8 things I have to say about debate
A year ago, I wrote a post entitled “What It Means to Debate.” Looking back on what I had written, I still agree largely with what I had written. But alas, we are never stationary and that means that my opinion has changed, shifted, and accumulated much more knowledge and experience since when I last touched on the subject on policy debate as an activity.
8. The Novices.
They are the future of your debate team, the kids that will be seniors when you’re juniors in college, whose life courses you have the ability to influence depending whether you convince them with your charisma and behavior to stick with debate.
When you think about it, debate is what you make it and part of what you make it is demonstrated to others that join as weak freshmen and look to the seniors to see what they might look like one day. Continue reading
Clothes are just clothes, except maybe a little more
Clothes are just clothes, you know?
But at the same time, they are more than just garments that you drape all over your body. They are more than warmth, or sustenance. They make a statement.
Yet, if it’s a Tuesday, and if you have a paper due, and if you don’t want your body to feel constricted, it’s also a sweats day. Or it’s a t-shirt and leggings day. Or it’s a no clothes day, because clothes are ultimately…for the weak.
What do clothes mean to me? Well, it depends on the day. In my opinion, I don’t really have a unique style, because I don’t have one very stable personality to be tied to. I am not inherently girly, preppy, “soft grunge”, emo, laidback, or polished. It all depends on the day.
If you step into my closet, you’ll find all sorts of clothes. Dresses, for school dress up days, debate tournaments, and when I’m feeling extra girly. T-shirts of every color and size, as plain as white and as exuberant as bright blue with a family of orange cats (as is the case with today).
It’s high school, and clothes matter very much to most people. I value clothes and shopping is absolutely one of my favorite past-times, but I believe that at this point in time, the importance of fashion choice to me is characterized mainly by novelty. New clothes, whenever possible. I’m still following the trends and wanting to update my wardrobe with every season. I look to celebrities and flip through magazines (though not as avidly as some people might) and at least notice what they are wearing.
I think that the novelty effect will wear off, when I get older. As my body stops growing and I have one less excuse to buy new clothes, I’ll start buying higher quality clothing, timeless so that it lasts for longer than a season.
Right now, they represent a statement that I can make of myself. The statement doesn’t really say much; it doesn’t tell people who I am, it doesn’t scream “girly” or “tomboy”. The statement is simply…there. It’s a statement just for the sake of being a statement, indicating that if I were to someday settle down and assume an allover personality or style for myself, then I would have the liberty of doing so.
Asian invasion, takin’ over your nation…
I think that growing up in a Christian private school, the way for me to most feel singled out is not by gender, since I had half of the students there to back me up. It was not by sexual orientation, because I am among the majority and because these sort of issues had not surfaced entirely. It was not by class, although that was certainly a pressing issue that I felt most junior high students could not handle responsibly. In middle school, my race was definitely the issue that I felt was most contested, albeit indirectly, by the students around me.
Ah yes, the issue of race. An aspect of ourselves that we cannot hide, that blatantly displays itself on the very pigments of our skin. Even if not directly contested, it comes up subtly in conversations. It manifests in our very interactions with others, as if mere interactions are tinged with the acknowledgement of one’s race.
This destabilizing form of stereotype, considered with the irrational tendency of adolescents to want to fit into society, is a rather disturbing combination. Kids might go to extremes to avoid the generalizations inherent in junior high kids, as they pertain to broad issues, not just race.
…and then I realized I was rejecting my everything.
My personal response was to literally cast away my culture, my race, the one that I had grown up with since day one. Characterized by Chinese food, Chinese holidays, and Chinese language, my very life was molded by these influences, and I didn’t think twice when I left it all behind as I struggled to fit in.
Mind you, I didn’t dye my skin. I didn’t change my black hair, and I couldn’t control my Asian eyes, but I had no desire to change those things. I was as content as a middle school student could be with my looks, and other concerns were irrelevant to race.
Rather, I started regretting everything. I regretted that my parents had come all the way from China, had learned a completely foreign language, but still somehow had thick accents. I abhorred the accents. Every mispronounced word, every stutter, every pause as my mom or dad read English, made me cringe internally.
I questioned why some kids ate mashed potatoes and green beans everyday, where I had those maybe once a month, at a restaurant. I wanted to leave my culture behind, everything that seemed foreign or made people scrunch their eyebrows.
I didn’t want to be known as another Asian girl, and I didn’t want to have only Asian friends.
That was basically me and my struggles all through middle school.
But somewhere between the transition from middle to high school, I let the resentment dissolve. Somewhere along the way, I stopped wincing at Chinese accents, I started enjoying my family meals, and I stopped alienating my Asian friends. No more shame…
I haven’t forgiven myself for the way I regarded my race. I don’t understand the significance of abandoning good things for people who aren’t willing to accept you with all of your racial quirks. Why can’t the raised eyebrows signify interest? Why aren’t people more willing to accept people of a certain race as individuals, instead of people of one personality?
I promise to never let myself forget the past. Why leave behind traditions and memories that are utterly invaluable to your personal development?
If I ever hated my appearance because of my race, then shame on me. There’s something unique about it.
Uhm, high school hasn’t just magically erased these social discomforts. I still face really awkward discrimination, but it definitely occurs behind my back. People stereotyping and grouping, making assumptions about my ambitions and goals in complete relevance to other people of my race (you know what I’m talking about; I don’t have to say it).
That being said, I think it’s me that’s changed. My response to this and the way that I no longer let these sort of problems bother me, that’s what’s significant. These problems don’t just disappear once I graduate high school, either. They still exist in the halls of universities, in the offices of wherever I get a job, but I think the most important thing is to in general, never let people’s assumptions and opinions shape the way you act.
Merp, I’ve got yellow fever.
fb iz so kewl
Chances are, unless there is something remotely interesting or special about your birthday (it’s on Christmas, it’s the same as mine, my sister’s, something like that), I won’t know that it is your birthday and I won’t wish you a happy one.
What happened? Why don’t I take the time to learn people’s birthdays and engrave them into my mind anymore, like I tried to do with all of my friends in elementary school? I’d rather not waste my time trying to memorize insignificant pieces of information that can easily be found on the internet, specifically, Facebook.
That’s right, Facebook has made our social lives 100x more relevant to our lives; it has its perks, but it definitely comes with its detriments as well.
The perks of being a Facebooker:
1. We’ve found a way to keep track of all our friends, no matter how far or close they reside to you. With the exception of my Chinese relatives in mainland China, the rest of my family – sorry, the technologically-capable portion – is now on Facebook, and I can keep up with them! Same goes for friends, some of which live in France, Spain, and all over the country.
2. It’s a universal thing. Not everyone has a Gmail, not everyone has a Twitter, and almost no one has an active Myspace account anymore. Admit this to someone, and you’re probably going to find people that will admit the same.
Admit that you don’t have a Facebook, and people will question your internet access. So few youngsters don’t have a Facebook nowadays that those who don’t are often left out of the loop. At least, it certainly feels like that when people will ask if you got their party notification or the meeting update, which forced you to embarrass yourself by showing up to a cancelled meeting or missing the party of the year.
3. It’s a useful way to find out things about people that you otherwise would not have known. I suppose I wouldn’t have asked the girl in my English class about her hobbies and found out that she is indeed a successful gymnast, and I wouldn’t have known that the guy I met at summer camp next year also has a fervor for drawing.
The disadvantages of being on Facebook:
1. Depending on how liberal you are with your privacy settings and how old you were when you created an account, there may be infinite chances to embarrass you lurking on this double-edged social media website. I can’t express how comical it is to scroll back to 2009 when I posted statuses like this (legit, this is one of my old statuses):
eating a banana n my bday is soooon
In addition to this, there are dozens of awkward puberty pics and “thought-provoking” videos to mercilessly tease me for.
2. It’s very misleading:
Obviously most people aren’t going to post negative or embarassing things about themselves; in fact, some people are so restrictive with what they allow on their wall/timeline that we get a narrow perception of who they really are. We all know someone who posts heavily edited pictures of themselves or creates statuses that seem to embody a personality so completely different from who they are that their Facebook might be more than inadequate at depicting who they are. Especially when people post pictures, basing your overall opinion of someone on visuals can be detrimental in so many ways.
People have a tendency to feel bad about themselves (their physical appearance) when they see these beautiful pictures on Facebook, to which I say just this: you’re not going to post pictures of your average self; instead, you’re going to go to some obscure field or hipster-looking alleyway in the middle of nowhere with a high-quality camera, taking dozens of pictures until you find one that looks effortless yet somehow flawless. It’s misleading, yo.
3. It’s a waste of time. I can’t tell you how many hours of my life have been wasted stalking people I don’t know or DO know on Facebook, only to receive a blow to my own self esteem, only to have amassed no useful knowledge in the end. There’s a fine line between interest and addiction, and I have definitely fallen over to the side of addiction, scrolling through infinity for no apparent reason. It’s a distraction and a horrible habit that I’ve had since 7th grade.
In the end, I’ve got 3 reasons for why Facebook can be beneficial and detrimental, so I shall settle this debate the way I do most issues, especially ones that pertain to technology/the Internet:
Facebook is good, but only in rations. Overdose, and suffer the consequences. Fall prey to addiction, and find out just exactly what negative repercussions have sequestered themselves onto the habitual action of periodically checking your Facebook.
The way that Facebook impacts my life, I would say that personally, I should reduce my exposure to it and its influence on me, but I could also say that I’m already in the process of rehabilitation since my rigorous routine here at debate camp has already heavily limited how much time I can spend on Facebook everyday.
– prompted by the Weekly Writing Challenge
SONG OF THE DAY:
When I hear the word independence, I think first of a song by The Band Perry that I’ve always liked; one of the few country songs that I’ve ever enjoyed. The lyrics that I can recall by heart go something like:
Most of my friends will live and die in this zip code…
To me, it just sounds very honest, blatant, and depressing. Travel is one of the best ways to ways to expand your perspective, to overcome the limits of physical confines.
To never venture out of your zip code? *shudders*
The lyrics of the song bring to my attention the concept of college, more importantly, WHERE you decide to go to college. In some cases (but certainly not all cases), staying in-state for college represents a last-resort. It means that the state college is the most you think you can amount to, that you don’t have very big dreams for your future. Of course, if you were to live in a state with a wonderful college within its barriers, then obviously what I said before doesn’t really apply.
But in talking to lots of people, I found that this…belief is widespread. Friends have told me that they don’t want to go to the state college because they don’t want to be like the majority of people at their school, settling for the bare minimum.
Independence relies heavily on the degree of education a person receives. Regardless of whether you go to Princeton or Podunk U, as long as you go to a school that you BELIEVE to be selective and/or competitive, you are going in the right direction.
The way that the world operates today, the likelihood of someone amounting to great success without a sturdy education is quite low. Of course, we blow up and emphasize the cases that have made it big, but it’s important to keep a level head.
The key to approaching independence and education is balance. Education is very crucial to your development in the social, political, and economic world, but ultimately NOT the only important factor. If you somehow lose yourself or sell your soul to the devil in the process of amassing a strong educational foundation, you won’t be able to effectively utilize or appreciate the fruits of your strenuous labor.
So when it comes to independence, the lyrics of the country song are just one approach to the issue. Staying within your zipcode doesn’t necessarily say anything detrimental about the sort of education you are getting/going to get, but if you were never to travel outside the border in your lifetime, you’d be missing out on many life-changing experiences.
I Run the Blog, The Blog Does Not Run Me
Blogs are very versatile tools, for people of all ages, for people with all sorts of interests and backgrounds, with any and every intention. Some come to write because the Internet is a remarkable forum for people to share their ideas and opinions. That being said, the optimal blog (in my opinion) is one that finds an acceptable balance between self-expression and writing for an audience.
Eventually coming to isolate a focus for your blog is a natural occurrence that will happen gradually, if you have the intention of writing for other people. Focusing on a theme means that your blog might actually have an impact, because it means that you’re not just chronicling your life or ranting about random topics and then never coming back to address them. With a theme, you are coming back to repeatedly discuss/update your opinion and experiences about a certain topic that you will become an expert about. This is not to say that you can’t write about what you want, but just that there should be a tone among your posts that stands out. Continue reading
I May Not Respect You, But I Respect Your Work
Depending on how it is portrayed and explained, a child’s amateur collage could be transformed into a work of art that is complex, deep, and enigmatic. If you step back and simply look at it, it’s a piece of construction paper with paper triangles and circles sloppily glued on, and it might be your personal opinion that it’s a disgrace to call such a project a piece of art, a masterpiece even.
But to some, the carelessly assembled work might represent the ephemeral nature of childhood, the standard sky blue color of the background might express the utility and potential of such a common color, and the lone star shape in the corner could represent the North Star that guided the escaped slaves. But that’s just me.
When you try to interpret Picasso’s Guernica, it’s probably easy to infer what scene he’s trying to depict, given that you are familiar with his background. It’s showing the personal horror and trauma that arose from the German and Italian bombing of his Spanish town. You might know from common knowledge or shallow research that the Spanish government paid Picasso to create this mural for the World Fair that took place in Paris.
However, a more prevalent trend has been lurking in the most recent years. Especially as abstract art becomes more common and there are less distinguishing factors that allow you to identify what an artist is trying to convey, the artists are becoming increasingly reliant on art fanatics’ creativity, imagination and personal interpretation skills to properly appreciate their art. Research will only get you so far, and personal analysis will bring you the rest of the way.
Thus, what people do with their money is their own business. For some reason I’ve never been able to awaken a very strong interest or passion in visual art as most other people, as it doesn’t affect me emotionally, at all. But I do know that there are people that exist that base their careers on their appreciation for art. Some people are willing to spend millions on something that looks like 3rd-grade me could have created, and for what reason exactly? Personal appreciation is a phenomenon that I doubt I will ever understand.
But as is my opinion with music, so too shall this apply to art: you don’t need to agree with someone’s lifestyle to appreciate their work. Stop hating on Chris Brown’s music. We’re not downloading his albums to listen to him talk about his ethics and morals; it might just be that I really like the loud bass to one of his songs, in which case if I decide to download a Chris Brown song, no one should judge me because I’m obviously not going to take life lessons from him.
As is the case with someone like Justin Bieber. His “beliebers” firmly believe that he is flawless, but I personally find many character flaws that I don’t want to go into detail about because I might just spend five paragraphs on it (if you really want me to, comment below and I’m happy to write a separate post about it) >:D
In my opinion Justin Bieber is overrated as a person but I really do believe (though I will reluctantly admit) that he has raw talent as a singer. Thus, I don’t feel guilty downloading his music.
As it pertains to art, I believe it’s totally to appreciate (and heck, if you have/are willing to spend money) and purchase someone’s art simply for aesthetic reasons. As long as you are comfortable with your financial decision, you should feel free to do whatever you want. You have nothing to prove to anyone…
Not only that, but it’s also acceptable to enjoy someone’s work for different reasons. While we have professional art analyzers that may or may not be right about the meaning behind someone’s art, isn’t the point of this whole experience for the artist (and indirectly, the viewer) to explore the work and their own creativity? Thus, you can probably interpret a song or a painting or a sculpture differently than everyone else seems to, and that justifies your appreciation/purchase. If you find something profound in art, there’s nothing that should hold you back from expressing your admiration of it.
If you like it, then you should be able to put a ring on it.
You saw the big red equals sign and wanted to run, didn’t you? You read the title of the post and thought with exasperation, “Dang it, she’s gonna defend her opinion.” Well don’t worry, I won’t try to preach about one thing or another. I will express my opinion, but not directly about the extremely controversial subject of gay marriage. This is merely a reflection about an assembly that we had today.
A young, handsome man came to our high school to talk about LGBT awareness and inclusion. Hudson Taylor started the non-profit Athlete Ally because he had initially never really been very active about these issues before. He talked about his interactions with these sort of social issues when he was in high school and college and I must say that I agree with the majority of the things that he said today.
First off, I believe that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being LGBT. I find that as I grow up, even in a school that is viewed as Christian and conservative, more people are coming out of the closet, or questioning/exploring their sexuality, at least. I personally am not LGBT; I’m pretty sure I’m straight.
To be completely honest, I was definitely not always like this. I didn’t know anyone in my childhood that was not straight; at least, I was too ignorant and young to be able to distinguish someone as “different”. I do believe that the first time I even learned that there was such a thing as men loving men and women loving women and everything in between was in seventh grade. I heard the term gay being thrown around derogatorily, as you would probably expect seventh graders to do, being very impressionable, having conversations that they don’t understand. I asked someone what “gay” meant, and they looked at me as if I were stupid and said, “It’s when guys like guys.”
The concept was completely alien to me and thus I shunned it for many years; it took so long for me to even accept the idea. Gradually though, I started seeing more blatant gays in the streets and when I went on vacation with my family. Once, when we went to Boston, I saw a pair of lesbians making out very passionately in public. Young and innocent as I was, it was sort of disturbing to look at simply because I had never seen a girl kiss a girl like that. Now that I look back at it, I’ll admit that I was weirded out due to a mixture of surprise and disgust at the general show of such obvious PDA. Ew.
The issue with LGBT, I think, is that there’s an ongoing debate between two radically different groups of people about whether or not being LGBT is “moral” or “right”. If that universally controversial question is decided, it’s onto the next contentious topic of what to do about gay marriage, as is evident from the debates that happen in the political world. But there’s a difference between dealing with this issue on a governmental level and on a personal level, such as for a person like me, who is not at all involved in politics (still 16 woot).
By distinction, the government’s role is to deal with laws that dictate the way that the public lives. They aren’t really supposed to settle on whether or not being gay is “moral,” but rather, how to deal with the fact that gay couples want to get married. They also have to consider external factors such as spending, priority issues, and backlash. It’s frustrating but I can sympathize with the government on this issue; it is hard to make such big decisions, when the country is so divided about it. They definitely feel pressure to please as many people as possible, without causing a huge stir.
But what I’m concerned about, and what is more relevant to my personal life, is the way that we deal with this issue in our everyday lives, whether it be face-to-face in this place that we call high school, through the internet, which is rapidly changing, whose utility is transforming everyday. Our actions and words often demonstrate our positions on these sort of issues. The guy that come today, Hudson Taylor, sort of articulated that we should be open and accepting of anyone. Victory through unity, I think he said, was the motto through organization.
Now, I am not an athlete. I haven’t played a team sport in such a long time. I am, however, on our school’s debate team; the national debate community is probably overall more accepting of LGBT people than lots of sports. We’re radical radicals. There are lots of openly LGBT people out there that manage perfectly fine at debate tournaments. I’m so glad of that. When the drama subsides and everything else fades away, all you have left is your identity, and if the environment that you’re in accepts you, it makes everything else SO MUCH EASIER.
Not only is it unnecessary to try to preach what you believe in to other people, it’s also extremely annoying. My opinion is as arbitrary as yours. This issue doesn’t even come down to religious or faith-based questions. Regardless of what you believe in, and what you were taught, you still have an obligation to be as objective as possible. If you don’t try to change my opinion, I won’t try to change yours. Homophobia, while illogical in my opinion, is still a very ideological force of sorts that people strongly embrace.
If push comes to shove and you still believe that it is wrong to be LGBT, that is fine with me. But still, there’s no need to express your arbitrary opinion in such a negative way, as you never know what the people surrounding you believe in.
Guest Post: What IS Fashion?
There are people all across the world that are passionate about what they wear and how they look. Just observe the rush to pick up the latest releases of glossy magazines on a weekly and monthly basis and you will see what we mean.
Enjoy The Music But Nothing More
Enjoy the music. Submerge yourself in your own interpretation of the lyrics.
Bath in the rhythm.
Bask in the beat.
Do whatever you need to do to show your appreciation of beautiful music, but stop getting so excited about the artists themselves.
It’s somewhat difficult to say that I have a favorite artist. I call myself a single song buyer, because I seldom enjoy/listen to an album at a time; I’ll probably just enjoy a few songs from a large variety of artists.
When I listen to music, I listen to ONLY the music. I’ll admire the album cover for a couple of seconds and I’ll probably gawk over a pretty face but I’ll tend to focus on the music itself. I suppose that if I shifted focus, I’d probably associate a song with a certain artist instead of with a personal experience, which I prefer. I don’t know what the ultimate point of music is, but it’s not to fawn over people that we’ve never met.
I don’t care about the way the band formed. Don’t tell me about the four times they broke up. I’ll watch the music video but don’t expect me to have watched it beforehand. Why should I be concerned about the personal lives about singers, actors, and the like?
If we continue to obsess about ordinary people like this, we mentally categorize them as people who are just overall better than us, which would be a complete lie. Yes, maybe they do have better voices than us. They can probably write better lyrics than we can, but are they as fast of runners as us? Can they teach trig like my Calc teacher can? Can they knit as well as my grandma? These are just a few examples and simple ways to demonstrate that these so-called “stars” are not as special as we often designate them to be.
Inspiration is good. Having role models is an essential component of worthy success, but there comes a point when we’ve just got to stop glorifying them.
Go to a concert, if you must. It will probably help you get over your obsession, and your expectation of perfection that you have of them, as soon as you see them up on stage, sweating, singing out of tune, and out of breath.
They’ll give a quality show, no doubt, but they are in no way perfect. There’s really no reason to care about what goes on in their lives.
And this opinion of mine also spills over into the realm of celebrities in general.
Why do we alienate celebrities? Do we just assume that since they’re famous and beautiful, that they’re better than us? LIES.
Also – why do we care about their lives? I’m guilty and hypocritical because I’m often obsessed with celebrities but I still think my approach is counterproductive. I become obsessed with a certain celebrity and I’ll either want to be them or marry them. I’ll envy their life over mine when really there’s not much to envy. Why do we have reality TV shows? Is it really just for shallow entertainment, or do some people actually wish they led such lives?
There’s corruption in that system. There’s airbrushing and photoshopping. Everyday, people get paid off to promote something that they would never even consider if there weren’t some economic incentive for them.
Yet, there are actually beautiful people, people born with features so delicate and picture-perfect that you can’t help but advertise their face. There are some people out there with extraordinary talents of singing, dancing, acting, etc. We should appreciate these talents, but limit just how much we appreciate them. Don’t forget to love yourself and your quirks, abilities, and special skills once in a while. Just because you’ve never been on an ad or TV doesn’t mean you’re less worthy than them.
Except maybe Neil Patrick Harris.