Dear Daughter: Bend, But Never Bend Over
By Guy Shepherd

You can always rely on those who know you best.

Dear Daughter: Bend, But Never Bend Over


You are certainly not the same little girl we dropped off to go to college.

Your old man is going to give you some more advice—because it’s what I do.

Our advice: continue to be you

Editor’s Note: This is a letter I wrote to our daughter. Funny story behind it: my wife told me it was a tradition of our daughter’s sorority that the parents write and give their daughter a letter as part of a ceremony upon their graduation. Mrs. Shepherd did not grasp from the request that one of her daughter’s sorority sisters would read the letter publicly. But because of COVID, it was read on Zoom. Watching it was comparable to a Larry David episode.

Dear Daughter,

We are proud of the woman you are becoming. News alert: you are never done becoming…that is the beauty of a long, meaningful life. God willing, it goes on.

But today, we celebrate the end of the formal tuition period—it’s a big deal.

You’ve changed. You are certainly not the same, little girl we dropped off to go to college. I am good with who you are, at this moment in time. I am a fan of the Creature coming out of the Swamp and into the world. Your mother says my fingerprints are all your creature-like behavior, but she looks up at you and smiles with pride and in anticipation of watching you cut your own path.

You’re better. We love you. You’re a character—the leading lady our times demand. Hopefully, our times will one day deserve you.

Our advice: continue to be you. You are drawn big—own it. Use it as a superpower. Be willing to pay the consequences of making your way through the world, being all that you are. It’s worth it.

Your old man is going to give you some more advice—it’s what I do. It’s my job. This is unsolicited, career advice. You will graduate from the good stuff when I graduate from life. Even then, I will still have a room with a view in your head. And yes, your mother will be staying too.

Dealing with bosses. Here is a maxim to govern those in positions of authority above you: be flexible enough to bend over backward (a bit) but never forward—and never break.

In the process of being and becoming you, you can’t be inflexible. You will break if you are stiff, unyielding, and/or inflexible. That said, there is only one direction to bend. And My Girl, those who are drawn big, don’t need the kind of flexibility required by Cirque du Soleil. Just stand for what you believe. Remaining true to your beliefs need not be an act of suicide.

You can always rely on those who know you best. Your mother and father know you. Your Nana and Opa—and our family’s loved ones who art in heaven—know you. So does your brother, Ryan, and your dog, Winston. We all know you and know you are ready to go out into the world and take it on.

We think, with time, the world will be ready for you.

Congratulations. We love you. Now go be you! It’s a job nobody else can do.


Mom & Dad