There have been many times in my life when I have thought, “if I could just go back and redo that with the knowledge and skills I have now, it would have been a lot easier.” I look at it as progress that I am making in my life, but usually I figure out how to do something really well right when it’s time to stop doing that thing.
In high school I refused to do an English assignment during my freshman year. It was to compare and contrast the written and movie versions of the story “A Man Called Horse.” I didn’t like the story, so I refused to do the assignment. Our teacher even gave us a chance at the end of the semester to make up any work we missed, and I still refused. Therefore, my first semester in high school I got a B+ in English. After that I never got less than an A-. I learned my lesson not to be stubborn, but it cost me the rank of valedictorian and the scholarship that went with that! Oh what I wouldn’t give to go back and write a compare and contrast essay of that dumb story.
As a missionary for my church I helped others to learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ and helped them improve their lives in other ways. The people of Argentina were so kind to us, and even when they weren’t interested in learning about our church they often would continue to invite us into their homes. In the last two months of my mission I finally figured out how to teach those who wanted to know about Christ and how to recognize when others were just being nice to us. I was able to create great relationships with those who were content with their current religion or lack thereof and still move on to find those that really wanted us to help them find spirituality in their lives. Before I came home to the United States I would have loved to have the extra six months that the guys get (girls have 18-month missions in my church and guys have 24-month missions, I’m not sure why, but that’s the system) to put into practice everything that I had learned. Scott was coming home from his mission at that same time though and wanted to get married ASAP, so I knew I couldn’t torture him by staying out of the country for six more months!
After Scott and I got married I started to watch how he studied, because he always got nearly the best grades in his classes. As an undergrad, I had done well in school, but it was not without quite a few late night study sessions. Scott, on the other hand, was always able to go to sleep by 11pm at the latest. The two key things he did were: 1. He read the textbook before the lecture was given on the material, even in subjects like math (in high school I never had to read a math text, and in college I never figured out that it was useful), and 2. he started the homework the day it was assigned and finished it long before it was due (I had always planned around the due dates and struggled to finish the work). These two things allowed him to take advantage of the professors’ and TAs’ help during lecture and office hours. I started doing this as a grad student, and I blew everyone in my class away. I had the best grades in almost all my classes and always had the work done weeks before anyone else. Again, if only I could back and do that as an undergrad.
Now I find myself raising a son and running a business. I wonder what there is to know that I have not yet learned. I know I will look back on this time and think, “if I had only known this one thing, life would have been so much easier.” It just goes to show that life is meant to be an uphill battle. If I can just get over the next challenge I will be even more ready for future challenges.
“That which we persist in doing becomes easier to do; not that the nature of the thing is changed, but our power to do is increased.” –Heber J. Grant