My "Moth" Story

Back in February, I was nominated for YCS, a 5 day leadership camp at Pepperdine University for incoming high school seniors all over Southern California. I know a girl who had done the Youth Citizenship Seminar when she was our age and then went back as an intern/counsellor, so she talked to the director and they sent me an application. I got the app in the mail, I filled it out, sent it to their offices, and ended up finding out that I had been accepted back in April, which was really cool because 1,200 kids are nominated and only 250 are accepted. So on June 15th, I headed over to the Pepperdine campus and started to move in for the week. After I walked into a boys dorm on accident, I got to the right place and met my roommate, Victoria, and all the girls in my dorm building. The way YCS worked was that we had speakers in the morning, usually 2-3, had lunch, more speakers, and then met in our RAP groups. Basically 12-14 kids are assigned to a counsellor based on their applications and they work through assignments and projects together. It’s just an easy way to get to get closer to people. Anyway, the first speaker we listened to was Terry Paulson. He’s a psychologist who also gives motivational speeches for a living and he’s really, really good at it. He developed his concept of 80/20, which basically comes down to the fact that when people self-reflect, 80% of the things they say about themselves are negative, while only 20% are positive. Terry really tries to emphasize to people that it’s really important for everyone to constantly spew positivity at each other because it’s sometimes really hard for people to find happiness within themselves. He also stated that no one should take themselves that seriously and we should never forget to laugh at ourselves because it’s important for us to make ourselves happy by being authentic to our own personalities. His message really, really stuck with me. It stuck with me to the point where I probably talk about him every day and part of my Independent Project is based on his philosophies. I’ve always taken myself really seriously just because I’ve always had really bad anxiety, so laughing at myself was very really an option. From the moment Terry started speaking, I knew that I wanted to change. I spent the whole day in a great mood. I was around people who were nice, caring, and genuinely excited to be where they were. I felt like everyone was a lot like me. I’m not even kidding, on Wednesday night, there was a point where every single camper was crying because people were opening up to everyone in the room, and one of the more popular, “cool guys” shared that YCS meant to much to him because we had a lot of demons from his past that he felt like he could finally start to move on from. I had never been in a room full of strangers and felt so accepted before. It was truly an incredible experience full of highs. I was always smiling, laughing, and hanging out with my new brothers and sisters. There was even a kid who had to go up in front of the whole camp and sing “I’m a little teapot” for leaving his water bottle in the cafeteria. He insisted that he didn’t know the whole song, but he was definitely lying because he sang the whole thing, dance moves and all. But back to Monday, that night, we had a “First-Day BBQ”. I ended up walking down with my roommate and another girl, Hadley, from San Diego. Victoria and Hadley had some mutual friends who they talked about, so I was immediately a little bit uncomfortable and felt left out, but I was determined to have a good time. We got down to Alumni Park, a huge grassy field in front of Pepperdine with a beautiful view of the ocean. Victoria and I got our burgers and sodas and sat down on the grass and talked out our interests. She plays tennis, I do jump rope. I’m in ASB, she’s the president of Best Buddies at her school. We were different, but also very much similar people. After we finished eating, we threw away our plates and sat back down, I hadn’t drank my Diet Coke yet, so I opened it and took a sip. I don’t drink soda that often so the bubbles were a little too crazy for me. I don’t remember exactly, moment for moment what happened next, but suddenly, out of nowhere, a boy fell over me, stomped on my can and ended up falling behind me. But he didn’t just stomp on it, he somehow ended up getting every ounce of my Diet Coke all over me. Head to toe, makeup running down my face. I didn’t really know whether to laugh or cry, but I looked over at the kid and he looked horrified. I remembered what Terry said, so when I started to break out laughing, he immediately started to laugh, too. I then realized that he was in fact the Teapot kid! Here we are, in the middle of Alumni Park, in front of the whole camp, and I’m covered in soda. I hadn’t even looked in a mirror yet, so I didn’t know that my blue eyeliner and mascara was running all the way down my face, but the Teapot kid was quick to remind me. We laughed and laughed until we both calmed down and introduced ourselves. He offered to walk me back to my dorm, but there wasn’t much time until the RAP group games were going to start, so Victoria just decided to clean off my makeup and stay on the field. I hate to admit it, but the fact that the Teapot kid spilled Diet Coke all over me changed my life. It put me in a situation where I was extremely out of my comfort zone, which I’m honestly never pushed like that. It’s a really silly thing, but the choice between laughing and crying was a big one for me. I felt like it marked a turning point for me and honestly, since then, I haven’t had a truly bad day. YCS taught me a lot of lessons. It changed my relationship with my dad for the better, gave me a new sense of purpose, and has given me endless amounts of happy memories. It helped me realize what I really want to do with my life and exposed me to people who believe all of my dreams can come true. All of YCS meant the world to me, but getting spilled Diet Coke on was a highlight. It’s really weird for me to admit that it genuinely took getting covered in some carbonated sugar water to “get happy”, but that’s my life. It’s crazy. And I love it.

Lizzie Bromley