My Beloved Son,
You will more than likely read this letter, the teenager that you are, appreciating and agreeing with the sentiment, but ignoring or putting aside most of it; just as I did with nearly every life lesson that my father passed on to me. Well, I’m listening now, Dad.
When I think of my life, I think of your life and what the future holds for you. Will you be like me? Will your life turn out as mine has? Is that a good or bad thing? The answer to the latter depends on which half of my life you chose to examine or emulate…if either.
Unaware. Unsure. Shy. Full of dreams. Full of doubt. Multi-talented without the confidence or motivation to pursue even one of my many talents. Complimented, praised and admired, but unable or unprepared to accept the accolades. Educated in street and book. My parents supported all of my endeavors and supplied me with everything that I needed to pursue those that were financially in reach at the time. The rest I found ways to pursue in smaller doses. All in all, I was never bored, always busy pursuing one dream or another and supported along the way by friends and family.
What a beginning I had. Little did I know, I had everything! I had it all. It was all there for me to choose from, take hold of and build on. I chose instead to do nothing. To simply make a living and bide my time. A very modest living. Just enough to get by and at times not even enough to do that. Ignoring all of my talents, skills and passions; taking jobs that didn’t interest or stimulate me in any way. Trying awkwardly to follow a path guided by others opinions of which direction I should take.
It’s been a long life of lessons and teachable moments. Similar to your questions of where to begin as you enter adulthood, I wondered, for many years, what would become of my life. Don’t worry. You will find your path…and it may surprise you.
There is nothing particularly wrong with being content. Being content in life is not a bad thing…ever. In fact, the word itself is highly underrated. By definition, contentment is a state of happiness and satisfaction. Societal pressures to have wealth and/or fame should not be the measure of a person. A rich life is based on how your life is lived and how it has affected the lives of those around you. This should be the true measure of a person. If at the end of your days, you can look back and say that you lived a full and rich life, by this definition, a true life of contentment, then your life will have been a success and I would be forever happy to know that this was your life.
New Roads to Travel:
You have so many questions and are so uncertain, as I was at your age and for many years after. Don’t be afraid that you do not have all or even any of the answers yet. You will find your own answers and your own ways to get where you want to be. Always be mindful and diligent in finding these answers, but know that they will come when least expected and in forms that might not be immediately clear. In the meantime, ask me. I will provide you with real life lessons and experiences to base your answers on, but not necessarily to follow. We are all unique individuals with different lives to lead. The road I’ve traveled is unique to me. There are new roads left for you to travel, my fortunate boy.
Again, I understand that this information will be taken to heart, as you are a heart filled, gentle and caring young man. But only as deep as your young, inexperienced heart can take it. This is not an insult to your age or maturity, but a tribute and envy of your life just beginning.
As I enter my second half of life, I hope this letter provides you with some guidance. It’s backed by solid hard work and a firm foundation of incredible hardship, heartbreaking and devastating losses, some scattered successes and many eye opening discoveries along the way. Finally, as an older adult, I’m discovering what life truly means to me and how my life has affected others in a positive way. Through self discovery, self education and simply diving into interests and passions I didn’t even know I had, I was able to find unselfish contentment in my own life. This contentment is formed by the clear path that I follow today, built on progress and continued learning. Never turn down an opportunity to learn something new. This is never wasted time. Take what you can use and leave the rest. You never know where or when you may be able to apply what you’ve learned.
Now granted, as a teen, you take any job that fits your school and after school schedule. You can’t be too picky in the beginning. You’re working to gain experience in any workplace, developing a work ethic and learning to combine and control work and life experiences. This letter is separate from these developmental years.
When finding your career or life’s passion (hopefully these will become one) you would be wise to find something that stimulates you in some way. Something that reflects your existing skills or talents. If you find that you have a passion for something that is not in your skill set, have the willingness to learn all that you can on the subject and dive in. Find something that you love to do and then find a way to support yourself doing that thing. This is the best case scenario. Along the way, you will fail and/or fall onto hard times. You will never be alone. I will always be there to help you find your own way. Remember this, you will fail, before you succeed; so fail and fail often. Success will be around the corner.
Finally, surround yourself with positive and like-minded thinkers. This is not to say that you won’t feel disappointed, frustrated with wrong choices or feel the struggle to get over some of life’s tall hurdles. You will experience these things. Placing yourself within a positive environment will prevent you from getting hung up on these life challenges and will provide you with the ability to adjust and move forward. This is key.
I wish for you a lifetime of lessons learned quickly, patience to examine and learn from those lessons, the strength to work through your failures and contentment for all the years to follow.
You are my greatest success!
Always, in all ways…Dad
Ron Blanchette‘s professional career began as a Behavior Specialist helping to modify the behavior of emotionally disturbed adults and unfortunate victims of head injury. Today, he works as a Graphic Designer, Writer and Philanthropist/Founder of HelpJester, Incorporated.HelpJester, Incorporated is a 501c3 non-profit organization designed to provide help on diverse topics while teaching the joy that comes with giving and helping others. Visit HelpJester’s YouTube Channel for Positive Life Lessons.
Image courtesy of Dvir Adler.