Today, I would like to share the conversation I had with my teenage daughter about “how to stay true to Yourself”. Moms will reckon that we sometimes have to dive deep into psychology to answer our children needs for understanding and knowledge.
But first, let me introduce you to the subject. Do you know this feeling of not knowing who you are anymore? It mostly comes when you’ve spent so many years doing what you should do. Eventually, you realize that there is no more excitement in your professional life or too much stress in your daily life.
It’s not easy to deal with this situation. So, imagine what it feels like when you are a teenager. They are at a time of many changes, both physically and emotionally. In their body, they are like adults. On the contrary, in their heart, they are still children. That’s why, in their mind, they don’t know who they are!
The tricky question
A few weeks ago, my daughter asked me:”Mom, what does it mean to stay true to myself?” You know this kind of questions out of the blue. These short questions that are calling for in-depth answers just at the time you expect them the least.
When I enquired about the why of this question, she explained that everybody was saying she had to stay true to herself. But she wasn’t even sure to know who she really was yet.
As a Mom of two teenagers, I always try my best to take time to answer these tricky questions; especially the most surprising ones as they are often the most important. However, I took a few seconds to switch my mind from washing-up to existentialism situation.
Here is what I finally answered:
I said: “Darling, I’m 42, and I’m not sure if there is a definitive answer to that question. Everybody is changing as they grow, like having kids or getting older. Life is not helping either! Many are saying that one particular experience changed their life for the best. It’s true that life is always challenging us with unexpected events that reveal something in us that we were not aware of.”
My daughter was even more confused.
Ok so now comes the real helping part.
I said: “The thing is: there’s no real definitive you! There are things you believe in, and things that are important to you. They are your values. You are young and, for now, your dad and I are providing you with what we think is best for you. In the meantime, you can see that sometimes you have different ideas. These new ideas you have on your own are your values. Some of your values will be the ones we teach you; but some will be different.
The values you have now when you are under our protection will certainly evolve when you’ll be on your own or have a child whom you feel responsible for. But whatever the time or the place, the real thing is always to stick to what you believe is right for you and the one you love. You are the one defining your true self. You are the only one to know who you want to be at each milestone of your life.”
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criticism = worst advice ever
I continued saying (and I was really inspired!) “Regarding that advice “Stay true to yourself” I want you to understand that if it’s a critic in disguise, it’s certainly not a good advice. Never let anyone tell you that you are not true to yourself. Indeed, it’s most likely that you are not doing what others expect of you. When you hear that advice, always question the importance of that person in your life. Then figure out why they think like that. In the end, always question yourself about sticking to your values. You can challenge the fact that your values are aligned with your goals and the life you want. Nobody but you can define who you are, and most importantly, nobody’s judgment but yours must have a real impact on what you believe to be right.”
When you’ll get older
Coming to the “future you” part, I told her: “Of course, things are not black or white. Some people will have a special place in your life and in your heart. Sometimes, being flexible toward their happiness is a good thing too. It’s one thing not to forget completely who you are to please others. It’s another thing to have mutual respect and make some efforts for someone important. When you live with someone, you can’t expect to have the same liberty and freedom as when you are single. When you have children, you care for them, and can’t expect to ignore their needs because you are tired or want to do something else that you enjoy. But all these persons are part of your values. That’s why nobody better than you must know what’s important to you. It’s your life, your choices, your responsibility, not other’s’.”
I stayed “true to myself” anyway!
I never know if my advice is constructive. But I know that I’m always trying to stay true to my values. It’s not easy, because we have to adapt and change all the time as adults, and mothers. But, at the very least, I do my best with all my heart.
First, I want my children to be responsible for their actions. Then, I want them to do what makes them happy, what they believe in. And eventually, I want them to live their life with passion. It’ always a matter of balance between themselves and others. In the end, it’s always a matter of balance!
If you want to read more about how to Refocus to improve your personal and professional life:
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