It’s okay to believe in God, or Zues, or a benevolent life force that whistles in the wind or a pink anglerfish with eyeglasses if that’s what gets you out of bed in the morning. Maybe you believe in John Wayne, and Sepia-toned cowboys who charge in on horseback to save the day every time you lose your car keys, and that’s okay. It’s okay to sit on the squeaky stool in your kitchen eating hot pockets out of their cardboard coats and thinking there’s a chance you might not believe in anything, not even tomorrow. It’s okay to string a life philosophy out of one-liners you remember from movies, and it’s okay to imagine what an esteemed film critic might say, were they watching your life in HD- “A comic and relatable heroine,” “a poignant coming of age tale.” It is okay to feel self-indulgent for thinking this way. It is okay if no words are clacking out of your keyboard heart because you feel like a child in almost every social interaction.

It’s okay to be bad at calculus. It’s okay to dream in color, or gray scales, or French or Cyrillic. It’s okay to accidentally fall asleep on the shoulder of a stranger on an airplane, and to stop and pet dogs as they patter down the street chained to their owners’ wrists. It’s okay to believe in strangers.

It’s okay to think girl thoughts, or man thoughts, or offensive politically incorrect thoughts, or cat thoughts, or thoughts you don’t even 100% agree with, because everything you think belongs entirely to you until it leaves your lips. I’m just saying it’s okay to have a secret. It’s okay to wonder whether I’m only saying everything’s okay to validate you and not because things are okay at all or even remotely acceptable and possibly I am mocking you, as has everyone you’ve ever met.

It’s okay to spend an hour watching dead tree branches flirt with sunlight. It’s okay that time gets away from you in the winter, and that every morning when you wake up you forget where you are — eyes closed, lost. Perhaps you have fallen down some kind of rabbit hole. It’s okay to love someone, suddenly and un-ironically. It’s okay to initiate contact, and okay to avoid opening that whole can of worms because I’m sure you have your reasons. Life experience has taught you about the apparent inability of any human being to know the secret thoughts of any other, but that must not stop you from trying. The crime-solving savant on Psych could testify that micro-expressions give you away every day in a thousand tiny ways, exposing you for the honest-to-God anomaly of primitive science that you are. It’s okay that you’re made of bones and skin and full of flaws — lustful and jaded and not nearly as cool as your various social networking profiles let on. It’s okay to sleep on your stomach. It’s okay to sleep in a ball at the end of your bed. It’s okay to sleep with any kind of person you want to sleep with, as long as they want that too.

It’s okay that a reference went over your head. It’s okay that you forgot to wear deodorant. It’s okay to be bad at mingling. Okay to love someone, inextricably and un-ironically. It’s okay to ask, are you okay? Okay to lie or tell the truth in your reply. Most people move through the day thinking thoughts that will remain wedged in their heads like gum on the underside of a cafeteria table until they confess them to their lover or therapist or best friend or spouse, just to watch one embarrassingly honest shocker of a thought get pushed into public domain the way the sun slinks up every morning over the tops of buildings and instantly changes the way the world works.

I’m just saying you can look out for people, whether or not they claim to be okay in conversation because we’re all breathing in and out in the same general respiratory fashion. Perhaps it doesn’t feel like it when you read about massacres and school shootings on the news, full of rifles and gunshots and children and heartbreak and helplessness, but there you go. Some things aren’t okay — they’ll never be, and we know that now.