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A Letter To My Teenage Self (Part Two)

photo credit: incurable_hippie via photopin cc Dear Teenage-Elyse,

It’s me again! I hope this isn’t turning into a creepy, Ghost-From-Christmas-Future type thing.. Of course, we're PK's, therefore we don't believe in ghosts, right?

Anyway, below is some final advice I want to give you... So here goes:

6. It’s ok that you love leopard print. Rock it.

The crazy little quirks that make you feel like an outcast right now? They are exactly why I have learned to love you. Please, stop trying to hide them. Stop trying to do what everyone else is doing.

Here’s a secret:  None of your friends know what they’re doing either; they’re just as insecure as you. So, they’re going to copy someone, it may as well be you!

Learn who you are now before the world tells you who you should be. Should is overrated, I mean the world itself is just weird, go on, look at it. Weird right?

So, stop hiding your freckles with foundation, enjoy your Fanta instead of sparkling water with lemon, and work the leopard print everything. You are so much more fun when you are you.

7. Cheating is overrated

In the ninth grade you’re going to get caught for cheating on your English assignment. Apparently you’re not as stealth as you think because you forgot to read through your stolen assignment before you handed it in. You're story about “wishing I wasn’t the only son in my family" kind of gave it away. Your brother won't be too thrilled either, he worked pretty hard on that.

Here's a tip: do your own work.

The feeling when you receive a good grade on your own work is amazing and (heaven forbid) you might actually learn something! Plus, if you do cheat, Mrs McGovern will find out, and the feeling of getting caught will make you want to crawl in a hole and die. 

8. Stop kissing boys.

(You totally skipped down to reading this one first didn't you...)

Despite what you think, the excuse that you’re trying out for The Bachelorette is not valid. Neither is the excuse, "but he looked like Zac Efron!"

I know you think doing this kind of thing will make you feel attractive and wanted, but it won't. All it does is leave you feeling lonely and guilty. Trust me, I know better now.

Deep down your heart desires love and value. I get it, you want to be swept off your feet and looked after. You'll have that, just be patient. Trying to rush your fairytale will only leave you running out at midnight, with no shoes, feeling like a pumpkin... With no Prince.

9. Your friends are waiting for an invitation. Just ask.

You know how much you want to go to Josh’s party on the weekend, but you’ll pretend you don’t care until someone invites you? Your friends are they same. They want to come to youth, but they don’t want to invite themselves.

Your friends see an invite, any invite, is a verification of your friendship. That includes church. Let’s face it, right now their only plan is to sit at home and watch re-runs of Saved By The Bell.

They won’t definitely come if you invite them, but they definitely won’t come if you don’t invite them.

When you leave school, your biggest regret won’t be missing a party, forgetting that it was mufti day (although that sucks) or getting a detention. It will be that you kept your mouth shut. Please, speak up. Their eternity is more important than your reputation.

10. It's ok to fail.

In fact, it’s kind of liberating. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to get it right, every time, all the time. That kind of burden will make you feel like you've just run a marathon, without burning the calories. Exhausted yet unsatisfied. Trust me, you’ll learn more from your failures than your successes.

 

I’ll write to you again one day. For now, have fun. Appreciate high school, your really fast metabolism, and the fact that mum still makes your bed.

Oh, and don’t try to “grow up” too fast, I know right now it seems as exciting as the idea of being BFF with Miley Cyrus. But, as cute as she might look now, having the “best of both worlds,” one day you’ll be glad you didn’t make her your best friend.

Love, Elyse x

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If At First You Don't Succeed... Jump!

the-rock-2.jpg

Have you ever failed at something you really wanted to do well? Have you ever wanted to overcome a fear, but run away scared?

I was on a school excursion in the seventh grade. We had only been in high school for a month and my school decided to take our grade to a water park so we could bond. Australian schools rock.

The hype leading up to the excursion was centered around one thing – jumping off THE ROCK. I quickly realized if I wanted any kind of social status I was going to have to jump off Death Rock (I renamed it).

Confession: I have a small/massive fear of heights. Call me crazy, but the idea of plummeting towards the earth from a great distance doesn’t sound like my idea of fun. Unfortunately, starting high school meant that these kinds of core beliefs were irrelevant if I wanted friends.

The day came. I had my bikini ready and a false sense of security. Not to get graphic but a bikini probably wasn’t the best choice of swimwear for an awkwardly chubby teenager like me. Enough said.

As we walked out of the change rooms, there she was. She was staring down at me and I was staring up at her. She was unyielding, and tall, and solid rock… Obviously.

She was your worst nightmare, in rock form.

We made our way to the top with the girls giggling; seemingly unaware we were all about to plummet to our death. I wondered whether it would be seen as uncool for me to call my mum one last time to tell her I loved her and was leaving everything to her in my will. I decided against it.

We arrived at the top and, like the brave teenager I was, I pardoned myself every time I got to the front of the line. After as much procrastination as I could manage (there was now no one left to jump but me), it was time.

I walked to the jump line and did the one thing everyone says not to do, the worst thing possible. I looked down. I know, I’m sorry.

The jump was 5 metres (16.5 feet) high, but to me it may as well have been 5,000 metres. To make matters worse, I realised my entire class was on the ground staring up at me. Any courage or bravery I thought I had vanished quicker than I could say, “I don’t want to die today, thanks.”

I stared down and felt the eyes of everyone burning straight back at me. After about half an hour of practice runs, false starts and pitiful tears, I gave in to my fears.

A crying, shaking mess, I did the walk of shame back down the hill. I was so embarrassed and could feel the rejection from my friends. I was the only girl that didn’t jump. I was a failure.

Roll the tape forward seven years.

I had finished school (thank you Lord) and was on staff at our church. Dad (aka my boss-man) decided to take our staff to a water park for our annual church staff Christmas party. Can you guess which water park he picked? You guessed it – even if you didn’t, we can pretend you did… but seriously if you couldn’t guess, you should work on those skills.

Realising I would be at the very same water park that had caused so much anxiety years earlier, I told myself I would be fine. Years had passed and I was a “grown up” now. Right? Wrong.

We arrived for our Christmas party and sure enough, she was still there. Staring at me as aggressively as she had seven years earlier. The memories from that day flooded back, and I found myself, once again, a shaking mess.

As I walked up to the top of the rock, my experience can only be described by quoting a poet:

Palms were sweaty, Knees weak, arms were heavy I was nervous, but on the surface I looked calm and ready. The whole crowd grows so loud Snap back to reality Oh there goes gravity!

Sure I forgot everything the lifesaver said and so my arms flung up and slammed onto the water, leaving a nice bruise, but I had done it. I had conquered her. Death Rock, more like Slightly Bruised But Alive Rock!

Just call me Sir Edmund Hilary (or Eminem). Sir Edmund Hilary was the first man to conquer Mount Everest. He didn’t do it on his first go, but that didn’t stop him. After a failed attempt he looked up at the mountain and said,

“Mount Everest, you beat me the first time, but I’ll beat you the next time. You’ve grown all you are going to grow, but I’m still growing!”

Now, apart from the awkward silence afterward because he was speaking to a mountain, which obviously was incapable of a response, what a cool thing to say! Here’s a guy who faced his fears, more than once.

What’s your Death Rock? We’ve all been there. We’ve all tried something and failed. We’ve all made up excuses for that failure.

We’ve all wished that, instead of making up excuses, we could just confess, “I was just too scared.”

I know that feeling. But I also know it’s not over.

If you have tried something and failed, well done. Why? Because there are people out there who haven’t even tried. There are people who prefer to criticize rather than give life a shot. I feel sorry for those people.

Life is a journey, so learn from the past and move forward to victory. If you have fallen down, get back up, dust yourself off, and keep moving. One step forward is one step closer to your finish line.

One step forward is better than standing still.

Whatever you’re facing right now, you can do it. You have the creator of the world on your side, and He’ll give you everything you need.

Ps. You should totally read Hebrews 13:16.

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