As a parent, I find myself alternately loving the continued growth and maturity of my children and dreading the moment when they decide that their world will no longer be centered under our shared roof. As all children should eventually do, they’ll begin to look more and more out the kitchen window and wonder just what is out there in the world. And then they’ll fully enter a world that won’t have the same love, caring, and patience that they have at home.
I can’t help but feel this more acutely when I think of my Meg. It’s not that I think she can’t handle the world or that she needs me more than her brothers, but I believe in the special bond that her and I share. When she goes out into the word I hope she believes the following:
Your Good Enough is Good Enough
A reality of our world is that we are all bombarded with messages that continue to drive home the point that no one is good enough. That if you just drove that one car, bought that one product, or had that one job, that you’d be good enough. This is the goal of marketing. Don’t get sucked into thinking that you need to keep up with some imaginary and impossible standard. We’ve always wanted you to know that who you are at your core – caring, smart, kind, funny, wonderful in so many ways – will be good enough for the world. Leave behind anyone who insists that you be who you’re not.
Spread the Love
While it may not always feel that way; remember that love, kindness, and compassion spread the same as hate, cruelty, and meanness. You, and all of our children, have the capacity to be the ones who spread what is right and good in the world. This does not have to take place through some big, public action, but instead by living a life filled with thoughts of others, and believing that people are good and decent. Yes, from time to time, you will get hurt by those who see it differently, but you’ll never regret the times you paused and chose to help others.
See the World as a Beautiful Place
Yes, there are scary and dangerous places. Most of the world is filled with kind and caring people who want the best for themselves and for everyone else. It takes a certain amount of bravery to believe that these people exist and that they are worth finding. Avoid the drumbeat of negativity, pay attention to where you put your eyes, and look for media sources that aren’t just a drumbeat of the next bad news story.
Don’t Underestimate Yourself
Our brain is the world’s oldest and most consistent nanny. It’s designed to keep us alive more than anything else, and always tells us to play it safe. Ignore that voice and take appropriate risks. Climb to the top of that tree. Speak your mind when you’re asked to. Don’t answer the call of fear. You can always be more than the nanny in your brain tells you.
No One Really Remembers
Our widely-connected world has created the belief that everything we do will live forever on the internet, and while that it is somewhat true, it is important to keep in mind that for the little moments of awkwardness and mistakes that we all make, the world quickly moves on. The sooner that you believe that no one really remembers every little mistake that we make, you will be free to live lives filled with risk and eventual reward.
And how do I know this?
I think back to the times when I let others dictate for me how I was to feel about myself, only later to realize that their words were lies. I think to the times when I pushed past fear to try something new and have a career that I love as a result. And I think of the moment almost sixteen years ago when a nurse placed a five-pound baby girl in my arms and said, “Here’s your daughter. Your job now is to love her forever.”