Monday, December 27, 2010


When I was eight years old, my dream was to become a world-famous actress. To this day, my 3rd grade teachers remind me of my aspirations to excel in “movie star college”. I’m sure I am typing to a crowd of former astronaut hopefuls and prospective Presidents of the United States, and I think I speak for all of us when I say we were willing to do whatever it took to achieve our dreams. The sparkle of our exciting futures gave us the passion we needed to become whatever we wanted. Unfortunately, as I grew up, my sparkling dreams began to fade as passion became a distant concept in my crazy high school life. Luckily, on an everyday coffee run, I met a Starbucks Sparkler that brought that 3rd grade sparkle back to my dreams.


AHHHH, Winter Break, I thought. It was after school on the first day of my winter break, and I was looking forward to resting. After a stressful semester of applying to colleges and searching for scholarships, it was nice to finally have some time to just hang out at home.

As I walked into my house and dropped my backpack in the kitchen (hoping to forget about my homework during my two week vacation) I could only think of the hours of sleep I would be recovering. Sinking into my couch, I fantasized about the five hour nap I was planning to take until I realized I had promised one of my friends to meet for coffee. Oh five hour nap, we were so close, and yet so far away! I thought. Well, at least I’m getting to see an old friend, so sleep can wait….for now. So, grabbing my keys and sliding on my red sunglasses, I hopped into my car and drove to the nearest Starbucks.


“Oh my gosh, it’s been too long!” I exclaimed when I saw my buddy. He had just returned from college, and I couldn’t help but be excited to see him.

After ordering our drinks and asking each other the usual questions (“How’s school? What are you doing now? Are you so excited for break?”), we started talking about college. My friend described to me his experience as a college student. While listening to him, I realized that in the hustle and bustle of senior year I had not been enthusiastic about my future in college. Don’t you remember how excited you were freshman year when you realized college was only four years away? I asked myself. Now, here you are, three months from decision day, and where’s the excitement?

As if he was reading my mind, my friend asked me what I was looking forward to in college. “Well, I’m pretty excited for the independence, new environment, and new things to do,” I responded unenthusiastically. Whoa there, Abi, don’t be too excited now, I thought. “I guess it seems a bit too far away to seem real to me.”

Enter my Starbucks Sparkler, a woman grabbing a midday coffee, into my deflated expression of my emotion toward college. As my SS was adding sugar to her coffee, she overheard my conversation and jumped in, saying, “Excuse me, dear. I heard you say you were going to college next year, and I want to encourage you to pursue whatever dream you have. Honestly, if you are lucky enough to have your dream at your young age and have the means to achieve it, go for it!”

My SS continued to tell us about her own experiences as a young woman attending college thirty years earlier. She told us she was passionate about studying astronomy, a field that had been previously untouched by women. Her passion motivated her through society’s pressures and even the pressures within her own family. SS advised us as young people today to use our passion for our dreams to propel ourselves to success.

After sugaring her coffee to perfection (and returning to our table a few more times to give us more advice), my SS left Starbucks. That was a pretty interesting situation, I thought. Why did she insist on telling us to be passionate about our goals?

Now, significantly more rested and eagerly awaiting my future university life, I realize my SS wanted us to understand that passion, a true desire and commitment to something, can motivate you to achieve your dreams, regardless of what obstacles may stand in your way. SS taught me that anyone, from the eight-year-old dreamer to the slightly unconventional astronomy student, can have the passion needed to make any dream come true.

Lesson Learned: Just like an actress cannot star in a film without a script, no one can truly achieve their dreams without passion. Passion is the point of reference to which you can look when you are discouraged, stressed, or even exhausted with your lives. When the wildly emotional scenes of your life’s movie threaten to pull you from your dreams, it will be your passion that reminds you to stick to the script. Take it from the almost-premiere actress of our time, having passion will help you win the Oscar of your dreams J.

If there is no passion in your life, then have you really lived? Find your passion, whatever it may be. Become it, and let it become you and you will find great things happen FOR you, TO you and BECAUSE of you.” T. Alan Armstrong

Monday, December 6, 2010


I don’t know about you guys, but when I get a compliment, I feel my ego inflate a little bit. Come on, you can’t tell me that when someone congratulates you on a job well done, you don’t feel a little more special than everyone else J. But in my efforts to be humble, I always try to remember that every decision I have made has been shaped by the actions of someone else. Giving the credit to whom it is due is an important part of demonstrating humility. Yet, after experiencing one of the most exciting events of my life with my Modest Miracle Maker, I have learned the important second component of being a truly humble person: the ability to support someone else in achieving her dreams.


“WHAT???” I exclaimed into the phone. Wait, wait, wait, I think you’ve got it all wrong, I thought. The Young Humanitarian of the Year is supposed to be some incredible kid that cured cancer! There’s no way they can be talking about…

“You, yes, you! You’ve won the nomination!” the joyful voices on the phone said to me. “We’ll call you in a couple of weeks to help you prepare for your speech at our formal banquet, but until then, congratulations!”

Oh my goodness, it really is me! I thought excitedly. I can’t believe this!!!!

I received this amazing news in early June, so I had until late September to write my acceptance speech (and allow the shock to wear off J). The first week after I had received the news, I felt like I was floating on air. Not only was I excited for the experience, I was also really glad that I would be able to present my reasons for volunteering to members of my community. I get to be a voice for the all my friends who are involved in community service….YAY!!!!

As the weeks progressed and my excitement began to wear off, I started to feel a bit uncomfortable about receiving the honor. If I were a genuinely humble person, I wouldn’t need to be recognized for what I do, right? I thought. I can’t misguide my community into believing that I deserve all the credit for my passion for volunteering. I felt like embracing my honor as the Young Humanitarian would mean I was abandoning my humility as a community serviceperson.

This feeling festered inside me, and after a little while, I felt so guilty about receiving the honor that I did not want to accept it at all. After my once sky-high spirits had been weighed down by worries I shared my concerns with my MMM.

“What are you talking about?” my MMM said to me. “Of course your community knows you are grateful for this honor! If you were not a humble person, you would not have achieved anything they are recognizing you for!”

Of course you have to say that, you’re my friend, I thought. “How can I let them know about all the things other people have done for me? You of all people should understand what I mean, MMM. You are one of the main reasons why I am even being honored!”

“Oh, I haven’t done anything. You won this award based on what you did. Your heart guided you, okay? Other people have helped you, but you had all this in you from the beginning,” MMM said. Although I still felt a bit uncomfortable about receiving the honor, my pep talk with MMM boosted my confidence.

As I began writing my speech for the banquet, I realized it was possible for me to relate my personal service successes to the impact others have had on my life. When I presented my speech a couple of weeks later, I thought about all the amazing people that had contributed to my achievements, including my MMM.

A few weeks later, I thought about what MMM had said during our pep talk. There is no way I had accomplished everything I did simply because of who I am. MMM knows that just as well as I do. I thought. Then, like a beam of light shining through the clouds (cue the angelic voices), it hit me. Even though MMM knew it wasn’t just my efforts that contributed to my success, s/he was trying to give me the confidence I needed to write my speech. If I didn’t chat with MMM, I could not have given my genuine message to my community.

Although my MMM has made a huge impact on what I have achieved in my life, s/he set aside any desires for personal recognition to guide and support me while I was being recognized. Instead of seeking a place in my Oscar-esque speech (right after my director, but before my fans), my MMM was focused on lifting me up to achieve the most I could. I thought I was learning humility by recognizing others in my own achievements; little did I know that every influence others had on my life had been teaching me humility as well J.

Lesson Learned: An important part of humility is helping others achieve without seeking any credit. Acknowledging the influence others have had on your life allows you to think you are humble, but selflessly helping others succeed is how you prove it. Everything from being recognized in front of your community to an ordinary compliment is an opportunity for you to demonstrate genuine humility. The next time someone congratulates you on a job well done, don’t just think about your humility, prove it. J

Humility does not mean thinking less of yourself than of other people, nor does it mean having a low opinion of your own gifts. It means freedom from thinking about yourself at all. ~William Temple