Today, Natalia Sylvester shares with us the nuggets of wisdom that keeps her going. She talks of enjoying the comforts of childhood, the importance of reading, and taking small steps to make big ones. Where did she learn all this? She’s got a super star mom, who not only saved her life twice, but also taught her to be resourceful (and do the dishes properly!). Natalia is a writer and lives in Austin, Texas.
Got your own nugget of wisdom to share with the world? PenTales Lessons is on a mission to collect people’s nuggets of wisdom. The idea is that we’d all be bit smarter if we share our hard-learned lessons and life mottos. Contribute your two cents at pentales.com/share
1. Who is your hero and why?
My mother, in every sense of the word. There’s the literal: she has actually saved my life on a couple of occasions. Once when I dove into the deep end of a pool before having learned to swim, and a second time when I was 21 and almost stepped in front of a speeding cab in Buenos Aires. That second time, I don’t think she even realized she’d saved my life—she stretched out her arm instinctively because the light hadn’t turned. It was a small, nonchalant gesture, a silent “”Wait, we’re not crossing yet,”” as she probably checked for something in her purse. Meanwhile, I saw the cab come inches from my body.
All that being said, the real reason she’s my hero is because of her strength. I’ve never seen my mother back away from a problem. If she doesn’t know how to fix it, she finds a way to find out. Ever since I can remember, she’s told me and my sister: “”I want you to grow up to be resourceful women.”” She didn’t want us to ever have to rely on anyone but ourselves, and over and over again, she taught us this by setting the example. ”
2. What was your dream job as a child?
I wanted to be a singer-model-dancer-actress. In that order. Imagine an eight-year-old, blurting out that title like it’s one long word, and that was me after I saw Paula Abdul in concert. I was actually a really shy kid, but I loved the idea of being a performer. Once, when I told my mother I’d win an Oscar someday, she replied, “That’s great, but you’re still going to college. Actors have to read and learn Shakespeare.” Eventually the dream job lost its luster, but the reading never let go.
3. What do you wish you had known 10/20/30 years ago?
10 years ago I’d wish I’d known how small my world was, how limitless the options could be if I stepped outside my comfort zone. 20 years ago I wish ‘d known to cherish that smallness and comfort as a child, because it’s the only time in your life when innocence is nurturing. Once we grow up (and in order to do so) we step outside of all that; it’s liberating but also makes you realize the different kind of freedom you enjoyed and never recognized as a child.
4. Is there any motto you follow? What’s something that you think always holds true?
Don’t be scared by the enormousness of your dreams. It’s easy to be paralyzed when we start thinking we need to make big things happen right away, but time passes so fast and builds on itself so quickly that it’s perfectly okay to take small steps. They’ll add up to bigger things as long as you keep going.
5. What’s something your parents told you and turned out to be right?
Do something the easy way and you’ll end up doing twice the work for half the results. Never mind that they’d say it whenever I loaded the dishwasher the wrong way; it still holds up.
6. If you could share a message with all of humanity (and everyone was guaranteed to listen), what would it be?
Always have compassion.