“The best way to give your children advice is to find out what they want and advise them to do it.” Harry S. Truman
I wish that when I was 16 years old, someone would’ve advised me to move to New York City, wear black and be single. But nobody ever did that.
The best advice I ever got was simple, Marlon told me: “Focus.”
I’m susceptible to following multiple paths at once, which takes away from my focus on each one. The word “focus” reminds me to take a step back each day, figure out what’s most important and dedicate myself to it. Even if I can only give 10 minutes of dedication.
This has translated across every aspect of my life; from my schoolwork, to my relationships.
“Focus” reminds me to not lose any sense of who I am in my relationships. I’m focused on myself and my boyfriend is additional positive energy into my life.
The best relationship advice I ever got was from my dad, who didn’t know he was giving it.
I used to ask my dad about my mom and he’d tell me something like, “I don’t know Abie, I just love her. I know all of her dreams and why she is the way that she is and I just love her. She’s the prettiest, cutest little mom and I just love her.”
Every morning growing up I would sit in the living room with my dad and drink coffee until my mom and sister woke up. When my mom would round the corner my dad would say,
“There she is!! Pretty Mommy. Abie, look how pretty Mom is when she wakes up.”
My dad cooks, cleans, shovels, does the laundry, has snacks and dinner waiting for us, tucks us in at night, waited around at photoshoots, drove us everywhere we needed to go. He’d fight fires all night and come home exhausted to see us standing in the doorway wearing running shoes and ignore his heavy eyelids to change and come out for a run with us.
This was what he inadvertently taught me to look for in a guy. The advice he inadvertently gave me was this: throughout my 21 years, he repeated the same phrase over a million times whenever I was struggling.
Two syllables. That simple.
The last time I was home my family and I ended up in a series of disagreements that left me crying in my room, sobbing into my pillow. After 15 minutes, my dad knocked on my door and came in. He sat on the bed and gave me a dad-sized hug and kiss on the cheek. He told me he loved me and choked up as he said it again, “Just stay cool.”
I rolled my eyes and went back to my pillow. That’s when I finally heard the story behind the phrase that dictates which way my life will go.
“When I was your age I was just like you. A little peacemaker, just like you. And one time when I was really upset, crying in my room, my grandpa [his favorite person in the world] came in, put his hand on my shoulder, and said ‘Stay cool.’ It’s resonated with me ever since.”
So when my first boyfriend in New York cheated on me and my world imploded and my heart shattered and I couldn’t breathe, I stayed cool. (I had one day of losing it, but come on, it really surprised me!) I took 24 hours to be childish and then I stayed cool. I continued to speak highly of him among our mutual friends, I told him I’d always love him and that he’d always be my friend. He is.
When my second boyfriend in New York started dating my sister and my heart was literally ripped from chest and thrown at the moon and then crashed down to Earth and dashed into a million little pieces in front of me. I stayed cool and he is also still my friend.
~ But Abie!! This isn’t relationship advice!! It didn’t help your relationship last!! ~
That’s true. It didn’t. But it taught me what I don’t want. Which helped my future relationships.
In all my past relationships, I was almost constantly tapped-out. I’m in my own head about everything I want to do with my life still and I don’t have time to be worrying about who my boyfriend’s hanging out with or talking to. We have to have separate lives and be able to be each other’s backboard to bounce ideas and problems off.
My ex used to ask about boys who texted me. This annoyed me because it kept getting in the way of our breakfast.
“Hey!” I’d say through a mouthful of scrambled eggs. “Let’s try not to control each other or be each other’s parent!”
Some people can’t handle that level of freedom in a relationship. That’s not my fault, so I moved on. I stayed cool. I focused on what I wanted my life to be, what I wanted our life to be.
You have to remember that we don’t last with the people who we see as “perfect,” we last with people who interest us. I like people with dry humor, twisted minds, and inspired lives.
I like people who can teach me things without being condescending, maneuver parties I bring them to on their own, and have their own lives that they choose to share with me.
I like relaxed people, spontaneous people. And also people that can make me smile.
So I focus on staying cool and maybe they’re out there somewhere right now doing the same.
I wish someone had told me to move to New York City, wear all black and be single. But they didn’t. They only told me to stay cool.
And it was the best advice I ever got.