I get a lot of requests as a television "personality." Most often they involve tickets, autographs, time or money. But every once in a while a request comes along which forces me to stop and think. This is one of those times.
Just before I left for spring training, the father of a 5-year-old girl in California e-mailed and asked if I would write his daughter a letter--for her 16th birthday-- in 2019. Talk about pre-planning a present!
The father is reaching out to different women around the country he feels would serve as good role models, and has asked us to offer his then-teenage daughter solid life advice.
I was ﬂoored to say the least and completely honored. Iʼm also a little lost.
After a month on the road and surviving the ﬁrst few opening weeks of the season, I have ﬁnally started writing my letter to a girl Iʼve never met; trying to offer advice for someone who will be a young woman a decade in the future.
One of my ﬁrst bits of advice to this young lady-to-be, is never be too proud to ask for help. I ﬁgured Iʼd follow my own advice.
I have always prided myself on being raised in the very level-headed Midwest. Not that every kid raised east of Pennsylvania somehow escapes stupidity, but I think there is a different, positive set of values that is the result of the heartland.
So, now I ask you, Midwesterners and OnMilwaukee.com readers, to help me with this very important birthday gift. Below is the list of things Iʼd want my 16-year-old daughter to know ... if I had one. What would you tell this girl from the West Coast?
I thank my fellow Milwaukeeans in advance for your help!
Happy 16th Birthday! I hope today you not only have the best birthday of your 16 years, but also realize what an amazing father you have. It is obvious by this package of letters and videos, that your dad is kind, caring, thoughtful and loving. He is also very smart; knowing far in advance one person can never have all the answers, so he went ahead and asked for help.
In your father, you have already learned one of the most important life lessons: it is OK to ask for help.
It took me a while to learn this one, but when I ﬁnally did, it made a world of a difference. Asking for assistance does not make you weak. It does not mean you lack intelligence. It does not mean you are incapable of handing something on your own.
Enlisting the advice of others means youʼre willing to go to any length to get it right. So, whether it be a class in college (if you so choose to attend), a ﬁght with a friend or boyfriend (or girlfriend if you so choose), a work project or how to bake a cake; try and remember no question is too small.
On the ﬂip side, I would advise you to also learn to trust yourself. This is much harder than asking for help. As I write this letter to you I am almost 32 years old, and I still havenʼt quite mastered the art of believing my brain or my heart. There will be times when people, sometimes forcefully, will offer up their opinion. And although their reasoning may seem logical, make sure it is logical for you.
So with that said, take the following bits of advice for what they are worth, but in the end make sure it is worth it for you.
- Try not to get caught up in cattiness. Small minds talk about people, big minds talk about ideas.
- But donʼt beat yourself up for sharing some gossip. Itʼs only human nature to be voyeuristic and curious.
- Mascara, lip gloss and sunscreen are the only enhancements any woman really needs.
- Be proud of being a woman.
- Surround yourself with quality female friends. They will pick you up when you are down, and push you to greater things.
- Have a close male friend, who is ONLY a friend. Sometimes you need to understand men and a womanʼs word just wonʼt do.
- If still available, read the book "Heʼs Just Not that Into You."
- READ -- about anything and everything. Information is power.
- In the words of Carrie Bradshaw (a character on a popular HBO show during the late 1990s, early 2000s): "The most exciting, challenging and signiﬁcant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you ﬁnd someone to love the you you love, well, that's just fabulous."
- Dress for yourself.
- See the world. And if you canʼt afford to see the world, at least force yourself to experience all four corners of our own country.
- Allow experiences to change and affect you, but try not to let them make you bitter.
- Know you will continuously change and evolve as a person. No one is the same at 16 as they are at 26, 36, 46 or beyond. And thatʼs not only OK, itʼs called life.
- Donʼt be afraid to fail. Failing doesnʼt make you a failure, not trying does.
- Know the difference between taking a step back and walking away. You can take a step back from a situation, a job, a relationship, or a friendship, and if handled correctly you can almost always go back. But know if you turn around and walk away, thereʼs a good chance what you left wonʼt be there if you decide to return.
- Learn to be OK with being alone.
- But when the time is right, realize itʼs OK to want to be with someone.
- If possible, live away from home for a while. It will force you out of your comfort zone and make you appreciate what you left.
- You can ALWAYS go home again.
- Itʼs OK to take risks, even if they seem unattainable and scary at the time. Like a Jamaican man once told me as I stood at the edge of a cliff over the clear blue sea, sometimes you just have to close your eyes and jump.
- Try not to let fear dictate your decisions. Life is scary. Love is scary. But if you constantly push things away or avoid challenging situations, life just is.
- Take lots of pictures. Not every memory is spectacular, but every one is special.
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