My Teenaged Daughter’s TED Talk

My Teenaged Daughter’s TED Talk December 5, 2018

Today, I offer you a treat. It’s a small glimpse into the beautiful mind of my stepdaughter, Abbey. I’ve known for a while now that she can write. From the time she was a small child, I would read the things she wrote and it would always amaze me. She always seemed so far beyond her years. Once, together, we wrote a children’s story called the Dream Fairy, which she illustrated as well. I felt honoured to work with such a clearly gifted writer.

If you’ll recall, I wrote about her a while ago and you helped me raise $3000 for the youth group that helped her a great deal. You can read about that here. You’ll be happy to know, the director of the youth group has since won an award for her service and my dad has joined the board of the organization. I was able to deliver the donation to them from you and they sent their thanks.

As for Abbey, she has since made it not only to the honour roll this term, but also the Principal’s list.

Recently, she was assigned a speech in English class. She was instructed to choose a topic at random. When she asked for advice on the topic, I suggested choosing something she cared about because when you feel deeply about the issue, the writing is always better. She gave us a teaser a few days ago, and then yesterday she delivered that speech in front of her peers. This is something I would have never thought was possible, given her anxiety when she came to live with us. She told us it went well, and we asked to read it. The following is what she sent us:

How many times have you been excited to tell a friend about an artist you’ve been listening to lately, and instantly get harassed because you don’t know every song, album, lyric, band member, and each of their great grandparents’ maiden names? Or maybe you’re the friend that criticizes each of those things. Personally, I’ve been both of these people. Instances like this happen all the time. It’s like we’ve taught ourselves that tearing others down, and being overall nasty to each other is a cool way to communicate when subconsciously all it does is destroy yours and everyone else’s self esteem.

I’m not going to sit here and say that we need to just “be nice to each other!” or “spread positive vibes!!”, because yeah it may be true but it doesn’t matter how many TED talks you watch or how many pinterest quotes you share, there’s always going to be rude people in this world. Regardless of whether change can be made or not, that one guy who wants to ruin your day, will always try. That’s why I’m here to tell you to suck it up. Learn to deal with it.

Now, before you think I’m some sort of monster with no compassion or concept of feelings, listen. Everyone always looks at the world through rose coloured glasses and acts like problems are fixed with chai tea and yoga, when that’s not the case at all. The only way to be happy with yourself and the world around you is to stop focusing on everyone else’s thoughts and opinions. That doesn’t mean we should stop trying to make change on the matter, however the only thing that we can directly control is how we react to negative situations. And trust me, it’s hard. I’m not saying it isn’t, but once you can push those anxieties to the side, a huge weight is lifted from your shoulders.

People are selfish. I think we can all agree on that. We all have so much going on in our own lives that we struggle to realize how we’re affecting the people around us. Another thing to think about is the fact that someone could be going through a hard time, or simply be having a bad day. They may not be in the right mindset to be cheerful and friendly. That’s why it’s important to learn not to take things so personally, and be considerate of what may be going through that person’s head.

You’re lying to yourself if you truly think you’ve never said or done something to hurt someone’s feelings. It’s inevitable, but that doesn’t mean we’re terrible people. In fact, I’m sure there are a few of you who are offended by this speech, which is fine. It’s impossible not to offend at least one person in 2018, especially when you have a sense of humour as dark and twisted as mine. The best advice I can give to you is to just let people be happy, and focus on making yourself happy, not what Jimmy from math class thinks about your shoes. However, when you’re in a situation like that, remember, kindness is the most powerful comeback. So next time you get picked on for the clothes you’re wearing or someone gives you a funny look, tell them you hope they have a good day, or that their hair looks nice. It both surprises them, and makes them think about whether their actions are appropriate or not. The only thing stopping you from being happy is yourself.

Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.

Abbey has been dealt bad hand after bad hand throughout her life. The only real accurate way to describe her childhood would be complete and all-consuming struggle. You’ve just read the words of a human being who has been to hell on multiple round-trip tickets. She has every right to be bitter. She has every right to be angry and easily-bruised and reclusive. Instead, she’s preaching kindness. Instead, she’s telling us to believe in ourselves and pay no mind to the haters.

I particularly loved this line: The only way to be happy with yourself and the world around you is to stop focusing on everyone else’s thoughts and opinions.

I think it’s pretty obvious how proud her father and I are of her, but it goes so far beyond that. Not only am I deeply proud of her, but I find I am learning from her more than I have from anyone else. She’s an inspiration, a beacon to which I look when I need to feel like the world isn’t as awful as it may sometimes appear to be. Let me tell you, it works every time. If she represents our future, it’s bright as heck.

If you want to follow her (keeping in mind she’s just sixteen), she’s on:

I think she should start a blog of her own. What do you think?

Image: Copyright/Abbey Simmonds

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  • MrOzAtheist

    That was fantastic. Please pass on my admiration to Abbey. And yes, she should absolutely start her own blog. Thoughtful, articulate, and kind teenagers need more voices to be hard. Top stuff, Abbey!

  • Thank you, Oz!

  • Outwest

    This is really well written, by someone that shows a level of maturity far beyond her years. It demonstrates, for me, 2 things:
    That her parents are involved in her life (as much as any teenager allows their parents)
    Her parents present as positive role models, which then encourages her to be the same.
    Thanks for sharing this.

  • Excellent! You must be very happy with the young adult that she is now and is growing to be.

  • Heardling

    Absolutely amazing, Abbey!!! So proud of you! Keep up the great work! Thanks for sharing!!

  • Jim Baerg

    Somewhat related to her first sentence:
    https://xkcd.com/1053/