I called my Mom last night and she put me on the phone with my childhood friend who is currently staying with her for the week. My childhood friend went on to talk about how helpful my Mom is and then called her “Superwoman.” You see, my Mom is a teacher in Texas and she tends to go above and beyond the duties of a normal math teacher. She legitimately cares about her kids and doesn’t want them just to pass, she wants them to actually learn.
I understand that everyone thinks that their own mother is Superwoman but I figured I’d share some of my favorite lessons my Mom ever taught me.
1. “Ask. The worst that can happen is that they tell you no.”
I follow this rule every single day. The concept is really simple: the absolute worst thing that could happen is that they can tell you no. It worked to take the fear of rejection away (and no, not necessarily in a romantic sense – in all senses). It made hearing “no” seem like the worst case scenario.
Obviously this doesn’t always hold true. For instance, I once asked a friend (who I was not currently with and hadn’t seen for a while) for a ride back to her neck of the woods. I needed to go there and I knew she was in the area about to head back. I figured she can tell me no if she wants. Unfortunately, she got mad that I wanted to “use her” for a ride. It was never really part of the lesson that someone may get mad at you for what you ask.
Apart from situations like those, as I mentioned before, this life lesson has really permeated to so many aspects of my life. It’s not just asking for favors, I think it makes me more fearless in many aspects of life, professionally, socially and, of course, romantically. I think I’m less afraid of being rejected by women, for instance. I can ask a girl out and if she says no, to me, that’s the worst thing that can happen. It’s just a no.
2. Don’t ever let anyone tell you you’re worth less
I’m sure many parents have told their children this but my Mom had a pretty awesome story to back up her point. When she was in high school, they didn’t allow women to wear Letterman’s Jackets. She grew up in Michigan and it was general practice that only boys could get Letterman’s jackets for the athletic accomplishments. My Mom played basketball and she was quite good at it. She came home and lamented to my Grandmother about being unable to wear one. They both decided that the rule was unfair and sought to change it. My Grandmother shopped around until she found a place that would sell her a jacket and the next day, my mom strutted into school proudly wearing her jacket.
The school went so far as to try to seek disciplinary action against my Mom. They called in my Grandmother for a student teacher conference to tell her what my Mom had done and my Grandma simply respond, “Oh, I know. I bought it for her.” She then impressed upon the school that if my Mom hadn’t done anything actually wrong, they were wasting her time. And my Mom continued to wear the jacket.
Although it may have taken a long time for me to “come out,” I think this story of my mom’s person struggle with gender equality helped me. I always knew, no matter what, my Mom would think I was worth the world.
3. Wear your heart on your sleeve
My Mom taught me a sort of emotional honesty that I think is something to cherish. The other day, when talking about my various dating failures to my roommate, she told me that I open myself up to being hurt way more frequently than most people. In my opinion, that’s the negative way of looking at things. Sure, in those situations, the result was that I ended up hurt but I don’t count my emotional vulnerability as a bad thing. My Mom, although arguably way more emotional than me, taught me to be open and honest.
Coupled with my Dad’s logical side, I now wear my heart on my sleeve but am less apt to only emotionally react. I think carefully about my decisions and weigh their consequences but attempt to live true to myself and my emotions. If I feel like giving a 2 page love-letter-lite to a girl who I know doesn’t want to be my girlfriend, that’s okay. I already knew the answer to the letter wasn’t going to be favorable but at least I said all I could ever want to say. I never have to wonder. I spoke my truth. I’d rather say everything I need to say, be true to myself and have no regrets.
Note: my teenage obsession with Dawson’s Creek may also have been an influence in lesson #3
It’s a short list and I’m sure I could think of many more things. My parents shaped me into the person I am today, a person I’m damn proud to be.