Well Pixie Stick. Here we are, less than a month from your graduation from high school. This is a bittersweet time for your old Mom. I have accomplished my goal of getting you to young adulthood relatively unscathed. You will graduate thereby completing your first major milestone. I know my car dancing and trying to use phrases of the day like “on fleek” have left you with a case of permanent eye roll. I’m not sure there is a treatment for that so you will just have to deal. That being said, you are all grown up now. You no longer have to listen to me. Your decisions are your own and you are now required to live with the consequences of those decisions, good and bad, from here on out.
I hope you continue to come to me to talk things over. I hope you continue to trust that I will never lie to you and will always be honest with you as you move on to college. I hope you know that there is no one who is more in your corner cheering you on than your family. I hope you know that I have thought carefully about what wisdom I could impart on you as you prepare to graduate. I have tried to compile a list of important rules to live by that may help you. The following seven “be’s” are the things that I feel are most important to our souls and living a fulfilling life.
1. Be Fair.
Life isn’t fair. It is a sad reality. Curveballs are always going to be thrown in your direction to try to make you bitter about that fact. You won’t get THE job. Someone will steal THAT parking space. Your professor will give you a lower grade on a paper because he doesn’t agree with you, not because your thesis wasn’t well supported. Don’t give into the haters. Don’t allow those trying to get you to go to the dark side to win. You rise above the temptation to treat people unfairly. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
2. Be Kind.
This one sort of ties into the first, but I felt it warranted a little extra note. Treat others the way you wish to be treated. It is the golden rule. Check your motives when doing this. I want you to be kind for the sake of being kind, not for what you may get out of it. Ask yourself why you wave that person in front of you to cross the street. Did you do it so that he would wave back and say thank you? If you did then there will be days that you are dreadfully disappointed when that doesn’t happen. Always know that your kindness is what matters and not the reaction of the receiver of that kindness.
3. Be Thoughtful.
Between political races, and who is going to the bathroom next to you, your brain can get pulled in a million directions on where you stand on important issues and make it feel like putty. Decide what you believe and then plant yourself firmly. You do need to pick your battles as there is never enough time to tilt every windmill that happens your way. It is also okay to change your mind as you grow older and learn more. While we may not agree at times, I will always respect your stances as long as they are not based on ignorance or hate. Research: don’t accept some raving lunatic’s viewpoint because it sounds good to the masses. The loudest person in the room is not always right, just loud.
4. Be Joyful.
Enjoy life. Enjoy the beauty that is the world around you. Create an oasis in your own home where you feel happy and at peace. Find a trail that you can hike, walk on the beach, make a snow angel. Do whatever it takes to breathe in life and enjoy it to the fullest. It took me two years after moving away from the beach to find my happy place again, but I did. I made it a mission, and when I found it, I embraced it fully. It doesn’t matter where you live, you will find that place that makes you feel whole. Go there as often as is necessary to make you remember that life is not about the next exam, the bills that need to be paid, the job that you took till you find the job you want. It is about what happens outside of those things. They are just a means to get to the good stuff.
5. Be Cultured.
Go see the play at the local theater. Go to an exhibit at a museum. Attend a writers’ workshop. Listen to a full symphony. You and I have not been blessed in the arts department as your sister has. There are artists and there are audiences. We are clearly on the audience side. Appreciate and support the arts and see where people can speak through their art. Enjoy the details in a painting or the stitches sewn in a costume. The world is full of artists who have something to say. Listen to them in whatever medium they choose to express themselves. The arts add spice to our lives and you will want life to be tasty.
6. Be Generous.
Find a local charity that means something to you then support that charity. Contributing to your community is something that keeps you grounded and grateful. There are always others who could use your help, even if you aren’t having the best time yourself. You can support a charity by giving money or time. Time is often the most valuable for a charity and can be the most valuable while you are young and struggling, even old and struggling.
7. Be A Reader.
Just get over this one. You have never been a huge reader, and it has broken my heart. Will guilt work? I don’t mean articles that you scroll across on your phone, unless it’s mine, of course. I mean the printed word. On paper. Paper pages. Reading a good book not only improves your vocabulary, it allows you to travel places you have never been, on the cheap. Reading lets you feel others’ emotions and gain empathy and understanding. That is something you can’t do just by meeting people. Holding a book helps you appreciate the effort made by the author and the work that went into crafting the story. Do it. No excuses. Always have one book that you are working on, even if you only read once in a while. A book on the ready is always a good thing.
That’s all I’ve got for you Pixie Stick. I hope you take these seven things to heart and refer back to this now and then as you gather yourself together and move forward. Remembering these things will serve you well and help you live a beautiful and rewarding life. I don’t know how to help you with the eye roll issue, but hopefully using these will help cure the problem. I love you. Now go get ’em.