​greta gerwig’s guide to becoming a real person

Happy New Year! Before you make and subsequently break the same old resolutions, take these words of wisdom to heart as our dream big sister lays down the life advice you need to make 2016 the best year yet. As you re-watch 'Mistress America,' keep...

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Jan 4 2016, 3:00pm

Having already won the hearts of awkward individuals across the world with 2013's Frances Ha, Greta has teamed up with director and boyfriend Noah Baumbach once more on Mistress America. When Lola Kirke's Tracy moves to the city for college she befriends her glamorous older step-sister-to-be, Brooke, played by Greta, who introduces the teen to her whirlwind of a life in NYC. It's impossible not to fall hard and fast for the unlikely duo, who are wonderfully relatable as they team up in attempt to make their dreams come true. As coming of age is Greta's thing, her Mastermind specialist subject, when joining her in her London hotel room for a chat, we shake hands backwards (there's a glass of fizzy water in her other) and settle down for some much needed advice. Take note…

"With the characters of Frances in Frances Ha and Tracy in Mistress America, I put so much of my own growing up into them. I don't have a way to fit it neatly into a box because I feel like it continually happens for the rest of your life. There isn't a moment where you become who you are and that's it. I think you keep finding all these dark corners and shining light on them and as you figure them out, your inside and your outside come closer together so that you're not so fractured in that way. When I look back at me at 18, the things I wish I could say are….

1. Get enough sleep...
"You need a lot of sleep. Sleep does not make you uncool, it makes you function. And even though it might feel awesome to stay up til three and try to get to class at nine, it's just gonna make you fall asleep in class, which will make professors think that you don't care. So prioritize sleep."

2. You aren't fat...
"You've never been fat. Stop trying to diet, it's a waste of time and you're beautiful."

3. Cut your hair, dye it, fuck it up...
"It's just hair. It'll grow back, it doesn't matter."

4. Don't get a tattoo...
"I didn't get a tattoo. If I had gotten a tattoo at 18, it would've been a tattoo of the sheep in The Little Prince. I'm sure there are people who have that tattoo and it looks awesome, but on me I think it would just look strange and I'm very glad I didn't do it."

5. Stay in touch with the people who knew you when you were seven...
"In some ways I think that they're the people who're most connected to who you'll become - even though it sounds paradoxical. I think by the time you're 18 you're already presenting an idea of yourself and I think you're always trying to get back to who you were at seven or eight, when you were less conscious of yourself as an entity. And so the people who knew you at seven or eight probably knew the person you were trying to return to."

6. Write thank you notes...
"A good handwritten thank you note never goes amiss. My mom always forced me to do it and I hated it because I just got all these presents and now I have to pay for it! But it's a really good thing and people really appreciate it. Plus it just makes the world a little bit nicer."

7. Follow what you actually like vs. what you think you should like...
"Be honest with yourself about what you like and what you don't like. I think I used to spend a lot of time imagining a girl who was cooler and smarter and better than myself, and what she would do. But the truth is, it didn't matter what she would do because I wasn't that girl. I had this idea that it would be super cool if I was into science, but I didn't care about science! What I wanted to do was study restoration drama and Elizabethan poetry, and I tried to stay away from it because I felt like I didn't wanna be the kind of girl who likes that. And that's stupid because that was the kind of girl I was."

8. Admit when you don't know things...
"It feel like at 18 I would spend a lot of time fronting that I knew things I didn't actually know about. And I missed out on learning things because if you just admit that you don't know who that band is or that you've never read that book, somebody will explain it to you or point you in the right direction. I think I was too focussed on trying to save face by acting like I knew things I didn't. And you just don't get anywhere from that! The only thing that'll happen is your own ability to bullshit will improve, which isn't a great thing to strengthen."

9. Don't start smoking...
"I sound like my mom but don't start smoking. It's a terrible way to die. I know I've had characters of mine smoke in films, and I hope it never made anybody think it's cool. It's not cool. Don't do it. It's so stupid. I've been that person and I wish I'd never done it. That's serious, and I do mean it! It's not cool."

10. Life does not end at 30...
"Don't worry about that. I think between 18-30, there's this sense that; this is my chance, I'm young, I have to do everything, this is when I have to fulfill all my ambitions. But what I actually think ends up happening is that you have a lot of anxiety which prevents you from moving forward. But if you're lucky enough to be around, it's a long life! And you're young until you're like 80. I really believe that. Now I have friends who are in their 50s and their 60s and even their 70s and they're still so young in the most meaningful way. And I think this sense that it's all going to go to shit when you turn 30 couldn't be further from the truth."

The wonderful Mistress America is due for release August 14. Read an interview with Greta and co-star Lola Kirke here

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