There is something to be said for kid’s who grow up with self-employed parents. You don’t grow up watching your parents go to work everyday, there is a certain comfort you lack from being part of a family based off your parent’s own success and dedication. I remember being envious of my peers who had parents with a “normal” career and longed for that sense of normalcy in our household.
Though I didn’t see it at the time, I was growing up with life lessons engraved in me at a young age by watching my parent’s support us on their own paycheck. I learned how to succeed in life not just financially, but mentally and emotionally.
1. How to not to sweat the small stuff
In high school I envied my peers who’s parents would ground them for bad grades or for skipping class. My parents were never ones to log into the school website to keep track of grades, or to ask about my report cards. At times I often felt like this was a lack of interest in my future, but soon realized those things just didn’t matter as much to them. They celebrated my successes, hanging my dean’s list letters on the fridge while I was away at college but they were never ones to dwell over bad grades or missed class.
They encouraged me to take classes and excel in what I found interesting. I remember getting my first D in Algebra class in high school and they told math probably wasn’t my thing. Failing was often accepted, not reprimanded. I learned not stress myself out over things that didn’t work out for me, and to apply myself where it mattered.
2. How to never settle
I learned to never settle for anything that didn’t make me happy or challenge me. I learned how to apply myself and take risks for things I was passionate about. My parent’s were far more interested in the projects I took home from art class, and there was a good chance one of my drawings would be tacked to the fridge rather than my most recent report card. They inspired me to try my hardest and to excel in what I was talented in, rather than settle for something that made me financially secure.
It taught me how to work hard for something I loved, rather than what people expected of me. In college I spent less time stressing myself out over paper deadlines and assignments and often spent hours on drawing or photography classes, because I was happier doing that.
3. How to work hard
I think if my dad ever asked anyone the biggest lesson you can pass on to your kids it would be to work hard. Coming from someone who refuses to watch “The Office” because he believes it promotes a lazy work environment, my dad taught me I won’t get anywhere in life without a strong work ethic.
Watching my parent’s build a business from the ground up in a world before kick-starter and start-ups, I watched first hand what it meant to my parent’s to provide a life for our family on their own skill and devotion. Often putting my siblings and I to work (and while we complained to death of us), it was engraved at a young age in all of us that if you want something you’re the one that’s going to make it happen for yourself.
4. How to not take people’s BS
Again, a lesson mostly from my dad, I learned at a young age there are people you just simply don’t want to deal with, and at the end of the day, you don’t have to! When I was 10 years old I came home from school with a terrible case of the flu, which was spreading around my classroom. I remember my dad referring to the kids coming to school sick as “psychopaths”. While I understood that in fourth grades none of them actually possessed psychopath qualities, he wasn’t completely in the wrong here.
The lesson I took from this is that are people out there who will put your own well-being at risk without any remorse. Whether it be in the work place, friendships or significant others, I grew up with a pretty good understanding of how to read these people and ultimately how to avoid them.
5. How to be resilient
I think this being the most important lesson of all, I learned how to bounce back and recover from failure. I watched my parents fail, I watched them start a business and I watched them lose almost everything because of it. I learned how finances can play an evil factor in a marriage, and I watched it end theirs. I learned not dwell over negative events, and how to overcome them by focusing on the positive.
I learned how to turn inwards and channel my energy in my personal strengths to recover from small, or even big failures in my life. Most of all I learned how to appreciate my parents as human beings, understand their failures and triumphs, and how to grow from those experiences.