Try this, not that

Recently, I had the honor and daunting responsibility of advising young people on how to deal with their greatest dreams and fears. Here�s the first installment in a series of their questions and my answers�

�I want to be a college volleyball coach. I�m most fearful that I will not live up to all that I know I can accomplish. I�m afraid of not challenging myself enough.�  � Crazy About Volleyball

Dear Ms. Volleyball,

As a coach, you will encourage others to push the limits, move aside their fears and learn from their failures. Your fear of not living up to all you are capable of is not unusual. And sometimes that fear propels us to work even harder to be our best.

Try challenging yourself each and every day with at least one thing you�re afraid to do or really don't feel like doing. It could be as simple as calling or talking face-to-face to someone who intimidates you, submitting an application for a job you�re not sure you are qualified for, going to a museum or somewhere you've never been before.

We learn from these experiences.  Doing the small stuff is energizing and gives us confidence to accomplish bigger goals. When we challenge ourselves, we learn our true passions and callings.

Volleyball and all athletics require us to push hard, in spite of how we feel. The same holds true in college, work, family and life in general. Will we let our feelings get in the way? By rising above the small stuff and never relinquishing the pursuit of our dreams, we embrace our failures as teaching moments and, therefore, we reach our goals.


�I want to earn my college degree, travel, get married and have a family, but I am afraid of not being able to have children.� Wants to Do It All

Dear Wants,

I am inspired by your dreams to get your college education, travel and have a family. There will be estimable value in achieving a bachelor's degree. Traveling throughout the U.S. and to other countries will expand your perspective and having a family will be the greatest gift and responsibility of all.

 As far as your fears of not being able to have children, if this were the case, there are so many, many children who are waiting for adoption right here in the U.S. To give a child a loving and secure home is an amazing honor and blessing.

I encourage you to set aside your fears and trust God to do his work in your life, including having children when the time is right. God has a plan for you and it's all good! I am excited for you and your future. You have so much to look forward to.


�I want to write children�s books but don�t have the faintest idea of where to begin. Also, how would I go about illustrating my book?� Aspiring Author

Dear Aspiring,

As far as writing and illustrating children's books, don't wait for a publisher.  Begin today. Here�s how�

First, keep writing and save your stories on a computer or in a journal. Establish a discipline of writing each day or week to develop topics into drafts.  As you think of new story ideas, jot them down.

Next, find ways to share your stories with children. Public readings help revise your writing. Volunteer to read at pre-schools, day care centers, churches and elementary schools.

Then, create places where you can share your writing even more publicly. Try a blog, where you self-publish online, like mine below. Your blog will be a repository of your work and a reference for others.

Finally, print your book. Compile your stories in a short thematic collection. Next, identify a graphic design major in college who will format and illustrate your collection at a reasonable price or for barter. Then, publish your collection at Kinkos or any print shop. Write on!

2011 � Copyright Paula Damon.

A resident of Southeast South Dakota, Paula Bosco Damon is a national award-winning columnist. Her writing has won first-place in competitions of the National Federation of Press Women, South Dakota Press Women and Iowa Press Women. In the 2009 and 2010 South Dakota Press Women Communications Contest, her columns took five first-place awards. To contact Paula, email boscodamonpaula@gmail, follow her blog at and find her on FaceBook.

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