The Best Advice from Elizabeth Gilbert's Mom | Omega

Elizabeth Gilbert, best-selling author of Eat, Pray, Love, The Signature of All Things, and Big Magic, offers an example of her best advice from her mom for putting yourself out there.

My advice is just usually my mom's good advice recycled. I feel more comfortable just redispensing her advice because I know it came from her Grandma. I know it's been tested, it's got deep legs. It's a home remedy. We know how to make apple butter. I'm not doing your new fangled fancy culinary molecular advice here, this is advice you know grandma to grandma to granddaughter to granddaughter that got passed on.

I got the right mother. None of us get a perfect mother but for the particular obstacle that I had as a kid—which was fearfulness, I was a really timid, sensitive, and easily traumatized child—I shudder to think what I might have become of me if I had been raised by a mother who was afraid of my fear rather than a mother who was confident in my capabilities. She knew I was strong.

She wasn't afraid of things other people's moms were afraid of, her fears were mostly that she raise a fearful person or a young lady who couldn't take care of herself in the world because she knew how badly that turns out for women. I think back to times when she would coach me on standing up and making myself known in the world, when I would have really just rather hidden behind her legs for all of my childhood.

The day before first grade I was excited but I was scared and she said, “We're going to go early and when we walk into the room you have to introduce yourself to the teacher.” She had me practice for a whole afternoon where I pretended she was my teacher, Mrs. Ambergetti, and I had to offer my hand, look her in the eye, and say, "My name is Elizabeth Gilbert and I'm going to be in your class and I wanted to introduce myself to you."

I was really shy but I did it and I'll never forget walking up to her and her shaking my hand, "I'd like to introduce myself to you. I'm Elizabeth Gilbert. I'm going to be in your class.” I feel like I repeat that every time I walk into a new situation, “I'm Elizabeth Gilbert. I'd like to introduce myself. Here I am.” It's scary every single time but that's the advice. Put yourself out there.

That's the advice that I feel like I'm giving every single day to the people who follow me or read my work, especially to women: Stand up, put your hand out, look somebody in the eye, introduce yourself, and say what you've come for and then do it again.

Practice with your friends and then go do it because nobody's ever going to do it for you. I got really lucky with that training, and it was training. It wasn't easy for her because I resisted it. I didn't like it, I was scared, and she pushed and that's why I can do this.

You do that enough and it becomes a habit and then that's how it is. If I'm mothering anybody I'm mothering in that way: You can do it, you can do it, you can do it. Stop waiting for somebody to do it for you. The rescuer isn't coming. The helicopter's not coming to take you off the roof. You're going to have to figure out a way to climb down and I know you can. And then when you do it'll be awesome, and if you fall it's just going to be so interesting. You'll have an interesting scar.

© 2015 Omega Institute for Holistic Studies

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