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Monday, January 2, 2017

Setting Good Goals While Struggling with Too High Expectations

Dear Bro Jo,

 I guess I have a few general questions:

-How do you live up to (or handle) expectations?

-How can I create lasting friendships?

My parents seemingly know everyone, (in fact if we looked, I'm sure my Dad would know you!) People always say how my family is the model family. This past year my Dad has become a mission president.

My brother closest to my age (he's 20) has had morality problems all through high school, and is still struggling. He said for a while that he wanted to go on a mission...but he kept delaying a few more months. Now he says he doesn't want to go. My parents and I are living out of country, and my brother is living with one of my older sisters. It's not working out very well, and my parents are constantly on the phone talking to her about it. My family of course loves him so much. But at the same time it seems to me that everyone always acts as if he is a burden. That because he isn't fitting the perfect mold that it's costing the whole family. Don't get me wrong, I first handily know how his bad choices have hurt me.

The problem is that I feel the same. I feel like I'm just a burden to my family. With my parents assignment, they often have to go out of town to do interviews, zone conferences, or specialized training. Every time before they go out of town for a few days my Mom always says, "This is my least favorite part. I just hate leaving you alone." I know she means well, but to me it just feels like she's just saying that their whole assignment would be easier if I were already grown-up and out of the house.

Before we left to come to our mission, everyone always told me how this was going to be such an incredible opportunity. And it is! But, I don't feel like I'm progressing. In fact I feel like I'm failing in everything. My Mom just told me to set goals... Which I agree with. It's just that I honestly don't know how or what kind or anything.

President Uchtdorf's talk in Priesthood of conference where he said not to work on your appearance, but rather your actually development. I want to be better. I just can't figure out where I'm faulting and how to.

I don't want to exaggerate anything... but last school year I was bullied. I was gossiped about and ignored, when I confronted it, the girls told me that even though I was doing good things, it was the way I did it that bothered them. They told me that if I wanted to be friends with them I couldn't talk to certain people if they were around.

This year I'm the only member in my grade, (1 of 4 in the high school) The other 4 don't really seem interested in living or standing up for standards of the church. They all act as if the "HAVE" to. It really bothers me. I'll admit that I'm not always the best at defending the church either. I feel like if we want anyone in High School to view the Church in a positive light it's up to me. It's been almost a year and I still have no friends at school. I feel like for the most part people respect me, but when people are partying, drinking, doing drugs, and talking about immorality all the time, with more swearing than I could've imagined, it's hard to even want to be around people. (With that, I'm thinking about doing online high school next year to get out of this seriously pornographic atmosphere. How do you determine between where you can be a good influence and be strengthened, and where it's just going to be corrupting you?)

I still don't speak Spanish very well. And I don't go to the same ward very often, so it's hard to actually gain friendships through church either.

For the most part I feel like the missionaries ignore me. Awkward. I just want to be their little sister.
Also, ever since the time I was four I've gotten along with guys so much better than girls. But, I always feel like that's a burden to them too. They're always very accepting, and for the most part like me, but I understand they need guy time too. Then I'm pushed out of the circle again. And if we hangout it's like they don't know how to fit me in.


(Sorry for being lengthy.)

- Name Withheld

Dear NW,

I think I'm the king of unrealistic expectations.

(And I think my kids would agree!)

For myself.  My family.  Lots of people really.

All children are a burden.  We have seven.  I know whereof I speak.  HOWEVER, it's a burden we accept as parents and while we honestly have no idea what we're getting into when we start down the parenthood path, all of the frustration, hurt, pain and sadness are offset by the earthly joy and potential for eternal blessings.

What kind of growth are you hoping to make?

Knowing that will help you set goals.

One assignment I give students is the "live your life backwards" assignment. Basically I have them right down what they want people to say about them when they have died, and then we figure out how to live our lives towards that goal.

Doing something similar might really help you.

Plus, please don't forget that improvement doesn't mean we have to try to fix our flaws.  That's a fallacy that I'm afraid we've taught too many young people.  Rather than trying to fix what people may say or you may think is wrong with you (fundamentally changing who you are) it's much more productive and satisfying to discover your strengths and talents and focus on making those things stronger.

For example, if one was a talented musician but lousy athlete, rather than deride them for their lack of physical skills, we should encourage them in music.

Stuff like that.

As for your parents and all of the things going on in their lives right now ... I have a lot of questions:

How old are you?

How much longer do you have at home?

Why can't you travel with them?

Who is in charge of you while they're gone?

By the way ... when I read "I first handily know how his bad choices have hurt me" I became filled with concern for you.

Should we talk about that?

Improve the Shining Moments,  little sister.  Don't let them pass you by.

- Bro Jo

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