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10 Stories of 2017

Hey guys!

Yes, contrary to popular belief, I am still alive and well aware of the fact that I have not written a blog post in literally forever.

As always, it was not my intention to go MIA, and the only excuse I have is that my time management skills are not a thing that got better during 2017, but I will make sure that I work on that next year.

smh gif 2.0

…wait a minute…

 

*frantic whisper* next year is tomorrow!!!

Just kidding, I TOTALLY realized that.

This year, I made more of an effort to follow through on my resolutions, and I have a story regarding each one.

So, here are my 10 Stories of 2017.

1. Be More Positive

Maintaining a positive attitude is something I’ve always struggled with and I really wanted to be better at it throughout 2017 because during 2016, I’d noticed that when I had a positive outlook on something rather than a negative one, it would have a better outcome and even if it didn’t, I still felt good about it overall. And so, I dove headfirst into 2017 with a positive mindset and a determination like no other. And it payed off.

nothing changes until you change

At every audition this year, I walked into that room telling myself I was going to do great and I walked out promising myself I did great. And regardless of how good or bad I did, whether or not I got the role, and how prepared or unprepared I was for the audition, I felt pretty darn awesome about it. I performed in our spring play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and was even cast in two other shows this year (our One Act, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, which received straight superiors at districts and will be moving on to state level competition, and our upcoming spring musical, The Addams Family) and I was able to enroll in the competitive acting class.the addams family

My positive attitude wasn’t just confined to the wonderful world of theatre, it branched on into my grades and exams back in April and May, and I’m proud to say that I passed my AP World History exam!

2017 taught me that walking into an exam or an audition or even just a regular day with a positive attitude and willingness to make it a good experience will always have a good result.

2. Take Care of Myself (Physically and Mentally)

Funny story… I totally ignored this resolution (at least, the physical care) at the beginning of the year. Then, over spring break, I wound up in the hospital for this really weird pain I was having. It wasn’t anything important, but thinking about what it could’ve been prompted me to try and take better care of myself (aka, actually taking my vitamins and such), and I did for a couple of weeks, but once the pain had gone, I started to lack on the simple everyday preventative care measures I should’ve been taking.

I didn’t think about how my everyday diet could be affecting me and I went back to my normal schedule which consisted of no breakfast, little to no lunch some days, snacking when I got home from school, and dinner.

fall in love with taking care of yourself

Then, of course, the pain returned in August just after school had started back up. I visited the hospital yet again to find out that it was, yet again, nothing important, but that not eating enough and not consistently taking my supplements may be affecting me.

I’m thankful to have had my mother force me to start thinking about my health (and also force me to start exercising regularly) when I was too blind to start doing something about it myself. It sucks to say that I didn’t take the bull by the horns and tackle this resolution without help, but I’m glad to say that for the past few months I’ve been on top of things and I’ve never felt better!

3. Practice what I Preach

This is something that’s a lot easier said than done and I’ve been working at it for a while now. I think that over time, I’ve learned to not give advice that I am unable to take myself. My biggest word of advice this year has been to always keep it real and to be authentic, which are two things I definitely consider myself to be. I’ve had no trouble practicing what I preach in that regard, however, I have in other areas.sometiems the advice you tell other people is the advice you need to follow

Something I’ve been saying all throughout 2017 is that I need to be present. What I mean by that is taking the time to look at today and not worry about what happened yesterday or what’s going to happen tomorrow and just focusing on the moment. Yeah, NOPE, lol! Being in high school consists of a lot of stress and stress sometimes means dwelling on the midterm you took the other day or anticipating the test you have tomorrow and so on and so forth.

And of course, I always say that it’s good to take a break from technology and not be immersed in the land of the cellular for too many hours a day, but let’s be real, I’m pretty darn obsessed with my device and social networks.

Practicing what I preach is something that I have the full potential to do, I just need to follow through on it.

time is what we want most but what we use worst4. Have Better Time Management

Ha. Haha. HA.

As I mentioned earlier, time management was not a thing that got better in 2017. If anything, it got worse. I developed a very lazy mindset this year, and I’m not too certain why that is, but I found myself waiting until the last minute to do things rather than completing them early as I’d done last year. I was lazy when it came to school and extremely lazy when it came to keeping up with this blog. While that is also due to lack of inspiration and motivation, I didn’t even make an effort to try, and that is completely inexcusable.

Towards the end of the year (November into December), I started to get better at being on track with my homework, but managing my time to make sure I can get everything I need to get done and still keep up with the blog as well as take time for myself is something that needs tremendous work.

5. Be a Better Friendtrue friendship

Throughout 2017, I’ve gained as well as lost many friends. Some I lost because the friendship just wasn’t working, and some because I made the decision to not have them be a part of my life. I made these types of decisions so that I could be a better friend to the friends I consider close.

Over time, I’ve learned that it is extremely difficult and quite near impossible to be a good friend when you are holding on to those that aren’t adding to your life. This year, I’ve been a better friend to my good friends by choosing to only have the friends that accept me for me, add to my life, and are good friends in return. And whether or not those friends are in the same state, or even the same country, doesn’t matter. They’re still the best friends I could ask for.

The friends I have are such amazing people and I strive to be a better friend to them every day. I couldn’t ask for a more perfect bunch. ❤

6. Be Self Confident Always

love yo selfSelf confidence is something that has been such a roller coaster this year. I’ve learned that being confident doesn’t just mean liking the way you look, but also loving your flaws and personality (even the embarrassing parts) with all your heart. I also learned that if you don’t love yourself, it’s hard to love someone else. And surprisingly, learning that lesson really helped me to be fully happy with myself. Here’s my experience.

Earlier this year, there was this guy that I really liked. Let’s call him Jeremy. Jeremy and I were already pretty good friends, and it didn’t take long for our friendship to take a different turn. We talked for a few months and I was certain that my feelings for him were strong and that he felt the same way I did. Eventually, he asked me to go on a date with him. Now, I’m not allowed to date, and so I had to ask (or beg) my mom for permission to go on this date. While she was open to the idea, she also tried really hard to bring something to my attention. I wasn’t 100% happy with myself and who I was. I was really confident in how I looked at that particular time, but I was still struggling with loving certain things about myself.

I, of course, as teenagers typically do, chose to ignore what my mom was saying. I thought I was happy with myself. I thought I was ready to go on this date. My mom thought not. And so, I didn’t get permission to go on this date for maybe a month. By that time, Jeremy had realized that he didn’t want to go on a date with me and that maybe he didn’t have feelings for me after all. Which, of course, hurt. worry about loving yourself

Here’s the thing: Jeremy was one of the reasons I felt confident with myself. I mean, someone liked me! I had to be pretty, didn’t I? I had to have a good personality, didn’t I? But no. I had it all wrong. I was pretty. I am pretty. I do have a good personality. I’ve got plenty of flaws too, but heck, those are pretty great as well! And it shouldn’t have mattered what Jeremy or anyone else thought. And it’s not at all Jeremy’s fault that I was so hurt. I know he didn’t mean to hurt me as much as I ended up being hurt, and I’m glad he decided to walk away as soon as he realized how he really felt. I should’ve loved myself before trying to allow someone into my life. Now, today, I can honestly and completely say that I am 100% happy with myself the way I am, flaws and all.

7. Have Better Focus

i don't have a short attention span, I just...Focusing is something that definitely needs work. I have a horrible habit for zoning out… a lot. For example, it’s taken my maybe 4 hours to write this blog post (which, really, was an hour long task) and I’ve taken maybe 50 breaks.

I have such a short attention span, and that’s a HUGE issue, especially for someone with so much going on. And while it’s gotten better, it still has a long way to go before I can say that I have decent focus. And so, the journey with focus continues on into the new year.

8. Communicate My Feelings

Feelings are so complicated, but I’ve learned that they’re more complicated if no one knows what you’re feeling. Humans aren’t mind readers, and it isn’t anyone’s job to pay super close attention to you and decode your mood for the day.

I think that, for the most part, I’ve done a good job with communicating whether or not I’m in a good mood throughout 2017. I can always get better at it, and I definitely still have days where I’m petty and don’t give my family or close friends a warning. Granted, they may not always care, but speaking from experience, they’d rather receive a head’s up than an unnecessary outburst because they said something that triggered my already bad mood.

9. Finish my Book

Ah, yes. The book. While I (yet again) did not complete the book I’ve been trying to write forever, I did write a play. I had a lot of fun writing the play and I’m really glad that I took the time to do it. I plan to add on to it and edit sometime soon. Going back to my 2016 reflection, writing the book this year was just not meant to be. I have faith that when it is time for the book to be written, I will have the inspiration and motivation to do so. Maybe that time will be in 2018, who knows?

10. Motivate Myself to Do My Best

I have to say that I’ve landed at 50/50 on this one. There have been plenty of days that I’ve felt motivated and I’ve done my best, and there have been tons of days that I haven’t. I think the blog is a huge example of not being motivated to do my best. Just like focus, this is one I’m gonna have to take into 2018 with me.2018

Reflecting on 2017 as a whole, it was an amazing year. I think I fell into tune with myself this year and that has helped me accomplish so much. I do, however, have a bunch to accomplish in 2018. My resolutions and goals for the new year are as follows…

  1. Manage my time (get done what needs to get done and still have time for myself)
  2. Focus (a blog post shouldn’t take 4 hours and an essay shouldn’t take 3 days)
  3. Be present (really think about the moment I’m in and thrive in it)
  4. Maintain my self confidence (I built it up, now it needs to stay up there)
  5. Set goals and follow through (this goes with practicing what I preach)

What are your goals for the new year? Are they the same as your goals for 2017? Are they different? Let’s talk about them in the comments below!

Happy New Year Everyone!

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