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Understanding Judgement

For as long as I could remember, as a child I was a clean slate. I saw people by their smiles, their reactions to the world around them. But throughout the tail end of elementary as I transitioned to a wealthier part of town, I began to be teased for the lack of branding on my clothes. I began to feel less worthy and could understand that there was something like class that distinguished me from my peers. Before, people were either nice or rude and I had very few lenses with which to view people. However with time and more knowledge, the characteristics of others were always in my face. More specifically physical characteristics screamed at me.

Being subjected to bullying and cyber bullying, I was called fat, really fat, ugly, worthless, friendless, and other personal attacks. I couldn’t stop seeing myself as a standard or a ruler with which I used to measure others. Every time I went about in my daily life, I was first consumed by fear. Were those eyes taking in how ugly I looked? Were those lips smirking at my physical insecurities? Were those people judging me of not being worthy of their time or attention? And so I went about my day without making eye contact, in fear of really being able to see into their soul that was judging me. At the same time, I felt terrible but when I did see someone I couldn’t help but automatically compare themselves with me. Time does heal all wounds but in their place are scars. Those scars are the remnants of judgement that still fleets through me sometimes. The voices are a lot smaller and more silent these days but I’m not proud that they still occur. Perhaps that’s why I was so scared before… that no matter what I did, people would be looking, judging, and calculating. I realized that even though I strive to be a good person, I still judge. No matter how hard I try to push it out, I still do. And from then on I realized I couldn’t change people from judging me or me from judging others. I could only change my reactions towards their judgement and myself, work on not judging others before I get to know who they are.

If someone judges you without getting to know your story or who you are, then they don’t deserve to be worthy or your time or affection. And if I don’t take the time to get to know someone without formulating thoughts then I’m a hypocrite.

Going through some months in university was one of the greatest experiences for me. I got to learn mind shattering things but most importantly, I got to understand what it’s like to be open minded and understanding. I used to throw around “walk in somebody else’s shoes” without knowing what it really meant. But from meeting people from all around the world at university and talking to people of different ages from the city, I have been introduced to so many different views that have sprouted from unique people and backgrounds. Now, instead of getting angry when someone is rude to me, I think of why they might be feeling that way. Maybe they’ve had a long day or they’re physically/emotionally drained. Or when someone angrily denounces my faith, I realize that they were brought up with certain beliefs and values. I look past the what people do and instead dive into the why they do the things they do. Focusing on the “why” can bridge the divide by connecting us through our actions and thoughts. I can’t expect people to behave the way I do because they’re not me! They have completely different thought process, have gone through completely different experiences, and were brought up by completely different people.

 

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What I wish I knew a year ago…

A year ago today, I was busy scrambling to get my life together. I was on the road to recovery after my lung collapse, I had recently submitted my EA for Harvard, and I was struggling to catch up on missed exams, homework, and EC’s. I think the point of this is not so much my personal reflection but it is for those who are going through the process right now: the university application process. Now I don’t know about you, but when I was going through the process and had talked to friends who went through the process, they told me: “In the end, it all works out.” Super cliché and honestly it wasn’t easy to listen to because I didn’t want it to just “work out,” I wanted it to work out the way I wanted to.  Whether you’re going through the super stressful process right now or wondering what it might be like. I hope this list I’ve written about can help calm the nerves or provide some insight!

Now here’s my list of what I wish I knew a year ago which is both technical and not so technical:

  1.  Don’t overthink it. I mean yes, you want to plan out what you’re going to write about and how you’re going to answer the questions. But don’t OVERthink it. Last year, what made me more stressed than I was already was that I unfortunately asked too many people on their opinions of my essays. Even though I had asked 5-6 people, it was too much. I actually wrote over 5 essays for my early application personal statement but I was contemplating for most of the time on which one I would use. I became too absorbed by what others thought represented me that I forgot the most important person… myself. At the end of the day, you know yourself the best. Even if you feel that you don’t know completely who you are. Take some time to reflect about what really matters to you. Having people proofread is important but don’t let it override what you think is important. *Also at this point, your grades and test scores are where they are. Don’t critically analyze each grade and feel stressed out about it. What’s done is done.
  2. Don’t let it rule your life. After October, November was the month where everyone talked about applications. A lot of the things that were dominating conversations were statistics about getting in, the pros and cons of each university/college, our frustrations with the process, etc etc etc… Honestly, once it’s done, it is really done. It goes into a black hole and you won’t really know until early results or D Day comes. But here’s the thing, relax and make up for all the lost time you might have spent studying for APs, SATs, or ACTs. I think the biggest regret I had was that my life in the beginning of Gr. 12 circulated around this process. I didn’t have as much time to spend with my family and friends because I was too drawn in. During Christmas, I was spending most of my break writing my Regular Decision applications. I left early in the morning for the library and came back late at night. I lost a lot of quality time with my family before I left for university. My family and friends all sacrificed a lot on my part.  There’s a fine line between prioritizing something and letting it rule your life. Don’t let it rule your life.
  3. Even if it isn’t okay, it will be okay because you’ll make it okay. After spending a lot of my time counting down the days of finding out the results, guess what?  I found out and it was terrifying. I clearly remember how I couldn’t bring myself to open the letter. As if not opening up the letter could save me some time from finding out the truth. I remember walking home and the tears started falling down. It was devastating (and it seems like a joke and a bit overdramatic now that I look back at it) but it was heartbreaking to process something that you had always dreamed about not happening. So as I went home and crawled onto my bed, I remember crying and crying. It was a beautiful sunny day and I felt despicable for crying. But still I cried for three hours and then I got up and got on with what I had to do.  I wouldn’t have ever gotten through it as fast as I did, if I didn’t have my friends Jasmine and Amy who were there for me<3 We went through the process and we accepted what we got in the end. We held each other up and spread positivity to get back up. Brings me to my 4th point:
  4. Have a support system! This is self explanatory but it is really helpful. Even if you end up being successful, it’s still great to have a support group!
  5. Don’t ever blame yourself. Don’t ever feel ashamed. After initially opening the letter, my mom came to me and offered that we go do something to get my mind off of things. But I couldn’t accept because I felt unworthy. I felt like I failed her, myself, and my family somehow. And that was wrong. It is never your fault for not getting into the university you want.
  6. Don’t let what others say, get to you! There will be people who are going to be very insensitive during the process. They might undermine what you’ve done or pry into details you might not want to share. They might even critically analyze you like a case study (unfortunately, yes, this does happen). From the moment you send in your application to the moment you get your results, there will be unnecessary comments but want you need to do is stand up tall and brush off the negativity.
  7. More of a technical one but take interviews seriously. I don’t know where the misconception comes from that interviews aren’t as important. But they are! Especially the early applications ones you get offered. If you don’t do well, that’s okay (it won’t negatively impact you unless you really offend the interviewer, but even in that case you can ask for a second interview). But if you do really well then this can tip in your favour. *Don’t quote me on this however, this was just my experience with the universities that offered me interviews.

There’s no doubt that you’re going to do great<3 All the best to you on your application process! If you have questions, feel free to reach out!

Transitioning into University

If you’re like me, maybe you’ve been told by friends and teachers on what to expect for university but you still don’t know exactly what to expect… I’ve been told university is quite a big deal (transition into adulthood). I’m nervous, excited, scared, sad, happy, and a whole amalgamation of emotions. But what I’m trying to say is that university is not going to be easy and sometimes plain difficult and frustrating but its a wonderful opportunity to discover more of the world around you and explore the depths of who you are. You’re going to revel in new realms, expanses of knowledge galaxies, and find friendships that can be treasured for a lifetime. Perhaps, the ambiguity of whats to come is what makes the experience even more worthwhile?

But for now as we trek the first steps into a new period of our lives, I want to remind you of a few things:

Never lose sight of who you really are.

Work hard but always put yourself first (this means health and well-being).

Study hard yes but study smarter!

In times of difficulty, not only look within for strength but also around.

Lastly, enjoy this time because sooner than we know it, we’ll be looking back on it 🙂

This is honestly quite a short post despite all the feelings I have, but maybe after the first week of university I’ll post a more in depth blog.

 

 

The Rio Olympics 2016

It wasn’t until 9th grade that I started to really watch the Olympics or get inspired by the athletes. In 2011, somehow by chance I was interested in reading biographies. I picked up Michael Phelps: No Limits   and from there I began to relive his 2008 Olympic moments ( I know I was a bit late to the game). His work ethic and determination to go above and beyond obstacles gave me the courage to have my own dreams and confidence to chase them. From there I became even more disciplined (following his grit) to reach many goals of mine. So every single time I watch a game, a competition, a match, or a performance for the Olympics, I am not only in awe but I am so happy for how much they’ve achieved. Sometimes I cry even though I feel like I don’t have the right to for all athletes who fell short of what they wanted to accomplish… However every athlete has captivated me because of their endless strive to better themselves and to sacrifice so much for their country and their love for the sport.

I want to take this time to thank the athletes whose lives have impacted mine. Many times I am able to believe in myself and dream big because of their willingness to put themselves out there and give it all they’ve got.

Investigating Allocation of Resources

Recently I’ve been doing research on more effective approaches of aid allocation in developing countries. With my research, I’ve come to learn a lot and I hope that my put together research might open your eyes to some issues:)

*I’ve currently been on a hiatus due to this research and practicing my valedictorian speech (yes I graduated yesterday), so thank you for the patience!

You can read my guide here: Research Guide by Cecilia Pang

Interview Collaboration with Lara!

Sorry for the month long hiatus lovely readers! It’s been a busy past months but I’m pleased to announce that during my University of Toronto National Scholarship week I met a wonderful person that I call my friend and blogging buddy! Her name’s Lara and you can go check her website out here: http://larawhatley.com/

Anyway without further adieu, Lara came up with a few questions that I’m going to answer:

Lara: What is your biggest passion?

I think my biggest passion is to look for the good in people and their stories, and the beauty of the world we live in. This comes through writing, reflecting, talking to people, creating art, and constantly immersing myself in new environments to empathize with others. I love helping others too which also sprouts from that passion!

Lara: Why do you blog?

One of the main reasons that catapulted me on this incredible journey was my experience with bullying. At that time, my parents and my friends weren’t supportive so I felt completely alone. During that time, writing was what really grounded me and kept me going and got me to appreciate the small things of life. Thereafter, I decided to go public and share with others after I realized so many people felt alone for some aspect of their life. That’s what led me to where I am today, though I don’t have the same experience as I did four years ago, the mission is still the same: to inspire and connect with individuals through our stories.

Lara: 3. Why do you write?

Hmm. I write because it’s a form of expression that I can pour myself into without feeling self conscious. I write because I enjoy how easy it is to make a piece of art. I write because I want to change the lives of those who read my work. I want to enlighten others with my experiences and make them feel when they read writing. There are obviously so many more reasons of why I write, but honestly writing is fantastic and I’ll leave it at that 🙂

Lara: Who or what inspires you?

Love and injustice. Love is what brought me here, nurtured me, and allowed me to thrive. From the compassion of my family and friends for support, to selfless strangers, and the impact of generations before that I could receive education, health care, and basic human rights inspires me every single day to give all I have and more. Love itself is what empowers me when times are tough and heals my own pain to allow me to discover that I’m not the only one and that we are all one and the same. We feel the same emotions and maybe just meters away or an ocean away there are people suffering from injustice or a lack of love. Honestly though there are so many people who inspire me, to name a few: my parents, Mr. Pocock & Ms. Rakkar (my teachers), Dr. Albert, Dr. Butterworth, Malala, Martin Luther King, Barack Obama, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Florence Nightingale, and many more people who society does not know but their hard work does not go unnoticed by me: Alnerdo and Marie from El Trapiche to all those who toil in nothing but their labour because they are trapped in the inescapable cycle of poverty, you inspire me…

Lara: Where do you see yourself in ten years?

I see myself finishing up medical school or a masters degree in the global health or humanitarian sector. It’s tough to exactly know but I really want to become a pediatrician either working in oncology in my hometown or working overseas with Doctors without borders and fighting for access to education + global health!

Lara:  What is one piece of advice you would give to your grade nine self?

To keep an open mind and never judge anyone or anything before completely understanding or experiencing it yourself. People will surprise you. They will exceed your expectations and blow your mind, and yes they might disappoint you. But the greatest thing is that they will help you uncover yet another mysterious thing about life you did not seem to think of before. Always give the benefit of the doubt. This quote by Mother Teresa is absolutely correct:

“People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway.

            If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway.

            If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.  Succeed anyway.

           If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.  Be honest and sincere anyway.

            What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.  Create anyway.

            If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.  Be happy anyway.

            The good you do today, will often be forgotten.  Do good anyway.

         Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.  Give your best anyway.

         In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway.”

 

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