I drop my daughter off at the university in four days. Today, in a panicked voice, she exclaimed, “I don’t even know how to cook a roast! How do I cook a roast?!” That started my panicked thinking. What else have I forgotten to teach her? What did I miss? Then I remembered that I am still learning from my mother, and there is a lifetime to continue to teach her. Whew.
Because my mind is so preoccupied with sending her off, it seems natural to write my letter of advice to my 18-year-old self through her. Hopefully it will fill in anything I’ve neglected to pass on so far!
There are a few important things to remember as you begin this phase of your life, and many more that you will learn on your own in the coming years. I offer this advice to you in love with the hope that it can minimize growing pains and shorten your learning curve a little.
1. “It has been my experience that you can do just about anything you put your mind to.”
I heard this statement by Esther Jones Langston during my orientation to my master’s program. You were one week old. I was still sitting on an inflatable donut. I was absolutely certain I was making a huge mistake going back to school. You were a newborn, I had a difficult delivery, your dad was in school, we had no money…WHAT was I thinking?! That’s when I heard her say it. I then said that to myself every day until graduation, every day I pumped milk in the bathroom and worked the night shift and wrote papers while you were on my lap and studied while I walked the hall of our small apartment with you because you would. not. sleep. I’ve never forgotten those words, and they still come to my mind during difficult times.
2. “The only mistake in life is the lesson not learned.” -Albert Einstein
You will make mistakes. Lots of them! You will say things you wish you could take back, do things you wish you hadn’t, and allow people in your life who shouldn’t be there. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; there are very few situations in life that can’t be worked out. Every moment you waste in despair prolongs the solution and YOUR HAPPINESS. Learn to apologize, learn to change your path, learn to cleanse your life of people who impede your progress, and MOVE ON. Making mistakes does not determine your worth, but what you learn and how you resolve them determine everything.
3. “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.” -Steve Jobs
No one knows you better than yourself! One of the biggest mistakes we make is to allow other people to define who we are to the point that we don’t know ourselves anymore. In order to be true to who you are, you really have to know who you are first. Pay attention to your own thoughts, opinions, dislikes, and likes. My dad offered me this advice once during a difficult break-up: “Carolyn, if you don’t stop being so independent you will have a difficult time finding anyone who wants to marry you.” I love my dad and he usually has really good advice, but this was by far the worst advice I’ve ever received. However, it forced me to really examine who I was, and when I realized that being independant is intrinsic and central to my identity, I quickly rejected his statement and learned how to love that part of myself. And I got married. So there.
4. “Always, always, always listen to the spirit (your inner voice) and follow through.” -Me
The next step to listening to your inner voice is to honor it by following through with what it tells you. Thoughts mean nothing if they aren’t reflected in your behavior. You will learn that your inner voice is the best source of advice and guidance you will ever have. Combine that with a strong relationship with your Heavenly Father and a commitment to act, and you cannot fail.
I went out on a date in college with a young man I barely knew. I didn’t really want to go out with him, but I hadn’t had a date in a year and I thought, “what the heck, it can’t hurt.” As the date night approached, I knew I shouldn’t go. I felt awfult about it and knew I should call it off. But I didn’t. I didn’t want to be rude or disappointing. The date was horrible, weird, and became weirder as the night went on. My inner voice told me to end the date, to get out, go home somehow, leave. I didn’t want to be rude or impolite, so I didn’t. I finally and firmly told him I wanted to go home, several times, until he finally agreed to take me. The night ended with me yelling and physically pushing him out of my apartment and thankfully escaping a horrible situation. I learned a lesson about politeness that night. I can’t let anything speak louder than the spirit.
5. “Happiness is a choice. I just choose to be happy.” -Jennifer Morris
So simple. So profound. Someone will always have more than you do. Learn to be happy with what your have. Own your thoughts and be in control of where they are directed, and you will own happiness. Enjoy simple, silly things like going with your roommates for a treat and paying entirely in change. Love the fact that you can attend amazing concerts, events, sporting events, and theatre productions for free! Be thrilled with a new pack of gum. Write thank-you notes! I have a theory that when you show gratitude for the things you have, the universe gives you more to be thankful for. Practice that, and see what happens.
I’m going to leave it at five words of advice today. Mothers tend to have an endless supply of these things, and mine are at your disposal any time you ask. They are, however, simply words of advice. The work of your 20’s is to figure this all out with your own experiences, learn who you are, and begin to build on that for the rest of your life. The fun really begins at 30 anyway. I love you more than you know, I have complete confidence in you, and I can’t wait to see the incredible things you will do.
P.S. I usually buy a rump roast or a chuck roast with good marbleing. (that’s fat running through the meat) I season it with salt & pepper, a teaspoon of beef buillion, a dash or two of Worchestershire sauce, and about 1/2 cup of water. Dad likes a bunch of sliced onions on top. You can either cook it in the crock pot on high for 6 hours or so, or in a roasting pan in a 350* oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, depending on the size of the roast. I like to cook it until it falls apart. If you want to add cut up potatoes or carrots, add them in the last 3 hours of cooking in the crock pot or the last hour in a roasting pan.
She’s all settled in & doing great!
Carolyn Mohler- LCSW, Private Practice
I’m a wife, mom of six, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, exercise enthusiast, native Las Vegan (yes, we do exist), lover of food, and admitted chocoholic. I write about life and how I live it, what I think about things, and what makes my days. I’ll honestly expose my plate-spinning, role juggling, three-ring-circus struggles and even some of my failures as I try to raise my amazing soon-to-be amazing adults. I’ll share what I know professionally and personally because we could all use some free therapy once in a while! If anything you read here makes your day, I’ll consider it a mission accomplished!
Carolyn can be found riding the eye of her own tornado at : http://confoundedwoman.com