"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment." -Ralph Waldo Emerson
My daughter is about to become a teenager and these moments are precious to me. I'm also coming to realize what many of you already know: raising a teenager can be challenging! There's the moodiness, the 'everything is boring' (when it doesn't entail spending the entire day with friends) .... and finding one complaint after the next. But, I'm dealin! (and, she's livin') ...so we're good! (laughing.) Seriously, I understand her. I was her. I remember the bad days. I remember my mom comforting me just by being there. I recall the impact of the intimate talks we shared in my life. These are the moments I look forward to having with my daughter in hopes that they'll, too, make a difference as she faces life's growing pains including the pressures of fitting in.
"I think the reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except yourself." -Rita Mae Brown
So, there I was in the kitchen cooking. Pots on the stove, evening sunshine coming in, Esperanza's Junjo - Short and Sweet playing in the background and a mother's love in the air. She walks in (because by now she really smells the aroma of her favorite foods cooked) and we both fixed our plates to our very own liking.
"Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation." -Oscar Wilde
We sat at the table together (we don't get to do this often.) As she sits with her plate, I laughed with the critical words coming from my mouth: Why did you mix your grits and spinach together?! That looks nasty? She cared less about what I said (or that I was laughing....oh, that teenager.) She proceeded to enjoy her food while telling me how good it was and that I should try it that way myself. I told her I was going to post it on Instagram (where we are all chefs) for the fun of it. I also wanted to see what others thought. You know I wanted to get the "opinion of others" as they took a look at her 'weird' creation in expectation of "gross" or "yulk."
"Where’s your will to be weird?" -Jim Morrison
Just the opposite happened. I received praises on both Instagram and Facebook from people who had never tried cooking both spinach and grits, not along mixing them together....they loved it! They were inspired to try it the exact same way and soon. I received comments as well as messages from Facebook friends ... I showed my daughter. The excitement on her face as she made claims of 'being an inspiration' were hysterical, yet I learned a lesson:
The very thing that we may find weird and different can inspire others.
I try to instill in her to be herself. The teenage years are a crucial point in our children's lives. So much of their life is constructed by the choices they make during these years. Many young adults suffer because of the choices they make as teenagers in attempts to fit in and in fear of being their authentic selves. It is important to know that our authentic selves are gifts and will inspire others no matter how 'weird' they may feel in the process. Those things that we like and find 'weird' that doesn't conform to what we think the majority likes ... wear it - flaunt it - show it ... hey, eat it! Mix your cheese, grits and spinach TOGETHER!