Family Lessons: Make Up Your Own Mind

There’s power in a made up mind. My Momma was sure to emphasize to us as young children that we were to think for ourselves. Momma used to tell us all the time, “You’ve got your own mind. Think for yourself.” She wanted to emphasize to us that our decisions ultimately should rest on what we believed in our hearts and minds, and encourage us to not to “go along to get along” or do or say what everybody else was doing and saying just because it seemed popular. As Momma would simply put it, “You ain’t everybody else, and I ain’t everybody else’s Momma. I’m yours.”

I didn’t quite understand that sentiment until I was much older, and even now it becomes more and more clear to me exactly what she was trying to communicate. I’ve interacted with countless folks who are victims to peer pressure, children and adults alike, making choices and adopting mindsets that belong to somebody else, so much so that when pressed with the question of why they believe what they say they believe or think what they say they think, they can’t articulate it. Momma’s rearing and words have given me a sense of security that I don’t think I could have ever developed on my own. I don’t mind being the odd man out or being thought of as different. I’m fact, I find it incredibly freeing to not be the victim of other people’s expectations, beliefs, and ideas of who it is I should be. It isn’t always easy to operate like this, but it’s far easier than the alternative-being someone I am not.

Mommas words, “You’ve got your own mind. Think for yourself,” have helped me to not succumb to the societal pressures of life or to make any attempt to be who others think I should be when their ideas are contrary to my own. Instead, I’ve been focused on being who I am, as authentically as I can, and continue to focus on this as life progresses. I’ve watched many of my adult friends fall victim to worrying about what others might think and making decisions in response to that false limitation rather than their real life. I see how much the need to belong can get conflated with wanting to fit in when people aren’t clear about who they are and what they believe. I’ve watched people try to feel internal gaping holes in their heart and soul with surface level friendships and doing things they really don’t want to do but feel like they need to do. I’ve watched people battle between public personas and private desires, living a life that they believe to be approved by others although they find themselves unhappy more times than not. Seems age does not make one immune to the peer pressures of life after all, despite often being articulated as teenage problem. Thinking for one’s self is a necessary prerequisite for living as one’s authentic self.

I didn’t always value Momma’s teachings as I was growing up, and I often wondered why she found it necessary to say the same things over and over and over again. I get it now. She wanted to make sure we heard it, processed it, and gathered meaning from it. There were so many times I am sure she found herself uncertain as to whether or not I was listening, but clearly, I took it all in, and am so grateful that I did.

In this season of my life, I am focused on living more authentically each and every day, aligning all that I say and do, with my heart and mind. I want to be sure that my thoughts are my own and my decisions are not driven by what others might think, but by MY purpose, even if others do not understand it. No matter what I experience, whether it be rejection. criticism, or affirmation, I hope I always remember what Momma said, “You’ve got your own mind. Think for yourself. You ain’t everybody else,” and my goal is to live, work, and love accordingly! I got my mind made up because that’s where the power is!

Y’all be easy!

Latoya

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