I am not a morning person.
Truthfully, I love the idea of being the woman who springs out of bed before the sun rises, brews a pot of fair-trade coffee, turns on some Missy Higgins, lights a few candles and gets her day started before the rest of the world has, but I’m just not.
I oversleep at least twice a week, consider dry shampoo an acceptable shower and the most committed relationship I’m currently in is the one I have with my Starbucks barista who I see every morning.
A few months ago, I found myself pushing through one of those mornings where I overslept, forgot to grab breakfast, spilled my ice coffee into my car cup holder as I hit every pothole, and had emails coming in so fast, my phone began to make a humming noise. I decided to embrace what the morning had thrown my way, turn on NPR and just sit in the traffic.
The morning radio hosts were talking about the recent election and the way in which women were using this loss as a way to fight back. The hosts spoke with a few people and they played a segment from comedian Sarah Silverman’s stand-up routine. The routine was the usual crude and bizarre jokes, but this time the punchline was different, it actually had a punch, and it was a good one. She said, “We have to stop telling our little girls they can be anything they want. Not because it’s not true, but because it would have never occurred to them that they couldn’t.”
And there in the middle of standstill traffic, coffee dripping down my arm, completely frazzled but completely shocked, I realized the greatest gift my dad ever gave me.
My dad did not raise me to be pretty, he did not even raise me to be beautiful. He raised me to make others feel beauty within themselves. Because pretty women focus on how they look, but beautiful women focus on what they are looking at.
My dad never fixed my pain. He never ran onto the battlefield in my place, even though deep down, I know how desperately he wanted to. Instead, he watched with tears in his eyes as I was hit, and knew this defeat would give me a lesson. Because without pain, there is no lesson. And my dad wanted me to earn my lesson, not just learn it.
My dad raised me to own my space. To know that I was allowed to take up the love and adoration that was rightfully mine, and not apologize for it. Because apologies should only be given when they are deserved, not when you have nothing left to say.
My dad is a witness to my life. I firmly believe that sometimes all we want and desperately need is for someone to say, “I see you. I see you chasing your dreams, I see you struggling or I see you trying,” and nothing more. My dad shows up to my life every single day, and just sees me.
My dad taught me how to be alone. How to go to the movies alone and how to be comfortable in the uncomfortableness of being alone. Even if being alone is for a while.
And above all else, my dad didn’t help me find my voice. He let me find it myself, and when you give a girl a dad who does that, you give a girl the greatest gift she’ll ever have.