Are you up to the challenge?

Faced with challenges, this teen isn’t so sure. Our elder says you can only do your best… “Brighten the Corner Where You Are.”

Dear EWC:

I am 14 years old. Before quarantine, I was influenced and tainted by the evil and toxic waste of the world, lost and confused. But now I found purpose and am on my way to becoming the person I want to be! I am a peppy, optimistic, kind, and fairly naive person. I believe that there is good in everything if we just look for it.

I want to strengthen these traits of mine and stay consistent with them. I thought I was ready to face the world, and immune to all the negativity and toxicity, but I wasn’t quite there yet. And it seems like the progress I made is faltering. I’m faced with challenges, and I know that it will all be alright. I know challenges can strengthen me and soften my heart. But it’s just so hard to stay strong through these challenges and still be able to be myself.

I want to be pure and joyful like a star shining in the darkest of nights, but I get influenced so easily and I often tend to rush things.

What can I do to stay strong, but also keep my heart soft and pure?

GranJan replies:

Hello, I’m delighted to be able to answer your letter!
Do you have any idea what a remarkable young woman you are? You are looking inward, sorting out your values, focusing on becoming the best person you can be. I hope that you take time every day to be grateful for whatever combination of genes and upbringing has allowed you to be who you are. Because who you are is pretty special.

Now, the down side: you can’t be that bright shining star every minute of every day. You are going to have down times; you are going to hit barriers; occasionally you are going to be disappointed in yourself. You’re human, and you will make mistakes. The true test of your worth is what you do about those mistakes: do you dwell on them, allow them to bring you down and think less of yourself — or do you pick yourself up, shake yourself off, learn from them, and keep on growing?

When I was a little girl, we sang a song called “Brighten the Corner Where You Are.” That song has stayed with me all my life, and — simple as it is — it’s the thing I try to live up to. I can’t erase all the meanness and unhappiness and selfishness in the world, but I can do my best to brighten my own corner of it. Remembering that helps to keep me strong when things are difficult. And brightening my corner means reaching out to others, opening my heart to them.

Remember: in order to be there for others, you must value and cherish yourself. You must nurture your own spirit. If you give away too much of yourself today, you’ll have nothing left to give tomorrow. Treat yourself with the same loving kindness that you want to show to others.

I’m glad you wrote to us, and I’m honored to be allowed to share your thoughts and your hopes. Stay safe, be well, and good luck!


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