Laughter: The Best Medicine
Too often in my youth I allowed myself to be embarrassed or easily upset. Instead I wish I had chosen to respond to those uncomfortable moments and the irritated feelings with laughter. Laughter seriously makes everything better. Everything. I remember so many times when I made an uncomfortable situation worse by acting simply, uncomfortable. And how quickly I would have mended friendships had I chosen to laugh over silly things and not be angry. I want laughter to be my daughter’s first instinct. I want her to laugh when she’s mad and realizes she’s being ridiculous. Laugh when she’s sad and doesn’t think she can handle anything more. Laugh when she feels frustrated in a situation. This may seem totally unrealistic but I hope that if she always chooses to laugh, that she will always see the positive in a situation. Or at the very least realize that the feelings she has will be short lived. Life is too short to be angry at the world. I hope my daughter chooses to enjoy it and everything that comes with it.
“He works through us–His imperfect children–and imperfect people make mistakes.”
- Dieter F Uchtdorf
Confidence: Fake It Till You Make It
As long as I can remember I have been on stage doing theatre. And even though I had clearly been doing it for a long time, (I’m 22 next week so basically 15 years of my life) I was always nervous when it came time to audition. One of the best pieces of advice I ever received in regards to nerves was from my theatre teacher, Mrs. Matzke. She told us if you act like you’re confident, no one will know that you really aren’t. Whenever I put this into practice on stage, I was always amazed at how much better I performed. And when I asked how I did to my friends and those who were also auditioning, often their response was that I looked prepared and knew what I was doing. I wish I had realized that this advice also works in life. Every time I was scared or nervous I should have put on a brave face and pretended that I knew what I was doing. That’s not to say that being scared or nervous is bad. Sometimes it’s good to openly admit this to yourself or others, but I feel like often I missed out on great opportunities by allowing myself to feel that I wasn’t good enough. Or made an experience less exciting or joyous because I was always worrying. This is something I still struggle with. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a very confident person. I often doubt myself when it comes to my looks, my personality, and my talents. However, now that I have a child, I think often about the person I want her to become. And since I am her biggest influence in her life she will learn most things by observing me and how I handle situations and perform in life. I want my daughter to know she’s smart, funny, loving, kind, and beautiful inside and out. And that starts with me. If I expect my daughter to have confidence, I have to have confidence as well—or at least fake it till I do.
"Stellar spirits are often found in imperfect bodies."
-Elder Russell M. Nelson
School: You’re Not Too Cool
When I was younger I really enjoyed school (I wish I could say the same now…). Learning was always fun and to me, is still fun. I was like a knowledge vacuum; I always wanted to know everything. So it probably comes to no surprise that I did well in school. I was always raising my hand to answer a question. I loved the feeling of being right and I loved the attention when I was told I was correct. I think in a way it made me feel special. Like I was unique and was good at something. I don’t really have one thing I’m good at and never really have, so for me being able to feel smart was invigorating. However, I had a moment in my life where I didn’t want to be smart anymore. It happened when I was a sophomore in high school. I was in my history class (my absolute favorite subject ever) when my teacher Mr. Finn asked a question. As usual I raised my hand to answer the question. I don’t remember what was exactly said but a boy in my class made a rude comment out loud about how typical it was that I was going to answer the question. I brushed it off but then he did it again. Eventually it became a running joke and since he was the “cool” guy in class it wasn’t long before his friends joined in. I can honestly say that I am a very sensitive person. My feelings are hurt easily. But since this was something I prided myself on this stung more than normal. And instead of ignoring the comments or telling them to go to h…I mean politely asking them to stop, I just stopped raising my hand. Whenever I felt the urge to participate I just thought about what others thought of me (I guess this kind of ties in with confidence.) Eventually, I participated in classes again but much less to the extent that I use to. And by the time I got to college I virtually stopped participating at all. I still find myself with lots of ideas I want to share. I try over and over to get myself to say them out loud like when I’m in Relief Society or in one of my college classes but I never manage to convince myself to think they're important enough to say. I want my daughter to know it is ALWAYS okay to be smart. And that it’s never okay for someone to make you feel stupid. Ask questions. Share your thoughts and opinions. Do not doubt your abilities. And never, ever let someone make you feel less about yourself because they themselves have their own insecurities. People who tear others down are people who are often unhappy with themselves.
“Each day is a day of decision and our decisions determine our destiny.”
–Elder Russell M. Nelson
Young Love: There are plenty of fish in the sea
This is one I will ingrain in my daughter’s head every single day of her teenage life. Oh how much I wish I could go back in time with the knowledge I have now and reverse some of my many, many dumb decisions. Relationships are overrated under the age of 18. In fact, relationships in general, if not meant to be taken relatively seriously, (in my opinion) are overrated. The saddest times in my life were when I allowed boys to break my heart and take me for granted. I never even heard the concept of dating until I became LDS and even more so, never put it into practice until I moved to Utah. I always figured if you liked someone and they like you too you became a couple. This idea is so flawed. Not only did I deny myself the opportunity to be a kid and have fun by having relationships that were serious, I also lost the purpose of what dating is for. That being said, the happiest time in my life was the moment I realized that I didn’t need a relationship to make me happy. I learned so much about myself when I gave myself the opportunity to just enjoy me. Dating is so much fun when you realize its true purpose. When young, it’s designed for you to learn what kind of people you like and are interested in and also for it to be FUN. Serious relationships not only take away the fun, because whether you like it or not sooner or later it’s probably going to end, but also limit your experiences in dating, not allowing you to know more about the kind of person you want to end up with. Youthful dating takes away expectations and allows you to make friends. When older, it serves those purposes as well but also helps you to better figure out the person you want to end up with. There was one period while living in Utah and experiencing the excitement of dating, I had a new date every day for a week. It was always fun and provided a setting where I could get to know all these guys without having to commit to just one. Dating not only gave me more confidence and more friends but it also made the decision to marry my husband easier. When I was dating him I was able to see qualities in him that were important to me. He stood out from the other guys and I was able to recognize it because I knew what I wanted. For me, this mistake is my biggest regret and I hope above all that my daughter learns from my own. She will be so much happier if she chooses to casually date and hold off on serious relationships until she is an adult and finds someone really special. Every time you give a piece of your heart away, it’s a piece you never get back.
“With time and eternal perspective, we will see things as they really are.”
–Elder Neil Andersen
*Okay seriously, I write the longest blog posts. From here on I will try to make them more concise.*
Time: Healing the Pain
And if my daughter somehow chooses to ignore my advice, I want her to then know that when that dumb boy does break her heart that she will survive and she will be just fine (though I’m not so sure he will be able to say the same...). I remember the days when a break up would happen and it seemed that there was no possible way life could go on. I would mope around and be sad for the longest time. I wish I recognized better that with time, I’d get over it. And instead of being a Debbie downer, I could have still lived my life doing things I enjoyed. As in the previous paragraph, there are more fish in the sea. It won’t be the end of her world and it certainly won’t need to shatter it.
”The past is to be learned from, not lived in. Faith is always pointing towards the future.” –Elder Edward Dube
Will Power: Where there's a will, there’s a way
The truth is, if you want it bad enough you’ll get it. Look at some of the most successful people in history and you will see that they achieved what they wanted because they worked hard for it. In fact, even ordinary people put this into use however less productively (ex: I’m so poor I can’t afford blah blah blah, and then the next day “oh look I got a pedicure.” People always find a way to support the lifestyle they want.) Anyway, I think I would have had more success in things if I had wanted it more. A personal example is that I always wanted to be a better soccer player. Because I lacked the will to practice I always stayed just average. I think I lacked the will to practice because I didn’t actually think it would make me better. But had I really, really wanted to be a better soccer player, I would have found a way to achieve it. I want my daughter to be successful in everything she desires and I want her to know that it’s possible if she truly wants it.
“It is impossible to fail when you do your best and when you are on the Lord’s errand.”
–Elder M. Russell Ballard
Perception: The grass is always greener on the other side
It’s so easy in life to say, “I’d be happier if I had what _____ had.” Which is so funny, really. Every time I’ve either finally been on the other side or talked to the person about what I thought they had that was better I realized that I was wrong. I’ve learned happiness is a choice. There will always be something in life I don’t like, I want, or wish I was better at. Those things never go away not matter how much money, success, friends, ect you have. There will always be trials in life or how else are we to learn? I want my daughter to learn to appreciate what she has and to not envy others. When people make it seem like their life is all rainbows and fairies, remember that in reality, there is something they probably do struggle with, some people are just less open about it and some choose to handle their difficulties differently. Life is best enjoyed when your biggest desires are to make others happy and not on what we wish would change.
"A grateful person is rich in contentment. An ungrateful person suffers in the poverty of endless discontentment."- David A. Bednar
Tribulation: It’s always darkest before dawn
This is something I know to a T. When you’ve hit rock bottom the only way left is up. I guess in a way I shouldn’t really wish to change some of my experiences with this because it’s ultimately the reason I was able to have an open heart to the gospel of Christ. For some people, ie. me, who are stubborn, it takes a hard experience to open your eyes and realize you need to change. The summer before I was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was the darkest days of my life. I didn’t know what the purpose of my life was and to feel that way can be very sad. I had lost everything I felt I held dearly to me. I didn’t think happiness was possible for me. But then out of nowhere I was rescued by my wonderful sister Kasi who saw that I was having a hard time and invited me to come to church with her. I didn’t know then that decision would ultimately change my life forever, for the better. I want my daughter to know that God never gives us anything that we can’t handle. I also want her to know that sometimes hard things happen to teach us important lessons. So when life seems like it can’t be any darker, I want her to remember that it will always, always get better.
"If the bitter cup does not pass, drink it knowing there are happier days ahead."
- Jeffrey R Holland
Overcoming Fear: Nothing to Fear but Fear itself
I used to be a very timid person. I hated, and still do sometimes, to try new things. But then when I tried the new thing I learned that I absolutely loved it! When I was younger I stopped myself from having some pretty incredible experiences. What I should have realized then was that I was always going to fear things until I did them so I might as well have just done it. Moving to Utah was such an exhilarating yet scary decision I made. I hadn’t figured out where I was going to live up until a week before moving there (and then that didn’t end up working out.) But I am so happy that I bucked up and did it! I will always remember before I left that Sister Billadeau had said to me, “Blossom where you are planted.” I really considered that advice and gave it my all to make myself be who I wanted to be regardless of the fears I had of being in a new place. I have had so many wonderful blessings from overcoming fear. I hope my daughter learns to take risks and try to have many experiences. Even if it doesn’t end up being what she hoped it would be I hope that she always noticed how she grew from the experience. Obviously it’s impossible to be perfect and she will have doubts and fears, and that’s okay, I just hope that she doesn’t let it stop her from living her dreams.
"Don't assume you can fix everything, but fix what you can."
- Jeffry R. Holland
Friends: Birds of a feather flock together
“You’ve got to stand for something or you’ll stand for anything.” I don’t know who said this but this most certainly applied to me in my youth. Before I was LDS I really didn’t know who I was. I often found myself doing the thing I thought I needed to do to be liked. Because I was like that I often didn’t like myself. I wish I had chosen my friends more wisely. I wish I had chosen to surround myself with uplifting and righteous people. I had friends who were not always a good influence and the few that I had that were, I seemed to not hang out with as much. Friends whether we like it or not influence us, for good or bad. The moment I made friends that cared about the things I care about and directed their life in the ways I chose to live mine, I was much happier. I want my daughter to know this so she can be more conscious of the friends she chooses to have. If she chooses to be friends with those who have certain struggles or opposing beliefs will she conform to their ways or help them to be better people? I hope the latter.
“What is most important almost always involves the people around us.”
–President Thomas S. Monson
Everyone makes mistakes and I know my daughter one day will herself. But if there is anything she can ever learn from me I hope it's these 10 things.
And just for fun, here's my most favorite thing said during general conference:
“Don't you quit. You keep walking, you keep trying, there is help and happiness ahead. Some blessings come soon. Some come late. Some don't come until heaven. But for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come. It will be alright in the end. Trust God and believe in Good Things to Come.”
–Elder Jeffery R. Holland