Growing up in this world is the furthest thing from easy.
In a culture fueled by the perfect Instagram caption and obsessing over being a double 0, we have a very difficult task on our hands.
One day, we will have to raise our own children. For goodness sake, we need to raise them well.
As a 21-year-old who’s still trying to figure out which kind of ramen to buy, the idea of having kids seems like an eternity away.
In fact, it seems absolutely terrifying.
But we need to think about these things. After all, you can’t wing raising kids like you wing an English quiz.
Here are 19 things I’ll teach my children:
1. You’re human.
You’ll mess up.
You may get a bad test score or burn the cookies, but these things reassure you you’re not perfect.
This being said, try your best. College is expensive.
2. Be still.
Silence is a good thing.
You don’t always need to fill the room with your voice.
Take time to listen to other things.
3. Forgive others.
Remember how I said you’re human? So are other people.
We are all fallen, and we make mistakes like it’s our job.
4. Spend wisely.
I’m not specifically talking about spending money, though that’s definitely important.
Spend yourself well.
Spend your time, energy, thoughts, laughs and tears with those who spur you on in your personal well-being.
5. Be spontaneously cautious.
Jump on a plane or drive 14 hours with no destination. Just go.
Have adventures, but make them worth years of memories.
Have a blast, but make sure that — in the end — your adventures leave you breathless.
6. Models are models.
If there was a standard for how we were supposed to look, God would have made everyone look the same.
Just because a girl is a double 0 and has legs for days, that doesn’t mean you need to be the same.
7. Stay close to your dad.
Cling to your dad.
Your dad is the protector, the provider, the rock and the leader of the family.
He also spoils his children, which is my favorite reflection by far.
8. Date wisely.
Dating isn’t a hobby.
For the girls: Your heart isn’t made for 15 boys, so don’t throw it around to whoever is open to catch it.
Guard your heart because when the right man comes along, he will want to guard it too.
Boys, prove the world wrong when they say, “Chivalry is dead.”
When you’re interested in a girl, ask her questions and be intentional with your time, words and heart.
Guard your mind because when the right girl comes along, she will want to guard it too.
9. Don’t be a worrywart.
One of my greatest struggles is worrying, so take it from the pro: Worrying helps nothing.
In fact, it just makes things worse.
Go to the gym, grab lunch with an old friend or go on a walk.
Be productive, rather than laying in bed and giving yourself a headache.
10. Stay away from gossip.
I always tuned out of the gossip lecture in Sunday school classes because I obviously don’t gossip.
Remember what I said about listening? Your voice doesn’t need to be heard 24/7.
Learn to think through what you say before you say it.
11. Make true friends.
Your friends, especially in college, become your chosen family.
Surround yourself with people you not only get along with, but who aren’t afraid to delve deep into your heart and bring the heartache, happiness and pure you-ness into light.
Deep relationships last forever, but the shallow ones are easily forgotten.
12. Go outside.
Get some oxygen into those lungs.
I swear, air-conditioning makes me feel stifled because the more I’m in it, the more I want to get out.
Go to the park, run through the neighborhood or storm a playground.
Get outside. It’s not there solely to create allergies.
13. Be positive.
Life isn’t a cute little box filled with sunshine and jelly beans. It can hand you some scary things.
I’m not saying smile when your dog dies. That would be questionable.
But always strive to see the hope in every situation.
Sometimes, we are disappointed. But life goes on.
14. Create things.
Grab a paintbrush, a guitar or some dirt, and simply create.
It can be the worst drawing ever of a horse or an experimental recipe that turned toxic.
As long as you’re creating, you’re thinking outside what the world has given you.
That is priceless.
15. Serve others.
By serving others, you learn patience and humility. Nine times out of 10, your hands and heart will get dirty.
Some people say serving is a “gift,” and some say they are “called to it.”
But we should all feel the need to help others.
16. Numbers don’t count.
Don’t limit yourself because of calories.
I could write a book on this. Counting calories becomes an obsession with numbers, and numbers wreck our worlds.
As women, weight is one of the greatest insecurities we have.
I promise people don’t see a number when they look at you. They see you.
Focus on yourself as a whole, not as a number.
17. Treat yourself.
Have a personal day every once in a while.
Grab a nice lunch with some friends, buy a new book, go play golf with the guys or (my favorite) sleep.
Earn your personal days, but take your time enjoying them.
18. Take words of wisdom to heart.
I saved the best one for last.
Though my mom passed away when I was 13, her advice is still golden to this day.
The last words my mom wrote to me in her goodbye letter are the wisest words I could have ever asked for:
“Remember, Hope, that you are God’s treasured possession. Live your life as such.”
Never forget who you are.
This is the greatest lesson I have ever learned, am learning and will continue to learn.
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