I’ve never looked particularly like my dad. My mom, older sister, and I have blonde hair, blue eyes, and fair skin, yet he has dark hair, brown eyes, and skin that actually tans. I often wonder if people think I’m his daughter when we’re together, in contrast with the constant comments when I’m with my mom or sister, exclaiming, “You look just like your mom!” or, “Are you girls twins?” Whether or not others think I’m related to my father by first glance, I’ve always had a yearning to be associated with him by the way I act. I try to emulate his sense of humor, work ethic, and determined approach to any situation, and I constantly think how lucky I am to have a father worth emulating. Being away from your family really makes you realize how much your parents have shaped you into who you are today. Throughout the years, I’ve picked up on some pretty invaluable life lessons from this man, and I have no doubt I’ll continue to learn more as I go through the different stages of my life. Here are a few of the good ones that I’ve learned so far.
You can always achieve anything.
Sometimes you need someone to insist that you can do more than you think. I remember one Christmas present in particular from my dad a few years ago. The layers of wrapping paper revealed a hardcover book entitled, “People Who Changed the World.” In a world where – let’s be honest – mom usually picks out the gifts, my dad told me that he wanted to get it for me since he thought one day I could be in that book if I wanted to. Regardless of whether or not I ever am, it was one of my favorite presents. The idea that someone believes in you so much to be on the same page (literally) as the likes of JFK, Mother Theresa, or Nelson Mandela is a pretty remarkable feeling. It’s always nice getting some affirmation of the fact that you can amount to something truly worthwhile.
Always find a way to do what you love.
When I was younger, I went to my dad’s work for some sort of Holiday Season special performance. I can’t remember too much about the day but what I do recall is my dad pointing out one member of the Christmas choir and saying, “Look how much fun she’s having. She’s the only one who has been smiling the whole time and that makes other people smile too.” He reminded me how important it is to really enjoy whatever you do, and when you enjoy yourself, so does everyone else! Years later, what I still get from that is the importance of finding something that you’re passionate about and can pursue for the rest of your life. When my dad was young, he was interested in journalism and sports. After graduating from college, he went to umpire school (graduating first in his class!) and wrote as a sports journalist for a while. Even with his current job, he still finds the time to umpire and referee baseball and basketball games. And I know he loves it.
Sometimes you need a little push.
Every once in a while, you need to be reminded that you could be doing so much more for yourself than you currently are. Here come the have-you-thought-abouts and the did-you-knows and many more helpful yet reserved suggestions from dad. He can think of the best ideas to improve yourself and word it in a way that will make you wonder why you haven’t thought of that yourself years ago.
And sometimes you need to push yourself.
On the other hand, if I’m being particularly stubborn about something, my dad will lean back on his infamous catchphrase (usually expressed to my mom), “So let her fail.” He knows I won’t let myself do that, so when I hear him utter those words, I know I need to get working. It is the ultimate wake-up call, and only used when he knows I can better my own situation without his help (but haven’t quite yet realized that myself).
Learn to laugh it off.
We have this great home video that caught the aftermath of a head-on collision (literally) between me and my sister when we were little kids. I was covering my eye and started to cry, but when my dad insisted he take a look, his overdramatic claims of, “OH NOO!” made me quickly turn from whimpering to cracking up. He’s always chosen to laugh at himself, and others, rather than get fed up with something or stuck in a “poor me” mindset. As someone who has a tendency to sweat the little things, I always try to remind myself of how my dad would handle the situation: with a smile, a jab, and a good laugh.
Be sure to make your mark.
My dad didn’t always make my lunch growing up, but when he did, he made sure I knew it. His signature move was cutting my sandwich into (surprisingly complicated) geometric shapes. It was a fun way to add a little something extra to the otherwise overlooked details, and I definitely noticed. It’s always great to leave your mark, whether it’s on a brown bag lunch or the world. I’d suggest starting small.