Things to worry about – F. Scott Fitzgerald

 

On August 8th of 1933, author F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote the following letter of advice to his 11-year-old daughter, “Scottie,” who was away at camp.

La Paix, Rodgers’ Forge

Towson, Maryland

August 8, 1933

Dear Pie:

I feel very strongly about you doing duty. Would you give me a little more documentation about your reading in French? I am glad you are happy — but I never believe much in happiness. I never believe in misery either. Those are things you see on the stage or the screen or the printed pages, they never really happen to you in life.

All I believe in in life is the rewards for virtue (according to your talents) and the punishments for not fulfilling your duties, which are doubly costly. If there is such a volume in the camp library, will you ask Mrs. Tyson to let you look up a sonnet of Shakespeare’s in which the line occurs “Lillies that fester smell far worse than weeds.”

Have had no thoughts today, life seems composed of getting up a Saturday Evening Post story. I think of you, and always pleasantly; but if you call me “Pappy” again I am going to take the White Cat out and beat his bottom hard, six times for every time you are impertinent. Do you react to that?

I will arrange the camp bill.

Halfwit, I will conclude.

Things to worry about:

  • Worry about courage
  • Worry about Cleanliness
  • Worry about efficiency
  • Worry about horsemanship
  • Worry about. . .

Things not to worry about:

  • Don’t worry about popular opinion
  • Don’t worry about dolls
  • Don’t worry about the past
  • Don’t worry about the future
  • Don’t worry about growing up
  • Don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you
  • Don’t worry about triumph
  • Don’t worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault
  • Don’t worry about mosquitoes
  • Don’t worry about flies
  • Don’t worry about insects in general
  • Don’t worry about parents
  • Don’t worry about boys
  • Don’t worry about disappointments
  • Don’t worry about pleasures
  • Don’t worry about satisfactions

Things to think about:

  • What am I really aiming at?
  • How good am I really in comparison to my contemporaries in regard to:
  • (a) Scholarship
  • (b) Do I really understand about people and am I able to get along with them?
  • (c) Am I trying to make my body a useful instrument or am I neglecting it?

With dearest love,

Daddy

P.S. My come-back to your calling me Pappy is christening you by the word Egg, which implies that you belong to a very rudimentary state of life and that I could break you up and crack you open at my will and I think it would be a word that would hang on if I ever told it to your contemporaries. “Egg Fitzgerald.” How would you like that to go through life with — “Eggie Fitzgerald” or “Bad Egg Fitzgerald” or any form that might occur to fertile minds? Try it once more and I swear to God I will hang it on you and it will be up to you to shake it off. Why borrow trouble?

Love anyhow.

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