When Niklaus and Lucy (Sophie’s parents) first asked me to write a blog post on what it means to “be loud” a few months back, I was pretty uncomfortable writing about a mantra that I didn’t even particularly try to follow with my own life. The occasion for their request was the awesome tour of the UNC Men’s Basketball Museum and Team Meet and Greet that Be Loud! Sophie organized for several young adult patients and their families from the UNC Children’s and Cancer Hospitals. As a patient there myself, it made a lot of sense to help organize this kind of event – but what I actually did to help pull it off was far from being loud. In reality, I just bugged Eric Montross enough that he finally had no choice but to set everything in place (Awesome guy, by the way. Will make you feel incredibly short, but still, awesome guy.) No, that wasn’t loud enough to warrant a blog post.
Then recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Niklaus at UNC’s Relay for Life fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. I had to think a lot about how to connect Sophie’s story to the point of the night: celebrating those who are still with us, remembering those who aren’t, and fighting back so nobody ever has to go through cancer again. I started with an explanation of David Brooks’ piece comparing résumé to eulogy virtues. In short, this concept lists what most young adults in the audience typically focus on: getting higher grades, finding the perfect internship or job, and filling up their résumé with achievements that will earn them some sort of tangible result later on (money, etc). But the more important focus should be: what do you want to be remembered by when all is said and done? Would you rather it be how much you rocked at filling out paperwork or how much you cared for everyone around you? Would you rather be remembered for some dollar profit amount or for the smiles that you put on people’s faces by making a positive impact on everyone you interacted with?
And that’s where this concept connects to the idea of “being loud.” Sophie was, and is, very loud. She often cared about the people around her more than she cared about herself. I try to do the same. I do my best to keep a smile on my face every day, and make a difference in people’s lives in any small way that I can, even if it’s just by simply asking them how their day is going or giving them a hug if they need it. At the end of every day, look back at what you did since you woke up. If that were your last day on earth (and unfortunately, you never know which day just may be that last one) would you be happy if somebody were to describe the positive impact you made that day as they remembered you?
You don’t need cancer to be loud. Anyone can do it. Simply enjoy the little things. Help other people in any way that you can. Don’t stress out about things that you can’t control. Instead, do the very best that you can with the things that are under your control. And keep a smile on your face.