Five Things I Learned from Being Adopted.

Recently, I read a post  in which a charming, young lady wrote about the 10 things she learned from her father, and it inspired me to do something similar. After all, what is a blog for, if not to experiment with your ideas and to find out who you are in front of the whole world, yet entirely anonymously?

In a few previous blog posts, I’ve spoken a little about my family, but it’s been more of an aside; supplemental conversation attached to a larger idea. I’ve spoken about the main lesson I learned from my father, and hit upon some of the harsher lessons from my mother, but I haven’t actually discussed my family, and the full impact they’ve had on my development.

I am adopted (in case you missed that from the title). Being raised by people whom you have no genetic ties can be trying at times, particularly when you are trying to determine who you are and where you come from, but I survived, and it is because of those wonderful people that I am the well rounded, thoughtful person I am today.

So without further procrastination adieu:

Five Things I’ve Learned from My Family

1. You are Chosen.

At an early age, I realized that I was “different.” My hair was curlier, my skin was darker, my eyes were not the same. I was not the same. To explain it to me, my mother told me that they picked me out. I was chosen, and not just born to them. She told me that instead of carrying me in her belly, they came to the hospital and picked me out. The result was that I’ve always had the feeling that I had the right to be picky. Not picky about what I eat or what I wear, although I am a bit picky about both, but picky about who I let into my life. If someone proves themselves to be untrustworthy or in some other way undesirable, I expunge them. Everyone you let into your life is a choice, and life is too short to keep toxic people in your life.

2. Be the Best at Whatever You Do.

In that earlier post I spoke of, I explained that my father brags about how, even just a few years prior to his retirement, he could outdo the younger guys at his job. My father was a cable splicer for the phone company, and spent most of his career climbing poles. I mean literally, spikes on his shoes, climbing poles hauling wire up and down. The month before he retired, he raced one of the new recruits…and WON!

Pride is only a vice if it isn’t earned. And being the best means you’ve earned it.

My mother had a similar motto, but hers stemmed from issues with her mother. My grandmother doesn’t say “I love you.” Instead, she says “I’m proud of you.” Took me years to get my mother to understand the difference, but her pride in my accomplishments made me strive to do better in my life. I graduated in the top 10% of my class, and everything I set out to do, I try to do my best, no matter what the odds.

3. Don’t Air Your Dirty Laundry.

My parents used to have other couples come over for game night when I was younger. The house would be cleaned, and I was told to be on good behavior. We don’t let others know what is wrong in our life; it’s none of their business. Acting out in public was strictly forbidden (something I wish more families would do nowadays)! And you don’t leave the house unless you are put together: makeup, hair, everything. You want to give the appearance that everything is alright, and thus give the appearance of success.

In the era of Facebook and Social Networking, NOT sharing intimate details of your life seems strange, but my mother was old fashioned in this respect. It works twofold, if you think about it. First of all, you can’t get angry when people don’t empathize with your anger/disappointment/outrage of whatever “drama” you’ve put out there for them to see. Secondly, it gives you an air of mystery that we have forgotten how to appreciate.

I’m reminded of the old burlesque shows in which strippers didn’t actually show all their “goodies”, but made tons with the hint of skin. There is something inherently sexy about the unknown. It’s like the forbidden fruit of human interactions. We want to know! The withholding of information causes others to be more attracted to you.

I’ve seen this time and again in my romantic life. Guys are drawn to someone they can’t quite figure out. As soon as they know everything about you, they are pretty much done with you. The allure, the mystery is gone.

4. Why buy the cow…

On a similar note, here is an oldie, but goodie: “Why buy the cow, when the milk is free?” For those of you who have never heard this saying before, it alludes to sex. One of the ladies I work with is currently trying to teach this lesson to the young ladies in her youth group. She says it slightly differently: “A man will think you’re the most beautiful woman in the world, until he gets what’s between your legs. Then he’s done with you.”

Both are correct, and it goes back to that allure of the mysterious. In a world where everyone believes you shouldn’t “buy without test-driving,” we’ve forgotten about the thrill of anticipation. Anticipation is a strong tool. Ladies should use it more often instead of assuming that a man won’t love them if they don’t give it up…

I do find myself slightly frustrated when a guy seems genuinely interested in me, until I don’t sleep with him, but then I remember that I am chosen (see item 1.), and I don’t need toxic people in my life. I’m glad I’ve waited to find the right person to spend the rest of my life with. When I wed, whether it be sooner or later, I know I will have chosen wisely.

I have my Mom to thank for that one. She ingrained it into me, with a little reminder every time I talked about a boy. A good man will understand, and wait… Apparently, I’m still waiting, too: for that good man to come along.

5. Video Games Can be Essential.

My brothers (who are not adopted), have taught me that video games can be both educational (you’d be surprised the amount of math/history/literature you can learn from some games), and can make almost any bad day better.

Mad at your coworkers? Kill some zombies in very violent ways.

Worried about that new (insert a life-altering change here)? De-stress by searching through time in any of a number of fantasy based games.

My personal favorite is the Sims3. I enjoy testing out how my life could have been, though it sometimes gives me a God complex. Don’t worry; I’m a benevolent goddess. I try to keep my Sims happy, like I wish I was all the time. I tease my students that I make Sims of them when they treat me poorly and make their lives miserable. It’s like an electronic voodoo doll, but no one actually gets hurt, and there is no communing with “evil” spirits…

It was a way for me to connect with my brothers, whom I sometimes feel like I have very little in common with; goes back to that whole lack of genetic ties…

And that will be all for tonight. I’m a bit verbose (if you haven’t noticed), so I will stop here before you completely lose interest. It isn’t as nostalgic as I had originally set out to do, but it is based in the nostalgia of my family, as strange and wonderful as they are. They have taught me many lessons to live by, and these are the top 5.

I’d love to hear how your family inspired you. Leave me a comment, and I’ll try to respond in a timely manner. I’m enjoying this interactive journey of self realization!

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