1.) Life is not about you.
Sometimes there will be people you don’t like, rules you don’t agree with, and hoops you have to jump through. Sometimes the group will decide to do something you don’t enjoy. Sometimes you have to sacrifice for people you love. Sometimes you’re forced to spend time with people who get on your nerves. The great thing is you don’t have to get your panties in a wad about it, you don’t have to be miserable and cranky the whole time, and you don’t have to be overwhelmed by the indignation that comes from a false sense of entitlement. It turns out you’re allowed to enjoy yourself even when you don’t get your way. It’s crazy but you can treat people the way you would like to be treated even when you’re not in a good mood. And, you will not believe this but, it’s even okay do all this without whining the whole time. HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE? you ask. Well, it’s possible, because life is not about you. It’s really a pretty freeing truth to accept.
2.) Honesty is the best policy.
My dad would always say the one thing he can’t stand is a liar. And he can’t. And not just lying, but sneakiness in general. He definitely passed that onto me. I think it’s probably why I’m so obsessed with truth. It’s probably why I value transparency to the point of being too blunt every now and then. It’s shaped who I am.
3.) Don’t be sorry; be better.
I’m the type of person who says sorry for everything. Even for ridiculous stuff that’s in no way my fault. A stranger carelessly rams into me? “Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry!” I find a bug in my food at a restaurant, “Um, I found a bug…could I maybe have some new food. I’m sorry!” A robber breaks into my house, “Sorry for the mess!” I can’t even count the number of times my dad told me, “Don’t be sorry, be better.” At the time, I was too busy rolling my eyes. But the older I get, the more I take these words to heart. Now, there is a time and place for apologies, like when you genuinely mess up and need to take responsibility for yourself. But the point he is making is that at the end of the day, being sorry doesn’t mean jack squat if you’re just going to do it again. For example, if you’re late to a meeting every single week, stop apologizing for being late and start actually being on time.
This is an idea that can be applied to a lot of different areas of life. If you’re hired to do a job, be faithful to your commitment to do that job, by DOING IT. If you make a commitment to follow certain rules or obligations as a member or leader of a group, STICK TO THEM. Don’t give someone your word if you don’t intend to keep it. Stand by that word even when it’s hard. Don’t run away from a situation just because there ‘s conflict. Do everything you can to fix it instead of bailing.
5.) Have a good sense of humor.
Thanks to my dad (and mom), I am more than fluent in sarcasm. I know that it’s easier to be happy when you can laugh at yourself and at situations that suck. I know how to make a comeback. And being playfully tricked by my dad so many times as a child, I’m no longer very gullible. In addition, dad is a very ornery man, but he is also pretty good at flying under the radar about it. If you know me very well, you will agree that this is a trait I have inherited. I’m still trying to figure out why, but on the surface, I come across atsa pretty sweet and innocent gal. I cannot tell you the amount of times this has worked to my advantage. Until people get to know me, no one ever suspects me to be responsible for pranks or believes that I could bring myself to tease someone with my wit and sass. Anyone who does is usually chastised by the rest of group, because, “Alissa is too nice! She would never do that!!” I just sit back and watch the world burn as they turn on each other. It’s pretty great.
6.) Think for yourself.
When my dad and I are on long drives somewhere, besides faking outrage at every single driver who doesn’t wave back at us, we always have really good conversations about life. It typically follows the same basic timeline. It starts with me picking his brain on a topic I’ve been thinking about and sharing my thoughts, expecting him to agree with me (because I’m always right). Then he doesn’t. Or even if he does, he is exceptionally good at playing Devil’s Advocate. I get so ticked and defensive every time, even when I know it’s coming. Then a few days later after I’ve processed everything, I’m always grateful. Because whether I end up with the same opinion I started with or with the complete opposite (it’s usually somewhere in the middle), my thoughts are about a thousand times more solidified. I’ve looked at the issue from every angle. I appreciate that. It’s taught me to think before I speak and to not form opinions out of emotion but out of reasoning.
7.) Look at the heart.
My dad is a very good judge of character. Some people that are on everyone else’s pedestals, but aren’t on his.He’s not judgmental, but he can see through phoniness better than anyone else I know. More importantly, he sees the good in people no one else sees. There are kids he has in class that the other teachers at school can’t stand, the trouble makers. But my dad will be telling me about one of them, and he says things like, “She’s a really neat kid,” or “He just has a good heart.” I think that’s so cool. I want to be like that. I want to have eyes that see. I want to give chances to people that have been completely written off by everyone else.
8.) Haterz gon hate.
Okay, my dad has never actually said those words. Shocking, I know. But he does tell me, “You can’t make everybody happy,” a lot. This is earth-shattering news to me every time I re-realize how true it is. I’ve always been the girl that wants to have everybody’s approval when it comes to my actions or my words. I want people to like me. Thank heavens I’m finally outgrowing that. Partly from how largely unsuccessful I have been every time I try, but mostly, I think, from all the times my dad has reminded me. Some people like to be mad and offended; they feed off of it. Other people mean well, but are using the wrong tools to measure you. It’s more important to do what is right and to be honest than make yourself sick trying not to step on any toes ever.
9.) Chill out. And don’t be afraid to be happy.
Over the course of my life, my dad has told me to chill out quite a bit. I get myself rather worked up with that whole anxiety problem I have. I missed a scholarship deadline so I feel like the biggest disappointment a daughter could be. I’m stuck between two non-moral choices and I’m confident the world is going to end if I pick the wrong one. I don’t have life figured out so I think I’m going to hell. He’s one of the few people I feel comfortable freaking out around. He’s always just like, “Sis, chill out. It’s going to be okay.” Which is sometimes really annoying in the moment, but when the next time I’m all alone and anxiety has me in a choke hold, I hear those words in my head a lot. Chill out. It’s going to be okay. Last time we talked on the phone, after I word vomited all over him about life and my existential crises, before we hung up he said, “Chill out. And don’t be afraid to be happy.” I do that a lot, I’m afraid to be happy because I’m too eaten up by guilt or shame or anxiety or fear to enjoy anything until I completely have everything I’ll figured out. But that’s stupid. I’m finally starting to catch on. I’m going to make mistakes. There will always be things I don’t understand. But it’s okay to be happy anyway.
10.) Overalls are rad.
This one speaks for itself.