Now that the end of the school year is here, I’ve been left with many thoughts. The main one being, “Wow, I’m halfway done with highschool… when did that happen?” Cause I honestly remember freshman year so clearly, and this year went by so fast. All 170 (approximately) days have zipped past in a blur. If you think about it, we’re already in June! But New Year's feels like it was yesterday! ICC feels like it was last week! And that leaves me thinking, what have I done this school year? What have I accomplished or failed? Plus everything in between. As the months went by, I feel like I’ve really grown into the person I wished to be at the beginning of the year. Not a perfect person, but someone who knows who they are and what their dreams are. Not anyone else's.
In relation to other things I believe I have achieved this year, I now have a sense of what a true friend is. For as long as I have been alive, I have only ever had a couple genuine friends who I could count on for everything and who had helped me through everything. But then again I never live in the same place as them, so it's not that helpful. But over the course of this year, I have grown close to a couple amazing people who have helped me become who I am, and have shown me that trusting people is ok. That it is OK to sometimes open up to people. Also, that failing is ok. I don't mean that it's fine if you fail every math test, but that if you do fail, it is not the end of the world. Yes you will feel terrible, but then what? You won’t remember anything about that one test in if not a week, then a month, and if you think you think it'll affect you in the future, then you learn from that failure and use that to your advantage.
All these these I have achieved though, are all because of my experience in the Innovation Academy. When I first applied, I was scared, because I had no idea how it would be. A completely different system of learning than what I was used to, and with the same people in most of my classes. But after a week, then a month, then a whole semester, I realized that I had never felt so comfortable in a class. I had never felt so free to explore what I wanted to learn, rather than what I was told to. Of course, the IA has things planned out, but within that, I was able to choose the path I wanted to take, and even do something completely different. Whereas in my other classes I was given a course syllabus and told to “go and study to pass the test.”
So once I had finished semester one, I had a clear picture of what I was interested in and what I wasn't. Through our deep dive project I learned I enjoy taking pictures, but not writing articles, which then helped me decide that I wanted to opt out of the magazine project to further explore my interest in images, and how I could use pictures I've taken or seen, as inspiration for paintings. I also learned that speaking in front of others isn't as bad as I always thought it was. Doing the TED Talk first semester was an incredible (but stressful) experience, and I definitely feel much more comfortable expressing myself and talking in front of others.
Now though, as I prepare for the IB, I realize how different it's going to be, and that I won't get to choose what I do or don't do. But with everything I learned about myself this year, and with the skills I picked up in the Innovation Academy, I feel prepared to take on everything the IB will throw at me. Of course, I won't be able to choose what I can or cannot do, but I can choose how I handle these things. At the beginning of this school year, I was a mess, but as I found ways to cope with stress and how to handle my life, I feel like no matter what happens in the IB, I’ll be ready.
So in the end, you could say this was a year of growth for me. Emotionally, physically, mentally, and everything else. I have never felt more confident in who I am and my abilities, and I have never felt more ready to face new challenges rather than hide from them. I'm not going to say that the Innovation Academy is for everyone, but it was definitely the best fit for me this year. I learned to be independent, to go in depth with everything, and to face challenges with many perspectives. As I finish writing this, I realize I started off talking about my achievements and slowly drifted in talking about the IA, but really, it's the IA that fueled me to go and achieve these things. So this is going to end up being a farewell to the IA. No matter where I go in life, and what I achieve, I will always think back to this sophomore year, and how one class was able to guide me, teach me, and shape me into who I am. So farewell IA, it was nice being part of this cohort, but now it's time for me to use everything I have learned in the class, and use it wherever I go. As a wise IA teacher once said, “Corazon, corazon.”
It has recently come to my attention that I am what people call a “giver.” I don't mean to sound selfish by saying this or anything, in reality I’m pointing this out as one of my flaws. Most people would think that being a giver is great because you do stuff for others with no strings attached, but when it all goes down, I see that maybe I’m not better off being a giver. Here I’ll explain why:
Firstly, when you are a giver, you care TOO much. Givers like myself over think how our actions will affect others, and how we can make everyone else's life easier, but never our own. Therefore, we end up slowly drifting to the bottom of this pyramid of power because we let people step all over us without even realizing it.
Personally, I’ve always thought I was in the middle of being a giver and taker, but it turns out I’m really not. Of course I do sometimes ask for favors or for help, but I immediately offer my own, and refuse asking for help unless I feel it's the final option. Like last week, I was talking to my friend, and she was telling me about an issue she was dealing with, and my triggered reaction was to think of all the possible ways she could solve this issue, and specifically, what I could do to help her.
After her issue was mostly resolved, I felt like the whole time it had been my own problem that I had just dealt with, and when I proceeded to keep asking her if she needed advice, she said “Dharma don’t worry! You help people too much, let me help you now!” As simple as those sentences might sound, they really struck a chord in me, because I realized how right she was.
I pay way too much attention to other peoples problems that I never focus on addressing my own. I give but rarely receive, I don't have that balance. As a consequence givers like me feel ‘scared’ sometimes that if we stop giving, we won’t have any ‘power’ anymore. Conceivably because we don’t know our own personal value or values. We value ourselves in terms of what we can do for other people, not what we’re able to do for ourselves, or our qualities, characteristics, and values.
In order to find that balance though, I realize I need to learn to accept. Accept help, feedback, advice, and many other things, and that sometimes, it's ok to say yes I do need help, and just back away from other people's problems so I can focus on me once in awhile.
So really, being a giver isn't as great as people make it out to be. You do feel good about it once and awhile, but it also holds you back. Being a giver is definitely one of my flaws, but as they say, there comes a time when you have to stop crossing oceans for people who wouldn’t jump puddles for you, and right now, I think I’ve already crossed the seven seas.
Once upon a time I was a little 4th grader with big dreams. Constantly looking up at all the “big kids,” wondering how awesome it must be to be them. How inspiring they were because they were bigger than me, and because they acted differently than little Dharma. I would be intimidated by them each time we made eye contact and would stare in awe at everything they did.
Today May 6th is my 16th birthday. I am now the “big kid.”
Little 4th graders like my sister look up to me. I am a giant whose every move is watched with wide eyes on little faces. I am the one who is supposed to be inspiring and doing amazing things that every child can look up to and say, “Wow, I want to be like her when I grow up.” But why don't I feel that way? When did I grow up? When did I stop looking up and start looking in. Inside myself and not at others, inside my thoughts instead of up at how everyone else acts around me. Because I don't think I’m ready to be that “big kid.”
Everyday, we see things around us change, grow and adapt to us. What we don't notice is how we are the ones truly changing and adapting to the world around us. We see our friends and siblings get taller, mature, and make grown up decisions, but we don't notice when we do. Our bodies are growing, but our hearts remain the same. We are the same person we were when we were 3 inside us, but to others, we are grown beings who must learn to live in this world.
So many years (16 to be exact) have passed in my life and looking back, I see they went so fast. One minute I was dreaming about being in high school, the next I’m dreaming of leaving it. I see the little kindergartners everyday, just having fun and thinking about the wonders of the world, and I feel a sort of deja vu. Like just a day ago that was me.
Now I'm not saying that I don't still have big dreams and look up to some of my heroes, I do, but in reality, I realize now that you just have to grow up sometimes. Not in the literal sense, but you need to grow emotionally, you need to grow mentally, and you need to grow consciously. I can't always have the mindset of a 4th grader forever no matter how much I may want it. But I can still be the Dharma I was 7 years ago in my values, the way I laugh, the way I express myself, and all the other things that make me, me.
As an old quote I love says, “ Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional.”
“All they care about is their electronics.”
“When they’re all grown up they will live in a terrible world.”
“They have short attention spans and don’t care about the important issues that confront their generation and the nation.”
“I’m glad I was a kid during my time, not today.”
Generation Z is the age group born between 1994 and 2004. Over the course of the years, generations have been evolving. They have been evolving in such a way that if a group of people who were alive 100 years ago interacted with a group of people from today, it would be like a human trying to relate to a robot.
Generation Z especially has captured the attention of all adults and older people. Why? Because we are apparently “stupid,” “lazy,” and “don't care about anything.” But before I go on a rant about why NONE OF THIS IS TRUE, let me give some background of Generation Z.
As young as we are, we have already seen so many technologies become obsolete. Because of this, Generation Z has become the ultimate "self-educating,” generation. We are a group that wants to create our own businesses. Between 50 percent and 72 percent of us want to run our own company according to Business Insider. Generation Z young adults, teens, and even children have also been more involved in politics in the past years than ever, and, 60% of them want to have an impact on the world. We are children who are growing up in a crisis, and it shows in our outlook on life. Most of us say we are "stressed out" by what we see for the future, especially in terms of economy and environment.
In summary, Generation Z is the generation that is fighting a war they did not start. What I mean by this is that having grown up amid major innovation and social change, we are inquisitive and globally aware, but we struggle to work through all the issues in this century. Given our entrepreneurial spirit, quick uptake of new technologies, and our willingness to engage in political processes, we are probably also in a good position to be able to address these major issues.
For example, when people say that we are going to be adults in a terrible world…it's the fault of everyone that came before us, not ours. We are a generation that is actually trying to solve these problems, and are taking action. All the bad things happened prior to our birth. Like when I participated in the Global Issues Network conference, I was blown away by the amount of young people like me, taking action on a whole range of issues including; global climate change, food security, poverty, and education. These kids were trying to make a difference, working at local and global scales, there was no apathy there. Some well known Generation Z kids that are making a difference are Malala Yousafzai, Alexey, Amandla Stenberg, and Mary-Pat Hector.
I realize that in the end, your generation isn't the most important thing, but keep in mind, that when people talk about trying to stop stereotypes, and break discrimination, why shouldn't this be considered? The number of times I have heard elderly people say “children these days are so brain dead,” is countless. Just because we choose to show who we are on the internet, or express ourselves with a different dialogue than the 1980’s, or even the way we dress, does not make us any less than all the generations before us.
Humans are evolving, and whether the world likes it or not, we are the leaders of the future. So rather than calling us rude names and assuming we all could care less about everything, give us a chance. We have a sense of social justice, philanthropy and maturity that comes with growing up during one of the most severe economic recessions in history. We know more about technology than most adults do. We care about fixing the mistakes past generations have caused. We are not ashamed to be Generation Z.
A feeling we are all familiar with.
It's what keeps you up at night staring at the ceiling. It has hands wrapped around your throat, not letting you scream. Preventing you from doing things you would love to try, and giving you every possible worst case scenario.
But when we think about fear, we aren't necessarily thinking about what we are afraid of. It just comes to us when we are put in a situation where something doesn't feel right, or we are expecting something bad to occur.
This can happen when watching a horror movie, hearing something unexpected, having to speak in front of an audience, or when you see a weird looking creature, and so on. The reason I am talking about this, is not to make you think about your fears, but to try and help you GET OVER THEM.
Everyday that you let your fears conquer you, you are becoming weaker. Physically and emotionally. Why? Because the more you put off trying to face your fears, the more anxious you become, and therefore the more afraid, and soon that is all you can think about and it begins to drain you, causing trouble in your everyday routine. I should know.
I am afraid of lots of things. But they're not everyday fears like spiders, or darkness. Here are some examples: (don't use them against me), I am afraid of Eschatology, or “the end of Earth”, but not in a religious way or anything. I’m simply terrified of the idea that one day, Earth could disappear along with humankind, leaving nothing but empty space for millions of miles away. Also, I’m afraid of living a life that I won't enjoy. What I mean by this, is living a life that is superficial, and having regrets on my deathbed. Lastly... I’m afraid of clowns. They terrify me in every way possible.
But in all seriousness, these are things that have held me back from doing things that I usually would love to do. (Not the clowns though, I just hate them.) And I’m always trying to face these fears and accept the realities, but as many people can agree, facing your fears is not easy.
That is why, after months of doing my own research about the topic, I realized that there isn't a way you can just flip a switch and not be scared anymore, but there are steps you can take that can help you. These are the ones that have been helping me:
But you need to realize, that just because it might work for one person doesn't mean it'll work for everyone. But just try. Start with a small fear, one that you know you can overcome, and take these steps to get there. Now I can tell you, you will never be fearless, but you can become the leader of your own mind. Because once you start realizing you have nothing to worry about, you will start taking risks and reaching for opportunities that will benefit you greatly in the long run.
And who knows, maybe one day if I take these steps to conquer my fear of clowns I can go to a circus again!
It's what everyone is the world depends on to live. People fight over it as if it were the last drop of water on Earth, and spend it faster than it takes them to make it.
We all know that humans make money by (unless you're a trust fund baby) having a job. All these jobs pay each individual for their services. But in the end, who determines the value of the work they did?
I ask this because recently, I've started paying close attention to who gets paid in society and how they compare to everyone else in the working community. Yes I realize this isn't the most interesting thing to think about, but once I did, it caused some sparks in my mind. And not the good kind.
See, after researching a bit, I saw that the average doctor in the US gets paid typically a salary in the range of $50,000 to $60,000 a year, according to data from the American Medical Association, and the average TV star gets paid $150K-$1M an episode.
WHAT THE HECK?! I thought as I slammed the screen of my computer down. (Well I didn't slam it but you get the point)
It just didn't make any sense to me, why should people who play doctors in shows get paid more than the real ones who save lives daily?
I hesitantly opened my computer up again.
My next reaction when I read that the average teacher in the United States makes a salary of about $52,000 a year, in comparison to supermodels who get paid about $5 million just to show off some way too expensive lingerie.
What is wrong with the world? I thought.
Shouldn't people who dedicate their lives to the good of the human race and the Earth, get more recognition and pay than (and I have no disrespect for them) people who dedicate their lives to entertain all the middle and high class people?
I know that there are most likely tons of people who disagree with me, but before you get defensive, I just want to ask these questions:
Are these people going to be remembered as heroes? Do they save lives daily and discover new groundbreaking data that changes how we live? Do they build machines that cure diseases? Are you thankful that there are people who dedicate their lives to what they do?
Yes, I know that in order to live a happy life you don't necessarily need money, but really, people need to see that if they are paying more money to those who are going to be handed an Oscar rather than the Nobel prize, how will we continue to develop? How will people do what they need to do in order to keep building the world?
To keep things simple, I think that everyone deserves to do the job they love. And if that job is acting then great! If its singing then awesome! But at the same time, think. In 30 years, will everyone still be praising models? Or will they be in desperate need of educators, doctors, scientists, social workers, and all the rest. People who change the world.
What is the first thing that comes to your head when you think of enlightenment? Is it a lesson? Spiritual? A state of being? Understanding? Now with whatever definition you related most to, do you think of yourself as enlightened?
Now a couple more questions- what are you attached to? Your phone, a piece of clothing, some books, a chair? What are your values? And why?
The reason I’m asking these questions to you is because these are the same exact questions I asked myself that caused me to become “enlightened.” See, for me, when I think of enlightenment, I think of becoming a better and truer version of myself. One who is not afraid to create a life that I see is right, not one that everyone else does. A me who doesn't need material comfort in order to feel at peace or powerful. A version of myself that doesn't need to count on anyone else in order to feel loved, only finding meaning within myself to know I am never alone.
Before you close the tab because of how cheesy I might sound, I want you to take the time to think about the questions I asked. While you think about the answers, let me tell you about how these questions affected me.
Over the brutally long summer vacation we just had, (I say brutally because unlike the majority, I was not at the beach but withering away in the cold) I had a moment. One day I just felt completely empty. As if I was worthless. And I had this overall feeling of sadness for some reason. Was I just having a bad day? Was something stressing me out? Things I kept asking myself. But the next day I felt the same way. Then the next week, and the next. Looking desperately online for some inspiration to help me get my mind off of these feelings I stumbled upon a quote. it read,
“Life is a journey of self discovery; a test of finding oneself; a test to see if we remember who we truly are despite our names and bodies and material possessions that seem so real. And the second we remember who we truly are, is the second we set ourself free.” -Unknown
As soon as my eyes had finished taking in every word, my brain went to work. Reaching into every corner of my mind to pull out every thought that connected with those words and finding the emotions deep inside me that I hadn't felt in awhile that were triggered by them as well. I realized that the reason I was feeling so down was because I wasn't looking up. I was constantly looking down on myself, pulling myself under all of my everyday stresses, making those my priorities and not leaving anytime for myself, my values, and what I wanted to do in that moment or day. So then I asked myself, what do I value? What am I attached to? And all the other questions I mentioned before.
Once I was able to answer them all with no hesitation, (and I don't plan on sharing my personal answers here) I felt content with myself. Like I had done my brain a favor. Like I finally remembered who I was, and what kept me full of joy instead of empty and glum. I felt, by my own definition, enlightened.
But why am I bringing this up on this blog post? Well simply so that you and others who will read this who might be feeling that relentless emptiness, can learn to find comfort in yourself and your values. You need to learn to ask yourself important questions like the ones I did once in awhile to "remember who you truly are," what your purpose is, and to recall everything that makes you, you.
Find your own version of enlightenment and stick with it. You never know when you might need a little company from yourself.