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25 Things You Couldn’t Have Told Me At 13 (Or: Things My Mother Was Right About)

When I was a teenager, I was pretty sure that everything my mother said was useless white noise meant to stop me from having fun. Naturally, this meant that I wanted to do the opposite of whatever she said.

However, the older I’ve gotten, the clearer it has become to me that my mother has some pretty good snippets of advice. I’ve put some down to share with the universe.

  1. A cup of tea makes everything better. Well, a couple of things. It won’t stop us all from our slow march towards the inevitable grave, but if someone was mean to you, tea totally helps. 
  2. Anger is a renewable resource that will lock you in a cycle. Being angry with people or personal situations that are in the past will never produce anything positive. Actively attempt to break out of the cycle. 
  3. Forgive. You will find that it is the most emotionally freeing thing that you can do for yourself.  
  4. Movies make change and personal growth look easy. For most people, this is a lie. Growth is painful, and saying goodbye to an old version of yourself is hard. Give yourself space to mourn them, and then move on. 
  5. Nothing will ever look as good as it does in magazines (or on Pinterest and Instagram. I know. It’s sad). 
  6. Do not mix drinks. This shouldn’t be number six. This should be number one. Just don’t do it. You will regret it the next morning and the smell of [insert alcohol here] will make you forever nauseous after. Just looking at rum gives me flashbacks. Even thinking about it is turning my stomach.  
  7. Similarly, do not angrily confront people while drunk. Do not text them while drunk either. Do not even attempt to send them a carrier pigeon while intoxicated. There is a reason you didn’t do it when you were sober, so take a deep breath, drink some water, and refer to number two on this list. 
  8. On a more serious note, familiarize yourself with the phone numbers of important services (including helplines) on campus. If they are not in your phone, go do it right now. You may think that you will never need it, but add it anyway. You don’t want to be helpless in a situation where you do.  
  9. Do not be that clueless person who says that they wish they were born in the 40’s or 50’s. Yeah, red lipstick was cool. But do you know what wasn’t cool? Just about everything else. That was all pretty terrible. Instead of voicing this ignorant opinion with that mouth of yours, you could just put some red lipstick on it! Because they still make it and you can buy it for about 5 dollars at CVS. Also, a lot of the terrible stuff hasn’t changed that much, so you don’t even need a pricey time machine. 
  10. Someone can be a nice/good person and still be a lackluster/neglectful parent/friend/sibling/significant other. These things are not mutually exclusive.  
  11. You can’t change others. You will not be the exception to this rule. You are not there to save someone. Love them, offer them guidance and comfort as long it doesn’t take a toll on your emotional well-being, but don’t think that you can force change on someone who is unwilling. They have to actively make the choice themselves. 
  12. Some people attract mosquitoes more than others. This isn’t a philosophical statement or particularly important. It’s just true and slightly terrifying and I really think people need to be aware of this and plan their outdoors excursions accordingly. Apparently, 1 in 10 people are highly attractive to mosquitoes. My mother is one of them and her cupboards are full of bug repellant. It’s sad, but also pretty funny.  
  13. Running after people is exhausting. Don’t do it. Nobody should have to make you run after them. If anything, they should be running at you. Or with you. Or maybe just don’t run? Try instead to take a good jogging pace, or perhaps attempt a leisurely stroll. Enjoy the part of the journey where you fall in step together. (Did I take the analogy far enough?) 
  14. Some people will appreciate the physical you without valuing the emotional you. You might be okay with this. You might not be! What’s important is that you’ve given some thought to it. Don’t judge others if they feel differently about it than you, because that would be super unchill of you, and you’re a chill person. Reevaluate this as much as needed. 
  15. Drinking water all the time makes you pee a lot, but it’s really good for you in just about every way, so try and do it regardless. It probably won’t turn you into a radiant water goddess with invisible pores and flawlessly hydrated skin, but your body will still benefit from it. Bummer about the water goddess thing though. 
  16. Jealousy, like anger, is a dangerous and intoxicating emotion. It is not productive or healthy and is the wrong way to try to motivate yourself. There’s a quote that addresses this that I really like –  “A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms.” Yeah, do that, you beautiful little flower.  
  17. Know when to let go. This applies to people, places, things, and situations. If your gut tells you that something has run its course, listen to it.  
  18. To follow that, do not feel guilty for letting go of something that doesn’t quite make sense anymore. Make adjustments to your life as you see fit, but be kind to others as you do so.  
  19. Ask yourself: do you want to be the bitter old person, or the jolly one? Act accordingly. (The right answer is definitely jolly. Don’t you want your grandchildren to visit you and sneak you alcoholic chocolates? Yes. Yes you do.)  
  20. There are certain people that need to stay in the past. Ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriends, ex-friends, almost lovers and almost-somethings that once were in your life become ghosts when they leave – do not get so stuck in the past that you end up choosing your ghosts over the living.  
  21. Some things you just need to experience on your own before you really understand them. That is why I’ve entitled this list “Things You Couldn’t Have Told Me At 13”. Experience is the best teacher, but it’s also the teacher that pushes you and makes you gently cry yourself to sleep after class ends, you know? Oh, has that not happened to you? Uh, yeah, me neither. 
  22. If a boy or girl says that you remind them of someone they used to love, quietly bow out. As fast as you can. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Refer them to number twenty. 
  23. Let the fact that there is always more to learn make you excited and not terrified. 
  24. Mixed signals signal indecision. Indecision should always make you wary. WWMYD (What Would My Mother Do)? The answer is run as fast as possible in the opposite direction.There are people out there who will give you signals that won’t sap so much emotional energy. 
  25. No matter how awful the day was, it always ends. Cry about it, scream about it, laugh about it, and then move forward.

So there it goes! My mother and I don’t see eye to eye on everything, but she has some fabulous advice to give. Some of these are mine, because hey, I can be cool too, but the person I am today is all thanks to her wise self. If everyone grows up to be their mother, I can’t wait to grow up.

Sarah is a senior history major at Oxy - she likes cats, naps, pizza, and wine.
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