As I get closer to the half-century mark, I reflect a lot. I don’t know if it’s because I actually have the time to do that, if it’s a natural occurrence as we age, or if my personal experiences have precipitated it, but it’s happening. I have a front row seat to my 17-year-old daughter’s journey. As she begins to independently navigate her life and try to figure out where she fits and where she doesn’t, I’m fortunate that she comes to me for guidance. I don’t know how fortunate she is to actually GET that guidance as I, too, am still trying to figure things out. But I’d like to think I’ve got enough life experience to know at least a little bit. Here are a few things I would love for her to remember as she walks the Earth.
Be kind. This seems like a no-brainer, but if you look around, you’ll see a lot of cruelty and meanness in the world. It’s easy to get bogged down by it and become a pessimistic asshole. Don’t let it. Negativity will always exist. Counteract it with your smile, sense of humor, and open heart. Show up for your friends and family. Compliment people. Give hugs. Encourage.
Do your best. The only person you’re in competition with is you. There will always be someone smarter, prettier, younger, whatever-er. It doesn’t matter. As long as you know you have done your best in any situation, that is what counts. You are the only you this planet will ever get. Be YOU fully and without apology.
Live with integrity. Integrity is defined as “a firm adherence to a code of moral values.” Decide what your code is and live by it. Be honest. Be fair. Be loyal. Make your list of non-negotiables and stand firm in them. Your behavior – and not your words – is what really defines your character. Live with integrity, and you will sleep well at night.
Be self-sufficient. Get your education or learn a trade. Make it something that will support you financially. Hopefully, this will be something you love, but even if it’s just a way to pay the bills, that’s OK. Dependency on others might become a necessity at some point, but make that just a stepping stone. Independence is a great self-esteem booster and motivator.
Walk away from bullshit. You will know it’s bullshit by the way your stomach tightens or your hands sweat. Bullshit is anything that hurts you to your core and pains your heart. You may need to do your best (see above) to be able to walk away from bullshit with a clear conscience, and that’s necessary sometimes. But if someone is lying to you, betraying you, or being a complete asshole to you, you don’t owe them anything but a view of the back of your head as you walk away.
Love yourself. Take care of your body, your mind, your spirit. Eat well. Exercise. Breathe. Take time for hobbies you enjoy. Get plenty of sleep. Dress in ways that make you feel beautiful. Drink your water. Take your vitamins. (Mommy says so!)
Love others. When you love other people, SHOW THEM. Hold hands, kiss with passion, make love with every bit of your being. BE PRESENT FOR THEM. Never let them leave you wondering where they stand. And here’s the key: it really doesn’t matter if they love you in return. Don’t get me wrong, it’s wonderful when they do. But sometimes they won’t. Love given is never wasted, and it will always come back to you – sometimes in ways you could never have imagined.
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