10 Lessons My Mother Taught Me (In Honor of Mother’s Day)
This is a guest blog post written by the daughter of Your Design Partner’s Ricci Jackson. My name is Niyah. I thought it would be fun to write a post about the 10 lessons I’ve learned from my mom in celebration of Mother’s Day. Enjoy!
Lesson One | “You Only Have a Minute to be a Kid, but a Lifetime to be an Adult”
I was in fifth grade, and my best friend Victoria showed me she had shaved her legs. I had hair on mine still and I felt embarrassed that I wasn’t shaving too. I went home to ask my mom if I could start too and she said no. A similar situation occurred when my friends started to wear makeup. My mom didn’t let me start wearing anything more than mascara until I was 16. “You only have a minute to be a kid, but a lifetime to be an adult,” she’d say. She didn’t want me to rush into shaving and convinced me to enjoy not having to shave, because once you start you have to keep it up. With the makeup, she showed me that I have naturally beautiful skin and I don’t need to cover it up. She wanted me to enjoy not having to wear makeup for as long as I could, and to this day I still don’t wear much more than mascara, eyeliner, and lipstick. It’s a valuable lesson even today, as I am 21. I am enjoying the stage in life I am in right now, instead of wanting to rush to being a more established adult… especially since it’s not looking like things are going to get any easier…
Lesson Two | It’s Okay to Be a Little Skeptical
My mom is always a little skeptical when she comes across something new. For example, when I would ask to go to a friend’s house she’d need their name, their address, phone number, and an estimated time of return. I used to hate when she asked a bunch of questions, but I know now she was just looking out for my best interest. Another example is if there’s something I am not sure about, like the time I was asked to style a major campaign for a popular hair care brand while I was living in New York City. She matched my level of excitement, but still had a bit of reserve in her tone. She wanted to know if I had signed anything, if I had asked for a deposit, etc. Of course I hadn’t thought about those things, but was assured the deal would go through because “they were really nice people.” After spending an entire day calling PR agencies and researching the concept they were looking for, I called them to ask for a release form to borrow clothes from a PR company, and was told they no longer needed me because of “budget issues.” I was devastated, but learned a valuable lesson in remaining a little cautious of deals like that, to always ask for money upfront, and to not get excited until the agreement was official on paper.
Lesson Three | “Speak Up”
I am naturally soft-spoken. I always have been, but the difference between my personality now and what it was several years ago is that I am not afraid to voice my opinion and “speak up” in the figurative sense of the word. I’ll always remember my first day of 7th grade. We had just moved to Champaign, Illinois and I went to a school called Edison Middle School. It was way more diverse than I was used to seeing at any school I’d been to before. I was used to being one of a few black kids but this school had a vast population of hispanics and blacks. The kids quickly picked up on the fact that I was a little different from them, especially the black kids. I spoke “white” they told me, “I was an Oreo,” they said. On my first day, I went to sit down in class, and almost immediately this girl behind me started kicking my chair. At first I thought it was a mistake, so I ignored it. She kept persisting, increasing how hard she kicked as she went. Everything in me wanted to turn around and ask her to stop. I even thought about just getting up and sitting down at a seat across the room. But I was new, and I hate conflict, so I just tried not to let it bother me. My plan was to ignore her until she stopped. She didn’t. How ridiculous is that? I am so glad I got over that and now how the confidence to not let people just walk all over me. I think in general, my mom didn’t want me to continue this practice of compliance, for fear of a situation that would be much more serious. Although I’ll always be an introvert, I no longer fear confrontation.
Lesson Four | “When People Show You Who They Are, Believe Them the First Time.”
It wasn’t until later in life that I realized this is actually a Maya Angelou quote, but its something my mom frequently says to this day. She’s taught me that first impressions are everything, and to pay attention to things that seem “off” about a person. They could’ve had a bad day, so I don’t solely base my opinion of someone off that initial greeting, but any intuition I gain from the first impression will be noted. My mom recently had a situation with a client she decided to let go that aligns with this concept. Click here to read.
Lesson Five | “Don’t Just Think About Yourself”
My mom is a naturally selfless person and I admire that about her. I still have some work to do. When she goes shopping, every now and then she’ll surprise me with a new pair of shoes, or a top she came across that she thought I’d like. When she goes to grab lunch, she makes sure to bring something back for the family. When her grandmother came to visit she’d run her a bath and buy her favorite candy. She’s very thoughtful and genuine which is why I think people are so drawn to her.
Lesson Six | “Everything Happens For a Reason”
This has become my life motto. Anytime I’ve gone through something that really had me down, most recently deciding to break up with my boyfriend of 2 years, she’d reassure me to stay focused on God’s plan for me. “People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime,” is something else she often says. I am a very optimistic person. I like to feel whatever emotion I need to feel at the time, but then let myself heal and move on. I am a forward thinker, so I just have to stay faithful and trust in the bigger picture that I cannot see.
Lesson Seven | “Be Classy”
This one mostly has to do with the way I dress. I think my mom played a major role in how modest I prefer my clothes to be. I had my occasional moments where I’d want to wear a skirt that was too short for me, because my friend’s could wear them, but my mom reminded me that I am tall, so I had to be conscientious of the length of things like that. She never wanted me to come off as anything less than the “classy, young woman” I was/am so I always needed to remain aware of the message I was sending through fashion and style.
Lesson Eight | Don’t Keep Your Feelings Bottled Up Inside
I am really thankful that I have a mom I can talk to without receiving any judgement in return. She offers unconditional love and support. I hate crying in front of people, but there’s been times when she’d notice something was wrong and stayed persistent in getting me to talk about it. She was always right in knowing that’s what I needed, instead of keeping it bottled inside to myself. There’s never been a time when I didn’t feel like a weight was lifted off of my shoulders after one of those talks with her. Although, I am still working on breaking down the walls I build and just going directly to her when I am feeling vulnerable, instead of her noticing first.
Lesson Nine | Lift Others Up
“You can give them a compliment to0 you know,” was something my mom said after I expressed to her that a random stranger told me I was beautiful. My reactions prior had always been a “thank you,” but I had never thought to say “Thank you! You’re beautiful too,” or “I appreciate that, and I love your shoes! We all know how good it feels to receive a compliment, so it’s nice to be able to give them as well.
Lesson Ten | It’s Never Too Late to Pursue Your Dream
My mom started her interior design business in her forties. She’d always loved decorating our houses over the years and did a great job, and decided to stop working in sales and follow her true passion. What I love about this is that she didn’t always know this is what she wanted to do. As we age we continue to learn more and more about who we are and what we love. I believe we never stop learning about ourselves and we won’t ever know our maximum capacity for potential in this short lifetime, but what we do discover can be life altering. My mom has taught me that it’s okay to take risks, and you’re never too old to pursue your dream career. We aren’t limited to what we have college degrees in, or to even having a college degree at all. We don’t have to remain doing what we’ve been doing for 20 years. Life is a journey with many trails and winding roads, and we can go down multiple paths throughout our time here on Earth.