Saturday, December 31, 2016

10 Reasons I Love twenty one pilots

If you have been within earshot of me within the past four months, odds are you have heard me listening to twenty one pilots. Or singing along with them. Or talking about them. Or listening to them while singing along while talking about them in between lyrics.

My biggest regret in life is that I only discovered them a few months ago. I'm kind of joking but also kind of really not joking. My little sister began listening to them a couple of years ago and even though she went on and on to me about how great they were, I shrugged her off. WHY, ANNE, WHY?

(Sigh.) But I digress.

The important thing is that I'm listening to them now and I just need to tell people about them.

I titled this post "10 Reasons I Love twenty one pilots" because there are too many reasons I listen to them to fit into one concise, readable post that a normal person could actually get through, so I had to limit myself. (Read: I will most likely write more posts in the future about the band.)

For those unaware, twenty one pilots is a band from Ohio originally formed in 2009 and turning into what it is today in 2011, consisting of song writer/lead singer/ukulele master Tyler Joseph and drummer/hair dye specialist Josh Dun. Their genre is...hard to pinpoint. I guess to put it simply, it could be generalized as rock/hip hop/alternative/rap/electropop/indie pop/ukulele screamo.

OK. 10 Reasons I Love twenty one pilots.

1. Tyler and Josh are best friends. And yeah, I guess it's not uncommon for band members to become really good friends, but Tyler and Josh are bromance worthy and it's just fun to watch them together. They really care about each other, which translates into their music and performances. #friendshipgoals




2. Tyler plays the ukulele, which always means a good time. He also plays the piano, guitar, and probably other instruments because he is super duper talented.



3. And on that note, his cover of "Can't Help Falling in Love with You" is basically the cutest cover you'll ever hear. 

4. Josh is a crazy-good drummer. He gets really into the music and obviously loves playing.


(FYI that is a drum island they used during their Vessel tour. The audience would literally hold Josh up on a wooden board while he played. Sick.)

5. Their lyrics are just insanely good. You'll listen to a song for a while and really like it, and then once you realize the meaning you'll be blown away. Their songs really focus on things affecting Tyler's life, like doubts, fears, suicide, etc., with a lot of religious metaphors. The lyrics are deep and so, so relatable.

"I'd die for you/That's easy to say...I'd live for you/And that's harder to do"

"Sometimes quiet is violent"

"My tree house is on fire/And for some reason I smell gas on my hands/This is not what I had planned/This is not what I had planned"

"I wasn't raised in the hood/But I know a thing or two about pain and darkness"

6. Most of their songs sound pretty happy. Tyler and Josh like to put positive beats on lyrics that are a little darker because that's what life is like. A lot of people are struggling much worse than they seem to be. We often put on a happy face even when we're hurting, and I think that's an important thing to keep in mind when you interact with people. 

7. Did I mention Tyler writes all of his own songs? This guy has been writing lyrics since he was in high school, and his talent just blows me away. It is also really, really cool to see a band getting so popular be so adamant about creating the music they want to create, not necessarily the music people want to hear. Several of their songs talk about the struggle between writing music that will be popular on the radio or writing music that expresses ideas extremely important to them. I, for one, am very happy they continue to choose the latter.

8. Their concerts are an unforgettable experience. Or so I've heard. Since I came into the Skeleton Clique so recently I just missed their Blurryface tour and I'm going to miss their Emotional Roadshow tour because I can't afford a $150 scalped ticket, missing two days of school and work, and 14 hours of driving to the nearest venue they'll be at. (*tears*) But I have done a TON of research about their concerts (trying to make said experience work) and haven't found a single negative thing about them.

Tyler and Josh started playing music in front of as few as twelve people, and they have expressed in interviews how much they love intimate shows and being able to interact with fans. While small shows are a thing of the past, they have both said their main goal during their concerts is to make every audience member feel like a part of the performance. Some of their concert tools include the drum island mentioned above, giant hamster balls through the audience, and Josh's infamous piano backflips.




How they end every concert. *more tears*

9. They really care about their fans. Tyler and Josh are very humble guys to recognize that they wouldn't be anywhere without their fan base. When they accepted their award for Pop/Rock Duo or Group at the 2016 VMA's they dedicated it to their fans. I can't really put myself in the same category of fans they were dedicating that to, but it's obvious that they genuinely care about the people who care about them.

10. Their music video for "Holding Onto You." This is the first song I heard that wasn't "Stressed Out" or "Ride" (which are both really good songs, just not my favorites). This was the song that got me hooked. I'll always have that personal meaning, but regardless this is and will always be one of my favorite music videos. It is absolutely beautiful and heart-wrenching and these are some of my favorite lyrics. They really reiterate twenty one pilots' message to "stay alive".

11. So many other reasons I won't talk about right now because I promised I wouldn't. There are so many more music videos I'd like to share, so many songs I'd like to spend entire posts on, and so many cute interviews I want to throw on here because I guarantee they'll make you smile. There are also some really personal reasons twenty one pilots have been so important to me and I hope one day I have the confidence to share those with people as well.

I know this is a little fangirly and I don't usually write stuff like this, but twenty one pilots have become more than just a band to me and it was important to me that I shared some of the reasons why. I'm trying focus more on things that are important to me and being willing to talk about them instead of worrying so much about what other people think. These guys have already helped me a lot in that aspect, which is pretty incredible when you think about it. I've never met them and they've already started to change my life with the music they are creating. |-/

Monday, December 5, 2016

Go With Courage

I like to say I have the soul of a pioneer but the heart of a realist. The idea of adventure is intoxicating to me but following through creates numbing stress and sleepless nights full of worry.

I fear change.

I suppose everyone fears change to some degree—some people are just better at tackling that fear than others. I am sure that even Susa Young Gates, one of the feistiest and most outspoken women to set foot on the BYU campus, felt somewhat nervous when at age thirteen she started college at the University of Deseret. I imagine that she felt her confidence challenged a year later when she became co-editor of the college’s newspaper.

Yet we would not know her story if she had let fear define her.  

Women like Susa Young Gates inspire me. They are the feeders of my pioneer soul. A year ago I decided I needed to stop reading about their lives and live an adventure of my own. So I signed up for a four-month trip to China to teach English to children.

“No, I don’t speak Mandarin,” I would reply to everyone who asked, each question sending a mist of doubt onto the already small flame of confidence I had in my decision. No, I don’t have any friends there. No, I don’t know how I’m going to pay for it. No, I don’t have any idea what I’m doing.

I lied to everyone and told them I was excited and ready to go.

“I would never do that,” they told me. “You’re so brave.”

But I didn’t feel brave. I felt afraid.

Still I went. I look back on my time in China now with great fondness and bittersweet memory. What was once such a foreign and frightening place turned into a land of unique culture and dynamic lifestyles. Overcrowded cities shaped into mountains jutting towards the heavens in the blink of an overnight train ride. Groups of giggling teenage girls would blush furiously as they asked us in broken English for a photo, leaving with earnest cries of “Nǐ hěn piào liang!”—you are beautiful.

Just as I had sunk my teeth into this new place it was time for me to leave. Of all the changes I had feared four months earlier, the one I had not been expecting was one within myself. It changed me in ways I didn’t know needed to be changed. My confidence increased, my awareness was amplified, and my capacity to love grew.

That is the beauty of courage. I think Gates knew that. I think she knew that courage is not suddenly losing doubts and worry as a task approaches. I am sure that when she founded the Utah Women’s Press Club, when she became press chairman of the National Council of Women, when she set out to found the music department at Brigham Young Academy while still a student, Susa Young Gates felt discouragement and fear and doubt. But she knew that the results of her endeavors would mean more to the world than the lack of her actions.

Courage will change you. But I am learning that change can be good. My experience in China was the hardest thing I have ever done and the best decision I ever made. I am not the same person now that I was before. But we weren’t created to stay the same, were we? We were created to dare and to leap and to soar. We were created to be courageous. 

Saturday, November 5, 2016

China Videos

It took me five months, but I finally compiled a video about my adventures in China earlier this year! 

OK, I'm not really that bad. I made this video over the summer after I got home. I've been waiting to share it because I was hoping to post it along with a beautifully written piece about how China changed my life and all that good stuff. The article is yet to be written, so I decided to share the video to maybe give me some motivation to write about it? I hope so. 

Here's China in 30 seconds just for fun: 

And here, in all its 17 minute glory, is the longer version. There was so much I didn't put in here because 17 minutes was already long enough, but this gives a much better idea as to what my time in China was like.

Oh boy, getting a little emotional over here after watching that again. I really do miss China. It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life and I had a lot of moments where I wanted nothing more than to leave it forever and go home. But I think about China and my students every single day fondly. I miss the culture and the food (well, some of it) and the people and what an incredible place it was. I learned a lot there about other people as well as myself. 

I promise an article about my experience is in the future!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

How to be a Woman

Like every post I write that is the tiniest bit controversial, I’m going to start with a quick disclaimer. I know this isn’t true all the time, I know this is from a feminist point of view, and I know this may seem slightly exaggerated. There are a lot of people in society doing an amazing job of treating women fairly and eradicating the things on this list.

There are two points I want to make though. One is how torn women can feel about every little decision we make, from what makeup we use to how we dress to how we lead meetings at work. The second is that even if all of these don’t apply to everyone, every single woman in the world has struggled with at least a few of these points at some time in their lives.

There are always going to be judgmental people out there, so this may never completely go away. But the more aware we are of issues in our society, the better prepared we are to change them.  

How to be a Woman (A List Made by Society)

1. (And most important, obviously) Have a nice body.
2. Remember, thin is in, but
3. Real women have curves.
4. Love yourself the way you are,
5. But change if you need to impress someone, and don’t forget nothing tastes as good as thin feels.
6. Go to school, get an education so you can get a good job.
7. Oh, but if you want to have kids we won’t pay for you to have a couple months to take care of them. You’ll get fired instead.
8. But if you don’t have kids you are a terrible person. So have fun deciding.
9. P.S. Good luck with that wage gap.
10. If you dress revealing in any way, you’re a slut.
11. If you have a lot of sex, you’re a slut.
12. If you deny a man sex, you’re a slut.
13. (It’s going to be really hard for you not to be called a slut.)
14. Feminists are great.
15. Feminists just want to watch the world burn.
16. Say the right thing, but don’t talk too much or you’re annoying and a bunch of words I don’t want to say.
17. But if you don’t talk enough, you’ll be overlooked, so…yeah, moving on.
18. Let’s go back to your bodies, because we all know how much they matter. Have a tiny waist, but a big butt.
19. Have thin legs, but big boobs.
20. Except don’t show your boobs too much, or you’ll be a slut.
21. Don’t wear too much makeup or you’ll look fake.
22. But wear a lot if you’re ugly, because no one wants to see that.
23. But make sure you’re good at applying it, or you’ll just look stupid.
24. Shave. Everything.
25. (Disregard the fact that you’re human and humans grow hair.)
26. Don’t set your standards too high or you’ll just be picky and you’ll never find anyone.
27. But don’t set them too low or you’ll date jerks your whole life.
28. (But don’t actually call a guy a jerk or you’ll go back to being a slut.)
29. Be assertive, but not too assertive or you’ll be bossy.
30. Be confident, but not too confident or you’ll be arrogant.
31. Wear heels all the time, not because their practical, but because they make your legs look really good.
32. Don’t dress too comfortably, or you’re a slob.
33. But nothing too tight or you’re, guess what? A slut!
34. Don’t ignore guys when they catcall you. What do you think you deserve, respect, or something?
35. But don’t flirt with too many guys or you’re, you know, that girl.
36. Oh, and don’t get raped, because it’s probably your fault.

Have fun with life!


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

What to Know if You're Friends with an Introvert

I didn’t actually realize I was an introvert until I went to college. That may seem kind of late in life to realize the basis of who I was, but growing up in a small country community never really gave me a reason to have to choose between outgoing and shy. I went to a small high school where I knew everyone and everyone knew me. I had the same friends my senior year of high school as I did in the third grade. It wasn’t a big deal to be involved in multiple sports and clubs because I didn’t feel like I had to prove myself to anybody—everyone already knew everything about me. It was very comfortable and I loved it.

Going from a high school of fewer than 400 students to a university of 30,000 was definitely a change. Suddenly I found myself more alone than I had ever been. I had a new apartment and a new job in a new city and I was surrounded with new people who I knew nothing about. It was terrifying. The worst part was that I had to (shudder) make friends. I honestly didn’t know how to do that. Did you just walk up and say hi? Did you play hard to get? Did you offer them a treat and scratch them behind the ears? 

Through some miracle (and some very kind people) I was able to make a few friends that first week of school. Pretty soon I was being invited to parties and 1:00 a.m. capture-the-flag tournaments put on by what seemed like the entire freshman class. I found myself missing my old friends a lot at these events but I was also excited to get to know the new people who were so generously trying to include me. So I went. Every party, every game night, every late study session, I was there. That was what I was supposed to do, right? I had to have the “college experience” everyone talked about, didn’t I? All these other freshmen really seemed to be enjoying themselves. 

So why wasn’t I? 

It took me a long time to finally realize I wasn’t having fun. As the year went on I found myself skipping out on more and more parties (I was the queen of “I just got this, sorry!” texts) and wanting to hang with people less and less. Don’t get me wrong, my new friends were great. And if it was just a small group of them I had no problem socializing. It was the crowded, loud get-togethers I despised so much. But even after I understood I didn’t like big parties I still didn’t know why. 

The summer after my freshman year was when I really learned what it meant to be an introvert. I had heard the term before but never assumed it could be applied to me. When I looked into it more thoroughly it was a mind-blowing epiphany. I. Was. An. Introvert. How did I not see it before? I started reading everything I could about introverts and the more I read the more it all made sense to me.  
My greatest discovery was that it was OK to be introverted. It’s sort of a “duh” discovery, but during my entire freshman year I genuinely thought something was wrong with me because I didn’t like doing all the things "typical" college students did. Besides, college is sort of created for extroverts. A lot of your success at a university depends on how outgoing you are, how well you work with others, and how many people of importance you know. Those things aren’t impossible for introverts but they sure can be a lot harder. 

I don't in any way want to imply that my friends at college treated me poorly. They have been an incredible support system to me and I still am friends with many of them. But I thought I'd write an open letter of sorts from an introvert to any extroverts out there.

*On a quick side note, introversion and extroversion is a spectrum. Everyone has a little bit of both sides in them-- one side is just usually stronger than the other. These points aren't going to apply to every introvert out there. They apply to me personally and I consider myself pretty far up on the introvert scale, so I'm just assuming at least most of them apply to other introverts as well.

Dear Extroverts,

First of all, you're great. Like, we introverts are pretty jealous of your personalities sometimes. You are social, you're funny, you can meet a dozen new people at a party without even taking a breath-- dreams for us. But ultimately we love ourselves and have gotten very used to our personalities and the person they've made us.

The biggest reaction I get from an extrovert when I explain what it's like to be an introvert is "Wow, I never thought of it like that". So here are a few things you should know if you're friends with an introvert:

1. We need alone time. 

The biggest difference I've found between introverts and extroverts is how they regain their energy. Extroverts are energized by socializing, introverts are energized by being alone. So when we say we're tired from the party last night, it's absolutely true. Socializing makes us physically and mentally exhausted. If we say we don't want to hang out, it doesn't mean we don't like you. Well, I guess it could. But most of the time we promise it has nothing to do with you as a person. We decline spending time with our best friends because we just need an evening to ourselves.

Also, if we say we want to spend the night in don't make comments like "that's so sad". This has happened to me several times, and usually intentions are good. People who don't know me very well genuinely feel bad that I'm going to be by myself on a Friday night because that sounds like a terrible thing to them. I don't really care anymore. but it used to make me feel really uncomfortable and bad about myself. Seriously though, we are old enough to realize what we like and what we don't like. If we wanted to go out, we would.  

2. Less is more.

We like hanging out with people. But a good rule of thumb to follow is that the more people there are the more closed off we get. It just isn't worth it to have to fight our way into a conversation when there are so many different people around. If you really want to get to know us, keep it one-on-one or just a couple of people at a time. 

3. We like to listen.

We love to talk (I mean, who doesn't?), but we also really like to listen to conversations. Introverts tend to be more aware of their surroundings- facial expressions, body language, location. And we enjoy that. And please don't make a comment about how quiet we are. It is seriously the most awkward thing ever. What are we supposed to do? Apologize? Suddenly turn into this loud, crazy, outgoing person? It probably isn't meant to be rude but all it does is make us feel extremely self-conscious about ourselves. A better way to include us in a conversation is to ask us a question relevant to what everyone is talking about. But honestly, don't worry about us. We hate the idea that people think we can't take care of ourselves just because we're quiet.

4. When we do talk we can be pretty intense.

Like I said, we like to talk. And when we're in a situation where we feel comfortable we jump right into things. Small talk is the worst. We'd rather talk about politics, the economy, or go in-depth about symbolism in a book we love. Just prepared to not hear too much about the weather, unless the topic is a hurricane or record-breaking snowstorm.

5. We hate the phone

Unless it's super important, don't call us. Even if we recognize the number we'll probably just stare at the screen until it goes to voicemail. And voicemail can be just as bad because it means we have to call that person back. I always listen to my voicemail, but unless it's from a boss or has some other professional relevance, I will just text that person my response instead of calling back. Phones calls are the worst.

6. We are not going to show up without knowing someone

Even though it's not our favorite thing, we will go to parties and social events sometimes. We like human interaction and most of the time we have extroverted friends who we want to hang out with. That being said, we are not going to show up anywhere unless we are sure we're going to know someone there. If a friend invites us to a party and then says they're going to show up late we are going to find an excuse to be late as well. Or not even show up. The thought of arriving to a party full of strangers is pretty terrible. Even if there's food. 

7. Your friendship means more than you probably know.

We can be kind of hard to get used to if you're an extrovert. But we need your friendship. You get us out of our comfort zone from time to time which is good for us even if we don't like to admit it. And relationships really mean a lot to us. One of the reasons we don't like to socialize with people constantly is because we hate the idea of people acting like they really like us and then never seeing them again. When we connect with someone we want to keep that connection forever. Knowing that there is someone out there who genuinely cares about us and loves us is incredibly important to us.  

Love, Introverts

Monday, October 17, 2016

Growing Pains

I like to dabble in poetry from time to time. Here's a poem I wrote for a class a couple of years ago.

I watched the sun explode on the horizon
and you with your arms splayed
absorbing its energy one more time

we positioned ourselves on dry grass and pinecones
discussing how well the Yankees
had played yesterday

then you brought up tomorrow
how these days wouldn’t happen
and the sun hid from our faces
to avoid the silence

I said you were right
but I wasn’t going to change the world
if I stayed here

you said I could if I tried

I decided to smile instead of the alternative
and I gave him an affectionate shove
our personal “I love you”

then we raced each other down the hill
trying to outrun time
and keep its sticky fingers out of

our pockets for one more day

Saturday, September 3, 2016

5 Tips on How to Not Rape a Woman

Yesterday Brock Turner, a young man convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster in January 2015, was released from county jail after serving only half of his six-month sentence. Three months. He got three months in a county jail for doing things to an unconscious woman that a male witness couldn't describe to police without crying because of the awfulness of the scene.

In case you didn't hear the full story, on January 18, 2015, two graduate students came across Brock Turner raping a half-naked, unconscious woman behind a dumpster outside of a fraternity house near Stanford University. Turner, a freshman at the time, ran from the graduate students but they were able to catch him and hold him down until police arrived. Turner later plead not guilty to five different felony chargers, two of which were later dropped. Turner faced up to 14 years in a state prison, but was only sentenced to six months in county jail. Judge Aaron Persky thought that a longer sentence would have a "severe impact" on Turner who happened to be a very good swimmer and once aspired to compete in the Olympics, a topic that was brought up often throughout the trial.

Yesterday Brock Turner was released from county jail after serving only half of his sentence due to good behavior. He is now a registered sex offender and will be on probation for three years.

When I first wrote this article it was over 2000 words of me ranting because I feel very strongly about the injustice surrounding this case. But you know, there are plenty of articles out there for you to read that say basically the same things I was saying. How the sentence was too light, how this is incredibly disrespectful and insulting to anyone who has been sexually assaulted, how no one freaking cares that Turner was a good swimmer, etc. As a future journalist I also think it's important for people to form their own opinions based off of facts so I'm not going to spend too long telling you exactly what I think is wrong with the situation. Instead I thought it'd be a good idea to share some ways to not rape a woman because clearly there are men out there who need a refresher.

5 Tips on How to Not Rape a Woman

1. If you meet a woman who is drunk, buzzed, or intoxicated in any way, stop any sexual intentions immediately. Alcohol affects everyone differently and even a small amount can severely impact a person's decisions. If someone is drunk and says they want to repaint all the walls neon orange, you would tell them "You know, that's probably not a good idea" and tuck them into bed. The same policy applies even if the intoxicated person indicates it's OK to do something that may benefit you. And don't act like you don't know someone is drunk-- frankly you'd have to be an idiot to not see that. A drunk woman saying yes is not the same as a sober person saying yes and should not be taken as such.

2. On that note, consent is not a one-time word. After Brock Turner changed his story a couple of times he decided that the victim had actually said yes to what he was doing to her. I just want to clear this up Brock, was that before or after she passed out? A woman needs to constantly be consenting to what is happening. That doesn't mean she has to say "this is fine" every two seconds, but if she ever asks to stop or slow down, or I don't know, FALLS UNCONSCIOUS you need to stop. Even if a woman eagerly agrees to sex she has the right to stop any time she wants. The second a woman stops consenting is the second it becomes rape.

3. Learn the definition of rape. Brock Turner told investigators that he was fondling the woman but they never actually had sex. Guess what Brock? Still rape. The United State Department of Justice's definition of rape is “The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” So while it's true that Brock never actually took off his pants he is undeniably guilty of raping this woman and needs to stop claiming that he isn't.

4. If you're doing anything with a woman and she passes out, get help. Oh my gosh, this one is so obvious it's painful. Passing out is not a woman's way of saying "do whatever you want to me". Passing out means something is wrong and you should get medical help for that woman immediately. The victim did not regain consciousness until she arrived at the hospital later that day. Authorities repeatedly tried to wake her at the scene but were unable to do so. She even vomited while staying unconscious. It couldn't have been more obvious that she was in no state to consent to what was happening. 

5. You are NEVER privileged enough to justify rape. It doesn't matter if you are wealthy, intelligent, or a really good swimmer (sorry Brock), there is never a reason to rape someone and get away with it. And while Brock technically didn't get away with it (remember those three months in jail he served? I know, it went by so fast I almost forgot, but it actually did happen), countless people do. According to the U.S. Department of Justice "About 20 million out of 112 million women in the United States have been raped during their lifetime." The real statistic is most likely higher because many women never report their sexual assaults due to various reasons including fear, embarrassment, and/or the long and often difficult process of convicting their attacker. Brock Turner was able to hire a very good lawyer who, according to the victim, made the entire ordeal terrible. In her words,

"I was pummeled with narrowed, pointed questions that dissected my personal life, love life, past life, family life, inane questions, accumulating trivial details to try and find an excuse for this guy who had me half naked before even bothering to ask for my name. After a physical assault, I was assaulted with questions designed to attack me, to say see, her facts don’t line up, she’s out of her mind, she’s practically an alcoholic, she probably wanted to hook up, he’s like an athlete right, they were both drunk, whatever, the hospital stuff she remembers is after the fact, why take it into account, Brock has a lot at stake so he’s having a really hard time right now."

Her entire letter to Brock Turner is available here and definitely worth a read if you still need to be convinced that any of this is OK.

Brock Turner got off easy. He will one day lead on ordinary life and will meet people who will never know what he did. But the victim of his actions will never forget what he did. She is permanently changed and scarred from what Turner's father described as "20 minutes of action". Rape takes two people, but will always affect one of those people more than it affects the other. And often that person is left forgotten to pick up the pieces of their shattered life and try to put themselves back together while the person responsible for it all gets to hold little or no responsibility for what they've done. All I can hope now is that somewhere inside Brock Turner knows the gravity of his mistake and at the very least never does something like this again. To his victim, I hope you know that millions of people are rallying behind you and supporting you the best we can during this time of injustice. There is no way to take back what has been done, only look forward and hope that change is in the future.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Learning How To Fly

When I was 14, my grandfather (who had been a Navy pilot during World War II) took my family to a small airport in Colorado and told us we were going to learn how to fly an airplane.
Being the over-analyzer that I am, I immediately began to worry about what it was going to be like when I crashed the plane and died. A bit irrational, perhaps, but how could I, a 14-year-old with no experience whatsoever with planes, be expected to know by the end of the day how to fly one? It seemed impossible.
However, he was my grandfather and being one of the sweetest people I know, there was no way I could chicken out of an activity he had loved so dearly. After finding out that I was not going to have to take off with or land the plane, my fear of imminent death was quickly cut in half. I was still, though, quite afraid of what was going to happen next.
After an hour of verbal instruction, we were each assigned a pilot who took us to our respective planes, and before I knew it I was in the air. If my pilot sensed my anxiety, he did not show it. We went up, down, right, left, and every direction in between. After about ten minutes of me gripping onto my seat for dear life, the pilot yelled to me, “Now, when I give you the controls, I will you say ‘your plane’ and you reply by saying ‘my plane’. Got it?”
I nodded.
“Your plane!” the pilot bellowed, beginning to take his hands off the wheel.
“My plane!” I croaked, clutching the joystick as hard as I possible could.
To my amazement, the plane did not begin to smoke and spiral out of control. The joystick felt strong in my hands, and I was suddenly very calm. As I looked out the window and saw the rolling hills and clouds beneath me, I realized something.
I was flying.
It is very hard to put into words what that experience was like. I was effortlessly soaring across a world that only moments before had seemed so full of disappointment and trials, yet now appeared so conquerable. I felt like I could do anything.
What had I been so afraid of?
Even though I now know exactly what flying feels like, I have to admit that attempting to fly in a metaphorical sense is still very daunting to me. The fear of falling short in any endeavor is often enough to cause me to not even try.
Although I am not the prime example of taking flight, there are many noble men and women dotted throughout the history of Brigham Young University who are. As we focus this season especially on the arts at BYU, there are many people who deserve our recognition. They have created legacies of themselves from their ability to not let the chance of failure discourage them from their visions of the future.  
Perhaps one of the greatest examples is Franklin S. Harris, for whom our Fine Arts Center is named. Harris saw the potential BYU had as a university and was a matchless contributor to so much of this school that we enjoy now, including promoting the arts programs and leading BYU to become an accredited university. Looking over the campus early in his presidency of the school, Harris said, "Behold the greatest university campus in all the world — in embryo. Truly the campus is the setting of what will undoubtedly be the greatest university in the world, a place to train for our leaders."[1] I marvel at his ambition, and am incredibly grateful that he had the courage to follow through with his inspired ideas.
Franklin S. Harris was just one of many contributors to the arts at BYU. George Brimhall served through crippling illness as President of the school, while still managing to pull BYU through financial crisis and other adversities. He is now the namesake for the Department of Communications building. Kathryn and T. Earl Pardoe were influential in many arts programs, mainly speech, and donated thousands of plays and musicals to our drama department. Conan E. Mathews, a past dean of the College of Fine Arts, was significant in obtaining a permanent art collection for BYU. Janie Thompson created BYU Young Ambassadors and the Living Legends. Owen S. Rich established KBYU radio and planned for KBYU-television in 1958. We have these people, and many more, to thank for the amazing arts programs and accomplishments of this university.
 Their achievements did not come easily. Each person faced their own difficulties and trials as they worked towards their goals. They were not, however, afraid to do something that I’m sure seemed very daunting at the time. These wonderful men and women could see past the risk of falling and understand just how sweet and fulfilling flying could be. I hope that we can take their courage and tenacity and apply it to our own lives, as we too choose today to take flight.

[1] "Office of the President." Franklin S. Harris. Brigham Young University, n.d. Web. 28 Sept. 2014.