I haven't lived at home (except for during short holiday visits) for six years, but the bits of advice my mom gave me while growing up have stuck to me stronger than Mod Podge or fake eyelash glue. If anything, they resonate even more now that I've been through the fun, crazy, transforming time that is college and am currently living halfway around the world in Kenya.
They came to mind while I was sitting — nervous as ever — in medical school interviews. I remember them when I celebrate little accomplishments, and I reflect on them whenever I'm having “just one of those bad days.”
I may have rolled my eyes at these four “mom-isms” when I was younger, but as much as I don't want to admit it, they make all the sense in the world today. I still learn from them, and I think everyone can take something from them, too.
1. "Always take a sweater!"
I was born and raised in Hawaii, the land of warm weather and sunny skies. So, this one may seem silly at its most superficial level. However, it was my mom's way of reminding me to always be prepared for whatever life throws at me.
Whether it be an unexpected downpour or unforeseen heartbreak, she always wanted me to be ready for the bad things (just in case). I'm sure she'll be happy to know I've gotten caught in the middle of enough storms – figuratively and literally – to know to take her advice and always carry a “sweater” with me wherever I go.
People shouldn't wait around for their knight in shining armor to come and save them from the rain. Others are too busy looking out for themselves sometimes, and we need to be our own superheroes.
2. “Stop gossiping.”
Sometimes, I'd come home from school with the latest juicy pieces of gossip to share with my mom. She never failed to remind me I shouldn't be spreading gossip (whether it's true or not), or even spend time with people who constantly spread it. In her words, “You never know; they could turn right around and say some things about you.”
People can be nasty when it comes to rumors, and it doesn't stop in high school. As alluring as it was to be “in the know” about everyone and everything, I've learned to stay away from that kind of negativity. My mom always saw the good in people, no matter how terrible they seemed to others. She's taught me to do the same. Call it naïve if you want, but I'd rather have my mom's outlook on life than be someone who needs to bring others down in order to feel elevated.
3. “Be nice to your sister.”
There are two of us girls in the family, and my little sister is six years younger than me. Whenever we argued (which happened a lot), we could get especially mean. No one knows how to rip you apart quite like the people closest to your heart, right?
My mom would always remind us we should be nice to each other because we're all we have, and words can hurt for a long time. As much as I never want to give in to my little sister and walk away from an argument I know I'm on the right side of, my mom is right.
Words hurt, and the most important things we have in life aren't our little victories or wins. They're the relationships we have with the people we love. Whether you have a sibling you squabble with or not, you have people you love. Don't screw things up with them using your words. Just walk away when you're angry.
4. “You're better than that.”
My mom is obviously biased and thinks very highly of my sister and me. Whenever I'd run to her complaining (or crying) about how someone had wronged me or been unfair, she'd always remind me of my worth. In her eyes, I gave more of myself to others when I should have been a bit more selfish and loved myself enough to know when I deserved better.
When I'd get hurt because of this, she'd never fail to remind me that I'm better than that and that I shouldn't let things faze me. And on the flip side, when I was rude, thoughtless and too selfish, she'd remind me again that I was better than that. I can't expect others to treat me well if I don't do the same for them. We get so caught up in everyday life that often, we forget our manners or our worth. My mom never let me forget.
One day, way in the future, my kids will roll their eyes at my mom-isms, too, but I'm going to dish them out anyway. In times of celebration and desperation, I know these mom-isms will make sense. More importantly, they'll help them remember they're never alone in this world.
Thank you, Mom. I didn't always realize it then, but I know it now. You were right all along.