To thine own self be true. That’s a line you and I have often thrown at each other these past months as you were winding down your college life. Tomorrow you leave the doors of Loyola, come down from the hill, and will soon venture into the brave, new world of your choosing.
To thine own self be true. The journey inward is difficult and excruciating, but it’s something that, I’d like to believe, you have been trained well for. To speak your mind and your heart, but always with kindness and respect for the other.
Even as a little girl you always had a good head on your dependable shoulders. You and I have been through a lot. We’ve fought, we’ve loved, we’ve forgiven each other time and again. Through each mother-child battle, we’ve come out stronger.
The heart, figuratively and literally, has played a huge role in our lives as parent and child, and as women, in the decisions we have made, and in the paths we have chosen.
Heart and intuition
Always listen to your heart; let it be your compass. Stay true to your course and never ever live someone else’s life. Steve Jobs said it best: “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
Every day, pray to be guided. When your heart is right with God, you will never have to fear, and you will never go astray.
Keep a high threshold for frustration and disappointments. Like I always tell you, don’t dwell. If you fall, get back up. Dust yourself off, mourn a bit if you must, and keep moving forward. Always keep your eye on the goal, and think back on why you want to do what you do. Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.
Don’t ever be afraid to fall, or to feel like you’ve lost your way. Sometimes, in life, no matter what stage you are in, you need to get lost, to find yourself. Setbacks are allowed by God for a reason, remember that.
Your favorite author, JK Rowling, put it perfectly: “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously, that you might as well not have lived at all; in which case, you’ve failed by default.” Live, fail, get back up.
Choose your thoughts on a daily basis, moment by moment. If you focus on the positive side of things, you will always be buoyed by a hope that no one can ever take away from you. Learn to be an intelligent optimist.
The brilliant but sad David Foster Wallace described it this way in a landmark speech at Kenyon College: “Learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to, and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed.”
I’ve seen your focus and your grit, continue on that path, and you will be all right.
Don’t be a fence sitter, dear Pia. Always take action, and take a stand. I’ve seen this in you, and I pray that you will always keep that fire within, no matter where life takes you, or whatever life may bring.
Life is always a choice. You can be proactive or reactive, bitter or better. Only you can decide whether you want to be a victim or the hero of your story.
I read somewhere that at the end of the day, you will be judged by your gallop, and not by your stumble. Ride into this new adventure very well.
Be in every moment, never lose the wonder, take time to stop and play—sounds simple but sometimes hard to do. Work hard, but also be kind to yourself. Listen to your body and the signals it sends. The body is wise, always heed it. Trust your gut, most especially.
I’m not a doctor, but all I know is that you are about to enter one of the most exciting and challenging periods of your young adult life. It definitely won’t be easy, and I am certain there will be times you’ll want to give up.
Take heart in the words of one of my favorite authors, Barbara Kingsolver: “The arc of history is longer than human vision. It bends… We have done hard things before. And every time it took a terrible fight between people who could not imagine changing the rules, and those who said, ‘We already did. We have made the world new.’ The hardest part will be to convince yourself of the possibilities, and hang on.”
Change the world the best way you can. Make this a better place for all of humanity, but more so for women because you are a woman who has been given so many more opportunities than other women. Pray to be led, to be part of an answer, a project, a team, a medical discovery or breakthrough that will make this world a much better place when you leave it someday.
You have done so well, I couldn’t be prouder, and I am so grateful that God gave you to me. I love you my dearest child. Congratulations!