During the fall of 2016, I worked in a local department store in California. It was part of a small chain of department stores located in the bay area. I worked in the shoe department, and because the shoe department was the only one with chairs, I saw a lot of people get job interviews. One day, two high school aged girls came into the store, and up to the shoe department counter. They asked if they could get job applications. I handed them the applications, and instructed the two girls to sit down and that I would call a manager over. As they went to sit down, I got a good look at what they were wearing.
The first was in booty shorts that barely covered her butt, and a spaghetti strapped shirt. The second one was wearing identical shorts, but with a crop top that exposed a belly button piercing. I watched as my manager came over and chatted with the two girls, and before long, the girls were out the door. When my manager came over to return the clipboard, I asked her if she thought she would hire those girls. She told me that while we did need the help, the way those girls were dressed showed a level of unprofessionalism that my manager could not overlook.
The way those two girls were dressed had disqualified them for the job. When I realized this, I began reflecting on when I had applied for the job. My mom made sure that I dressed professionally; I still remember wearing my pencil skirt and heels to go apply for the job, and how I felt that I was being over the top. But I had gotten the job that same day. I realized that the difference between me and those girls is that I had certain standards, modesty being one of them, that I was not willing to compromise.
The standards I follow have saved me time and time again. They have prevented me from making bad choices, and have helped me get to where I am today. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As a youth, I was given a pamphlet entitled “For the Strength of Youth.” This pamphlet went over the standards that every young person should have if they want to stay on a correct path. I would like to share what just a few of these standards are that have gotten me where I am today.
I know that for some people, swearing comes naturally. Some people had parents who swore constantly, so it became ingrained in them. Others developed the habit over time by being around friends who cursed. As a high school student, you hear swearing constantly. But I did not let it affect me. I chose to tune it out. I also made a conscious decision not to swear. Employers have picked up on this in the past, and I have also been complimented on being articulate and speaking clearly (meaning I don’t constantly say um or like). I owe this to the conscious choice I made to use clean language.
Media and Music
Growing up, I did not watch rated R movies, or listen to music with lots of bad language or music where the message was awful. I still don’t do these things, and I’m a 22-year-old college student and a wife and mother! By keeping our home free of these things growing up, our home felt more welcoming and inviting, and my friends often took notice of this. Our home atmosphere became more enjoyable. Even now as an adult, my husband and I are picky about what T.V. shows, movies, and music we allow into our home, because we can sense a difference between the good and the not so good.
Sixteen feels like a magical age for most teenagers, because it is the age that they are finally able to get their driver’s license. For me, it was a magical age because it meant that I could start dating. Not only was this a family rule, but it was a standard I had set for myself. When I did begin to date, I went on mostly group dates and with several different people. This allowed me to get to know many different kinds of people and it allowed me to figure out what qualities I either liked or disliked in a guy. I did not have my first steady boyfriend until college. Not because I didn’t like guys before then, but because I realized that high school was a time for friendship and learning, not for serious commitments. On a more serious note, keeping myself pure until marriage was another standard I had set for myself when I was young, and it is a standard I am forever grateful that I took seriously.
I went over this briefly at the beginning of this article, but this is a standard that I hold myself to that I take very seriously. The way you dress says a lot about what you think of yourself. By wearing modest clothing in high school, I did not stand out. In fact, if anything I faded into the background. But I was never uncomfortable around others because of my clothes. I never had to spend an entire day yanking and pulling on my clothes. And I received respect from my peers for the way I dressed. Even as an adult, this has helped me. I was a bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding, and the required dress was a bit immodest. So I added some layers to be more comfortable in it. My husband and I had only just started dating at the time, and I wondered if he would think I was being a snob. However, he complimented me for sticking to my standards, and it drew him to me more. By showing respect for myself by dressing modestly, my husband respected me more.
Everyone has different standards, and everyone has a level of what they are comfortable with. And while for some, my standards might sound extreme, these standards have gotten me far in life; much farther than those who have no standards whatsoever. There is value to believing in something and sticking with it. There is value in valuing yourself enough to have standards and to not settle. I am forever grateful for parents who taught me this, but also for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that helped me learn how to maintain my standards in a world where standards are needed.