A note from the writer:
100 posts ago, I made the bold decision to create this blog. 7 months and 13 days ago, I was a completely different person. Today, my thoughts are better organized than ever before, and my love for WordPress has never been stronger. This post has been a work in progress since April 3rd, 2013.
Too often we tell ourselves that if we can avoid some sort of general consequence through sketchy means, we should.
The negative repercussion from this is that if we keep trying to avoid consequences that we bring upon ourselves, we’ll never grow up and learn to accept the consequences of our own actions. As we do mature and take on much more responsibility, it will only bring damage when we try to pin the blame of our own mistakes on something else. Even worse, testing out sketchy solutions will eventually come back to nip us in the butt. Cutting corners and not being straightforward will catch up with us at some point in time and we won’t be prepared for it.
Accepting the consequences of our own mistakes and bad decisions is also a prerequisite to admitting our flaws, which is an invaluable characteristic. Everyone seems to be so sensitive about their imperfections. But when we admit that we’ve made bad decisions and that what we previously believed might have been wrong, these past blunders are much more easily forgiven. When it comes to loving ourselves, flaws and all, we need to accept everything. We should stop blaming other people and factors, and perhaps step back and think about a dilemma from another perspective, in order to realize that we ourselves may be the problem. When this happens, there’s no one holding us back from forgiving ourselves and just trying to move forward.
I think bathing (especially in bubbles) is the optimal way to pamper yourself and relax. There is no equivalent to soaking in hot water with music or a book, alone with your thoughts. There’s something about feeling like your body weighs ten pounds, but not having to go to a pool and face judgment by other people. It’s a spiritual (though not exactly religious), rejuvenating, enlightening period of reflection that is like no other.
Change your life if you don’t like it:
This applies to literally everything, ever.
If you don’t like the people you surround yourself with, make a conscious effort to break off those ties.
If you don’t like the way your body feels, start exercising.
If you don’t like the direction your future is headed, do something about that.
I know that all of what I said above should go without saying, but I’m so surprised how many times I’ve told myself that a venture is not practical or a waste of time or a lost battle. It usually never is. The one thing to consider would be WHY exactly you feel compelled to change your life. If someone tells you that the people that you are friends with are worthless, re-evaluate your relationship with the person who tells you that. If you don’t like the way your body feels because you wake up feeling tired and sluggish, then integrate exercise into your life. However, if you don’t like the way your body looks because no one in Seventeen or the Victoria’s Secret catalog looks like that, then stop reading those magazines. They’re useless, anyways. Make sure that your choice is based on what you believe, not what your friends, family, or loved one tells you. No one knows you better than yourself.
And who is all of this for? This, the studying, the working hard, the dark circles and long car rides? We don’t just go to school to make the money to please someone else. We come into this world alone, and we leave it alone. In the end, if you aren’t happy with what you’ve let your life become, there’s nothing to look forward to at the end of the day.
Don’t assume the best or the worst:
It’s detrimental to think the best of people or even, of situations. We’re being overly optimistic, most likely ignoring the fatal facts of human nature or the reality of a situation. People letting us down is inevitable, to some degree, but it shouldn’t make or break us, right? We should learn to depend on ourselves more, and not rely on others to reach our goals as extensively as before.
On the other hand, it’s just as bad to assume the worst of people. Believe it or not, humans have the capacity to care. There exist some people out there that actually want the best for us. Sure, they may be rare and in between, and we may not know whether someone actually wants good things to happen to us, but when we find someone like that, it is worth all of the trouble of human interaction…
Thus, don’t make assumptions. Simply, be realistic about situations. We must have faith in people but not to the extent that we believe that they are flawless. People HAVE the capacity to care about you 100%, but at such a young age, we are not going to be the center of their concerns. We must remember that they will undoubtedly prioritize themselves over we, as we probably will over them.
Eliminate peer pressure:
Peer pressure is a concept that has only recently become a concern to us, in the past few decades. It’s a false effect. It is constructed and yet it shapes so many of our lives, especially if we’re young. The bright eyed are most vulnerable.
What is it anyways, besides a bunch of random people getting together and telling you to join them in the latest trend, the latest “cool” thing? You’ve read my opinion on hipsters and I still relatively agree with what I had written at that time, but if there exists a middle ground between total hipster and trend follower, that is the best life-style, in my opinion. It’s 100% okay to do things that other people do, as long as they are done for yourself, and not for others. Don’t do it just because other people say it’s cool or hip or in.
Some people say that we should simply limit our succumbing to peer pressure, but I advocate eliminating it all together. It’s especially interesting to sit back and watch people flounder with important decisions, affected so strongly by what everyone else seems to be thinking. I still have trouble dealing with these sort of temptations and pressures, but I try to keep a level head by remembering the big picture and by weighing the consequences of any decision. Whether it comes down to fashion, music taste, or illegal activity, peer pressure is never something to give into, because it means that the only plausible excuse you have for doing something is just for the sake of other people doing it.
We all have goals that we would love to see get accomplished. So much ambition, yet so little inspiration. Often times, I will feel this way. I would resolve to make a huge dream of mine come true but I would lose sight of the big idea within days. I wouldn’t see any reason to work towards a goal. I think after listening to someone older than me (older peer, but not quite adult) talk about their life and the way they persevered in achieving their goals, I would often be pumped up to be like them, successful and confident about their future. But what we should realize is that this is only temporary motivation. This inspiration comes from someone else, who may very well fall flat on their face the next day. The most stable, reliable catalyst of motivation is yourself. I don’t know all of my readers personally, so I can’t TELL you what your motivation is. That’s your decision.
Get out of your chair and out of the house:
By this, I mean stop spending time on the inter-webs, because that stuff is addictive; I know. I think it distorts the way we perceive reality. It’s sort of like when I am writing an essay on pencil and paper and I imagine myself pressing backspace on a computer. Or when something embarrassing happens and my fingers subconsciously move to assume the ctrl-z position. Sometimes I have to spend lots of time on the computer, but if I can, I’ll try to take a break from work and then go outside or at least out of my room to do something a little more uplifting.
Let’s say that you buy an elliptical or a treadmill. Well that’s fine for rainy days, but nothing beats fresh air and plants, am I right? I think some people can live peacefully and happily without vigorous exercise, but sometimes its less about the necessity of exercise and more about the need to get out of the house.
Hold your breath:
Literally, not metaphorically. I read in a magazine years ago that if you’re feeling stressed, there is a simple tip to help you feel better. Not that it makes any of your problems go away or anything, but it just makes it feel as though those problems become a little bit smaller and a little less glaring. Lie down on your back in your bed, on the floor, in the middle of the highway, wherever you feel comfortable, where there’s little distraction. Take the biggest breath you’ve ever taken in your life and hold it for about a minute. Exhale slowly. That’s it. For me, stress goes to my spine and this just feels so great for some unknown reason.
Indulge once in a while, and for a good reason:
Imagine the concept of a candle. We buy them, the good quality ones being maybe $20? And then we go home and burn the whole thing. If that isn’t throwing your money out of the window, then I don’t know what is. But consider the ones from Bath and Body Works. They’re brightly coloured, beautifully packaged, and so heavenly scented that you can’t help but want one. And when BBW has their occasional 2 for 22$ sale, I will be one of those people that freaks out and goes and buys six or something.
People don’t act this way about everything. But it seems like everyone has their “thing”; maybe an expensive pen, a really elaborate Christmas tree, or something that other people really wouldn’t spend that much money on. There’s no logical sense behind why someone would spend their hard-earned money to buy something like a pen (which will eventually run out of ink), a tree (which will inevitably die), and a candle (which we are literally burning down). But does there need to be? I think there’s a way to measure happiness that has absolutely nothing to do with an object’s monetary value. Sentimental value? Does it remind you of someone, or somewhere, or sometime? If there’s something out there that exists so that for whatever reason, it provides you with lots of unexplained happiness, don’t try to explain it. It should be acceptable to splurge once in a while in those sorts of material objects.
Just enjoy today:
Is life a race? Every day, we glance at the surrounding clocks and watches to keep the time, to make sure that we go to bed on time, wake up on time, and get things done on time. Every day, we study for tests that contribute to college, so that we can take harder tests that plump up our resumes, so that we can work jobs that provide for us until we die. Where is the happiness in this? Is there no fruit to our efforts that we get to enjoy today? When does all of our hard work pay off? Why do we keep putting off the benefits of our efforts “for the future?” Sure, there’s bound to be a middle ground between “YOLO-ing” and being rational about the future, but the reality is that most people tend to lean heavily towards the thrifting and saving side, never enjoying their life, continually reassuring themselves that there is a bigger goal to fulfill, and that someday they will be able to taste their success. But things change in an instant. Jobs are lost, accidents happen, people die. Whatever occurs, there’s always a chance that the wonderful future you constantly look towards will never come. So…just enjoy today. Not the big things, but the little things. We should stop put off living and take the time to appreciate what we often take for granted.
Just a few days ago, I thought to myself, “Wow, I’m so happy I don’t have an eye infection.” I am prone to radical eye infections, so I made a mental note to be careful in taking care of my eyes, cleaning my contacts well, etc. When something disastrous such as an eye infection occurs, it ruins my day. It gives me headaches and makes me cranky.
Keep secrets and promises:
Keep people’s secrets, and keep your own. Secrets are good. They form bonds and inside jokes that are oh-so-fun. Keep other people’s secrets because you make them a promise to do so, correct? Stick to your word. Keep your own secrets from people. There should be secrets that you share with special people, but there should also be secrets that you only tell yourself. My dilemma is that my face is an open book. If you said something and I had any particular opinion about it, you could probably tell what I was thinking if you just glanced at my facial expression. Recently though, I’ve taught myself to keep a blank face if the situation calls for it. Sometimes people don’t ask for your opinion, and you’re just acting obnoxious if you give it.
Keep an air of mystery, and keep people guessing. Limit revealing your tricks, but at the same time, don’t become a detestable, enigmatic jerk.
At the same time, keep promises. Whether it be an official promise or an implied one, you have an obligation to carry out the promise, or do everything in your power to make it happen. In making a promise, you’ve allowed someone to come to depend on your action, your words, or your efforts to make something happen (or not happen). It’s especially disappointing for someone to consistently break promises. After a while, a boy-who-cried-wolf sensation starts to kick in and you start to disregard or scorn their word. He who constantly fails to do what they have assured is seen as unreliable, and no one likes to feel that way. It’s a sticky label that takes much effort to remove.
Listen to music:
Music is so important to me. I will listen to it whenever I can. Some people are just more eloquent than others, right? Some of them put their thoughts to a tune and bam, a song is created. Some lyrics can perfectly express our thoughts better than we ever could. At the same time though, I think it should be socially acceptable for a person to listen to pop on the radio if they want to. Who are we to judge? Why is it our business anyways (as long as they don’t make a big deal out of it)? If you like classical music, please go enjoy it. Just because I disagree with your music taste, does not mean you should be ASHAMED of it. Music can help us in so many ways. It will help you unwind, get pumped up, forget about the world, block people out, and encourage you to dance like you don’t give a crap about anything else.
Make an effort to be nice:
Most people are seldom nice on accident. There’s always a reason, whether it be to suck up to someone, to express your general happiness about life, or to reciprocate someone else’s amity. Whatever the case, there’s always an underlying factor.
To reflect on your own niceness is a little more than awkward. Your intentions are automatically determined in your realizations. You hold a door for a classmate, and automatically think, wow that was really nice of me. Now, your ego is puffed up; you think that you’re a better person than you were 5 seconds ago.
It’s difficult to stay genuine in niceness; lots of people believe in the saying “what goes around, comes around.” While the statement tends to symbolize a selfless moral that all of humanity should follow, it ultimately describes the incentives that people have in being nice towards others.
Nonetheless, one’s geniality reflects well on oneself. Regardless of the inevitable narcissistic and greedy intentions behind an act of kindness, people still appreciate the effort, and remember you for it. So if we can’t control our own conceit, why not do what good we can for the world?
I realize that nice is such a bland and unoriginal term, but I’m using it just for the sake of being general.
Be nice, be nice, be nice.
Never promise when you’re happy, never reply when you’re angry, and never decide when you’re sad:
We always want to make big life decisions with a level head. This doesn’t preclude being optimistic or passionate, but makes sure that reality is somewhere in the equation.
If you promise when you’re happy:
Promises are a big deal; check out letter K. Mixing a binding agreement with the feeling of infinity never works out, because actuality clashes with impracticality. In the moment, we won’t consider the consequences, we won’t think our promises through, and we will inevitably promise more than we can possibly deliver. Don’t fall for it!
If you reply when you’re angry:
You shall say things you don’t mean, but your words will permanently be out there in space. Even if you recant your statements, a scar always lingers. It’s as if you pounded nails into a board, your nails being the harsh words. You can painfully pull the nails out, but the holes in the board will still be there.
If you decide when you’re sad:
Your emotions will engulf you, clouding your judgment. Sadness comes with a feeling of despair, hopelessness, and abandonment. Uh…remember a week ago when you were perfectly happy? Chances are, you’ll one day regain that footing. So wait it out and don’t decide anything major right this moment.
Outfit yourself well:
At this point, you can probably figure that I am getting a little desperate in the alphabetizing department. I really mean to say “wear what makes you feel good” but I’ve already planned something for W, so outfit yourself well. Everyone is different, and we all have different ways of expressing ourselves. You’ve likely heard this a million times but I still think it’s true.
If you feel happy in sweats, please go on wearing those comfy sweats. If you are proud of the way your body is, please show it off. We, the subjects of society, could use a little more confidence and defiance in the midst of all of these social constructs.
There’s no need to hate on people for what they wear; what makes it better than what you’re wearing? Clothing happens to be one of the greatest ways of expression, in that it changes nearly everyday, to convey what the subject is feeling about himself/herself that day.
By this, I mean reflect. But I just had to use the letter R for read.
Reflecting is learning, but actual learning. My mother lectures me all the time about things that I don’t understand, so I just nod, say okay, and try to comprehend what she says, but ultimately, I don’t take her advice seriously. But then, one day I’ll be reflecting and I’ll figure out what she means. Something can happen to you; you could learn a painful lesson that teaches you something that people have told you time and time again. However, up until a certain point, other people’s advice to you is only a garble of words, with no context, no depth. Only after reflecting on some occurrence will empty claims turn into a personal experience that you can now look back at, with new insight.
The way that this changes your life is subtle, because it’s more of an inner transformation than something that people can see. But it’s visible in teeny hints: the way you react to a dilemma, the way you spend your free time…
I can say with confidence and with a personal guarantee that it helps you “find yourself.” In blocking out all other distractions (the pressure to be perfect, to be the pinnacle of society’s ideal individual) you’ll discover what you want, not what your family wants, what your significant other wants, etc.
Quit doubting yourself:
So often I’ve hesitated and resisted from taking a leap of faith, because I am a chronic doubter. But why doubt, when I could simply be a little more optimistic about life? Dignity is easily lost, but just as easily regained, through different mediums.
We’ve got to quit doubting our abilities, because we’re smarter than we think, and more able than we seem.
Young people especially are able to make waves in what we do, simply because we’re so young. Sometimes, people look at someone making an effort and appreciate us simply for that, the effort.
As I’ve read so many times before and found to be true, if you don’t take a risk, you may save yourself from falling a step behind, but you’ve also missed out on the chance to move forward. We don’t want to stay in the same place forever.
When I was a sophomore, we were assigned a huge essay in English class. My teacher had told me that there were a few options that reassured an easy A, but for some reason I thought that I could do just as well if I took a radically different approach. I tried something that no student had ever attempted before, and I stopped doubting my ability; I veered off the course that everyone took. While I got a C, the teacher still appreciated my effort and allowed me to redo it. Yay.
But the overall act of taking a chance gives you confidence to step out of your comfort zone, where life really begins.
It’s been practiced for centuries, the quintessential way of acquiring information. Now that we’ve got the internet, we’ve got so many sources of knowledge at our fingertips.
If you like to read the news, do it. You’ll become more globalized in perspective, and aware of what happens outside your local community. It’s a surefire way to get inspired to do what you love, reading about what others have the ability to achieve.
If you like to read fiction like me, do it. Hidden within a veil of imagination, it is the best way for me to find inspiration in both writing style and everyday life, and just sometimes…gives me the feels.
William Styron has said: “A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.”
I wholeheartedly agree.
Step back and look around:
I do believe I have emphasized again and again the importance of perspective.
What life looks like to you is completely different than what it looks like to the person by your side. Your perspective is shaped by your own experiences and innate biases. In my own experience, the reason I seldom get mad is because I sort of excuse others by considering their circumstances and the perspective that they are coming from. Does that mean that I sometimes justify others’ actions without them deserving it? Probably, but holding grudges is pointless if the person regrets their actions and has good intentions.
Step back and think about others, instead of just yourself. We’re seldom the center of all attention, more often part of a group of larger people. Any leader knows that prioritizing individuals over the group as a whole is disastrous.
Observing an issue from multiple perspectives makes you humble. It forces you to realize that you are not the center of everyone’s life, like your own arrogance leads you to believe.
St. Augustine of Hippo once said, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
The art of travelling actually has the capacity to change your life. If you don’t venture outside your comfort zone, you’ll fall into a rut. Your only source of information about the world outside of your zip code, your state borders, and the boundaries of your nation will come from the opinionated views of others and the lies that you read on the internet (Fox News?)
Travel, and escape these mental confines that being stationary in one region for too long can create.
Travel, and develop an opinion for yourself, based on what you see and experience.
Travel, and learn the importance of culture in living one’s life.
Travel, and don’t have another stay-cation in a city that you know all too well. There are only so many times you can explore somewhere, only to end up knowing every nook and cranny and every mom-and-pop shop.
Travel – you don’t even need to go somewhere plush and lush. You could get away with traveling to the neighborhood city in a car. You could travel to the edge of your state line – whatever you feel comfortable with.
Understand when not to fight:
I realize that everyone has opinions, and regarding some topics, we are more sensitive and zealous than others.
Oftentimes though, I’ll stay quiet. It doesn’t even really matter if someone directly insults my beliefs. KNOW WHEN TO STAND DOWN AND REMAIN PASSIVE. To argue with someone who is already so stubborn and relentless about what they think is completely useless. Someone, please tell me why someone who has nothing on you, who may have very arbitrary authority or power over you, has the right to tell YOU what is universally right or wrong? Sometimes I see it as more productive to not argue with people, not because what they are saying is true, but rather because trying to convince them otherwise will be draining and a waste of time.
Why is it your place to “set them straight?” The thought that always reappears in my mind when it comes to dealing with very dogmatic people is just that (especially as a high school student) most people are only in your life for a few years. They aren’t your spouse or your family; you don’t have to see them every holiday. If they are your friend, the two of you should probably be able to settle differences and agree to disagree, no? Say what you feel, because anyone that minds doesn’t matter and anyone that matters won’t mind.
No doubt that people will tell you that volunteer experience will benefit your college applications. I will not pretend as though I don’t know that, because it is an obvious advantage to doing volunteer work. I will however, acknowledge the importance of the type of volunteer work that you do.
If you do whatever volunteer work you can find and expect it to be useful for your college career, then it’s probably important what sort of volunteering you do, right? Working at an animal shelter will prove to be meaningless in the long run if you truly don’t like animals. If you work at the library but never check out any books to bring home, why are you working there in the first place?
I will admit that wherever you work, as long as you manage to get something done, your efforts will be appreciated. But that’s just a temporary thing. My advice is that when you volunteer, use your time and effort in the most effective way possible. This means: do whatever you love, whatever you have a passion for.
Whether it be old people, homeless people, sick people, or young people, focus on whatever strikes you the most. If you had to watch a documentary about something, which topic would tug on your heart strings the most, or which one would prompt you to walk out of the theatre with relentless determination and a plan of action in your mind?
Donate your time to a worthy cause that personally interests you, and it will pay off. It will be in your future, unlike the boring job at the senior home or the Salvation Army, etc.
Write whenever you can:
Uhm, being the operator an active blog, this one is sort of a given. Whether or not writing happens to be an activity of leisure or a passion for you, it still has remarkable potential. You don’t necessarily have to produce marvelous pieces of fiction, and you don’t necessarily have to write for an audience.
Ever since elementary school, my English teachers would force me to free write in a sparkly notebook for maybe 10 minutes everyday. What originally started as something I was apprehensive and confused about turned into an activity that I came to look forward to. I remember treating my notebook like first like another person, then like a diary, then like a personal journal, then like a poetry notebook, and recently, like a philosophical and psychological discussion.
We need to treat writing like a mental exercise that works our creativity and our fluidity.
Some people will find that they like free writing the best, because there’s no limit to what one can write, because no one will check for grammar errors or run-ons, and because there are virtually no confines.
Others will find that they are most productive (in personal development) when they’re given writing topics or prompts, or when they have a group discussion (like those that happen in English classes) to base their opinion off of.
Writing, so versatile and stimulating an activity, has the ability to change someone’s life, but in a way that is gradual, subtle, and beneath the surface.
Xenophobia creates false barriers:
Xenophobia is what keeps you from accepting people who may look, speak, or live differently than you. It is the root of all other social beliefs that are biased against people of one characteristic, like racism, sexism, classism, agism. It is not the hatred, but merely the FEAR of the foreign. In my everyday life, genocide doesn’th happen, but subtler currents of prejudice go beneath the radar, undetected. It’s in the way you aren’t willing to try Chinese cuisine because you’ve never had jellyfish tentacles before. It’s the way you refuse to drive through a certain neighborhood because there are too many African Americans living there.
You arbitrarily alienate groups of people based on characteristics that they can’t control. There’s absolutely no reason why one group is superior to another, so xenophobia is just a façade. It needs to be abandoned; it’s too outdated a mindset.
Pocahontas is the epitome of xenophobia. Can we all just make like John Smith and paint with all the colors of the wind?
Your life is too short:
As previously mentioned, holding grudges is sort of dumb. We should forgive, but not forget. Chances are, there are people in our life that we alienate and refuse to talk to, for reasons that now look sort of silly. A meaningless feud from 3 years ago? Really? I’m not suggesting that we need to find these people and become best friends, just that we should clear the air. We should apologize for what we did, even if they refuse to. It clears our conscience and assures that we’ve done all that we can to make things right. Our lives are too short.
I’m in high school, and just officially became a senior. A year from now, I’ll be heading off to college, and the people I know in high school will disappear from my life until my high school reunion. You may ask yourself, “if I’m never going to see these people again, why do I need to make amends?” Quite simply, there is no force pushing you to do this (except my voice in your head) but it’s simply the least destructive path. Why cut off relationships for stupid reasons? Why have people hate you or believe that you hate them for a mistake that was made long ago? Whoever made it (you or them) may not have meant it. Their move doesn’t symbolize anything, except their own bone-headedness in one instant. They don’t have it out for you; they haven’t spent time devising the perfect way to hurt you.
Of course, there will be exceptions. There will be people in your life that you really just can’t handle, for a multitude of reasons. But I really don’t see the point in outright hatred. Can we find the perfect balance between childish creativity and mature social interactions and be civil when around them? Our lives are too short – there is no benefit in cutting off friendships.
Someone is waiting for you to make the first move, because they like their dignity. But as I’ve said time and time again, your dignity is easily lost but just as easily regained.
Someone out there is not waiting for your apology, but if you come out with it, it will surprise them and catch them off guard. Even if the apologetic feelings aren’t mutual, at least you can live with a partial sense of closure and peace of mind.
Zealously go through life:
As a kid, I’d go through the routine of doing my homework as soon as I got home from school. I’d do it simply for the sake of getting it done. My parents would check in on me relatively often, and I made sure to finish it so they wouldn’t get mad.
Junior high came, and they started paying more attention to my sister in the homework department. I was allowed to work in my own room and control when I did my homework. I had more responsibility because they weren’t as pertinent to my schoolwork.
In high school, I have almost complete control over my academic life. This means that I also pretty much have my own bedtime. I no longer just go through the actions of doing my homework just to get it done. Now, lots of classes also give me extra responsibility of pacing myself with activities and practices outside of class.
From this, I’ve gradually come to attribute the reason for doing my homework, to myself, not for others. If my parents had stayed by my side through junior high and high school, I’d be poorly prepared for when I moved onto college and had to do homework on my own.
The lesson to learn from this is that you’ve got to find a purpose for what you do. It justifies having to follow a rut for 12 years, and gives you a sense of direction and incentive. Live zealously, in that you may find a path to follow every time you are given more responsibility and left alone to make something of yourself.
- inspired by the Daily Prompt