have the capacity to hurt.

“He’s harmless” is a warning that this person is a predator.

If you hear this (h/t a friend who chooses to remain anonymous) it is absolutely a sign that the speaker has observed “him” engaging in problematic behavior and chooses to decide for you whether the person has caused harm or not. That person is almost certainly not harmless, and is pretty much definitely a creep that you want to avoid. Also, thanks, person who has designated this predator as harmless, for outing yourself as someone who prioritizes inclusion of predators over protection of potential victims.

Learn to throw a punch.

You’re going to need it someday. You might not know when. But when the time comes, I promise, you’ll know. And in that moment you’ll be grateful you know to keep your thumb outside your fist, straighten your wrist, rotate your hips, and hit with your palm down.

Your ex’s new partner isn’t any more likely to believe you than you were to believe their previous partner.

I feel like this one’s self-explanatory but hey, go ahead and comment if you’re confused. Someone will give you a hand.

Give. It releases endorphins.

Unless you’re a complete sociopath, making someone else feel good will make you feel good. If you don’t have time give money. If you don’t have money, give time. If you don’t have either, give words. Listen. Believe. Share. Give.

Internet people are real people.

If you can’t find your people where you live, find them online. Don’t denigrate online friendships. They will get you through. Find friends across the globe, especially if you’re an insomniac. People aren’t less like themselves online.

But trust me on the sunscreen.