Though he will always be too humble to admit it, my father is an extraordinary man. I am lucky enough to have a dad who has been there for his children through every high and every low, sacrificing things I will never be able to repay him for. While there are hundreds of reasons I am proud to have him as my dad, I feel the most thankful for the support and advice he's given me throughout the years.
Below are seven things my dad's taught me that have made growing up easier and more fulfilling experience.
1. Life is like a math equation.
Think of life as one of those "solve for x" problems. If you subtract from one side, you add to the other. If you do something here, you must do something there.
In other words, my dad taught me that all of our actions have consequences, and we can't just turn a blind eye to one side of the situation. Take my early view of Fate, for instance. I believed in only the good side of Fate, the part that brings beautiful people and happy moments into my life. My dad, however, reminded me that if Fate exists, then it must also bring about hardships and challenges. Fate must kill innocent children and rape young women, too. It's reminders like this that keep my feet on the ground and my head out of the clouds.
2. Life will never be fair.
As sort of an extension to the previous piece of advice, my dad has drilled into my head that I should never expect life to be easy or fair. What I read in books and see on TV is pure fiction, and I need to be careful with the romantic head of mine.
Hearing this semi-regularly keeps my naive heart at bay, though I admittedly often fall victim to believing the Universe will be kind to me. When I'm not walking around with that pitiful daydreaming look about me, this piece of advice has saved me from a lot of unnecessary disappointment in life.
3. You have your whole life ahead of you, so be patient.
Like I said, I'm a romantic. I'm always reading, writing, or thinking about love, and I've expressed fear about being unloveable more than once in the past. My dad saves me from that rabbit hole of self-loathing when he reminds me of my youth. He married and had kids later in life than I would want, but he still got his happy ending. I have years and years ahead of me to still live. Everything doesn't need to happen right now.
4. Guys will never say "no" to sex, so always be on your guard.If there's one thing I absolutely love about my dad is how real he is about life. He doesn't lock me up in my room or scare away any boy who comes near me (thank goodness). I'm not treated like a little girl who needs to be protected at all costs. I'm treated like the independent woman I'm growing up to be. My dad actually takes the time to teach me things I need to know, like how to be safe and what to do in difficult situations with boys. He doesn't hide me from the sexual part of life — he teaches me the safe, smart way to navigate through it. That's how you parent as a father of two girls.
5. Always use a condom.
This is pretty self-explanatory, and it's one piece of advice I absolutely take seriously. Condoms don't just protect against pregnancy. They keep you safe from disease, and I think people forget that part far too often. There's nothing sexy about STDs.
6. You can't fix people with love.
I actually wrote an article dedicated to this life lesson. It was definitely the hardest truth I've had to accept from him, but it's brought me more peace of mind than you can ever imagine.
It goes both ways, too. I may not be able to fix other people, but other people will not be able to fix me, either. That alone is teaching me, albeit slowly, how to take care of myself emotionally, mentally, and physically in ways most people never get to learn.
7. Your education will be the most important thing you get.
I am hands-down one of the luckiest people in the world to have the father (and mother) I do. Both my parents graduated college with debt and swore they would not let that happen to their children. And it didn't. My sister and I get to graduate debt-free, a blessing and privilege I know I will never take for granted. My dad even encourages me to go after a double major even though it means an extra year of school for me and an extra year of work for him. My education comes from extraordinary sacrifices on my parents' part, and I am thankful for it every day.
Thankful and proud to call you my father every day, Pops.