Editor's Note: This is a guest post written by third year delegate Emily Seabaugh.
If you know me, you probably know that I have a passion for a magical program called LYS. I have gone for the last three years. I have learned some incredible lessons. Here is a very detailed list of the ones I consider the most important:
· Being your true self is absolutely incredible. At LYS, there is an environment where everyone’s ideas and views are valued. No matter what you are interested in, you can fit in at LYS. Everyone is so accepting of everyone else. The environment has inspired me to carry that “LYS Emily” with me wherever I go.
· Dreams don’t work unless you do. At LYS, there is an involvement session called “From Dreams to Reality” which has always inspired me. At the 2016 session of LYS, it did something more. This year really opened my eyes to the fact that if you don’t have a plan, then your dream is just a dream. I ended up making a long term plan to make my dream of working for Disney a reality.
· Eye contact is important. Another session I really love is called “Dyadic Encounter.” This is a session where you have a meaningful conversation with a complete stranger. One of the rules in the session is to try to maintain eye contact as much as possible. My partner was very good at doing that. I realized that I left the conversation feeling better than I did when it began. I figured out that this is because, when you maintain eye contact, it lets the person you are speaking to know that you are listening and care about what they are telling you. I think that something as small as eye contact can go a long way…. Leading me into my next point.
· A small gesture can go a very long way. Whether it’s a positive or negative gesture, either can go just as far. This year at LYS, I broke my foot, therefore needed a lot of assistance throughout the week. So many people at LYS were kind enough to get me a chair, carry my bags, or even dance with me at banquet. These small gestures made my week at LYS what it was. (The opposite is also true. If you are rude to someone, that could ultimately ruin their day.)
· Getting out of your comfort zone changes everything. Walking into LYS, I never expected to be confident enough to give a speech in front of 150+ people, lead chants, or pour my heart into people I met less than a week ago. As the week went on, I: started leading cheers, signed up to run for office, and cried with people I once considered strangers. All this to say that none of those things were origninally in my comfort zone. By the end of the week, they became my favorite things to do. Taking a step out of your comfort zone can mean the difference between a great week and a boring week. Which leads me to the next point...
· You can bring a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink. There are people who give LYS their all and get really into it, and there are people who are more interested in getting sleep than enjoying LYS. By the end of the week, some people have changed from the uninterested person to the person who is giving LYS their all. However, some are still too concerned with sleeping. I learned that, in the end, you can’t be too concerned with how others are spending their opportunities. You should worry about having the best time for yourself and let them decide for themselves.
· Joy and enthusiasm are contagious. The LYS councilors and returning delegates are super pumped about everything. This joy then spreads to the new delegates who then spread it to other new delegates and so on. This is a phenomenon described in one of my favorite cheers as “that LYS Feeling.” When you’re at LYS, you can’t help but feel “that LYS Feeling” of joy and enthusiasm.
· The best friends are the unexpected ones. As said before, I broke my foot at LYS this year, so I got the LYS medical team to help me out. Also, many awesome councilors and delegates helped me out throughout the week as well. I became so close with so many councilors and delegates and all of them mean so much to me. They made LYS 2016 what it was.
My point is that I did not expect to break my foot or have the chance to talk to many of them as I walked into LYS 2016. I’m honestly thankful for my injury because without it, I wouldn’t have made as many special friends.
· Do not let one small problem keep you from enjoying your experiences. With the broken foot scenario, there were moments when I wanted to pack up and go back to Shreveport. There were many more moments when there was a little voice inside my head telling me that I should stay because LYS is truly worth it. I am thankful that I stayed because, despite the injury, LYS 2016 rocked my socks.
· In order to be a successful leader, you must have integrity, optimism and enthusiasm. This one is pretty self explanatory. Jay Dardenne came to opening convocation this year and gave a speech about qualities all true leaders possess: integrity, optimism, and enthusiasm. These three words were ringing in the back of my head all throughout the week of LYS.
· No man is an island. Everyone is going through something in their life. Nobody needs any more negativity in their lives than they already have. Instead of being mean to one another, we should encourage each other and spread the love. If we all live out the words, the world would be a much nicer place to live.
No man is an island,
No man stands alone
Each man’s joy is joy to me,
Each man’s grief is my own.
We need one another,
so I will defend
each man as my brother,
each man as my friend.