Chelsea Hawkins
February 01, 2015 7:00 am

It wasn’t until I moved out to become a real-grown-up person that I really appreciated all the things my parents have done for me. There were a TON of things my mom tried to instill in me as a wee one – from a sense of belonging, to an appreciation for Patsy Cline – that never seemed like a big-thing until I really needed to be on my own. Cue tears, confusion and a lot of mistakes, because being an adult is absolutely terrifying. But my mom had taught me to cook, do laundry, drive a car and balance a check book so I was already ahead of the game.

My mom had me when she was 17 and was still a kid herself but I think she’s done a pretty good job raising me into a full-time badass. We don’t always get along and we learned a lot of this stuff together but these are, nonetheless, some of the many lessons my mom taught me over the last (near) quarter century.

Everyone does stupid things, so don’t get overridden with guilt.

Twenty-three really was the worst year but I survived! My friends and family have seen me do some terrible and embarrassing things, but they always remind me I’m not the worst. You just got to learn from it and move on.

Always have a strategy.

Planning ahead really does make things easier. Whether you’re planning groceries for the week, going over your monthly finances, or laying out your 1-5-10 year plan, having a long-term view can really help you plan for any surprises.

Rainy day funds aren’t optional. 

Even though it isn’t much, I always have a little bit stored away in case of an emergency; it’s there but I never touch it unless absolutely necessary. This is a habit that can only serve you well in the future.

Always carry a bit of ibuprofen.

A weirdly practical tip, keeping a pocket-sized first-aid kit with a few bandages and pain killers has definitely been useful during stressful work-days.

Prioritize health, not thinness.

I, like so many women I know, have struggled a lot with what I think others believe is beautiful and what I believe I am. It’s hard to resist but my mom has always stressed that I prioritize my overall wellness rather than covet a size 2.

Your words are weapons.

Confession time: I’ve made my mom cry more than once. I felt really bad, obviously, but it also reminded me that the things I say can have real impact on people. Cruelty doesn’t look good on anyone.

You attract more flies with honey than vinegar.

My mom said this to me a LOT when I was younger. I’ve got a mischievous streak and an acerbic sense of humor so I probably was a lot more sour than sweet growing up. But it’s true: kindness goes a lot further than cruelty.

Injustice is unacceptable and it’s your right to speak up.

My mom isn’t too political but she is a good person and so she’s always stressed fairness. Whether big or small, she doesn’t take any discrimination lightly and won’t let it go unnoticed. But most importantly, she’s taught me to use my voice even when I’m scared.

Don’t change yourself to appease anyone.

This is such a mom thing to say, but my mom was really big on women not down-playing their intelligence, independence or strength to make men feel more comfortable. We’re powerful and we’re allowed to be!

Education is hella important.

This is going to sound like a #humblebrag but I was the first in my family to go onto higher education — which really, is as much a testament to my parents as myself. All my life my mom has pushed me to study hard and rise above. It’s probably a cliché to say but education has empowered me for the better.

Also, stop saying “hella.”

Sorry, mom. That’s a habit I won’t be able to break.

Fashion is kind of ridiculous, so just go with what feels right to you.

I’ve made so many questionable fashion choices over the years (Lizzie McGuire was definitely an inspiration during my Jr High days), but in the words of Drake — and paraphrasing my mom — “You just do you.”

Explore.

My mom is terrible at map-reading and navigating. It’s actually a real problem but she loves going new places and trying new things. She’s encouraged us to keep life interesting by avoiding routine even if that means doing something as small as ordering a new item off the menu at a favorite restaurant.

Good friends are a precious commodity so be sure to show them they matter.

I’m insanely lucky in that I’ve had the same best friends since high school and I’m still close to people I have known since I was 7-years-old. I can only say it’s because my mom taught me to appreciate people. If you click with someone, don’t let him/her go.

Pay your debts. This is not a joke.

Whether it’s a fiver you owe your BFF or some serious student debt, try and stay on-top of it. Easier said and done, but your mental/emotional health and relationships will actually be healthier for it.

And while we’re on the subject, don’t loan money to people you care about.

This is a hard one to live by but money can really destroy friendships. You don’t want to become a debt collector to anyone you value because it can make things difficult and awkward.

Easy on the salt, heavy on the spice.

The most important cooking tip she has ever given me; salt isn’t great for you anyway, and chili and garlic taste better.

The best cure for illness is Elvis.

Sick days always consisted of lots of rice porridge and Elvis Presley movies. I may have faked a stomach ache once or twice just for the movie marathon. Oops.

Materialism is not cool and it’s not healthy.

No one wants to be Daisy Buchanan, because the second you start finding your worth in the things you own, you’re losing sight of who you are.

You may be broke but you don’t have to be unhealthy.

My family cooks a lot and so even when I was a college student I wasn’t always living on ramen and cheap takeaways. Learning to cook and hit up some of the discounted markets meant I could make nutritious meals without going broke. It’s not easy but it’s definitely possible.

Read a lot, ask questions and get the full-story.

My mom isn’t a journalist or a writer but she did teach me the foundations of understanding the difference between fact and fiction and recognizing bulls–t.

Other notable things my mom taught me: how to sew on buttons, why it’s important to sing and dance, and why the color red is key to any wardrobe. It’s a definitely a power-color.

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