2017

It’s December 31st, the last day of 2016. Tomorrow, it will be 2017. When I look back, I had a great year. I had my sweet 16. In March, I met my favorite singers, Megan and Liz. In June, I went to Hawaii for a week. In July, I attended two Camp Taylor sessions. In August, I spent a few days at the beach with my family. In September, I had a successful catherization where I was told my heart was doing excellent. In November, I met a mother I’d been communicating with via messenger, and meeting her honestly changed my life. In November, I saw family I hadn’t seen in about two years. This year was honestly life changing. 

That’s not to say that my year was perfect because it wasn’t. However, I can truthfully say that I can count more blessings than bad things that happened this year. 

My life has changed a lot in 2016, and I know people say that every year, but I’m serious. Being a Camp Taylor mentor has forced me to take on more responsibility and be more mature, and that’s a good thing. This year, I’ve learned to advocate for myself more. Knowing that in just over a year, I’m going to be an adult, I’ve learned to work out more problems on my own rather than asking a parent for help. 

I’ve learned to be a more empathetic person. I understand that people have things going on in their lives that I know nothing about, so I’ve learned to be wayyy less judgemental. Of course, this doesn’t make it okay for anyone to treat me like dirt, but I’ve learned to be more compassionate towards the people who seem to be colder. I try my best to forgive and forget. I know people like to say “forgive but don’t forget”, but I think that’s wrong. When God forgives me, He forgets my sins, so I should forgive and forget also. This doesn’t mean that the person will stay in my life or that I’ll trust them the same. It means that I won’t hold what they did against them. It means that if I see them, I will smile at them. It means that I will not speak bad about them when they are not around.

If you were to ask my thirteen year old self what she wanted to be when she grew up, she’d tell you she wanted to be a successful singer. And while I still fantasize about how cool it would be to be on the Ellen Show, I don’t want to be a singer. While being famous wouldn’t necessarily be a terrible thing, it’s not my goal in life. Last month, my teacher gave us a creative writing assignment. My essay took place on the beach. I wrote about my footprint being washed away by the waves. One day, I won’t be on this earth anymore. I don’t want to leave behind a legacy of fame and fortune. I want to leave behind a legacy of love and kindness and forgiveness. I want that to be my footprint on this world, and I don’t ever want the waves to wash it away. In 200 years, this world may not remember me, but if my kindness causes one to be kind to another, and that other to be kind to another, and the cycle continues, it will have reached all over the world, and in 200 years, that cycle will still continue. It sounds crazy, but think about it. It’s not unrealistic. I didn’t come into this earth for no reason, and I want to leave behind something important. When one dies, they are not remembered for the things they owned, but for the person they were.

With 2017 just hours away, I’m sure many people have resolutions that they won’t keep. I really only have one resolution that I know I will keep, and that’s to work out more. But truthfully, I do have things I hope to achieve in 2017. In 2017, I hope I figure out what college I want to go to. I hope I figure out what I want to major in. I hope I become the adult my parents raised me be. I hope I get over my fear of fire. I hope I get my driver’s license. I intend for all of these things to happen. But that’s not all I want. I want to become a better, more confident person.

In 2017, I want to be a light. I want people to see me and know that I really love God. I want people to see me and think good things of me. I want them to see me a genuinely kind, forgiving, and loving.

In 2017, I want to be more confident. I walk around school head down. When my teacher needs someone to read aloud, I don’t raise my hand. And if my teacher calls on me anyway, I stutter and don’t know what line I’m on. In drama class, I don’t volunteer to go first. In chemistry, I hesitate to ask questions because I don’t want to annoy my teacher. In school, I have a hard time talking to other people. I’m constantly insecure, and I feel judged constantly. And most people reading this probably think it’s not true because when I talk to you, I’m probably more confident than I’m making myself out to be. But chances are you’re an adult. I’ve always been able to connect well with adults. It’s not too hard for me to talk to adults. It’s kids my age I struggle with. Maybe it’s because I’m more mature than them. Maybe it’s because I don’t think it’s okay to cheat or drink or smoke or party or sneak out or break rules or be disrespectful. And I don’t say this to put my classmates down. But my mental age has always been older than my real age. What’s okay to 16 years olds my age isn’t okay to me. And it’s not so much that they’re bad people or that they’re immature for their age. It’s just that I’m more mature for my age. And maybe because of that I’ve always had trouble connecting with kids my age and that’s why my confidence is low at school. That’s what I want to work on in 2017. I want to volunteer to perform first in my drama class. I want to raise my hand when my teacher needs someone to read. I want to ask my teacher questions no matter how stupid they sound so that I can get an A in class. I want to finally stop caring what people say behind my back, to my face, or anonymously online. Because the truth is, the people saying bad things about me really don’t know me all that. And like Taylor Swift says, I am not the opinion of someone who does not know me. So you know what? 2017 will be the year I volunteer to perform first in drama. 2017 will be the year I volunteer to read aloud, and I won’t stutter. 2017 will be the year I ask my teacher questions about the material and don’t apologize. 2017 will be the year I stop caring what people who barely know me think of me. 2017 will be the year I stop apologizing for things I don’t need to apologize for. 2017 will be the year I am happily me. 

I am going to do everything I can to achieve all of my 2017 goals. 

People say 2016 wasn’t a good year, but it was. Yes, bad things happened, but good things happened too. A mother gave birth to her miracle baby. Someone had a successful heart transplant. Someone found out they don’t have cancer. Someone decided to get help for their addiction. Someone decided to start loving themselves. Someone was adopted into a loving family. A marriage that was falling apart was saved. A child got their first puppy. Someone was proposed to. Someone got married. Someone contacted an estranged family member and started a real relationship with them. Someone went through something really difficult, and got through it. Someone dedicated their life to God. Miracles happen every day. Yes, this world is getting worse, but there are still good things. I promise.

I hope everyone has a safe New Year’s Eve. I hope you all have a lovely 2017. I hope everyone knows how special they are and how deeply loved they are. And remember, everything always seems to work out.

God bless you. God loves you❤️
Xx

Faith Sparkles<3

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Finals

I’ve done the calculations. On any of my finals, I can get a 69% and still have a decent grade. I really don’t need to stress much, yet here I am. At the moment, I care more about passing than I do learning. Don’t get me wrong. I love to learn, but at the moment, learning isn’t the goal; passing is. That is the mindset of nearly every high school student.

Just thinking about finals, I felt sick to my stomach. In my brain, I started calling myself stupid. Finals haven’t even started yet, and already I’m feeling physically sick and I am criticizing myself. 

I am in an AP English class. I am not an AP material student. I just am not. I love to over think and analyze stuff, but in English, I go blank and suddenly can’t do it. I love to write, but assign me an essay and I suddenly forget how to write.

I am in advanced algebra. I like math, and I would like to know how to do it, but I struggle a lot, and if I’m being honest, I’m just trying to pull a C in that class. 

I am in chemistry. I try hard in that class. I want to do well on tests. Really I do. But I honestly hesitate to ask my teacher any thing. It doesn’t help when your teacher warns the class not to ask a silly question. What’s a silly question?! I don’t ask questions to be funny! I ask questions so I can pass the test!

I am in Spanish II. I have nothing to complain about in that class. I’m not the smartest student, but if I try, I do well in the class.

I’m in US history. Again, nothing to complain. US History has always come easy to me as I’ve always had an interest in history and politics.

I am in advanced drama. Again, really nothing to complain. I’d do better if my confidence would grow, but it is in no way a difficult class. 

You know what sucks? When I write for fun, it comes out great. When I am enjoying the topic, I write really well. I love to analyze things. I like figuring out how things work or why they work. I like figuring out why people do what they do. I can tell you a lot about the heart and how it works, and I know a lot about CHDs.  When it comes to politics, I can back up what I believe. I love to work with kids. I love to think about theories and philosophies. I can memorize a script quickly if need be. There are so many things I am good at. But I constantly criticize myself for everything that I am not. I am so incredibly mean to myself. I can do so many things, yet I call myself stupid. 

Why do I call myself stupid?
Because in English, almost everyone seems to be able to analyze the text really well. They do so well on the practice AP exams. They write incredible essays. I don’t analyze text the way I should in class. I get 30% on the practice AP exams. I thought I was a good writer, but what if I’m not as good as I thought I was? Take a look at my essays.

Why do I call myself stupid?

Because I studied for my chemistry test. I thought I knew the material. I failed the test. And that was with the curve.

Why do I call myself stupid?

Because my math teacher has explained the concept multiple times and I still don’t understand it. I looked through my study guide and couldn’t remember how to do most of the problems.

Why do I call myself stupid?

Because the government has told the school what I need to know in order to be smart. And I’m not completely sure I know the curriculum. 

But here’s the thing… I am smart. I may not have a 4.0 gpa, but I am not stupid. So I’m not great at math, and so I have to work a little harder in chemistry. I can still tell you a lot about history and politics. So I’m not great at writing the essay topics my English teacher assigns. Give me a creative writing topic, or better yet, no topic at all, and I’ll write an amazing paper. 

Instead of hating myself for everything I am not, I should be loving myself for everything that I am. And I know that especially around finals time, it’s so easy for us students to be mean to ourselves and think we are stupid. But we are not stupid. 

So during finals time, study, but don’t stress yourself to the point that you’re crying on the bedroom floor. Take a ten minute break every 45 minutes to an hour and drink some water. Don’t stay up half the night studying because you need sleep too. Eat breakfast-even if you just force yourself to eat a piece of toast and water. 

And remember: no matter what you get on your finals, you are not stupid. I believe it was Albert Einstein who said, “Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

Happy finals everyone. You are intelligent.

Xoxo

Faith Sparkles

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