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The Five Most Important Lessons My Parents Have Taught Me

I never realized how much my parents taught me until I started living on my own. And no, I’m not just talking about how to do your laundry or file taxes (still workin’ on that one - sorry dad). Realizing how many times I’ve applied these lessons to my everyday life makes me so much more appreciative of my parents. These lessons have helped me get through really tough times and helped me to become a better version of myself. So, here’s just a quick summary of a few of my favorites.

People will remember you for how you carry yourself

When I think about people I have come across in my life, I never remember the things this world typically puts so much focus on. I don’t remember if their hair was done perfectly, or if their jeans were designer, or if they had the newest phone. I remember their character. I remember their ability to make others laugh. I remember their dedication to something they were passionate about. Yes, it’s fun to buy new clothes or curl your hair (even if it takes FOREVER). But don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Your amazing personality is 100000x more memorable than any Instagram picture could ever capture.

It is better to try and fail, than to not try at all

One of my favorite speeches was given by Jim Carrey at a graduation commencement. He says, “we can fail at what we don’t want, so we might as well take a chance at doing what we love.” I am not a risk taker. Not by any means. Failure gives me more anxiety than almost anything else I can think of. However, even though failing seems terrifying to me, deep down I know I would rather be able to say that I tried than say that I didn’t do anything at all. Now I will admit, I am still working on this. But we have to remind ourselves that as long as we tried, that is all we could do. 

You are the only one who is with you 24/7

You are your own worst enemy, or your greatest friend. If you constantly put yourself down, how do you expect anyone else in your life to lift you up? Sure, you can ask your friends and family for advice, and hopefully that advice will be helpful. But ultimately, you are the only one that has to make decisions that will directly impact your life. You are also the only one who will have to live with the outcomes of those decisions day in and day out, good or bad. So, make life easier for yourself. Even if they are hard, make decisions you know you can be proud of, and decisions you can live with.

As much as you want to, you cannot plan out life

This is the hardest one for me to accept, and the one that my parents have to reiterate to me probably at least once a week. I am a planner. I like to know what I am doing tomorrow before today even happens. So, when plans change, it causes me a lot of stress. However, especially since coming to college, I’ve realized that life is pretty much the one thing that cannot be planned. If you’ve ever changed your major, your career interests, lost friends or gained new ones, struggled through a class you thought would be easy or didn’t get the A you thought you deserved on that paper, you can see exactly where I’m coming from. Life has a funny way of throwing your plans into the wind. The most you can do is just go where the wind takes you.

Nobody can make you feel inferior unless you let them

My mom has reminded me of this quote more times than I can even begin to count. As someone who often compares herself to others, this quote has become a sort of inner mantra. You are in control of your thoughts, and therefore, you are in control of what you let impact you. The fact of the matter is, most people aren’t even happy with themselves, so why in the world do we let them do the same to us? The only person that you need validation from is yourself. Shut out the outside negativity, because it is only working against you and your progress.

I don’t mean to get all sappy, but if you couldn’t tell from the fact that I just wrote a whole article about them, I kinda think my parents are the best. All of these lessons are things I try to remember on a daily basis, and this is just the short list. I couldn’t be more grateful for them and their support. I hope these lessons can help others as much as they have helped me, and I hope this can prove to my parents that I didn’t just tune them out all the time.

Jordan White

Wisconsin '24

Jordan is a freshman at UW Madison. She loves baking, working out, and being with friends & family (especially her 9-year-old Goldendoodle).
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