A little while ago, I had an unusual request from a young friend of mine.
She told me she wanted me to write her a letter for her birthday; but not just email it, write it and mail it the old fashion way.
So I worked hard to figure out what was the right thing to say to a young woman on her 17th birthday, and the end result you can see below. I am sharing it with you all now (with her permission) because even though you are probably a bit past 17, 99% of it is relevant at any age.
First, let me say: HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
I have to confess, I have started this letter about ten times and had to start over since it didn’t say everything I wanted to say…because I didn’t know what I wanted to say!
So I will do my best to tell you everything I wish someone had said to me on my 17th birthday, and share with you everything I’ve learned since then.
First and foremost, you can do anything. ANYTHING!
Whatever your dreams, goals, or aspirations in this life are, you can have it. If God be with you, who can stand against you?
The obvious follow up question, then, is what is it that you want?
What is the dream that keeps you up at night, wishing you could make it come true, but you don’t know how? Figure out your passion, and break it into pieces. Start at the end goal, and walk backwards until you figure out what you can do to get started, even if it is making a phone call or sending an email.
When you are trying to figure out what you want to do in this life, remember what Shakespeare said: This above all else, to thine own self be true.
What that means is always do what makes YOU happy. It doesn’t matter if all your friends and family approve of your decisions, if you are unhappy.
If you choose to go to University, study what interests you. Always follow your passion, and the money will come. And I can tell you for certain it would be better to be moderately successful at something you love, than hugely successful at something you hate.
Does that make sense?
Since one day you are going to look up and 10 years have passed, then 20, then 50. You’ll have gotten married, had kids and grand kids, and you’ll look back on this time either with pride for all you did, or regret for all you didn’t do.
Choose who is going to set the pace in your life, will it be you or circumstances? Will you decide your direction, or will you hand your power over to other people to decide it for you?
Since if you don’t choose for yourself, someone else always will; and they probably won’t have your best interest in mind.
This is the absolute BEST time in all of history to be alive.
You have more options, more opportunities, and more knowledge available to you then ever before. Kings and Emperors didn’t have access to the kind of power you have your finger tips! You can fly around the world, or talk instantly with people living in foreign lands. ALL the old rules have changed, the world is changing, and you can go with it, get crushed by it, or shape it; the choice is yours.
I know I am jumping all over the place here, but I am typing it as it comes to me!
Now, when it comes to love: don’t be in too big of a rush to settle down. You are going to change SO much in the next 5 years; and personally I don’t recommend getting married before you are 25. Even if you find the right boy, there is no harm in a long engagement until you are absolutely sure, since there is nothing worse than looking up when you are 30 or 35 and wondering what all you missed. You should have lots of experiences with lots of different people; they will all teach you something about yourself and about the world.
When it comes to dealing with people, find a way to make everyone feel better about themselves and you’ll always have a friend when you need one. You are beautiful, brilliant, powerful and strong; help everyone else see that in themselves and you will be everyone’s favorite person. Remember, people are doing the best they can with what they have. They are at the mercy of their own past and conditioning, and often times people are acting on auto-pilot without really thinking about what they are saying or doing.
Which leads me to the past, and conditioning!
Right now, everything you are, and everything you think, is a result of everything that has happened to you up until now.
But you don’t have to continue like that if you don’t want to; anything you don’t like about yourself, you can change. Anything you do like about yourself, you can keep building on until you become great. Remember, as long as you get a little better every day you are on the right track; and one day you’ll look back and won’t be able to believe who you’ve become and all the things you have accomplished!
And now, the most important thing: God.
Figure out what God looks like to you; and once you know, ask yourself why that is. Is it what you were raised to believe? Or is it what you have discovered for yourself, and just know to be true?
There is NOTHING more important you can do in this life then cultivate an open and loving relationship with your Creator.
I think I am rambling, so I’ll stop here. Let me just end by saying:
You are absolutely great and I love you. You can go anywhere, do anything, be, do, or have whatever you want.
Have a goal, make a plan, make it happen.
Trust God, and trust yourself to make the right moves and follow the right path, and if you ever feel like you are off track it’s no problem. Just figure out where you went wrong, and do something else instead.
There is no failure, only feedback. The only people who have succeeded at everything they tried are people who never tried anything worth doing.
Never give up, never give up, never ever ever give up.
(For the letter I didn’t include my full signature below, but here I will!)
What do you think ? Feel free to comment down below!
You are great, and I love you!
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B. Dave Walters
Writer, Life Coach, and Talk Radio Host
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