Parents aren’t perfect. My father is a human. He taught me many lessons. Some, like the ones I have written about here, are pure gold. Some I have had to work in my adult life to unlearn. Overall, he did his best which is all we can ever hope to do. So here are three pieces of gold from my father.
1. It’s better to be alone than with the wrong people
I wish I had taken this one to heart much sooner in my life. He told me this in high school as he cautioned me about making friends. He told me to choose my friends wisely. As a teenager though, I couldn’t imagine anything worse than being alone. I think that is a very human feeling. We are wired for connection. We don’t want to be alone. But in my early adult years, after spending seven years in an abusive marriage, I realized the gold in his message. It is better to be alone than to be with someone who is no good for you. It is better to be alone than to be with someone who makes you feel alone. It is better to be alone than to be with anyone who demeans you and puts you down. Being alone is far from the worst thing. These days I am very particular about who I spend time with. I had a mentor tell me that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. So these days I choose carefully who gets space in my life.
2. You have to take care of yourself because no one else will
This is another piece of advice I wish I had taken sooner. He told me this in response to me having difficulty ending things with my first shitty boyfriend. I had a terrible time implementing boundaries. I never stood up for myself. I was a doormat. I imagine as a parent this was frustrating to watch. I imagine it was even more frustrating to watch as it took my years to finally take his advice. I am getting better at taking care of myself though. I have boundaries. I take up space. I ask for what I need. I don’t wait for someone to come along and “rescue” me anymore. I take responsibility for my life.
3. You do what you gotta do
This advice was never said but was lived. When I was a freshman in high school, my father started his own automotive business. I remember him getting ready to open his shop and something going wrong. I cannot remember what went wrong. But I can remember him staying up all night in that shop fixing whatever it was, coming home early in the morning to sleep for an hour, and then going and working a full day in his shop. Now, as I start my own business, this feels so relevant to me. As a solopreneur, if you don’t do it, it doesn’t get done. No one is coming to rescue you, so you have to be your own hero and get it done. He showed me how to be committed to making it work no matter what comes up. He taught me it wasn’t easy, but you do it anyway. He taught me not to quit even when it is hard. He taught me all of those things even if those words never came out of his mouth.
I would love to hear the lessons you got from your dad. Send me a comment with the lesson you value most.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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