To my eldest Princess,
Today, you turn 18 years old. You have reached a major pinnacle in your life, but it has only just begun. I eagerly await with anticipation to see what your life has in store for you. Of all the things I am capable of giving you today; I feel my words are the most valuable.
These are exciting times for you: finishing high school, going to college, moving out on your own, starting a career, paying your own way, dating, marriage, having kids. The possibilities are endless. But, I’m not going to lie. At times, life is going to get rough. It’s inevitable; however, it’s all in how you handle the stress of life that determines whether or not you will succeed. Having a negative attitude toward the stress and being pessimistic will not, I promise you, resolve anything. Taking deep breaths, keeping an optimistic attitude and developing a character that doesn’t quit will take you much further in life than anyone tells you.
Find your people Being independent is incredible. You can and should be able to take care of yourself and be your own best support system. But no one can go it alone. You need your people – and I don’t just mean any people, I mean your people – the ones who’ve got your back in every single situation, no matter what. The ones who you can be completely yourself with, weird quirks and all. The ones will come over at 4am or 2pm or whenever you ask them to, with no explanation needed, to sit on the couch with you while you cry and throw the biggest temper tantrum of your life, and who will love you just as much, or more, when you’re done.
When I look at you, I see your dads’ eyes looking back at me. They are thoughtful, ambitious, spontaneous and quick to find the good in others. I can only hope you learn to find the good in yourself. People will disappoint you. It’s in their nature. It’s the ones who disappoint you, own up to it, apologize and never do it again that are worth keeping around. At the same time, be careful with whom you choose to associate and don’t be so naïve to believe that you can trust just anyone. Make others prove their worthiness to be trusted as anyone of sound mind will ask of you. Be someone people can rely on, but don’t allow yourself to be taken advantage of either. Stand up for yourself and for those who cannot stand up for themselves.
Put your phone away I know – you love Facebook and Instagram. You’re the reason unlimited texting plans were created in the first place. I get that, and it’s cool – but girl, there’s a whole three-dimensional world out there, and you need to go and live in it once in a while. Remember nature? Get yourself some nature.
Love yourself and don’t allow anyone to make you feel less of a person through their words or actions. You and you alone, are in control of your emotions and well-being. By allowing someone else to taint your self-worth, you give them power over you.
Choose your battles. Life is too short to be arguing with someone all the time about everything. This goes for friends and family as well as any future romantic relationships. Be empathetic and put yourself in the other person’s shoes and try to see things from their perspective. You will be rewarded in ways that you have yet to understand.
Getting so drunk you throw up on a public bus isn’t okay Drinking is fun – I get that. You feel mature as hell when you’re doing it, and you love the way it makes you all tingly and giggly and uninhibited. But listen, let me just say that drinking has its dark sides. So, if you’re going to drink, please be smart. Don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know. Use the buddy system with your girlfriends. Don’t drink on an empty stomach. Don’t mix a bunch of different types of alcohol together. And, most of all get to know your limits. It’s all fun and games until you throw up in public. Look, I’m not trying to scare you, honey, I’m just saying that I’ve seen some things and done some things that I’m not proud of, and all I want is for you to be safe and happy.
When you find the love of your life and eventually get married, let go of the little things. The toilet seat doesn’t matter. Who forgot to unload the dishwasher means nothing. Whose turn it is to change the baby’s diaper isn’t worth the argument. Most things in life are “little things”. By learning to go with the flow and learning to laugh at the appropriate moments, your marriage will be successful.
No one owes you a thing You’re not guaranteed to get into the college of your dreams. You’re not guaranteed to get good grades. You’re not guaranteed to get a job right out of college – especially not your dream job – because you’re not entitled to anything. All around you, people keep urging you to “follow your passion,” and there’s some merit to that (doing what you love feels wonderful!), but you need to be realistic about the intersection between your passions, your skills, and what other people will pay you to do. You’re going to spend the rest of your life working, and the hours you spend doing so will be the most time-consuming part of your life. So yeah, you need to love what you do, and it needs to fulfill you, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to love any job, even your dream job, right away or all the time. Sometimes the shit you love isn’t fun. Sometimes it’s excruciatingly hard work – and that’s okay.You have potential for great things.
Marry your best friend. Don’t settle. He should make you laugh. Whatever you do, don’t allow him to place you on a pedestal to be worshipped, because when valuables fall, they break. Make sure he sees you as an equal and is willing to walk beside you and not force you to the rear. Make your marriage first and your children second. By doing so, your children will see what a real, loving marriage is and will be all the better for it.
If it feels wrong, don’t do it. If you know it’s wrong, don’t go along with it.
Don’t be in such a hurry to grow up. Yes, you’re now officially an adult, but that definition goes far beyond just being a number. Being an adult means being responsible with all aspects of your life. There is plenty of time to move out and live on your own. Other than your current job after school, your only other job for the next few years should be discovering who you are as a person, going to school, and learning from the mistakes of the adults around you. There are many of us who came before you that have made plenty of mistakes, me included. Don’t make the same ones just because you want to be treated as an adult.
Think long-term and not short-term. The mistakes you make now can haunt you forever. You don’t want to live with that kind of guilt.
Ask for advice. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness…instead; it is a sign of maturity that shows you know the depth of your limitations.
If someone gives you constructive criticism, don’t assume they’re being critical. Take it for what it is and smile. It may be the best advice you ever receive.
Above all else, remember you are loved. Even though we can’t be together today, a huge milestone in your life, you are surrounded by people who would each give their own lives to protect you and keep you safe. None of us want to see you fall, fail or get hurt. Your family is forever.
Follow your dreams. Never give up on something you desperately want. Ever
Happy birthday. I ♥ you! oxox