I have undergone a significant transformation over the past seven months. In fact, some might actually deem it nothing short of miraculous. One of the most beautiful new changes is a renewed relationship with my 16-year-old daughter, with whom I have been estranged for over 13 years. I am finally at a point of maturity that allows me to look back and take responsibility for the things I could have handled differently as well as find peace with the things I had no control over.
As our relationship begins to fully bloom and trust begins to build, open communication now plays a pivotal role. A forum for honesty has begun to take shape and as it does, it is with certainty and somewhat painful honesty that I can now admit that I dropped the ball as a parent in many areas. However even in taking responsibility, I wonder if my "ball dropping" may have had something to do with my mentors having never passed the proverbial ball to me as a young woman. I found myself pondering what lessons or words of wisdom I would have not only passed onto my daughter but what lessons would have helped me as well. What words would I have wanted to hear that could have saved a lot of time and trouble in the years that shaped who I would later become?
Those thoughts led me to examine some of the foundational truths that we as adults need to share with every young woman close to us. Some of what I would want to share can be summed up in three simple lessons.
1.) No matter what you do or what you have done, you can always start over and you're never stuck.
Oh, how I wish someone would have shared this information with me before my mid-twenties. All too often as young women, we look at ourselves and our situations as unchangeable facts. We forget that the mistakes and decisions we have made do not define us as people. The mistakes we make are only tools to build a bridge to becoming a better, well-rounded and more educated person. It is only when we discover who we don't want to be that we can be certain of who we do want to be. As adults, it's easy for us to forget that forgiveness can sometimes mean more than good advice. There is no adult on Earth that can say they haven't made mistakes as a youth. It's inevitable. But no mistake is permanent. It may take a lot of work and be difficult to find but, every room has an exit somewhere.
2.) Those who don't bring you up will surely bring you down.
There is a long list of people I have been associated with over the course of my life that have seemingly sucked the literal life force out of me. Yet over and over, I continually rationalized why I needed them in my life when the fact was that I most certainly did not. Every day is a chance to grow, change and walk away. We need to ensure that the young ladies in our lives understand that strength is gained from leaving any from situations that is a detriment to our positivity and productivity. I'm certain it's true for every one of us that we have wasted more time than we care to admit on relationships and friendships that had run their course far before we finally decided to end them. Walking away is never easy but, with a guided hand, learning to recognize a toxic relationship is.
3.) Don't rely on someone else to make your decisions for you.
The truth is that adults know a lot but, we don't know everything. Many times as women, we would rather live with the regrets of fruitless dreams than to hurt someone we care about. We don't follow our heart because being open with our feelings may inadvertently destroy the idealized vision someone we love and respect had of who we should be. As young women, it's important we learn to base our life decisions on where we want our lives to go. Don't misunderstand, though -- when faced with a decision as a young adult, the opinions of those who have been there and lived it should all be weighed and taken into consideration. However, at the end of the day, we are the only ones who have to live with the outcome. Listen and evaluate while ensuring the plan isn't just one of a pre-designed, pre-packaged pattern of an idealized you. When all is said and done, we are ultimately the only ones who know who we are and what we want. In the event of a wrong choice, just refer to rule # 1.