This letter is for not only my future son(s) and daughter(s) but for all of our future sons and daughters. For in fact, the next generation is all of our responsibility and they will be the ones to hold all of us in their hands. Your son might be my daughter’s future husband or vice versa. Your daughter’s decisions might be the ones to drastically influence my son. The possibilities are endless and so are the ripples.
To Our Future Sons and Daughters,
As you embark on this beautiful and complex adventure called Life, I thought I’d share some loving advice for the road ahead. Take all of it or take some but, most of all, take it and make it your own.
1. Embrace your unique and imperfect self.
You don’t belong in any category. You are not defined by any term that has existed before you. Don’t ever feel pressured or convinced to fit in. No one is perfect. You are an individual and there is only one of you. You define your life. You define your lifestyle. You define your career. You define yourself.
Be honest with yourself. I’ll always want you to stay true to yourself —you’ll shine brightest. Stand out — that’s what makes you outstanding. You are here for a reason—own it.
2. Practice gratitude each day.
Although you can’t be defined by anything that has come before you, the world exists as it is today due to the blood, sweat, and tears of men and women who have come before you and I. Strangers, friends, our family…the men and women who didn’t give up. They are the reason we have the rights, technology, and knowledge we do. They all contributed to get us where we are today. Be grateful, put these blessings to good use and learn to appreciate the small things.
3. Leave a legacy.
Think about how the light bulb or Facebook changed life as we knew it. It came down to one idea. This means that you also have every chance to make your own impact. You can make a difference, small or large, each day. There is nothing stopping you. Be the fire. Success has nothing to do with the material. It’s about leaving things better than when you first came across them.
4. You attract the energy you put out.
You’ll have your ups and downs in life but don’t lose your smile or your fire.
Stay positive. It only multiplies. You get what you give. Surround yourself with what makes you feel good. And remember pain is temporary—this too shall pass.
5. Speak up and stand up.
Your voice always matters. Whether it’s your opinion or your “no.”
Speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves. Empower others to find their voice. Stand up for what’s right and what’s equal. Be a feminist. Be a game changer. Don’t stand in a box and don’t stand for boxes.
6. Do what you love. Everything else is secondary.
To be cliche—life is too short. You should smile and laugh every day.
Don’t do things because you feel you have to or that you “should.” Do it because you want to. Find your passion then figure out a way to do it every day. And if you can’t figure out a way—I’ll help you create a way.
7. Be vulnerable, be alive.
“Vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage… the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change. ” — Brené Brown
Don’t numb yourself. Don’t try to play it cool. Live smart but live passionately. Take risks and be active. The greatest moments of your life will come from putting yourself out there and getting in the “arena.” You may win, you may not—but at least you tried. Don’t worry —I’ll be there to help you dust yourself off if need be.
8. You are worthy of every ounce of happiness and good fortune.
There are many beautiful parts of life – and you’re worthy to experience all of it. Don’t allow anyone to make you feel any differently. From seeing the world to being in love, these are gifts that are yours for the taking and to enjoy. Feel grateful, humbled and bask in it. Let it inspire you.
9. Make empathy your lens.
With each person you meet, I want you to exercise empathy. You’re going to come across people who have different opinions, outlooks, and lifestyles. Not everyone was raised like you. Not everything is black and white.
Know that everyone has a story—multiple stories at that. Everyone has more to them than what is seen on the outside. Give them a chance to express it and listen up! Before you form an opinion or respond, put yourself in their shoes. Trying to understand others is the first step towards breaking down barriers both large and small. See similarities first, then differences.
10. Be self-aware.
Be your own best friend. Go places alone. Get to know yourself. Do things to grow, learn and develop. Meditate. Practice mindfulness. If you’re healthy and still on the inside, the external won’t matter as much. The internal should be, for the most part, the beginning and end of all that you do.
That’s all I have for now but know that I’ll be with you every step of the way.