My son is 22 years old. He’s a senior in college, graduating from the University of Texas at Austin in just a few short months. I had the pleasure, the HONOR, of having a telephone conversation with him recently that lasted well over an hour. It definitely made my heart happy to have that much uninterrupted time with him and we were able to have a really deep conversation. My intent is to share with you part of what we discussed.
He opened up and talked about the future and how he’s feeling about it. He plans to complete a Healthcare Information Technology certificate program after he graduates with his bachelor’s degree and he will stay in Austin if he gets accepted to that program. During our conversation he spoke of the fact that he would be participating in a group interview the next week and he trying to figure out what to say during his interview to make him stand out as a qualified candidate. He relayed that he’s nervous about applying and finding his first “real” job, and basically jumping into the big world of adulthood. After that, the world is open to him and whatever he decides to do. It’s exciting. It’s scary. It’s life.
My son is a lot like me. He loves school. It’s where we excel, where we flourish, where we are secure, where we are safe. I understand the comfort of security and what it feels like when that comfort is nearing the end. But life isn’t about being secure… it’s about living, and sometimes that means operating blindly through uncharted territory.
I asked him what he feared about the great big world and he responded that he was unsure of the unknown. He doesn’t know where he will live, where he will get a job, where he will finally settle down in life.
There’s so much that I thought of during that conversation. For one, I was thinking of all the places that my “baby” may go and how much we had been through together since he entered this world in a time during my own unknown circumstances. You see, I was a 19 year old single teenage mom when I gave birth to Landon; I found out I was pregnant and his biological father decided he didn’t want the responsibility. We broke up and he married his ex-girlfriend about 4 months later.
The other thing I thought of during our conversation was how parenting an adult is so different, unknown, and actually harder in its own way than a toddler. I mean, a toddler’s worst nightmare is time out. A mother’s worst nightmare is a public tantrum—or worse. But the hardest thing for both of us now is the fact that he is at the mercy of the big scary world. Then it hit me… aren’t we all?
At this stage in the game I decided that it was best not to be his parent and shell out advice and seem like I know everything; that’s so far from what I felt like would benefit our relationship, and I have come to realize the fact that I don’t know everything!
I decided that the best way to foster our relationship was to open up to him and share my open, honest, real, raw heart. I told him that I don’t even know what I want to do when I grow up, even though I am 41 and the owner of a very successful company that operates state-wide. I confided in him that life is always evolving and you have to keep your eyes open and chin up to be able to see the paths and possibilities that may come your way. The only way to receive the blessings that come to us in life is to keep an open mind and heart. Our learning and growth is never done.
I told him, “If you woke up today then you have something to accomplish. You aren’t done… “ And that’s the message I want to share with you.
Sometimes it feels easier to give up, give in, and stay in bed and pull the blanket over our head when we believe that is the only solution. When times get tough it’s easier to feel like throwing in the towel. I know that feeling. I’ve been there.
But, I’m here to tell you that it’s not any solution at all. Yes, the world may seem scary, dark, and uncertain sometimes. However, don’t let fear be your guide and keep you in your comfort zone. You have made it this far and you’ve done quite well. So keep plugging along and putting one foot in front of the other and when you look back you’ll see how far you’ve come.
I started my adult journey in this world as a single teenage mom on Medicaid and food stamps. I had no idea that one day I would employ over 300 people and help children with special needs all over Texas. But that’s my “why”. That’s why I get up every day and make it my daily mission to impact just one person with a smile, word of encouragement, or a helping hand.
What is your why?