Four Lessons I Learned From My Dad

When I was eight years old, I never dreamed about being president, or an astronaut. I dreamed about being a princess, but after eight years of life, my perspective shifted.

Eight year old Stacy: I want to be a princess.
My Dad: No, you can do better. What can you do being a princess? You listen to a king? No, you can do better. You be the king.

I’m twelve years old and I am caught in a cyberbully attack on two fellow students. I was placed as an admin for a hate page a few weeks beforehand and just saw it as something that happened, and spent the next few weeks paying no attention to it. One day, I was called into the office because one of the girls became too afraid to come to school. I was found guilty of being a bystander to something that made someone fearful of going outside.

My Dad: The second to worst type of person you can be, is a person who seeks for other people’s undoings and revels in them. The worst type of person you can be, is the person who sees it happening and decides you don’t care enough to stop it. Right now, you are the worst type.

I am fifteen years old and there is a boy who gives me kisses on the forehead, makes me laugh and dance embarrassingly in public, and holds me close when I am feeling anxious in order to not smother me, but to know that he is there. We stay up past midnight to talk for hours on skype, learning each other’s insecurities and strengths and questions and values, realizing we have far more differences than similarities, but it keeps the debates going. I am fifteen years old and it feels like love, at least I think it was.

My Dad: There will be a lot of people you love in your life. But the person who won’t leave, aside from your parents, when feelings and situations change, is yourself. Make sure at the end of the day, you can say you love yourself.

It is my senior year, I am seventeen years old and my dad still drives me to school every day. Each morning we talk to each other to keep us both awake, a tradition we’ve had since I was in the fourth grade. I am seventeen years old and I am thinking about college, I am thinking about where I will be a year from now, I am thinking about if I am failing as a leader in my club, I am thinking that I can and that I can’t, I am thinking about how I am so utterly and completely unsure, and I am begging my dad to give me answers, to tell me which way.

My Dad: I don’t know about college, it was never in the cards for me. At this point, your mom and I have taught you everything that we can. We have shown you all of our values, we have taught you all of our lessons, we have shared our faith and our belief, we have raised in you our environment and culture. Now, it is up to you what you do with that. It is up to you, who you become from what we gave you. I have no more answers.

I am eighteen years old. Here I go.

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