When I say, “this is hard,” this is what I want you to tell me.
I hear you, and I may not understand why this is hard, but I can imagine it would be.
I want you to tell me – you have the power to change, to make hard days, not easier – because there will always be hard days – but as a small stitch in the fabric of your two years of service, in the grand scheme of your life. Its hard now, but you have signed up for a struggle. Trying is important, success is important, failure is important – the process between the three is vital.
Please don’t tell me you are proud of me. Even though I want to make you proud, even though I am honored by your faith in me. Like most faith in things unseen, it will frustrate me in looking at my lack of progress, my lack of proof that I am deserving of such faith. I will acutely feel imagined disappointment; I will feel it seeping into my bones. I do not want to let you down. More than anything, I don’t want my service, my work, my anything to lead to disappointment. Make me earn it.
Tell me about all the times I have bored you in talking about the importance of public service, of challenges, of building a better understanding of the world I live in. Remind me that my time is a blip in the Universe. Remind me that this is what I signed up for. Tell me about the future, tell me a story about the absurdity of our lives. Tell me about your day and your life and all the thoughts that are going through your head.
Remind me that our perceptions are always changing. Tell me that there are worse things out there, that there are monsters under the bed and in shining boardrooms above wide, black avenues around the world. There are real challenges, real triumphs, real hard times.
Remind me of gratitude, of grace and humility and humor and determination. Talk about the difference between ambition and determination because there is a difference and it’s a distinction that too few make. Tell me its okay to have both. Remind me that progress, even acute and incremental, is slow.
Tell me I am powerful, but don’t let it get to my head. Don’t let me get wrapped up inside of my own thoughts. Tell me it’s going to be okay.
Because, even if it isn’t right now, it will be. I know it will be because you told me so.