Lists About Procrastination

Sometimes I can be really good at procrastinating.

 

Like, very, very good at it.

 

And then I’ll feel bad about it, but I’ll keep on procrastinating.

 

It’s only natural for a high school student like me, right?

 

I’ve learned are plenty of ways to convince myself that I’m not procrastinating. I’m just doing “other stuff.” Stuff like:

Reading fan fiction

Reading the news

Reading blogs

Reading shampoo bottles

Watching YouTube

Watching a movie

Watching a spider crawl across the ceiling

Writing stories

Writing poems

Writing a novel

Writing something for this blog

Writing about how much I hate high school

Sleeping

Pretending to sleep

Eating

Hanging out with my friends

Playing with my sister

Thinking about life

Thinking about how I should stop procrastinating

Dreaming

 

I’ve also amassed quite a collection of excuses for procrastinating.

 

Usually I’ll say something like:

I have a headache.

I’m tired.

I’m eating.

I’m sleeping.

I’m talking with Anna about something really important.

I need to watch Tyler Oakley’s new video.

This isn’t due for another two days. I can do it tomorrow.

I can finish it tonight.

There’s plenty of time left.

I’m trying to kill the spider on my ceiling.

I have to go to Beth’s house. It’s important.

I finished all my homework yesterday (not at all).

I don’t have any homework today.

I have to fix my car.

I first have to go buy a car.

Just kidding, I need to go get my license.

I need to fix my hair

I need to fix my face.

I need to get a life.

 

It’s pretty bad.

 

And amidst all this procrastination, what I should really be doing is:

Finishing my homework

Studying for that calculus final coming up on Tuesday

Getting ahead on the history project

Writing my English essay

Reading Shakespeare

Taking out the trash

Doing the laundry

Cleaning my room

Preparing for my internship interview

Looking for a job

Studying for SATs

Learning Spanish

Learning physics

Learning how to get into college

Learning how to not procrastinate

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High School is Not Pretty

When I was younger—around the time I first started grade school, give or take a few years—I thought that high school was going to be magical: large, sprawling campus; beautiful buildings; and spacious classrooms. But then again, at that age, I thought everything was going to be magical. Unfortunately, nothing was magical, and nothing was ever going to be magical, least of all a high school campus.

On the first day of freshman year, I walked towards the main building, which looked ancient and, frankly, seemed like it was about to fall apart. The originally white (now it was more of a pale brownish-yellow color) paint was scratched, there were cracks all along the outer walls, and chunks of the red brick roof were now on the ground.

I hesitated outside the front entrance (the dark green paint here was also scratched and peeling), scared that if I pulled open the door, it would somehow cause the entire building to collapse. Kind of like in Jenga, when you remove that final block that determines the fate of the rest of the structure.

Luckily, I didn’t have to make a choice, because right at that moment, someone from behind shoved me forward and pulled open the door. The main hallway was crowded with students who somehow all managed to be at least a foot taller than me. (Some where sitting down against the wall, but I could just tell that when they stood up, they’d be like eight feet tall or something.) The lighting was terrible: it was very dim, and one light was flickering like in a horror movie. Like, thank you very much—high school is already terrifying enough without that extra horror movie feel to it.

I grumpily weaved my way in and out of the mass of students, some of which were running back and forth playing some ball game, others who were just chatting, and even a couple who was having an extremely explicit make out session in the corner. Lovely. I was supposed to be going to room 42, which was my first period English class, but all I had managed to accomplish was getting lost in this not-even-very-big school. (Now that takes some skill.)

Finally, after about seven minutes of wandering back and forth between the broken and stained white walls while trying to convince myself that I wasn’t in a horror movie (it was too loud for any phantoms to be around anyways), I finally gathered up the courage to ask someone for help. Of course, that was when the bell rang, and everyone else scrambled off to class, seeming to know exactly where they were going.

Well this was going to be a pleasant four years.

Happy Mother’s Day!

After thinking long and hard and failing to come up with anything remotely creative to give to my mom yesterday (Mother’s Day), I finally decided to try my hand at spoken-word poetry. So I wrote her a poem and then presented it to her, and, let’s just say that she was extremely moved by it. She wanted me to enter it in some sort of competition, which I, of course, objected to. In the end, we compromised and I told her I would post it here. Enjoy!

 

I couldn’t figure out how

To start this,

So I guess I will just go with

“Dear Mom.”

 

Dear Mom,

If I could express to you

In two words

How thankful I am for everything you do,

They would be

“I can’t.”

A thousand words,

Which is how much a picture is worth,

By the way,

Couldn’t even begin to cover

Everything I want to tell you

In this moment—

Right now.

 

But I can still try.

 

I’ve been told that when I’m not sure

How to do something,

It’s easiest

To start off with lists.

So here is a list of words that describe you:

Loving, caring, compassionate.

Supportive and protective.

And above all,

An amazing mom to me.

 

From the unspoken inside jokes,

To the hours spent lying in front of the TV

Laughing over old Disney Channel shows,

To the even longer hours in front of my computer

On Saturday nights

Editing my Chinese homework—

Bet you’re happy that’s over now;

To the rare moments we get to spend

Quality time together,

Just talking, and laughing, and

Being mother and daughter—

You’ve been there.

From the constant complaints,

The anger and frustration

And arguments and tears,

To the great big smiles

That stretch across the world,

To the overly normal days

Where seemingly nothing happens—

You’ve stayed by my side.

 

You’ve walked with me

Through the darkest of nights,

Helped me climb

The tallest, steepest, most dangerous mountains

In the whole entire universe,

Lifted me up so that I could grab

The highest of stars

That seemed to always hang

Just out of reach

In the velvet midnight sky.

 

And when I pushed you away,

Insisting to you that

“I’m fine. I’m grown up now.

I can do it on my own,”

You came back anyways,

And insisted to me that

I didn’t know what on Earth I was talking about,

If I thought you would let me go

So easily.

Because of course,

As the World’s Best Mother,

You would never give up

Without a fight.

And so when I fought back,

You would fight harder,

To keep me safe,

To keep me warm,

To keep me happy,

And to make sure I knew

That someone cared,

That someone loved me

More than she could love

Herself.

 

You are like the Sun,

And I am like Mercury.

I am closer to you

Than any other planet

In the solar system,

Yet sometimes,

I drift away from you.

I am still part of your life

And you are part of mine,

For we can never completely separate;

We are just more distant than usual.

But Mercury has an elliptical orbit,

And just like it will always

Be pulled towards the Sun again,

I will always

Find my way back to you—

Straight into your welcoming arms.

 

And our relationship is like

A language:

A secrete language—

The Language of Mother and Daughter.

Most of the time,

We understand each other so well.

Each time we say something,

The response is automatic:

No need to spend time translating

Or looking up definitions in a dictionary

Or taking time to figure out

What each of us was saying.

But, even for native speakers

Who are at the maximum fluency,

Even they have trouble sometimes

With their language.

That is why I still have to take

Four years of high school English,

And why you sometimes have to reference

Dad for help in Chinese.

This is the same for our language.

Sometimes we don’t understand

One another,

And we need to spend some time

To go to Google Translate

And learn new words,

So that we can once again

Be on the same page.

And after each misunderstanding,

Our language proficiency just keeps growing.

It keeps growing, and expanding,

So that we understand each other

Better and better

Each day.

 

I’d like to think that most daughters

Don’t have such an amazing relationship

With their moms,

Like I do.

I’d like to think that most daughters

Aren’t able to share inside jokes

With their moms

Like I can.

I’d like to think that most daughters

Can’t create their own secret language

With their moms

Like I have.

 

We are special.

You are special

You are the flashlight

That guides me through the black night.

You are the warrior

That never gives up fighting for me.

You are the Sun

In the center of my solar system

And the gravity

That keeps me close to you

Always.

But most of all,

You are my mother.

And I hope that you can one day

Be proud to tell the world,

“See that girl up there?

See her?

The one with the messy black hair

That she refuses to let me comb through

Each morning,

And the crooked smile

And the sparkling eyes?

Well, that’s my daughter up there,

And I’m her mother.

I am Stephanie’s mom.”

 

Happy Mothers’ Day!

 

Love,

Me

Writer’s Block

So, I told myself that I would not use my blog as a place to rant my heart out; instead, I promised that I would simply use it as a place to gently express the pent-up feelings that I cannot otherwise do so in my every day life. And now, only a few weeks upon beginning my writing here, I’m already going to break that promise.

Because holy freaking @!#$ How annoying is it when it’s been, like, a week, and you still haven’t written anything decent? I know, I know, everyone gets writer’s block, as I’ve been told countless of times. Still doesn’t make me feel any better, though.

I hate the feeling of opening up my laptop and going to a fresh new Word document, and then having my mind go as blank as the page in front of me. There’s just this complete sense of empty blackness, like I’m being sucked into a black hole or something. And the harder I try to think, the deeper I’m being dragged in, farther and farther away from the Land of Creativity. But the worst thing of all is, as I’m going down, I get the feeling that I’ll never be able to claw my way back out again. Well, until the epiphany hits. But those are so rare that for the majority of the time, I am wallowing in the despair of Having Writer’s Block.

And as a result of this highly debilitating condition, I have not been able to crank out anything decent for the past week, be it for an English essay (which is due on Friday, unfortunately) or just for fun. And I just can’t deal with that. Sometimes I get so mad when I can’t think of anything to write, since I know I can do it, but I just can’t at the moment. It’s kind of like during a calculus test, when you know how to do a problem (as in, you’ve seen it before and done practice on it and everything) but you just don’t know how to do it right there and then.

Well, I guess that’s that, then. This, in no way, serves as a substitute for a regular post, but I was hoping that by ranting my heart out, the Land of Creativity would somehow find the kindness to grant me a fresh thinking cap. Or not. Fingers crossed!

Thanks for listening.

I Used to Be

I used to be the girl in the back of the room with her head down, hair covering her eyes, and lips sealed tight. I used to be the girl who would stutter so much when she spoke to others that her words were almost incoherent. I used to be the girl who didn’t have a voice, too scared that she would be mocked, laughed at, and rejected.

I used to be the girl with very few friends, for I didn’t like interacting much with anyone. I used to be the girl who couldn’t trust anyone, who thought that no one really cared. I used to be the girl who closed herself to everyone, too afraid to open herself up, too afraid to be hurt.

I used to think I that I couldn’t do anything, that I wasn’t powerful enough to do anything. I used to be the girl who thought that no one believed in her. I used to be the girl who didn’t even believe in herself.

But I am no longer that girl.

I am no longer the girl who talked to people’s feet when they spoke to her. I am no longer the girl who walks with her eyes trained on the floor, never looking up, because she is afraid to trip and fall. I am no longer the girl with the sealed lips and the closed heart.

I have learned to open myself up to the world, to jump and fall, and trust that someone will be there at the bottom to catch me. I have learned that I have a voice, and that there are people out there who will listen. I have learned that I am not alone in this world.

Now I am the girl who isn’t afraid to speak her mind, who isn’t afraid to hold her head high, who isn’t afraid to show herself to the world. I am the girl who can look others in the eye, who can trust that they will be kind. I am the girl who pursues her passions, her dreams, without a care about what anyone else thinks. I am the girl who believes in herself.

Sometimes, though, I go back to the girl I used to be. I go back to being scared: scared of the uncertain, scared of the unknown. I go back to thinking that perhaps my voice doesn’t really matter, that perhaps it isn’t as powerful as I had been lead to believe. I go back to the back of the room, with her head down, hair covering her eyes, and lips sealed tight.

But at least now I know that I will always be able to find my way out again.

Great Expectations

Stanford acceptance rate in 2000: 13.2 percent; about 18,400 students applied. In 2005, this former number decreased to 11.9 percent; the latter increased to 20,200. By 2010, the acceptance rate was down to 7.2 percent, while the number of applicants had increased by more than 50% to over 32,000. And this year, there were nearly 42,200 applicants. Only 5.07 percent of them were accepted, reported as “the lowest admit rate in University history” (The Stanford Daily). While this does not absolutely prove that students’ expectations have risen over the last few years, it does show trends that likely result from this increase.

I definitely feel that, as a high school sophomore myself, expectations for students in middle school, in high school, and perhaps even in elementary school, have increased significantly over the last decade. Of course, this would be expected; however, sometimes I wonder: have they increased too much?

I think that many students nowadays have expectations that are much too high to be realistic. And I think parents’ expectations are, somehow or another, even higher. We are expected to take more AP and honors classes. We are expected to maintain top-notch grades. We are expected to have a lot of extracurriculars, and to excel in them as well. And, of course, we are expected to get into good colleges.

And I feel that these students, themselves, feel that they will be able to achieve these things. This is reflected in the increase in people taking AP tests, the increase of special classes to help students score better on standardized tests, and, of course, the increase in applicants to prestigious colleges. But the truth is, while many truly do have the potential to succeed, many more are just pushing themselves too far beyond their limits. Their expectations for themselves are too high. Their parents’ expectations are too high.

Take my friend for example. He is taking four AP classes this year, which, for many people, isn’t a problem. But for him, it is. However, his parents pressured him into it. He thought he could succeed, too; he was so confident about it at the beginning of the year. Let’s just say that his plans went slightly awry. Every night he has so many extracurriculars and so much homework, that he makes up his sleep during class. And now he is failing out of three of the four classes. Why? There was too much pressure; there were too high expectations.

Now, this isn’t to say that I am trying to attack him or anything; he is my friend, after all. And I know that some people are, in fact, able to handle multiple AP classes on top of five or six extracurricular activities. But not everyone is, and this clearly shows that many students nowadays are either forced into doing things that they are not capable of, or they have somehow become disillusioned to the fact that they are able to do more than they can actually handle. And while I do admire many of those applicants to Stanford, I think that some people just need to learn their limits. And some parents need to learn that Stanford is not the only path in life.

A large part of this, I think, is due to stereotyping. I think that many people have this mindset that the majority of students who are accepted into Ivy Leagues are highly academically oriented, meaning that they are involved in nearly every on-campus academic club there is. They also participate in Science Fair, have hundreds of hours of community service, hold a job, play a sport, and perhaps even an instrument. And this causes everyone to think that they have to do all those exact things to get into Harvard, or Yale, or Harvard of the West Coast. Even worse, parents get the mindset that their kids have to emulate those Princeton or Columbia-bound seniors. They expect their kids to emulate those Princeton or Columbia-bound seniors. I know from personal experience.

Of course, this definitely isn’t to say that all students have such high expectations for themselves, and certainly not all parents put so much pressure on their kids. But I feel that this trend is becoming more and more apparent, at least where I live. And I must also address the fact that perhaps many students who have such great expectations for themselves really do have the potential to reach those expectations. I do not doubt it at all. But not everyone falls under that category.

Personally, I think that it is a good thing to set high expectations. It gives people a goal to work to, and it forces them to work hard to achieve it. It is only when those aspirations are set too high, and those people are physically and mentally struggling to reach them, that I feel like saying, “Why waste your time?” And I am getting that feeling a lot more now, what with all my friends preparing for junior year and all, and about 90 percent of them stressing about school at least six times in any given day.

I certainly have my own expectations. I expect to work hard and get good grades. I expect to succeed in doing what I love. I expect to go to a decent college. I expect to wake up tomorrow and see that the sky has not fallen yet. But I do not expect myself to try and take a class that I know I cannot handle. I do not expect to achieve my aspirations without putting in hard work. I do not expect to get into all the Ivy League schools just because I expect it. Oh, and I do not expect the sky to fall down just because one thing in life did not turn out the way I had planned.

The thing is: we all have great expectations. We just need to learn to know and recognize our limits.

Note: I apologize for deviating from the topic quite a bit and going on a hundred different tangents; hopefully I didn’t completely butcher this week’s topic. The minds of high schoolers are quite all over the place, you see. Or perhaps it’s just me.

Walled In

walled in_2

Note: I don’t own any pictures.

I felt like I couldn’t breathe. It was me against them, and they had won. I had been captured, tied up, and locked in a tiny metal box that lacked even a single hole for air. And so there I existed—not sitting, nor laying down—just existing, just being there, waiting for the day when I would be set free. Surely soon, they would have decided they had kept me locked up for long enough; perhaps they would get bored and let me go.

But they didn’t. Instead, the walls began to close on me even further, and they demanded more and more and more from me. There were all those voices shouting for me to do better, to be better. And they not only expected me to achieve their standards, but to surpass them by a grand margin as well. I was suffocating.

The pressure grew—the pressure in my mind, on my heart, in my thoughts—it just kept growing and expanding until I wanted to scream. But there was no air for screaming. I had no choice but to give into their demands. But I also think that a part of me wanted to give in to their demands, to prove to them that I was not weak, that I could do anything and everything they required of me.

Nevertheless, it was too late; I was almost completely crushed by the walls; how would I ever be able to fix myself again? And I was scared: scared to try and break free of the chains that had bound me for so long, scared that I would anger them with my resistance, scared of the possibility that I might fail, and end up in a situation even more dire than the this. So I continued to exist there, quiet, obedient, and feeling completely and utterly helpless.

Until the day someone poked the hole into my tiny metal box.

The wisp of air that swept in was great enough to revive my entire heart. I thought, Perhaps there really is a way out.

I wanted more of that air. I wanted it to fill my chest and mind and being, and to take me far up high, and far, far away. I wanted to be free, free like I used to be, before they caught me and tied me up. And so I began fighting.

First I tried piecing myself back together, taking all the crushed parts and fixing them anew. That was the hardest part. There was always the voice, always the lingering thought, What if I fail? Some days it grew to be so much that I almost let myself crumble again. But the air that trickled in from that tiny little hole kept me going. And finally, finally, I made myself whole again.

The next task was to escape from the chains, break free from the box. Before I had no air, but now I could breathe, and I used each breath to build myself stronger, all the while watching that little air hole. What did it matter if I no longer tried to please them? What did it matter if they caught me? I would just try again. And my thoughts of failure all but dissipated. I could do this.

When I first got out, though, my worst fears were confirmed. They were so angry—they were angry, and mocking, and disdainful, and condescending. Who did I think I was, trying to defy them? I ran anyways, and they came chasing after me. But I ran harder this time, pushed farther, because I could do this. They didn’t matter. It was all me. It always had been. I had just been too scared to know.

I let the air seep in through my heart and soul, let it sink deep into the depths of everything that was me. It lifted me higher and higher, and soon, I was free at last.

And I swore that I’d never let myself be walled in by them again