Before my grandmother Toula Maye (Rendos) Bianchi passed away earlier this year, she granted me permission to make her a published author. Writing was a strong suit of hers, and she seemed to think I inherited my talent from her.
After re-reading an encouraging letter she wrote to my sister and me when I was in high school, I concluded she may be right.
Here’s what she had to say, which I think is applicable to many of my friends, peers and colleagues.
“My main goal in life is for you to be the best person you can be, and be true to yourself and never let any other person make you feel that you are less than you know yourself to be. You always know within yourself who you really are and you always know within yourself the difference between right and wrong, and the old saying “to thine own self be true” is always a good rule to follow all of your life, in all circumstances.
All choices you make in life can be based on this idea. You will know within your own mind what is the right thing for you and what you can accept and live with in your own heart. There will be times when life will make you feel desperate or unhappy, even traumatized. That is part of living and growing and learning. But never forget you are the most important person in your life. Only you can make the decisions that will determine what kind of life you will live or what kind of person you will be.
Other people can influence you, can make a very deep impression on you, can even make you doubt yourself. But if you only remember that you are the master of your fate, you control your destiny; you can overcome influences that may alter your behavior or your opinion of yourself. You are the one who controls your life, your decisions, your behavior, your beliefs. No one has the control over your mind but you! The world is a very confusing place, things change so fast. You are young and the world is a place to play and enjoy and take things for granted. Then comes a time when you are confused because you are faced with feelings and insecurities that you haven’t had to face, never knew even existed.
You are in a physical and mental change and don’t know what is happening to you or how to handle it. This stage of maturing is very strange and scary. It’s a time when you turn to your friends who are also making these changes. You feel like they understand, are the only ones you can turn to for acceptance. You, and they are depending on each other for support. No one understands the way you feel because they are too old or too young or too insensitive or whatever they are that makes them separate from you and your friends.
Each change in your growth and level of maturity will have these changes and you will never be secure with yourself and sure of your decisions and choices because life keeps changing and never stays the same, never. You have to know yourself well enough and know what you really want your life to be like for you to make the choices and decisions that are right for you. Having God in your life is a must because He is the only one you can ever truly depend on.
Human beings will be human, think human thoughts and do human acts. They are not your support. People will come and go in your life. Some of them may seem to be the most important part of your life at times. This passes. Life goes on–moves on. Some people may be a part of your life and there may be a long-lasting friendship or kinship. But this is a part of living that makes things seem worthwhile and this is good. We always need people in our lives that we can relate to and depend on to give us the comfort human beings need. God wants us to have that and he will provide the people he wants us to have. There will be very few people in your lifetime who will be the true friend or the true love. There are a select few out of the many people you will encounter who will have any lasting effect or influence on your life. You will have decisions to make about people and will have to analyze their feelings, their behavior, their motives and you will have to decide what influence you will let them have on your life and your behavior. Another saying that is too true, “A man is known by the company he keeps.” If you always surround yourself with the people you feel God would approve of you can be sure you will be in the right company.
You are the master of your dignity. You can make decisions just by following your instincts. God gave us an internal mechanism that tells us our basic instincts. You automatically know if something is wrong. God also gave us the power to make decisions, right or wrong. Usually when someone makes a wrong decision about a lifestyle or life altering situation it is because they go against their basic instinct and choose the thing that satisfies the worldly nature of the human being. Life seems so sweet sometimes when we cater to the flesh and not the soul. Human nature is like that. It’s hard to rise above it, but it’s a choice to be made because every decision, every choice we make has its repercussions. We have have to live with ourselves and our minds and our memories. They never leave us. We may try to forget or ignore them but they are there in our subconscious. We can never overcome our regrets and never feel totally forgiven for our poor choices, our indiscretions and our sins. This is hard to comprehend at an early age and I’m sure is not what a young person is interested in hearing, but every year will bring you closer to the reality that this is the way things are and will be.
Now is the time to think seriously about where you want your life to lead you. It’s your decision and you have to make the choices, then work to reach your goals. You are making decisions about your life. You are the one to live it. Don’t do things for other people, do them for yourself. You are the one who will need to be satisfied with the way you handle yourself. Don’t do things to make other people proud of you. Do things that will make you proud of yourself. Do things in a way that will make you feel you have done the best you can for your own self-esteem and your own dignity. You are the one who will live with your actions. Others can have your best interest at heart, they can love you and care about you, they can want the best for you always, but they can’t do it for you. You have to do it yourself. You must always be able to say to yourself, “To thine own self be true.” If you are true to yourself you will make very few mistakes that will alter your life in a negative way.
Your goals now at a young age are to build a future life for yourself, one that you can be satisfied with and enjoy. You have decisions about your vocation and your avocations. You must take responsibility for you. You are facing a fearful world.
You are young and it is an imposing time in which there is total uncertainty in future security. Our world as we have known it is changing in a drastic way and you are going into a phase of maturity that already is full of insecurity and fear of the unknown. It’s a hard time for you to accept more adult responsibility and deal with it in a mature manner when you are a “child.” You want to be a mature adult, and be treated as such, but you are on the brink, and here is where you have to take responsibility for the decisions you make if anyone is to treat you like a maturing young adult or a child. If you want to be viewed as a mature young adult you have to show signs of responsible behavior. If you need the comfort of a child, it’s okay, you are still a child. You don’t have to be mature overnight, it isn’t expected of you. Even grownups have their “inner child” that needs comforting and reassurance. No one is ever so mature that he doesn’t have that need.
My main wish is that you have the confidence in yourself and the desire to be the best person you can be in the eyes of God. Make your good grades in school for you. Don’t try to make good grades to please other people. It’s fine for others to want you to do well, but it’s more important that you want to do well for yourself because you know you are the one who will benefit from it. Your grades don’t have to be A’s unless you are capable of making A’s if you try. If you are not capable and you have put your best efforts into your studies then any “grades” you make are acceptable. You are the one who has to want to do your best or be satisfied with less. If you are capable and want to have a better future, go for the grades. They can only improve your chances. Some people don’t have the desire to put forth the effort. That’s their prerogative. Each person has his choice of what they want their future to be like. That’s their “life choice.” Sometimes people never overcome that “life choice” and they never fulfill their potential. Some never even realize they have potential. Some may in later years, realize they want more out of life and go for self improvement. But for anyone who has the ability and the desire to be the best they can be, it would be a sin against themselves not to put out the greatest effort possible when the opportunity is always there to be taken advantage of.
My point to be made is that you are in control of what decisions you make, even at a young age, in regard to preparation for your future. A good education is a must, and a privilege. You can never be ashamed of a good education. It also builds self esteem and dignity. I know you want to be well educated, but I want you to enjoy being educated. I want you to enjoy learning and growing mentally. I want you to be interested and involved in all kinds of things, to explore all the opportunities you have available to you. You have the choice to make your life as full and interesting as it could possibly be.
Fly! Don’t walk, don’t run–Fly! It’s your choice, to walk, to run, to fly. Whatever gives you satisfaction with life. Don’t deprive yourself if a little effort can put you where you want to be. Only you in your heart know where that is. You may not be aware at this point what exactly you need to complete yourself but you will learn something every day if you keep your heart and mind open and trust God to show you the right way.
You must keep this in mind daily: ‘With God I can.'”
July 1, 1934 – March 3, 2017