I never anticipated being a father, let alone a single one. If you would have told me years ago that I'd be raising a daughter alone I would have probably laughed until I spilled my beer.
It has been an unending mountain of challenges for me. I thought I knew a lot about women and girls, until I had to raise one. Whether it was learning how to style your hair when you were little, or to paint your nails, it's all been a learning curve for me. Who knew that shoes should match your outfit? Not me. I’m sorry for all the times I sent you to school in mismatched clothes: When you wear blue jeans and T-shirts all the time, fashion sense isn’t something you are blessed with. I’m sorry for the times I embarrassed you in front of your friends, and all the paranoia when you had your first boyfriend.
I never expected you but now I’m not sure how I ever lived without you.
For all the attitude, tantrums, and arguments, I’m pretty sure I instilled a healthy penchant for debate in you. I’m sure your future spouse will appreciate that. Forgive me for the mistakes I made raising you, for much of my life before you came along. Responsibilities were not my strong suit. The whole adult thing always seemed slightly out of reach before you. For all the chaos between me and your mother, know that you were born out of love and raised out of it as well. We both wish the world for you, and I see her beauty in you every single day. We have laughed, cried, created and destroyed together, and we will for the rest of our lives. As with all the skinned knees and heartbreak, know that I will always try to be there to get the monsters that wait under your bed.
I write this to you with my hopes and dreams for you. Here you sit now as a young woman, ready to enter the world with eyes wide open. I offer this to you, the sum of many lessons in a lifetime of chances, that I pass on.
You can achieve all that you want in this world with some hard work and perseverance. Do not be afraid to chase your dreams because without them you will only be helping someone else achieve theirs. It took me a long time to figure out my path in life and it may take you as well. That’s okay, don’t be afraid to wander. Wandering is how you will learn to love yourself, and you must learn that before you can truly love another. Love is a tricky subject. I'd love to tell you that everyone will treat you as if your heart is fragile, but the truth is, they won't. People will break your heart. You have to be careful who you give your love to. It's okay to be protective of your heart. Don’t ever apologize for making someone earn a place in your life, or to keep it.
You will make mistakes in love, and that’s alright. If you’re like me, you will make lots of them. In all, truth be told there are no mistakes. Never view failures as such either, they are all lessons to learn from. Embrace each mistake and failure in your life as a lesson and they will build strength. If you view life as a student of the Earth, and never stop learning, then there is no end to what can be achieved; no ceiling. Throughout your life there will be people that may tell you differently. The honest truth to that is that we as people are only limited by what our minds believe we can achieve, so dream big. Don’t regret taking a risk or a chance to achieve something great. Sometimes it is necessary to reach the sum of one's hopes.
Now please don’t take that to mean that to capture a dream it will be easy, because the bigger the dream, the bigger the obstacles will be to achieve it. Anything worth having in this life will require fight and sacrifice to obtain, so don’t ever back down from that, and don’t ever apologize for fighting for it either. For all the things you may have to work and fight for in life, you need to be prepared, whether it be against an adversary or yourself. Knowledge is a weapon for life's battles; make sure you wield it wisely, and never stop learning. Staying mentally fit will help you be ready for your daily battles. Read something every day of your life and make sure to try to hear opposing opinions. Empathy is important. If you understand other people's plights you can see the value in every single person. So take time out, give to charity, donate your time, donate your love to those without; the universe will reward you in kind.
Perspective on others is key to understanding yourself as well as them, so travel, get out there and see how big the world really is, and how small we are in the grand scheme of things. This will help make whatever problems or things going on in your world seem smaller by comparison.
Whether you travel the world, or never leave home, know that you must always be vigilant. There are those on this Earth that seek to do people harm. It's not always easy, but learn to tell one from the other. I will always watch over you, but I will not be on this Earth forever. That doesn’t mean you should be fearful or withdrawn, just cautious and careful of your surroundings and those that occupy them. Be proud of who you are and what you have become. Your life is only just beginning to formulate. There will be many a path laid before you... be sure to choose wisely, because not all paths will lead to somewhere worth going to.
If you don’t choose the right path, or decide to change down the road, there’s always a way back. It's never too late to do the right thing.