By Joan Marlow

Sad to say, but many times when we look in the mirror, the thoughts and words that are expressed might not be the most positive, kind and loving.  Humans have a tendency to be their own worst critics.  We’re quick to think we aren’t pretty enough, smart enough; we think we’re too shy, too fat, too thin, too slow, my hair’s too curly/too straight….  Even when someone gives us a compliment, our thoughts might go to, ‘yea, but……’ and we think of ways we haven’t measured up to whatever we think we should be or be able to do OR what we think others think of us.  If you have ever had one of those negative mirror conversations, it might be time to switch perspectives.

2021 has offered up some challenges impacted by the ongoing pandemic and political / social unrest.  It’s also offered for me, a couple of amazing, inspiring young ‘heroes’ who have demonstrated how to tackle and move an adversity into the win-win-win columns of life. I’m talking about Amanda Gorman and Brayden Harrington. They were introduced to the world during the January 20 Inauguration of President Biden.

  • Amanda Gorman, the 22-yr old first National Youth Poet Laureate, recited an original poem asking each of us to ‘Be the Light.’
  • Brayden Harrington, a 13-yr old from New Hampshire, recited a powerful segment of JFK’s 1961 inaugural address during the Inaugural Ball.

What you might not know is that they both have a speech impediment…Amanda’s ‘special difficulty’ was not being able to say the letter ‘R’; Brayden is a stutterer.

Sit back for a moment and think about their lives in school and subsequent peer pressure.  Think about what happens in your school and your environment:  Being made of fun of, bullied, passed over, treated as being ‘less than,’ or worse.  I could say ‘put yourself in their shoes,’ but you might be in their shoes if you present a ‘special difficulty’ like stuttering, anxiety, depression, weight issues, needing more time to complete your work, ‘fill in the blank.’  Even if this is the case, you have a choice (you always have choices…sometimes difficult to see, but they’re there).  You might become more reclusive or become more deeply ingrained in depression and personal sadness OR you might decide it’s time to flex your resilience muscles.

Amanda and Brayden both found inner strengths and pumped up their resilience muscle to get beyond their adversities.