Every little girl dreams of being a daddy’s girl.
I know I did.
I’m the spitting image of my mother, but I’m my father’s child. I have his crooked smile, his bad eyesight, and his stubborn personality. Over the years, we’ve butted heads more times than you can count. While we haven’t always gotten along, my father has taught me many important life lessons that I take with me wherever I go.
I spent most of my teenage years listening to the constant lectures from my father with one ear. He’s not a 15-year-old girl so what does he know? With every trip around the sun, I begin to realize everything he said was right. As a teenager, life would come crashing down with every B- on a math test or a high school heartbreak, but as an adult, I soon realized that those tragedies were child’s play compared to real life.
I’m lucky that I had two very supportive parents that blessed my sisters and me with a great childhood. From summers on the lake to multiple ponies to ski trips, we lived pretty comfortably. Unfortunately, my mother was taken from us too soon, which only strengthen my relationship with my father. Wills, Power of Attorneys, and death will make you grow up fast and realize that you need to cherish your loved ones.
As I travel aimlessly around the globe in search of whatever I’m looking for, I can’t help but think back on some of the most important lessons that my father taught me in my 29 years on this planet. Life isn’t always easy, but with commonsense and a little faith in yourself, you can get by even in your darkest days.
5 Lessons My Father Taught Me
Save and Invest Early
I come from a frugal family. Every dollar counts. While we had plenty of money to spare, my mother insisted on hand-me-downs and store brand foods. My father is a do-it-yourself kind of guy from finishing the basement to adding an addition to the house, he has built his equity through blood, sweat, and tears.
From an early age, my sisters and I were taught the importance of saving money and investing. We all had savings accounts in the 1st grade and would put a dollar away every week. My father booted me out the door the day I turned 15 and told me to get a job. During my youth, I spent much of my money on clothes and needless things, but as I aged and graduated college I began to understand the importance of paying off my debt and saving for a rainy day.
One of my father’s favorite topics is saving for retirement. I probably know more about 401(k) and pensions than most people my age. Heck, most people in general! The day my company offered a 401(k) I immediately started investing 12% of my salary. Since then I have continued to invest and save as much money as possible. Thanks for setting me up to retire early, Dad!
Live A Little Before Settling Down
My parents got married in their early 30s. They had careers, traveled, and spent time with friends. Throughout my life, both my parents told me to enjoy and experience as much of life as possible before I got married. I’m not quite sure moving to Australia was what they meant, but my father understood my need to see the world on my own terms.
As I approach the ripe old age of 30 and see many of my friends get engaged, married, and have children, I have begun to struggle with the need to start settling down and nesting. Every where I go, I pick up little souvenirs, like paintings and pottery, that will go into my future house someday. At this point in life, I’m pretty sure I’m just going to be the crazy cat lady so I plan to travel and do my own thing until I can find a decent man who is crazy enough to join me on this ride called life.
Growing up my father worked at the local paper mill until he was laid off in 2004. He knew it was eventually going to happen. He escaped previous lay offs, but the rumors of a big one coming was inevitable. He had been planning a head for years. The mortgage was paid off in half the time. And he started to turn his hobby into a business.
My father is obsessed with Tekronix oscilloscopes and began buying them in bulk to sell on eBay. He had hoped to turn it into a full-time job, but with demand dropping and the economy crashing, his dream never turned into a reality. Instead he went back to school to become a HVAC technician. Through watching him chase a dream, I learned that its important to take risks. You might fail while doing it, but you won’t know unless you try.
Work Hard for What You Want
Very rarely in life will you be just handed something. If you want something, you must work hard for it. Both my parents were hard workers. My mother worked from home in what we deemed her “sweat shop” sewing from dawn to dusk. My father work at the mill and later as a HVAC technician. As a child my father worked different shifts. I vaguely remember my mother telling us to be quiet in the middle of the day because my father was working the night shift and needed to sleep. He’d often worked extra shifts because he’d take home a bigger paycheck to pay off the mortgage.
When he was laid off, he went to school in the morning and worked the evening shift at FedEx so my family could have health insurance. It wasn’t easy, but he did what he had to do for his family. While I grew up in a middle class family with horses and a private school education, I have always worked for everything I have in my life.
I worked hard in high school to get scholarships to help pay for college. I worked multiple jobs for years to help pay off those pesky student loans. I worked full-time while attending graduate school full-time. Now that I’m living in Australia, I’m still working hard on growing my freelance business. While my friends are out at all hours of the night partying or working on their tans, I’m in the hostel on my computer typing away.
I have issues with the traditional 9 to 5 work lifestyle. I’m sure someday I will end up back in the corporate game trying to work my way up the ladder, but in the meantime, I’m going to work hard to make my dream of living a semi-nomad lifestyle a possibility.
It’s Okay to Fail
I was once asked what my greatest fear was. Without a blink of an eye I responded with spiders and snakes. I hate both, especially spiders, which are quite abundant in Australia. Go figure. However, spiders and snakes aren’t my biggest fear. I fear failure. All through life failure wasn’t an option. I’m a perfectionist by nature. I want to be the best at everything. I think it’s why I took up the sport of triathlon, even though I did and will always continue to suck at running.
But, I’ve failed more times than I can count. So has my father. If you take risks in life, you’re bound to fail at some point. And, that’s okay. It means you tried. After being let go from my job last November, my greatest fear was going home to tell my dad that I was fired. Thankfully, he’s been in that position before and understood what it was like to dread going to a job you hate every day. He knew that I didn’t really fail, I just needed that extra push to start following my dreams.
Failure is a part of life. Everyone fails and it’s okay. It means you tried something and it just wasn’t right. Whether it was a new job or hobby or love interest, it just wasn’t right. Failure will bring new opportunities and lessons. It is what you make of your failure that truly determines what kind of person you are. I’ve come to accept failure and learn from my mistakes to continue to grow into the strong, independent woman my parents raised me to be.
Fathers play an important role in developing their children, especially little girls. Without my father I wouldn’t be the woman I am today. So thanks, Dad!