Friday, October 4, 2013

What I Want My Own Little Monster to Know About Dreams, College, and the Future (+ a $50 Visa Gift Card Up for Grabs)



Sam and I were recently given a copy of Monsters University (which comes out on Blu-ray this month) to watch together.  I have to admit that at first, I was skeptical... A movie about college, for toddlers?  But Sam loved the adorable and hilarious characters, and I found its overall message really positive and thought-provoking.  So much so, in fact, it made me want to jot down a few things for my own little monster to read one day...  

Dear Sam,

I know you are only two years old right now and talking to you about the future and your education and hopes and dreams seems a little bit ridiculous, but bear with me here for a few minutes...  This is important stuff, and a tiny bit of me fears that I, too, will become one of the disillusioned parents caught up in the rat-race of test scores, GPAs, and college-acceptance letters somewhere in the next sixteen years. Promise me you'll pull this out then, ok?

First, let me tell you a little bit about your mama when she was younger...  (For context, of course!)

I was a really good girl in high school.  I had an impressive resume, a lot of "titles," and I was in all the "smart classes."  BUT, I didn't make the best grades ever.  They weren't BAD grades, but they weren't straight As by any stretch.  My SAT (oh, be glad you don't know what those are yet) scores weren't that good either.  Average.  Just average.  

Most of my friends thought I was really smart; but, the truth was, I just worked really hard.  I also got stressed out a lot and had crying fits to my mom and dad at midnight on the night before a big test.  It really wasn't very pretty.
My junior year of high school, after a good friend who was a year older than me got accepted there, I set my sites on Clemson University in South Carolina.  It met all of my criteria for college -- it had a reputable name, a big alumni/football fan base, just the right number of students, a beautiful campus, a cute mascot, and really great school colors.  BUT, when senior year started, my guidance counselor told me she didn't think I could get in.  She said I had a "50/50 shot" which was NOT good enough for me.

I wasn't used to not getting what I wanted (some might even have called me spoiled), so I considered not even applying to Clemson.  There were other "safer" schools closer to home/ my family/ my boyfriend (who is now your daddy)/ etc. where I wouldn't run the risk of being disappointed.  But, I did it anywayI wrote a personal statement about my hatred for ketchup, sought out good recommendation letters from my favorite teachers, and prayed... a lot.

And... Well, you already know the outcome of this story - I got in.  
It's kind-of a boring story actually, isn't it?  I promise, at the time, it felt very dramatic.

Anyway, here's the point: When I first got to Clemson, I struggled a little bit.  I got some really low grades on papers I had written, and (if I'm really being honest with myself) I had a hard time being the low "man" on the totem pole.  At Clemson, no one cared that I had been the editor of the newspaper or a Senior class officer.  There were thousands (literally) of people smarter and more "impressive" than me.  That stings a little bit for a first-born overachiever - something tells me, you might understand one day.

My first semester was really hard.  On top of all that, I was homesick and struggling to redefine myself outside of my comfort zone.  It was so hard, in fact, that I filled out transfer applications to two of the colleges I had considered my "safe" schools before.  To this day, I think if either of those schools had accepted mid-year transfers, my entire life might have been different...

Somewhere around the spring of that year, things started to click a little bit more.  One of the big things was realizing that I didn't have to be THE best, I just had to be MY best.  (FYI: This is a lesson I have had to learn over and over and over again in just about every realm of my life.  Learn.it.fast.)  This freed me up to actually learn in my classes instead of just trying to memorize what would be on the tests.  It also gave me the courage to try things like the club lacrosse team (hilarious, I know) and Young Life leadership that I didn't make time for before.  By the end of that first year, I was crying when my parents came to pick me up and take me home for the summer.  I had made good friends (friends that are still my closest today), I had a better understanding of myself, and - shockingly - I actually made MUCH better grades when I wasn't stressing so much.


So... what do I want you to know about dreams, college, and the future?  Oh, where do I begin?  

- I want you to know, first and foremost, that your daddy and I are and will be proud of you no matter what road you take in life.  I went to college far away from home, and tried to fully experience all the traditional things about college like living in a dorm, staying up all night in the library, and sharing a bathroom with four girls.  Daddy lived off campus all four years, and worked the whole time he was a student.  But, you know what?  We both LOVED our college experience.  They were valuable and right for us.  We thought college was great and would be so happy to see you pave your own path in that direction; but, we're also happy with other roads too.  We will FULLY support you whether you choose college or not and will always be proud of you for traveling in the direction of what you love. (We promise to also be the biggest fans, even if you choose a school other than Tech or Clemson!)

- I also want you to know that this time is s.h.o.r.t., and it really isn't worth it to spend it stressed out and anxious.  I learned this the hard way buddy; but, take my word for it... Grades and test scores and impressive resumes are NOT the most important things in this world.  They are good things, and fine things to strive for, but they aren't the bottom line.  You are SO MUCH MORE than the numbers on your transcript or your class rank.  Don't let yourself be defined by those things, ok?  Be defined by how you care about people, and how you love what you do.  Those things will get you SO much farther than a high GPA.  I promise.  (This is totally going to bite me in the butt one day, isn't it.)

- And finally, Sam, I want you to know that FALLING isn't the same as FAILINGThere are going to be bumps in the road bud.  There might even be some pretty big pot-holes.  There will be people that want to tell you your dreams are too big, too far-fetched, too hard -- DON'T listen to them.  When you fall down, you get back up.  (Oh, the bruises on your knees are a testament to the fact that you're quite good at this already.) When things don't go as you'd planned, you enjoy the scenery on the detour and you KEEP ON DRIVING.  Believe in yourself, never give up on your dreams.
I love you little monster, and I can't wait to see what your dreams and your future holds! (Ok, I can wait... I lied.) 

Love,
Mom

Let's be honest, Sam is going to grow up in a world where second graders know what college they want to go to and what they have to do to get there.  My prayer for him is that, in the midst of all those pressures and expectations, he doesn't lose his ability to dream big.  While I think Monsters University is a great movie for families with a fun storyline that even the littlest of monsters can enjoy, it is a movie I want to OWN because it's message is so powerful and it opens so many doors for conversations with kids about education, the future, and believing in yourself.  It will, for sure, be a part of our video library! 

(Here's a little sneak peek for ya!)


 

Want to win a Monsters University Blu-ray Combo Pack AND a $50 Visa Gift Card?  Simply visit the Monsters University website (here) and leave a comment on this post answering the question How did you believe in yourself and achieve your dream?

I can't wait to read all your stories!

Rules:
No duplicate comments.
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
b) Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “”#SweepstakesEntry”"; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post”
c) Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
d) For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.
The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from 10/3/13 – 11/3/13.
Be sure to visit the Monsters University Page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win!


76 comments:

  1. First of all, I love Monsters U! Such a cute movie! I worked so hard to get where I am today - was not brought up with money so pretty much worked full time while attending college to have a better life. I am proud of where I came from and proud of where I am today! If it wasn't for my Mom pushing me that I could do anything I may not be the person I am today.

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  2. I could write about how I believed in myself throughout college, but the most important situation (to me) was my decision to travel solo to Colorado & Utah this summer. I was so scared that something would happen-- and I have a serious fear of planes-- but I'm so glad I didn't let my fears stop me. It was all worth it when I stood on the summit of Pikes Peak, realizing that my dream of someday standing on the top of a mountain had come true!

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  3. I believe it was a matter of filtering out all the other people's voices and tuning into His voice. Half way through college I was just about to burn out. I was feeling conflicted about the ladder chasing/dog eat dog aspects of my industry. Then when my dream became His dream, it all made sense and gave me the second wind to finish what I had started. Fulfilling one's calling is much more rewarding than some 60 hour work week for the big bucks. Our family would LOVE to see Monsters U together at home :)

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  4. I think the number 1 reason I have achieved my dreams is having supportive parents! Jen

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  5. I think its important to not do what is the easy choices, or what everyone else is doing, but what is right for you. I think I've had a better attitude and time of it after I made that discovery.

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  6. Haven't achieved my dream yet, but I stay positive and don't let others influence me in a negative way.
    jslbrown_03 at yahoo dot com

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  7. tweet - https://twitter.com/LuLu_Brown24/status/386228346910023680
    jslbrown_03 at yahoo dot com

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  8. Tweet
    https://twitter.com/clc408/status/386265007287058433

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  9. I have achieved many dreams in my lifetime, both big and small. Hard work and staying positive have allowed me to do so.

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  10. Such a cute post! Sam will treasure that letter :)

    Can you please post your personal statement about your hatred for ketchup? I'm intrigued!

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  11. I struggled to believe in myself prior to having children, as odd as it sounds becoming a Mother gave me a new found confidence. I try to be the best version of myself possible so that I can be a role model to my children.

    mummytotwoboys@yahoo.com

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  12. Tweeted

    https://twitter.com/mummytotwoboys1/status/386298490537512960
    mummytotwoboys@yahoo.com

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  13. I achieved my dream of being a stay-at-home mom! My husband went to school while working full-time to switch careers. Then we moved to a different state and I was able to quit my job and stay home with our daughter. I love it! It meant so much to me to have my mom home when I was growing up, and I wanted the same for my daughter. So now we have it!

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  14. E, I'll be real. I'm in my mid-20s, not blessed with children quite yet and am totally interested in watching this. Not embarassed to love antimated movies =)

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  15. After my parents divorced when I was 6, I had to leave the US to live in South America with my mother. During the 2 years I lived there, I completely forgot how to speak English. I returned to the US and had to go back to school, absolutely terrified because I didn’t understand a word that anyone was saying to me. But I worked hard to regain my language skills and believed I would catch up. Two years later I won the award for top English student in my grade. This was my dream come true. The boy who won the Math and Science awards that year went on to Harvard years later, so those awards were very prestigious. No matter how unattainable a goal seems, you can’t ever give up.

    mami2jcn at gmail dot com

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  16. tweet:

    https://twitter.com/mami2jcn/status/386480436349632513

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  17. I believed in myself when I graduated from college working full time and taking care of my baby at the same time. Being optimistic and working hard really helped me

    elena150980@yahoo.com

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  18. https://twitter.com/ElenaIstomina/status/386503077429121024

    elena150980@yahoo.com

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  19. That is such a sweet letter to Sam. He is lucky to have a momma as great as you!

    I believed in myself and my dream because of other people who believed in me and my dream. I'm not sure I would have gone through with what I wanted to do without being surrounded by people telling me that I could do it. I am so glad that I did. :]

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  20. I achieved my dream by believing in myself and having the confidence to complete what I set out to do.

    s2s2 at Comcast dot net

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  21. https://twitter.com/susan1215/status/386640054325506048

    s2s2 at Comcast dot net

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  22. it took a lot of counseling intense therapy for me to realize how to truly love myself

    vanitizebaby@yahoo.com

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  23. tweet https://twitter.com/MeandBells/status/386872930312798208

    vanitizebaby@yahoo.com

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  24. I really wanted to earn my degree in college so I worked 2 jobs went to school and planned a wedding at the same time. I would love to finish up one day and get my bachelor degree! amypugmire@live.com

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  25. tweet
    https://twitter.com/1amypugmire/status/386971967288397824

    amypugmire@live.com

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  26. That is such a sweet letter to Sam. He is lucky to have a mom as awesome as you!

    I believed in myself and my dream because of my family and friends who always encouraged me to do my best and to do whatever I wanted. Without them who knows where I would be today!

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  27. Tweet: https://twitter.com/OneFrugalGirl/status/387209107855265793
    onefrugalgirl AT gmail DOT com

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  28. By surrounding myself with positivity and positive people who believe in me.
    onefrugalgirl AT gmail DOT com

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  29. Commitment, grace, and following the Lord.
    dianazylow at gmail dot com

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  30. I haven't reached it yet but believing in myself helps me know I will get there

    fmd518 at gmail dot com

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  31. I grew up knowing that I'd need to finance college myself, so I worked really hard in high school to get high scores and then I worked equally hard to source out scholarships. It took a lot of discipline, dedication and perseverance but I'm so glad I was willing to put in that effort because it paid off and allowed me to go to one of the top journalism schools and take out very few loans!

    lifeblessons -at- gmail.com

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  32. I was laid off two years ago twice in a row. It was devastating at first and I completely lost my confidence. But I have since built my own business and it is the best thing that ever happened to me. It is a continuing process but I am so glad I built back up my confidence to achieve my dream.

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  33. https://twitter.com/elm028/status/388340264231653377

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  34. I believe in myself because I know I am loved and I achieve my dream by expecting the hard way ahead and taking one bite at a time.

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  35. -https://twitter.com/tcarolinep/status/388497148423057408

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  36. I believe I can succeed and I put my heart into everything I do. Set a goal and take action for my dream.
    tina19820115@gmail.com

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  37. https://twitter.com/HappyTina0115/status/389487402600783872
    tina19820115@gmail.com

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  38. I create goals based on my dreams and set a plan into action with the end in mind. My latest dream achieved was finishing my degree while working full time :)
    lynnbulk83 at yahoo

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  39. https://twitter.com/lynnlynnbobin/status/390473129002168320

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  40. I always wanted to be a teacher. Two weeks before I graduated high school life through me a curve and I was diagnosed with Lupus. I wasn’t able to go to college then or later, but later as a wife and mom (a dream I didn’t even know I had) I have fulfilled that dream. I “teach”, though it may be life lessons, without a degree.

    zuzu.wilson(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  41. Tweet: https://twitter.com/Zuzuz_Petalz/status/392247677024366592

    zuzu.wilson(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  42. I believe in my self and achieve my dreams by having positive self talk, and reflecting on all of the things I have been able to accomplish in the past.

    Thanks for the chance to win!
    wildorchid985 at gmail dot com

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  43. tweet--https://twitter.com/WildOrchid985/status/392312697846374400

    wildorchid985 at gmail dot com

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  44. Knowing that I had to pay for my graduate degree (and undergraduate), I worked as many as 3 jobs while going to school full time. It was hard, but it was worth it! Thanks kmassman gmail

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  45. I achieved my dreams because I reminded myself "just keep swimming... just keep swimming". I put myself through university and became a teacher (with debt that I have thankfully since paid off). mybabyappleseed(at)yahoo(dot)ca

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  46. https://twitter.com/SowDandelions/status/392558464884420608 mybabyappleseed(at)yahoo(dot)ca

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  47. i think making is really try even if u do not get it right the first time

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  48. https://twitter.com/purplelover04/status/391673726388822016

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  49. I had some weight to lose and with the power of prayer, positive thinking and believing in myself I was able to achieve my goal!
    nuthouse(at)centurytel(dot)net

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  50. tweeted: https://twitter.com/KerryBishop/status/394450912745246721
    nuthouse(at)centurytel(dot)net

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  51. by believing in God and never giving up
    MCantu1019 at aol dot com

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  52. I became a mom at for the first time at 18 and though I had lost out on my dream of becoming a nurse. It took years but with lots of dedication I finally was able to graduate from nursing school.

    lisalmg25 at gmail dot com

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  53. I Tweeted: https://twitter.com/lisalmg/status/396807675389833216

    ReplyDelete
  54. Everything I have achieved has been the result of the lessons I learned along the way. I did fail a few times, but I picked myself up and kept going.

    willitara [at] gmail [dot] com

    ReplyDelete
  55. Tweet - https://twitter.com/willitara/status/396904361680318464

    willitara [at] gmail [dot] com

    ReplyDelete
  56. By taking a risk at rejection. I submitted some of my photography to be considered for a calendar this year and it was terrifying. I faced a fear. And it paid off too as they accepted one for print!
    Angie
    14earth at gmail dot com

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  57. I tweeted here: https://twitter.com/MsTofuFairy/status/396989900752297984
    Angie
    14earth at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  58. No matter what the obstacles and there are many, I believe in myself and have picked myself up and keep striving for my dreams
    njharmonyg@aol.com

    ReplyDelete
  59. tweet https://twitter.com/hburmeister/status/397002767958409216
    njharmonyg@aol.com

    ReplyDelete
  60. I believe in myself and achieve my dreams by understanding that what I have to contribute is of value and by surrounding myself with positive thoughts and, better yet, positive, supportive friends.

    deeg131 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  61. i have achieved a good life and happy family through hard work and caring!

    debbiebellows (at) gmail (dot) com

    ReplyDelete
  62. tweeted https://twitter.com/DeeGee13/status/397085970048102400

    deeg131 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  63. i posted a tweet:

    https://twitter.com/bellows22/status/397086909832257536

    debbiebellows (at) gmail (dot) com

    ReplyDelete
  64. My grandmother who believed in me and encouraged me to follow my dreams

    tbarrettno1 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  65. tweet https://twitter.com/ChelleB36/status/397113558447570944


    tbarrettno1 at gmail dot com

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  66. My parents taught me to believe in my self and I worked hard to achieve my dream.

    rounder9834 @yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  67. https://twitter.com/thomasmurphy40/status/397117254086569984

    rounder9834 @yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  68. 25 years ago I didn't think I could sing, but I took singing lessons, joined two choirs and have been singing ever since.
    Thanks for the contest.

    slehan at juno dot com

    ReplyDelete
  69. I try not to give up and to fight for what I want!


    pokergrl8 at gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  70. https://twitter.com/aes529/status/397150399242575872
    pokergrl8 at gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  71. https://twitter.com/slehan/status/397150656714133504

    slehan at juno dot com

    ReplyDelete
  72. when i was a single mom my dream was to be able to finish college which i did with determination and support from family pryfamily5@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  73. i tweeted https://twitter.com/pryfamily5/status/397135394317533184 pryfamily5@gmail.com

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  74. Ambition and confidence always are good

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  75. https://twitter.com/electricstar/status/397216218995621888

    ReplyDelete

Your comments are what makes this thing fun! I LOVE to hear from you and do my best to respond to everyone! THANK YOU!


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