Today marks my nephew’s 4th Birthday. To say I love him is a complete understatement. That child is adored by so many people, but to me he is irreplaceable and he will probably never understand the impact he has made on me.
That tiny human came into my life when I needed him the most and I didn’t even realize it at the time. I knew having him around would change me, I knew that I wanted to be an amazing Auntie and I was certain that I wanted to be a large presence in his life. What I didn’t know 4 years ago – just after midnight on this very day – was that my perspective on life would change entirely, and it was all because of him.
See, I was the baby of the family until he came along. When I say baby of the family, I don’t just mean that I was just the youngest sibling in my immediate family (which I am, separated from my brother by 11 years); I mean that every single person on both sides of my family was older than me until I was 20 years old, including my birthday-twin cousin who was born 5 hours earlier than I was. I know what you’re thinking… I must be #spoiled. And I will admit that is semi-true, but I like to consider myself spoiled-in-moderation. Sure, I am #sassy, but I am not entitled nor do I think I am better than anyone and I work very hard for everything I have. I appreciate my position in this world, the childhood I was afforded by my parents’ hard work and sacrifice, and the difference between my life and the many struggles my peers have faced. I’m probably not the person people picture when they think of a stereo-typical Millennial; I was raised to mind my manners, respect my elders and to never judge people because you have no idea what situations they may be facing.
While I’m not the typical Millennial version of “the baby of the family,” being in this unique position has left me with one very distinct quality; I am one stubborn individual. I want to be self-sufficient, which translates to: I want to do it all by myself.
That started when I was about 3 years old and insisted on picking out my own socks – it’s been a theme ever since. Because of this mentality and never really taking well to advice, there have been many things I had to learn the hard way – especially early on as a #twentysomething. Even after my little angel of a nephew was born, I was still quite a handful and not at all ready to cool my jets. I wasn’t always someone I was proud of, but eventually I learned to embrace each experience as a lesson learned and I started to put significant effort into really finding myself and who I wanted to be. I adopted the belied that not one second of my life was for-nothing because it taught me everything I needed to know and gave me the #confidence to get to exactly where I am at in my life now. I have no idea where my path will take me, but what I do know is that I will never stop, never settle, never be complacent; I will continue to work for every single thing I could possibly want because I want that little boy (and so many others who have watched and helped me grow) to be proud of the person I become.
I knew my gears had shifted over the last few years, but I had never put the pieces together until today when my “On This Day” notification from Facebook brought me back to that night. I knew after re-reading that short but oh-so-significant post that something inside me changed that night; sub-consciously, something clicked and every fiber of my being started moving in a different direction. From the moment I saw that baby come into the world, I must have known that my life was meant for so much more than the way I was living it and he was the reason. It took me 4 years for that sub-conscious belief to really come to life, but I am now approaching my quarter-century birthday, 3 months away from accomplishing my largest life-goal to date, and reaching for the stars. No dream is too big and I have made a commitment to myself that I will not stop until I get to wherever I am going. I’ve decided that life is about the journey, not the destination. Knowing that there are those little eyes on my every move is what keeps me striving for more. I want to show him that he can be the very best version of himself, and I want to do it by example. Success is my only option.
Have you learned to set a good example for someone you love? Share your story with me on my Facebook page!