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Weekly Walks With Dad: Life Lessons I’ve Learned From My #1 Role Model

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCLA chapter.

In my experience, one of the few positives to result from the years-long pandemic was the newly-established ritual of weekly walks around town with my dad, both of us embracing the opportunity for fresh air and quality time. Luckily, my university’s proximity to home has permitted the upkeep of these walks when our busy schedules allow. I always jump at the chance to slow down for an hour with my dad — the chance to bond with the man who has simultaneously supported my life at every twist and turn of the road.  

Since before I can remember, pride for my father has swelled abundantly in my heart. Not only has he achieved immense success in a cutthroat career path, but he has maintained a strong relationship with faith and family while inspiring me and my sisters to always be the best versions of ourselves. (Sorry to thwart any lofty claims from your last Father’s Day card, but the results are out: I, Grace Ann LaPlante, have been blessed with THE greatest father in the entire world.)    

As our walks have grown longer and talks have delved deeper, my dad began imparting powerful words of wisdom upon me in order to ensure the happiest future ahead. No message was as loud and clear as his belief that everyone should pursue passions, not careers. In his mind, focusing on prestige, status and impressive income is a surefire way to find discontent later in life. The greatest jobs are those that don’t feel like work at all — we should love what we do, or else we won’t love who we are. Who cares if you have a seven-figure income and live in an egregious mansion if you aren’t happy with your day-to-day life or the people you’ve surrounded yourself with? Your best career path is toward work you enjoy and feel passionate about pursuing. Don’t sign yourself up for a miserable 9-to-5 because social pressure dictates as much. Work is what you make of it, so make it count. 

In the course of our career talks, my dad often expands to all-encompassing counsel for life, offering encouragement to live the life I’ve always dreamed about. As the (arguably) most anxiety-ridden daughter of the family (self-inflicted stress, of course), I often receive tough love on ending my inclination to sweat the small stuff. We only have one life to live, after all. Why should we miss out on memorable experiences and relationships because of insignificant homework assignments that mean nothing in the grand scheme of things? To be clear, my father doesn’t encourage neglect of studies, but he does wholeheartedly believe in curating a work-life balance that offers the best of both worlds. At the end of your life, you should regret the dumb things you did rather than a lengthy list of missed opportunities. Eat that dessert, enjoy that concert, buy that expensive jacket — nobody’s in the way of your happiness but you.

As of recently (and against my every inclination because I thought it would be weird), I’ve brought up issues of love and heartache with my dad. He’s taught me the most important lesson of all for young singles that may (or may not) be ready to mingle: Give love a chance to find you. Mind you, don’t chase after love because you’re lonely and bored, but when you’re truly ready to enter a relationship, put yourself in the way of love by going out and meeting as many people as you can. Love cannot find you when you’re curled up in bed for a night of Netflix-binging. Put yourself out there, meet new people, believe you’re worthy of love and never settle for less than the best. You’re more likely to meet “the one” at a lively social event than alone in your room, I promise.   

“Weekly Walks with Dad” are always the highlight of my week because I know I’ll be spending time with someone that has my best interest at heart and loves me unconditionally. Because of him, my outlook on the future ahead has become hopeful of happiness and love, rather than one of life-consuming work and an income-over-everything mindset. In the same fashion as my father, I’d like to impart some advice to you: Don’t shy away from parental wisdom. The adults in your life have gone through young-adult struggles the same as you, and to their credit, life experience has always been the greatest teacher.

Grace LaPlante is currently a senior English major at UCLA—she’s a literature lover, music enthusiast and sports fanatic with dreams of traveling the world someday!