12 lessons my parents have taught
1. We choose happiness
Since I can remember there has been one piece of advice that my parents would say to me, “You can only control how YOU act.” It’s not about how other people treat you; it’s about how you react to their actions. If we do what is right then that is all we can control. And I’m sure every parent has the same response to when their kids cry; “Is crying going to fix anything?” The truth is that crying won’t fix anything. But my parents also showed me that it’s okay to cry, as long as I don’t unpack in that state of emotion. It’s okay to feel, but then it’s time to move on and find a solution.
2. I obviously didn't look everywhere
I guarantee you didn't look “everywhere” when you are searching for that lost item. Because “things don’t just grow legs and walk away”.
3. Be World Famous
My dad would ritually tell his children to, “Be world famous” every day before school. What does that even mean? Like how does one achieve that kind of status when they have to attend their elementary class every day? As my age progressed so did the fundamental understanding of what my dad was trying to teach us. Be ourselves. Show the world how great we are. Get out there and shine. The expression is something I’m used to hearing, but I never took a minute to figure out why he would say that every morning. We would always respond, “You too” and then shut the door and skip off to the front steps of school. But looking back I realize how important it was to him that he told us every day how he perceived us. World Famous.
4. Don’t show your bra straps
“No one wants to see your bra straps hanging out.”
5. Make funny faces
It’s perfectly acceptable to see who can laugh the weirdest, make the craziest face in the mirror, or demonstrate the silliest dance move. When you’re driving in the car and a Hair Band song comes on you better turn that up and starting jamming out. “Who cares if people are watching? You will never see them again in your life”. Also, dogs talk in baby voices. It’s always funny when someone hits their head on a cabinet, stubs their toe, or plows into the bathroom door because the hallway was too dark to tell that the door was closed. We need to be able to laugh at ourselves.
6. Put oil in your spaghetti noodles
They won’t stick together. Also, we shouldn't leave food out because ants will always come back. Don’t smack your food, look the waitress in the eye, and slow down because remember last time when you spilled your drink everywhere? Don’t bake cookies as long as the package says.
7. If you clean up as you go you won’t have to deal with a huge mess later
No kid has ever listened to that advice. Sorry mom and dad, my room still has coffee cups and clothes everywhere. And I don’t make my bed. It's a good concept though.
8. Follow your dreams
I am always worried about my major. Whenever I tell people that I’m studying art and journalism I get that same cynical “are you sure that’s a good idea? Art is a dying field” look. I've confided in my mom several times that I want to change my major and I’m worried I won’t be able to find an avenue with that type of degree. Her response is always, “It’s not their life”. My passion is art and there are hundreds of avenues I can take my major. The term “artist” doesn't chain me to an easel or to the roof of a chapel. It doesn't confine me to painting my body silver and robot-ing in New Orleans (although that would be pretty sweet). Art is everywhere. Life is art. My mom has been the prime example of proving it’s okay to follow your passion.
9. I don’t need Starbucks every day
10. Stop Worrying
We are given a life that we are supposed to live. The seventy or eighty years we are given is never going to be enough. But we have to pick ourselves up. Worrying about the future won’t change it.
11. Put your phone away
In our generation everyone is glued to their technology. Including me. My mom said, “One day you’ll look up and the days will have gone by. I would never have wanted to miss your first steps, parties, or graduations because I was too busy “tweeting” about them. Be in the now. Put your phone away and experience life. If someone is talking to you, put it away. If you’re visiting family, just put it away”.
12. My parents were always right
No one understands how I feel. You’re the meanest parent ever. [Fill in name here]’s parents let them do it! I know everyone has felt this way about their parents. I guess it never occurred to me that my parents went to high school too? They had their heart broken, got grounded, snuck out, and to be truthfully honest they grew up in the 80’s so I know for a fact they did some questionable things. Don’t even try to deny it. But it takes a while to realize that it’s because they did the exact same things they don’t want you to do them. No parent wants to see their kid’s heart broken. They don’t want us to fail geometry (even though they did). But they've been through those situations and that’s how they have the wisdom to give us advice. It took me quite some time to figure out my parents knew what they were talking about, but know they’re who I turn to for help. The other day I was explaining my revelation to one of my friend’s mom and she made me walk into her teenage boys room and repeat what I had said while she stood there fist pumping in the background. But it’s true: my parents were always right. Except that one time I won $49,000. It was NOT a time-share scheme.