An Open Letter to Maddy

Dear Maddy, THE REAL WORLD - It’s Not That Bad…

klongo maddy post

I am so excited for my oldest daughter, Maddy, to graduate from the University of Wisconsin, Madison with a corporate finance major and wealth management minor this May. Although she initially thought the financial planning profession would be incredibly boring, Maddy took a psychology course that introduced her to the interesting meaning behind money, plus took an aptitude test that indicated financial planning would be a great fit for her interests and skills. I am excited that she has her first wealth management job and an apartment. I kept telling her about my excitement to see her “launch”. When Maddy asked if I could please stop talking about launching as she was really sad about leaving college. I held back from sending her the cost of her auto insurance rates as I was excitedly ready to take her off our policy and that this was all part of her launching process.

As I listen to her, I think back on those early days myself and I understand her feelings and the less-than-ecstatic position she has taken on the reality of “grown-up-ed-ness”. But I can’t wait for her to experience what her life will bring over the coming decade. Your mid-twenties and early thirties are a time when you have the independence, time and energy to explore your capabilities, make mistakes, learn from them and grow exponentially.

I want to tell Maddy that at some point in the coming years she will accomplish so many things, all on her own, without the resources of college, or the comforts of a childhood home, or the support of a mother in the next hallway, and that it will feel amazing. This is the time where your experiences and your accomplishments become your own. Just yours. Be proud of that. I know I am. At first, it can feel lonely, but ultimately it is these moments that develop your own true person and there is nothing more comforting and rewarding when you find your sweet spot.

I want to tell Maddy that sometime soon she will mess up at work, or in a relationship, or just alone in her apartment and she will find all the tools she needs to right the wrong, fix the mess, learn from it and move on. There will be no one there to tell her how to fix it, to give her a passing or failing grade or to tell her which choices she made were the right ones or the wrong ones. She will be the one guiding herself toward the logical conclusion of this excerpt of her hour, day, week or month and all of it will be hers. Fifteen years from now — when the pasta sauce explodes all over the kitchen floor after an eight hour work day, and children are hungry, and the dog needs to go out, and all she wants to do is watch tv and go to bed — she will know how to manage all of it with grace because of all of the moments that came before that one in her moments as an adult. When she disappoints a client or makes a mistake on their account, she will address it and own it and rectify it and make the relationship stronger because she probably already had the experience of trying to avoid it and realized that wasn’t the way to do it. This and so many other instances will be part of what makes her who she is years from now.

I want to tell Maddy that having nothing to do on the weekend will at some point feel like the most amazing luxury and that alone time in an apartment with no one else there will, someday, be a thing of the past and it is important to appreciate it while you have it.

I want to tell Maddy that someday she might be a wife and a mother and own her own business and that all of these moments now are what will make her amazing at all three of those things. That she has the world at her fingertips now and in perpetuity and taking each moment as it comes and truly being present in those moments are the best way to get everything out of them that you possibly can.

Most of all I want to tell her that time moves quicker with every year that passes. The best way to slow it down is to exist meaningfully in every experience you have and to learn from each failure and each success. To find joy in the process and relish in change, which, as we know, is the only constant.

After 25+ years in the “real-world”, I can see more clearly than ever why she holds on to her childhood. Adult life has more moving parts, more steps to each day and each task. It is daunting and it doesn’t tend to slow down or wait when you want to take a moment. This is true, but with the right perspective, there is beauty in it.

I want to tell Maddy that she can take her own time to slow down and stop sometimes. That she must. That the world will not come to a crashing halt if she takes an hour or a day for herself to refresh. That all of her experiences will build on one another to make her what she will be ten years from now, growing on top of the foundation that she built with experiences from her first 22 years. I want to tell her – Just be yourself. You’re doing great. And if you want to sleep over sometimes that’s fine – but no, you can’t move back home as your younger sister, Grace, has plans for your room and I have plans for her room. I love you, Maddy, and I am so proud of you!

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