As parliament (quickly) approaches, I thought that I'd share with you all 7 things that I've learned at past parliaments. I can only hope that they'll help you in making the absolute best of your OYP experience.
1. You look great, but that doesn't matter.
At my first few parliaments, I always felt out of place. I was wearing my mom's dress pants
and shoes that didn't quite fit, and I didn't have a cool blazer like all of the older cabinet
ministers. I didn't feel confident, and my ill-fitting clothing played a large part of it. Looking
back, it almost feels silly that I worried about things like that. But in the moment, I really
wanted to fit in and look like I belonged. So whether it's your first parliament and you don't
know how to tie a tie, or your last and you're still jealous over someone else’s cute high
heels, don't worry about it. While an important part of OYP is dressing formally and looking
good (and I promise you will), what matters more is the ideas you share and the friends you
make. The people here don't care if your sleeves are two long or you trip in your dress
shoes. For them, your values show in your thoughts, your smile and your laugh.
Every year at Parliament I speak a few more times. The first year, I only spoke during the
Thank You bill and the Joke bill (and these are two awesome times to stand up if you're a
little shy). However, there were many times that I thought of something to say but missed
my opportunity. This year, vow not to hold yourself back. Don't worry that people won't
agree with you or that you don't know enough about the topic (if you want, you can also
research the topics beforehand so you feel a little more prepared). You are the only person
in the room that will have your opinion, and it deserves to be heard.
3. Branch out.
This is especially difficult to do the longer that you've been to OYP. After a while, you settle
into a select group of friends that you can't wait to see year after year. OYP is a great time
to strengthen these friendships, but it's also a great time to meet new people. Don't be afraid
to sit with new people at lunch. If it's your first year, talk to a cabinet minister. If it's your last
year, share some of your wisdom with someone new. It's cliche advice, but it's important to
remember when you get caught up in the energy of the weekend.
4. Take advantage of vespers.
This will be a busy weekend. From the time you wake to the time you go to sleep, your
day will be filled with dancing, yelling, debating, eating, moving, singing, jumping, more
dancing, and even more yelling. It's easy to run out of energy. At the end of each day we
have vespers, and while it may seem tempting to chat with your friends or take a nap in
the corner, use this time as an advantage to reflect on the day and what you've learned.
You don't need to be a spiritual or religious person to partake in the activities, you can
simply take a few breaths and slow down. By doing this, you'll become reenergized
physically, emotionally and spiritually which is crucial to make it all the way to Monday.
5. Take care of yourself, but remember it's only one weekend.
Over this weekend, you will need to sleep (also water, food, and showers). You unfortunately
cannot survive on coffee alone, so make sure that you're going to bed at a decent
time. However, when you arrive at your billets, you don't want to hide away. This is a great
time to unwind, relax, and get to know the people that you're staying with (both delegates
and hosts alike). In the long run, losing an hour of sleep won't matter so much when you've
gotten the chance to form amazing, possibly life-long friendships.
6. Be present.
This is something that many people, myself included, struggle with in our daily lives.
During the weekend it's incredibly easy to become lost in the constant hustle and bustle.
You worry about what you're supposed to be doing, what's happening next sitting, what
you're going to say next, what you look like, what people are thinking about you, the list
goes on and on. OYP passes by in the blink of an eye, so make sure that you slow down
and enjoy the weekend while it lasts. Smile at that cute delegate across the floor. Laugh
when you hear something funny. Dance without caring about how you look. Speak when
you have something to say. Listen without obsessing over what you can add to the
conversation. Take a few moments and just breathe in the energy of everyone at OYP.
OYP is the perfect time to cast aside all the worries from outside life and just simply be
here. You don't need to prove anything to us, we just want you here.
7. You belong here.
Although related to my first point, it's certainly worth repeating. You are worthy of being at
OYP. Every year, no matter how old I get, I always feel that other people have better ideas
than me. I notice that they speak in the house more, they sit with more people at lunch,
and their dance moves are fire. And if you let yourself believe it, it can seem like they fit in
more than you do. However, I promise that they are just as confused as you are, and many
are feeling the exact same way. This year, don't worry about what other people are doing.
Nobody can compare to the unique experiences and thoughts you have. OYP wouldn't be
the place that it is without every single person that's there. Including you.
Written by Eliza Moratz, Communications Minister
Photo by Jonathon Reed