1. People’s opinions do not matter unless it’s your future boss.
My dad has always stressed to me that I shouldn’t care about others’ opinions. I shouldn’t change for someone who is most likely a temporary fixture in my life, even if they turn out to be permanent. “Just be yourself, kiddo” was a staple of his advice. He’s right, too: The opinions of you that do matter are those of your employer. First impressions matter, work hard to be noticed, etc. It makes sense, now that I look at it as an adult that doesn’t want to try to live off minimum wage if I can help it, and try to look through an interviewers perspective of what the perfect candidate is made of, how they work, and what they look like.
2. Love yourself when you can.
I’ve had a lot of problems with my own self-confidence over my life. From being a touch overweight and never hearing the end of it from my mother, struggling to learn how to draw on my eyebrows because I have none whatsoever, to trying to combat anxiety and depression for a lot of high school, my father has always shown me I’m worth something. My dad made sure I knew as I was growing up that I mattered and was loved. By example, he taught me that it’s OK to not like how you look or who you are for a while, but if you’re having a good day and feeling good about even one thing about yourself, then hold onto the feeling. Let yourself be loved by you.
3. How to have a conversation with ignorant people and when to walk away.
I fought a lot with my mother growing up, and it was always over a difference in opinion. We fought over normal mother/daughter issues such as curfew times, chores, and school. But we also got into arguments about politics, what was happening in the world, and many ideals that I believe in and have shaped my personality, that she just didn’t like. My dad and I have a lot of difference in opinions on those same things, but we never fight about them. He’s taught me how to keep a calm demeanor when I’m talking with someone who holds the opposite stance that I do on a topic. “Not everyone is going to see it your way, and you’re not gonna like it, but they’re entitled to their opinion as much as you are.” He’s a very wise man. “And know when to walk away. Sometimes it’s just not worth it to try to change their mind.”
4. Not everyone needs an apology or deserves one.
I’m constantly saying “sorry” to everyone. When it’s a real “I really screwed up” kind of apology I tend to try to make the other person see why I acted the way I did by over-explaining my actions and intentions to an annoying degree. It happens a lot with my sister. My dad reminds me (more often than I’d like to think about) that not everyone needs an elaborate apology—or even one at all. Some people will be fine with a simple “I’m sorry” and others will just need you to not act the same way next time a similar situation presents itself. And if they’re the ones that messed up, you don’t have to apologize for being upset. Your feelings are valid, and so are theirs, and finding a balance between that and apologies can be hard sometimes.
5. There shouldn’t be any obligations with your family.
I don’t speak with my mother, and sometimes I’ll get this gut-wrenching feeling that her abusive behavior comes from good intentions and I should be grateful to have a mother at all because some people don’t. It’s a very exhausting feeling, but my dad is always there to tell me that just because she’s of my bloodline doesn’t mean I have to like her or love her in any way. “If you don’t want to talk to her, then don’t. You can do that now; you’re not stuck under her thumb anymore.” You’re under no obligation to keep in touch with someone because they share the same last name or genetics as you. My dad isn’t the most in-touch man when it comes to his emotions, but he is very aware of his kid’s. He’s compassionate when it counts and is always there, like a dad should be.