Yesterday’s blog was quite intense, so I want to follow it up with something more positive. Today’s theme is that something good can come from a bad situation.
My parents unwittingly taught me three important lessons. I decided I would never, ever let a man control me like my dad controlled my mom. Ironically, I married a man who would never think to do the things my dad did. But I didn’t know that when I was 12. At age 12, I decided to become a lawyer, mainly because I figured it would give me the financial security I needed. I would always be able to earn a good living and take care of myself. I learned to be self-sufficient and resourceful.
My parents remarried when I was 17. (He had another wife in between, but that’s a different saga.) My father convinced my mother that he had changed, and he did, for a while. My mother brought her car back with her. This car meant freedom to her, and she was possessive of it. Nevertheless, he convinced her to sell it and he bought her a Mercedes station wagon. My dad made me sew all my own clothes to save money, but he drove a Mercedes from 1967 until the day he died.
He owned another Mercedes when they got the wagon, but his was older and a stick shift. He liked the wagon better so he often took it and left my mother with his car. Problem was my mother did not know how to drive a stick shift. For some reason, she convinced herself that she could not learn.
“Get out there and teach yourself how to drive the car,” I would say. “And if you crash it trying to learn, it will be his fault. Or I'll show you how. Or go to a driving school to learn.”
But she would not. Apparently she would rather curse the darkness than light a single candle.
From this I learned not to set limits on yourself and not to throw roadblocks in your own way.
I remember having lunch with a girlfriend who had three small children but she really wanted to go back to work. Not for the money, but for herself.
“What’s stopping you?” I asked.
Well, there was child care expenses, and she could only work part time, and she probably couldn’t make enough money, blah blah, blah. Sheput those roadblocks there. If you want to do something, find a way to do it.
The third lesson I learned was not to let anything get in the way of my dream. I had no money to pay for law school. My dad had promised to pay for it, but of course he didn’t. So I worked for a year to save some money, took out student loans and got a part time job during school.
When I first started law school, my then-boyfriend, now husband, asked me if I thought I would finish.
What a stupid question, I thought. It never occurred to me that I might not finish. I answered, “Why would I start something if I didn’t think I could finish it?”
I’m really not that different from anyone else. I may be smarter than the average person, but intelligence alone is not enough. I think the difference between success and failure boils down to one thing: perseverance.
As Newt Gingrich once said: “Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.” I’m not crazy about Gingrich, but this quote makes a lot of sense.
I like Jayne Mansfield’s take on perseverance even better: “A 41-inch bust and a lot of perseverance will get you more than a cup of coffee - a lot more.”
And you know what: perseverance is going to get me through this dark tunnel.
Coming up: Grease Monkey