Today my incomparable daughter turns twenty. It sounds trite to say, “I was there when you were born.” But I was, actually. Of course I really wasn’t doing anything. I never had the nerve to tell my wife how to breathe.
Where did two decades go? I can see the passage of time in the wrinkles on my own face, but it seems like such a short while ago that I was pushing a stroller being the proudest dad in the world, doling out Cheerios and wondering at times how I’d make it to the end of the day.
I’d love to tell you that you were easy. But you weren’t. You were strong willed and determined to do it by yourself. Regardless of the results.
As you turn 20, here are 20 things I would like you to know.
1. Find your passion, and stick to it. Even when you feel like it’s time to give it up- I still wish to this day I didn’t give up acting and music because it was “uncool”
2. Don’t push yourself in creative arts (like writing!), unless you want to become a socially anxious insomniac.
3. You will not be any happier 5 lbs lighter, if anything you will be really really sad that you can’t eat that piece of cake.
4. Realize there is a difference between being in love, and being in love with the idea of love.
5. Don’t let a romantic interest get in the way of your friends. You will find out your great friendships will be worth 26 romantic relationships.
6. Studying hard is not the be all and end all. Don’t let society and school trick you into believing you must study for your career *unless you want to be a teacher, but remember all teachers are insane.
7. Don’t over analyze what others say. Actions really are worth 1000 words.
8. You are not defined by your job title, relationship status or stereotype. You are your experiences.
10. Never assume, always ask questions even if you feel uncomfortable.
11. Write your feelings down, especially if you feel overwhelmed- it all makes sense on paper.
12. You can come to me with any of your problems and I promise to never judge- all I ask is that you do the same for others.
13. Be grateful for at least one thing every morning- you’ll be surprised how much this can set you up to have a beautiful day.
14. Hold on to people that bring you love & joy, and once these people no longer do, know it is okay to let go.
15. Remember that life is temporary- one day you will be gone so use this time wisely.
16. Money should be used for freedom- try to enjoy a healthy relationship with it.
17. Only at the lowest of lows, then are you worthy of the highest of highs.
18. Don’t feel like you are waiting for life to happen, your life is the journey, not the destination.
19. Your instinct is always correct- learn how to abide by it, even when you don’t particularly want to.
20. And most importantly, even when you can’t understand how or why- Life always goes on…
Now you are nearly grown. Not much left for me to do but be a friend, occasional mentor and guide, and forever biggest fan. Happy Birthday, Maddie! I love you!