From Our Readers
September 25, 2014 10:40 am

Everyone needs a little mom advice sometimes, and I’ve been lucky enough to get it. My mother is amazing. Of course, when I was a teenager, I never thought I would have anything in common with her. I would never be as patient, as empathetic, kind, intuitive, or sweet as she was (and still is). I thought for sure that I would be the empirical, sarcastic, ice queen I was at 15 for the rest of my life. I thank god I was wrong, and I thank my mom for believing in me. Below are just a few monumentally important lessons she’s taught me.

1. Unconditional love is a real thing

One thing my mother used to say whenever I had relationship problems was this: go into the relationship accepting that person 100% for who they are in that moment, and accept that they may never change. I’ve been in plenty of relationships where the guy wanted me to change who I was, to be different and have different beliefs. Those relationships were always the most toxic, full of self-hate and depression. It is so important to find someone who backs you up even if you’re wrong. Those are the people who make us want to be better, not the ones who are constantly picking us apart.

You deserve the best. Always. It is important to know when to let somebody go rather than forcing change on them, as well. One of my favorite quotes is, “in the end only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.” Unconditional love will fight for you, always. It’s unwavering. You should never have to convince somebody that they want to be with you, so walk away from that right now.

2. Be tender

Tenderness is not weakness. It is incredibly beautiful. To be vulnerable, and human, and show your heart to others, is extremely brave. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise, that’s just fear speaking.

3. Speak your heart, as well as your mind

We are constantly told to speak our minds, and when we’re young, it tends to come across as arrogant, ignorant, or rude. It often isn’t, and we should never be afraid to say what we have to say. Yet we aren’t often told to speak our hearts. Yes, it is important to voice your thoughts, but many times our hearts and our minds disagree. Sometimes, what you know in your heart is more important than what you know in your head. Voice your heart. Share it with friends, let it grow, and don’t silence it.

4. Always give the benefit of the doubt

I can’t tell you how many times my mother has told me to give someone “the benefit of the doubt.” If you are constantly looking for the negative in the intentions of those around you, you’re setting yourself up for some terrible losses. In this day and age, it’s so hard to believe that when faced with adversity, any given human will thoughtfully make the right choice over the easy one.

Trust me, I’ve been through enough cheating, lying, bullying, etc. to completely give up on the human race entirely. But you can’t let this harden your heart, because those good and tender people will come into your life and surprise you. If you have walls up constantly, you will never know that those people even exist. Let them in and let them light up your life.

5. Forgive, then give even more

Everyone knows deep down that a grudge is worse for you than the person you are not forgiving. We all know we need to forgive those who’ve hurt us, but how come it’s so much easier said then done? Forgiveness is an active decision that you sometimes have to make on a daily basis, until it’s just natural. Part of this ties in with giving the benefit of the doubt, as well. We all have that one flakey friend who takes a lot more than they give, and it can be terribly exhausting. But unconditional love calls us to give, even if it means not receiving anything in return. Always give what you can. It will make you better in the long run.

6. Listen to the advice your friends and family give you

Lately, I’ve asked for either my mom or my dad’s advice first before anyone else. Your family knows you, and your parents are older and yes, sometimes even wiser. Your older sibling will always want to protect you from jerks, and your younger sibling will detect your dating patterns (so they can avoid them). Your best friend from growing up, knows you so well, that s/he knows what you need to be fulfilled, in a job or a relationship. S/he knows what hurts you, and in what ways you want to change the world. Let the people who are closest to you be there for you; it’s their job. Whatever you do, if you’re going through a difficult or confusing time, do not shut them out.

7. Your truth is not absolute

Mostly, not everyone thinks the same way that you do. This is still a difficult pill for me to swallow sometimes. I’m considered a relatively rational thinker, so when any given person doesn’t come to the same conclusion I do when faced with a puzzle of some sort, I get frustrated with them. Things are usually pretty clear to me when it comes to problem-solving, so I just assume most people will use common sense, or my version of it. But guess what? Everyone’s mind is completely different. No two are alike. And you can learn something from every single person on this planet.

8. There are different kinds of love

I once had an ex-boyfriend tell me that he was still in love with me, and that he always has been. I used to consider “love” to be the end all be all. If somebody tells you they love you, it means they want to be with you forever and can’t live without you, right? Not always.

Turns out, the love of my ex was rooted in sentimentality, and that was about it. I had an epiphany through this situation, while talking to my mother. I realized you can decide what your love means. There is no one concrete definition. Just because somebody tells you they love you, but doesn’t want to spend forever with you, it doesn’t mean that they’re lying or that they don’t mean it. It’s just a different kind of love, and that’s okay.

There is nothing wrong with you, you are lovable, but you will find that “forever” kind of love with someone else instead, somebody who will fight to the ends of the earth to be with you. If you’re lucky enough to be loved at all in this world, it shouldn’t matter what kind of love it is: consider yourself blessed.

9. Be open, be transparent, be frank

Openness is beautiful, just like tenderness. The definition of pride is “the unwillingness to be known for who you really are.” If you’re transparent, you’re confident, and you are totally okay with letting people know the real you. You have nothing to hide. If you are open with others, they will be open with you. Also, in most cases, it is better to be frank about what your needs are, why you’re hurting, and how you’re feeling rather than to take the “I’m fine” approach. Communication is key in every area of your life, and that starts with a transparency and a willingness to learn from others. Open your heart and your mind and listen to others. Thanks, Mom.

Aleesha Kozar is a flannel wearing 23 year old hailing from Wisconsin. She is an artist, pastry chef, writer, comedy enthusiast, aspiring anthropologist, and what seems like an eternal student. She’s traveled the world but has an insatiable wanderlust.You can follow her on Instagram or on Twitter.

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