My dad is one of my best friends and greatest role models in life. When I was younger, we used to watch Saturday college football together almost every week. This chunk of time also gave me quality time to spend with one of my favorite people. As I grew up, I realized my dad was more than just my sports-obsessed best friend, he was my biggest inspiration and one of the most influential teachers in my life. He taught me six of the most important lessons I will ever learn.
1. Smile always
I have always been a smiley person. It is probably one of the most noticeable things about my personality. Smiling always made me feel better no matter the situation I was in. A constant reminder my dad would give me is that most things in life can be solved with a simple smile. It's like that saying "kill them with kindness," a smile works the same way. People are more willing to trust you and to help you if you smile. Plus, who doesn't love being happy and smiley most of the time?
2. Saturdays are for college football
I have always been an avid sports fan—from hockey to football to basketball I like to watch it all. Growing up, my dad would sit on the couch with me almost every Saturday and we would watch the Fighting Illini football game. I used to look forward to this part of the weekend because it was back when they were good and we had something to cheer for. Nowadays, I look forward to my dad coming down to campus and getting to cheer along with him in the bleachers.
Even though the wins are few and far between, I always love the tradition of getting to sing "Hail to the Orange" with my dad. Sports is one of our major shared interests and getting to continue our tradition of Saturday football is amazing. But even if my dad is not on campus I still watch college football on Saturdays, whether its the Illini, the Naval Academy, or Notre Dame, there is always a football game that needs to be watched.
3. Never yell
I can not remember a time in my life where my dad has ever yelled at my brother or I. There have been arguments and situations where he has been genuinely frustrated but never once has he raised his voice at us. This for me is such an important thing. Anything worth saying should not be yelled. Once the yelling starts, people stop paying attention to what you are saying. Yelling at someone does not fix a problem, often times it can lead to more issues. The only time yelling is called for is during those Saturday football games.
4. Speak up for yourself
My dad has always been a strong proponent of speaking up for oneself. It builds self-confidence and self-esteem and it improves people skills. Learning to speak up for myself was not an easy task. If it wasn't for my dad, I probably would be a lot less willing to speak out against things that I do not always agree with. If you have a different opinion than someone, speak up let them know. Silence is often viewed as a sign of agreement. Make your opinion known, but always be respectful when doing it. Having that confidence in yourself makes it a lot easier to be more open and outgoing overall as a person.
5. Be your own #1 fan
Having supporters is amazing and truly creates a more empowering and motivational environment, but the best supporter is always yourself. No one can push you to work more or give more effort than you can. Believing in yourself, supporting yourself, and always being your own cheerleader is so important. It is a great feeling to know others believe in but if you don't believe in yourself, what is the point? If we don't believe in ourselves, why should others? So much of what my dad taught me has to do with self-confidence and self-belief. Although it's not always easy to believe in ourselves, it is something we have to do.
6. Live without fear
This was definitely a lesson I needed in life, but it was not a lesson I necessarily knew my dad was teaching. Honestly, I don't even know if he was trying to teach me or if I just observed it through behavior. There have been points in my life where I have watched my dad do many amazing things. But the most amazing is the confidence that he puts out especially when he is giving presentations. or doing some sort of public speaking. When we restrict ourselves and refrain from doing things that scare us, we aren't growing as people. The best way to grow is to live without fear. Do the things that scare us and take risks—this can lead to some unexpected and exciting things.
Sometimes I wish my dad had taught me how to change a tire, but these lessons are probably more applicable on how to live life to the fullest.