1. Assume that you are loved.
2. Assume that those who love you find some kind of value in you and the things you do.
3. Assume, however, that you don’t need to be valuable in order to be worthy of love.
4. Assume that there is no one out there keeping a tally of all of your failings, ready to throw it in your face when you’re either feeling too good or too awful about yourself.
5. Assume that if anyone actually is keeping a tally of all your failings, that act says more about them than it does about you.
6. Assume that you can’t make all of the people happy all of the time; maybe not even some of the people some of the time.
7. Assume that you will, over the course of your life, sometimes anger or disappoint the people you love.
8. Assume that when this happens, it isn’t the end of the world, even if that’s what it feels like.
9. Assume that there is never an end to learning, or growing, or discovering.
10. Assume that you will always find a way out, even when all the doors slam shut and everything feels impossible.
11. Assume that sometimes earnestness and optimism can trump irony and cynicism.
12. Assume that it’s possible to recapture the way you felt when you were young, how the perfect clockwork mechanism of the universe used to leave you breathless and giddy with wonder.
13. Assume that there will always be more stories to tell, or at the very least new ways of reinterpreting old fables.
14. Assume that nothing is permanent, that someday even the sun will disappear; remember that everything we see and touch and taste is made of stars that grew and pulsed and died long before this planet ever existed.
15. Assume that you are under some kind of obligation to make the world a better place.
—The Belle Jar