Life Lessons My Mom Taught Me About the “Real World” | Cleveland State University Professional Development Center in Cleveland

Life Lessons My Mom Taught Me About the “Real World”

Contributor: Adrian Rutt

Although mothers are (or should be) appreciated year-round, and our appreciation for them almost always falls short, I thought I’d take the time to get a little more specific in my gratitude. My mother has taught me a lot of things but some stand out more than the rest as they are lessons that can be applied to the "real world."

1. Be tough. Coddling and hand-holding 24/7 hardly works out for either party.

It should be noted that, first and foremost, mothers aren’t perfect: love can often feel like being smothered by a pillow as opposed to frolicking through fields of rainbows and butterflies. I suppose this was one of the things I learned, albeit subtly: that love and care have an infinite amount of different expressions and can be, at times, a little rough. Tough love is too cliche and doesn’t quite capture the feeling here, because tough love is explicit. People try to be tough love macho motivational speakers, but my mom, doesn’t try; it’s a natural part of her compassionate repertoire of expressions to be a little tough sometimes.

2. Stay positive and try to see the other person’s perspective.

Falling right in line with this tough love aspect is the idea of balance. It can be hard to see the “bright side” when being given the tough love lecture about, say, peeling out of the driveway in my supercharged Thunderbird. However, looking back I realize there were just as many, if not more, true acts of compassion. Whether it’s a mindless $30 to take a girl out to the movies, or the sacrificing of her entire day—day in and day out—to drive me around to all kinds of different functions and gatherings of friends, one thing is true when you step back and look at the whole picture: the good at least always balances with the bad. Again, though, this bad is perceived; everything my mom did and continues to do is out of love.

3. Be bold; live out loud.

Probably one of the most influential qualities for me personally has been my mother’s sense of boldness. This might be why, in fact, we can butt heads from time to time these days. But this wasn’t one of those sit down ‘let’s have a talk about being you’ situations—it was simply by living out this lecture that my mother instilled in me as a sense of individuality and boldness. She was, to use a worn out cliche, being a role model through and through. Of course saying what’s on my mind, being controversial at times, and coming across as slightly arrogant can be disastrous, but, I always think to myself, I don’t think I’d want it the other way around…

4. Conflict is not only inevitable, but necessary. It’s your attitude towards it that matters.

Perhaps lastly, my mom taught me, again through the way I was raised more so than specific lessons, that conflict is inevitable. Not violence, but simply the clashing of views. That there are so many different people out there, with entirely different experiences, who are full of good and bad stories (as we all are) so what choice do we have but to live boldly yet kindly. Taking the bull by the horns, yet being mindful not to hurt those around us as we grapple with the bull. It was, in short, a story of balance. Conflict isn’t in and of itself negative; for learning can be painful, but it was always my attitude toward that pain that my mother made sure to tinker with.

5. “[It is] not the cry, but the rising of the wild duck impels the flock to follow him in flight.”

And for all the things my mother has taught me, the one thing I love most in this world was not (to my knowledge) her doing. So I will put my own personal stamp on this short appreciation by doing what I do best: quoting philosophy. But it too, is a nod of appreciation for not just all mothers everywhere but for the life lessons we learn from them. There’s nothing more powerful than exemplar living.


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