When you become a parent, you are a little like Yoda. You have all this knowledge and all these lessons you want to pass on to your offspring. There’s a lot riding on your ability to raise a good grown-up. You want them to learn from your successes, but maybe more importantly, you don’t want them to make the same mistakes you made. But what are the important lessons? The ones you want to really stick?
Here’s what I think are a few of the important ones I want my daughter to know:
Try new things. I know, I know. Everything you know and do now is so comfortable. But what if you try something and it’s your newest, favorite thing? Or what if you try it and you hate it? Well, now you know. Don’t get stuck in a rut because you’re afraid. To paraphrase Mark Twain, “You *might* regret the some of the cool shit you tried, but you’ll definitely regret all the cool stuff you didn’t try.” Especially at when you’re my age and it’s no longer wise to live dangerously.
Ask for help. Admitting you don’t have all the answers or all the skills isn’t a sign of weakness. It is strength incarnate. I hope I’m a living example of this for you. I need help all the time and I know how hard it is to ask for it. I want to be a superwoman and do it all, know it all. But that’s just a waste of energy. Use your energy for other amazing things (see “Try new things” above) and reach your hand out to us. Your family will always be there for you. To help you figure out the meaning of life or to move you into your third-floor walk-up apartment someday. (Well, ask your dad for help with that.)
Surround yourself with some Bad-Ass Friends. Make sure the company you keep reflects who you are both inside and out. It’s always good to have a close group of friends who will either talk you out of the adventures or be the ones sitting next to you in the cell. Wait. Maybe you need a mix of those. Either way, good friends are hard to come by. The best ones last a lifetime. Treat them well and they will stick around. Someday, you’ll get a kick out of telling your kids the “When I was your age…” stories. Those never get old. Trust me.
Be active. Listen, I know right now, gym class is your least favorite. Ok, you hate it. But if you want to have awesome adventures well into the winter of your life, then you gotta treat your body right. Get it moving. Dance. Skip. Run. Roll down a grassy hill. Pop and lock. Whatever. Don’t be afraid to get a little messy and a lot sweaty. It’s good for you. And don’t worry about looking silly. That’s not a good enough excuse for just sitting there.
Escape in a book. When life gets dull…or difficult… or sad…or on a day that ends in “Y”, a good book can be the perfect escape. In my opinion, books have all the answers. Don’t always rely on TV to paint the picture for you. Reading will take you and your imagination to the most incredible places. Practice using your imagination now, so that when you’re in college you won’t have any trouble tuning out that really dull linguistics professor.
Look up. You never know what you’re going to see when you lift your head up and observe the world around you. Your world is really small. Make it bigger by lifting your head up out of your ass. Sometimes what you see will make you sad. Do something to fix it. Sometimes what you see will amaze you. Enjoy it and pass it on.
Be kind. Life is hard. But not for you sweetheart, not for you. You might think it’s hard sometimes, but you have no idea what real hard is. There are people and animals truly suffering in this world. Be the voice for the voiceless. Be a gentle hand to the weak. Share what you’ve got. Always treat people with respect and kindness. You’ll be surprised at how far a little kindness will take you. It will make you rich beyond measure.
And lastly, be yourself. There is no one on this earth that can take the place of the amazing you. If you stay true to who you are, you never have to remember who to be. Just be you. You are enough.