March 21 — 6:48 pm, 2018

Taking in The Bad: Embracing My Mother’s Mistakes

Many different things influence us and contribute to the person we eventually become.

But role models, because you have chosen them, can have a long-lasting effect, both mentally and emotionally.

In the past, anything negative coming from my role model would affect me, but as I grew, I embraced the good and bad.

My role model lacks the knowledge that many adults have. She does not have her high school diploma. School was rough for her; she was bullied every day, so she dropped out. She didn’t go to school and got pregnant at a young age with my older sister. She came from a rough background; living in her household was not easy. Based on her past and outcome, I learned not to stop doing anything because of someone else. The only person who can stop you is yourself. Since my mother lacks knowledge about simple things, it makes her vulnerable to mistakes or being used.

As I have matured, I’ve realized that my mother’s poor decisions help me understand life.

She is my role model and she depends on certain people to get where she is. Instead of working for herself, my mom decided to work for others, and eventually, it took a toll on her. She became so dependent on looking for a “get-rich scheme” that she forgot the true value of hard work. The people she trusted weren’t reliable. They had power over her wealth and the capability to give it or take it away. Money doesn’t bring happiness; it’s supposed to bring comfort. She never had a steady income, causing her to live with no comfort because she depended on others and tried to find the easy way to become successful. Her poor decision-making motivated me to make different decisions in order to live comfortably. I saw her struggle, depending on others and not being her own boss. My mother influenced me not to work for anyone but myself.

On the positive side, my role model is an outspoken person. She has no problem with expressing how she feels, but the problem is how she does it. Her tone of voice or body language is taken as aggressive, making her unapproachable.

My role model is bad at taking advice; she’ll think you’re attacking her, rather than helping her. This thought isolates her from people who love her. She gets defensive, and a regular conversation can turn into a huge argument. I’ve learned that the outspoken way my mother speaks is great, but that how someone sends the message is important. Also, it’s important to be open to others’ advice: Listen and learn.

It’s important to realize that we live to learn. My mother and I do not have the most loving relationship, because of other factors, such as mental illnesses. However, the good that I learn from my mom, I embrace. The bad things I learn from my mom, I don’t repeat.

Who’s the most influential woman in your life?

Shynice Youmans is a tenth-grader at George Washington Carver High School for Engineering and Science. Her commentary was written as part of the The Philly School Media Network, a collaboration between the Philadelphia Writing Project (PHILWP), the School District of Philadelphia, and the Public School Notebook. For more information, visit


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