Category Archives: Friends

10 Lessons I Learned My Sophomore Year

goodbye may hello juneHi guys! Happy almost June!

Wow… I cannot believe that I have officially finished my sophomore year in high school. It is so unreal!

A year ago, I wrote a post titled 10 Lessons I Learned My Freshman Year and a lot of my readers found it very helpful.

This year I’ve experienced many realizations, as well as been through a TON, so I feel this post will be super beneficial for anyone entering into their sophomore year or even high school in general. 🙂

#1: Positivity is Keypositive vs negative

When I started this school year, I was extremely motivated to get good grades and do my best. As a result of having such a positive attitude, I made it through the first quarter with A’s and B’s (including my AP class!!).

However during the second quarter, negativity came into play. I lost some motivation and began to cease trying my hardest to get good grades. As a result, a C (or two) made its way onto my report card.

Third quarter, I came back strong (new year, new me LOL) making it through with all A’s and B’s. This led into fourth quarter where I had a month that did not go well but as a result of my positive mindset and motivation to pass my classes, ended the year with all A’s and B’s.

The moral of the story is that having a positive mindset will play a positive role. Essentially, positivity is the key to doing great things. 🙂

so much to do so little time#2: The clock will keep ticking

Time is elusive. In high school, there never seems to be enough. This school year, I have spent more time on homework than anything else and I definitely did not spend enough time on myself.

Some days I’d sit down to do homework around 3 pm in an effort to get to bed early. I’d end up not finishing the same assignment until midnight. Usually what ended up happening was that I’d zone out, take too many breaks, or spend a minute too long texting a friend back.

What I failed to realize is that time doesn’t stop for me when I take breaks. The clock keeps ticking whether I make productive use of that time or not.

I learned that time management is crucial in high school (and life in general). In order to juggle the many tasks on my plate next school year, I have to manage my time accordingly. As long as I make good use of those hours in a day, it’ll be rewarding.

#3: “Never give up! Great things take time.”

A Midsummer Night’s Dream. International Thespian Honor Society.  Advanced Chorus. Director of Publicity. Picasso at the Lapin Agile.

Exactly a year ago, I auditioned for a show entitled The Mystery of Edwin Drood and I was not casted. As I shared in one of my previous blog post, 10 Lessons I Learned My Freshman Year, I was disappointed about not getting into the show. However, I accepted the fact that I had lots of work to do to become a better actress. There were many areas I needed to improve. I had decided I needed to be more involved in theatre therefore, I had joined the set crew for that show.

Our spring play was Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and I was determined to get a part. A lot of people told me I wouldn’t get in and that I wasn’t good enough. Regardless of those voices, I didn’t give up. I received excessive help from a close friend who is EXTREMELY talented and I kept practicing the script in preparation for my audition. As a result, I was casted as Mote (Mote is a member of the fairy queen’s court in the play).picasso at the lapin agile

Due to my participation in these shows, whether it was behind the scenes or on stage, I was able to gather enough points to be inducted into the International Thespian Honor Society. Thanks to Thespians, I was able to audition for the one act we plan to take to competition. Once again, despite the negative voices, I remained blissfully ignorant moving forward with my audition. I am proud to announce that I will be portraying the female lead, Germaine, in Picasso at the Lapin Agile.

Aside from theatre, I also built up confidence in chorus throughout the year and was pleasantly surprised when my teacher decided to put me into the most advanced choir class for my junior year. She also entrusted me with the position of Director of Publicity, a leadership position I am honored to have.

Words cannot describe how thankful I am for these opportunities and the chance to shine onstage. The moral of the story is that if you keep trying, great things will happen. To key is to keep working hard and never give up 🙂

what you want won't always come easy, but if you work hard and don't give up you will get there#4: Don’t take the easy way out

In high school, it is super difficult to make decisions about homework.  For example, copying homework answers from other students.

However, taking the easy way out won’t challenge you. If you don’t understand the material that you are supposed to be learning, you won’t retain the information. Trust me, I know. 😉

What I’ve learned is that doing the assignments myself helps me retain the information better, where as copying answers down from someone else simply helps me to get credit. There are no shortcuts, especially when it comes to truly learning.

#5: Sleep is kind of importantbeing a sleepy girl with a busy life is hard

I know. Sleep? In high school? Funnyyyyyy…

I have been everything but well rested this school year. I kept telling myself that it was either good grades or sleep but what I’ve learned is that it is nearly impossible to keep good grades the whole year without getting enough sleep.

It’s super difficult to function off little sleep when in a classroom setting. Unfortunately I did not retain much information on the days I was sleep deprived.

So remember that old saying? Sleep is for the weak?

Incorrect. Sleep is very important when it comes to high school. Or life in general.  In other words, make time for it because your body needs the rest so that you can function optimally during the school year.

you don't equal your gpa#6: Your test scores don’t define you

You are not the C on your report card. You are not the 2 you scored on the FSA. You are not the AP exam that didn’t go well. These things do not define you. You will do well on some tests and poorly on others. And that is okay.

I’m not saying to completely neglect your grades. I’m saying you should always remember that you are much more than your test scores. Forgive yourself, make improvements and move forward. 🙂

#7: Appreciate the little thingsthe little things the little moments they aren't little

In life, we often focus on the larger things that go wrong and fail to see the smaller things that go right.

This school year, I’ve received some unexpected hate from several individuals. This resulted in my focusing on the larger ‘negative things’ versus the smaller ‘positive things’ that truly mattered. The amount of people who tell me I’m amazing everyday is insane and I could not be more appreciative of the compliments that follow me everywhere I go.

I have learned to focus on these little things that matter. Focus on the people who matter, those who uplift you, motivate you and inspire you.

Which brings me to…

#8: Some people care, some people don’t

its the people that you least expect that help you the mostI made some new friends this year. These are people that I thought I would never, ever become close with or speak to outside of class.

When I was going through some tough times, the people I expected to be there for me weren’t, and the people I least expected to be there for me were for example, the new friends I had made.

The lesson learned is that there will always be someone there to care for you – or to be there for you. Focus on the friends who choose to be there for you. Those are the ones who are worth your time and energy.

#9: The less time you spend on something, the faster you can move onthe sooner you realize its never going to go back to the way it was the sooner you will move on

A really important thing that I’ve learned this year is that the more time I spend complaining about a situation or letting it affect me, the longer it holds me hostage and keeps me upset.

Here’s what I’ve done to cope. Whenever I am upset about something, I give myself 24 hours to talk about it, cry about it, and be mad about it. After that time passes, I let it go. I refrain from talking about it again unless it is absolutely necessary.

Drama costs time and energy and I’d rather use that time and energy towards something more productive in my life. I could be doing something fun with that time instead. Therefore, the faster I choose to cope with it and let it go, the more time I have for other wonderful things that awaits me. 🙂

life moves pretty fast if you don't stop and look around once in a while you could miss it#10: The future is scary, so focus on the present

As my sophomore year was nearing its end, I realized that college was becoming more and more real by the minute. I started to feel worried about my junior year, senior year, college, getting a job, living on my own amongst other things.

All of these thoughts are super scary.

But here’s the catch: These thoughts pertains to things that are in the future. I’ve spent so much time worrying about things that won’t be happening anytime soon that I’ve failed to be present and live in the moment.

While it’s important to plan for the future, it is very important to focus on what’s happening today. What I choose to do today is what’s going to define my future.
a summary of high school

I hope these lessons are helpful to you. I hope they bring much value to you as they have to me.

What are some lessons you have personally learned this past school year? I’d love to hear about it. Share some of your stories and comments below, and let’s discuss 🙂

Until next time,

~ Rina Raj

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“Self confidence is the best outfit…”

hello aprilHey guys! Happy April 🙂

This past month has consisted of reading about a guy stuck on a lifeboat with a tiger (the book is called Life of Pi, or should I say, Life of Die… *ba dum tss*), performing at MPA for chorus (and receiving a superior rating!!!), lots of writing (this book isn’t going to finish itself), spring break, meeting Lilly Singh aka Superwoman (AHHH!), performing in my first ever theatre production, getting inducted into Thespians (basically, the honor society for theatre… aka the dark side) and struggling with my self confidence.

Yes. Confidence. IMG_6656

The thing every girl thinks she has until…

You aren’t pretty.”

You need to put some makeup on.

She’s hotter than you.”

No one wants to date you.”

Lose some weight.”

I’m prettier than you are.

You aren’t good enough.

haters gonna hate potatoes gonna potateI know. It seems unreal that girls still get put down like that, but it happens. And from personal experience, allow me to say that it truly does suck.

All throughout freshman year, I struggled tremendously with self love. I didn’t feel comfortable going to school without contacts and eyeliner on, and “pretty” wasn’t a thing I considered myself to be.

Going into sophomore year, I was determined to love myself more and be confident in how I looked, regardless of what I was wearing.

I made a conscious effort to look in the mirror everyday and learned to love what I saw, whether it be a really tired Rina with glasses on, or a Rina with some really nice eyeshadow and a smile. Would you believe it worked?! I was happy with myself and I felt good starting my days.

But of course, this didn’t last for long.theres no need to be perfect to inspire others let others get inspired by how you deal with your imperfections

About a month ago, someone at school called me ugly and told me I was “the most unwanted girl on the planet”. And I hate to admit it, but I let this person’s comment affect the confidence I had built up.

I no longer felt good about myself.

When I looked in the mirror, I detested what I saw and I desperately wanted to change my appearance. After months and months of telling myself I was beautiful and strengthening my self love, I didn’t think I was good enough.

My negative mindset tore me down and caused me to become super insecure. This led up to a really rough night I experienced just a couple weeks ago.

I was feeling especially horrible about myself and when a certain someone made a comment about how my achievement wasn’t a real achievement, I was pushed over the edge. In the moment, I felt like no one cared about me and I could not stop crying. I started wishing that I was better looking, more talented and anything but myself.

I was upset because certain people didn’t like me, but I was oblivious to all of the people who do.

we get so worried about being pretty lets be pretty kind pretty funny pretty smart pretty strongThat night, I vented to three close friends about how I was feeling, and each of them comforted me the best they could. I’d like to share a bit of what they said to me.

Friend #1:Rina, you’re very strong and level headed. Even though I haven’t known you for long, you’re one of the greatest friends I’ve had and you really understand me. You’re the friend that I needed at this point in time and you have no reason to be insecure when you’re such a great person. And if other people can’t see that, so what? To be honest, the only opinion that matters about you is your opinion.

Friend #2:Rina, it’s okay. You’re self confidence does not need to be affected by anyone, alright? You are such a great person and you have me to support you and you have [Friend #1] to support you and you have your other friends to support you. You are good enough, I promise, and there are people who see that and people who don’t. You don’t deserve to feel this way. Thank you so much for your friendship and for being a part of my life. You are good enough, and it doesn’t matter if other people don’t see that, because I do. And so should you.its nice to be told

Friend #3:First off, you’re gorgeous. Second, why does it matter? You are so strong and always such a positive person, and there is no way that one stupid comment should ruin all of that for you. There are so many people who look up to you and who want to be as inspiring as you are. Sure, pretty is great, but it is in no way as important as being the amazing friend that you are.

its not your job to like me its mineMy friends brought a lot of things to light for me. Why wasn’t I paying attention to my opinion of myself instead of focusing on everyone else’s? Why couldn’t I see that I was good enough? And why did it matter that not everyone found me “pretty” when there are more important things than appearance?

The answer is simple: I hadn’t learned how to love all of my flaws.courage is accepting that you're full of flaws and learning to love each and every one of them

When mastering my self confidence earlier this year, I’d focused on loving the physical aspects of myself, but not my personality.

There, mis amigos, is the issue. I’d claimed to love myself, but I didn’t. And because I didn’t love myself, the fact that others didn’t love me was an issue.

This is something common with almost every teenage girl nowadays. We are so caught up in our looks and what others think of our physical appearance that we forget beauty isn’t just about how pretty we are. We are so caught up in making sure others like us that we forget to like ourselves.beauty isn't about having a pretty face it is about having a pretty mind a pretty hears and most importantly a pretty soul

The day you are able to see your flaws and love them is the day that you will truly be happy with who you are.

Recently, I’ve noticed that as I grow to love different aspects of myself, certain people don’t like me anymore. That’s going to happen. But the day I learn to love myself fully is the day the right people will love me. I’m going to be judged no matter what I look like and what my beliefs are, but I won’t be loved by the right people until I’ve learned to be myself and love who I am.there is nothing more rare nor more beautiful than a woman being unapologetically herself comfortable in her perfect imperfection to me that is the true essence of beauty

In other words, if someone doesn’t like you for who you are, then they aren’t someone you need in your life. When you are yourself, the right people will like you.

Be yourself. Be confident. Love your flaws.

Your flaws make you who you are.

And you are beautiful.

Until next time,

~ Rina Raj

An Open Letter to Haley

hello-decemberHi guys, happy December! Get ready for excessive Christmas carols, tons of hot cocoa and random mistletoe! 🙂

If you’re wondering why I’ve been MIA again, let me just share that I’ve been working behind the scenes on my first ever musical with school, performing in Disney’s Candlelight Processional, becoming very familiar with two of Shakespeare’s plays and doing lots and lots and lots of – you guessed it! Homework!

Perhaps I’ll share more on that in another post. In the meantime…candlelight

This post is something I’ve been wanting to write for quite some time. This past May, my best friend (we’ll call her Haley) decided to end our friendship.

Haley and I had been best friends since 6th grade and she easily became a part of my family. Middle school was a rocky road and though we had many disagreements, we always managed to come back stronger and become even more inseparable during our friendship.

high-school-is-the-time-to-find-yourselfLast school year, she and I both underwent many changes. Both of our personalities, views and morals changed significantly and we found ourselves disagreeing on many things in life. We each “found ourselves” and while I didn’t see the change in myself during those times, I did see that Haley was a completely different person.

She was more positive, uplifting and spiritual. She knew how to recover from hard times quickly and she didn’t let negative things drag her down for more than a day, something that I am only learning how to do now.

During the last several months of our friendship, we began to grow apart. And while I understood that we were becoming different people, I didn’t understand what was happening when Haley stopped talking to me.

sos my fave person disappeared.pngThere was no warning. One day we were fine talking about everything under the sun and the next day she wouldn’t speak to me nor look at me.

As the days continued just like that, I was confused. And so, I tried calling her a number of times. After not receiving any responses, I settled on sending her an email explaining to her how confused I was and how much this was affecting me emotionally.

She finally replied, but her response didn’t help to ease my pain at all. She put everything on me, and basically said I had been a bad friend to her. According to her, I complained too much and she didn’t need my negative energy in her life.

Ever since I received her response, I’ve pondered over what I could’ve possibly done wrong and I’ve become paranoid about venting to much of my current friends in fear of “complaining too much”.

letting-go-does-not-mean-giving-upAll in all, I’ve let this affect me way longer than just one day. I told myself that it was okay to cry over this and that it was okay to feel sad because I’d lost someone that had been a huge part of my life for three and a half years. After watching myself grow sad on a daily basis this past month and losing motivation to do anything productive, I decided that letting go of Haley is past due.

The time has come. And the time is now.

And so, I’ve decided that today will be the last time I’ll vent about Haley and feel sad about the situation. From now on, everything involving Haley will be viewed as a happy memory, because I have allowed myself to be consumed by this and it’s time that I go back to being the strong girl I’ve known myself to be.

My open letter to Haley.

Hey Haley, 

I hope life is going well and that sophomore year has been good to you so far. I’ve been alright, but I haven’t been the same since we stopped talking. I didn’t have the closure that I needed to get through losing such an important person in my life. 

Sometimes, I still feel like everything was my fault even though I know it really isn’t, because it takes two to create a friendship, maintain a friendship and even break a friendship.

I’ve thought about it, whether or not I was a good friend to you. I listened to you. I kept your secrets. I let you vent to me whenever you needed to. I helped build you up and reminded you to be confident. Not once have I ever tried to tear you down. I let you become a part of my family. I allowed you to cry on my shoulder. I was a column of support to you.

None of that screams “bad friend” in my opinion. 

If what I offered to you as a friend was not enough for you, then that’s okay. I’m sorry that you felt our friendship needed to end, and I apologize for the constant complaints throughout some difficult times of my life, but you were my best friend, the closest person to me, and I thought that friends were there so you could vent to them, have them to help you feel better, and not make you feel guilty for being sad from day to day.

take-chances-make-mistakesWe both have flaws, Haley. Neither one of us are perfect. Both of us had bad days.

We both complained.

We both vented.

We both made mistakes.

But that’s all a part of growing up. We make mistakes so we can grow from them, learn from them and move forward.

If I knew the reasons as to why you chose to stop talking to me, perhaps I could’ve learned something and grown from those reasons too. 

You walked out of my life so quickly and with no warning, like it was nothing. It didn’t seem to affect you in the slightest. It felt like I didn’t even matter to you.

But you mattered to me a lot. I’ve spent 7 months missing your friendship. 7 months wondering. 7 months afraid to get close to any other friends because I’m scared that they too will disappear with no warning. 

Even though I don’t know what my mistakes were, I’m so frightened that I’ll make the same ones.

7 months is 7 months too many, and I’ve decided that regardless of having no closure and not knowing what went wrong, I have to let you go. 

And so, I want to thank you.

Thank you for building me up when I needed you and being my support system even late at night. You were such a blessing to have in my life and I will always cherish the memories and the inside jokes that no one else will ever understand.

And even though it hurts so much to say this, thank you for showing me who my real friends are.

I hope you find what you’re looking for in life and that the people you surround yourself with are as positive as you wanted me to be.

positive-vibesI’m finding my positivity ever so slowly, and it all starts with letting you go.

I know it will all be okay.

Blessed be,

~ Rina Raj