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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

When You Finally Finish Your HW at 3am… :/

hello-marchHi guys! It’s already March, can you believe it? 🙂

I’m super excited for the rest of this month. 🙂 My grades are good, I just turned 16 (AHHH), and I’m making progress with my book!

All in all, 2017 is going good as of yet.

However, the new year has had great fun in kicking my butt with insane allergies, rehearsals (not that I’m complaining), class selections for next year (YIKES) and sendingbrian one of my closest friends to Canada for 2 years… *cries*

Oh, and lots and lots of HOMEWORK! -_-

Homework has never been something I’ve deemed necessary to complain about (and definitely not anything I thought I’d ever write a blog post about), but since the school year started, I’ve found myself being very stressed about my assignments. And because I am determined to have good grades all year, I’ve been losing a lot of sleep and personal time over it.

I knew that it couldn’t be just me that was experiencing this, and so I decided to reach out to other high school students and see how they felt about homework. I created a survey and received responses from 50 high school students, the majority of which attends my high school.

Some stats that I gathered from the survey results are:

  • The majority (62%) of students go to sleep either 11p.m. or later on school nights.
  • The majority (56%) of students get up at 6am on school days.
  • The majority (48%) of students spend 3-4 hours on homework each night.
  • The majority (68%) of students receive 3-4 homework assignments every day.
  • The majority (62%) of students have 2-3 days to turn their assignments in.
  • The majority (60%) of students say they enjoy homework depending on the class subject. The other 40% said they do not enjoy homework at all.

just-me-when-i-finally-finish-my-hw-at-three-amNow, looking at the stats and keeping in mind that there is only 24 hours in a day, we can infer what a typical high schooler’s day is like.

The day would start at about 6am, which is almost an hour and a half before school starts (in my case, it starts at 7:20am). The school day would then commence for the next 7 hours (in my case, school ends at 2:20pm).

If we assume that the majority of high school students participate in some sort of extracurricular activity, tacking on another two hours after school to compensate, then the average high schooler would get home around 5pm.

Following the stats I gathered, the average high schooler spends anywhere from 3-4 hours on homework per night.  Assuming they start their homework as soon as they get home, they’d be finished with their homework around 9pm. As relayed in the stats above, the average bedtime is 11pm, which leaves about 2 hours in the day for eating, showering, chores, etc., and provides 7 hours of sleep before they’d have to get up for the next day.

High school students are not exaggerating when they say the majority of time is taken up by education!

I asked a few of the students that responded to my survey if they had any additional thoughts on homework, and these were some of the responses:

“The first day of school, I got 5 hours of homework and I thought it was ridiculous. Also, please tell teachers not to plan PROJECTS during exam week. Also, please don’t give us homework on our exam week because we need to study!!!! Also, don’t give us homework over breaks. That’s why they call it a break. Lastly, LESS HOMEWORK ON THE WEEKEND. One more thing, since I have 5-6 hours of homework a night, and I go to bed at 10, that leaves me with 1 hour to relax when I get home and 1 hour to shower. And that’s it! I have to cram in dinner everyday WHILE I’m doing homework. Ok I’m done.”

“I understand its importance in school, and students need to play a huge part in lessening the too-much-hw-too-little-timecomplaint and the culture of hate against it. However, the work is indeed growing in intensity, and not for the best benefit of the student. It is important for everyone to keep in mind things are best in moderation if they are intended to be good at all.”

“Mostly a waste of time.”

“It is a waste of time that you could use to do be productive.”

“It stresses me out and doesn’t help when teachers assign extra homework that is unnecessary. If I need help with something, doing it wrong multiple times later at night isn’t going to help on tests or in the long run.”

“A lot of homework is unnecessary and provides more stress than it does to help the student understand the material, especially when a student doesn’t understand the work assigned.”

“Homework helps, only if I understand the topic. If I don’t understand the topic, it’s very complicated and boring. This usually means that I’ll have to look up a video on that topic so I could understand it.”

homework-what-are-you-doing“We shouldn’t have it. It sucks.”

“It’s ok but I feel like it’s so much!”

“Why, unless it’s unfinished class work?”

“I hate it. It stresses me out.”

“Although I don’t receive much homework this year, in my past three years of high school I have spent countless nights stressing over it or just giving up on it all together which in turn, made me fail a lot of my classes even though I did well in the class.”

“It’s not fun.”

“Teachers should give a more manageable amount of homework.”

“I find it useless, sometimes my teacher only does notes and relies on me to practically learn it myself just to do a homework assignment.”

In my opinion, homework isn’t entirely a bad thing. In fact, I find myself learning from it every day. However, I also find myself having little to no time to relax and focus on myself, my health and my relationships with others.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t have homework at all. I’m saying there needs to be a balance.

Based on the way many high school students view homework, I think a way to solve the problem would be to lessen the amount of homework each student is given per night. Homework should be no more than two hours per night. And to make sure students enjoy the process of homework, teachers might want to be more creative when assigning homework. For example, I personally despise reading and taking notes out of a textbook, but I absolutely love foldables and educational competitions like Jeopardy.

When learning and homework can be described as fun and interesting, it’s not all that bad.

How much of your time is dedicated to homework each night? Do you think teachers should give less homework? And if so, how can we make that happen?

Share in the comments below and let’s discuss! Parents, you’re welcome to join in too. 😉

Until next time,

~ Rina Raj