Eighteen years ago when your eyes fluttered to see the world for the first time, you brought joy to your family. You still do. We’re proud of the young woman you are and look forward to the adult you’re becoming.
From the beginning, you’ve heard how South Carolinians are a warm and generous people with an independent spirit. On the day you were born, I wrote this to you: “You should know our people are generally good. Sometimes they stray and do bad things or forget to do what’s right. … Sometimes people forget the lessons of church to love their neighbors and, instead, love themselves too much.”
Those words are still true today as are those that followed, “Sometimes people need help – a hand up to get past hard times. There’s nothing ever wrong with asking for help and you shouldn’t look down on somebody who needs it.”
You and your younger sister have learned and seen a lot as you’ve grown. You learned to read, communicate with others and look adults in the eye. You’ve found things that interest you and make you interesting – playing the piano, learning Japanese, admiring sharks and more. You’ve shown you appreciate the value of hard work and travel. And like many of your generation, you’ve mastered using the mobile phone as more than a device to talk to people.
Through the years, you and your sister have gotten a lot of advice and guidance, such as encouragement to discern the difference between good and evil, truth and lies. You’ve heard how you should help to make our democracy strong by standing up for what’s right and for those who feel they have no voice.
Our state and nation have many challenges. We hope you and the members of your generation will become America’s next greatest generation to help fix our messes. As we wrote in 2003, “We hope you’ll be fearless in the midst of naysayers. We hope you’ll help make things better.”
As you move through life, here are a few more things to keep in mind:
Think. Don’t be rushed into doing something you don’t want to do. If you are unsure, call a personal timeout and think about what’s the right thing to do. In your heart of hearts, you will know the right direction.
Have fun. You’re only here once. Make the most of it. Enjoy each day.
Finish the job. If you start something, see it through. Do it correctly.
Try new things. Explore our world. Taste different foods. Smell lavender fields in France. Make art. Live beyond South Carolina – and then come back and make it better.
Fall forward. Actor Denzel Washington once noted that you shouldn’t be scared to fail. “Thomas Edison conducted 1,000 failed experiments,” he said. “Did you know that? I didn’t know that, because the 1,001st was the light bulb. Fall forward. Every failed experiment is one step closer to success.”
Question. Don’t accept everything at face value. Question authority – and question those questioning authority.
Listen. Slow down and listen to what other people are saying. You’ll be surprised how much you can learn – and grow – just by listening.
Use common sense. Too many people seem oblivious about too many things. Whenever you encounter a decision point, examine it practically and use common sense to figure out the best choice.
Laugh. Don’t take things too seriously. The drama you have today probably will be forgotten by next year. Enjoy life. Laugh at it and yourself. A good sense of humor will take you a long way.
In the years ahead, become the best Avery you can be. Maximize your potential. Be a good friend to others. And enjoy yourself. Remember, we’re only here once.
Andy Brack is the editor and publisher of Statehouse Report. Have a comment? Send to firstname.lastname@example.org.