Focus on Yourself and Look at the Bigger Picture

Sim wrote in to Elder Wisdom Circle, filled with social anxiety around birthday plans. She was trying to come up with plans with either her friends or her family, but was concerned that spending time with one group would disappoint the other. In a follow-up letter, Sim shared with EWC that as it turned out, her best friends barely showed interest in her on her birthday, although she ended up spending time with them anyway. Sim also expressed her anxieties around an ex and her fears of her upcoming transition from high school to college.

Elder Grammy-Lin corresponded with Sim, doing her best to share all the words of wisdom she had to offer. She explained that balancing family and friends would be a lifelong struggle, and that Sim could divide her time between the two—but after receiving Sim’s second letter, Grammy-Lin pointed out that while Sim had expressed that her friends could be shallow on social media, at least they did spend time with her on her birthday. Ultimately, however, if she felt empty while with them, that was a sign that they weren’t the right people for her. And in response to Sim’s concerns about college, Grammy-Lin said that having a 10-year plan is great, but so much will change in that time. Sim has already been through a lot, such as a tough break-up and confronting the fact that her friends were not there for her, so she surely would be ready to face whatever difficulties she might face in her future.

I interviewed Sim after she’d received Grammy-Lin’s messages, and she shared with us how much of a difference they made for her. Before receiving Grammy-Lin’s guidance, she’d been so confused about what to do in every aspect of her life—but Grammy-Lin helped remind her to focus on herself and look at the bigger picture. After their correspondence, Sim said that a lot of her confusion cleared away, and the situations she was so worried about worked themselves out. She learned from Grammy-Lin’s letters that not only did she not need to worry so much, but that she should have confidence that she could make decisions on her own.

After getting the chance to read Sim’s feedback, Grammy-Lin told me about how she became an Elder. She shared that when she was young, she was smug and self-righteous, thinking she had all the answers. Then, her marriage fell apart, and she was treated like an outcast—afterwards, she gained the gift of empathy and had more compassion for others. In respect to Sim’s situation, Grammy-Lin drew upon that experience with her marriage where she learned, after crying over the possibility that her husband would leave her for his music career, that most of the things we worry about do not happen. Of course, when things don’t work out the way we want them to, Grammy-Lin said, that can be beneficial—in that it teaches us a valuable life lesson. The more you learn from your experiences, she said, the more prepared you are to deal with the next challenge. Overall, she was proud of Sim for having taken her advice and applied those new ideas to her own life.

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