Recently I had the honor and pleasure to speak to a group of courageous young women ages 14 -19 about my life and experiences as a teen mother. I was invited by Family First, an organization in downtown Atlanta that provides counseling and assistance to young pregnant and teen moms. I was ecstatic about the opportunity to speak with this group of women of course because even 20 years later I still identify myself as a teen mom.
In preparation for the event I didn’t write or prepare a speech. My story is my story. I didn’t need notes to remember the good or the bad. I did take a moment right before leaving the house to think of the top points that I would tell any young mom about how to make it through those years. After I reflected on them I decided that anyone could use these lessons so I decided to share them with you as well.
1. Know Yourself: People are quick to give us titles. It makes it easier for people to know what to do with you. Teen mom, mom, wife, etc., all of those titles come with expectations. Don’t get caught in the title. Know what you want and who you are.
2. Don’t Be Typical: All around us we see typical. People listen to the same music, wear the same clothes, do the same things every day, speak the same. I NEVER liked typical. Typical is stressful and requires too much thought! I was always a little different. Challenge yourself to not be the stereotype. Don’t be typical. Try a new kind of food. Visit somewhere different. Shock someone. Have something about you that people would never know unless you told them.
3. Have Goals and Ambitions: The reason why I’m so in love with vision boarding is because I understand the value of having goals. When things get difficult it is so easy to quit. I promise you there will be a time or two when you’ll question why you’re trying so hard. You’ll ask yourself does it even matter. If you don’t have a goal and a clear plan, you’ll get derailed. You’re either on the train or on the tracks ladies!
4. Develop a Support System. I asked other former young moms what one piece of advice they would give these young ladies and overwhelmingly it was have a support system; mentors, friends, family. There is no such thing as doing it on your own. We all need someone. Ladies we need each other. So stop walking around saying that you don’t get along with women and girls. It makes you sound silly. If you don’t get along with any other women then there is something about you that needs some examination. It’s not cute, sexy or fly to say that you only have male friends. Stop it!
5. Recognize a Higher Power: I’m not a preacher. I often critique organized religion. I’m not telling you to go to church every Sunday. I’m saying that when things in my life got really, really, really low I had to know that there was something bigger than me that would see me through because I didn’t have it. There were times (not a time, but times) when I didn’t have the answers, the strength, or the courage to move and if I thought it was all on me I would have just stopped. Connecting with a source bigger than you through meditation, prayer, etc. will keep you off ledges. Trust and believe me!
That’s the quick and dirty and as I said I think that it applies to all of us not just young moms, not just moms not even just women so please share these thoughts with the young people in your life and before you share do a quick evaluation of yourself.
How are you looking in these departments?
Andrea Holyfield is a counselor specializing in career counseling and womens’ empowerment. She especially enjoys helping women become entrepreneurs. For more information go to www.LiveWellCPS.com