This blog post was written in support of the comparethemarket.com Letters of Life campaign - a campaign which aims to encourage parents to think about what key pieces of guidance or life learnings they would like to pass onto their children, so that they will always have a piece of their parent's advice with them come what may. Please click here to find letters from others and advice on how to create your own Letter of Life.
If you are reading this, then it either means that (a) I am no longer of this world, or (b) you are on my laptop - in which case, please leave it alone, and whatever you do, don't look in the Internet history.
Assuming it's the former - and for my sake, I hope it is - I'm writing you this letter from the grave oooooOOOoooo. Sorry about that, the 'o' key sometimes sticks - I reckon it's that time you 'accidentally' touched it with your sticky toddler hands.
The point of this letter is to share some of my worldly advice with you. I kind of figure that you barely listened to me when I was alive, so I can only hope that me being six feet under has changed your stance on what I have to say.
For an 'advice letter', my first point may be a little confusing. Take advice with a pinch of salt. Listen to what people have to say, process it, then make an informed decision yourself. People will always have an opinion - and will have no qualms in telling you what it is - but only you can decide what's best for yourself and those around you.
It's therefore important for you to be self-sufficient and self-reliant. Use that inquisitive and exploratory mind of yours to figure things out for yourself. It's all too easy to rely on other people and get them to do things for you, but you'll go a hell of a lot further if you give it a go and learn along the way.
You will need help in life though, so don't be afraid to ask. You have a family around you who think the world of you. We may not always be around - yeah, sorry about dying - but know that we will be with you in other ways. Your heart, your mind, and even your bank account assuming my will is up to date.
Even at the age of three, you have such a personable nature that I'm positive you'll have a fantastic group of friends around you. Surround yourself with people you can trust, who have your back and bring out the best in you. We'd all like to be the most popular person ever, but a few close friends who really 'get you' will be infinitely better than hundreds of acquaintances that don't. Know though that not all friendships last. People change and situations change, so don't be sad if your best friends forever are actually just best friends for a few years.
Let's move onto relationships. Find someone who loves you the way that you love them. Someone who will make you happy - whatever happiness is as defined by you. Whatever your preference, know that we will never judge you and only want you to be happy. You deserve the best, but even the best isn't perfect. Relationships are challenging, so communicating, compromising, and not giving up is key.
If you want kids, that's fine. If you don't want kids, that's equally fine. Becoming a dad has taught me so much about myself and about things I never knew. I'm not going to advise you one way or another, but know that being your dad was my most successful achievement in life and becoming a parent is a fantastic - albeit hugely challenging - experience.
I hope that society has changed for the better and you now live in a world free of discrimination, sexism, racism, homophobia and all that other crap. However, at the time of writing, society is horrendously unfair. Whatever anyone tells you, know that no-one - and I mean no-one - is better than you because of things like your gender, sexuality or ethnicity. Believe in yourself and be yourself.
You are likely to experience unfair things. Life can be crap. However, you don't have to accept things for how they are. Challenge, rebel, fight, inspire, believe - you can be that change. Your actions can have a positive impact on the world around you, so be kind, be thoughtful and be helpful. Remember to treat people the way you want to be treated and don't let anyone get away with doing something they shouldn't. Stand up and fight for what you believe in.
Oh, one final thing. Never go to the toilet before checking that there's sufficient toilet paper to wipe thoroughly. I can speak from experience that this is a messy situation.