Myah talks about losing her mom to cancer & how she motivates herself to take on new opportunities.

I'm Jen Landis, founder of Pincurl Girls. And this is the GIRLBRAVE podcast. Today I'm talking with 17 year old, Myah. Myah is a passion filled volunteer loving athletic team who finds joy in helping others. 

In this episode Myah talks about losing her mom to cancer when she was six years old. Find out how she lives with that loss and the advice she gives to anyone who may have recently lost a loved one. And you'll learn her philosophy on how she coaxes herself to take a chance on things that are outside of her comfort zone. So let's get to it. 

Hi Myah. How are you? 

I'm good. I'm excited to be here. 

Oh, thank you so much for coming. So first of all, tell me how old are you and what grade are you in? 

So I am 17 and I am a junior at Lincoln Southwest high school. 17. 

Yes, I love to be in 17. 

I just turned 17. So it's pretty exciting. Yes. 

Great. So what does your typical day look like? 

So we're on block scheduling at Southwest. So I usually start my morning with, um, I either go to the gym at like 5:45 or 6:00am, or I go into early into school early to do homework. So then on block scheduling I have four classes a day.

I'm a TA so I help out in one of our classrooms every day and then have three advanced placement classes after that. Then depending on the season, I'll go to practice for volleyball or track after school come home. And then I sometimes have like volunteer activities with things that I'm involved with or I do a lot of homework, I study a lot. And then I like to get to bed pretty early because I wake up decently early. 

I was just going to say, how late do you have to stay up to do all that? 

I try to go to bed. I try to be done with homework by like 9:00, and be in bed at 10:00. It's a pretty good routine.

How many hours of homework do you normally have a night? 

Depending on my schedule is sometimes I'll have two to three hours of homework. If I have a big test, sometimes four. I'm also pretty thorough with my homework. So something that might take someone 25 minutes will probably take me more 45 minutes just cause I like to make sure that I know everything.

Nice. So out of all those activities, what do you enjoy doing the most? 

I would think out of athletics, academics and all of the volunteer things I do, I think my volunteering around Lincoln is probably my favorite thing to do just because of the people that I'm with. 

So what kind of volunteering do you like to?

I'm a volunteer for the Penguin Project. I'm a mentor, and that's six months throughout the year. I'm a volunteer for Special Musicians, which is a unified band. We get partnered with kids with different differing abilities and then we get to put on a show at the end of the season. 

I am a member of Lincoln Gold this year, which is a community engagement program for junior, senior, junior and senior girls, and so we do a lot of volunteering with that. We've volunteered at the Food Bank, at The Boys and Girls Club.We just kind of bounce around to varying locations. 

I'm a Special Olympics volunteer, which is so fun. I absolutely love that. And then I'm also, I also volunteer for things at my school. I'm an ambassador, so if we ever have like 8th grade night or tours, I just, I always signed myself up for those. 

Wow. Very cool. What drives you to be a volunteer and helping people out? 

I think my biggest thing is the connections that I get to make with people. I thrive off of my relationships with other people. I love getting to know a person, that kind of thing, so the more I volunteer, the more people that I get to meet and the more experiences that I get to share with them. And so I think that's my biggest driving factor is just the relationships that I build. 

If someone wanted to get into volunteering but didn't know where to start, what would you tell them to do? 

I would definitely start within your school. And as cheesy as it sounds like your guidance counselors really do know everything. And so I would always say just go and you just have to do it. I think a lot of times people are scared to go into something that maybe they aren't friends with everyone in or they're going in by herself to volunteer. 

And I think the first step that you just have, you just have to do it. You just have to kind of go in full force, and take it as it goes and introduce yourself to everyone. And then after the second or third time, you know everyone and it's already like your friends. 

Do you have any internal dialogue that you tell yourself when you're nervous to do something, but you know, you should do it to like get yourself through and just do it? 

Oh, definitely. I think my biggest point that I always try to make to make to myself is what kind of regret are you going to have if you don't do it? Like who are you not going to meet? Who are you not going to connect with? What kind of experiences are you not going to have? Because at the end of the day, I don't want to look back at my high school career and say, 'Oh, I wish I would have done more.' And so I'm just, I'm doing more now so I'll never have that afterthought. 

That's smart. So out of all the organizations that you're in for self-development, which one rises to the top and why? What is it that you get out of it that you enjoy so much? 

So I would definitely say LAUNCH Leadership, is the organization that comes to mind.So launch is a little different than some of the organizations that I'm in throughout the year because it's a five day summer workshop. So unlike youth Leadership Lincoln, where I go every month, LAUNCH is five days throughout the year in the summer. And I've been going to launch for the past four years.  

This upcoming year will be my fifth and launch is like any other place I've ever been. LAUNCH is a place where you just feel like an overwhelming amount of support and you know that everyone that you meet has the best intentions for you. Everyone at LAUNCH wants to see you be the best kind of person that you can be, which I think is something that you don't find in a lot of other places. 

So you know these kids for five days and you make these lifelong friendships, which I think is insane because you think of some of the people that you've been to school with for the past five years and you, you wouldn't even tell some, some of them what you tell your kids at LAUNCH

And so watch just sets you up for such a growing week. And so it's really easy to make friends. It's really easy to make those connections and it's really easy to self reflect. And I think that's one thing that LAUNCH does really well. Even though LAUNCH is five days out of the year, it sets you up for a year of success. 

It gives you the inspiration and the drive and the motivation that you need to better yourself and those around you. 

What's the age limit to be in LAUNCH

So launch starts, you can start going the summer, going into your sixth grade year. So LAUNCH has three different camps. They have a middle school camp, a high school camp and then a senior camp. So in middle school you can go as soon as you're going into sixth grade and that's sixth through eighth. And then you go into SLW, which is the high school camp, which is the summer going into 9th through 12th. And then if you're a delegate who has been there before and you're going into your senior year, you go into ALW which, which is what I'm going to be in this upcoming year. 

What if you are an introvert and completely nervous to go into a camp like this and they spend the night imagine, right? 

Yes, yes. 

Would it be okay for someone like that or do you need to be like an extrovert and a leader and confident? 

Yes. So, I've always been an extrovert, so it's something that I haven't experienced personally, but so you get in these groups called co-ops and so I've had four different co-ops throughout the year, um, throughout the years that I've gone. And I would say at least 50% of my co-op are introverts. You do say overnight you get assigned a roommate from a different school, promoting those new connections again. 

And I think that introverts strive probably more than the extroverts do just because launch is a place that you learn that confidence and you feel that confidence because they set it up so differently than anything in school that it's a place where you, you can kind of take those little risks and learn that confidence. And it's really cool as an extrovert to see all my introverts kind of break open their shells by the end of the week, which is something that LAUNCH is perfect for introverts, I would say. 

So what have you learned at launch that you've taken it into the next year, that, that has helped you? 

I think one of the biggest things I've learned every year is, as I said, I'm a pretty big extrovert. I think one of my biggest things is the skill of observation. So everyone takes something different away from LAUNCH. But my thing that I always really reflect on is I need to spend more time observing others, um, in order to make myself grow. 

So I'm always one that will stand up and I'll just take the lead and that's kind of a natural thing for me. But I think LAUNCH has really helped me in the fact, I need to let others take the lead and then I can observe what, what tendencies do they have, what can they do? And honestly, that has made me such a better leader myself because the skill of observation is a phenomenal way to learn without being the leader. 

So give me an example of what that means, like what would you observe? Like someone doing that that teaches you something. What would an example look like?

Outside of a LAUNCH or in LAUNCH


Ok. So in LAUNCH, throughout your day you do a whole bunch of different activities. So for example, sometimes we have activities where our group has to get through four or five different puzzles in a certain time limit. We have to get everyone through the puzzle. Everyone has to participate in a certain way. So naturally I'm always the one that's like, okay guys, what's the plan? Like we're going to go through this. 

So in an observational learning system, I would be the last one to say something. But then I get to watch how other leaders would tackle the problem. And I think that it's really made me realize my own strengths and weaknesses because, I do have really strong weaknesses and so it's nice because when someone else has that has my weakness as a strength, I get to watch how they, how they would handle the situation with that strength. And that's made me better, my weaknesses. 

What would you consider your weakness? 

I would one say trying to please everyone within a group team dynamic is really interesting because you don't want conflict, but at the same time you have to efficiency is also very key. And so I'm, I'm the person that goes around the circle. Okay. What's your opinion? What's your opinion when sometimes you just have to be efficient and make those decisions for your group to be successful? And so I think that would be one of my weaknesses. 

Another one of my weaknesses, I think, would be maybe overlooking some ideas that are thrown out into the group just because once, once my group does get on a plan, I'm like, full force, "K let's go with his plan" rather than like getting into it and being like, "Oh, maybe let's go in a completely different direction." So sometimes my creativity, once we have a plan isn't as prominent as I would like it to be. So those are two things that I have bettered by watching others lead. 

That's very interesting. I'm always the type of person that also takes the lead, but I do it more in a way of pushing myself to be more confident. But that's interesting to think about is as not taking the lead and seeing and learning from what other people say and how they approach it and solve the problem.

So I understand that your, that your mother passed away. How long ago was that and how have you dealt with it over the years? 

My mom was diagnosed with cancer when I was super young. I was four and she was diagnosed with Stage 4 lymphoma and leukemia. So all of my memories of my mom, she was sick, but when I was little I just thought that was normal and it was, it was a pretty good time. And like the hospitals had video games and her bed moved, you know, with a little remote. 

So I just kinda thought it was normal. And then my mom passed away in March of 2009. 

In March of 2009, she passed away and I was in kindergarten. And so I think my biggest, looking back on it, I wish I just would've been older because I couldn't, I couldn't say the things that I wanted to say. I couldn't, you know, I couldn't make those last words count when I'm six.

So I lived with my dad and my little brother for a couple years after that. And now I have my dad's remarried and now we have seven kids in our family. I have a whole new step family. And over the years I think it, it never really gets easier. Some days are just harder than others, but I think I just look at, I just look at the positive thing because I know my mom's out of pain and now like my stepsister is like my best friend. 

And so it's like there's blessings with everything. And I also think that it has made me the person that I am. I had to mature a lot faster than a lot of my peers, which I think made me more extroverted and willing to take the lead. 

And I just think that, I think it's made me more empathetic and I think that it really shaped me as a person and even though it's not the best case scenario, I don't think I wouldn't change a thing because everything happens for a reason and there's a positive to everything. 

And so I think the biggest thing was for me too, it's just, yeah, it wasn't ... it wasn't ideal and you have to look at the positives of everything. 

But I'm also, I'm pretty religious and so it's like, I know she's, I know she's watching over me. I know I'm going to see her again. And so it, it works out. It really does. 

So if there was someone that lost a loved one, what advice would you give them based off of your experience?

I think my biggest advice would be take the time. It's okay to be sad for awhile and it doesn't get any easier. But I think connecting with others is just biggest thing. Embrace the relationships you do have with your family. Talk about it with friends. Like it's not something that has to be shut away in a closet that only you can think about, only you can talk about because others, others may relate to you and others may just be a friend to listen and it's nice to get that off of your chest. 

The second biggest, biggest advice I would say is gratitude. So just every day, just think about the little things you're thankful for. Think about the relationships you're thankful for, the time that you have with people, and just live a life of gratitude. And because again, like you'll get to the end of your life and you'll look back with regret that you weren't as thankful as you should've been. 

How do you introduce that subject with a friend if you want to talk about it when they might be thinking, Oh, should I say something? Should I not say something? 

I always say that I'm pretty straight forward. I'm comfortable with talking about it cuz a lot of people get confused because I called my step mom by her first name. And so some of my friends that maybe don't know are, they're always kind of, maybe it starts with why do you call your mom by her first name? And then I just say, "Oh actually like my mom passed away when I was when I was six." Then they always get kind of awkward and then but I just reinforced the idea of, "Oh like it's okay, I'm comfortable with it. "

And then also again, like when you are having those hard days when we are having sad, just take the first step because like you said, maybe some people are just a little hesitant on should, should I go there, should I not?

So I would just say take the first step. I think vulnerability is a large part of leadership because those risks that you take are what make your connections with people. That's, that's where you be. That's where we see where you become brave and so be the vulnerable one. And open up and then they'll reciprocate the same thing back to you. 

That's amazing. Just got the goosebumps. Speaking a brave, how would you define the word brave and do you think you are brave? 

So I would define bravery as the ability to overcome obstacles when you have an idea in mind. I do think I'm brave because, especially because of the goals that I set for myself. I'm just because I'm an extrovert doesn't mean I'm comfortable with everything. It doesn't mean that I never get nervous or, that I never second guess myself.  

I see bravery in the little everyday things...talking to someone new...sitting with someone different at lunch, reaching out to the kid that kind of isolates themselves...sharing an answer first in class.

And so I see bravery in the little things. So like everyday things, talking to someone, new, sitting with someone different at lunch, reaching out to the kid that kind of isolates themselves, sharing an answer first in class. I think that bravery really shows in the little things that you do. And I think it's a really important part of confidence as well. 

So when you do feel self-doubt, what do you tell yourself that gives you the courage to move forward? 

I'm kind of going back to the regret thing. I always tell myself, am I going to regret not doing this? I'm a very passionate person and so I have very strong opinions about what I believe and what I stand for. And so a lot of times when I do self-reflect or even I'm just thinking about my day, I just, I'd never want to look back with that feeling of regret. 

I never want to think, 'Oh, I should've said this instead.' 'Oh, I should have gotten up and said this.' 'Oh, I should have done this for someone.' I just think that it's not a way to live life. I think that you should always look back and say, I'm proud that I did this. I tried this and I failed, but I learned something out of it. I just, I want to know that when I look back on my day, my high school career, my life, that I'm confident with what I did and I did everything with a purpose. 

Yeah, that's smart. I think it, one of the problems that a lot of, a lot of times I feel as a person that I don't want to make mistakes or I want to be perceived as being perfect, which is far from the truth. I wonder why do you think that we as humans feel the need to be as perfect as possible and not be okay with making mistakes and learning the lessons from them? 

I think it all is based off of other people's judgment. So, there is a speech by Theodore Roosevelt and he addresses that. It is, it is the guy that takes the chance, not the person that points out how much he stumbles or how it's all about the person that does the deed rather than the person that shows what they didn't do. 

I think that's really powerful because I think taking the chance, putting yourself out there is monumental for yourself... for everyone around you and your connections with people and for the community that you're in because you never know who's watching. I always think that you, you want to be perfect, but your failure that you are so embarrassed about my inspire someone else to go out and try something else or reach out to someone new. 

And I think that's what always makes me be, it's okay not to be perfect because I learn just as much from complete failure and embarrassment as I learned just as much from that as I would from complete success and complete recognition for what I did. And so I just think that it's not about the guy who points out what you don't do. 

That's a really hard thing to do, especially being like teenage girls with the age of social media, it's really hard to not think about what everyone's telling, like what everyone is criticizing about you. And that's just going back to being vulnerable, just taking the first step for maybe don't do it for yourself, maybe do it for someone that's watching you and inspired like you're one to inspire someone else. 

And I think it's a definitely a mindset that you have to get used to. And I am not trying to preach that. I never care what other people think, but it's just something I always go back to. You have to just disregard what other people think. And as long as you're proud of what you've done, I would call it a win. 

That's amazing. Well, you have a beautiful mindset and you're very inspirational and, um, I, gosh, everything that you said and I'm going to have to look up that Theodore Roosevelt

That's great. I appreciate you being here. I appreciate your time.

I appreciate you too. 

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