How My Mom’s Life Of Sacrifice, Laid The Foundation For My Life Of Choice

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May 12 2019, Published 7:38 a.m. ET

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My mom lived a life of sacrifice. Like most mothers, she did what she had to do, in order to get what she and her children needed. But all the while she always knew what she wanted, and that was reflected through her personal style and her lifestyle choices throughout the years.

What I learned through my mother is the power of freedom. It’s something that she didn’t quite always have although she did have a strong sense of direction and expectations of a certain lifestyle. She was 30 years old when she had me, her first child. In context, that would have been considered a late start. By the time I came into the picture she was independent in the sense of making her own money, however, she didn’t quite have the ability to choose how she made a living. Again, she did what she had to do. So she spent 29 years working as a court reporter in the New York State Court System.

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Where she did have a choice was within her off work style. Her weekend and everyday style was usually gold jewelry and something trendy. She pierced her belly button once, wore cowboy boots, crimped her hair, and wore designer clothes. When I turned 14, we would swap shoes and clothes as we started wearing the same size. Shoes are the first clothing item I remember her letting me borrow from time to time, with the careful instruction to not “mess them up” or “walk too hard.”

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But during the week, for her, it was boxy suits and sneakers. She didn’t have a choice. The sneakers helped her to hop on the subway and she’d switch to her shoes at work. She had to look the part, as a professional working in the court system.

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Years later, I am now an entrepreneur. I have that choice that she gave up, and sacrificed so that she could provide for my brother and I. I can wear what I want to work, work from where I want, but one thing I do in line with what she did is have shoe options under my desk to switch from comfy to chic at a moment’s notice.

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We of course, biologically inherited physical traits and sometimes personality traits from our mothers. But subconsciously, before we were ever exposed to role models on television or images in magazines, we were exposed to style through our first examples of womanhood, our mom. I inherited my love of gold, leopard, and ultimately my life of choice from my mother.

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Long before the extravagant and confident character of Cookie Lyon, played by Taraji P. Henson took over screens across America, my mom was the one who influenced my affinity towards gold and leopard. I inherited my love of gold, leopard, and ultimately my life of choice from my mother.

[This post is sponsored by AARP’s Disrupt Aging campaign. All opinions are my own.]

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By: Rhonesha Byng

Rhonesha Byng is the founder and CEO of Her Agenda— a digital media platform bridging the gap between ambition and achievement for millennial women. The site provides access to content and community that gives millennial women access to information and inspiration to help them get started or to move to the next level of their career. Rhonesha is an Emmy award-winning journalist and entrepreneur whose philosophy in life is established by her acronym of N.E.S.H.A. No one Ever Slows Her Agenda. This motto served as the inspiration for Her Agenda. Rhonesha was named to the 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30 list and ESSENCE magazine named her among 50 Founders To Watch. Rhonesha is also the co-founder of the newly formed nonprofit org The Black Owned Media Equity and Sustainability Institute (BOMESI).

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