The Question Insights From Response Readers
We Asked You: What’s the best advice someone gave you when you were young?
Here’s what you said:
Somebody always has it better, somebody always has it worse. Learn to live where you are, make it better if you can. Help others always. That is where true joy is. This the lesson my Grandmother taught me. I have watched my Mother live this way and know that God has touched her life in so many ways — through struggles, Cancer, she continues to be a true witness and triumph! I can only hope to carry the torch a bit. The shoes are too big to fill.
Kathryn D. Martin-Gray ’88
I was heading into my final year of my undergraduate study at SPU, and I had a conversation during an appointment with my degree program advisor and Associate Professor of French Michelle Beauclair. After discussing the last of my degree requirements and class schedules, she asked, “Now that's all good for your degree, but what does your future look like on a personal and spiritual level?”
Her question, which was critical to my future at that point in my life, still resonates with me today as it continually prompts me to consider things beyond the material ambitions of this world. I am so thankful for the life-enriching guidance and faith-based wisdom that I received, both in this specific moment and continuously in my interactions with the faculty and staff at SPU!
Linnea Todd ’09
Slow down, use your head!
Jane Gunningham ’88
I was raised being told, “no” is only a step toward “yes.” This advice has shaped my personal tenacity in my own success, and more importantly has enabled me to have faith in the seemingly impossible. Whether it be fighting for immigration reform for undocumented youth or thinking up new innovative ways brands can interact with their customers at Google, this piece of advice taught me to not fear rejection — it's only temporary.
Fabricio Turcios ’12
New York, New York
My late mother lived a very tough life. Her mother died when she was an infant, and she was abandoned at birth. She was taken into a foster home until the time she met my father. They had nine children when my father passed away. I was 7 then. The best advice I received from my mother was to never spend money on something I couldn't afford. What she really meant was I had to learn how to save money. At age 8, I had my first job. Maybe too young to understand the value of money. My mother could hardly either read or write, but she taught me many lessons by just watching her struggle to take care of us.
Take care of the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves, said Grandma, Mom, and Dad.
M.L. Mathison ’83
As a 13-year-old, I watched my neighbor lady work very effectively to keep her family going, as well as work outside the home. I felt that if she could be so successful by being a conscientious worker, then I also could be a conscientious worker and be successful.
Lucy Pickthorn Briggs ’61
I’m still youngish, but my favorite advice came from my first boss: “We are high-road people!”
Holly Harris Wood ’07
My mother taught me to never spend time on regrets or jealousy; they were both a waste of time and energy. Learn from your mistakes, move forward, forgive, and forget.
My father taught me to always think ahead for the future and have a one-year, five-year, and 10-year plan, also to revise them regularly if necessary. He taught me that it was important to always save 10 percent of my earnings and to give 10 percent to charity, no matter how little I'd earned. He taught me that it was important to never live beyond my means, to save, and to always remember and help those less fortunate than me.
Sarah Gunter Canez ’76
From Steve Hayner, a former SPU vice president of student affairs: “Don’t give your life away for mere money.”
Doug Taylor ’87
Warrant Officer Wilhelmy called me in and said, “I know you’re about to be discharged. Always remember this one thing: Have a goal ahead of you and, more important, have others as well to replace the ones you achieve.”
Gerry Bradley ’73
My father, Lee Hanson, told me, “Learn how to walk in other people’s shoes.”
Larry Hanson ’68
My father often said, “The question is not what is wrong with something; the question is what is right with it.”
Mark Oppenlander ’94
My father’s caution: “You’re a slave of what you own, son, so choose your masters wisely.”
Richard Landon ’73
My favorite advice from my mother is four quotes of wisdom that I still carry into my very being. The first being that “Love is not just a feeling but an action.” The second, in light of Eleanor Roosevelt, “Do what you feel to be right in your heart, for you will be criticized anyway.”
The third: “Please don’t raise your voice, improve your argument!” And the fourth, one which she also pushed me to realize is that “Routine does not allow for progress.” My mother pressed that the pursuit of progress (in self and the world) was of utmost importance if I wanted to be truly human.
Alexa-Rae Burk, SPU sophomore
“You're scared? Then do it scared!” My friend/pastor/boss, Neil Kelly, gave me that advice when I was about 22 years old. I was working for him as an administrative assistant for student ministries at Eastside Foursquare Church, and he kept asking me to do things that made me uncomfortable — and in those days, everything made me uncomfortable.
This was probably an instance where I had to call someone on the phone or talk to a parent or something like that. I had always had an irrational fear of talking to people I didn't know. I told him I was scared of talking to people, and that’s how he responded. It has helped me over and over in life since then.
My dad told me, soon after graduation that if I didn't do “it,” I would always wonder “what if ...” and besides, not all of our decisions will ever be the best. We learn from our decisions, whether good or not so good. So what is the “it”?
I had met a French guy and couldn't stop thinking about him. I finished my fifth year at SPU and faced the biggest adult decision ever. Do I look for a job with my teaching credentials or do I go to France and see if this French guy is for me? Dad's advice comforted me in taking this leap of faith. If it was complete folly, I could always come home and take my life from there. Turned out that I never came home. I've been in France for 15 years, married to “that” French guy, and raising three precious kids. I guess dad's advice reminds me of grace. We won't always make the perfect decisions but grace allows us to keep on going.
Emily Higinbotham-Durand ’97
Take God to work with you every day. The office is a mission field too!
May I give two answers? When I was a pre-teen I was fascinated by American Indians, especially their stoicism. I practiced not smiling, and when admonished by my Mother, I replied, “There's nothing funny, so I don't smile.” She eventually convinced me that smiling is also an important part of expressing friendliness.
After a youth group meeting, my three-years-older friend asked me why I was so silent. I replied that I didn’t have anything to say as important as what others were saying. He insisted that what I had to say was important and that I should speak up. I haven't stopped talking since!!
Gerald “Jerry” Bartlett ’61
Mount Vernon, Washington
I was in high school at Young Life’s Malibu camp, and a speaker read from Walt Whitman’s “O Me! O Life!” and hammered home the idea that “the powerful play goes on” and each of us gets to contribute a verse. I've never forgotten that, and I keep believing it. Each of us, in our own way, has an important part to play in the divine story.
Join the conversation
What’s the best advice someone gave you when you were young? Tell us and read what others have said.
You can also answer the new question for the upcoming Summer 2014 issue.
Steve Witham ’70
Posted Wednesday, March 5, 2014, at 11:55 a.m.
I have found that my mom gave me a great tip when I started school: make your teacher like you.