The Stigmatization of Failure

Life is really scary sometimes. And our society and education system are set up in a way that your only goal is not to learn, to gain an education or even to have something to do. No, the goal is to succeed. To do well. To avoid failure. The grading system of schools is a measure of worth in a way, telling you how well you do at something, supposing you try. It does take effort to do well, but you don’t have to learn to do well. You simply have to memorize things and give the teacher what they want. Students are so plagued by this sense of having to get things “right” that they don’t care if they are learning something.

I’ve heard in a few of my different Sociology classes about this Stigma of Failing. We are afraid to fail and so we sacrifice our learning for an “A” in a class in which we had the potential to learn things about life and about ourselves and more. We’re afraid to raise our hand in class unless we are certain that the answer we are giving is right. If it’s not, we feel embarrassed. Due to this stigma, many of my Sociology teachers and others have challenged me to raise my hand anyways. The worst thing that’s going to happen is you learn something new from your failure. This happens in dance classes too. My beginning social dance teacher always has encouraged me to try hard things. He says, “The worst thing that will happen is you’ll laugh.” Eternal Salvation does not depend on a 4.0 GPA.

This semester, all of my Sociology teachers have really implemented this idea. They want us to learn to fail, so that we can succeed and actually learn something. So to do this, many of my assignments that I do won’t count. That way there’s room for me to mess one up or forget to do one. There’s extra credit in my dance classes to make up for missed things and even some of the assignments in those classes will be dropped.

I ran across something a few months ago (I can’t recall where) that really struck me as interesting. It’s a challenge of sorts that I wanted to take on. So why didn’t I? I’ve been too afraid to do it as ironic as that is. It sounds really hard and very much out of my comfort zone. The thing is, that’s the point of it. What is it? It’s called Rejection Therapy. The idea is that you learn to embrace failure and learn from it. Once a day for a set number of days (30-100) you do something that will result in rejection. It might be asking for a raise with your job or a discount at the store. It might be asking someone to do something with you or asking someone to do something out of their comfort zone for you. The rules are this:

1. A rejection counts if you are out of your comfort zone
2. A rejection counts if your request is denied
3. At the time of rejection, the player, not the respondent, should be in a position of vulnerability. The player should be sensitive to the feelings of the person being asked.

Terrifying, right? To play this game, you actually have to let yourself fail. Every day. I think it’s something my teachers would definitely approve of just because I would be learning something valuable. I’m still too afraid to do it. But I guess it can’t hurt too badly to try. Maybe I’ll start at once every few days and just update this post as I am rejected and try to be rejected. I think that because I’m in the Mormon bubble it’s likely that I will fail to be rejected at least a few times because people are so nice and willing to serve. Even last night at dance I asked huge favors of people and they were all willing to help me. (Next time I’m taking them cookies). Anyways, will you help me with this challenge? Join me and help change the stigmatization of failure?

Don’t Panic

I’ve become increasingly aware of a couple symptoms of our society that exist in every person I come across. I certainly have these symptoms, although mine seem to be a bit more dormant with my “don’t care” attitude—but this post isn’t about that.The point is, some people have these symptoms more than others and more often than not, one of the two symptoms prevails. As far as I can find, no one else has really connected these two symptoms to say that they are opposites of each other as I believe them to be but perhaps that’s because a person can have both. What the heck am I talking about, right?

The first is Optimistic Bias. This is a term coined for the idea of “that could never happen to me.” It’s the idea that although you hear about these bad things happening elsewhere, you honestly believe that it will never happen to you. These could be simple things, like not getting a part in a play when you’ve been acting your whole life or more extreme things like cancer or car accidents. I’m sure you can think of something that shows you have optimistic bias. What are you sure will never happen to you? For me, it’s getting salmonella. I once again, have that don’t care attitude and thus eat raw cookie dough and stuff, thinking that it will never happen to me because it hasn’t yet to me or anyone I know.

The second is Moral Panic. This is the idea that everyone is afraid of something because the media has hyped it up. I see this on a much smaller scale, simply looking at each person within the whole that has those fears. These fears may be due to a real threat but more often than not it’s simply something that has gotten out of hand and will never touch us. This is things like Ebola and Shark attacks. It could legitimately happen and we hear about it happening but the odds of it happening to us are VERY small yet we have fear that can’t quite be discarded.

It’s really interesting to me as an aspiring sociologist to sit back and watch one or both of these symptoms overcome the people in my life. A lot of times, their lives are run by these. Either they believe that nothing uniquely awful will happen to them or they live in fear of something that will likely never happen, happening. How do we balance these two things? I have no idea.

I see moral panic—and feel it in myself—often after something big happens. An event like a mass shooting or bombing, an onset of natural disasters, anything like that usually sets off moral panic. The media starts unleashing story after story of the awful things happening and suddenly everyone’s afraid. I think this moral panic sometimes makes it harder for events caused by man to reoccur in another location because everyone is so afraid that security and awareness is amped up. However the mix of optimistic bias in the situation makes it easier for those things to happen. For example, say a mass shooting occurs in a small city in a state across the country from you. Something unique sets this shooting apart from others and it’s the first you’ve heard about in awhile. Moral panic tells you to be more aware in public or to avoid similar situations at all. You watch the news consistently and give extra warnings of safety to your loved ones. You remember too, to tell them more often that you love them. Optimistic Bias tells you that your situation is too different from the one where the shooting occurred. You live in a small town where nothing ever happens and the crime rate is low. Nothing like that will ever happen to you, until one day it does. Moral panic then sets in to the rest of the population and the cycle starts over.

Authority figures seem to try to ensue moral panic, often even believing it themselves to gain support. A candidate who wants you to vote for them may tell you that a threat exists when it doesn’t really and then how they will fix it to make you fear the threat and desire of someone to fix it. They give you a problem and a solution all in one. Optimistic Bias on the other hand seems to be something we ensue naturally in ourselves. This is why when something bad does happen to us, it’s often such a shock we can hardly believe it. Media doesn’t play into this as much, except for in movies. A likable character is created and we adore them; then something awful happens to them even though they didn’t believe it would. We watch this Optimistic Bias take place right in front of us, yet we are significantly blind to it.

At the risk of being Optimistically Biased, here’s some of the thing people in my life and that the media shows moral panic about: school shootings (probably top), abduction/kidnapping, rape, drugs, car accidents, plane crashes, eaten by sharks, burglary/theft, natural disasters,  and so many more. Basically every bad thing that could happen has some connotation of moral panic with it. Have a friend with different colored skin? I’d bet you the things they have moral panic about are different than yours. Remember the kid that was eaten by the alligator? How many parents do you think had moral panic about it? And yet I’ll be there were some who had optimistic bias and let their kids risk getting hurt anyways. If I were to make a list of the things that people were Optimistically Biased about, it would probably be the same list, with Death (in general) at the top of it.

I wish I knew what a happy balance between these things would look like. Is it possible to have one? What would that look like? Or does the cycle just continue endlessly? Are these things good for our society to have?

I don’t know those answers. I do know that these symptoms plague everyone in our society (much thanks to the media) and that we should at least be aware of them. Sometimes it’s good to be afraid and alert and not ignorant to what could happen. But it’s not good to be so paralyzed be fear about something that you don’t let your children do anything. So do we panic or not? Of course, it’ll never happen to us right?

Chow Chow, Brown Cow!

❤ Annee

A Glitch in the Matrix

For a long while I’ve had a fascination/obsession with parallel worlds and time travel. Give me a book about either and I will be more than happy to read it and day dream about the theories it gives. I don’t know exactly where this whole thing started—maybe when I first saw The Time Traveler’s Wife or read The Time Machine. I honestly have no clue (the reason for me not knowing may actually be provided later—see Berensta(e)in bears). I’ve watched several documentaries on all of this and while I by no means claim to be an expert, I at least understand the basics. First though, I have always had the question as to whether it should be parallel worlds or universes. (If you can answer that for me, please do).

I first learned about how parallel worlds could be real in my Foundations Science class. I could never find the video again but it basically showed how the way the molecules/atoms/whatever moved should have been predictable but it wasn’t and some of them disappeared. I’m doing a poor job of explaining. There’s many different theories and ideas of parallel worlds. For example, some believe that because our universe is infinite, there are other parts of infinity that have worlds like ours. This is my least favorite idea. Then there’s the idea that there’s a multiverse, that in some sense our world is overlayed with others. This is where the whole “glitch in the matrix” idea comes from. Sometimes our world interferes with others and that’s why strange things sometimes happen or you might see something repeating (In the Matrix, a cat walks by and then another right after). This is also part of the explanation of deja vu (deja vu and alter-vu both often related to parallel worlds). I like this whole idea a little bit more. My favorite and the most logical explanation to me stems from the video I had watched about the way atoms are involved. It’s the idea that every time something could be one way or another, the universe splits into two (or) more universes for every possible decision and outcome. This is where the comment of “In a parallel universe I went left instead of right” come from. One of the most amazing books dealing with this sort of stuff that I’ve read went along with this theory and just one of the choices that could have been made and what happened when a girl switched worlds with one of the parallel ones. A lot to take in, right?

A popular idea you probably know about that goes along with this last theory (but in reality, probably all of them somehow) is Schrodinger’s Cat. The idea is that there is a cat in some sort of box with a vial of poison. If at any instant, the poison so much as touches the cat, the cat will die. But at any moment, because the box is sealed and we are not able to see through, we do not know whether the cat is dead or alive. So in that moment, the cat is both dead AND alive (read the whole situation here).This creates the idea of superposition, which if parallel worlds of this last idea are to be considered, we are in a way, each always in our own infinite number of superpositions. Say, if perhaps there are only two worlds, parallel to each other and there is only one difference between them, that being that we are dead or alive, we are in a superposition. Who is to say then, which world is real? As with the number of licks to the center of a tootsie pop, the world may never know (hahahahaha but which world???? Haha I’m funny).

Another popular idea of this is the Mandela Effect. This term has been coined to explain when you feel positive something happened, but all evidence shows otherwise. Maybe you were completely certain that someone told you something one day, although it didn’t really happen until the day after. (Read this). There’s a whole bunch of ideas like this that you too may be convinced something happened another way. This seemingly is explained by parallel worlds. Perhaps it was that in the world you were in, things did happen the way you remembered, but then somehow you were shifted to another world in which that single event was the only difference, hence leaving you with a different memory than the rest of the world. A lot of the things I’ve seen about the Mandela effect seem to be centered around large/traumatic/dramatic events that cause a spike in emotions (certainly an explanation you may be more willing to accept).

[Slight interruption in programming for my “did that really happens.” First off, I believe that some of this has to be explained by things that happened before we came to this earth or beyond the veil. For example, I’ve met people that I was sure I had known but seemingly never met before in my life. I also can’t remember meeting many of my friends, it simply seems that I’ve known them forever. I also have memories of conversations I had with people that actually never happened but I swore they really did and I didn’t imagine them. Another thing was a video by Connor Franta that my friends and I all swore to exist but when we went to find it, we couldn’t. Maybe it had been deleted?].

The main thing that I remember differently hadn’t occurred to me until today when it was brought to my attention. Remember that kids show/books about the family of bears? The Berenstein Bears. Or was it the Berenstain Bears? I remember the first spelling, with an E. But if you google the books or show, it’s with an A. I swear it wasn’t like this. (Read here). One quote from this article that stood out,

“At some point between the years 1986 and 2011, someone traveled back in time and inadvertently altered the timeline of human history so that the Berenstein Bears somehow became the Berenstain Bears,” he wrote. “This is why everyone remembers the name incorrectly; it was Berenstein when we were kids, but at some point when we weren’t paying attention, someone went back in time and rippled our life experience ever so slightly.”

Interesting, huh? Whether it be a common misconception, time travel, a mishap of parallel worlds or whatever, it’s interesting to think about.

There’s also some ideas out there about how mirrors reflect into parallel worlds. [Inserting comment about two mirrors facing each other and how they seemingly go on forever when in reality the image can only continue as far as light does. Also they cannot reflect infinitely because in order to have that, there must exist an infinite amount of time (which perhaps there is due to superposition)] I know there’s some books out there about this as well.

That’s pretty much all I know I guess. I might add to this post later, but I’d be super interested to hear what you remember or don’t remember happening.

See ya in space, basket case!

❤ Annee

 

It’s Not a Game

I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

My last post was all serious and this one is going to be as well. For years, basically since the 2008 election, I’ve looked forward to the time I could vote. When John McCain and Barack Obama went head to head in the election, my school did well to keep us informed. Then again, with Romney and Obama in 2012, I was informed by my seminary teacher and history teacher. We threw our planned lessons to the dogs and had discussions on the current events, making our opinions known. When it comes to opinions, I have a lot of them. But because I don’t like contention, I’m more likely to stay quiet when the people I’m with bring them up. In my school classes though, my words come out and I defend my position. This is what happened during both of those elections and happens in a lot of my sociology and history classes. The world I live in is important to me, even if I don’t voice my opinion all the time.

Now that I’m old enough to vote, I’ve been paying attention to the world of politics again so that I can figure out who I’m going to vote for. Back at the beginning of the year, I had a roommate who was very vocal and pushy about her political opinions and kept me well informed about what was happening. I talked to my parents about who they would vote for and why and was surprised to find that I disagreed with them. I found myself leaning in favor towards O’Malley.

With the election growing closer and the news stations blaring in the background, I know that I need to start making decisions about who I will vote for. About who I support. Because even the electoral college is the one making the decision in the end, I need to be able to defend my beliefs. So tonight I decided to research the candidates. I didn’t read every single thing on every one of their pages, but at surface level it was easy to see that I don’t agree with any of them. There’s very few that I find things that I do agree with. I-side-with tells me who I supposedly agree with, but even then it’s one or two questions. There’s gotta be something better. I want something better for my world and for my children. If anything, I want people to know what I believe even though the world doesn’t agree. It’s important for people to know that I stand for something different. So here’s what I believe based on the questions and topics given by I-Side-With. (Note: I am skipping some questions but ask me if you have a specific one for me to answer).

Social Issues: This is really important to me. I’m going into Sociology after all. Let’s start with the beginning. Pro-life. There’s so many parents that ache to have children and are unable to. I know many of them. They would love to have children. So give them one or don’t get pregnant in the first place. Same-sex marriage. I don’t support it. I’ve been taught and wholeheartedly believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. I believe in that 1950’s American dream. Leave it up to the state or whatever, but don’t shove it in my face. The Bishops in my church are able to wed people in matrimony and currently can be fined if they refuse someone (even same sex) that service. I don’t agree with that and think that that should ever happen. I want same-sex marriage left out of my church. Death penalty is a hard one for me, so I’m going to take a raincheck and explain that on another day. Assisted Suicide however, I do support. I don’t think that someone should have to suffer through different medications and trying to survive a term of suffering longer since they will likely die anyways. As far as gender equality, I agree that women should have the same opportunities and consequences as men, end of story.

Environmental Issues: This area is less important to me. Not because I don’t care about the environment, but rather I feel like there shouldn’t be questions about it. I feel like everyone in the world should simply be doing their best to take care of the environment. Climate change is going to happen. I don’t believe that we can truly prevent it. We need to do our best to use renewable energy sources.

Economic Issues: Minimum wage should be decided by state—a higher national minimum wage will cause inflation. I had been thinking that welfare recipients should be tested for drugs but I’ve changed my mind and don’t think that anymore. National debt needs to be reduced—partially through military spending—but we also really just need to cut back on spending. [interuption because in the room I’m sitting in, someone is currently on speakerphone discussing politics (YELLING) and I can’t handle this. On one line, the man is for Trump and his argument for Trump is to degrade Clinton. I will not support someone degrading another human]. I don’t know about taxes but I think that it should be up to each state.

Domestic Policy: Yay! I find this area of importance and interest to me. Restriction on purchasing a gun: yes. Training and/or proof of training about guns should be required to purchase a gun. Be safe ❤ Yes! Legalize drugs! Why? Look at prohibition for example. Prohibition of alcohol caused so much fighting and underground problems. All of the problems that occurred with prohibition are the same that occurred with the legalization of alcohol, except that it was illegal then and there was more violence. Now though, drugs is the problem. If we legalize them, I truly believe that we can cease the war on drugs and decrease the everlasting violence on the US/Mexico border and underground in the US.

Healthcare: I really don’t know what to say about this category. I agree with medical marijuana. I think everyone needs health insurance, but I don’t think it should be free for everyone.

Education issues: What we have isn’t working. I’ve talked about that in many of my other posts and I stand by it. For sho’ no free college tuition. That stuff needs to be earned. Common core is currently crap. It’s a good idea in theory but needs to be changed.

Foreign Policy: Accept the refugees, don’t put up borders and don’t get super involved in other peoples business. No war on ISIS and no citizenship for illegal immigrants. However, for their children they can recieve citizenship IF they were born in the US and apply for citizenship. Really though, basis is we need to stay out of other country’s crap. We have so much debt of our own, we need to take care of ourselves. Put on our own life vest before helping others.

Criminal Issues: Body cameras aren’t a bad idea for police officers, particularly if issues continue to arise. I approve of solitary confinement.

So I guess that’s about it unless someone has questions. Some of these other questions and things I have more opinions on but they aren’t as important to me as the things I talked about. I’m just so sad about what our country and world are coming to and I wish it could change for the better. For now though, I’ll just sit here and root for the second coming to happen 😉 Kidding. It matters. This election is not a game. This election is not a race. It’s not all fun and games. This is a matter of life and death for our country.

Teach the Children

There’s a Christmas story popular among the general Christian public today about Santa Claus coming to a Father and giving him a number of objects, each a symbol, explaining to him what they mean and telling him to teach the children. The idea of the story is basically to inspire people to teach their children about the true meaning of Christmas and Christ’s birth. In my last post, I talked about some of the future relationships that I’ll have, including being a mother. There’s responsiblities given to parents to teach their children truths.

I’ve been reading some books of real topics lately and all of them touch my heart with every page. They’ve started a spark, a flame inside me that burns with pain and love for those in the world have been hurt. I was reading today about Columbine and was brought to the attention that two of my dear friends just older than me have no idea what Columbine was. I was in shock. Not to bash these friends at all, I just can’t understand how someone in our world today can’t know about tragic events that have happened in our lifetime and shaped the world into what it is today. Every time a school shooting occurs, I hear mentions and comparisons of Columbine. How could someone not know about this event?

After learning that they didn’t know about it, I was overcome with an overwhelming feeling that I must teach my children. When I have a family of my own, my kids need to know about what went on in my lifetime, before my lifetime, and what goes on in theirs. They need to know about the good and the bad and be informed so that they can be sensitive to others. I owe it to them, and I owe it to my Heavenly Father.

I’ve always beena  seeker of knowledge, wanting to know about people and pleaces and things and learning as much as I could from books and articles and school. I learn things everywhere and I pay attention. Current events always interested me and I shed countless tears over the lost lives of strangers whose stories became important to me. There’s been so many things I’ve learned that I was appalled to not have learned earlier (Key example: About the Lithuanians in World War II held captive in Russia—Go read Between Shades of Gray if you have no idea what I’m talking about). There’s been a lot about World War II that I wasn’t taught in school that has caused me to be distrusting of the education system whom it seems would rather keep me in the dark about distasteful things my country has done than tell me the truth. I was taught about Columbine in school as well as from my parents. They made it known to me that this was an important event and that I should care. In school we learned about Rachel’s Challenge, a challenge issued by the parents of the first Columbine victim.

I want my kids to be seekers of knowledge as well. I want them to be educated about the Wars that have plagued the world, about the leaders of our country and other world leaders. I want them to know about 9/11 and Columbine and Sandy Hook and the life of Christ. I want them to know all of these things and more. I want them to look for more. I don’t want someone to mention a large event that occurred int heir lifetime to them someday and them to not know what it was. This is my responsibility. I have to teach them. And for me to teach them, I have to know more.

So if you’re reading this, I hope you too will want to learn and will decide to teach your children. They need to know.

Why?

Remember all those Dystopian and Utopian novels that have been popular in the last several years? I would venture to say that those people either didn’t teach their children, or they weren’t brave enough to do anything with the knowledge they had.

Go out. Make a difference. Care about the world. The news may be dreary and depressing, but that’s what it is. We shouldn’t stop caring just because they only talk about sad things. We need to know about our world. If we don’t, how will we change it?

Learn a lot, Camelot.

❤ Annee

Someday

“We do not doubt our mothers knew it.”—Alma 56:48

Someday, I will be your girlfriend (you, being my future boyfriend, whoever that is). You’re out there somewhere and I hope you’re preparing like I’m trying to. My Heavenly Father is probably putting you in some pretty difficult situations to refine and teach you in preparation for meeting me. I think the key parts of the words girlfriend and boyfriend are friends. More than anything, I want a best friend.I have a lot of those, actually, but none of them are you yet. I can list off ten people immediately that I call “my best friend” when referring to them. But someday I’m going to have you. I’ve talked about my rules for dating in my other post, A Safety Guide to Natural Selection and all of that still applies. I want to be a good girlfriend though, supporting and not overbearing. I want to be someone worth spending time with. For the last several months, almost year, I’ve been really missing two of my best friends. They were my texting buddies. We’d talk everyday about the most random of things but now they are both gone on missions. I miss them dearly and I plan on resuming our normal friendships when they get back, but in the mean time, I had to find something else to do. The other day I started up a page of notes on my phone full of things that would be texts to you. Now before you get the wrong idea, realize that these are things like “I learned today that snails grow their own shells.” It’s the things I pick up my phone to text you before remembering I haven’t met you yet (cue Michael Buble music). It’s the things I want to share with someone, but especially you. Somewhere, you’re there. And obviously we’re not ready yet, but I hope we are both ready when that day comes that our adventures together begin. It’s going to be great.

Somewhere out there
Beneath the pale moonlight
Someone’s thinking of me
And loving me tonight

Somewhere out there
Someone’s saying a prayer
That we’ll find one another
In that big somewhere out there.

Someday I will be a fiance. Please, oh please don’t let me be a bridezilla. Remind me everyday that you love me and to be kind to those that are helping us prepare for that wonderful day. And please care, just a little bit, about our wedding. I want to make choices together since that’s what we will be doing for the rest of our eternity. If we can’t work together for a wedding, how can we possibly do anything else. Remind me to have patience. I have so many wedding ideas I’ve fallen in love with already like every other girl on the planet, but most of all I just want it to be a day I share with you. And also I want lots of dancing. And pictures. And a trillion ring. And a knee-length wedding dress. And of course a temple marriage.

If I had three wishes/ I tell you what they’d be/ If I had three wishes/ You would be all three

Someday, I will be a wife. I feel like this is what I’m least prepared for out of all of these roles. I don’t know how to be a wife. Still, I look forward to it and the way your last name will sound with my first. I’m excited for our adventures. I will apologize now for my lack of knowledge when it comes to cooking. I can follow a recipe and cook well, it’s just that I don’t cook often or make many different things. I’m going to try though and I hope you will join me. Actually, you better join me. Cooking and cleaning are going to be team efforts. Deal? Also I hope you love reading. I want to go to bookstores and not be rushed. I you to look at the books and gets just as lost in different worlds as I do. It’s magic. I hope you will preside over our household, protect me and love me always. I hope we never raise our voices and everything we do is out of love. I know it won’t be perfect but I think we can be amazing together. One more thing: kiss me everyday. And let others see it sometimes. Oh and…

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.
I hope you dance….I hope you dance.

Someday, I will be a mother. I don’t know how many kids I will have or if they will even be mine, but I will be a mother. I pray that I will be a good one. I also pray that you will be a good father. I pray for our children. I pray for the world they will have to grow up in, likely worse than the one we had. In one of my sociology classes, I learned that the parenting structure for the lowest risk of juvenile delinquency is with the parents in equal power, the father slightly more. This better be the way it is. Parenting is a team effort. I want my children to be raised steadfast with love and in the gospel. I learned from an example once, of a man who never grounded his children. When they did something wrong, he would sit down with them, tell him he loved them and then talk about how they can fix their mistakes. I aspire to be like this. I never want to be angry with my children. They are just children. They are children of Heavenly Father that I have been given permission and responsibility to watch over. I hope we make time for family everyday: family prayers, family scriptures, family laughing and family love.

I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living
my baby you’ll be.

With all of these things, I want to be like the mothers of the stripling warriors, like Eve, like Heavenly Mother. I want to be the best that I can be and continually improving. I know I can be too. With patience and love, with teaching and learning, with honesty and integrity, and other Christlike attributes, I will become.

I see my mother kneeling with our family each day.
I hear the words she whispers as she bows her head to pray.
Her plea to the Father quiets all my fears,
And I am thankful love is spoken here.
Be sweet, parakeet!
❤ Annee

That’s My Hero

“The hero becomes strongest at his weakest point.”—The Road to Character, David Brooks

There’s these books that I love reading to toddlers, a series of them that all begin with “That’s not my _____” The blank is filled by things like puppy, dragon, fairy, cow, etc. They’re touch and feel books and go through all the creatures that are not “mine.” So it will say something along the lines of “That’s not my puppy, it’s ears are too soft” and then you will be able to feel the soft ears. It goes through the whole book like this until finally you get to the last page and it says something like, “That’s my rabbit! Her nose is so shiny!”

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about heroes. I’ve been writing a story about some superheroes so it’s a given that I would think about them. But I’ve been reading tons of things about superheroes. They’re everywhere and there’s tons of writing prompts about them. I have an entire playlist for this story I’m writing of songs that all relate to the story in someway which means 99% superhero songs. Marvel and other comic books heroes are everywhere and you can’t go anywhere without running into some reference or memorabilia celebrating them. My heroes though are a little different than these. All of the superheroes in these movies and such are known for wearing super suits, some of which give them additional powers. Some superheroes wear capes and masks, to conceal their identity or look cool. My heroes wear different things than these other heroes.

One of my heroes is a man by the name of Steven Stokes. He was a professor of mine that passed away last week and today, I attended his funeral. Brother Stokes taught me one thing that stood out from all of the rest, and that was what it means to have care and concern. These principles are the basis for a program run at one of the juvenile facilities around here and we studied them in my class. While I was taking this class though, I was going through some really rough times. Brother Stokes went out of his way to see how I was. He asked sincerely and listened to everything I told him. He always was willing to lend an ear to someone who wanted to talk. He taught me what it means to truly care about another person. Today at his funeral, one of his sons spoke and said that they had learned from their father the concept of remembering people’s names because it makes them feel important. Brother Stokes truly showed this concept in his life. He had thousands of students but he remembered all of them by name and followed them in the years after they left school and they would come back to visit him. This hero of mine wears a smile and has a heart of gold.

Another of my heroes, is a man by the name of Vance McHan. Brother McHan passed away this morning and when I heard the news, tears came from my eyes immediately. Brother McHan is the father of my best friend. He was also my seminary teacher, my bishop, and my friend. Brother McHan was funny and so insightful. He always was willing to give advice and counsel when I was having a hard day. He showed a great example of sticking to it as he would get up every morning before early morning seminary so he could go running and look over his lesson before coming to the church building where he would teach us and have conversations with us that taught me so much about the gospel, and about our savior, Jesus Christ. Brother McHan put up with our teasing, bickering and tormenting of each other in seminary and again when he became Bishop. He would welcome me into his home and tease me just as he did his daughters. Brother McHan taught me what it means to be a friend to someone else. This hero of mine wears running shoes.

The next of my heroes I don’t remember too well. She passed away when I was seven and not a day goes by that I don’t miss her. I have things of hers that remind me of her and I keep them with me in hopes of being more like her. I like to think that I resemble my grandma in a lot of what I do and from the stories I hear about her, I truly do. My grandma had such a unique sense of style, bright colors and patterns. My grandma wore colored pants fifteen years before they were cool. She loved to dance and she loved little keepsakes like stuffed bears and statuesque angels. This hero of mine wears polka dots.

The next of my heroes is actually a league of heroes. My siblings. Both the elder and the younger are my heroes, all in their own unique ways that they touch my life. My sister, Amanda, is my hero because she goes after her dreams. My brother, Coby, is my hero because of the presiding figure he is for his family. My sister, Chellayne, is my hero because she is in the process of raising and homeschooling a handful of amazing kids wither her husband. My brother, Lonnie, is my hero because he marches to his own drum. My brother, Dominick, is my hero because he looks up to me and knows what it means to truly listen to someone. My brother, Gabe, is my hero because he is talented in ways he doesn’t even understand yet. My brother, Taha, is my hero because his smile stretches wider than the equator and when he laughs, heaven laughs with him. My sister, Grace, is my hero because she is confident in her true beauty and knows her Heavenly Father. These heroes of mine share my blood.

My next hero is another seminary teacher. President Turner has made such a huge impact in my life. He is one of the kindest souls I know and his example lives with me every day. President Turner loves every student that passes through his classroom with a love so strong you can see it in his eyes and hear it in the way he teases you. His smile lit up every morning of seminary, combining with the light of Christ to make the room shine brighter than the sun. President Turner holds his priesthood with such love and care, you can feel God’s love through him. This hero of mine wears a suit and tie.

This next hero is a woman who could easily be compared to some of the amazing women in the scriptures, like Esther. Juniel Bingham is an incredible example to me. She’s had her fair share of challenges and I can’t imagine what those would have been like to experience. She’s stayed strong through it all though and taught me so much in the meantime. She was one of my youth leaders when I was in Young women’s and she made every minute fun. Even when things got stressful, she always found a way to smile and joke around with us. On the hardest days, she still took care of her children, showed love to them and her husband and at the end of the day, thanked her Father in Heaven for all that she had. Juniel is always willing to talk even now when I’m having a hard day or need advice with something. Juniel never gives up. This hero carries a diaper bag.

I could go on forever and ever. My parents. My aunts and uncles. All of my grandparents. My roommates. All of my church leaders. My friends. Every teacher I’ve ever had. The strangers who’ve complimented me. The leaders of this nation. Everyone is my hero.

The last hero I’ll mention here today tops all the rest and I’m sure everyone saw it coming. My ultimate hero is my Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the ultimate exemplar of patience, love, kindness, being a teacher, faith, and so many other things. This hero stands with me on my best days, clapping his hands and cheering me on. He carries me on my darkest days, crying with me and holding me tight. He guides me when I’m lost, heals me when I’m broken, and keeps my humble when I’m well. He died for me. He loves me with a love that is so whole and complete. He paid the price of my sins. He knows every pain I’ve felt, every triumph I’ve had. He knows what I feel in a way I don’t even understand. I love this hero more than anything. In that book I’ve mentioned, The Road to Character, there’s a section that reads, “The trial is already over….Jesus stood trial for you. He took the condemnation that you deserve.” And then, “Imagine the person you love the most in the world getting nailed to wood as penalty for the sins your yourself committed. Imagine the emotions that would go through your mind as you watched that.” All of these other people, they are my heroes, but Christ, he is my Superhero. This hero of mine wears robes of white and carries the weight of the world.

❤ Annee