You are just weeks away from being here, and honestly, you can’t get here fast enough. We haven’t even seen you and we already love you more than anything we’ve ever loved. Life is crazy. Two years ago, I didn’t know if I wanted a child. Now, I know. Without a doubt.
I can’t wait to watch you learn new things. I anticipate you being unafraid to show emotion, all emotions. Your mother is a thinker with a mind that searches until it finds what it wants. I am a doer that is eager to say yes to things. This combination, along with the backbone and passion you’re born with, is going to give you everything you need as a foundation to finding your success. Make sure you build on that foundation. Speaking of “your success,” you define it. Not me. Not your mom. Not the world.
My only real concern is us finding the balance of not doing for you what you can do for yourself and being there when we need to be. I mean, we’ll always be here for you (until we’re not), but I mean in terms of not stepping in and robbing you of the opportunity to fail and learn. I’ll touch more on this later, but I just needed to get the concern out. Understand that love wants to protect people from pain. True Love wants to provide perspective to experience and learn from your pain.
Now, there are just a few ideas I want you to consider:
First, your life is yours. Own it. Take responsibility. Your decisions, your successes, your shortcomings, your lessons, your ups, and your downs are all yours. Never place blame on other people for things in your life. It’s yours. If something good happens, own it and give credit where it’s due. If something bad happens, own it and forget about placing blame. Spend your energy on bouncing back. Society today will try to talk you into deflecting all blame and accepting all responsibility for your successes. Don’t listen. They will try to convince you that life isn’t fair. Bullshit. It’s the fairest, most complex thing in the universe. Everybody’s life has peaks and valleys. Learning to deal with them is what separates the happy from the profoundly sad. The greatest favor you can ever do yourself is learning how to say, “I am responsible for me.” I am not saying you’re about to go at this thing called life alone. We will support you until the day we die. With that said, a man sleeps in the bed he makes. You’ll understand what that means soon enough.
Second, there is far more good in the world than bad. There always has been, there always will be. Don’t be tainted by misinformed people, people with titles, or uneducated opinions. Understand that most people primarily function with positive intent. That means they intend to do well. They intend to do the right thing. But we’re all human, so we mess up from time to time. If somebody hurts or disrespects you, forgive them. Afford them the same opportunity to learn, grow, and make mistakes that we will afford you. With that said, sometimes it’s necessary to cut people out of your life, even if it hurts. Never wallow in self-pity, nobody really cares about your feelings. Those who lose often do so because they dwell on the past. Leaders learn from their mistakes. Leaders understand that there is always a lesson in losing, and then they move on.
Third, my beliefs and your mother’s beliefs are not your beliefs. Regarding spirituality, religion, philosophy, and all other ideologies, you have to find yours. Our beliefs were cultivated over time through critical thinking, trial-and-error, and some faith. If you believe in God, okay. If you don’t believe in God, okay. However, if you don’t know why you believe what you believe, that is never okay. Acting in ignorance has led many people down an unfulfilled path. In one of the greatest pieces of advice I’ve ever been told, our friend, Qasim Rashid, said, “It’s important to know what you believe, but it’s more important to know why you believe it.” Learn to ask ‘why.’ Learn to ask ‘why’ over and over again until you find organic, unfiltered answers. As soon as somebody tells you to stop asking why, start asking why like you’ve never asked before. I believe that the Bible, like all religious text, contains wonderful lessons. Learn this one, Matthew 7:7-8. Seek, find. It’s simple, not easy. Have a Vision, then take Ownership of it. With all of this said, understand that not everything can be explained. Sometimes in life, the answer is simply, “there is no answer.” If you do engage in critical conversations regarding beliefs, never question to cause doubt. Rather, question to cause discussion. People should walk away from you feeling uplifted and curious, not trodden down.
A few odds and ends:
Head up, shoulders back. Eye contact matters. When you do make eye contact, smile. When you shake somebody’s hand, match their grip. You are named after a king; when you introduce yourself, do so with a humble confidence. Learn to debate thoroughly, civilly. When walking through a door, let others go first and then look behind you to see if you need to hold it for somebody. Give respect before you expect it. Use dialogue to defuse situations. It is absolutely okay to defend yourself, but never instigate. When you sleep in a bed as a guest, fold all blankets before you leave. It’s okay to compliment strangers. Be a voice for the underserved.
This list isn’t exhaustive, it’s just a few things that came to mind. We'll add to it as we go.
My best advice I can give you is simply this: Be so unafraid to be who you want to be so that others are brave enough to be who they want to be. The way you live your life will liberate others to live theirs.
I promise you, we’ve never loved anything as much as we love you. Always know that.