As the trees in the forest are the oxygen providers of the earth, the family tree is the backbone of the human race. Some family trees become diseased over time, and branches fall off and become separate from the rest. Thankfully, ours remains as strong as the most ancient oak. From our grandparents, to their three children and their various spouses, to the five grandchildren- now having outgrown their family holiday treasure hunts, and now it’s time for the next generation- you.
One of my friends said that a loving family is the biggest privilege you can have. I disagree, I think it’s social status. But either way, the former privilege you have in abundance. Your mother and father, your grandparents, your aunts, and coming soon, cousins. Your “big brother”, Dylan the labradoodle, who’s feeling a bit displaced by your arrival, but as soon as you’re big enough to kick a football you’ll be best friends. Your great-grandmother who’s already knitted enough cardigans to kit you out until you’re 5; make the most of her, she won’t be around forever. Your great-aunts and uncles, and your second cousins- my brother and I- along with a high-energy wirefox terrier.
Before we know it, you’ll start school, and the latter privilege will come into play: social status. There is an invisible hierarchy and everyone cares way too much about where they and everyone around them stands. Perhaps you’ll be lucky and be at the top, in which case, use your power wisely. Build others up, don’t tear them down. Perhaps you won’t be, but don’t despair. Your value doesn’t decrease from others’ inability to see your worth. You’ll go on to do better things than the people who are unkind to you. Cherish kind, decent friends; the ones who may not be the most magnetic people in the room, but are always there when you need them. Cut off toxic ones the moment they show their true colours, no matter how “cool” they are.
Perhaps you’ll start getting crushes on girls. Perhaps you’ll get crushes on boys. Perhaps you’ll get crushes on girls and boys. Perhaps you won’t like people in that way at all. Self-improvement is important, but don’t feel you’re less of a person if you haven’t had a romantic relationship by 16, or 18, or any age really. Like I said, your value doesn’t decrease from someone else’s ability to see your worth. It’s hard to be a man in this day and age. Women say they don’t want a guy who’s “too nice”, yet bemoan players. It’s hard to strike the right balance. The best advice I can give, is to emulate your father. He wouldn’t take someone’s shit lying down, but when my cousin was close to giving birth, he said if he could, he’d go through labour instead so she didn’t have to feel any pain. It was the nicest thing I’ve ever heard anyone say.
Eventually, you’ll start thinking about looking for a job. Grades aren’t everything. University isn’t worth it for most people these days. As Dr. Jordan Peterson said, we’re taught that everyone has to have a “career”, but most people have jobs, and even those who have “careers” do job-like activities most of the time. Pursue something you have an interest in, but don’t feel you have to work unpaid for a year for the sake of working in an “interesting” field. Work hard, but make sure you have a work-life balance.
Stay up all night having deep meaningful conversations with your friends. Travel to another continent, and stay in a house with no electricity while you volunteer in an orphanage. Have a whirlwind romance, get your heart broken, but go on to love again like you’ve never been hurt. Adopt a dog. Learn a language. Laugh. Dance. Life is a rollercoaster, and you’re only at the beginning. Perhaps your life will be easy, perhaps it will be hard. But whatever happens, you have a loving family to support you, whatever path you take.