My freshman year, I thought I got a failing grade for a class I dropped. When I got home for Summer Break and saw an "F" on my grade report I stopped being able to breathe properly. In fact, I couldn't breathe. I was too busy hyperventilating and contemplating my life as a garbage woman. My sophomore year of college I got a "C-" on my first test in a Law class that I needed to graduate. I curled up on the floor creating a steady stream of saltwater trailing down the hall in my sorority house. My dreams of being a lawyer were coming to a crashing end. My junior year, when my professor made an example out of me by yelling at me in front of the entire class, I scream-cried all the way back to my apartment and collapsed on my bedroom floor. My senior year, when I felt betrayed by my beloveds, I sat through Mission Impossible stuffing my tear stained face in a huge tub of popcorn.
The one thing all of these moments had in common, besides my never-ending tears? My Dad. When I couldn't breathe, when I thought one grade had surely done me in for a life as a Walmart greeter, when I thought there was nothing more horrific that could happen to me than taking a public shaming in front of 43 of my peers, and when I thought I was unworthy of friendship, my dad came to the rescue with some wise questions. (And when that didn't work, he gave me popcorn...)
Are you sick? Did you hurt anyone? Tomorrow, will you wake up?
So, the way I see it, this is far from the end of the world. (He clearly never had four girls ignore him at once...he also never made a bad grade in his life.)
My Dad didn't know it then, but he was teaching me two things that no amount of school could ever teach me.
which I think every person should fully understand, is that there actually is more to life than a stupid mistake, an embarrassing moment, or a silly fight. If it's not a learning experience, it's a story to look back on and laugh about. Sometimes we have to make mistakes and disappoint ourselves to be able to get to better experiences and opportunities. If I hadn't gotten that awful "C-" I never would have understood how to frame and articulate my thoughts. If I had never been ignored, I probably wouldn't fully understand how lucky I am to have people in my life who care about me even if I don't always seem to do the same for them. And if you can't learn from it? SO WHAT? It's not like you did something so bad it's irreversible and uncorrectable (I am aware this is not a word...I just can't think of the proper word).
The other end of the equation that my dad taught me about? That I want to surround myself with people just like him. Out of everyone in my life, he is the one person I can count on to unwind me from my uptight state of being. He has a logical sense about him paired with a childlike sense of humor that makes him the perfect Dad and perfect husband to my mom. (Sometimes his humor can be more than I bargain for, so my mom is pretty stellar for handling it.) I would be silly to not recognize that his calm, methodical and happy nature is exactly what I, and every girl, should be looking for.
So on this Father's Day, I want to thank my Dad for being the best man I know, for always pushing me to be better and for being there for me when it feels like the world around me is ending. My Momma sure hit the jackpot with that NJB. Here's to hoping there is someone with the same qualities my dad has on my search for my NJB.