Actions v. Words

Do people pay more attention to words or actions? This was my question I considered while reading “Catcher in the Rye” these past couple weeks. I’ve come to the conclusion, as I thought I would, that people really are more receptive to actions over words. In addition, words describing actions rather than feelings tend to be far more powerful.

Throughout the book, Holden experiences countless occasions of his words being ignored, but his actions being taken slightly more seriously. However, they’re not taken too seriously, as he did punch out the windows in the garage and his parents didn’t send him to therapy then, but still.

Holden also contradicts himself a lot; he constantly says he hates the movies, but imagines himself in one in multiple scenes. In those times, readers overlook his words and just see his actions, which seem to speak louder and tell a different story.

I also definitely don’t think Catcher is the only example of this. Even different kinds of words are more believable than others. If someone says that they’re mad, you’ll probably believe them, but you won’t really have any reason to. But if they say that they were so mad they yelled at their mom, brother, and dog, you’ll probably believe them even more, as long as they’re a trustworthy person.

It’s these specifics that make things like political speeches much easier to swallow and believe. For example, in President Nixon’s Checker’s Speech, rather than saying how he’s an honest person that doesn’t use campaign funds for inappropriate things, he tells a very specific story. Nixon discusses how he got a dog from a voter and through an elaborate display of appeal to pathos he convinces his audience of his good character.

And one of the most obvious examples of actions over words is the breaking of a promise. Whether something small, like keeping a minor secret, or something huge, like Hitler invading Poland even though he said he wouldn’t. Well, that’s pretty extreme, but you get the idea. Throughout history and throughout our everyday lives we see people saying one thing and doing another. And whether they speak before or after doing, we tend to believe what their actions tell us more than their words. Why? Well, let’s leave that for the psychoanalysts to think about.

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Acceptance

Acceptance can be one of the hardest things to achieve (as well as dedication, like my last post). Whether accepting others or yourself, it can be really hard. However, I think that accepting yourself is especially difficult.

From children to adults, we are subjected to countless ads advertising products to “make us better.” With this mentality, it’s hard not to think “what’s wrong with me and how can I fix it?”

Because of all this comparison, it can be hard to accept yourself for who you are. After all, how can you accept yourself when you’re too busy buying products to make yourself better.

You have to accept yourself for who you are, like I've accepted my love for High School Musical & the fact that I'll do the jump anywhere.

You have to accept yourself for who you are, like I’ve accepted my love for High School Musical & the fact that I’ll do the jump anywhere.

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I mean, I’m a big fan of makeup, but if you’re putting it on just because you think it’ll make you better, even if you don’t like it, then you should probably put some more effort into accosting yourself rather than improving your makeup application.

And how exactly are you supposed to go about this? Of course, we can’t just get companies to stop advertising things. As terrible as it sounds, making people feel the need to buy a product based on their insecurities is a company’s job. So we’re going to have to find another way to make it easier to accept yourself and others. One way to do this is a lot of disciplining yourself to stop comparing yourself to others. This can be super hard can it’s super easy to get discouraged, but with a lot of practice, I think it’s definitely possible.

Dedication

Dedication is one of the most valuable assets anyone can have, but it’s also extremely hard to acquire. It can only be achieved over a long period of time, during which the person must consistently work hard. You have to go through a lot of trials to become dedicated because dedication is about continuing to work hard despite not wanting to or being tired of whatever you’re doing.

Dedication is not simply joining a club and attending all the meetings. It’s going to all the events you can, applying for board, and continuing to attend meetings, events, and be active in the club despite difficulties and/or lack of interest. This makes perseverance a major factor in becoming dedicated; the drive to keep working hard even when you might not want to. In fact, dedication means continuing to do your best especially when you don’t want to.

But, don’t be discouraged. I think that being dedicated can seem daunting and a big task that can consume your time and energy. But once you’ve got it, you’re stuck with it. As long as you keep on doing what you’ve been doing, it’s hard to un-dedicate yourself.

The 2014 Cappies Gala, where we won best team.

The 2014 Cappies Gala, where we won best team.

So despite all the struggles on the road to dedication, the pay off is huge. Last year, for example, my school’s Cappies team (which I’m on) won the best team award. The reason we won wasn’t because we were the most talented, although we did have some very gifted writers, it was because we were dedicated: to theatre, writing, and to excelling in the Cappies program.

Kids, yikes

I wrote a post about kids last year also, so you can imagine how strongly I feel about them. My main goal in life is to never have kids, and I’m not bitter about it.

I’ve never been naturally good with kids like some people are. When I went to Mexico City over spring break, I spent a lot of time with my four year old cousin, who mostly spoke Spanish to me. I may be in my fourth year of Spanish at school, but actually speaking and listening to it is completely different. So not only did I have to try to understand her high-pitched voice, but I also had to translate in my head from Spanish to English.

My four year old cousin enjoying some Mexican ice cream at the end of our trip.

My four year old cousin enjoying some Mexican ice cream at the end of our trip.

Her dad, my uncle, wanted her to practice her English, so I responded in English, but it was still pretty difficult. And at the very beginning of my trip, she was pretty wary of me. I don’t blame her, because we’d only met once before, and that was when she was less than a year old.

She had plenty of tantrums and freak outs while we were there, but luckily my mom is a pediatric nurse so she was able to help out when my aunt and uncle weren’t around. I just remember thinking that I will never have kids when she would do have one of her episodes.

Of course, there were good times, too, but after a while, not being a kid person, I would get a little sick of hanging out with someone 13 years younger than me. Kid people would say that the good times outweigh the tantrums, but for me, they don’t.

I’m not going to go around kicking kids and telling them to go away, but I don’t plan on having kids, and I think that’s the smart choice for someone who doesn’t actually like them.

Coping

High schoolers cope with a lot: school, social lives, and if you’re like me, stressful band members.

 

If you’re under 20, you’ve probably heard about Zayn Malik leaving One Direction on Wednesday, which just so happened to be my birthday.

 

Being an unapologetic One Direction fan, my world was definitely rocked when I opened up Facebook right as third period started to see a Buzzfeed headline “Zayn Malik leaves One Direction.” Of course, I didn’t believe it, so I went to Twitter and saw the release and then onto tumblr to see how the fandom was doing. Before I could get very far down my dash, however, Sr. Diecidue started class and someone reminded him that it was my birthday. They proceeded to sing Happy Birthday while I tried to breathe normally.

Zayn Malik, previously of One Direction.

Zayn Malik, previously of One Direction.

 

The rest of the day was a blur of “Happy Birthday!”s and “aw thank you!”s. After school, I took myself to get fro yo because I thought I deserved it. But when I got home, I ended up letting it melt while I mourned Zayn.

 

I spent the next couple hours telling myself to get it together and that he wasn’t dead so what was I so sad about. I have to give some credit to edits and videos on tumblr that really just stabbed my heart.

 

But I do think everything happens for a reason, in more ways than one. I think the experience of having my world completely shaken like that taught me a lot about how to cope with something real. I’ve cried over books and movies and TV shows, but the fact that these were real people changing their lives hit me hard.
So I hope that one day I can use my little bit of experience to help better deal with not-so-great stuff.

New Beginnings

No, this post is not going to be about Glee finale. To be completely honest, I haven’t seen the past 1.5 seasons because I lost interest. No, this post is about spring and those kind of new beginnings.

Friday was the first day of spring, which means cleaning for some people, vacation for others, but for me, it means allergies. I woke up on Saturday with a sore throat and watery eyes, and it’s gotten worse today. I made a CVS run today because I was in desperate need of some cough drops and my Target brand allergy pills weren’t doing much.

But this is all making me sound really pessimistic. Spring is actually really nice. My birthday, flowers, butterflies, Easter candy, and new beginnings.

I’ve been in a kind of funk lately school-wise, doing the bare minimum and procrastinating more than ever. I’d seen a few posts by “studyblrs” while avoiding homework on tumblr, but I never gave it much thought.

A photo from my first post on my studyblr.

A photo from my first post on my studyblr.

Studyblrs are tumblr blogs that focus on study tips, habits, and really cute pictures of study spaces. They seemed like a nice idea, but I didn’t take much of an interest until a few days ago.

I decided that since it was spring and it’s all about starting fresh, I would try studyblrs out. I spent a lot of time just scrolling through the studyblr tag, but today I finally had the guts to make one myself.

I made my first post of my math homework (if you wanna check it out…) and followed a couple blogs, and I’m really liking it so far! Even just having one post up and typing out all the work makes me feel really productive, and keeps me accountable.

So take it from me- spring doesn’t just have to mean dusting and allergies. It really can be a time for new starts. That New Year’s resolution that fell apart? Dust it off and give it life again. And come June 21, you’ll feel unstoppable.

Let It Go

Sometimes you just have to stay out of everyone’s business–even your own.

Being in high school, this can be pretty hard. Everybody’s having new relationships, new problems, new stuff that you just love to know and talk about. Every now and then, you really have to talk a break from all of it. It can be really exhausting and even annoying at a point, which is a good indicator of when to step back and tell yourself to let it all go.

Whether you do that by turning off your phone, computer, TV, whatever I think it’s actually really smart to disconnect once in a while.

Not only do I think distancing yourself from superficial problems of other people, but also distancing yourself from your own worries is equally as important.

Whether you’re stressed about your mean aunt coming to town, your upcoming math test, or the dude in your bio class, disconnecting from all of that can help you destress and maybe realize, if only for a little while, what’s important.

Worrying about inevitable things like deadlines or confrontations doesn’t actually help anyone, especially not you. You can use these worries to your advantage, as motivation to better prepare yourself. Worried about a test? Then tell yourself then you should go study. Easy peasy, right?

Procrastination AKA rewriting assignments throughout the week because I still haven't done them.

Procrastination AKA rewriting assignments throughout the week because I still haven’t done them.

Well, maybe not. I don’t think anyone’s a stranger to procrastination. You don’t actually want to study, so you put it off, worrying yourself even more in the process. If you ever really want to get everything off your chest, then you’re going to have to spend a little while disciplining yourself to get stuff done.

Metaphor Shmetaphor

Sometimes authors just need to chill with the metaphors. I’m pretty sure the entirety of Tale of Two Cities was a metaphor. Just recently we started reading The Grapes of Wrath in my english class, and apparently an entire chapter was metaphor.

Our teacher warned us about these “intercalary” chapters that didn’t really have anything to do with the plot but do have some purpose.

Being a third year AP English student, I immediately thought of metaphors, and when the entire third chapter was about a turtle walking I knew I was in the right direction.

So I got the general idea of whom the title was supposed to represent & how it’s walk was a metaphor too, but little did I know I was missing so much more.

Can you imagine this man being compared to a turtle? Apparently Steinbeck could.

Can you imagine this man being compared to a turtle? Apparently Steinbeck could.

Because when we discussed it in class, I realized just how far the metaphor went. Everything from the color of the turtle’s feet to the number of times it was almost killed was a metaphor apparently.

At first, I thought this was ridiculous. I mean, the color of the turtle’s feet?? This needed to end. But then I realized just how amused I was when I noticed the endless metaphors and just how every book would be without them.

Can you imagine that? A book where absolutely nothing is a symbol. No reading into things. No analyzing. Everything is what it is and that’s it.

Sounds pretty boring right? So maybe metaphors are there for a reason. But maybe writers should also exercise a tiny bit more restraint when comparing a man to a turtle through every tiny aspect.

Stressed, depressed, but educated

I recently read an article on just how stressed and depressed students are today. The author even discussed her experiences at college where she had mental issues. Although, the article mainly focused on the colleges’ inadequacies at helping students, what interested me more was the root cause of the problem.

Teenagers, and students in general, are some of the most stressed out people there are. Not only do the endless deadlines and countless assignments, but also the expectations can stress and depress anyone.

Something I've whispered to myself countless times. Another popular one is APUSH me off a cliff.

Something I’ve whispered to myself countless times. Another popular one is “APUSH me off a cliff.”

Some teachers do try to combat this, whether by telling students before tests, “just do your best!” or assuring them that a single quiz grade isn’t going to ruin their life. The thing they don’t realize is that teenagers are extremely near-sighted.

The thought process of a teenager after getting a bad quiz grade is as follows:

-got a bad grade

-will bring down my whole grade

-bring down my GPA

-won’t get into a good college

-can’t get a good job

-will end up living under a bridge

That, at least for me, is exactly what runs through my mind. So it’s not surprising that students get so stressed and many end up severe depression. Suicide attempts during, in college and high school, are definitely not uncommon. In fact, I think every student has thought about it at one point or another.

Some adults really try to help, but counseling and trying to find ways to deal with our stress isn’t going to make our 3 projects, 2 tests, and an APUSH outline go away.

What really needs to happen is a complete remodel of the education system, but I am not completely delusional and know that this is almost completely out of the story.

So what can we do in the mean time? Providing support for students really is helpful, and if any teachers are reading this, try to ease up, for your student’s health, and for your own conscience.

In With the New

Recently in my English class we did a peer edit for our analysis essays. This was nothing new; we do a group edit for all our essays. But my group has six people so one of us always has to go to another table. This time, I volunteered. And it was a really good choice.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my group, but working with another group, even if just for a day, helped not only my writing but also my team skills in general.

Writing-wise, my group is used to my casual, speech-like tone. The group I was with this time wasn’t, and I could see how easy my writing was to understand for a foreigner. They asked questions and noted the parts they didn’t understand so I could edit what wasn’t comprehensible.

My writing is very stream of consciousness and I can see how it would be hard for someone other than me to really understand what I’m saying. Instead of having to go back and reread pretending to be an outsider, the group did that.

Teamwork, especially in new group dynamics, is important for writing, and all other aspects of life. Photo from http://bit.ly/1vUqlCT

Teamwork, especially in new group dynamics, is important for writing, and all other aspects of life. Photo from http://bit.ly/1vUqlCT

The new people also brought new perspectives and opinions. I wrote about makeup in my essay, which I’ll post later, and they were able to offer their opinions on not only my writing, but also the actual content. This inclusion of more ideas helps my writing be a little more accessible and relatable to a wider audience.

There was also a completely new dynamic with my new group, which helped me as a person become more receptive to change. I had to adapt to the new group and their ways of doing things, which translates into my writing. Being able to change things based on environment or need in one’s day to day life and writing again allows their writing to be more relatable. Not getting so attached to a single idea in an essay, which is a bunch of ideas under a single thesis, and being able to rip through your own work is an elusive skill.

Not many can conquer the desire to keep everything the same and just change some words, but this can ultimately be a writer’s downfall. As Darwin said, it’s not the strongest or the smartest who survive, it’s those most receptive to change. Why? Because you can place a strong person in adverse conditions, and they’ll try to force their way out. A smart person will try to figure out a way out. But someone receptive to change will be able to survive without escaping.

Anyway, back to group editing. Like I said, I love my group, but peer editing essay after essay with them can get repetitive. They give me good edits, but they’re often the same ones. I mean, I haven’t really changed my style, so these edits make sense. But different suggestions on top of these, as I have experienced first hand, help even more.