A Letter To Travis — Things I Wish I Was Taught About Becoming A Man

Travis and I Thanksgiving 2014

I wrote this over a year ago, but seemed appropriate today.

My ex girlfriend and I split up a couple months ago She has a 4 year old son who I bonded very closely with. He’s a special little guy whose laugh could make the most miserable person smile. Leaving him was very difficult. Before I left, I decided I wanted to write him a letter on things he should know as he became a man.

As I was growing up I never had a positive male role model to bestow much wisdom on me about becoming a good man. Candidly, I haven’t been the best man, partially due to that fact. I worried he may face some of the same challenges. I wrote this and gave it to his mother in hopes it that when he got old enough he would read it and it may help him.

Recently I have been struggling with life. A LOT! I came across this and read it to myself. I realize these principles have a lot of value to me at my age and in my situation. This certainly isn’t an all encompassing list, but it has helped me with some perspective on my life.

Things you should know as you become a man

1. Always love and respect your mother. You may not agree with some of the things she does and some of her rules, but she has your best interest at heart and she loves you more than the life itself.

2. You are perfect just as you are. Respect, care for and love yourself always.

3. Have confidence in yourself and trust in your abilities. Learn the difference between confidence and cockiness (which is false confidence). Everyone looks up to and respects confidence.

4. There are very few short cuts in life. To create something great it takes time, dedication and hard work. I have tried almost all of the short cuts in many aspects of life. I can tell you first hand they all come with a very high price. They tend to take you to a place you don’t want to go or they end up costing you more than you realize in one way or another.

5. Hold yourself to a higher standard. Always strive to do your best. You will be amazed what you can achieve when you work hard.

6. Be kind to everyone you meet. You never know who that person may be or what they are going through. Being kind is a sign of strength, not weakness. It’s important to know that the people you meet on the way up in life you may meet again on the way down.

7. If you have questions about anything always ask.

8. Learn to ask for help. This is one of the hardest things to do for some reason but if you truly are struggling and need help, ask for it. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of intelligence, humbleness and strength. Remember the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

9. Always make time to play, exercise and have fun. Treat you mind, body and soul as a temple. You need to eat right, stay active and take care of your emotional health too.

10. Try working out and lifting weights. It is very good for your body as well as your self-esteem and confidence. Just don’t let it run your life and don’t let it be your only focus in life. Do it as a hobby that will pay off benefits for years to come

11. Play sports or get involved with activities. You will be surprised how much you will learn and how much you may enjoy the team atmosphere and camaraderie. These types of things will teach you skills like hard work and disciple that will get you far in life.

12. Do things you love and enjoy today. Don’t wait to do them later because later may never come.

13. Read as much as you can. This is something I wish I would have done. Some of the most successful people I know are the ones that read the most and apply what they have learned from what they read.

14. Learn to work hard and smart. Nothing in this world is free and intelligence and work ethic are valued at a premium in this world

15. Don’t ever be afraid to take chances. Put yourself out there and try new things. You will regret the things you didn’t try much more so than the things you did that didn’t quite work out the way you hoped.

16. Never get into fights if you can avoid it. Defend yourself and stick up for yourself, never let anyone bully you, but only fight if you absolutely have to and there is an immediate threat.

17. Learn to listen. I mean really listen! Don’t just sit there waiting for people to stop so you can reply. Sometimes people just need to talk to get things off their chest and being there for someone may mean the world to them.

18. Treat women with respect. Don’t ever make them objects. Learn to be a gentleman. It’s something not many do. Open car doors for them; walk on the street side of the sidewalk when holding hands, when you take them out always pay for their dinner and make sure they get home safely.

19. Always respect and be kind to animals. You can tell a lot about a man’s soul by how he treats a defenseless animal.

20. Get a tailored suit. Everyone looks amazing in a great suit.

21. If for some reason you ever get in a situation and the police are
involved always wait until you have a lawyer present to speak to police under any circumstances! Simply politely tell then “you have been advised not to say anything without a lawyer present”. I truly hope you never are in a situation where you need that tidbit of advice.

22. Learn the difference between selfishness and selflessness. There have been many times in my life where I thought I was being selfless and I was actually being very selfish.

23. Always take care of yourself and never let people take advantage of you. However, at the same time learn to be generous and giving with your time, intelligence and your love

24. There are many people out there in the world that want to take advantage of you; there are also many that want to help. Learning to distinguish between the two is very difficult at times and it may take you a life time to figure out.

25. Learn to forgive yourself and others. Let go of all the anger and hatred you may have for others or yourself, it is pure poison and will only bring you down.

26. Never sink to someone else’s level.

27. Peace of mind is worth a lot.

28. When you apologize make sure you mean it! If you are going to say sorry, make sure the person you are apologizing to knows you’re sorry by not doing what hurt them again.

29. Always remember your manners. Say please, thank you, excuse me, sorry, and god bless you. Hold doors for women and elderly people. It’s something that’s lost nowadays and I can tell you it’s always appreciated and it’s a little thing that can earn you respect and get you far in life.

30. Forgive yourself and leave the past in the past.

31. Learn to let go of things that aren’t for you gracefully. Holding onto things that aren’t meant for you just means you are spending less time with what IS TRULY meant for you

32. Be very careful with drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. They can pollute your mind body and soul so quickly that you won’t even realized what happened until it’s too late. Please Trust me I know this one all too well.

33. Don’t fear failure. Failure is ok as long as you are accountable for it and you learn from your mistake and do it better next time.

34. Truly value the people who love you, like friends and family. They won’t be around or in your life forever so respect them and cherish every moment you have with them.

35. Life is scary and that’s ok, just taking things as they come, one day at a time and don’t fear the future or dwell on the past. Live for today because it is all that is promised to you.