Wednesday, June 5, 2013

For Jake on his 15th Birthday

During this year, I worried about your transition the most.  You were moving, starting high school and leaving friends you had known since kindergarten.  We both know that change is something you don't love, and as angry as you were about moving, you rallied.  You accepted it, you embraced your new band over the summer and by the school year had made some really good friends.  You found your place with music and your programming club, and I am proud of you.  I think a lesson you can take from this experience is that you are actually pretty good at change, and it doesn't have to be so painful after all.  This is an important lesson since the next phase of your life will be filled with change as you transition to college and on to independence.

I hope a couple of things for you this year.  I hope you find acceptance of those who are different from you, and I hope you find drive to accomplish things that not only inspire you, but also those that do not inspire you.  Often in life you will encounter people or jobs that are less than fun.  It is how you handle these situations that will define your character and success in life.

You are a smart guy.  You are a talented guy.  And you know it.  The thing is, there is confidence, and there is arrogance.  The difference between confidence and arrogance is that one believes in yourself, the other looks down on others.  I want you to be confident and move through your life with the certainty that you can do anything you decide to do.   But be careful in life to respect everyone around you.  You will encounter those that differ from you in everything from politics, to religion, to intellect, to talent, to drive and on and on.  You must allow people to differ from you and still respect them as people.  You must allow for the fact that your ideas are not always right.  Every person you meet has something to offer and something they can teach you.  Everyone has flaws and everyone has gifts.  Look for the gifts.  One who may not be as smart may be the kindest person you ever meet.  One who may not be as talented may be the hardest worker and succeed beyond their talent.  If you recognize others' gifts then you will see the value in everyone you meet and that fosters mutual respect.  

You are driven. You are driven with your music and it shows.  You are driven with your programming and I am amazed at what you can do.  What I hope you learn this year, is that the same level of drive you apply to the things you love needs to be applied to the things you don't love.  There are jobs everyone must do to accomplish their goals.  Along the path you choose, everything will not be fun and everything will not seem purposeful.  But those things are purposeful in the big picture if they help you end up where you want to be.  Success is not define by intelligence and talent.  It is defined by hard work and perseverance.  And to me, the definition of character is doing the right thing even if no one else is looking.  If I can teach all of my children that lesson, I will have succeeded.

I know that at 15, you are discovering a new level of independence and responsibility.  We are here to guide you, and while you may not always understand why we feel the way we do, know that we are only looking out for your best interest...even if it doesn't always feel that way.  I know you believe that and I know that you know we are making decisions for you and with you out of love.

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