Exam Crunch Time. Just Breathe. You Can Do It.

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Dear all stressing about things like AP exams, MCAT’s, the future, extracurricular, or some other real-world difficulties,

You can do it.  I may not know you.  But, believe you can if you set your mind to it.  But first and foremost, take care of your own body and mind.  Testing beings soon, don’t crash and don’t give up; the finish line is just a few bounds away– hang on a bit more.  Don’t let the negative thoughts overcome your mind; once frustration sets in, the negative thoughts will affect your performance and make everything harder.  Take a break, breathe, meditate, or try distracting yourself by setting a timer for 5-10 minutes and reading part of your favorite book, poem, or just something you find interesting.  For music-oriented people, pick up your instrument and play something you love until the timer signals the end of the break.  Or for those who love a good song, play an inspirational piece, something that will give you a temporary uplifting reprieve from studies; start jumping and pumping your fist in the air, get your blood flowing– it helps.  If time and your schedule permit, step away from screens, put your phone in your back pocket, grab ear buds, and go out for a walk or hang out with friends for an hour or so.  Seriously, just go outside, lay on your back, and count the clouds for a few minutes (while the day is still young, of course).

If you work yourself up to the point of breaking down, set aside all the signals in your head telling you, “I can’t make it.  There’s too much to do!  Not enough time!  I won’t have time to sleep today.”  They are negative, stressful, unhealthy.  Yet, don’t let go of that stress completely, use it to empower yourself.  Recognize that your day, week, month, or some time period will be literal hell and plan accordingly.  Here are a few tips that usually help:

1. Make check lists– Let’s be honest, once you finish something on the checklist, it feels soooo satisfying to scratch that thing off the list.  It’s also calming to have a list so you can see all the things you have to do without fear of forgetting something.

2. Schedule in breaks.  20 minutes of screen/homework/study time = 20 seconds of looking out the window.  1 hour of working total, allow yourself 2 minutes social media time and 8 minutes exercise or outdoors time.

3. Every time you feel like overwhelmed, take a break, pull out that checklist, and do something “easier.”  Just try working for two minutes, but try not to think about time.  You’ll be surprised how easy it is to accomplish things once you start.

4. If you really need to nap, make yourself a coffee (erm, not too strong, just something you’re used to or a wee bit more than that), chug it (don’t burn yourself), and set alarms for 15-20 minutes.  According to several sources, it takes about 15-30 minutes for caffeine to kick in (research it if skeptical).

5. Spend some time with friends or in social situations.  Even for introverts, interacting with people for a short while can do wonders for your sanity.  Of course, make sure it’s people who can make you laugh and relax.

6. Leave your phone in a different room.  Close that facebook tab.  Turn your music down low.  Ignoring these thing will help you focus, especially while studying.  Multitasking is scientifically proven to reduce cognitive function because the brain operates linearly.  Meaning that your brain will have to work harder to switch between topics, thus decreasing the speed it takes you to finish something.

7. Test out your delayed gratification.  Activities like watching animes, reading mangas, watching a television episode, playing a game, etc. are activities you know waste time and probably useless overall unless you are brain-dumping to a fellow fan.  But let’s be real here, when deadlines are near, cutting down on daily time-suckers, no matter how small, will save you a LOT of time.  Who knows, by the end of the deadline, you may have freed yourself of a time-sucking habit.  In the last week, I have been saving about 2 hours daily just by cutting down on mangas, television shows, facebook feed scrolling (I refuse to get a tumblr… my sleep will be even more non-existent), and gaming (yeah, I somehow stopped myself from gaming, woah).

8. Set times regularly.  I usually set my stopwatch at 5 minute intervals to remind myself of how long I’ve worked.  It also forces me to catch myself whenever I being getting sidetracked.  For example, if I being scrolling through my Facebook feed and my timer goes off, it bring me back to reality, reminds me that I wasted time I will never get back, and prevents me from wasting more time.

9. Stay hydrated and open a window.  Being hydrated helps you stay awake.  Opening a window, especially if it’s much colder outside also keeps you awake (and sometimes during breaks, catalyzes you to get your blood flowing from your butt to the rest of your body :P).

10. Believe in yourself.  If you’re feeling down, take a timed break and look up someone extraordinary.  Astronauts and scientists are great people to look into.  See their accomplishments in life and tell yourself, “If they can do it, I can too!”

I believe in you, you’ll make it through.

Cheshire.

A/N: Photo taken by Flickr user Karunakar Rayker of a weasel.  Why a weasel?  Because according to Annie Dillard, we should “Live Like a Weasel.” Hang on. Persevere.  It’s going to be a long ride, but we can do it.

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Social Norm-ing

The loner kid versus the popular group.  The girly-girl versus the tom-boy.  The wimp versus the “guy.”  The cool kids versus the awkward losers.

I categorized people that I never interacted with based on these labels as a kid and often subconsciously, I still do.  Anyone I ask attests to hearing their own friends categorize others with these labels and admits to stereotyping other individuals based on rumors and superficial appearances.  The truth is, everyone uses these labels on people they don’t truly know.

As a child, I was shy, but I wasn’t stupid.  I knew kids my age grouped everyone they knew into these categories.  In fact, even parents did.  I loved playing sports, running, thinking, but I hated barbies (they always smelled too strongly of plastics) and “girly” things like skirts and dresses.  By default, the parents categorized me as a “tom-boy” based on my love for physical sports and dislike for barbies and the things the popular girls liked (like Justin Bieber, barbies, dressy clothing, and High School Musical, which fear not, my friends will make me watch someday because I assumed the movie worse than it is– my mistake).  Whereas, the students at school typically viewed me as a mix of a quiet “awkward loner” in elementary because I hardly interacted with others.

I learned later on that one of the “popular” groups used to think and spread around that I was stupid.  A side anecdote: my mom spoke with some of the parents from the popular group on the day of my middle school graduation.  And, shocker, a few of them openly voiced their surprise when, contrary to what their children said, I was one of thirteen (out of 200+) who maintained a perfect 4.0 GPA in middle school and their child was not.  I, the one who was “not smart,” managed to get a 4.0??

Labels are harmful.  Those who didn’t give me a chance, who said I was things I wasn’t, didn’t get to see the caring side of me.  The side that values friends above all else.  The me that loves learning and strives to be the best I can be.  The me who loves reading about fantasies, mystery, science, and what it’s like to live in the wild.  The me that loves music.  The me that is more than the ill-conceived perceptions of me.  The real me.

Never wish to be just a “cool kid” who disregards others who have potential to be great life-long friends.  Don’t just strive to fit a few labels.  Branch out and make your own label.  Let others know who you truly are.  Never let them assume.  Because you are you.  You are amazing.  And you are more than the sum of society’s opinions.  Be you and thrive, prove those labels wrong, not conform to them.

-Cheshire.

A/N: Inspiration for this post comes from March Hare’s post this week: Simply Being You.  The song above comes from EchoSmith: Cool Kids.

Click, Click. Are we Machine or Are we Human?

3249292348_5bb5cf7877_bI was planning on drawing again, but then I wandered upon this beauty by Flickr user Tobias Higbie.

Although I indirectly blogged about it last week, I didn’t make it quite clear.  Mr. John Steinbeck couldn’t have hit the nail on the head with the shocking claim that man created an intangible machine, an idea.  More or less, it’s the idea of a hierarchy and the concept that humans are replaceable; a mindset, I would like to point out, that may have been catalyzed by the Ford assembly line: faster, more efficient, one job, quicker, do it better, one task, another can easily take your place, work harder, better, “rinse, wash, and repeat.”  And what sprung forth from that idea was an unfeeling, uncaring, and selfish society.  I stated that “We are President Snow” referencing this machine, or rather one of the effects its had on us– tunnel vision.  But this time, (like March Hare) I plan on addressing what it’d done to us overall.

Everyone is taught that if you don’t catch up, you will never catch up.  If you get to the top, you are bound to be surpassed.  If you don’t match up, no one will care, you are replaceable, disposable.  There are so many amazing people, smarter and more modernized people, what makes you special?  Why should we keep you if all you do is hinder the company from its full potential: maximum profits?  The companyMy company. That companyCompanies.

In this era, people do dealings, but the status of the company is what matters.  Not the health of the people working their butts off to making it successful.  Not the good the company or the people in the company do, good deeds are usually commended for a few seconds and tossed aside.  Of course, we’ll listen to the scandals that a company employee did or a board member.  Ooh the corruption.  Let’s throw them out.  We’re not making enough revenue.  Just to back this up, here’s a list by Forbes of CEO’s, who also happen to be the founders, who were thrown out of their own companies.

How did we get so tangled?  When did we matter so little to those around us?  When did we become so worthless?  Since the machine took over.  Since we as a society valued scandals, profits, money, material wealth, and shortsighted gains over the lives of other.  Somehow we now find it easier to care for the well-being of an idea, an intangible thing, than we do other humans. 

Human… Are humans in high society even human anymore?  Aren’t we all a series of the same thing over and over again?

Wake up at 6, maybe 7 if we’re lucky.  Get up.  Stretch.  Rub the sleep out of your eyes.  Brush your teeth.  Brush your hair.  Wash your face.  Dress.  Greet your family.  Grab a breakfast.  Grab a lunch.  Say goodbye to the family.  Start the car.  Grab a coffee.  Go to school. Sit in a class.  First Class… Second Class… … Fourth Class… Lunch…  … End of the day.  Go home.  Greet the family.  Do homework.  Use technology.  Click buttons.  Scroll.  Click “Like.”  Repeat for thirty minutes.  Eat dinner.  Sleep. … Back to school.  … Take tests.  … Graduate. … Get more education.  … Train for a career. … Meet someone. … Settle down, but never stop. … Have a family. … Greet the family. … Go to work. … Grow old. … Love. … Regret. … Sleep. … SleepGoodnightForever

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We are President Snow

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Something quick I drew… My first drawing for a blog post.

President Snow, the politician who deceives the people of the Capitol, is an object of hate in the Hunger Games Series.  He represents the oppressive society and the inequality plaguing Panem.  The elite percentage that live in the Capitol are mostly ignorant of the Districts’ struggles and the sacrifices the people must make to survive in the unequal society.  So does the ignorance of the elite make them bad people?  Suzanne Collins beautifully portrays the aristocratic society and the audience of the novel often times unknowingly hate on the Capitol without realizing, they, the readers, are citizens of the Capitol.  But more accurately, they are the “atrocious” President Snow.

As citizens of developed nations, we reap the benefits of trade, consumerism, and have security.  A majority of us don’t have an impending war, starvation, or lack to resources acting as our Swords of Damocles (1).  Instead, us, the fortunate elite of the world indulge in the “now.”  We are aware of the problems blaring in the world through news and media coverage, but do nothing to actively stop it.

2014: Millions still die from conflict every year.

“Did you hear about the wars in the Middle East?”  “It’s so awful, I could never imagine living in those conditions.  Wars and conflict everywhere.  People caught and dying in the crossfires.”

Approximately 80% of the world population lives on $10 a day. (2)

“That’s horrible!  They must be starving everyday!” “We need to decrease poverty!”

But when the words that come out of our mouths are almost never carried out.  We say we care, but our attachment and empathy towards those people runs just as deeply as Effie’s empathy towards the mahogany table.  We say those things, then proceed to eat our hearts out at buffets, spend money on trivial things, complain about the most infinitesimal tasks, and turn our cheek to more “relevant” matters.  We bat an eyelid at the poor, then go socialize with the affluent.  The poor band with the poor out of mutual suffering and hopes to improve their situation, while rich side with rich.  Of course the end result is that rich get richer, while the poor regress or stay in the stalemate of their social status.

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Stronger

“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

-Friedrich Nietzsche

That seems rather cliché, doesn’t it?  Yet, the maxim by an 18th century philosopher has been used everywhere, even in the form of modified song lyrics.  Some people scoff at this saying, “if I break my leg, will that make me stronger?”  Well, in analyzing this, there are two different kinds of strength: mental and physical.  Physical strength, the obvious kind of “strength,” is just as it sounds– power and agility.  But mental strength, the overlooked and often forgotten kind, is unarguably more important.

Mental strength is the voice inside you.  It is the will of you and your conscience, fueled by determination and tenacity, to try harder and be better. It pushes you on to accomplishing things you never thought possible.  It is the driving force that compels you forward: “You can do it.  Stay strong.  You’ll get through this.  Persevere.”

Additionally, people who scoff at Nietzsche’s words overlook the figurative meaning of “dying.”  Dying, just like strength, has physiological and real-life attributions.  In the tangible sense, once someone is dead, they are no longer alive.  But mentally, a person can “die” when they lose their will and conviction to push on– their will is crushed, defeated.  They become “dead” inside.

“I can’t do it.  It’s impossible.  I’m just going to give up.”

“What doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger.”  Yes.  Every struggle, every battle we overcome will make us stronger.

Impossibility of Opinion

Welcome to the 21st century.  You have many freedoms and rights– just don’t cross the line and offend anyone.  Why you ask?  Because society has a mindset that everyone is entitled to express an opinion, no matter how little thought they put in or how superficial and unrelated it is.  So no matter how objective you try to be or how unoffensive you strive to be, someone somewhere will roll their eyeballs and strike down your opinion on the basis of “malicious intentions.”

3280622749_5bda7d59aa_bThis picture titled “Internet’s universe” is by Flickr user CLUC.  I take no credit for this!!

As of late, I have been dedicating about an hour and a half researching gender-related issues.  In an Op-Ed post by Emma Pierson to the New York Times titled “How to Get More Women to Join the Debate” she asserts that her research on the topic of gender-bias has led her to discover several things about society:

1) women are less likely to express their opinions online under their full names,

2) the opinions written by female commenters on serious worldly issues are more meticulous and well-liked,

3) if listened to, the opinions of women drastically improve group decisions, yet

4) women express their opinions in any form of debate or commentary far less than men and

5) outspoken women trying to get other females to join in debates are often harassed and viciously attacked on accounts of being “feminists,” which in this day and age has become synonymous to “man-haters.”

In attempts to be subjective, it is worth noting that the comments from women on education or information-based sites (a majority of Pierson’s evidence comes from these sites) are more intellectual and less superficial as the comments of entertainment and appearance-focused sites.   However, this pattern also applies to the male population– educated websites and articles enthrall knowledgeable individuals, be it male or female.   Additionally, I browsed around the comments on several other opinion editorials and social media sites, namely YouTube, (I did not look for specific topics) and noticed that the majority of women that expressed their opinions (qualifying, refuting, or agreeing with the work) did not post with their full names and the ones who did received less likes for stating similar opinions.  Not only that but also there was several female commenters were met with comments bashing the female gender and discrediting them just based on gender.  So why is it that women’s words can bear so much weight and thought, yet the outspoken individuals are the ones attracting hate?

Well, perhaps the largest part is that society’s instilled biases belittle and condescend the female gender.  A few months ago, a YouTuber I follow, Emily Graslie of the BrainScoop, questioned why female content creators were so scarce.  The reasons I can come up with include: society, American society and reality television especially, teaches people to expect women to be centered on domestic roles, represents them as sex, and expects all females to be superficial “eye candy.”  And although most women have been allowed rights and careers outside of domestic sectors rather recently in most cultures (give or take 200 years– and some cultures haven’t even accepted that women can be more than domestic children-“rearers”), this attitude towards approximately half of the world’s population is unacceptable.

In two videos, one by Ms. Graslie and a reply to it by Cristen Conger (please take the time to watch both videos, they’re only about 10 minutes total), they analyze and question society and its prejudice.

Conclusions: Cristen mentions credibility.  Women are seen as less credible and often scrutinized solely on their looks, while disregarding the factual aims of the content.  Pierson concludes that women are treated this way for a variety of reasons stemming from social bias, society’s entitlement to harassing women on account of their gender, and the assumption that women speaking up are seen as less competent and/or too outspoken.  What can we, both men and women, do to reform these problems?  How do we make people care enough to see the effects of their actions and make a change?

It is as if society views women as lesser and people expect there to be less consequence in their actions towards women.  Why?

A/N:  This was a little bit of a quick-write rant of mine (aka sorry if my ideas were too many stars and not enough constellations; and please forgive me for any grammatical or spelling errors), but I hope it gives you something to think and hopefully talk about.  Let me know if I was too one-sided.  Also, I am writing just from the perspective that I am dealing with.  I know there is an incredibly diverse population full of minorities out there that feel singled out from similar prejudice-influenced issues.  Feel free to leave any kind of comments or rants!

Cheshire.

Warmth. Fight. Live.

SnowI only mashed together the black/white and color versions of a picture taken by Flickr user, Ferran Jordà.

For those who can read and listen to lyrics at the same time, play this at the same time:


All rights to go the artist Kelly Clarkson and the songwriters.

The snow stings, pelting our skin like shards of fire.  We feel pain.  Gabe.  Gabriel.  Don’t give up, we’re so close.  I don’t know if you can see in color or hear yet, but let me tell you the things that are out here are mesmerizing.  You would enjoy it.  The family I left behind would come to like it.  The Giver would cry– all those memories passed down to him would finally become a tangible reality.  Bona fide experiences he could call his own memories.  It’s cold.  But we push on.  Gabriel, I hope you can see what I can see.  The epitome of hope for our existence– spots of color about a hundred feet away.  Those bright, luminescent flickers of heat are called fires.  People gather around that place, telling stories, laughing, enjoying each other’s company.  A picture of perfect serenity– the place we’re going.  A place where we can finally experience love.  A concept that is unknown to our previous society.   But until we reach the fires, my body heat would have to sustain you.  I am sorry, so so sorry.  Please hang on, live for me Gabriel after all we have been through.  There is just too much to lose.  I’ll keep hoping.  Right now, the most I can do is hope and fight on.  We’ve lived in a bubble of society, but now it’s time to face the music, a phrase that comes from a maxim of the past– life.  I can’t feel my hands.  But we’re so close. Continue reading

Mentalities– To Care Or Not To Care

Recently, there have been countless incidents where I find myself questioning why people act the way the do, in fact I wrote an essay on it (it will be published later, I’ll keep y’alls posted).  The case I’m going to focus on in this post is how women are treated.  Of course, I know there are women in this world who shouldn’t treat men the way they do.  But I’m a girl, so I’m going to talk about my personal experiences and point of view.  Now before I start, I’m definitely biased.  I’ve grown up with the mentality in the novels I read, the people I choose to surround myself with, and the people I look up to that women can be independent.  That they should be treated with the same respect as men should.  That successful societies and sustainable civilizations are run on women receiving education and working as equal counterparts to men, not being looked down upon as toys or inferior beings.  I also recognize that it may get irritating to some when people get overly sensitive and enthusiastic about a topic and feel it necessary to flaunt it about everywhere, so I’ll try to be wary.  Note: I am not some social specialist.  I am just a person with opinions. Continue reading

Dear Gatsby

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Dear Gatsby,

Remember me?  One of your “old sports” from West Egg… It’s been a few years since you died, but I find myself remembering you and your life.  I hope you liked the eulogy I delivered for you several years ago… I’m sorry I haven’t written to you, but if it’s any consolation, I’ve written about you.  I think I’ll title it the “The Great Gatsby.”  You know, looking back on everything, I hate you.  I hate how you changed my life.  How you sacrificed everything for the sake of getting Daisy back.  Daisy… my cousin… the fake “beautiful fool,” the one who knows everything that’s going on, the sadness of her fickleness, yet feigns ignorance.  Huh, funny, everyone we’ve ever met in the Eggs, everyone in New York, heck everyone in the entire world is like that…  Why are we so different? Continue reading