Lessons I Learned From My Mom

Growing up you go through multiple phases in character, style, and taste. The phases I find most important lie within my evolving relationship with my role model — my mom. I’m convinced that my mom is Wonder Woman in disguise and when everything is all said and done she’ll reveal herself and I’ll be everything but surprised.

Over the past twenty years, I’ve reached the point where I’ve realized that the majority of the person I am is because of how my mom raised me and I think she’s pretty rad. So, if I’m anything like her I’ll be pretty pleased with myself. So, here are some things I’ve learned from my wonder of a woman.  
        “Be kind, be encouraging, and look for a lonely friend.”

Everyday, before my siblings and I were dropped off for school, my mom would say, “be kind, be encouraging, and look for a lonely friend” as all five of us tried to rush out of the car to avoid hearing the familiar phrase. “We know, mom!” we’d say annoyed.

Looking back to that, I’ve come to realize just how simple yet profound her three daily instructions were.

Be Kind

Sometimes there seems to be a deficit in kindness in our world, especially after we hear of tragedy after tragedy happening on a consistent basis. However, I don't think all people who fail to exemplify kindness are consciously choosing to be unkind. Instead, I think they’re simply human and being human means having faults. However, my mom always wanted my siblings and I to be kind if not anything else because more often than not it would benefit everybody else and ourselves in ways we sometimes don't even notice.

I don’t even have a lot to say about this statement because it’s really not that freaking hard to be nice. So, just do it. Be nice and I promise you you’ll have a more fulfilling life knowing that there’s a 99.956789% chance that you positively contributed to another person’s life.

It’s crazy seeing a person’s surprised face when they've just been the victim of a random act of kindness. It’s almost like they didn't expect it and are genuinely shocked that somebody could be so kind. Imagine a world where people weren't surprised by kindness. How rad would that be?

I say we try to make kindness cool again because life would be so much more colorful and positive. People even say it takes more effort to frown than to offer a smile ;)

Be Encouraging

Now this part is a kicker. As a kid it was easy to cheer on other people as long as it didn't affect you or your chances of winning, and even if it did, it still seemed a lot easier to do then than it does now. Now, we’ve seemed to not only grow old but grow in our insecurities.

I see this growth, especially with us girls. We’ve been taught over time that life is some sort of a contest. Whether that be a beauty or success contest, it’s always been easy to treat life that way. If we’re being completely honest with ourselves, we’ve all had a moment where we struggle with encouraging another girl because somehow we think that if they succeed then that means we can’t. Which is so so so so (do you get it yet?) wrong. Just because another girl is pretty or successful or talented doesn't mean you’re not, it just means that girls rock and we’re all in this journey together not against each other.

So, I guess I’ve learned that the key to this phrase is being comfortable with what your mama gave you. Once you can see yourself as a unique contributor to this world, then you can see other girls as partners instead of competitors. Life is hard enough for us girls, so why make it worse?

Look For a Lonely Friend

My mom does this really cool thing where she can literally talk to anybody anytime anywhere — it’s possible she can even talk to inanimate objects if she felt like it. I admire this quality so much even though it often times is the reason why I nag her about it all the time. But in this interaction, I see a woman who sees value in each and every person, even the ones who seem undesired or lonely.

With the constant outpouring of social trends and standards it’s beyond easy to feel like the odd man out and my mom never wanted us to be the reason for a person to feel that way. She reminded us that being a bystander was just as bad as being the person excluding the “lonely friend.”

I always found it funny how she said to look for a “lonely friend” instead of a “lonely person” because if they were my friend, I wouldn't consider them being lonely. However, I think that was the point. She wanted me to see them as a friend so that I wouldn't allow them to be lonely. Brilliant.

I learned that each and every person has worth, whether the majority thinks so or not. I never want to be responsible for somebody’s feeling of worthlessness or solidarity. Even if that person and I don't necessarily “click” at least they know they are worth getting to know. In my life, this has required a whole lot of perspective and understanding — the ability to step into somebody else’s skin and walk around in it, making reaching out, creating a simple human connection, a lot easier.

And would you look at that, this all ties in to human kindness! Crazy, how the world works.

If any of this struck a chord with you, I think my mom is still doing what she does best — exuding a contagious love that isn't asked for, yet still is given.