To The Parents That Always Let Me Follow My Dreams

To The Parents That Always Let Me Follow My Dreams

My parents would look at each other, smile, and help me plan out whatever ridiculous thing I was about to do. That made all the difference in the world - I grew up truly thinking I could do anything I dreamed of doing, and that with a little help from my much wiser parents, it was possible.

When Hillary Clinton gave her concession speech, she said: "And to all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful, and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams." With all my other emotions following the election, this quote stuck with me. This is the childhood and adulthood I have been given by my parents: they have always allowed me to follow my dreams, regardless of how ridiculous and far-fetched they were.

When I was in elementary school, I decided I wanted to be a forensic anthropologist. I was an obnoxious and precocious kid, who thought I was special because I was in the fifth grade but reading at a high school level and did what I called "science stuff" with my dad (spoiler alert: I wasn't). I decided I wanted to be a forensic anthropologist because I had just started reading the book series by Kathy Reichs that the TV show Bones is based on. I remember sitting at the kitchen table at dinner, the book next to me in case the conversation became dry, and saying confidently, "I don't want to be a vet anymore. I'm going to be like Temperance Brennan."

My parents shared a look, and my mom smiled. "Okay honey, we'll support you no matter what you want to do." Another spoiler alert: I am in college now, but now to be a forensic anthropologist. I stuck with my original dream to be a veterinarian, though those dreams have evolved somewhat.

My parents always supported me in whatever ridiculous things I wanted to do - double major in biology and animal science with a minor in astrophysics (trust me - I know), run division 1 track with that double major and completely ridiculous minor, but most importantly, going 800 miles away from home for school when I had spent a maximum of a week away from my parents. My parents would just smile to each other, and figure out how we were going to make it happen.

I ended up at that school 800 miles from home; I didn't run division 1 track, and I didn't even double major. In the time from the beginning of my senior year until the end, a lot of things changed. The support from my parents never did though, and that was the only thing that mattered.

I never had a conversation with my parents where they tried to let me down gently, that whatever I was dreaming was improbable, impossible, and completely insane. My parents would look at each other, smile, and help me plan out whatever ridiculous thing I was about to do. That made all the difference in the world - I grew up truly thinking I could do anything I dreamed of doing, and that with a little help from my much wiser parents, it was possible.

I can't imagine my life without supportive parents, I would never have reached for the stars and pushed myself past the boundaries I had set for myself.

Cover Image Credit: Kate Marlette

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Happy Birthday

Thank you Dad.

So they always say that there is going to be one man in your life that loves you unconditionally from the day you are born for the rest of your life.

This man will be the one to read you bed time stories when you're little and will one day walk you down an aisle to give you away. He will be there for the biggest moments of your life. The dance recitals, the color guard contests, the band concerts, and everything in between.

A person who is going to look at you when a boy breaks your heart at fifteen years old and be ready to take him on for you. A man that will teach you how to change your brakes, how to manage money, and how you can be the best version of yourself every day.

I'm lucky enough to know that he is my dad.

Thank you for everything you have done for me as I have grown up. Thank you for teaching me how to change a tire on my car, how to be business savvy, how to be independent, and how to be myself. You also taught me how to stand up for myself which has made me a better person each and every day.

There are countless things that you do for me that I am always grateful for. I know I don't always say thank you when I should so this is a way that I wanted to use to do so.

Thank you for inspiring me to participate in marching band for all of those years and for always giving me advice on how I can and continue to improve myself each day.

Happy Birthday to you. Watch a soccer game and hang out with the cat since you're her favorite anyway.



Cover Image Credit: Monica Perryman

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Dear Dad, Thanks For Opening My Eyes

I hope you know your words, and who you are as a person, mean the world to your daughter.

Unlike most college kids on spring break, I didn't seem to have much of one. With a demanding major like mine, the grind never stops. Believe me, I knew what I was getting myself into when I enrolled in college. I love to challenge myself and keep myself busy but sometimes I too feel lost or hopeless when I'm putting in immeasurable hours of work and not seeing any progress.

And so, I paced the floor back and forth, until I plopped onto the couch. The only thing I could bring myself to do is cry and think that I'll never be able to get to my final destination in life if I can't pass those "weed-out courses." It was then instead of going to sleep or hanging out in the garage, my father decided to comfort me instead.

I got the usual from him: How was your day? What's new?

Of course,the waterworks began. It was in that moment that I told my dad how lately I've been drowning in school work, no, the college life. He responded with what I've been needing to hear for the last twenty years of my life. Truthfully, I think every person could use his advice now and forever.

Here's what he told me:

Before the break-up of Yugoslavia, my father was doing what any typical young adult would be doing with their life. He was a prospective engineering student, and just like myself, a diligent one. He mentioned the way I had been feeling lately brought him back into his old shoes.

The unimaginable happened. A brief moment in time, and my father found himself not in a classroom, but a concentration camp with other innocent men like himself. It was then he emphasized how life is cheap.

All the little things he would normally get frustrated over in college, at home, or with friends didn't even seem to matter anymore. He had to worry about his life being on the line. He had to take care of himself, yet he was also worrying if he would ever be reunited with his family. He was thinking about how he would get through another day.

The moral to his story is now forever engraved in my mind. It makes me realize my tears and uneasiness won't make changes to my life. There are bigger things to focus my time on. As much as your education should be a top priority, when you weigh it out, it's no match to you and your health overall.

Sometimes, life is going to take you through twists and turns, and you may have to make a few sacrifices (maybe with your sleep schedule or skipping out on a Friday night), but you cannot beat yourself over it each and every time. Give it a rest once in a while. You can only give it your all to a certain extent, until it starts to become an unhealthy habit, and even become an unwanted lifestyle.

Dad, I know you and mom gave up everything you had to give me a better life. You came to a foreign land with absolutely nothing, and took the opportunity to make that nothing into something. You've allowed me to have everything I've ever needed, and wanted to live a simple kind of life.

It was hard for me to understand all the advice you tried to give me before, and I never listened. Now the older I get, the more applicable your advice has been for my life. My eyes have been opened for the first time in a while, and I understand now! I push myself to do the same as you did twenty short years ago, and I hope someday I can return the favor you've given me all these years, and be just as successful and joyful as you are today.

I hope you know your words, and who you are as a person, means the world to your daughter. I am lucky that I was granted you as my role model, my sunshine at the end of the tunnel, and the best dad in the universe.

Cover Image Credit: Ermina Mulavdic

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