Graduation is almost upon us. That said, I’m pulling one of my favorite columns out of the vault. Having written this article almost two years ago, I now know our kids survive when they leave us and so do we. And that is a true lesson learned.
A feeling of both melancholy and excitement prevails in the Kane household as letter after letter arrives for our oldest, from colleges near and far. As I watch her open each one, I distinctly remember being her age, knowing very little about life, yet believing I knew everything.
As she readies for her journey into this big, wide open world, there is so much I want to be sure I say to her, teach her, show her before she takes off, while deep down I know the real lessons in life will come from figuring it out on her own.
And yet, if she were to indulge me, I’d write it all down for her, place a copy in her suitcase and hope that when she came to that fork in the road, she’d pull out my map of lessons learned and they’d help guide her home.
- SAY YES! This is your time, say yes to it. Say yes, to staying up all night, eating fattening foods and laughing with friends until tears stream down your face. Say yes, to unknown places, unknown people, unknown ways of thinking. Say yes to opportunities that make no sense, jobs you may not think you’ll like, invitations to events you’d rather not attend. Say yes to roller coasters, dancing on tables, foods you can’t pronounce, trips that consist of only a backpack and a map. Take in all the Yes moments, as those are the ones that’ll teach who you are and who you’re not.
- SAY NO! Follow your instincts and if you feel the word No deep within your gut, then be sure to shout it out, as loudly as you can! You’ll be amazed how strong that word can make you feel. Never do anything that feels wrong, hurts others or hurts yourself. There is no shame in not joining with the crowd, but there is no greater shame than knowing you did something your parent’s can’t be proud of. The word No can be the loneliest word in the world and yet you will grow to be the person you are meant to be, more so in the No moments, than even in the Yes moments.
- MISTAKES HAPPEN. No one is perfect and those who profess to be are usually the most flawed. I’ve made many mistakes in my life, the kind that still make me cringe. Don’t dwell on them though. So you said it, did it, meant it at the time and now know to never do it again. Admit it, accept it and move on. Believe me, there is always someone that will follow, that’ll earn an even bigger headline than you did.
- SAY I’M SORRY. I’ve learned this little gem after almost two decades of practicing law. I see it every day. People can save themselves so many headaches and heartaches by saying two simple words – I’m sorry. Say it and mean it. If the person doesn’t accept it, then show them you mean it. If they still can’t forgive you then know that some things can’t be forgiven but forgive yourself and do better next time.
- MARRY THE NICE GUY. Boys, boys boys! There are lots out there and you will meet many. Some will have the better cars and country club credentials, others will be cocky and crazed, some will be stupid and mean but look past all of them and find the nice guy sitting back, taking it all in. Your friends will all like him, your Mother will adore him, your Dad will respect him, he’ll love you even on your meanest, fattest, ugliest of days because he only sees the you, you are meant to be. Marrying a nice guy means a life filled with very few worries. He will always treat you as his equal, he will always work just as hard as you will to make your dreams come true, he will always be as kind to you as he is to others.
- NEVER SAY THE WORDS – I WANT TO MARRY A DOCTOR OR LAWYER. Instead be the lawyer, doctor, teacher, social worker or x-ray tech! If I’ve taught you anything, I hope it’s been that girls can do anything! You are smart, composed and brave. Education is more than just learning, it’s the power to create your own destiny.
- THE ANSWER IS ALWAYS NO, UNLESS YOU ASK. Believe me, I know it’s hard to ask people for a job, a favor, a piece of advice but you’ll be amazed by what you will learn if you just ask. And then never forget to pay it forward. People are going to help you along the way which means that one day you will be tasked with returning those favors, two-fold, to someone less fortunate.
- PICK YOUR TEAM. Nothing gets your old Mom more worked up than people who don’t pick their team. Not everyone will be on your team and not everyone will pick you for their team, but don’t ever sit on the fence. Pick your team and then fight for that team. Stay loyal, have their back, stay informed, this is your world and if you don’t take a stand for it, then you can’t complain about it.
- BE KIND, WORK HARD, LAUGH OFTEN. If you remember nothing else please remember these three things. Be kind to everyone you meet, even your enemies because that totally wigs them out. Be kind to people from all walks of life, because but for a few wrong choices or a few unlucky breaks, you could be them. Work hard. Nothing in life comes easy. You have to work for it, you have to work sometimes till the words on the paper become blurry and your bones become sore. You will come to find, however, that there is no better feeling than accomplishing a goal you earned on your own. Then Laugh. Enjoy this world, laugh out loud, smile, giggle, be funny and have fun. A good laugh can make even the worst of days, worst of experiences, worst of situations, 1000 times better.
- GOOD GUYS FINISH FIRST. I promise you they do! Yes, there are awful, untrustworthy people in this world and sometimes it seems they rule the roost. No doubt, mean girl clicks and good ole’ boy networks do exist. So what? Create your own. There are always more of us than them. Find those others, stand together, and you’ll be amazed what good people can do when they join forces.
And above all else, close your eyes and jump! You may tumble and fall but eventually you’ll stand on your own two feet and those same feet will carry you home.