Can I Tell You How Proud I Am?
You're about to graduate high school. It's insane to me. It doesn't feel like that long ago, but it wasn't yesterday. Like when you'd march up to my bedroom door with a book in your clutches... and you would BANG on it until I answered. Who knew such tiny hands could produce such a deafening sound? I read to you almost every night while I still lived with your mom and our dad, until I finished high school myself and left for college. You were 3 years old when I went out into the world. I knew you loved those airplane rides around the living room, but did you know that I loved them too? And now here you are, 15 years later, about to go out into the world yourself.
Now, I'm going to do something that I rarely, rarely do. I'm going to give you some advice (don't laugh). You are free to ignore, scoff, heed, or share these words as you see fit. After all, I'm not your dad, but I am your big brother. And you know what they say about Big Brother... he's always watching.
Just kidding, of course. I will have my eye on you, but that's because I'm here for you. Anyway, here's that advice.
- Never be afraid to say what you think. Most people are afraid to speak up because they might be wrong. But take pride in arguing your position, even if you might be wrong. And if you find yourself being corrected, then accept it and relish it-- because now you can move forward, and that is much better than staying silent, and it's much better than being stuck having an opinion that's never challenged. Speak. Listen. Learn.
- Know your worth. You are a kind, intelligent and insightful woman, but your worth is not determined by how many friends you have or how much money you make-- it's measured in large part by how hard you try to do your best. Just because something is easy to you, doesn't mean you can't improve. The goals you set and achieve for yourself are far more rewarding than the goals you're expected to meet by others. Just make sure your goals are higher!
- Travel. Travel. Travel. One of those goals you set upon yourself should be to visit a new place each year. Make a plan. Try to stick to it. Save up. Buy some mace. Always save the address of your hotel or AirBnB in your phone in case you have to take a Über, and do not ever accept a ride from someone driving a Porsche.
- This runs contrary to Number Three, but it is possible. Save. Save. Save. It doesn't matter if you're saving 1% of your check some weeks and 10% other weeks. Just save and don't touch it. There will come a time when you are in a jam and the only way out is to dip into your emergency fund. I can't tell you how much of a setback it is not to have money in savings when you are in a bind. And how much faster you will succeed financially by having those funds in place when you need them. Good decisions and responsible living greatly reduce the odds that you will need to use your savings. Funny how that works, isn't it?
So. Having said all that, I have no doubt that you would have found your way just fine without any of those pearls of wisdom from your awesome 33-year-old brother. And yet, because I love you, and because I am SO proud of you, I'm morally obligated to share them with you. See you at graduation, kiddo.