Monthly Archives: March 2016

My Life After University Acceptances

*Please know that it isn’t easy for me to do this, I might regret this one day but I truly don’t want you to make the same mistakes I did. And that picture was taken a while ago so that’s why I’m really happy! I won’t get the chance to wear that sweater again, but it adds some context?

There was a time not long ago when I placed my life in context of goals. I would not get a chai latte if I didn’t get 100% on my calculus test. I would not go buy lunch if I didn’t reach a small goal. You might think it’s silly or pathetic, but get this, I placed my life on a larger scale in regards to a small dream of mine: Harvard. Harvard is by no means my life goal but it was a big goal that my seven year old self did not fully comprehend at that time. And as childhood started to transition into teen life, I found my passions, explored them, indulged in them, and lived them. But when I started recognizing that if I even wanted a chance to making my dream reality I gave that 110% dedication to extracurriculars, responsibilities, and of course academics.

That 110% really harmed me in more ways than good. Yes it brought me to where I am today and I am highly grateful for that. But it also pushed me past my limits. I was and still am taking the most rigorous program at our school which means I’m doing university level courses and taking university courses at the local university in Gr. 12 while leading various clubs, organizations and national level boards. So life isn’t easy, it’s hard. I remember even now or whenever I was hungry, I couldn’t eat because I was busy managing meetings, events, skyping in for calls, etc. I would be that kid everyone was annoyed with because during AP Calc, what was that noise of munching: me. I started placing Harvard on a pedestal and all my achievements became more important than myself. *Now don’t get me wrong please: I fully am passionate what I do and I really want to help those struggling in the poverty cycle by empowering them. That’s my life dream. And it’s difficult when people spread rumours or misinterpret what I do for using it to get into university, it’s not it. What I’m simply stating is the fact that there were times my body told me to STOP and RELAX. My body told me that I was beyond tired that day when after leading a pep rally for Student Council, I forced myself for a long night of studying for a university midterm and calc exam. By the end of night, I hadn’t gotten any studying done, NO SURPRISE! Instead another surprise found me: THIRD SPONTANEOUS LUNG COLLAPSE. Boo hoo. Every single of my spontaneous lung collapses occurred during my most stressful weeks filled with too many EC’s, academics, and commitments. And because of it, I lost myself.

My lung collapses changed me as a person and I am beyond shocked by the personal growth I have had these past few months and years, but it also took away some of my good health. If I listened to my gut and my heart to stop pushing myself I might not have had my lung chopped up. I might not have seven scars. I might not have seen my dad cry for the first time. All these things were because I was focusing on the wrong thing. I placed too many things before my health and I let it eat me away slowly. I pushed myself past my limits to keep going because: Harvard. If I didn’t work hard, Harvard wouldn’t want me. If I didn’t get top notch grades or be at the top, it wouldn’t work out.

Guess what it didn’t work out. But it’s okay. I mean yeah it’s okay after a few hours of crying and talking to wonderful people who I am so thankful to have as friends ❤ but now I’m good. I’ve learned so much from this US university process and all I know is that I’m not going to let a dozen or more so rejection letters get in the way of me helping those who are often forgotten about. And to those who seriously think that I actually don’t care about what I do, please love yourself first (and I genuinely mean love because you need to accept yourself first before accepting others like me). There’s not enough words to describe how much more it hurts when people doubt my passions, but I will not and cannot let that get in my way. If you’re reading this and you’re hurting over rejections or the fact that people doubt you, know that you’re not alone… I’m more than willing to talk and cheer you up 😀

Life will be different after university acceptances or rejections but know that everything always works for the better. When one door closes another opens ❤ And make sure you set your priorities straight because you live only one life-

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7 Books to Read this Spring Break

Hey there! If you don’t know: reading is love, reading is life. As a high schooler, I am beyond lucky to get two weeks of Spring Break this year where I can finally binge read and indulge in one of my favourite past times: reading (you guessed it)!

I’ve read a lot of books in my seventeen years of life, but these books have really popped up in my mind so I decided to share these jems! I hope you enjoy these as much as I did!

  1. Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo– This book was one of the most recent books that I read non stop from cover to cover. It describes the increasing poverty gap in a beautiful story style but it is actually all based on real life. Follow families living in poverty on the outskirts of Dubai, in the slums. The rawness of emotions and ideas that came out of reading this book is phenomenal. Never before did I really see an inside perspective of what it’s like to work day in and day out but never ease your family out of poverty. I saw the desperation within those who would do anything for a better life. This book will introduce you to things we may have never took much thought of. And it also added more fuel to the fire that I need to do something to help those living in poverty.
  2. A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout– This book is a recount of the experience Amanda had when she was held hostage in Somalia. When I started reading this book, I simply could not put it down. But at the same time I thought the author was telling a  story and not their own real life experience until I had finished the book where an author’s note lay. Even without knowing this however, I felt for Amanda through all the terrible things she had to go through. I learned a lot about the various countries she travelled and unfortunately the horrific abuses she endured by her tormentors. Eye opening in a new sense about how really one’s life can change in the blink of a moment either for better or for worse.
  3. The Great Gatsby by Scott F. Fitzgerald- If you haven’t read any classics outside of obligations (like school or university) I suggest you read some more because they’re famous for a reason! Starting to read classics a few years ago, I fell in love with the Great Gatsby (not just Leonardo DiCaprio but the book itself). I really enjoyed Fitzgerald’s writing and the complex themes discussed under such seemingly simple places, people, and things. It got me to ponder on a deeper level about many societal themes like the American Dream and it got me thinking about what makes people the way they are, like the characters Daisy and Tom. Every time I read the Great Gatsby I pick up another aspect about the theme, the characters, and the morals of the book. It’s astonishing because you would think maybe after two times I would have understood the characters, but no! With every reading, I am able to uncover another complex layer of the characters within this story.
  4. Animal Farm/ 1984- George Orwell- Honestly, read anything of Orwells and you cannot go wrong (that’s just my opinion though). His writing is so thought provoking that I almost think about the themes and ideas raised in both his books everyday! If you’re an expert on literature, history, philosophy, or psychology you may not find this book as too much of a surprise, but being the young student I am, I was mind blown by the writing and complexity of thought that accompanied this book. Read this book if you want to be challenged both intellectually and idealistically. Read this book if you want to learn more about history (Russian Revolution, communism, dictatorship, Stalin, etc) and people. I included these two books because they’re the two major novels, but Orwell has written countless amazing essays that also need to be checked out!
  5. Steve Jobs-Walter Isaacson I put this in here because biographies/autobiographies might be boring for some but honestly we learn a lot from one another. This was a major autobiography (quite big and famous) that I read most recently considering I have yet to finish others. But try reading about someone’s life that you’re curious about or want to learn more about. I picked up this autobiography because I wanted to see the work ethic of Jobs and how he made it to the top. I won’t reveal too much but I loved the honesty of the author as the book was consisted of raw real life moments of a person society high values. It’s quite amazing to catch a glimpse of a famous person’s life to understand that we all have our struggles but it’s what we do to conquer them that initiates our path to success. There are countless other autobiographies or biographies to read, some that I have seen around are: Malala, Carly Fiorina, Michael Phelps, etc
  6. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway- Call me crazy but I had not heard of Hemingway up until a few years ago (I was fourteen). And I am currently reading A Farewell to Arms and about to tackle For Whom the Bell Tolls. I would not say that I’m ecstatic about his writing just yet but his writing does do wonders. The first book I read which is quite short: The Old Man and the Sea really got me to think about life in a completely new aspect. An aspect I had considered before but it wasn’t until reading this book that I fully comprehended it in the context of my own life taking it from the boy and his grandfather. Honestly, read it for the themes and for Hemingway’s writing! If you don’t enjoy it, at least you can say that you read Hemingway!
  7. Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahnman- I picked this book up in the summer at the Harvard Book Store (so I will cherish the memories that come with it) and I didn’t know exactly what to expect. It was on the shelf of MUST READS and the fact that Dr. Kahnman has won the Nobel Peace Prize for Economics further reiterated my need to get the book. Due to school I am not completely finished but I am around half way. It definitely is different from a typical snuggle up rainy day kind of book. It’s again a thought provoking book about Dr. Kahnman’s research on our thinking in regards to our intuition and our slower thought processes. He discusses a lot of experiments and the results to further explore his research and introduces new data that I had certainly not given a lot of thought to before.

I hope you enjoy that reading list! I am also writing an amalgamation of book reviews for some of my other books on the free reading/writing site: Wattpad! You can find some romantic/comedic books that I’m reviewing here: Best Wattpad Novels

Finding your identity

Knowing who you are is not easy. For some it takes a lot of time and self exploration to discover who you are and who you want to be.

It was until yesterday that I finally accepted who I am, this means that I no longer feel the need to compare myself with others, I no longer feel worthless with hurtful comments, and I no longer am at the mercy of what other’s think of me. I used to care a lot about what others think about me. Am I being to mean, what if they won’t like it if I do this? I scrutinized everything about myself and made sure to consider the feelings of everyone before I went about doing something. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but what was a problem was that I lived for that. I lived for others’ approval and I metaphorically got drained out when I didn’t please others.

I realized that finding my identity has a lot to do with personal acceptance and loving myself. Before I was afraid to love myself or build confidence because I didn’t want to come across as narcissistic or arrogant. Now this personal acceptance didn’t just come out of nowhere. For me it came through my faith and God. For everyone, it’s different and I hope you can find it one day. But when I realized my identity was in Christ and that He made me like no one else in the world, I knew that I couldn’t keep pushing myself down. Successful people don’t need to hear what other’s think or say about them (even though they might do so), they know who they are. They know of their own accomplishments and their potential and they don’t need anyone else telling them otherwise.

So yes, I do have a lot of flaws and make mistakes but I will not let that get in the way of how I see myself. The important thing is that I work to fix those mistakes and my problems, but I won’t let them drag me down.

Living life now even though it’s only been 24 hours, I feel light. This isn’t even an exaggeration, but literally I feel like a heavy weight has been lifted off of me. For a few weeks now, I’ve been waking up feeling uninspired and so drained to tackle the day. But not today! I feel ready to tackle anything and pursue my dreams.

Once you find that key and let yourself free, it’s the most amazing. Especially living in the society we do now, it’s hard to know who you are with the constant showering of social media, new norms, and public events going on. You have that voice deep down inside of you somewhere, just keep listening. Don’t drone it out. Despite all the negative comments that once were said about me, in hindsight I knew that I keep pressing down the small voice within me that said, you are worth it. We all have it within us to do whatever we set out to achieve, but make sure you know yourself enough so that you can propel yourself forward in the time that people start challenging who you are, what you value, and your beliefs!

10 Reasons to Run

As I prepare for the 10km annual Vancouver Sun Run, I decided to inspire you with 10 reasons to run. Running has made a great impact in my life and here’s why:

  1. Source of inspiration. When I’m out running in the world’s wonders, whether it be a bright sunny blue sky kind of day, or a mellow drizzly rainy day, I see the beautiful mountains, trees, and wildlife around me and I get inspired for whatever I’m doing (writing, art, and yes even homework).
  2. Empowering. After I’ve beat my times or pushed myself to run even though I want to stay home and curl up with a book instead, I feel amazing and accomplished. Running empowers me to feel healthy and to feel powerful to make decisions that are beneficial to who I am.
  3. Healthy. So as a source of physical exercise, running is a form of activity that engages your whole body (very effect for multi-taskers and those who want to work all muscle groups)! Setting a routine or a schedule to run, will help you hit the recommended times for exercising which lowers risk of heart disease, chronic illnesses, and among other health problems that arise from sitting at the desk or on the couch all day. Plus you don’t need to get equipment or get a gym membership! All you need is yourself and a place to run! You can run inside (on a track if you do want to be at the gym) or outside (at no cost and rain or shine so literally 24/7)!
  4. Trains you for…? Running can prepare you for other big obstacles in your life! From regular running, you can build a higher pain tolerance as the rush of endorphins from exercise are a natural pain killer.Athletes are known to have a higher pain tolerance due to this fact. Furthermore, running isn’t easy if you’re continually trying to better yourself, it trains you to work harder and push yourself harder to reach the next milestone.
  5. It’s like life. As a runner, sometimes I’m having an off day and right after a few minutes in, my back is in a lot of pain (due to my bad back pain) and I want to stop. But it’s about setting a small goal like that red car a hundred metres way and working to that. Then setting another goal and working towards that. In life, it’s hard to lose focus when you have a very big goal, so it’s important to set small goals to help you achieve the big goal. In another aspect, life is one long run. It’s about pacing yourself right so that you have the stamina to keep going instead of stopping.
  6. Stress Releaser/ Stress Reducer . When times are tough and I’ve overloaded myself with school and extracurricular responsibilities, it’s hard to cope. But one things that has been super beneficial in regards to me dealing with stress, is to run. Running helps me take my mind off things and just focus on breathing. I’m so focused on my next landmark to run to, and my breathing that I’m not calculating integrals or concentrating on thermodynamics or fussing over chemistry labs. Running is my little escape to let out all my frustration in running as hard and as best as I can.
  7. Bonding experience. Running is a great form of activity (well among other activities as well) that bonds people together. Whether it’s a race to raise awareness for a cause or fundraise for an organization, running brings people together. If it’s a first date (ehhh), or a get together for friends, or a family day kind of thing, running is something that is fit for any pace. For me, I love to run with friends and talk to them about life outside of school. Running races for causes that I care about and meeting other people who are also passionate about the cause and running (two birds with one stone) is amazing!
  8. Discovery. Running by yourself on the other hand leaves a lot of time for you to think (other than breathing). A lot of creative ideas, self discovery comes out from runs that you might have not thought about. Also, you’re not just discovering more about yourself, but also your surroundings. If you take adventures by running different routes, or through varying sceneries around your city/neighbourhood you’re having a cool adventure by discovering more about the world you live in!
  9. It makes you happy! Back to the endorphins, running isn’t just something that can build your pain tolerance and bring healthiness, but it makes you happy! *Happiness not necessarily guaranteed* But it definitely sets you to an increased chance of being happy due to all the endorphins, time away from work/school, and other family responsibilities. We all need some alone time sometimes away from it all!
  10. Bragging Rights. Okay come on, isn’t it cool to answer someone when they’re like *le gasp* you run? And you’re like hair flip and all, yep that’s right I run. Running regularly (not just a one time thing) is admirable because it takes a lot of dedication and perseverance to be able to stick to it. So that’s right, just like any other sport or activity that you dedicate a lot of hard work into, you get bragging rights (let’s not be pompous though)?

(How to) Love Yourself?

In celebration of International Women’s Day, I would like to take the time to appreciate the wonderful achievements of women around the world:)Women's Day

There are so many milestone’s that women have achieved but there are many more that still need to be reached. International Women’s Day is a constant reminder of the beautiful strong women out there but for me, also those who have not had their voices heard. Thank you to all those who have helped shape the definition of a women throughout the years and those today who are the epitome of what women are and what they can be.

This post is called Love Yourself and it’s for all the women out there who feel unworthy or think they have fallen short of their potential.

It’s easy to feel unworthy with the constant pressure of media, and new social norms. But through these past days, watching empowering women talk about issues they’re passionate about and their body image, I realized something that never clicked inside me. I know that it’s important to accept who I am before others can accept me. I know that confidence can be fleeting at times and there will be times I will feel small. But what I did not know was that I cared a lot about what others thought about me, and now I still do (but not as much) and this was because despite being bullied over four years ago, I had not learned to love myself. If I did not love myself, whenever hurtful comments were pointed my way, they would slip past my strong exterior and then crumple what I had inside. It would take maybe a few hours, sometimes days or weeks to build myself back again and then get ready to fight off any negativity from other comments that might come. You see for me it never stopped. With one word, someone could set me catapulting back into all the hateful words, comments, and things that amalgamated the past years. And I knew it was dangerous because I kept hurting myself because I believed those things about me. That I was useless, ugly, undeserving, and much more added with personal insults at myself. That cycle will keep on going if I did not point it out and carefully remove myself from this situation. Watching this interview: Anne Hathway on her bullies and seeing how Ms. Hathway handled the situation, I learned a lot.

It’s true perhaps I don’t love myself enough and that’s a major problem. I realized that confidence and true acceptance of situations that targeted me could only be solved if I completely loved who I am. Not just at certain moments when I felt good after a run or lost weight or won a competition, but ALL times!

Ask yourself, do you feel content with you are in the bad times and good times? I hope the answer is yes, but if it is not, just like me we can constantly work at learning to love who we are. It’s important to decipher between constructive criticism from those who are trying to help you or negative comments that won’t do you or I any good.

I think I’ll make a confession that maybe some of you out there can relate to. One of the reasons I was very insecure in the past was that whenever I first met someone I would form a first impression (or more crudely put; I judged them for a brief second). I feel terrible about it, so I quickly brush it away to focus on getting to know who the person is. But that brief time that I judged someone led me to think heck, I try to be the nicest person yet I still have these bad thoughts. And that’s when I realize that if it’s so easy and mindless of me doing it, then everyone I meet must form judgements about me. So that’s really what began my fear of judgements by others and how I could not escape that fear of people constantly judging me.

But now as I grow older I want to share some tips that may or may not help you. You may have heard it before but it’s definitely great to reiterate important messages so that they stick.

  1. You are one but you have so much potential. Whenever negative comments get to you, remember you have a lot to offer and don’t let anyone else or an event tell you otherwise.
  2. Don’t take it personally! This is perhaps really important because I am so detail oriented with people that if they look unhappy when they’re saying hi to me, I’m quickly thinking did I do something wrong? Sometimes people are having a bad day (don’t make this an excuse if they mistreat you everyday though), or some circumstance has come up that has made someone say something hurtful or do something inappropriate. It’s easy to overanalyze but try to think about their perspective and let it slide. Don’t get too worked up about other’s jokes or snickers ( I used to do that but now I’m too busy doing the things I love to care).
  3. Focus on what you’re doing! Don’t get caught up too much with what other’s may have to say about you or giving yourself the opportunity to do so. Before I would constantly be perking up my ears waiting for negative comments or gossip to strike, but now I really am so busy with extracurriculars and academic work that I’m busy again doing the important things in my life.
  4. Surround yourself with the right people. This can be said for a variety of things like business or networking but when I talk about the right people, I’m talking about a support group or a close circle of people you trust and value that also reciprocate with you. These are people who love you for you, value you for you, and support you in the bad and good times. These are people who will always be willing to listen to you, help you, and support you on where you are heading. And it’s the same with you as well, are you empowering the people around you and giving them a hand up or hand to hold when times are tough? *Very important*

live free

That’s it for now, I hope this will help those who are feeling down:( I’ll keep updating this when I find more tips!

 

 

 

 

I’d like my rainy mornings with a cup of love

This is an essay that is very near and dear to my heart. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did when I wrote it ❤

 

I’m not ever this happy to see rain but as it comes barrelling through the dusty mountainous terrain, I can’t stop myself from smiling. Looking into Arturo’s eyes, I see the miracle. As the big drops of rain mix with the tears on our faces, I am taken back to a decade ago.

 

—If I stared long enough then squeezed my eyes, I could envision myself living the world through a new set of eyes. Perhaps, many would call it a knack for concentration or too great of a dependency on imagination, but I called it a superpower.

 

“Xixi!” my mother called out. My dazed eyes began focusing past the frozen raindrops to the glowing ZELLERS. Excitement was an understatement, because shopping was such a rare occurrence. Grabbing onto my mother’s hand, we walked through the parking lot.

“Excuse me, would you be able to spare some change,” a gentle yet desperate voice cut through the humdrum of the rain.

 I looked back then blinked once. Twice. Nothing. I couldn’t see anything from the man’s eyes! The thin man had now stood up from his crouched position and held onto the parking column for support. My mother tugged on my raincoat gently, but I couldn’t move.

“There s’a McDonalds,” my father emphasized pointing diagonally in front of the man’s view as he rummaged for a couple loonies and toonies. The transaction was quick and soon the money was graciously accepted.

“Thank you sir, thank you,” the man looked at me briefly but I saw it: a beautiful shine in his eyes reflecting belief in another day. Closing my eyes, I felt Happiness bloom in both the stranger and I.

 

But it quickly dissipated into disappointment in the store when I saw the hundreds Hello Kitty umbrellas. I saw the no before it rolled off my father’s tongue.

“We can afford it just this once, it’s almost her birthday!” my mother sighed.

 

That day, I didn’t get what I had wanted, but I received something much better. Within the smell of rain and its weighty dampness is my first memory of love and the sweet aftertaste, a constant reminder of the everlasting impact compassion has. As the years go by, the importance of that rainy morning only grows stronger and has become an extension of who I am.

 

Now, I won’t be able to remember what the man looked like, but I will never forget the feelings that came in the fleeting moment when I caught his quavering yet strong eyes. It seemed as if our paths were meant to cross. The unusual encounter made me feel a normalcy that I could not comprehend, but my father catalyzed the start of my understanding through his actions. Even if he couldn’t set enough food on the table each night, he never hesitated to help those around him. By leaving fragments of hope, he taught me that in everything I do it is important to unlock potential in others.

 

While fulfilling my innate thirst through volunteering and expressing myself through the arts, I would have never known if it wasn’t for the rain’s constant reminders that it was actually a longing to become one with the words inscribed in people’s hearts. The rain opened my heart to a natural tendency of living through empathizing with others and allowed my superpower to collide with my passion for helping others—

 

We stand drenched in Arturo’s wilted fields as the rain pours over the building site. I see helplessness washing away from Arturo’s eyes, and in it’s place, a strong flickering hope that there will be a harvest next year. Making eye contact with this phenomenal man who has helped me build the El Trapichean school that will be the foundation of hope for the next generations, I say, “Perfecto,” and he can only laugh, “Perfecto,” as we look up into the sky together.