To my dad and brothers, to my grandfathers and uncles, to my teachers and friends:
Each of you have influenced my life in your own uniquely different but equally significant way. I have learned and grown in different ways with the each of you but as a whole you have taught me a thing or two, as well. Like if you move your feet, you will lose your seat. And because I would not be the grown woman of 22 that I am today, I am thankful.
Tough skin. It is a lesson that I learned early on because there’s no crying in baseball, or in a house full of boys. And if there is one thing to say about brothers, it is that they will spare no sarcasm when offering up their honest-to-god opinion about something that you are doing. Oh, you thought those bangs looked good? Nah, girl, you wrong. This is no less true about my male friends, as I often seek their advisement because I can always count on a healthy dose of honest-to-god reality from them as well. You are all my toughest critics because you realise that it is what I need for continued growth, and for that I am thankful. By the time you enter the real world, anything that it may throw at you will just roll off the shoulder.
You taught me the quality of man that I seek in my future partner. For the last 22 years, I have seen you all display characteristics of kind, respectful, and open-minded men. You have all shown immense patience with me, at some point or another, and this speaks volumes towards the quality of your characters’ because we can all attest that I am not the easiest human-being alive. These are qualities that I most admire in the each of you, and something that I seek in both myself and my future partner. Shout out to the brother that gave me a piece of tough love once and let me know that, “I needed to either up the quality of guys I’m choosing, or change my standards.” I doubt you remember, but it is something that has stuck with me. You have been the first to show me what the essences of love are, and I could not have been privy to know people that exemplify it better than you have.
Through constant encouragement, you’ve helped me to become a better me. You have each fuelled me with encourage and support throughout the different stages of my life. To my dad, who has let me see bad decisions through so that I could learn from them but never failed to encourage me as I picked myself back up: you have taught me to take responsibility and to be self-assured in my decisions. To my brothers, the endless supply of sibling competitiveness has made me continuously strive to live up to all that you all are- your kindness, your patience, your intellect. I am thankful to have such high set bars to live up to. To my teachers, who have encouraged me to be more confident intellectually and pushed me in the academic setting: thank you for holding me accountable to living up to the potential that I could not see myself. To my friends, thank you for pushing me to see the beauty in myself (and others), and encouraging me to seek involvement in activities that are out of my comfort zone.
You have shown me my worth. To my dad and grandfathers and uncles, you have shown me that I am worth and valued no less than the men in our family. To my brothers, you have shown me my worth and not because you have handed me dollar bills when you thought my outfit was a little too girl-of-the-night; but by treating me as an intellectual equal. To my very dear friend, that has helped guide me through the process of finding confidence in my self-worth: you probably did not know the magnitude of your influence but I am thankful. You told me in passing the first time that we hung out, “you are just as beautiful on the inside as on the outside,” and I remember it so dearly because it was the first time a guy had expressed a compliment that had given value to more than my outwards self. Throughout our friendship, you have challenged my intellect and valued my opinion with genuine interest. In actuality, I have a few friendships that nourish my growth in the same way and I am infinitely grateful to have known such relationships in my lifetime. This has played such an instrumental role in my guidance because for the first time a male counterpart had seen the beauty that my mind can offer over the beauty that my body can offer. You have all helped me realise that my value to the world is more than what you see at face.
I hope that I am able to give a fraction of all that you have given to me.