25stories: Lisa

At 25 Lisa was a single mother of a three year old son, working a full time job, and squeezing in college classes. As she looked at the days, months, and years ahead her number one priority was being the best mother possible. Everything she did, every decision she made was fueled by that desire--to raise her son to be a good, kind man.

Lisa had dreams of working in the field of technology. She had a job working as a secretary at a nearby hospital, but she wanted a more. She wanted a career she could love. Working hard to balance all the demands in her life, Lisa pushed forward at her job not knowing exactly what the future would hold. Meanwhile she worried daily about whether she was making the right parenting decisions. Being a single parent meant she didn't have a partner to share that burden with. Through all the uncertainty Lisa dreamed of happiness. She wanted to show her son that happiness is possible in all circumstances. She wanted to be strong enough to look past her immediate worries and see all the possibilities the future held.

When Lisa was 25, life felt a little overwhelming. Each day was about balancing the many plates she was spinning--being a good mother, a hard worker, and preparing herself for the future she dreamed of. It could be tempting to look back and wish circumstances had been different, easier in some way. Lisa knows better though. Now, two decades later, she can see that those experiences brought her to exactly where she is now. That job as a secretary led to opportunity after opportunity, and now she is working that technology dream job. Being a single parent taught her that you can't force people to change and that nothing happens by accident. These lessons not only strengthened her but also eventually led her to her husband.

When asked what she would tell herself at 25, Lisa said "Hang in there, you are going to be a success at being a mother." I think it's so easy to look back and scold ourselves. To say "Man, I was an idiot." or "I could have saved myself so much pain." We all have regrets, so it feels natural look blame them on our past selves. I think Lisa's answer requires so much more courage. For some reason it's hard to be kind to ourselves in this way. It's hard to let go of our shortcomings and allow ourselves the room to learn. 

The quote above is something Lisa said about being a single parent, but I think it can apply to any hard thing we're walking through. Circumstances overwhelm us so easily. It beings to feel impossible to see past them, to believe that anything worthwhile waits on the other side. But, hang in there, you're going to be a success. It's going to be hard, but it's going to be wonderful, and no matter the outcome, it's going to be rewarding.

In my 25th year I will cut myself some slack as I walk through hard times.

25stories is a series I'm writing as I prepare to turn 25. I'll be talking with twenty-five women and then sharing their stories. I don't have much figured out about life, but I know that I learn some of the best lessons by listening to the stories of those around me. See more here

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