When I was little, my parents gave me everything I needed and few things I wanted.
They gave me a bed to sleep in but an 8 p.m. bedtime that often had me falling asleep with light still peeking through the curtains.
They gave me a well-balanced and nutritious dinner but hid the Starbursts on the top shelf, just out of my reach.
They gave me a workbook filled with math problems but not the Barbie Jeep that all my friends had.
You could say they were just your typical parents doing all those typical parenting things. It wasn’t always ideal for me, but it was OK.
But now, I’m at college, and my parents are three hours away.
I guess it’s time to let loose and do all those things my parents never let me do. It’s time to stay up all night and sleep all day, skip that 9 a.m. econ class that bores me to tears and drown out stresses with my good friend, Jack.
But that’s not what’s happening.
Instead, I’m learning that maybe my parents really did have the right idea.
I’m learning that my parents gave me so much more than just those basic necessities.
At some point during those late nights at the farm, my dad gave me an idea of what it means to work hard and to be dedicated.
On those long trips to Kansas to visit family, my mom gave me an active imagination and a flair for creativity through her tales of Matilda and Dolores, inventions of her own imagination.
While welcoming questions and sharing interesting facts, they instilled in me a great curiosity and an intense desire to learn.
These things they gave me weren’t very obvious at the moment of giving. They were things that developed over time and were reinforced again and again.
Now, I am thankful for not get- ting all those things I wanted.
I’ve learned to work for what I want and not expect to simply be given anything.
I’ve learned to see all the great things in life, making me never want to waste a moment of it.
I’ve learned that sometimes I may not be in optimal circum- stances. But pretty soon, I’m going to get past my obstacles and be stronger than ever.
These are valuable lessons in college. With more distractions than I care to count, college life can make it hard to stay focused and look beyond the present day.
But, because of the values my parents have passed on to me, I am able to look at the bigger picture. Because of them, I am able to stay true to myself even when I am rejected time and time again for jobs, when the habits of my friends tempt me to change or when it all becomes too much and I just want to give up.
Because of my parents, I am a happy college student with an active life, a drive to succeed and an eternal optimism that fails to be squashed.
As it turns out, my parents may not have given me every- thing I ever wanted. But they gave me everything I ever could have needed.