Important Life Lessons I've Learned From My Students

Important Life Lessons I've Learned From My Students

Sometimes the greatest lessons come from the most unlikely places.

As long as I can remember, I've always loved children. It's something about their inquisitive natures and childlike demeanors...whatever it may be, I've created a career out of it. I started coaching kids in gymnastics when I was in high school, I've worked at summer camps, and now I'm a residential counselor at a psychiatric residential treatment facility. In each of these jobs, I have had the responsibility of teaching kids, supporting their growth, engaging in their treatment, and ultimately fostering their success. I have been the one in the leadership role, yet I often find myself wondering whether I'm the one doing the teaching, or the one being taught.

Kids are unaware of the impact they have on those around them. The inherent knowledge they possess combined with their unfiltered forms of expression exude honesty, creativity, and curiosity. Over the years, I have tried to teach my children about life; yet they have been the ones to teach me what life is truly about.

Here's some of the most important life lessons the children I work with have taught me:

Imagination has no age.

It never ceases to astound me the creative imaginations the children I work with possess. No idea is too far-fetched, nothing is impossible, and their dreams are riddled with innovation and magic. My students have taught me that you never get too old to imagine; that whatever age you are, you still have that piece of magic in you that allows you to dream big and believe in the impossible.

We all have an inner child.

The older we get, the more life becomes about work, responsibilities, and everything dull and dry in between. We need to remember to take time out to enjoy life, to find those things that remind us of our childhood days. You're never too old to play. My students have taught me that no matter what life throws at me next, I'll always have that inner child in my heart.

Feedback is critical to success.

Criticism and feedback are often difficult to give and take, but it's important to realize that the people around us can help foster our growth. We get so caught up in our mindset that it becomes difficult to break free of the ways in which we think. In order to support someone and help them achieve their full potential, it's necessary to provide feedback. Just as important, we must receive feedback and refrain from getting angry and frustrated about it. Feedback is a further opportunity for growth.

Live for the moment; for the little joys in life.

Children have a hard time thinking ahead and seeing the bigger picture. Instead, they live moment by moment--they feel and express emotions based on their current situation. As adults, our minds are full of tons of different feelings, anxieties, plans and thoughts. It's easy for us to forget about the moment we are in due to our thoughts about an upcoming situation. Kids teach us to slow down and really focus on the moment we are in.

Love unconditionally.

The older we get the more we learn that loving can be hard. Love hurts. Watching the way children love those around them is one of the most inspiring things I have ever experienced. They teach us to forgive each other, that love is one of the most important things.

Be honest.

Children have no filter. 75% of the time, their remarks can make a situation go downhill. However, they teach us to be unafraid of how we feel and be genuine with our thoughts and feelings.

We condition ourselves to divide.

Children don't know about religion, race, and culture. They learn from observing those around them. We need to learn to be understanding of others and stop forcing divides based on personal aspects of each person's identity. Children teach us that we all are equal; none of us are better or worse than the other. Children remind us that in the end, we are all human.

Sometimes the greatest lessons come from the most unlikely places.

I never expected to learn as much as I have through my experiences working with my students. The most important lesson I've learned? You're never too old to stop learning.

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Dear Mom, Now That I'm Older

A letter to the woman who made me the woman I am today.

Dear Mom,

Now that I'm older, I definitely appreciate you a lot more than I did as a kid. I appreciate the little things, from the random text messages to constantly tagging me on Facebook in your "funny" photos and sending me pins of stuff I like on Pinterest. Now that I'm older, I can look back and realize that everything I am is all because of you. You've made me strong but realize it's okay to cry. You've shown me how a mother gives everything to her children to give them a better life than she had, even when she's left with nothing. And, most importantly you've taught me to never give up and without this, I would not be where I am today.

Mom, now that I'm older, I realize that you're the best friend I'm ever going to have. You cheer me on when I try new things and support me in deciding to be whatever person I want to be. Thank you for never telling me I can't do something and helping me figure out ways to be the best woman I can be. Your love for me is unconditional. They say true, unconditional love can only come from God, but mom, I think you're a pretty close second.

SEE ALSO: An Open Letter To The Cool Mom

Now that I'm older, I don't get to see you as much. But not seeing you as much just makes the times I do get to see you the absolute best, and I look forward to it every time. Now that I'm older, I'm not going to live at home. But, I promise to always come back because I know the door is always open. Your house is always going to be my home, and no other place is going to be the same.

Now that I'm older, I realize how much I miss you taking care of me. I miss you making me dinner, making sure I was doing well in school, and taking me to endless appointments. I miss you waking me up for school and then waking me up again because I didn't listen the first time.

But, Mom, now that I'm older, I can see all that you've done for me. I can look back and see how big of a brat I was but you still loved me (and let me live) anyways. I can understand why you did certain things and frankly, you're one bada** of a woman.

To have you as my mom and my best friend has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. So, Mom, now that I'm older, thank you, for everything.


Your Daughter

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This Is What Being Away From Home Taught Me About My Home

... It's ok to make plans with people besides your mom.


My home, for as long as I can remember, has been my safe haven. No matter how many arguments my family and I got into, I always knew my home to be a place where I could feel safe, at peace, grounded, and most importantly, comfortable.

This is why, when I decided to embark on a journey to Israel, 6,000 miles away felt like I was traveling into space. I felt as if I couldn't move forward without my mom by my side, reminding me everything is going to be okay. The relationship that my mom and I have is a special one, and knowing that I was not in close proximity to her created much-unwanted anxiety for us both. Knowing that while she may have only been a phone call away, that she wouldn't be able to come hold me if I needed her to, was something I really struggled with.

While I was away, I had hoped that my excitement for the trip and the adventures that were to come would keep me grounded and sane. Unfortunately, as the days went on, I became more and more homesick. However, I was able to learn some really important lessons in terms of the importance of my home, and sometimes the need to escape it.

The new friendships I made showed me that sometimes it's okay to make plans with people besides your mom (only partially joking).

The new foods I tried showed me that there are so many different types of foods that my chef of a mother hasn't even heard of.

The new experiences showed me just how important it is to step out of my comfort zone, even if doing so means I have to be 6,000 miles away from the comfort of my mom's arms.

There are hundreds of thousands of things that this trip has taught me, but it especially taught me that life exists away from your home as well. While it is natural to want to stay close to the things that bring you comfort, it is also essential that you allow yourself to grow.

I couldn't be luckier to have had such an incredible experience abroad, but I also couldn't be luckier to have been able to come home to a mom that was waiting with open arms and open ears.

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