At a time when I was on the precipice of a big life decision, a friend gave me this advice: ask yourself what guidance you would give your child if they were in your situation. Then, do that.
It worked. My friend’s counsel has guided me through some difficult situations. Turns out my fierce love for my son and daughter helps me rationalize my own turmoil.
This week, my son turns 21 years old. He is already more astute, wise, self-aware and grounded than I am. If there is such a thing as an old soul, he is ancient.
I won’t say the cliche remarks about how time flies, because I feel like I was present enough with my son that we moved through life together and I have appreciated every stage for what it was, even the hard ones.
Now he’s a man, and I respect who he has evolved into, as a soul independent of his parents.
Sure, we gave him the foundation, but his character has been shaped by the experiences of his personal journey, which is that part of growing up where your parents aren’t front and centre for your decisions. When you have to live with the consequences of your choices, that’s when you find out who you truly are.
I like who my son truly is. If we met as strangers, we’d become friends. He’s a cool cat.
For me, 21 was the year I felt like I finally cracked the code of who I was becoming, beyond living up to the expectations of others. It was the year I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and into the unknown. I made big decisions for myself that shaped my future. No regrets. Not one.
So, I’ll tell my son what I wish someone would’ve told me at 21: don’t let anyone write your life story for you. You are the content creator and editor. Every chapter is yours to craft. If you’re smart, you’ll write some ahead of time, so you can manifest outcomes (I’m proof this is possible).
You cannot control what life has in store for you, but you do control how you navigate it. Choice is a powerful thing. Choose wisely. Celebrate the wins. Honour the losses. Both are important lessons. When life kicks you down, and it will, ask yourself what you’re meant to learn from it. Hold on until you get the answer. It will come. Be patient. Trust me. Things don’t make sense until they do.
And if you need help, please ask. You aren’t supposed to have all the answers. Nobody does.
Don’t compare your life to anyone else’s. If you believe you lack something, then you lack the imagination to get ahead. Be careful not to believe the storylines that your ego wants you to narrate. Money isn’t the only marker of success.
The only true deadline is one you shouldn’t rush to, so don’t let people set the timeline of life goals for you. Everything will happen when it should. I assure you, a mortgage is not the key to happiness; who you make your home with is. Rent. It’s okay. A roof is a roof. Just be happy.
Please invest in yourself. Spend less, save more. But every now and again, blow some cash on a wild experience you’ll remember fondly in 30 years. Trust me on that too.
Stay true to you.
Know your worth.
Be good to your mom.