life

They Always Tell You to “Be Yourself”

Jackie Kennedy, known for her grace and…”

“Audrey Heprburn, a timeless fashion icon who exhibited elegance and sophistication…”

“Marilyn let men chase after her, and it was seldom ever the…”

Her big brown eyes looked sadly over at the television screen. She was nursing a twisted ankle, the results of her efforts in trying to help her mother clean the floors.

“Blossom, are you alright?” her mother had asked her earlier. She was lying on the floor, wet from the soapy water, and was mentally scolding herself for being, yet again, so careless. “Just go to your room.”

As Blossom headed to her room, she could hear her mother’s faint mumbling. “…this girl can’t do anything right.”

And she knew it was true: she couldn’t do anything right. Not even simple house chores.

The documentary on TV about the most admired and beautiful women in history began to wane out, now just a simple slideshow of the women’s achievements with some sentimental background music. Blossom looked at the clock: 7:58 PM. It was almost ending anyways.

She leaned against her bed, her eyes still on the television screen. She wanted, so desperately, to be that elegant, that classy and sophisticated. She recalled a girl who her mother had pointed at school, who she’d labeled as “pretty, natural, classy”.

That girl who her mother had pointed out had actually been one of the most popular girls in school. Not for her looks or her chest size or whatever. It was her intelligence that did it, the way she interacted with people, and the way she presented herself. Beauty is only skin deep, after all. Blossom would observe her, taking note of how she acted, in the hopes that she, too, could become that well composed and intriguing.

Because Blossom was none of the things that she wanted to be. She wasn’t graceful like Jackie, instead being a complete klutz and was falling and tripping left and right, hardly ever taking notice of precautions or consequences or any of that stuff.

She was far from Audrey’s elegance. Blossom’s idea of a comfortable outfit literally consisted of shorts and a loose T-shirt. She loved her worn-out sneakers and secretly loathed getting dressed up and wearing makeup. She hated heels. She even hated ballet flats.

And don’t get her started on her dating life. “Let the boys chase you”? Please. She loved the chase. She loved being the one to go after what she wanted, thinking of ways she could win him over. She wasn’t patient or coy enough to have it be the other way around. Why wait for something that you could make happen yourself? She would think.

Blossom was an interesting girl. She liked laughing loud and showing emotions. She enjoyed being 30% tomboy and acting like a kid. She loved getting overly excited about the smallest things in life. That’s who she is.

But the thing is, she doesn’t like who she is. That’s not who she wants to be. She wished that she could be less clumsy, more apt, smarter, and that she could actually strut in ballet flats without looking like a duck waddling at the park.

All throughout elementary school, all throughout those awkward teenage years, they always tell you to “be yourself”. But what if you don’t like who “yourself” is?

 

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“Pocahontas Never Went to College”

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I know how you feel. I know that heart-wrenching, balloon-deflating feeling when you received that email and scanned through the sentences only to read the words that you were scared of reading most: “We are unable to offer you admission…

You sink into your chair, feeling like a complete idiot. You throw your phone across the room, wreck everything in sight and punch the wall as tears threaten to spurt out of your eyes. You think about how that dude you hate in class who got into your dream school while you hadn’t, which makes you even angrier.

You punch the wall again.

Then you ponder about what you’ve been doing for the past four years of high school, the past four years of your life. You’d studied your rear-end off, spent all that money on tutoring and SAT prep, not to mention spent a ridiculous amount of money on those stupid AP exams. Heck, you sacrificed your sleep and social life to get into college and guess what?

It didn’t pay off.

And it sucks.

Big time.

I even felt angry while typing that very paragraph above. Had to refrain myself from using expletives.

BUT. I know how you feel. Bartleby Gaines does too. And who’s Bartleby Gaines?

THIS IS BARTLEBY GAINES:

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And he is my newest idol.

Some of you may recognize him as the main character in the movie Accepted, aka one of the best movies ever.

Bartleby over here got rejected from all of the schools that he’d applied to. His parents viewed him as a disappointment and no doubt he felt like the biggest loser in the world for letting them down. So what does he do?

He makes his own college.

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“South Harmon Institute of Technology” starts off as a mere cover-up in order to gain his parents’ approval. But what was only supposed to be a little lie turns into an institution that suddenly thousands of other kids want to go to because they didn’t get accepted anywhere else.

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It intrigued me to see the amount of sense in this movie, as ridiculous and comedic as it was. Students were the teachers, and through the abundance of creativity and ideas shared by the entire student body, actual learning took place. Society’s so-called “rejects” were getting more learning done than the prestigious, well-known Harmon College down the street.

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The student-learning environment portrayed in the movie is actually no different from learning today. Students are more and more encouraged to survive tests and quizzes with “independent” learning. Students are expected to share ideas with each other and learn from limited teacher-student interaction. I don’t know much about college but I have heard about how most of time, it’s just lecturing. You’re basically on your own, doing your own homework and developing your own study habits.

Where am I going with this? What I got from Accepted is that grades and teachers can only teach you so much. Sometimes, the real learning comes from talking to people, interacting with them, hearing their life stories. It’s much more enjoyable to learn something when it’s told in story-form. Through people and through others, your friends, you can actually learn things that help you with life, things that you can’t learn in a classroom setting.

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The best place to start for stories? Your teachers. Love them or hate them, they were once students too. You’ll be surprised how mischievous or rebellious some teachers were back in the day. I have never found a teacher-told story boring or uninteresting at all. If anything, they gave me hope and a laugh that would last the entire day.

So keep an open mind. That athlete who sits next to you in Physics or that theater geek who helps you on homework can be some of the best teachers you will ever know. And if you have learned from them, embrace that new profound knowledge. You don’t need a quiz or a test or a college acceptance letter to prove that you’ve learned something valuable.

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And remember.

Pocahontas never even went to college.

5 Perfect Pick-Me-Ups

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We all have those really, really bad days. Days where you’re just in a very uncompromising slump, where all you really want to do is close your eyes and forget that the world even exists. It may be a break up, a tough time with the parents, or a horrible grade on a test. Or maybe it’s the laziness kicking in. The other day I was lying on the couch feeling like the biggest couch potato in the universe, and then my mother asks me to wash the dishes for her.

Of course I didn’t want to get up and of course I had no intentions on exerting energy of any kind.

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Whatever the feeling may be, I have a solution for you. What you need is the perfect pick-me-up.

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Pick-me-ups do wonders. They lighten your spirits, wake up that life inside your body, and make you feel alive again. Which is what life should be about, really. Here are a couple of pick-me-ups that I find extremely effective and hopefully, they manage to cheer you up as well:

1. A Song You Can Dance To

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Nothing gets you up and moving more than the perfect dance track. Put that dance playlist on blast and you’ll feel rejuvenated in no time!

Recommendations:

“Drunk in Love” by Beyonce ft. Jay-Z (seriously the song that I jammed to after my mother made me wash the dishes)

2. A Movie or TV Show That Makes You Laugh

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The thing about movies and TV shows is that they transport you into a new world. You suddenly feel like you’re not alone, that the characters are there to accompany you. If you’re to be transported into a new world, it ought to be a funny world. Comedies are a must. Not only will they make you laugh your rear off, but that source of laughter is what’s going to keep you moving forward throughout the night.

Recommendations:

21 Jump Street

She’s The Man

Mean Girls

Clueless

Yes Man

These are all movies that I would watch when I’m feeling a bit gloomy. They never fail to make me laugh. Stay away from tear-jerkers (unless that kind of stuff strangely comforts you) and you should be good.

3. A Comforting Drink

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What’s more relaxing than curling up with a good book and a rejuvenating drink? In this case, sodas and chips aren’t going to do you justice. Settle for something healthy, something that you know is good for your body. Nothing feels better than knowing that you’re doing something beneficial for your body.

Recommendations:

Any type of tea. My personal favorites are Green Tea and Oolong.

A smoothie from Jamba (Strawberry Wild Light for me)

A plate of apples with almond butter

4. A Great Friend

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When you’re feeling down, the worst thing to be is alone. Call up that friend who you know can make you laugh and smile.

5. A Change of Scenery

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Change is good. The thing is that when you’re in one place for too long, you get bored. And being bored is not a good thing at all.

So take a drive to somewhere new. Go out of your comfort zone and check out that new restaurant down the street, try rock climbing or horseback riding, something you haven’t done before. It’s refreshing to try something new for a change and inevitably, you’ll feel like a new and shiny person.

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Those are my main sources of pick-me-ups and for the most part, they do their job! I hope you get out of your slump and I hope life for you is great. Any other perfect pick-me-ups? Don’t hesitate to share them with me! I would love to read them.

“Parents Just Don’t Understand”

The Nictor Project

Yeah. They really don’t.

There are many things that adults don’t know about students. Many like to think they do, but with the generation gap and the introduction of the technological age, things have definitely changed.

With this project, I aim to voice out aspects of modern-day student life that some adults may not be aware of, such as using smartphones in the classroom, or the real reason why the color of a graduation gown is no big deal. I want to voice these issues out, show people what students are really thinking and doing.

My project also serves as a source for motivation and inspiration, in which I would post quotes that I find meaningful or encouraging. I wanted a project that would assist students in such ways, to help them feel comforted, like they’re not alone with these issues. Parents, teachers, and students can have a better sense of communication and understanding as well.

However, when I was brainstorming for such an innovation project, it had many stages of evolution that would all, inevitably, contribute to the ever-growing Nictor Project.

Stage 1: Origami Origins

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During the summer I’d volunteered at the library several times. One of the events held at the library had been an origami class. The event supervisor advised me that since the majority of the patrons would be kids, to teach something that would be fairly simple. I’d been doing origami ever since elementary school, knowing how to fold a crane with my eyes closed. That was my best, after all: the crane.

But in the end, I’d chosen a cup. It was easy, albeit perhaps a bit too easy, and could be done in literally about three seconds. Click here to learn how to make it!

On the day of the origami class, I sat down at my table, waiting for kids to come. Many kids actually even passed my table, perhaps finding the cup not interesting enough. I shrugged it off, because after all I was still getting my volunteer hours anyways. Bored, I began folding the origami papers on the table, making my crane absentmindedly. A little girl comes by and asks me if I could show her how to make one. “It might be a bit hard,” I warn her. She bravely sits down and replies, “It’s okay.”

So I teach her how to make a crane, step by step. The crane was much more difficult than anything else at the origami event, but soon kids came piling over to my table, wondering how to make such a pretty and exotic bird. Even adults began coming over to learn how to make one.

When I talked to those children, I found that they learned better when you talked to them as if you were talking to an equal, like a friend. I saw many of the other origami instructors, teenagers like me, talking to the kids as if they were still an infant, a mere child.

While first brainstorming for an innovation project, I thought back to this memory and realized how perhaps more adults or parents needed to know about this method of treating children like an equal. I thought about how such a method could prevents kids from being shy, helping them open up and have fun. All these ideas eventually bunched up into a documentary idea about how overprotective parenting basically stinks.

Since I was doing a project on children, I decided to combine the names of my two younger cousins: Nicolas and Victoria. These two cousins of mine are extra special to me because they’re the ones who always keep the kid inside of me alive with their rambunctious ways. So there it was: The Nictor Project.

Of course I had to come up with a logo.

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An old draft. NOTE: the tumblr is no longer in use.

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A before and after.

Stage 2: A Short Attention Span and Mistrust

So now it was time to pitch my innovation project to my advisers. After some brief trials of Crows vs. Crops, I’d simplified it to: a documentary showcasing how overprotective parenting has affected high school students.

My advisers figured that no parent or adult would trust a bunch of teenagers talking about how they don’t like being overprotected. They told me that perhaps I should interview business CEO’s or teachers, people who adults would most likely trust. They also suggested short, 2-minute video clips, since many people don’t like watching videos that are 3 minutes plus (myself, including). 

Stage 3: Apparent Issues

This year, many of my teachers were really starting to utilize technology to get their lessons across: Canvas, Twitter, the school portal, Youtube, pdf files online. My mother would always chastise me for being on the internet so much, and I would defend myself and tell her that it’s for school. But, of course, she wouldn’t believe me. I mentioned this to some of my other friends and they gave me similar responses: their parents were getting on their case too about spending too much time on the internet when in actuality it’s for school.

This was where the idea for my first video came to be. I wanted to showcase a teacher telling directly the audience that education actually needs technology, in the hopes that others would see it and get the idea that students are not in the wrong here. My English teacher assisted me in encouraging me to use Twitter to carry out my project, and also helped me spread the word. My project was suddenly starting to take shape.

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Stage 4: Still Pending

My project is still growing and evolving everyday. Just a couple of weeks ago my teacher suggested uploading quotes or pictures that I find moving or motivating, to keep my project alive.

A couple of photos from @NictorProject 's twitter.

A couple of photos from @NictorProject ‘s twitter.

I tend to observe things around the classroom. I also tend to take the things that my teachers and counselors say into consideration. If they say something that I feel like everyone should know, then I would add it onto my list of video ideas.

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The most difficult part about this project thus far, in my opinion, is describing my project to people. It has such wide boundaries that I have trouble finding ways to sum it up in a sentence. So it was actually pretty hard for me to come up with a valid description for this project. Getting my friend to assist me in filming also was quite a challenge. I do all the editing but a fellow good friend of mine assists me in allowing me to film with her HD camera.

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My future projects include videos about my counselor talking about how gown color actually doesn’t matter. I’d slumped into her office one afternoon, telling her how disappointed I was in myself for not being able to attain the white gown I strove so hard for (at my school, the “smarter” kids with a certain GPA get white gowns instead of blue). She’d asked me, “Do you really think your gown color will have an effect on your future?” When I replied yes, she proceeded to explain to me why she actually loathes the gown color system. And this is what I feel like more people should know, because some of my friends had been pretty sad about not getting their white gowns also.

Another project in pending is a video on how community college is not the end of the world. If anything, it’s a great choice, equally smart. Many people look down on the 2-year community college system but one of my other counselors had also explained to me that it’s actually a super awesome path to take.

If any of you guys have any ideas or input on this project of mine, don’t hesitate to comment below! Or email us at: thenictorproject@gmail.com

I’d used the pronoun “us” back there. This is actually a one-woman project but I like referring to this project with words like “us” or “our” because I feel like we’re all in this together.

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Okay bad joke. But I seriously mean it when I say that this project is for everyone, not just me.

Further links are provided below. I would love for you guys to check it out!

Links

Facebook page

Twitter

Youtube Channel

Anchors

 

Isaac: Then how do you control it?

Derek: Find an anchor. Something meaningful to you. Bind yourself to it. Keep the human side in control.

In MTV’s Teen Wolf, the word “anchor” means much more than just a big metal thing that hangs off ships. Anchors, in the world of Teen Wolf, are people, feelings, places, anything that keeps the human side of the werewolf intact. This idea of having an anchor can also apply to the mortal side of life as well.

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Whether we like it or not, there is a side inside of us that contains some sort of beast, some sort of creature. It’s not supernatural, it’s not mythical. It’s human. The beast comes out when we’re angry, frustrated. It’s any feeling that seems to coordinate with the color red when being thought of. Red is known to be quite an angry color, after all.

In such times of darkness, evil, and despair, it’s hard to not let those feelings of negativity take over. That’s where the anchor comes in. It brings you down to your natural, calmer state, to tranquility and satisfaction.

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However, anchors do not necessarily need to be an outside force. Scott had always thought that Allison had been his one and only anchor, the only thing that can keep him human. During a transformation attack in Season 3B, Scott’s mother Melissa reminds him to use his anchor. Scott retaliates that Allison had been his anchor, and now that they’ve broken up, that he doesn’t have an anchor anymore. Melissa then gives Scott the best advice that one parent can ever give to a teenage werewolf: to be his own anchor.

With just enough strength and mental motivation, you can be your own anchor.

Some may have already found their anchors. Some may haven’t. If you haven’t found your anchor yet, do not fret. It may be a quiet corner in the park, a best friend, a teddy bear, a memory, a feeling. Life is all about learning, seeking, and trying new things. I promise you that it will come, even when you least expect it.

On a side note, I am loving Kira on the show. Can’t wait to see more of her and Scott in the new episode!

What am I waiting for?

Is it graduation? Acceptance? Love? The boy?

When will my life begin?

For the past couple of days, I’ve been pondering about the question that has been asked so many times that it’s grown cliche: what is the meaning of life? I remember watching a movie in Bio once that said the meaning of life was for reproduction, so that new lifeforms can grow and evolve on Earth.

But if life’s purpose is merely for reproduction, is it really worthwhile?

Right now, to me, it doesn’t seem so. I am expected to work my butt off in high school, then in college, throwing away my youth and what fun I can potentially have, constantly worrying about my future and filling my days with school, homework, tests, grades, COLLEGE, MONEY. All for a future that may or may not happen. What happens if I work my butt off, but then I don’t end up with the salary that I want? With the life that I want? What is life anyways? To me it seems as if my life won’t be able to start until I’m in my mid-20’s, even my 30’s. Can I really wait that long without giving up or cracking? Is life really meant to happen this way? Am I just wasting my youth doing all of this schoolwork?

I always feel like I’m waiting for something to happen, always waiting for my life to just start.

But isn’t life too short to waste time not doing anything? I won’t be seventeen forever. I won’t be young forever. But how do you have fun with life without jeopardizing or worrying about your future?

What if it doesn’t get better?

It’s been a ponderous week.

Life’s a gift

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”I figure life’s a gift and I don’t intend on wasting it. You don’t know what hand you’re gonna get dealt next.” 

Nowadays many teenagers abuse the phrase “FML”. Being the superstitious person that I am (karma is just really attracted to me for some reason) I am always cautious about using that phrase. I do not find pleasure in throwing out words about how much I may hate my life because I know that many, many people have it worse. And because of that, I feel like many others should do the same. Life shouldn’t be a thing to be wasted. Because that six-year-old cancer patient out there would be willing to do anything to have a life at all. Cancer. That always hits people right in the heart, doesn’t it?

So think about the life that you have. Think about the good things, stray away from the negative. Smile and laugh a lot, make jokes and do things that you enjoy. I myself am still in the process of enjoying life (how is it possible to when you’re bombarded with thoughts of college and living on the streets and not being able to please your parents every single minute of the day?) and although it may be difficult to consider the fact that many other people have it worse, life should be worth it. I want to live a life that I won’t regret, that I can look back at when I’m near-dying and smile to myself thinking, “I lived a good one.”

JFK Jr., Paul Walker, James Dean, Steve Jobs, Hank Gathers. Those are some of the few names that I came up with at the top of my head. These guys had their lives cut short. But you still have yours. I’m not a fan of getting all sentimental about life and I may even be hypocritical while writing this. But the good side of my conscience tells me that some people out there need to be told that a life should be worth living.

Hopefully my words had some effect. Or at least second thoughts about using the phrase “FML” (but how can you after I brought up cancer?).

In the meantime, for all you Titanic fans out there, what is your favorite scene from the movie? I have many but my ultimate favorite is the “not without you” scene.

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Gets me every single time.