Career / College / Family / Relationships

Why Encouragement Is Important

Forgive me for writing yet another post about my grandma, but this is just something I’ve realized tonight and had to share with whoever reads this blog…

When my grandma passed, I lost a big source of encouragement. Sure, I received encouragement from my mom and dad and other family members, but my grandma was the one I always expected 10-paragraph emails from, littered with exclamation points, “WOW”‘s in all caps, and questions to no end. She was always overly excited and proud for me; she relished taking part in my joys. And it wasn’t the fake enthusiasm so many of us show these days. It was genuine and those who knew her felt that. If there’s anything (besides her bone-crushing hugs) I truly and sorely miss, it’s that.

My second Huffington Post article was published a few days ago. I sent the link to literally everyone I know, and received responses from everyone. Everyone, except my dad. When I saw him the next day and asked him about it, he said he got my email but hadn’t read it. Now, I know everyone has a life and their own business to tend to, but here’s the problem: he doesn’t work, and he’s not in school right now. The man has endless amounts of free time. I was bummed more than I thought I would be that he hadn’t read it and I finally realized why tonight. I’ve been busting my ass to make it in the journalism world not only for myself, but to prove to my parents that I’m something to be proud of; that I’m doing something with my life, unlike my brothers. And for my dad to not give me the acknowledgment that I’m looking for, it hurts. I told my mom about this all tonight and she asked a really good question. She said, “How come you keep sending him the articles if he doesn’t read them?” She said I’m only asking for more disrespect and she’s totally right.

What makes it worse about losing my gran is that all those absolutely fantastic qualities of hers – they died with her. It’s a whole other funeral and separate grieving process. And in that grieving, I’m mourning the loss of the overwhelming and endless encouragement she showed me my entire 23 years. And the fact that I will never get that level from anyone else is heartbreaking. I’m finding myself seeking out the potential in others to make me feel the way she did and I’m just not getting that. And not only is it a disappointment to myself, but it’s also not fair to others to expect them to live up to her shoes.

Kids notice things like this from such a young age. Who their biggest fans are, who “gets” them, who cheers them on. They look to us adults to give it to them, and if we don’t respond the right way, oftentimes it determines their next move. As annoying as it can be to hear “Look, Mom!” or “Look at me, Dad!” 100,000 times a day, stick it out. Because the times when you do look, they’ll take note, but they will also remember when you didn’t and those times, depending on the situation, leave the darkest mark. Pay attention to your kids, your friends, your family, and never be short of a kind and encouraging word. This is the motivation that keeps us going. Knowing someone out there cares for you and your life and what you’re doing.

I know I will be doing my best to be just like my gran. The feeling she gave me has undoubtedly made me a better person, because it’s something I will be able to pass on. But damn. As grateful as I am for what she’s passed on to me, it sucks that I’m going to think about her every time I practice it. I mean I love thinking about her, but it’s painful and still raw. So raw that even when I’m mentioning her name in conversation only briefly, it’s enough to make my eyes go watery and my breath catch in my throat.

I can only hope that 2013 brings me the healing I so desperately need.

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