Life Advice from a 90+ Year Old Woman

I rarely enjoyed my previous job working as a phone customer service rep, but once in a while I'd talk to someone really interesting, intelligent, or inspiring.  The terrible, awkward, and weird phone calls are so easy to recall.  So when a good one comes to mind, it's truly a special thing.  Going through some old papers today, I came across some hot pink post-it notes from one of those rare and wonderful conversations.

The phone call was from a ninety-something-year-old woman.  I helped her with whatever she called in about.  (I don't remember that part of the call.)  And then we continued to chit-chat for a bit.  She enjoyed talking to me because I was young and she didn't have many young people (especially young woman) to talk to in her life.  So she wondered if she could pass along some tidbits of knowledge that she'd gathered over her long lifetime.  Of course, I wanted to hear.  And I grabbed my hot pink post-its and jotted down her words as she spoke.

"Don't ever let anyone control you.  Don't let anyone tell you how to feel or talk you into something.  When you look in the mirror, like what you see.  If you fail at something, you'll come back from it.  Tomorrow is another day.  Don't let anyone change you or tell you how to be yourself.  Go out, travel, learn.  You'll never learn everything, but you'll know more than you did before."

Just doing some rough math, this woman would have been around my age in the 1940s.  I loved that she included the phrase, "Tomorrow is another day."  It is one of the famous quotes from Scarlett O'Hara of Gone with the Wind, which came out in 1939. 

Coming across those post-it notes today really made my day.  I wrote them down because I didn't want to forget the inspiring, insightful words of that lovely, ninety-plus-year-old woman. 

And now I've shared them with you. :)

We're often given life advice from family and friends.  It's not uncommon to receive advice from a professor, boss, preacher, or other non-related acquaintance.  But have you ever been given inspiring insight from a stranger?  I only spoke to this woman on the phone for a mere five minutes.  I don't remember her name.  We never saw each others' faces.  But her words moved me. 

Has anything like that ever happened to you?  If it has, I'd love for you to share.  Leave a comment telling me the story!


Shelby said...

I think this is one of the best "advice" stories I have ever heard; I certainly didn't get any wonderful 90 year old ladies giving me advice from my job!

But I'll share mine: I was a senior in high school, auditioning for colleges. I was seventeen, scared and nervous as hell. This school had students volunteering to help run the auditions and send auditionees where they needed to go next. This particular student who was helping out, was the kindest, friendliest person I had met that day and made me feel already welcome there. When I was making my final decision months later, he became a huge reason why I chose my school, because I wanted to be among people as kind as him.

My freshman year, he was a senior and so, at the end of year picnic, he gave his Senior Speech to all of us. His advice to us was "Say hi to a stranger, you'll never know whose life you'll change."

Of course, I had to go up to him after that and tell him, yes, he did change a stranger's life because he said hi to me. What better life advice was that?

Anonymous said...

This makes me want to cry! Especially since it's such amazing advice. For me, it's hard not to let my friends and love ones talk me into doing things I normally wouldn't... thank you anonymous lady! And thank you Jessica for sharing.

Heather said...


I have a quick question about your blog, do you think you could e-mail me?


Anonymous said...

dear lovelyundergrad,
i love your blog..and i wana specially thank you for writing this article..you dont know how much these powerfull words of the ninety year woman uplifted me,gave me a reason to face my life's harsh reality tomorrow again..and im filled with a lil strength and courage to face what may come..i wl never let anyone control me,my self,myhappiness..