In a matter of days, our family will celebrate my oldest daughter’s graduation from elementary school, and I find myself awash in emotions that range from pride for all that she has accomplished to sadness that, in what seems like the blink of an eye, she went from being a little girl to a teenager. As she prepares to end this chapter and begin a new one, I feel compelled to impart some sort of wise words to help guide her through these next four years and beyond, but the words both escape and overwhelm me. Also, to be honest, I am not so sure how wise these jumbled words really are.
I want so very much to teach her everything possible to guide her steps and protect her heart, in the hopes that she will experience only unlimited joy, immense love, and great success and that she, in turn, will share those things with the world. I know all too well, though, that I cannot, nor can anyone else, teach her all of these lessons, as life, and all of its twists and turns, is the most formidable teacher of all. Still, I feel like I need to say something, and so, I shall:
- Study and work hard, but remember, learning matters more than grades. Perfection is highly overrated, especially since it is fleeting. Don’t get so bogged down in the deadlines, papers, projects, and all of the other academic hoops that some institute of learning deemed an adequate measure of academic success that you lose sight of your love of learning. Be a lifelong student, not a cog in an academic wheel, and share what you learn with others to make a positive difference.
- Exert positive peer pressure. Sometimes, those who have the least to say speak the loudest, and those who are not good role models command the spotlight. Speak up for yourself and others, and let your positive actions speak even louder than your words.
- Be yourself and love yourself. Such advice sounds deceptively simple, but as an adult who stumbles over taking this advice myself, I know that it is not as easy as it appears upon first glance. To be authentic and to love yourself in a culture that pays homage to illusions and self-deprecation is to live a life to be proud of and one that will make the world better and brighter.
- Surround yourself with family and friends who will raise you up, not tear you down. Not everyone will have your best interests at heart or be there during times of trouble, so, keep those people who love and support you unconditionally close to you during good times and bad times. You will be hurt and betrayed by some of the people who enter and exit your life, but your family and true friends will always be there for you. Even the strongest and most independent people in the world need good people in their corner, and you are no exception, so, find your tribe.
- Keep your sense of humor. There will be times when you will cry until you think the tears will never stop flowing, but there also will be moments when you will laugh uproariously to the point of tears. Don’t take yourself and all that life throws at you so seriously, and when you can, smile and laugh. . . a lot!
- Be kind. Every day, find ways to be kind to yourself, to the people whom you encounter, the environment, animals, and anything and everything that make up this world of ours. If everyone intentionally practiced kindness on a daily basis, rather than merely giving kindness lip service, many of the world’s problems would cease to exist. So, always be kind in all ways.
The world awaits you, so, go out to greet it with an open heart and mind and a soul that shines brightly!
Just one thing each day . . .