Back to School letter for my boys
It’s back to school letter time.
This was an interesting summer, taking our leave a little later, coming back just before school starts. Two of you working, and now, with L off to college, we have a different family dynamic and our little unit is spread across the globe. I am at the same time so utterly proud of all of you, and terrified of what this will look like.
As is always the case, I think going back to school is not exactly a bonus, but it will be good to reconnect with friends you haven’t seen for a while, and meet new kids. What fun it will be to tell them all about your summer, your adventures, and your triumphs! So much and so little has changed.
It blows my mind that we have reached this point: College! L, It was a minute ago that we came home from the hospital, I laid you on the bed, and stared at you with all of the fear and awe and love in my heart; I did not feel ready to be responsible for another human being… and now that human being is ready to go out and do things on his own. As is always true: all that I want for you is now part of a different adventure that won’t always include me. And as much as that breaks my heart, I know that is exactly what needs to happen.
A and O, this adventure here continues. You know the place and the pace. You know the people. This level of comfort will hopefully allow you the confidence to continue to be good community members and good mentors and good friends to those you know and to those you will soon meet.
As is my right as a mom, may I say 10 more things.
1. Forget "should be", focus on your response. A small part of your life is decided by completely uncontrollable circumstances while the vast majority of your life is decided by your responses. Your response is always more powerful than your present circumstances.
2. Remember that some things really are uncontrollable. Don't invest more energy than you have, tripping over something behind you or something that only exists in your head. Let go of what can't be changed, and grow into that uncertainty that follows. It’s scary and big and uncertain, but that is where growth happens.
3. Practice self-forgiveness. Forgive yourself for being young and reckless. For lack of understanding or for choices that accidentally hurt others or yourself. What matters the most is your willingness to grow from these vital lessons. Look at the event, at your interaction, at your response, and grow from there.
4. Don't settle for default. You can customize. You can change things. Don't hide behind indecision or laziness. Forget popularity. Just do your thing with passion, humility and honesty. Do what you do, not for applause but because it is right. Do a little bit each day; that is how dreams are achieved.
5. Be open to new ideas and lessons. Let go of the assumptions that you have all of the answers. There is no one person who has all of the answers. Don't stop learning. Don't stop investing in yourself. Research. Read. Devour books. Engage with people, especially those who think differently. Ask questions. Listen closely. Be a person who gives back. Use what you are learning to make real and lasting differences. Remember, valuable life lessons are everywhere. Take care, sure, but know that sometimes taking too much care (read: being too wary or too careful) leads to not trying hard enough. Be open to learning. Be open to making a mistake. Be open to trying again and again and again until it feels more right. And then maybe trying yet again.
6. Constantly seek enduring contentment. Fleeting contentment is derived from instants of material comfort, while the enduring kind is attained through gradual growth and progress on matters that are truly important. Look beyond what you want right now for what you most want in the long term. Figure out where your time, energy and effort go and remove distractions. Focus on what matters in the long run.
7. Think and focus on your story. Don't worry about the successes of others. You write your own story. Remember, you won't always be a priority for others and that's why you have to be a priority to yourself. Learn to respect yourself, take care of yourself, and be a daily part of your own support system.
8. Things change. That is the way the world is supposed to be. Don't hold tight to the way things were. You are not the same person you were a year ago, a month ago, even a week ago. Evolve with it. You can't control what is happening, not all of it, but you can control your attitude about what happens. Gradually master that change. Be teachable. The world is often bigger than your view of the world. There's always room for a fresh idea or a next step. First, though, you must accept that things may never go back to how they used to be, and that this ending is really a new beginning.
9. Failure is not something to be feared. We will fail literally a dozen times to learn the way to succeed. No matter how many times we fail, we learn from those mistakes and can try again, try new, try different. As long as we keep trying, we are way ahead of everyone who isn't trying All of your ideas that don't work are simply stepping stones to the one idea that does. Failure is not falling down. Failure is staying down when you have the choice and the opportunity to get back up.
10. There are no perfect moments. Moments are not what is perfect, but rather what you make of them. If you want for the stars to align, you will be waiting waiting waiting. Don't spend your time waiting. Learn to see each of life's imperfections, each moment, each opportunity as a stepping stone.
It’s a privilege to be here, a privilege be present. The farther you venture from our own little corner in this world, the more you may feel as though you are on your own; know that I always have your back. I am here, even if we are not on the same landmass.
I love you all, with all of my heart, more than you will ever know.