The time is here, my young Padawans, to head off to Jedi training. Or as some people call it, “go back to school.” Ah yes, I can hear you cheering now. School is a fantastic place to learn, challenge yourself, and interact with all different types of people. But for some younglings, heading back to school can be a scary time. When I was a kid, going back to school made me as nervous as Ben Quadinaros in a podrace. So when the going got tough, I watched Star Wars. Star Wars gave me hope and many valuable life lessons along the way. In Master Yoda, I had the greatest after-school tutor ever!
If you're feeling a little nervous this Fall, have no fear my young Padawan. I’ve been in your shoes and can tell you that your K-12 experiences will make you a strong Jedi Knight one day. I thought I’d share some of my favorite Star Wars quotes (along with some tips of my own) that have inspired and challenged me throughout the years. I hope they do the same for you and remind you that the Force will be with you. Always.
“Never tell me the odds” – Han Solo, The Empire Strikes Back
In life you may encounter a naysayer (or Protocol Droid) who will give you reasons why you can't or won't succeed. If you can’t turn off their power, simply tune out their negative comments. Some of the world’s greatest inventors, athletes, and artists were told they couldn’t achieve their dreams. Rather than giving up, they dug deep within themselves, put in the hard work, and believed they would succeed. Focus on the possibilities rather than the odds, and you can do the same. Even if there's a giant asteroid in your way.
"Join me, and together we can rule the galaxy as father and son.” - Darth Vader, The Empire Strikes Back
There may come a time when someone may want you to join the Dark Side. It may be tempting---especially if they wear a cool cape and helmet. But giving into peer pressure isn't the way to make or keep friends. A true friend will like you even if you're on opposite sides of the Force. It may be difficult to say no in the moment, but afterwards you'll be thankful you didn’t give into someone or something you weren't sure about. Heck, Luke chose to fall down an air shaft rather than giving in to his dad's pressure. Talk about a tough decision!
"Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you?" - Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back
Yoda was only 2 feet tall but he was one powerful Jedi Master. (Remember that lightsaber battle in Attack of the Clones?) Power and strength doesn’t just come from muscles---it comes from your mind. Don’t let your size, physical limitations, or stature limit your dreams. At this year’s Olympics, runner Oscar Pistorius made history by becoming the first double amputee to compete on the track. He believes, “you’re not disabled by the disabilities you have, you are able by the abilities you have.” I’m sure Master Yoda would agree.
“Anger, fear, aggression; the dark side of the Force are they…if once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will…" - Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back
Do bullies make you angry? When I run into a bully (in person on online) I certainly feel my blood begin to boil. So what do you do if you encounter someone who belittles, humiliates, or threatens you? Don’t immediately go for your lightsaber or seek revenge like a Sith. You can 1) tell the bully that their behavior is hurtful 2) walk away and ignore them 3) tell an adult, parent, or person of authority about the situation. Whatever you do, don’t let your anger and fear fester inside you. Whenever a bully really got to me, I always found it helpful to vent my frustrations with someone I trusted, like my mom. It’s important to feel supported during those tough times. Because Force-choking someone (even if they are a bully) is never the answer.
“But I was going into Tosche Station to pick up some power converters!” – Luke Skywalker, Star Wars
How many times have you wanted to go to Tosche Station, or watch TV, or hang out with friends but your parents wouldn’t let you because of you have to do….homework. It may be annoying now but you’ll thank your parents later. And no, your parents didn’t pay me to say that. ;) Getting your work done before play is an important time management skill that you’ll use for the rest of your life. Procrastination often leads to scrambling at the last minute. So don’t get distracted and leave your work hanging. Do what Gold Five said and, “stay on target”!
“Do, or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back
I have 3 words for you: GO FOR IT! Don’t second guess yourself or worry about a perfect outcome. Do put all of your energy and effort toward your goal. You know that old saying, “you get what you give?” That pretty much sums it up. Now you may not score a home run every time, but you’ll feel good knowing that you gave it your best effort. Who knows, if you commit 100% you just might score an A on that test or make the soccer team. Or better yet, win the podrace against Sebulba. :)
Jennifer Landa is a Los Angeles-based actress, writer, and video blogger. One of her proudest moments was helping to design the Death Star...into a skirt. To learn more about Jennifer, visit jenilanda.com.