Never Give Up

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Yeah, yeah. It’s cliché. Hold on! Keep going! You’ll come out stronger! What does that even mean?

Our country is the land of the free and the home of the brave because our leaders NEVER GAVE UP. Everyone listens to popular bands because the lead singers NEVER GAVE UP. Actors like Chris Pratt are now famous and praised because they NEVER GAVE UP. You see new books in print because the author NEVER GAVE UP. You have a brand-new phone because engineers NEVER GAVE UP. Never giving up is different for different people, but it follows the same pattern.

A person sees a goal, a dream, and they go for it. So far so good. Then they get knocked to the ground by (fill in the blank). Then the person does one of two things. One, they can stop while they’re ahead and find a safer goal to chase. Or they can get back up, dust themselves off, try again, then get knocked back to the ground. Yikes.

It’s the last few who end up standing, shinning, before all the world. I know I use mountains in metaphors quite a bit, but that’s because they work so well. Our lives our mountains. You can give out at a large, safe cliff and spend the rest of your days wondering what the top looks like, or you can scrape your skin, hit your head, sleep on ledges no bigger than twin sized matresses, and then see the world from the top of who you are. That’s what I think never giving up means, it means not stopping your hike until you reach the top of your mountain. It might be a degree, it might be raising a family. Heck, it might be the surviving the ACT. No matter what happens to us, let’s go down in history as the generation that NEVER GAVE UP. On anything, or anyone.

Little Things

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This is just something that I have become more and more aware of recently: the little things matter. I cringe at how cliché that sounds, but they do. The little things matter. I have stressed the freedom we American teens have of carving amazing futures for ourselves using what our country has given us, but I’ve come to realize that the big futures aren’t the only things waiting for us over the horizon of 21.

Some of us are going to shine out as figures in history, and some aren’t. That’s okay. Great, even. If every single plant on this earth were as tall and grand as the red oaks in California, then we’d never find a bouquet of flowers, and the bees wouldn’t be able to make honey. If all the stars were suns, the heat would kill us. If every rock was a diamond, we’d throw them away faster than you could say Jack Rabbit.  What I’m trying to say is that, if you want to live a quiet life with the ones you love, that’s not a bad thing. I think that the Incredibles summed this up pretty well. “When everyone’s super, no one will be.”

The giants of our country can’t stand without the help of the citizens, the flowers are just a beautiful as the trees, the stars make shapes the sun could only dream of. Even if we’re never famous, even if people never know our names, or remember who we are years after we’re gone, we will have helped the next famous person onto their mountain by just…… being. We don’t need to be big, or rich, or powerful to make a difference. We can do that right here, right where we are in the middle of this big, famous country. We don’t need to be important to matter.

I’m not saying that we should give up on our dreams of Olympic gold, or seeing your name in print, or hearing a song you wrote on the radio. Those dreams are beautiful. But, if you don’t have a dream like that, you’re not ‘messed up’, you don’t need to be big to shine. So just….. be. And don’t worry!

Cookie Cutter Personalities

cookiecutters_all_1024x1024The nerd. The flirt. The jock. The loner. The bookworm. The student. Cookie-Cutter Personality. The ones you read about, the ones you hear people talk about. Oh, you never miss a Yankee game? You’re a sports buff! You dress conservatively? Home schooled/sheltered. I know you already!

You and I both know that that’s not true. Our tvs and books scream so, they’re shouting it in our faces. But we know that there is more to a stranger than meets the eye. Cookie Cutter Personalities exist, they’re referenced, even taken advantage of. But they’re not us. They don’t have to be us.

Here in America, in this amazing and beautiful country, we all know that each person is someone. That they have a life, surprises, stories, things that make them 100% them. Nothing about us is factory-made! If you see someone that’s different, we don’t freak because we can’t find a label for them! We think, “That’s them, I’m me. We don’t have to be the same.”

Too much of the same makes me think of the droid army from the Star Wars Prequels. They’re not alive, they don’t have feelings, dreams, or aspirations that only they can achieve. They were pre-programmed for one role, and one role only. Never any more or less. Americans? We can soar with eagles, we can fall into the depths of the sea, and no one thinks that’s who we are. We’re free to live; to explore and find what our life is made of. Sure, we might cookie-cutter ourselves a bit. I enjoy reading, that doesn’t mean that all I’ll ever be is a bookworm. We can just…… live. We can be us, and no one judges it. I’m me, you’re you, and we’re beautiful the way we are.

Olympic America

 

opening-ceremony-team-usaWell, here we are. We are on the other side of the 2018 Winter Olympics. To be completely honest, I couldn’t watch all of it, so I won’t be able to reference all those ‘rewind’ moments, but we don’t even need to have watched them to know what they mean.

This year America had the biggest team ever to attend the Winter Olympic Games. 244 men and woman walked around the Olympic torch, waving our flag, and representing our nation. They were our best, and they are living proof of the American Dream. They were made of people who had fought to be there, to prove they were the best in the world. They earned every moment, every flip, every slide, every pirouette, every breath of being there. Everyone knows about Shaun White. His injury, his amazing comeback. Red Gerrard made bars and ramps with scraps in his backyard.  Lindsey Vonn learned how to ski in a cow pasture.

This is what America is; this is who we are! We are fighters. We see a goal, and we run to it, no matter what. It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks about us, or our dreams, we can show them what we are made of. Our Founding Fathers knew that, if they signed the Declaration of Independence, the British would kill them the first chance they got. No one had broken from the Empire before, no one wanted to help the first Americans. So we said, “Alright, we’ll win anyway.” We rolled up our sleeves, polished our squirrel guns, and went to fight a war everyone told us we couldn’t win. Look where we are now.

Every single one of us has that ability, that ability to wear gold on your chest after the world told you, “You’re crazy for even trying.” We try. We fall. We try again. We fall again. We don’t stop trying.

Then we win. We wear gold, we pledge allegiance to our flag. A flag everyone said was impossible. Look where we are now and look what we’ve done despite the world saying, “No.” What else can we do? What else can we do to show the world who we are? Let’s push our limits again and show them. Again.

American Phrase Friday

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These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like Hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.

-Thomas Paine