It’s funny how we pretty much all rebel against our parents as teenagers. That feeling of mortification and embarrassment as mom pulls up to give us a ride home after high school is near instinctual as our want for independence rears its head. Even still, the older we get, the more we realize how much our parents have taught us about life, love, and figuring out where our feet stop and the ground starts. Sometimes this comes alongside that momentary and startling realization that we’re just like our parents. But, most times, it’s a more subtle, simple understanding that we wouldn’t stand where we do without those who reared us and we certainly wouldn’t be who we are without them.
So, in the spirit of the upcoming holidays, here’s a tribute to those kind souls who raised and nurtured us. I present you with eight wise things from Mom and Dad that I didn’t appreciate when I was young but rely on now.
1. Character is forged through how you handle the hard things, not the easy things.
Let’s be honest — Mom and Dad were right when they said this one. Easy things are, well, easy. And life isn’t actually all that easy, certainly not all the time. Growth happens in the challenge not in the coasting. I’ve found that this lesson has more to it than Mom and Dad let on to me in childhood. It is during the truly difficult times that we learn who we are and what we stand for. So, keep at it.
2. The Wise Person is Never Bored.
My pops used to say (and still does) that the truly wise individual can sit in a waiting room with nothing but his, or her, thoughts and imagination and be content. As a high strung kid, this was the most annoying thing to hear (‘Who cares? I’m bored’). But, the more years that go by, the more I realize how wise this sentiment is.
3. Always Reach for the Stars.
Not only did this piece of wisdom let my parents tell me to always try my best but it also doubled as a childhood lesson on metaphors (“You can’t actually reach the stars, it’s a metaphor”). This wonderful if cheesy saying also translates into: “It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be.”
4. Perseverance is Key.
Leaving alone the fact that the first time good ol’ dad told me this I had to ask what ‘perseverance’ was (I was five), it was probably the most irritating thing to hear when I was suffering under homework in high school and then again in college. But, in the end, it was true. Even if I hoped my work would magically do itself or go away, perseverance really was the key, especially as the challenges got bigger and harder.
5. Take Chances.
According to mom and dad, a willingness to take chances is a maxim to live by because playing it safe is a sure fire path to mediocrity and stagnation. Just recently, I followed this advice to a tee by moving to a completely new city (Austin, TX, where else) with no job, a one way plane ticket, a checked bag, and a guitar. There’s no guarantee of success, but hey, mom and dad wouldn’t have it any other way! Yay me, I’m going for it.
6. Always Remember that Tomorrow Is Another Day.
A catch all favorite saying of my mother that seemed silly to me when I was young (‘Of course tomorrow’s another day, Mom’) but couldn’t be more true now. Have a bad day? Sleep it off and focus on tomorrow. Even if the weather’s bad like it is above for Annie, it’s about changing your attitude by waking up with a fresh perspective and eye to the future. At least, that’s what mom would say and it seems to work pretty well.
7. Attitude + Effort + Talent = Brilliance.
When I was little, I wanted to be excellent at things without ever trying. I’d even give up at the first sign that things were going to take work to get through. It took a while to really understand that talent alone was not enough, but now I get it. “Talent plus no effort and a poor attitude equals shoulda, woulda, coulda.” I’m lucky to have learned this in my 20’s.
8. Always Obey the Golden Rule. Especially When No One is Looking.
Or any other variant of “treat others as you want to be treated” has been said by parents ever since it was written on some stone tablets (or even before), this one is so basic it is basically a cliche. And yet I can now observe for myself that when people DO follow it, the world looks and feels a little better. I’m now grateful that my parents drilled this one in… I catch myself thinking about how I want to be treated And funny enough, the older we get, the more we appreciate it (especially when we catch ourselves saying it to our own kids).