As a follow up to my post “To my Daughter on her Graduation Day”:
Tomorrow starts a whole new world for you. So much ahead of you. So many changes and new opportunities and new friends. It is truly one of the most exciting times of your life, and I hope it will also be one of the happiest and most fulfilling. But before you take that next step, some words of wisdom as you make your way into the world….
Don’t let being a woman keep you from accomplishing anything. Being a woman means that sometimes you will have to work harder, play tougher, and prove your worth over and over. Don’t worry about it…it will only make you stronger. You can do anything you put your mind to, even if it means a little more effort.
But, don’t let being a woman make you believe you “deserve” special treatment. Being a woman doesn’t mean you should get advantages just because you are a woman. You should work as hard as your male counterparts and never ever expect special treatment simply because you are born female. While batting your eyelashes may work on some occasions, being a strong, focused, smart individual will take you much further in the long run.
Live each moment like it will never happen again. Life goes fast and you never know what obstacles will be put in front of you. I know this is something “old” people like me say, but I cannot tell you how true it is. Once a moment passes, it is gone and you can’t get it back. Savor the moments both good and bad, as both will shape your life. The good will be those that stay with you for a lifetime and will provide you with optimism and hope. The bad will provide you the life lessons that make you wiser and stronger.
Allow yourself to be vulnerable. This isn’t just about opening your heart, although I mean that too. Finding real love is sometimes a surprise just because we allowed ourselves to be open. But I really mean try new things, take chances, open yourself to new opportunities, new challenges, and do the thing you think you couldn’t possibly do. Achieving what we thought we couldn’t gives us confidence and drives us to do more, achieve more, be more than we ever thought possible.
Don’t get stuck in a rut. These next four years are a great time to be spontaneous…before a marriage, before children, before a full time job. When you are too tired or overwhelmed to say yes, say yes anyway. So often the best times of our lives are those unplanned moments when we just say yes. Laugh loud and laugh often. Nothing changes your outlook faster than a good laugh with friends.
Always remember your worth. No matter what situation, what obstacle, what challenge you face, remember that you should respect yourself and know that you have value. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”. Stay true to yourself and don’t be bullied into putting your personal beliefs aside. Those are what makes you, you.
Make good decisions. Before you go down a foolish path, stop and ask yourself “will I regret this decision in 2 years, in 5 years, in my lifetime?” If the consequences will affect your future, if you are putting yourself at risk, just stop or just say no. From here out, it’s your life and they are your decisions, which also means it’s your future and they are your consequences. You are smart. You know the difference between right and wrong. And when you make a mistake, own it.
Don’t let the past rule the future. Live a life free of regret and recognize that everything behind you is what has led you to where you are right now. Every moment, every relationship, every success, every mistake has made you who you are. Embrace your past, but don’t let it infringe on your future.
Finally, be good to you, but don’t let yourself off the hook and be good to others. It’s okay to take some time for you, to be a little selfish and to take care of your own needs. But it’s also important to be disciplined and keep yourself in line and know the difference between your wants and needs. It’s important to take care of others and be a good friend, to keep your family close, to give back to the community, and to thank God for the gifts in your life.
You’ve been blessed with so many wonderful role models to guide you – your grandmother, Aunt Tori, Margaret, Liz, Mrs. T, and many more that you’ve watched through the years. Remember them and hold close the piece of each you will carry with you. There are so many life lessons to share, but I will close with this….There are no do-overs in life, my girl. Your world will be full of choices and each one leads you down to the path to your future. As one of my favorite authors, Thoreau, says, “Live the Life You Imagined.” And that life starts today.