Saturday, 16 August 2014

What I've Learnt This Summer

Despite the final bell ringing throughout school almost a month ago and summer has since taken control of daily life, my ambition to learn has not diminished in any way whatsoever, but has instead grown stronger.

As many people possibly believe, urges to have fun from day to night are literally installed in the teenage mind from the minute we hit our adolescent years - life would be a drag without the ultimate playlist, right? As much as I cannot resist singing along to the hottest dance tracks (more often than not in my bedroom which, going from my family's comments, is not soundproof), I would quickly get bored if enjoying myself was the sole activity for the entire summer.

Shock! Horror! Incredulous stare! Just explain why boredom would rob me of all enthusiasm if I were to have fun 24/7? For one thing, fun only has a limited life span and has reached its peak from the moment it begins, then goes downhill as time goes on. The more you have of it, the less you appreciate the enjoyment it brings, and that lack of appreciation can eventually lead to a spell in the land of boredom. In simpler words, if you get too much of a good thing, there is a risk that overexposure could potentially harm your enjoyment in the long run.

Therefore, it is wise to distance yourself from what you enjoy every now and then, so those moments in which you immerse yourself in a fun activity are cherished, otherwise they will lose that once special feeling that you used to feel. Sometimes, we don't know when to stop before things spiral out of control - in that sense, releasing your inner party animal should be kept to an absolute minimum!

We learn more about what does and does not work for us during adolescence, partly due to exposing ourselves to different activities and figuring out our interests. At this point, we have to gain control with our actions because, unlike the first few years in childhood, our parents cannot be held responsible for good or bad things we get up to - despite yearning for freedom, being given responsibility is still spine-tinging to say the least!

From what I've picked up in the past and this summer alone, I feel more in touch with my emotions and what makes me happy. All the testing times I've gone through have definitely not equated to nothing, but indeed my on-going journey to become a wiser person!

But what has had a great impact on me and has changed my perspective on life? Which lesson has forever remained stuck in my mind, constantly on rewind? Is there something which took me years to discover, despite staring back at me?

Nothing comes easy, let me say, but it's like a burst of sunshine whenever you make a discovery, whether it is big or small. It all adds up to the final result: you.

Let your guard down (sometimes)
Although it feels brilliant to believe that you are as strong as steel, there are moments when rock solid strength does not have to be a compulsory presence.
From personal experience, being on your guard does protect you and acts like a shield against the horrible things living in the world, offensive schoolkids alone. Yet it is often too easy to forget that not only will a shield block the nasties lurking in the shadows, but those kind-hearted souls whose intentions are only to make you feel welcome.
Perhaps my first weeks at secondary school were a great struggle because I was on the lookout for any nasty comments or mean-spirited people, which prevented me from seeing the good in some decent students. A few upsetting incidents in my first month or so had truly hit a nerve, which then sparked a fear of looking vulnerable whilst in the company of other pupils. All I wanted was to survive each day without being run over by another sarcastic comment or patronizing confrontation.
In the final week of term, my guard - which, at point, I'd maintained - suddenly slipped, in the form of silent tears streaming down my face. The cause? Watching Life of Pi during class. Although I didn't let on why my emotions had gotten the better of me, I felt that displaying an unseen side of me gave my classmates a different glimpse into who I am as a person.
Until then, I had never shed a tear in front of anybody, in case my make-up started to streak like badly applied fake tan down my face.
Since that moment in class several weeks ago, I learnt something valuable: it is okay to cry in public sometimes. After all, we are only human - what would be the point of having emotions if we never expressed them? Girls in particular are more vulnerable to letting their feelings go, and feel like absolute fools if they do - perhaps that explains why they don't always like those who, on the surface, seem much stronger than them. I am strong, but not to the extent that I'm at a loss as to how I feel deep inside. If I want shed a few tears, I prefer to be alone because it is only my company that I seek, but letting go (in such a manner that the cute boys will be asking whether you're alright) in public is hardly the crime of the century.

Don't try too hard
To this day, I'm doing the absolute opposite of this example - I try too hard. In lessons. At making friends. At baking batches of biscuits which even cookery queen Mary Berry would be proud of. And my efforts to throw myself into everything creates a harmful side effect: pressure.
Like a storm which may or may not prevent me from using the Sky box, I can sense pressure from miles away, its nearby presence sending shivers of fear down my spine. Yet pressure would never have been born if it were not for my ambition to be perfect.
But perfection is an unrealistic dream and stands no chance of ever being achieved - unless you sacrifice your sanity for the sake of keeping the kitchen floor permanently clean. Therefore, our efforts should never go to the extent that happiness is no longer present and we struggle to see beyond our actions - and how we must rein in the control that trying hard has over our lives.
Besides, trying too hard in a test or anything which would mean a great deal to you does not automatically mean that success will follow. Is there anything more crushing than getting a bad grade in a test which you sacrificed a weekend marathon of Buffy the Vampire Slayer to study and revise for? Disappointment is all too familiar if you develop an obsession with trying too hard - and it is the cruelest enemy you will ever make.

Accept that life is not always great 
No matter how hell-bent you are on having a great time, don't beat yourself up if life takes a different turn, or fails to live up to your expectation. From money troubles to the teenage blues, we would be living in a false reality if life was as perfect as a dream because it shouldn't be like that.
It's a horrible truth and I wish that it wasn't true, but that's the way that life is. Bad things happen. Switch on the news and you will be surrounded by reports on wars, strikes and grizzly crimes which create a lump in your throat. Like many people, it is an aspect of life which I completely and will forever detest because bad stuff shouldn't plague society, but are we able to control it? No.
On the other hand, we can influence our actions and make the most of what we have, so it truly matters to grab opportunities. Doing otherwise might cause us to live in a permanent state of regret. Life isn't about thinking about what we should have done in the past, or regretting mistakes that we have made. Our time on this planet would be wasted if residing in our memories was our only purpose in life.
Remember, however difficult your life might currently be, somebody out there - maybe thousands of miles away, or just down the road - is facing a harder struggle, and is putting on an admirably brave face. Health, money, success, love and happiness are important when it comes to having a good life - that's why you feel like you've hit rock bottom if you are lacking just one of these essentials.
Appreciate what you do have and cherish it. Life isn't guaranteed to be an easy ride, but it certainly seems easier if you hang onto what puts a smile on your face!

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