I like to joke that my dad is the “white sheep” of his family. In a family of seven children with lots of personalities, my dad was always the calm, follow-the-rules kind of guy. At first glance, he’s a sort of mild-mannered, glasses-wearing Clark Kent who just so happens to be an engineer. But there’s a lot more underneath than what meets the eye. To continue this clichéd metaphor I’ve set up, from the moment I can remember, my dad has always been my superhero. Throughout my entire life, he’s dropped hints of wisdom in my ear, and some of this wisdom may have been taught unintentionally. Because of the example he’s set for my brothers and me, I find myself living my life with a little voice in the back of my head saying, “What would your dad do?” A lot of people wouldn’t want to have that in the back of their heads, but my dad has never led me astray, so I don’t mind. My father, a lover of Chianti wine, knower of useless facts, world traveler and rocket scientist, lives an amazing life and has passed down years of knowledge that I now pass to you.
1. Love the food you eat and the people you eat it with.
As a proud Italian American man, my father was raised with a love of the finer things in life. And by finer things, I mean food. He taught me how to make pasta and pizza, and he and my mother have brought their kids a very diverse array of restaurants around Los Angeles and the world. He taught me that good food is essential to a happy life, but you have to share those meals with the people you love to get the most fulfilling experience. I remember always getting annoyed when he’d ask me about my day at the dinner table, but as I got older, I realized that mealtimes are the best times to catch up with your loved ones and grow closer to them. Some of the best meals and conversations I’ve had have been spent with my father, and I know there are many more to come.
2. Learn from the past.
My dad loves to tell stories of his crazy childhood, and he’s also a big fan of history books and museums. He’s instilled this love of the past in me and always emphasizes the fact that we need to learn from it to grow stronger and better in the future. On a recent car ride up to Berkeley, my dad and I talked for hours about the current problems our world faces and the historical events that set the stage for these problems. I love talking history with my dad or watching historical documentaries with him, and my wealth of knowledge is richer because of it.
3. Embrace your introversion.
I inherited my dad’s introverted nature, and I struggled with it when I was younger. He taught me that being quiet was a good thing, because that meant I was a good listener and thinker. My dad taught me and always showed me that listening to others before speaking is important. He always listens to me when I’m mad or upset, and he never tries to overpower someone when he speaks to them. Being a bit of a wallflower isn’t something to be ashamed of, and there are a million ways to make it work for you.
4. Read as much as you can.
I always loved it when my dad would read to my brother and before bed. He would read us stories such as “The Hobbit” and “Treasure Island” until we got old enough to read on our own. He brought me to old and new bookstores, bought me books and always encouraged my love of reading. Without his support, I don’t know if I would be at UC Berkeley today.
5. Happy wife, happy life.
This isn’t super relevant to many students reading this article, but it might become relevant at some point in your lives. The bottom line is, keep the women in your life happy. My dad and mom always work together as a team, no matter what. My dad is always at his happiest when my mom is in a good mood (as are we kids, for that matter). Life’s better when the person you love is happy, so apply this advice to whomever you fall in love with.
6. Work hard to ensure the future you want …
All his life, my dad has worked incredibly hard, and he always had the end in sight. But not in a workaholic, I’m-trying-to-be-rich kind of way. From having a paper route when he was 9 years old to working and moving up the ranks at the same company for more than 30 years, my dad has been saving up and giving his job everything. At all the stages of his life, my dad has been preparing himself for a happy and comfortable future. He just recently retired at a fairly young age, and he’s been having the time of his life in retirement. I could only dream of taking a page out of my dad’s book, but you can only get there if you work hard.
7. … But don’t work too hard.
Back in high school, I would spend hours on end studying in my room. Before he went to bed, my dad would always remind me to “not study too hard.” Most parents wouldn’t tell their kids this, and it annoyed me at the time, but as I’ve gone through college, I’ve realized that he’s right. You need to study hard, but you need to leave some time to relax and keep yourself sane. My dad somehow managed to study electrical engineering at UCLA and graduate, all while spending his afternoons at the beach. I’m not sure how he pulled it off, but we should all try to live our lives like that.
8. Honesty is the best policy.
My dad has a lot of little sayings he likes to throw around, but for some reason, of all the sayings, this one always stuck with me the most. Lying to my parents never ends well, so the fear of getting in trouble and my dad’s voice constantly reminding us of this saying has kept me honest in most situations in my life.
9. Love selflessly.
The final piece of advice I’ve learned from my father is to put the people you love and care about before yourself. My dad always worked hard for his family, and when he was home from work, he would spend his time playing with us, reading to us or just listening to what we had to say. While I don’t always show it, I appreciate everything my dad has done for me, and I could only hope to have half the love in my heart that he has.
Take time this Father’s Day to appreciate everything your father, or a father figure, has taught you. While the lectures are tedious and a little old-fashioned for our younger brains, our dads know a little more about life than we do, so we should listen to them. So to my dad, thank you for all the sage advice, and to all the other fathers out there, Happy Father’s Day!