On Tuesday my son Logan graduated high school. A huge milestone in his life, as well as mine. I’m proud and excited, and even a little nervous for him all at the same time. Time really does go by so fast, it seems like I blinked and that little toddler in the car seat gripping a Buzz Lightyear toy in his little hand was all of a sudden driving his own car and telling me to put my seatbelt on.
As a mother, I am filled with pride for him and excited to see what kind of man he will turn into. Excited to see the adventures he will take and the lessons he will learn. Excited to see what opportunity he will grab hold of and how he makes the most of life’s ups and downs. However, to be honest I’m incredibly fearful too. I’m afraid of the mistakes that he will make, the rejections he will receive, and the failures that will definitely come his way. All of that makes me wince a little just thinking about it, but most importantly I’m afraid that he might not take the risks, that he might play it a little too safe; so much so, that the opportunities that come his way may only pass him by. I’m more afraid that because of the fear of being rejected he won’t put himself out there and live up to his full potential. I am fearful he will stay inside his safe little box where things are familiar and comfy.
The truth is, these are my fears. These are most peoples fears. Too many people want to stay inside their comfort zone. Play it safe, never color outside the lines, never put their heart out there, chase their dreams, be told no, fail and fall down. So we get stuck. Stuck with the same old job that we don’t like, but keep it because it pays the bills; or perhaps stuck in the career we chose for ourselves but it’s not what we originally thought it was going to be. Running the rat race and chasing the dollar so we can have the big house, beach vacations, pay for our kids college and so forth.
I know that Bob and I have both role modeled hard work. I know for certain that we have taught our boys to be respectful, work hard and treat others how they would want to be treated. I also know that they have seen Bob and I struggle both financially and in pursuit of chasing our passions. We have traveled and shown them many different parts of America. We have taught them about God, how others worship,and how to serve others, but… have we taught them vulnerability? Have we taught them it’s okay to put your authentic self out there? Have we gave them the tools to deal with rejection and when the doors are closed and people say no or don’t include them in their inner circle that it’s really okay?
What about failure? Gosh, I know I have failed so many times, but I’m not sure that I have shared that part of my life with my kids enough…I wonder if I played it too safe sometimes. Can we even really role model failure or is it best to just learn from experience? Is playing it safe and not chasing your dreams or looking for the adventures in life something that can be taught? Or is it driven more by our individual personality?
I don’t have answers to these questions, but here’s what I want to say to Logan as he enters into the “real world”:
Live! Live your life! Yes you will fail, stumble and fall down, but it’s how you get back up and keep going that counts. Chase your dreams not the money, pursue what passions burn inside your soul, the ones that get you excited about life, the ones that make you want to get out of bed in the morning and be thankful to be alive. Know that it’s okay if you don’t have that passion yet, it will come and it may even change. It’s okay to change your mind if you like, but do not do so because someone wants a different dream for you. Chase those dreams and passions and when you achieve them, take a moment to relish and show gratitude for the hard work and lessons you learned along the way.
Money is money, yes we need it for the necessities in life, but don’t let it define you and don’t let it ruin you. Don’t let yourself get lost in titles or participate in the games people will play to show their self importance. Sometimes you will lead, sometimes you will follow, just make sure you listen to your heart and are paying attention to the people who have direction and are striving to better the world not consume it. When you lead, always stay humble and be willing to do the “dirty” work, remembering that no task is beneath you, nor are you too good for.
Don’t hold grudges, or resent the people who hurt you or try to step on you or make you feel small. That will only hold you back. Instead, use those lessons to better yourself, to rise above, and learn how not to be. Let yourself love, let your heart break, don’t take bad memories into new relationships. If you feel stuck, look for a way out. You never have to stay where you are, but you do have to own and take care of your obligations. If you make a promise keep it, if you have to break a promise make sure there’s a damn good reason why. You will make mistakes, but often times those mistakes turn into the greatest successes, or at least lessons learned.
Know that we love you and are always here for you. We may not always have money to give, but we have love to offer and an ear to listen. There may be times that we see you struggle and we don’t respond or lend a helping hand. If that time comes to be, know that it’s not because we don’t love you, it’s because we believe you are strong enough to push through and you will only come out stronger and a better man when the struggle is over. Also know that it will break our hearts to see you struggle or hurt and fail, but we know these are the lessons in life that provide growth and build character.
Now go son, into the world. The adventure is out there. The journey is waiting. Choose your path and know the terrain will change from smooth to rocky, uphill and down, but the trails you will blaze will be worth it and the beauty life will show you is worth all of the mountains you will climb.