Miss Independent

Hannah - Hinsdale, Illinois
Entered on February 14, 2009

My mom always said I couldn’t leave home until I could do five things. She would say, “You must be able to balance a checkbook, cook a meal, do your own laundry, pay a bill, and write a thank you note.” When a person concentrates on them self, finding their own goals and likes, they are forming their values as they grow into their independence. My mom looked at these 5 basic duties and realized their underlying importance in helping me shape my values. Here’s part of my story.

When I was 15, I decided to destroy the kitchen. I unloaded all the ingredients and began my assault. In the process, I burnt two pans, ruined four pounds of meat and stained my clothes—but hey, I was learning. Slowly, my meal began to take shape. I seared a veal chop and made a glaze studded with dates and apricots. My mom walked in the door and the reaction on her face not only rewarded me for my accomplishment, but I also knew I had found my interest in cooking. This was the start of many new meals.

I was 16 when I got my first paycheck. I remember how my mom took me to the bank to open an account. We sat down with a personal banker. I showed her my paycheck—I was like a happy kid with a bag full of candy. The banker took out a starter pack of checks and began my lesson. She explained how to make deposits, how to balance, even how to write a check. Although for a year I never actually wrote a check – the thought of it intimidated me–I will always remember this starting point and the lesson that came with it.

Everyone has a beginning story much like mine; I just never realized what it meant for me. These values would define this new maturity I reached as I conquered each new task. As I learned the lessons, I grew into a confident, independent woman.

I now know I have some strong values of my own. I believe in going away for college. I believe in getting involved in many activities to make myself more interesting. I believe in concentrating on my own future before anyone else’s. I believe knowing and loving myself is a starting point towards knowing and loving others. I believe in taking care of my responsibilities to achieve independence.

Others may think I am too young to understand these concepts. The truth is: In doing my laundry, I’ve learned to clean up life’s messes. In paying my bills, I’ve learned to repay my community. In writing a thank you note, I’ve learned showing gratitude goes beyond words. In cooking my meals, I’ve fed my creative side and aspirations, and in balancing my checkbook, I’ve balanced the weight of life’s heavy issues.

I believe my mom knew life’s five basic lessons would be the foundation of a great transition into independence. She was right.