This world is made up of so many different types of people. Those who are risk takers and those who err on the side of caution. Some people are extremely emotional and sensitive while others project a tough exterior. Without this balance of personality types, the world would be a very boring place.

I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and that people come in and out of our lives for a purpose, even if we don’t know what it is at the moment. Sure, some people believe these are thoughts we simply tell ourselves to keep hope alive. Maybe so. But who cares? I think it’s a nice thought that helps breed positivity and optimism.

I’ve met many people in my life. Some good, some bad. Some kind, some cruel. And all of these individuals have taught me something about myself. About who I am, who I’m not, and who I want to be.

Alley (not her real name), the wife of one of my husband’s friends. She is the happiest, most thoughtful, and giggly people I’ve ever met. No matter what it is you say to her, she laughs. She loves life and drinks in every moment. Looking at her, some might wonder what she has to be so happy about all the time. She carries about 100 extra pounds and scars from a horrific car accident that left a majority of her hands and face burned. Alley has taught me about self-love, self-acceptance, and gratitude. Alley’s daughter embodies her mother’s free-spirit. After graduating high school, she picked up and took off to Europe, working as a tutor, volunteering her time, and caring for sick and injured wild animals. She embarked on this journey with no clear plan, financial stability, or family. But that was what drove her - the mystery, the adventure, and excitement. I envy her confidence and sense of adventure. I’ve barely ventured out of my state, let alone the country.

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I’ve learned many things from my father - some good, some bad. There’s no denying that he works hard. He’s always provided for our family for as long as I remember, even if it meant working three jobs. In his mind, that was the father’s role. But perhaps his ability to make money tainted him in some way. Because now, he is seemingly obsessed with it. He is the type of guy that will nickel and dime you at a restaurant, pointing out that he didn’t drink any alcohol and you had an appetizer. I can’t stand that about him. Which is why I vowed at a young age never to be like that. Of course, money is a necessary part of life. A necessary evil, if you ask me. But I will never place that much importance on it, to the point where it affects relationships. But my father showed me what work ethic looks like and for that, I am grateful.

Then there’s my mother. The most nurturing woman I know. I am the mother I am because of her. Even for someone who didn’t want children and was thrown into the world of motherhood long before I was ready, I somehow came out on the other side. Stronger and more patient than ever before. My son is a testament to my mothering but my mothering is a testament to my own upbringing. My mother showed me what it meant to be selfless for your child. To put your child’s needs first, above all else. But in that, I found room for improvement. My mom was sometimes selfless to her own detriment. She didn’t foster her own self. She lost her identity in motherhood, which I’ve vowed never to do. I take time for myself. My interests, my passions, and the things that make me feel good. These are the parts of life that allow me to be a patient, loving mother. This is who I am. Who I was before motherhood and who I’ll be once my son is grown and has a family of his own.

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So, thank you, mom, for showing allowing me to learn from your mistakes. Thank you, dad, for showing me what it means to work hard but not let greed consume you. Thank you, Alley, for showing me what self-love and confidence truly look like and to Alley’s daughter for showing me it’s okay to take risks and now have a plan.

I can’t wait for the people and life lessons that await me.

Oh, the people you will meet - Dr. Seuss