Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Four things I wish my freshman self knew

As I’m finishing up my four years of high school, I’ve slowly began to realize how much that I changed during this short period. These four years totally changed me for the better and I’m so happy to say that I am no longer the timid, confused freshman that I once was a few years back. However, here are just a few things I wish I knew before beginning the best four years of my life (so far)....

Your middle school friends are not going to be your best friends forever.
Yes, I know it sounds sad, but it is true! I tried so hard my freshman year to stick to my middle school friends and not branch out to meet others, because that’s what they were doing. However, I realized that there are so many more people at my high school that I had not even met yet. By my junior and senior years, I am happy to say that I was able to gain the confidence to branch out and find some of my best friends by doing so.

Do what makes you happy!
There were ample opportunities throughout high school that I did not take up until my junior and senior years because I was afraid of what other people might think about me. I was worried about joining clubs and organizations because I did not know anyone in them and did not want to be judged for what I joined. However, I learned that at the end of the day, the only person that you’re trying to make happy is yourself. You should join clubs, play sports, and take classes that make you (and I mean you!) happy.

Don’t stress too hard about grades/college.
Easier said than done, right? But in all seriousness, don’t take than all nighter studying for your chemistry exam, or refuse to hang out with any of your friends because of that huge history paper. Grades do matter, but it’s not the end of the world if you get that one B- on a project or test. I’m not saying to slack off, but make sure to leave some time for fun and breaks, while also working hard in school. Try your best, stick to good study habits (aka do not procrastinate), have fun, and you’ll end up right where you’re supposed to be post high school!
High school is seriously the best.
Football games, school dances, assemblies, amazing teachers, endless clubs, and great friends have been a part of some of my best memories of high school. Not to mention having my own room, bathroom, and home cooked food daily that will not be following me to college next year. You make your longtime friends in high school, find out what you like to do, and have so much time to spend with your friends and family, making high school some of the best years ever. Spend it wisely!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Spring cleaning

The birds are chirping, the days are longer, and it’s time to deep clean! Although normally seen as tedious and annoying, spring cleaning is one of my favorite things about the start of the season! It gives you the chance to get rid of unneeded things and refresh your life. Nonetheless, spring cleaning can be difficult, so if you’re rummaging through your closet these next few weeks trying to decide what to give away and what to keep, ask yourself these questions…

1- Does this have sentimental meaning to me?
Face it, there’s a huge difference between your senior year yearbook and a birthday card that you received five years ago from someone that you don’t talk to anymore. If the object that you’re considering to either keep or part with makes you feel happy or loved, you should keep it. But if it’s something that really doesn’t ignite any positive emotion or brings up bad memories, I’d toss it and make space for new memories to come!

2- When was the last time I used this?
Yes, I’m guilty of holding onto things that I never use or wear because I think that I will later on, but whenever I’m cleaning and I stumble across something that I am considering giving away, I ask myself: Have I used this thing in the past month? If the answer is yes, I keep it of course! But if the answer is no, I’ll toss (or donate!) this item. Obviously, for this one there are exceptions. For example, you might not wear your senior prom dress every month, but you may still want to keep it because of sentimental value!

3- Could I make-do without this item?
Some things you need, some things you like to have/make you happy, and some things are really none of those things and just take up space. If you’re able to part ways with your middle school collection of Seventeen magazine, or face the fact that your army of empty candle containers will do you no good, you should really get rid of them! After parting ways with things that really serve no purpose for you, you’ll feel a lot better and have a ton more extra space. You may not even notice that these things are gone!

Well, there you are! Three questions that you should ask yourself if you’re struggling with spring cleaning and aren’t sure of what to give away and what to keep. I hope this helped you out and that you have the best spring ever! Happy cleaning!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

My Positivity Journal

It seems like everything around us is constantly moving. You travel from one class to the next every 50 minutes, you have practice and work right after school, and after that, you work on homework into the late hours of the night. Your days can go by so fast that you tend to overlook all of the tiny, good things that happen and focus on the major things that happen. Until recently, I was mainly focusing on the negatives.
Because of how fast it seems everything is moving and how I often find myself getting bogged down in the negatives, I began a positivity journal. Each night before I go to bed, I take out my journal, date the page, and write down three things that day that made me smile. It can be something as simple as, “Went on a late night ice cream run with my sister!” or something as monumental as, “Got my acceptance letter into UW-Madison today!” Since I started doing this about a month ago I’ve felt a few things…
First off, I’ve felt more positive! (shocker I know!)  Obviously, that’s the goal of my positivity journal, but I genuinely feel a lot more positive and happy throughout the day. I find myself being proud of myself for accomplishing something and also just being happy whenever one small thing goes my way. I’ve learned to appreciate the underrated, joyous things more, such as reconnecting with an old friend or spending the day organizing my room, and to not get too put down by other things, such as getting a B on my math quiz or having a lot of homework one night.
Since I’ve started my positivity journal, I’ve also felt like I have started to accomplish more on a daily basis. I spend my days trying to do more beneficial things so I can write away in my journal that night. I have felt more productive, wanting to cross off every item on my to-do list. I’ve started to actually want to study for that psychology test on Tuesday, and get that 50 question precalc MathXl done by 5 PM, so I can feel accomplished at the end of the day.
No, my positivity journal is not magic, and these changes certainly did not happen overnight. But since I started keeping this journal one month ago, I have slowly but surely felt like a more positive and productive person day-by-day. So I urge you to do the same and start a positivity journal! Focus on the little happy things that happen each day; life is too short to fall asleep thinking about all of the negative aspects of your days!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Combatting the Winter Blues

In my opinion, February is one of the most dreary and cold months that always tends to drag by day by day. There really isn’t much to look forward to, expect Valentine’s Day and Turnabout, and my motivation for school continues to sink lower and lower, as the sky (somehow!) manages to look grayer and grayer every day. To combat the winter blues and heighten my motivation just a little bit, here are some of the things I like to do:
  1. Catch up with friends! School is busy and scholarship essays are always looming over my shoulders, but it’s always good to take a break and catch up with some of your best friends. Grab a cup of coffee, watch a movie, or even just do homework with the people that you care about and who can always bring a smile to your face.
  2. Exercise. No, you don’t have to go for a full-on run in the 15 degree weather or pay for an expensive gym membership. Instead, actually try to put a little effort into gym class on a daily basis to get some athletic activity in for the day. If that’s not your cup of tea, do some yoga or stretch before bed using an easy step-by-step tutorial that can be found on Pinterest or Youtube. According to MindBodyGreen, just a few minutes of exercise can release endorphins to your brain, stimulating a happier mood and truly ridding you of those wintertime blues!
  3. Stay in. It can be fun to have a fun-packed weekend with every hour scheduled with awesome activities to keep you busy. However, it’s important to stay-in every once in awhile and spend some time with yourself. According to Happify, alone time can improve your concentration, make you more productive, and even enhance your relationships. So, read a book, take a bubble bath, or catch up on your favorite Netflix show! Spend some much deserved time with yourself to wind down and relax.
I hope that your winter has been going great and that you’re able to combat your case of winter blues (if you even have any!) with a few of these tips. Rest up, take care, and stay positive!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Holy Jolly Stress

Personally, I think that the winter months of the year are some of the most stressful times. Between studying for finals, trying to end the semester strong, awaiting college acceptance (or rejection) letters, holiday shopping, and traveling, there seems to be absolutely no time to relax or take a break.
However, despite all of the errands that you’re running and the review packets you’re completing, it is incredibly important to take a little bit of time every few days for yourself. The stress that you may be feeling right now won’t go away if you consistently pile more and more things onto your to-do list and fail to take breaks throughout your busy life. Whether you take 15 minutes every night to do yoga or dedicate a day to cleaning your room, here are ten things that I like to do when I’m stressed out during the wintertime.
There you have it, a few small activities that are easy to do when you’re feeling overwhelmed with everything that’s going on in your life. I hope that you’re able to step away from your computers, textbooks, and
anything else that’s causing you worry in the next few weeks, de-stress, and really focus on yourself for a bit!
Good luck!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

There's a lot to be thankful for!

Happy Thanksgiving! As the holidays roll around, I realize how much I am thankful for, and I am really focusing on taking some time to appreciate all of these things. There really is no better time or day to do this than on Thanksgiving, so here are three little (among many!) things that I am thankful for.
  1. All of my opportunities
I am thankful that I am able to wake up in the morning and go to such an incredible school with ample opportunities to help me succeed in the educational outlet of my life. According to a global education report done by Unicef, 226 million children worldwide do not attend secondary school. Though I complain about school more often than not, I realize how fortunate I am to attend Libertyville High School, because many teenagers all around the world do not even know what school is. At LHS, we have innumerable resources to provide the best for students, awesome teachers, and remarkable extracurriculars and sports teams. Not everyone is as fortunate as us to have all of these amazing opportunities, which is why I am especially grateful today to be a part of various groups such as Drops of Ink, Student Council, and mentoring programs such as Link Crew and Topcats that help me better myself as a student and also as a person.
  1. My support system
I am grateful to have awesome friends who not only have the same interests as me, but also support me and always guide me to success. I surround myself with people that consistently motivate me to try my hardest and strive for perfection in school and my extracurriculars. However, they’re also the lighthearted, insanely kind people who will stay up until 3 AM just to keep me company when I’m feeling down, and will always be down to go on a late night ice cream run when I need to get away from homework. Regardless, I am so thankful to have found such wonderful friends in the past three years that bring out the best in me and can always put a smile on my face no matter the situation I may be in.
  1. Happiness & Health
Yes, it’s simple, I am aware! But think of the days where you were laying in bed, trying to get over a terrible flu or cold. You sat there, miserably sulking, trying to imagine what it even felt like to be healthy. Everyday, people struggle with a multitude of disorders and diseases—whether physical, or mental. I’m so thankful that none of my daily activities are restricted because of my health and that I am able to recover easily and get back on my feet. I am also so fortunate that I have grown up in an environment of positivity and happiness. Ever since I was younger, my parents have always taught me to look on the brighter side of a not-so-good situation and because of this, I do (most) things with a smile on my face!
Although there are countless things to be thankful for, here are three that tend to go a little unappreciated in my life. I hope you are able to take some time today, or anyday, to value things that you are grateful for. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! <3

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Carry all in your carry-on!

As the holidays roll around, so does the season of travel! Traveling can be incredibly stressful--making sure that you’re getting places on time, potentially missing school, and worst of all, PACKING! Though I cannot tell you every single necessary item you need to pack, I can help you a bit! Whether I’m traveling across the country for two weeks, or heading off for a weekend retreat, here are nine of my absolute essentials for my carry-on bag.
The handful of items I like to keep in my carry-on bag! I normally use a backpack or a draw-string because they are easy to carry. I got this white polka-dotted backpack at Target for around $30.
  • Water bottle-- This is pretty self-explanatory. Staying hydrated is key, especially when you’re 35,000 miles in the sky on an airplane! Traveling can be physically exhausting, so keep a water bottle with you and sip from it often.
  • Phone charger-- That heart-wrenching moment when the bar on the upper righthand corner of my phone turns red and I receive the notification saying that I only have 20% battery left kills me every time. This is 100x scarier when I am in an airport and have to call my sister to find what gate she is picking me up at. Do yourself a favor and carry a phone charger with you when traveling! It’ll do you wonders and will relieve some travel stress when you are able to find an outlet to charge your dying phone.   
  • Earphones-- Sometimes I want to tune out the noise of traffic, while other times I want to listen to some calming music to fall asleep on my flight/car ride. Neither of these actions would be possible without headphones, so I like to always keep a pair in my bag because music is something that easily helps me pass time when traveling.  
  • Magazine/books-- Another nice pastime: reading! Snag a copy of the latest copy of your favorite magazine (Drops of Ink is my fav!), or pick up that book you’ve been meaning to finish, and read away.
  • Homework-- None of us want to do it, but it has to be done, especially if you’re traveling during the school year. Bring your math homework, or history textbook, and knock out some homework while you are service-less on your flight and free of distractions like Instagram and Snapchat! Trust me, you’ll get a lot done and won’t have to worry about it during your trip.  
  • Snacks-- Eating sure is a great way to make traveling a bit more bearable. Grab a bag of trail mix, an apple, or treat yourself with a Kit Kat and throw it in your carry-on to munch on during the duration of your travels!
  • Toiletry bag-- Similar to my last post with my “school survival kit”, I keep a bag similar to that one in my carry-on. I’ll put a hairbrush, some hand sanitizer, chapstick, lotion, and makeup in it so I can touch-up with my essentials throughout my travels.  
  • Sunglasses-- The sun may shine in through your window when in a plane, or car. I get terrible headaches when I’m in the sun for too long so I always make sure to have a pair of sunglasses with me when traveling. Also, they can come in handy when I want to take a quick afternoon nap!
  • Wallet-- It’s pretty self-explanatory, but always make sure to have your wallet on you, especially when traveling. You’ll need an I.D. to get through airport security and will want some cash on you to grab a quick snack or magazine, whether you’re traveling by car or plane.  

There ya have it, nine things that I always keep in my carry-on when traveling. I hope that this will help you pack for any upcoming trips you may have. Safe travels!