One of my biggest concerns when my daughter left for college was that I hadn’t shared with her every piece of wisdom she would need to venture out on her own in the big world. Okay, maybe not the big world, but the big college campus, where she’d practice how to navigate the big world.
That’s what college is, really, a short road trip on an otherwise long journey. As parents, we look back on college for what it is, another stepping stone in life. From a daughter’s standpoint, however, college is the ultimate beginning. The fresh start. The blank canvas waiting to be filled with vibrant colors, smooth, easy strokes and harsh, life-learning jagged edges and textures. It’s that energizing “YES!” she says to herself or out loud to her roommate when she looks around that cool little dorm room and thinks, This is it. I’m here. My parents are there. My life has officially begun.
Which leads me back to my greatest concern. What if I hadn’t shared every piece of wisdom she would need? What if she forgot everything I told her?
In case she wasn’t listening, even as I babbled on and on to the point where she and her brothers begged the question, ‘Mom, Do you have to turn everything into a lesson?’ and I’d answer, ‘Hey, I’m just sayin’, I’m going to keep babbling.
So, dear daughter, here it goes, one lesson at time.
Life Lesson One: It’s okay to fail.
Life is a curveball of experiences that you’ll have to navigate while wearing a blindfold. There is no manual on how to do it right, and everyone’s experience is unique. There are no guarantees, except that you will trip and fall flat on your face. You will fail.
When you do fail, and you will, be strong enough and still enough to let the bruises and scrapes heal. Then, get over it. Get off your butt and get moving. Hustle hard and actively live your life. Try again, even though you’d rather crawl under your blankets or watch an entire season of American Horror Story in one sitting.
Within this journey of life, you’ll enjoy great successes. When you do, celebrate, because you’ve earned it. Listen carefully, though, those successes still aren’t as important as the failures. Does that surprise you? Maybe not, since you’re wiser than I was at your age. The thought of failure was almost debilitating to me back then — still can be, sometimes — but then I failed enough to finally learn it wasn’t a bad thing; it was necessary
Eventually, you’ll learn that, too. You’ll learn you must experience failure if you are to grow as a person. Be wise enough to accept those failures as they are: little blips.
Failures are not debilitating smackdowns from which you can’t recover, but, rather, they’re lessons in your life that need learning. No matter how devastating the failure may feel, you will always survive. There’s always another chance, another opportunity, another day.
American poet and writer John Sinclair is quoted as saying, “Failure is a bruise, not a tattoo.” I like that.
Carpe diem, my dear daughter! Failures and all!
Coming soon: Lesson 2 Choose your friends wisely. Yeah, I know, you’ve been hearing this one since grade school, but you know what? This advice applies no matter your age.
Photo credit: Tanisha Pina