Dearest Daughter -
The more I watch you the more I know how great you are going to be with people. You love people. You love your pets - T-rex, Pancake, and Sadie. You are so interested in everything and don't show any signs that you have distaste for anything or anyone in particular. You seem to want to absorb everything.
Then again... you are only 8 months old.
I wanted to start to shape these letters to give you - at this point in my life - what I think my life lessons are about certain things that you are going to experience in your life. Now... you are a girl and things may be different and your Mother is going to have different experiences and input than I do - so I'll try to keep non-gender specific and high level.
In my life - although we have family - they have not necessarily been the most present influences in my life. In actuality my friends have. Especially when I got into my teens and 20s.
I learned more and experienced more with my friends than I did with my Mother, Father, Aunts, and Uncles. Some of this is very complicated and I know that I hope to have a very close relationship with you throughout my life - but... at that time in my life I knew that I could find truth, humor, comfort, and stability with my friends.
Here are some suggestions that I have so that you find and enjoy the right friends:
- Don't pick people that are exactly like you. Choose a wide variety of people. Just make sure they pass the following criteria:
Treat your friends generously. If you have extra give it to your friends.
Do not covet what your friends have. Do not compare yourself to them based on material things.
Make friends with your friends' families - as you get older you will find that they too will become great friends and resources for wisdom
Take risks - put yourself out there as a person. Be open. Be kind. Be vulnerable. Be original.
Learn when to lead and when to follow - don't always be a follower or a leader - learn to share responsibility and take direction.
Go on trips. Be with your friends in different surroundings. Challenge your group to take on new things.
Write them emails, cards (or whatever exists by the time you read this) to keep in touch. Making friends is easy - keeping them is sometimes hard work but it is worth while.
Be able to take what you can dish out. Your Dad is one that likes to make fun of people - I find ease in pointing out their faults - hopefully you don't have this trait - I do this because I was an insecure person and people who do this feel something is missing in them so they offset that with someone elses insecurity. --- but if you do do this... one of the ways to diffuse any kind of situation you have is to be willing to be self-deprecating and poke fun at yourself.
Work hard with your friends. Don't lounge about. Do things. Do hard thing. Build things. Solve things. Work together towards a goal. Achieve it together.
Play sports. Be good at them. Let people know they can count on you. Let your hard work shine. Sports is a very easy way to do this.
Stand behind your friends. Right or wrong - be loyal. Do not let people that may be richer, smarter, or more popular come between you and your friends. They are your tribe. Treat them as such.
Protect them from bad decisions. Don't let them hurt themselves.
Fight. Argue. Life is messy. Learn how to have a voice of dissent with your friends.
And most importantly love them - love them like you would your family. Do not seperate how you treat your friends with how you treat your family.
- They are honest
- They listen to you
- They would show up to help you if you asked
- They are themselves around you
- They do not take themselves too seriously
- If they happen to be people that the rest of the world says are bad people - you listen to your own heart about them - sometimes people are judged cruelly and swiftly - a friend like this will often value your friendship with them most dearly and be the best kind of friend -- even if from time to time they let you down.
- Make sure they make you laugh.
Doing these things - IMO - and there may be more - will lead you to a wealth of friends. And a wealth of friends will make your a richer person than you could ever imagine.
I love you,