Get to the point:
In one of my undergrad English classes we still had show and tell. One of the girls brought in a memory box type of thing, but instead of keepsakes, she clipped inspirational quotes and advice for her future daugher to look through. No, she was not pregnant yet or even considering it, but she knew one day she’d have a daughter and didn’t want to forget all the lessons she felt were important.
I was thinking about that box today and while I don’t remember a single thing that was in it, I thought it might be nice for Kate to have something to look at (or even notes for myself when I give her the Follow Your Dreams speech) when she’s older and feeling defeated, happy, anxious, lost, whatever.
So here’s my advice for you, Kate, in hoping you’ll never need it.
But just in case…
1. Be confident in your intelligence. Eloquence is attractive and will take you far more places than perfect skin and expensive haircuts.
2. There is such thing as “too perfect.” It’s condescending and unlikeable.
3. Your mother was an actual person with a real personality all to her own even before you were born. Help me remember that because I’ve probably lost it along the way to help you find yours.
4. Your grandma said this to me when I was a teenager and I’ll say it to you now: You may get in trouble and I may get mad, but all I’ll do is yell. Don’t be scared. I still and always will love you. No matter what. You don’t have to hide in the bathroom.
5. The world will not leave you behind if you don’t go to every social function that comes along. Study when you need to. Sleep when you want to. Have fun with what’s left. The world WILL leave you behind if you don’t get an education.
6. Your grandma also used to say this to me when I was a kid: Find something you love to do. Make that your job. I decided then I wanted to be a marine biologist because I liked to go swimming. Obviously goals change, but determination doesn’t have to. I’ve found what I love to do and am still trying to figure out how to make it work for me. One day I will, and you will too.
7. Don’t be afraid to correct the teacher. Sometimes, they’re wrong.
8. Please, I beg you, don’t push people around. Don’t be entitled, don’t be a snob, don’t be a bully. Open arms open hearts. You don’t need friends who use cruelty towards other children to solidify their social position, no matter how much you think you want them. Nobody likes to get picked on. Put yourself in their shoes and do what’s right. Words hurt, don’t use them as a weapon.
9. Use your manners. I’ll do my best to teach you good ones. Please and thank you go a long way. Mr and Miss even further. Adults will respect you if you demonstrate these courtesies that so often fall to the wayside. Unfortunately, good manners seem to be less and less common. Surprise people.
10. You don’t need a large group of friends. One or two close ones is much more satisfying. Find someone you can tell your secrets to, not someone who will tell all your secrets.
11. Travel. The world is a fascinating place and seeing it makes you a fascinating person.
12. Try weird food. Even if it’s just once. Unless it’s oysters… I won’t do that either.
13. Be passionate about everything you do. It makes failures hurt but successes can then be deeply personalized and fulfilling. If you aren’t passionate about something, don’t do it. Or change your perspective.
14. Take any and all measures to be happy.