This is a follow-up to two postings I did in January 2011: Dear Daughter, Lessons from a female engineer (part 1) and Dear Daughter, Lessons from a female engineer (part 2). Now that it is almost the end of the year, I find myself with more thoughts, so I hope you will enjoy this latest installment.
You are so lovely and grown up, and it is a joy to watch you fulfill your hopes and dreams! Godspeed to you and the wonderful life you have made.
As with my earlier posts, I hope that you do not mind the mom-isms below – take them or leave them as you will. My purpose is simply to share with you some of my hard-learned lessons in the hopes that you might avoid some of my missteps.
If I repeat myself or seem to overemphasize certain points, please consider that my memory is not as sharp as it once was, and that it’s been several months since the last post to you. So here goes:
- Follow your dreams!
When you set out on a path that leads to your dreams, do not be swayed by short-term failures, missteps or naysayers. There will always be those who stand in your way of reaching your goals, (because they have their own ideas for you,) but they cannot live your life. Friends, lovers, family, and others who do not support you may need to be set aside while you follow your dream. Some of these will pick up the pace and choose to support you – embrace them; others will continue to call out from behind – ignore them. You need positive people in your life, not drama queens with their own agendas.
- Do not stop doing something new out of fear
Fear of failure or of the unknown or fear of “what people will say” often are unfounded fears that stop us from doing exactly what we need to do (to move forward in our life). We are raised in negativity (I apologize for continuing this cultural trend!) Did you know that by the time a child is two years old, on average he/she has heard the word “no” over 67,000 times? This is not a good trend for later life!
If you entertain thoughts about failure, balance them out with the joy of outstanding success — and you’ll find that the fear subsides. And, if you hold a fear of “what people will say,” then you are not the daughter I know. You always try new things, challenge the boundaries, and succeed beyond all expectations.
This mom-ism is more intended for me! I need to overcome my childhood where the constant reminder was “don’t do that – imagine what the neighbors will think!” I now no longer care what my neighbors (or anyone else for that matter) think, and I relish in the independence and freedom that comes from this new insight. I find that the best experiences in life come when you are doing what you want to do, not what others expect.
- Be confident that you are exactly where you are meant to be
I love that you did not marry the first person you fell in love with, and that you are waiting until you find the right person (and are not settling for less!) I also know that we do not choose who we fall in love with, but it is up to us to make sure that we take care of our own well-being first before we dive into a full relationship with such persons. If someone you love wants to change “you” to suit their needs, know that this is not true love – it is controlled or conditional love. The love that I wish for you is a love that is unconditional, pure, giving, and accepting, where you can keep up both yourself and your integrity. The potential for co-dependence, unfortunately, came with your genes (I apologize!) and as with all hereditary traits, takes vigilance to keep at bay. You are a whole, complete, and perfect person just as you are, and your choice of a partner should complement the true you!
- Forgiving does not mean forgetting
The saying that “forgiveness heals the forgiver” is absolutely true and I urge you to forgive as often as you can to stay emotionally sane in an insane world. People will disappoint, hurt, be cruel, and inflict pain on you – and often do so ignorantly or without caring about the impact on you. The act of forgiveness allows you to move forward and realize another’s missteps, without necessarily allowing them back into the same place in your life. Forgiveness means saying “I feel hurt by you, but I forgive you and can move on” but it does not mean “I will forget that you ever did this to me.” Serial forgiveness of an habitual hurt is a different story — remember the adage “fool me once, shame on you… but fool me twice, shame on me” . I believe this means that we should forgive an offender once (giving them the benefit of the doubt that it was an accidental occurrence), but a second time requires vigilance and a memory on our part.
- You can never have too much self-esteem
Pride, arrogance, and vanity are not the same as self-esteem, yet they were interchangeable for many of our childhoods. Self-esteem is confidence in oneself that comes from within, and cannot be gained from the approval of others. If we encouraged our youth to have better self-esteem, we would see gang problems decrease (as people would no longer need gangs for approval) and bullying would drop dramatically if insecure people did not feel the need to prove themselves.
Safeguard your self-esteem and keep it fully charged – it is like the story of the cookie jar I’ve mentioned before. Keep your own cookie jar brimming with cookies (take care of your own needs first) before filling the cookie jars of others (giving your time and energy to others). When you have high self-esteem, everyone benefits because you can give freely without resentment, and you can face disappointment because you understand that the reactions of others have nothing to do with you.
- Relationships of all kinds depend on a symbiotic give and take
If you find yourself in a relationship (love, friendship, family) where you are giving or taking more than 50% over a long time, it’s time to re-evaluate whether the relationship is healthy for you. When one person gives more than their share (more than half) and the other takes more, it is only a matter of time before resentment sets in. The giver will one day wake up to the fact that they have given too much and resent his or her own part in this over-giving and resent the other party (even if they love him or her) for over-taking. Neither over-giving or over-taking is a healthy situation, and as a former over-giver I can attest that it takes a long time to get over the tendency to over-give and to forgive myself for doing so much over-giving in past relationships. I want more happiness for you in your relationships!
- Understand that it takes many people many more years to arrive at their “Truth”
We all find what we believe to be “the truth” of life almost as if it was a paragraph inscribed in a stone tablet. Our Truth embodies our values, our principles, our precepts, our boundaries, and sets a level above which we expect all others to adhere. Unfortunately, your truth is strictly yours alone and just as no one else in the world has the same life experiences as you or I, no one else will have discovered this same truth. Some people never discover a truth at all and amble along in their life like a “pinball” in a pinball machine – being tousled by outsiders who tell them what he/she ought to feel or do according to the outsider’s truth. Others come to realize their truth based on their life experiences or lack thereof and become entrenched in a belief system that negates all others who do not uphold their truth. You can see evidence of this everywhere with extremism even in our society. Value and hold dear the truths that you discover, and know that no one else will share the same truth or be as passionate as you are about it. Respect and understanding go a long way in life, and really hold off the disappointment I often feel from others.
- In closing…
I hope that you can glean one or two nuggets out of this mountain of words I wrote to you today. Hindsight is 20/20 and I hope that your life moving forward can be a wondrous adventure filled with sights, sounds, and experiences that take your breath away.
In love and kindness,
p.s., It is a wonderful achievement to say that I love my life! And it’s stellar with you and your brother in it giving me moments that take my breath away every day!