The Best Advice

I have had countless experiences in my life that have brought feelings of nervousness, anxiety, and tension.  Stage performances, exams, homework assignments, public speaking, and injuries to name a few.  Until a few years ago I didn’t have a clue how to handle those feelings.  Of course I didn’t want those emotions to have a hindering effect on me, but how was I supposed to control that?  I would pace back and forth, sing a song in my head, exercise, and listen to calming music.  Although these options worked at times, they hardly ever worked minutes before the experience actually happened.

A few years ago I was given some of the best advice I’ve ever received.  I have used it before every single event that brought feelings of anxiety, high pressure, and nervousness.  I have used the advice in my daily life when dealing with work, school, and other typical things.  I was told “one cannot feel nervous when they feel grateful”.  For me, this guidance has proven to work 100% of the time.

While preparing for Miss Utah a few years ago, I practiced interviewing at least once a day.  Sometimes these interviews would last ten minutes, other times they would last over an hour.  I would interview myself in the car, ask neighbors and friends to interview me, ask family and friends to interview me, watch and read news articles, and form an opinion on anything and everything. I could be asked anything from, “What would you do with a red crayon right now?” to “What is your definition of gender?” and “Who is the greatest influence on your life and why?”  The interview portion of the Miss America Organization competition accounts for a large portion of a contestant’s overall score and I wanted to make sure I was prepared to handle anything the judges threw at me.  

An hour before my interview for Miss Utah, I started to feel extremely nervous.  I started to question whether or not I had done enough, prepared enough, watched enough news and read enough articles.  My thoughts became cloudy and I thought my interview would end quite poorly.  Another thirty minutes passed and I still felt anxious.  

Then, I remembered the counsel I was given by a dear friend.  “One cannot feel nervous when they feel grateful.”  I quickly began to think about all that I am grateful for– my family, my friends, my religion, the life-changing experiences that led me to Miss Utah, the support I felt, the opportunity that I had to participate in the competition… I could go on forever.  Suddenly, my nerves were gone.  I felt such peace and comfort as I prepared to walk into my interview a few minutes later.

My interview went better than planned and I felt at ease the entire time.  Prior to my interview, I felt grateful for every experience in my life.  I knew that those experiences had shaped me to be the person I was that day– and I was proud of the girl I saw in the mirror.

Now I’m offering this counsel to you.  “One cannot feel nervous when they feel grateful.”  Take it or leave it, I don’t mind either way.  This single sentence has helped me to overcome some of the biggest obstacles in my life and it will continue to do so as I keep that thought close to my heart.  Today, I still experience feelings of nervousness, anxiety, and tension at times.  I know I’m not perfect; I’m learning and growing and I will continue to do so forever.  I cannot avoid those feelings all together, but I can do my best to numb the hindering effects those emotions can have on me.

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