1. Go do volunteering at the library. It’s falling apart, it’s closed half the time, it’s a mess. If just someone gives it a bit of love, it could be rescued. Remember when you were a little kid and Mom would take you and your sisters to it after work? You’d check out thirteen books in total, Mom and your sisters telling you to get a move on because you just couldn’t decide what to take. There was just so much to read, so much to discover, so much to learn.
The librarians were always so friendly. The library had a certain smell to it, that rare combination of old and new book smells mingling with ink and air conditioning. It was the best place in the world. You’d be immersed in that book on the ride home, reading word for word in the fleeting blaps of light of the streetlamps. Your nose would be in it for the rest of the evening, having to put it down for bath and dinner time was an immense chore that required too much effort.
That library was your safe space, your happy place, your escape. You’ve got to make it special for someone else again.
2. Delete the word ‘’nice’’ from your vocabulary. It’s such a very meh word, you can do so much better. As an aspiring author you really ought to. It’s your authorly duty to use interesting words, fun language, become Shakespeare (but like, better) and make up words. Here’s a list of words and sayings I made for you for future reference:
A business of mongoose
Don’t squat with your spurs on
As the prophecy foretold.
Elementary, dear Watson
Engage/ make it so (must be said in your best imitation of Captain Picard’s voice)
This is foreshadowing. (you’ll know when this is relevant)
3. Limit the screentime. Seriously. Most of the time spent on your phone should be spent texting or virtually actually interacting with other people. Cut out the random scrolling. Stop taking your phone to the bathroom. Don’t check your phone every free second you get. Allow yourself to breathe. Delete the app, block that number, unfollow the account. Let yourself live.
Stop looking at pictures and videos online and wishing you could be like that. Go do stuff. Your own stuff. You’re never going to be those people on Pinterest. This is your own life. You get to have your own wacky hangouts and you don’t need photos or videos for it to count.
4. Read eighty books this year. You spectacularly failed last year’s one hundred book challenge and only made it to sixty-seven, but that’s okay. This year, we are setting a more realistic goal that will let you do other things and grown in other areas of your life, apart your already exceptionally large vocabulary and inspiration-mind- scrapbook. Here is a list of a few books you should read in 2023, based on internet scrolling, previous reads, and recommendations from friends:
1. Fable by Addrienne Young (yes, we are re-reading it)
2. PAX by Sara Pennypacker (it was painful, it was beautiful. Re-read at least three hundred more times)
3. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (she wrote it at nineteen! C’mon!)
5. See Ya, Simon by David Hill (blurb already makes me want to break down and sob. Added to cart)
6. See You yesterday by Rachel Lynn Solomon (Stuck in time? Impossible odds? Possibility of one escaping their fate and the other forever remaining stuck and now the person is free they can’t do anything about it and uncontrollable sobbing?? It’s a yes from me)
5. Keep a happy moments jar. A jar that you write a happy moment you had on a colorful sticky note so you can go through it on the last day of the year. It is basically de-constructed diary, but with only the good parts. This way you can read it, reminisce, have a laugh with who ever is with you at that moment and see that maybe the year wasn’t so horrible after all, and there is hope for next year. Just remember to skip over the illegal stuff you did when reading with your family, as this could lead to conflict. You can do this by folding the notes stiffly in your hand and subtly either feeding it to the dog or burning it with sparklers.
6. Learn how to play ukulele decently. You know exactly why. You lied on your ensign form for Bible study groups at school that you ‘’know the basics’’ of playing ukulele when all you do know about it (after borrowing an angry birds merchandise mini form of a ukulele from your friend) is that it’s actually not that easy to play. Before school starts and everyone finds out about your horrible lie, you must learn at least two songs so it can seem you didn’t, in fact, lie. To get into Bible study group.
7. Learn how to play bass guitar. Mom and dad said maybe you’ll be able to take lessons this year, if you really want to, so that problem takes care of itself. Your band still hasn’t written a song and it’s been three months. Sure you’ve gotten a single verse down, but it still needs… you know… a chorus, instruments to go with it, actual other verses, a line to scream loudly in your room when the rage of the entire world burns in your chest and you need it out and this song is just perfect for it… all the things that make a song a song.
8. Do your homework, do your homework, do the piking homework!! Do it in class if needed, just suck it up and do it. Finish projects when you know they exist. It’s going to save you so much stress, sleepless nights, impatience, anger, rage, arsonistic thoughts… you’ll seriously be better off if you just do the work you don’t want to do first.
You won’t have to record your speech in school uniform during a camp with your family, forget your shoes and have to film it in trainers, and waste hours because you can’t remember the words because you wrote them that morning.
You won’t need your grandma helping you with research for a project on fungus for four hours in the backseat of the crowded bakkie on the way back from a camp in Punda Maria, two days before it’s due.
You won’t have to film your dance project on the grass with thorns and have a heck of a lot of trouble sending the video to the teacher because there is no signal and your phone just doesn’t have the storage.
You won’t have to spend hours crying over math and feeling embarrassed because you’re the only one in class who still doesn’t get it.
Those were dark times. This year will be different. Just. Do. The. Homework.
9. Put effort into your writing project. Have fun with it, make playlists, brainstorm characters, write scenes that won’t make the final cut, make memes, fangirl about it, get excited about it. Don’t censor anything, don’t let ANYONE read the first draft, just write what’s on your heart and the plot will come. Make mind maps, make mood boards, reference musicals and movies, write pages and pages and pages and pages. Write with your favorite pen. Write in the night with a candle and hot chocolate as it rains. Write in the day as Non-Stop from Hamilton plays in the background and your hand is getting cramps from the flood of ideas as the pen flies across the page just when they start singing HOW DO WRITE LIKE TOMORROW WON’T ARRIVE. Write, and love it.
(PS: Remember, humanity has stopped evolving. And that’s good, because evolution is survival of the fittest, right? But now, you don’t have to be strong to survive. Which means it’s never been a better time in history to be loser! So, own it! Why try to be cool when you could be making obscure references to musicals no one listens to in a barely coherent short story no one will read on a website almost no one uses?)