My daughter and I are both only children — and Capricorns. You can imagine the fights we have. But our similarities mean I know exactly how she feels while she’s preparing for the next chapter in her life as she graduates college and begins her first “big kid” job. After all, I’ve spent 22 years trying to prevent my daughter from having the same insecurities I had when I began adulting.
Here are the five worries that plagued me as a younger woman — and how I’m making sure my daughter doesn’t harbor them.
1. I’m not brave enough to leave my comfort zone
So many things are out of our control. The weather: Tornado warnings terrify me. Driving: What if I get lost? Traveling: Am I an easy target? All these are really just fears of the unknown. When my daughter says she wants to get out of her comfort zone, I fight my natural instinct to protect her. I usually advise her to do the opposite of what I would do in her shoes. Consequently, she was a member of her university’s power-lifting team and went to China.
2. I’m not perfect
My daughter and I are both perfectionists. We have great expectations of ourselves, which is OK. But we also have great expectations of others, which is not so OK. In high school, my daughter was a junior Olympic volleyball player. We spent hours in our front yard practicing her overhand serve. It paid off. She became an award-winning libero. But this also meant she got frustrated with teammates who didn’t work as hard as she did. I taught her to not only ignore what her teammates are doing, but also to identify when she’s achieved a state of “good enough.” For example, you don’t have to practice until your hands are bruised to have a good overhand serve.
3. People will break my heart
Everyone gets their heart broken and finds it hard to trust again. But no one wants to be alone. How do you get over “once bitten, twice shy”?
I encourage my daughter to learn from her mistakes (“Remember what made the last guy a frog? Look for that behavior in the person you are attracted to”). Then, I remind her to communicate (“I feel X when you behave Y. Is that intentional?”). I caution her not to settle for anyone she feels she can’t trust.
4. I’ll turn into my mom
I didn’t want to be a nurse because my mom was. My daughter didn’t want to work in communication because I did. This led my daughter to a college major that simply wasn’t the best fit for her. Her sophomore year, we had a difficult conversation about changing her major. My husband and I asked her to consider the things she did for free because those are the things she obviously enjoys. Isn’t there a major that would help her get a degree in that? It turned out to be communication, and she’s found her calling. I assure her she won’t turn into me because today’s world is very different from the one I navigated and her life choices are completely different from the ones I made.
5. I’ll fail
When I entered the workforce, I often felt I was not good enough, the assignments were too big and the system was rigged against me. These were convenient excuses to use when I failed. When my daughter didn’t pass her driver’s license test, it was the first time in her life she’d had an epic fail; but it won’t be her last. I asked her what she intended to do. I asked: “Will you wallow in self-pity? Or will you get up, work harder, then go try again?” She wallowed in the car. But by the time we got home, she was ready to correct her mistakes and retake the test. She passed with flying colors the second time and now has a great story to tell in job interviews.
Of course, my daughter has insecurities of her own. But I’ve given her tools to overcome them, and I am confident she will be successful.
This article originally appeared on Fairygodboss. As the largest career community for women, Fairygodboss provides millions of women with career connections, community advice and hard-to-find intel about how companies treat women.
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