My Mother Was Right
Hopefully you won’t roll your eyes at this blog post the way I used to roll my eyes at my mother when she was doling out her sage advice. When I was growing up, I was quite certain my mother knew absolutely nothing and I knew absolutely everything. Her advice would go in one ear and out the other immediately, and I’d smile and nod politely when she was finished as if her words were the wisest I’d ever heard. Then I’d go ahead and do things my way which usually led to disappointment and unnecessary drama.
Somewhere in my thirties I started to have profound life moments when her words would come flooding back to me and I’d realize, “Oh crud, she was right.” Admitting that, even as an adult, was always a little painful. If only I’d listened and accepted my mother’s advice for what it was – the sharing of her life experiences in an effort to make sure I could have the best life imaginable – I would have avoided much of that drama and disappointment.
For those of you mature enough to take some sound advice to heart, I’d like to share some of my mother’s wisdom.
Be Your True Self
Once I hit puberty, I started comparing myself to everyone else. All children do this, I suppose, and girls I think have an especially hard time with it. It seemed I was always fancying some boy or another and, in an effort to get him to like me, I would try to figure out what it was he liked and then try to become that.
My mother would constantly remind me to be myself. She would tell me how smart and kind I was, that I had a great sense of humor, and that if a boy didn’t like me for who I really was, or other girls for that matter, then a friendship with them wasn’t worth my energy. I just couldn’t grasp that concept at the time. I, like every other teenager, so desperately wanted to be accepted and loved, and I was willing to do anything for it, even change.
As an adult I see the real value in this lesson. It’s not just a “feel good” lesson, it actually has a profound principle within it. How much time and energy do people spend on trying to be something other than what they actually are? Let’s face it, even as adults, we don’t suddenly stop trying to be something that other people will find attractive or fascinating or worthy. And how much precious time and energy do we waste on this pointless endeavor? Think of what the human race could accomplish if we stopped wasting time and energy on pretending we’re something that we’re not.
Save Now – Spend Later
When I got my first job in high school, my mother congratulated me and immediately gave me this piece of advice, “Save now, spend later.” Was she nuts? Save? Uh, the whole point of having a job was so I could buy stuff. All of those shoes and cassette tapes (if you’re too young to know what cassette tapes are, Google it), all of that makeup and hair gel wasn’t going to buy itself. Not to mention the movies, clothes and concerts with friends. What’s the point of having money if you can’t spend it?
Then, when my beater of a car broke down and I didn’t have the money to fix it, I got what she was saying. It’s okay to have some fun and spend your money, after all, you were the one who worked so hard to earn it. But, if you’re spending more than you’re saving, you’re asking for trouble and heartache down the road when catastrophe strikes and you can’t bail yourself out. Sadly, it seems most American adults still think and behave like teenagers. Spend now and try and pay off the debt later. When it comes to personal finances, we all need to be taking our mother’s advice.
It's Not the End of the World
When you’re a teenager, everything in the world feels like the end of the world. If my mother had a nickel for every time she told me something wasn’t the end of the world, by the time I graduated high school, she would have had enough to pay for my first year of college.
Life comes with its fair share of disappointment and heartache, but getting mired down in the emotion of it won’t solve any problems. Things are never the end of the world because life goes on, literally. Better to pick yourself up, brush yourself off and get back on that horse than have a prolonged pity party that never did anyone any good.
Don't Wish Your Life Away
When you’re 10 you wish you were 13, when you’re 13 you wish you were 16 so you can drive. When you’re 16 you wish you were 21 so you can drink. I mean vote. We spend some of the greatest years of our lives wishing them away instead of living in the moment. My mother was not a great philosopher, but she understood that life lived in the moment is a life well-lived.
Listen to Yourself
When I got older and went off to college, my mother gave me a new piece of advice: “Don’t listen to other people’s advice, listen to yourself.” Well, I thought that was rich coming from a woman who spent my entire childhood giving me advice. But she knew she had brought me up as best she could and instilled in me certain values and principles, and perhaps best of all, the ability to think for myself, and now it was time for me to listen to my own inner voice instead of the voices of countless others who mean well, but don’t know what’s best for me. Only I can know what’s best for me and act accordingly.
So, thank you Mom for all of your sage advice. I only wish I had listened to you earlier. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go work on my posture.
Devon is a certified personal trainer, licensed mental health/substance abuse counselor and a nationally certified teacher. She is committed to helping young people be their highest selves in all areas: body, mind, and spirit. For training, coaching, or counseling sessions, please contact her at 505.469.0779 or firstname.lastname@example.org.