This was never intended to be an open letter. I sent it as a personal note to my two college-age daughters, but with their permission and the encouragement of my co-workers at Growing Bolder, I have decided to publish it here in hopes that other parents will take the time to find the words to encourage their children.
Dear Kelsey and Quinn,
We live in a world in which communication has become easy, instantaneous and disposable. In the "old days" when long-distance phone calls were expensive and there was no such thing as Skype, emails or texts, we actually had to pull out a piece of paper and a pen and put some effort into expressing our thoughts and feelings. And because of that, we almost always wrote that which is too easily left out in a world filled with texts, 140-character tweets and 60-second phone calls.
I'm afraid that I have enthusiastically embraced digital media for better and for worse. Please forgive me for not communicating more deeply and more often, for not telling you both more frequently how much I love you and how proud I am of you.
You are both amazing young women -- very different in many ways, but very similar in ways that matter. You are able to chase different dreams while not, in any way, losing touch with who you are and what you believe in. That's not easy to do at any age. I can't begin to tell you how comforting it is to know that you have and will always have one another in your lives -- supporting, encouraging, listening and empowering.
Of course, you will always have your mother and me in your corner as well. I realize that's not your ideal situation, but your worst-case scenario, your Plan B fallback option, is always a warm, loving, comfortable place to live, food to eat and two people who will do anything they can to help you. I hope that knowledge will always bring you comfort as you chase your dreams.
I can tell you that no matter how old you get, you will never stop learning, never stop dreaming and, unfortunately, never stop encountering hurdles and struggles and frustrations. Happy people are those who recognize and appreciate the small blessings and tender mercies, but don't fret about or magnify the down days. They are part of every life and there will be many more of them but they can't steal your joy unless you let them.
More than anything else, I wish you both happiness, and that can only come from within. Happiness is a choice. Learn to follow your heart. Be grateful. Be kind. Be bold. Have fun, have faith and be fearless. Take the right kind of chances. Chase your dreams, no matter how big or how small. Success isn't measured by the size of your check or by how many people know your name. It's measured by the joy in your heart and the impact you have upon others.
Please don't pay too much attention to the garbage that our media and culture bombard you with. Most advertising is designed to make you feel inadequate in some way. Be as kind to yourself as you are to others. You are both blindingly beautiful in the only way that really matters. You are beautiful spirits and that is immediately obvious to anyone who takes even a moment to know you. I know you both already realize that you don't need a man to be happy or fulfilled. Of course, they can be nice to have around and I know you'll both find exactly what you're looking for when the time is right. Until then, remember that your worth is not determined in any way by a guy that you may or may not have.
I've learned more from both of you than I could ever hope to teach you. You are both amazing creatures and raising you has been the greatest blessing and honor of my life. I'll always treasure my role as your father but I'm equally excited about my role as your friend.