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Trying New Things: Wisdom From My Father

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Throughout high school, I didn't always agree with my dad, but I should have written down every piece of advice he gave me. That doesn't mean I needed to take every piece of advice, but the things you hear your parents say over and over again can always be saved for future consideration. I'm at the point where I'm willing to admit that my parents were right about most things and not actually trying to "ruin everything." My dad always had some new philosophy on how to live a happy life:


"Marina, in order to live a happy life, you must read more."


"Marina, in order to live a happy life, you must learn to ski."


"Marina, you must learn to cook like your mother."


My response to each of these philosophies was usually "I know, dad. I'll work on it," followed by an eye-roll. Not because I didn't want to read, ski or cook, but because at the wise age of seventeen, like many teenagers, I thought I already knew all there was to know about life. I was perfectly happy doing everything I was already involved in. 


I still don't know how to ski, I should probably read more often than I do and my cooking could use some work. My dad isn't less proud of me for not taking his advice. His hope was to encourage me to try new things before the big stuff got in the way. 


Well, it turns out this "trying new things" concept isn't such a bad idea. I have time now, but the older I get, the less time I have to explore. Young people have so many resources to try new things, like school-run organizations, athletic teams, common-interest groups on college campuses, etc. I never took advantage of any of that because I was in too much of a hurry to speed through school and start my "adult" life. I wish I had someone sit me down half way through and tell me to slow down because I missed out on a long list of experiences that were readily available to me.


My advice to the teen who has and knows everything: New experiences will continue to surprise you and teach you a great deal about yourself. Play club sports, see if you're any good at debate team, get involved – no matter how good or lousy you think you might be. The experiences you immerse yourself in have a number of benefits:


-Challenge:  It's healthy to challenge yourself. You won't be good at everything, but you'll be glad to say you tried.


-College scholarships: You can get a college scholarship for just about anything, including ski club, debate team, student government… the list goes on.


-Valuable traits:  From new opportunities, we gain confidence, leadership skills, we improve our team-building skills, we think in ways we wouldn't normally think, we see how important setting goals can be, and we gain problem solving abilities. 


-Passion:  When you find something new you want to be passionate about, you begin to think about how you can incorporate that passion into other aspects of your life.


-Motivation: Activities we love serve as an escape from our mundane routine and motivate us in other areas of daily life. For example, staying organized academically could leave you with more time to spend skiing on weekends.


To stick with my skiing example, while I still have time, I plan on taking my father's advice in a couple weeks and having my first ski lesson. It might not improve my well being completely and it doesn't mean I'll transform my life to become a ski instructor, but it means I'll get to use my free time to try something new and be glad I did. 


What are some things you have pushed yourself to try?

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