Thank goodness for nostalgia

This might get sappy. 

I was fortunate enought to have an epiphany in 2009 at the ripe age of 17. I had no idea who I was or what I wanted out of life. I was self-conscious, a little awkward and second guessed most things that came out of my mouth. I applied for several camps to attend–mainly leadership based–during the summer of 2009.

I was selected as an alternate for The Mississippi Governor’s School two weeks or so before the session began. I had no idea what to expect, but I knew that three weeks out of the summer before my senior year was a lot to sacrifice. Little did I know the impact those short three weeks would have on my happiness, my character and my aspirations.

Here’s a brief timeline of my MGS tenure:

  • 2009 – I was selected as a scholar
  • 2010 – I was selected as a Resident Assistant in Training
  • 2011 – I was selected as a Resident Assistant for my very own wing of amazing ladies!
  • 2012 – I was selected as the MGS intern and as a Leadership Facilitator

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Through my various experiences and roles within this program, I realized a few things. Hence, my cardinal rules of MGS:

  1. You have to take chances…if you’re comfortable all of the time, you’re not doing life right 
  2. There will be tears-happy ones, sad ones, angry ones, ones of self-doubt
  3. Summer camp will always be a romantic setting, and you will fall in love
  4. The people who devote a few weeks out of their life to something as special as this program are some of the greatest people on earth
  5. You will meet your best friends (who you WILL stay in touch with) because of this program
  6. Leadership is about so much more than taking personality tests and facilitating icebreakers; I learned this through experiences with people who were 4 years younger than me
  7. Lessons will be learned that cannot be expressed through mere words, so I won’t even attempt to do so
  8. Columbus, Mississippi is one of the hottest places on earth
  9. Laugh with everyone you can, even if you get flustered and tired
  10. Express exactly how you feel exactly when you feel it

Gov School granted me confidence in so many ways. I can’t express enough accolades for the program nor can I affirm the people I have met through it enough. I have met my best friends, my mentors, and built a support system because of MGS. I hope the scholars of 2013 leave with the same experience.

Battles, skeletons, whatever

If you’re not conspicuously fighting it, you’re probably hiding it.

We are quick to judge someone based on his/her appearance or by what we have heard about them from “trusted sources.” What I have learned is that by living this way, we limit ourselves to the scope of people we interact with. I would argue that if most people were asked about what they were most proud of, they would admit their individualism takes the cake. In my opinion, we subconsciously end up homogenizing ourselves with those who we are most comfortable to be acquainted with.

For instance, I was always told that I would “find myself” in college. I’m not certain that I have completely found out who Erin Kenna is, but I’m striving each day to learn something new about myself. I like to think that I skip to the beat of my own drum; I have a feeling we all like to think that. Ideally, we could walk around in whatever clothes–or lack thereof–we decided to throw on without a second thought. (I have a feeling a small minority of the US population does this, hence People of Walmart.)

Societal norms hinder us from attempting to branch out even more. We are constantly concerned with what someone else might assume if we do something slightly out of “normal” character. The summer camp I have had the opportunity to work for hosted classes in psychology and philosophy which asked the question “What is Normal?” This question stumped the scholars. Let’s be real, I don’t know how to answer this one. Is it what society tells us normal should be? Am I normal? Am I abnormal?

And who’s to say that we should have the power to judge others based on superficial aspects? I know that some of the people in my life are probably battling a war within themselves that I can’t even fathom.

This is confusing. My MAIN POINT is that we should take the time to broaden our friendship horizons. We should pick out the positive attributes about a fellow human versus focusing and obsessing over the flaws. We all have flaws. We can’t help it. I’m making it a point to get outside of my friendship safety net. Would you like to join?