Is it Better to be a Thinker or a Do-er?

Hello everyone!

As an overthinker constantly experiencing mini-existential crises, I spend a lot of my time just thinking about stuff. I know that’s probably the least descriptive way to explain it, but it’s the best way I can think of. My mind wanders easily and before I know it, I’ll have spent an hour laying in bed contemplating life or getting caught up in random articles on the Internet when I was originally just trying to look up one question. I guess you could describe me as easily distracted, but I think that has more of a negative connotation.

Based on this, I would describe myself as more of a thinker. I deliberate on things for a long time before I act on them (sometimes to the point where it’s ridiculous and I’ve wasted a lot of time), and I can be very indecisive. I like to learn and ask questions, but I often do it in more of a random, independent exploration-way. Since I’m also pretty shy/introverted, I don’t speak up or actively seek out learning in group settings as much.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this- I used to think I was odd for being this way, but everyone’s different. In fact, part of the reason I’m writing this is because I hope some of you can relate. I’ve never been the person to think of a great idea and immediately take action, or step up to be a leader. Again, there’s nothing wrong with this; the problem for me personally is that I often wish I was more of a leader, a “doer”, if you will.

Even though I’m shy, I’ve always gravitated towards extroverted, leader-type people; most of my friends are a lot more outgoing than me. They inspire me because of their leadership abilities and their drive to just take action whenever an opportunity comes up. I’m still working on verbalizing more of the ideas/thoughts I come up with, and being more comfortable talking/leading people, but I have a long way to go. It’s not that I think I need to be a leader in order to be a successful/good/happy person, it’s that I’ve always had the internal desire to be one.

Lots of people desire to be something other than what they are naturally; that’s part of being human. I recently wrote a post on not comparing yourself to others, so I apologize if this post seems a bit contradictory. However, I believe that this subject of being a thinker vs. being a doer doesn’t have to be related to comparing yourself/trying to change yourself; it’s simply about you and your thought process. We all have our own ways of getting things done, but we can always improve.

-Brooke

Why We Need to Read More

Good morning everyone!

I miss the days where I always had time to curl up in bed with a good book; I could easily dive into pretty much any genre and fall in love with the story. I’m the type of person who gets super attached to fictional characters, and I could often picture myself living in the fictional worlds I would read about. When I was younger and read more often, I think I had a much more vivid imagination and a more creative perspective on life.

Reading articles and social media posts online is definitely better than not reading at all (I LOVE to read blog posts, unsurprisingly), but nothing can replace real books. There’s something to be said about flipping through the pages, staying up late because you just had to finish and find out what happens next.

I was lucky to have parents that really encouraged my love of reading. My mom would read a chapter from a book of my choice to me every night before bed from the age of 2 until probably the age of 10. Whenever I was sick or was having a bad day, I would ask her to read more. Reading was my escape, and it always made me feel better.

I still feel the same love for reading and books that I always have, but it’s taken a backseat in my life. I mean, I can barely keep up with my reading assignments for English class, let alone picking up a new book for fun! It’s definitely something I need to reprioritize in my life, but I just wanted to throw it out there for anyone else in a similar situation as me.

If reading was an escape from all the stress and bad things in the world when you were younger, it can still serve as that escape now. Never underestimate the power of an old childhood favorite book, no matter how childish/cliché/silly it may seem now. Whenever I do have the chance to read, those are almost always what I turn to.

-Brooke

When Weekends Become the “Catch-Up” Days of the Week…

Good morning everyone!

Lately I’ve been noticing that when my work piles up during the week, I can only make a small dent in it each night. I have cheer pretty much everyday, and usually a couple days a week I have some other extracurricular/commitment after cheer. I get home anywhere from 5-9pm, and I’ve usually barely started on homework. Sleep is very important to me, so I don’t stay up into the wee hours of the night to get my work done- I simply do whatever I need to do (assignments with concrete due dates, studying for a test the next day) and kind of let the rest slide.

It’s not that I necessarily procrastinate, it’s just my weird way of prioritizing sleep/certain things; the one downside is it creates this frantic game of catch-up. Most of this extra work and studying in advance that I simply don’t have much time to do on weeknights gets pushed aside until the weekends, when I’m suddenly faced with an unrealistic amount of tasks. Friday nights I usually have cheer as well, or I use that night as my time to spend with friends, so I only have Saturday and Sunday to prepare myself for the following week, finish up work from the previous week, do volunteer work/other extracurriculars/fun stuff, and attempt to relax.

Needless to say, that usually doesn’t all get done. I usually make a long to-do list every weekend, and somehow it seems that less and less gets accomplished every week. I’m still getting done everything that I need to and I’m not exactly behind, but it feels like I’m spending every moment working on something and trying to catch up with the ideas of what I want to be doing.

As I write this, it’s a Saturday night. My bed is littered with English reading assignments, my AP Euro notes and study guide, my two-page to-do list, my weekly planner, and my math spiral notebook. I’ve done my homework for three out of six classes so far, but I still have to finish the rest, clean, organize my cheer bag with all my practice wear for the week, schedule a couple appointments, and do some extracurricular-related stuff. Plus, I wanted to work on a writing piece for my school’s Reflections competition, do some volunteering, and start researching summer programs. I haven’t had much time to write lately beyond updating this blog- another thing I do on the weekends.

Maybe I just need better time-management and blocking off chunks of time to really grind and get certain tasks done, or maybe I need to hold myself accountable for getting more work done during the week. I don’t know the answers- I’m still trying to figure things out. It’s a weird thing because certain days I’m super overwhelmed, and some days I’m not; I’m honestly more overwhelmed on the weekends than school days because the strict schedule and rhythm of school days keeps me in line. My free-form style of just setting goals and trying to get all of these things done on the weekends is daunting and always leaves me frazzled.

I know this isn’t the type of school post I would normally write, but I love to be honest and share my opinions. We all have our struggles, and time management can be a huge one. I’m really trying to determine what works best for me, and I’ll let you guys know when I do!

-Brooke

Should You Continue An Activity if You’re Not “Good” At It? – My Opinion

Hello everyone!

In high school, most students are very overbooked between school, homework, extracurriculars, and (hopefully) some social activities, among whatever other commitments they may have. Almost everyone will come to a point where they’ll have to drop certain things in order to prioritize others. How do you choose what to drop and what to continue? It depends on the type of person you are, and what your strategy is.

Often times, people will say to drop the things you aren’t particularly talented at, or you have the least potential in. This makes sense if you like all your activities equally or you really don’t know what to get rid of, but I think it’s a bad idea to consistently put this advice out there. You can love something you’re not too great at, and you can hate something that comes naturally to you.

However, I have taken this advice to heart many times because personally, I find activities a lot less fun if I know I’m not good at them, especially if I realize I’m not even improving while I spend time doing them. Maybe it’s my perfectionism, but I enjoy things a lot more when I know I’m doing them well or have the potential to if I keep working.

The point is, it’s all about your personal priorities. If you’re in love with everything you do (in which case, lucky you!), I would probably recommend the classic advice of dropping whatever you’re least talented in. Otherwise, your natural talent doesn’t really matter. Even if you think you’re bad at something or it feels like you’re not improving, you will get better if you continue with it.

I know it’s a tough concept- believe me, I need to work on my attitude towards this topic as well. Figure out what means the most to you and make sure you stick with that; in the long run, your personal fulfillment and happiness means more than any superficial achievement.

-Brooke

Resources to Aid You In All Things High School + Applying to College

Hello everyone!

I know it can be tough to find helpful resources for school-related stuff; trust me, I have spent many hours Googling various things about everything from online AP classes to summer programs. Whether you’re a freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior, these websites will be able to benefit you!

  • CollegeVine – Lots of great articles, especially since you can sort by different factors of relevance such as your grade.
  • PrepScholar – Good articles, tend to give basic information but there’s some more helpful ones
  • IvyWise – Similar to PrepScholar and CollegeVine
  • College Confidential – Definitely approach this website with caution; the overachievers on this website are insane. However, it’s a good resource for compiled lists of summer programs, internships, etc. The people on here know their stuff… for the most part.
  • Quora – I find that people post some interesting personal stories on here. It’s good if you have a specific question and just want to throw it out there.
  • Reddit – Good if you’re looking for peer advice, not so much experts or facts, but you may find opinions on extracurriculars or study tips for AP classes that you wouldn’t in a standard article.
  • Niche – College search tool, pretty standard.
  • Raise.me – This is a great way to earn scholarships (you put in your grades, extracurriculars, etc. and colleges can give you micro-scholarships for each accomplishment), but I’m also including it here because it has a cool college search tool. It’s pretty similar to Naviance’s, but it also includes filtering with certain scholarships.
  • Naviance – I’ve mentioned Naviance before, and I’ll mention it again. You can search through colleges, take personality tests to reveal good majors/jobs for you, you can create a resumé, and much more. I love looking at the scatterplots of college acceptances/rejections since it’s using data from actual alumni of your high school.
  • Your school’s counseling/college and career center website – There will usually be some informational guides here, and possibly a list of work and volunteer opportunities. If your school keeps it updated, this is a very valuable resource since it’s the most local opportunities accessible to you.
  • YouTube – You can watch vlogs/videos from anything to touring colleges you’re interested in or study tips for a specific AP class. If you find the right college/school-oriented YouTuber for you, it’s a valuable resource.

*A lot of the college advice websites are actually college consulting services, so make sure you look at their blogs/articles and not the counseling/test prep stuff (unless that’s what you’re looking for!)

I know there’s so much information out there that it can be daunting to start sweeping the Internet, but these are a few of the websites I’ve found useful. They’re not very original, but you can find most of the things you’ll need to know on here. Good luck in your research!

-Brooke

Addressing Cliché Advice on Extracurriculars

Welcome back everyone!

I’ve written a lot of posts about “getting involved” during your high school career, and the importance of activities. But what does that really mean? Getting involved can entail different things for everyone, which is why people tend to give such general advice regarding the topic. I know I had no clue where to start in joining clubs/extracurriculars and figuring out what I enjoy doing- actually, I still am a little clueless! That being said, I’ve learned a lot since I started my journey freshman year, and I’m going to share that knowledge with you.

I think it’s necessary to address some of the cliché, broad statements you’ll often hear; keep in mind, these are often true… but they’re still cliché.

  • Depth over breadth – This is something I’ve struggled with. I’ve never been particularly drawn to one field/topic or fallen in love with one activity, so I’ve tried to explore lots of things and join new activities whenever possible in search of my “passion”. I think it’s absolutely important to stick with activities and get really involved in the ones you love rather than joining 25 clubs just because, but don’t feel bad if your activities are a little bit all over the place.
  • Do what you love/follow your passion – Similar to what I said above, this is important, but it also doesn’t work out this way for everyone. If you have a passion, FOLLOW IT! Do everything you can to pursue it and become more immersed in that field; you’re lucky to have such a clear idea of what you love. However, if you don’t have a passion/specific things you love doing, it’s okay to just try new things. You don’t have to go into everything trying to make it your passion.
  • Drop time-suck activities – This is a tricky one, because what exactly is a time-suck? Any activity can be time-consuming if you’re putting a lot of time and effort into it; it just depends on what you’re personally getting out of it. For example, if you’re in a sport and have two-hour practices everyday, but you don’t genuinely enjoy the sport/you’re not the best at it, that time could be spent doing so many other things you do like. However, if you enjoy your activities that could be considered “time-sucks”, don’t drop them. It’s that simple; just evaluate what else you could be doing and how pressed you are for time.
  • Be a leader, not just a participant – Again, leadership roles are definitely something you will want to have eventually. However, you don’t have to be a leader in everything you do, and it’s okay if you don’t naturally gravitate towards being a leader in a group at all- not everyone wants to be a leader, and not everyone should. I would definitely recommend leading projects/groups when necessary or when you have an idea that no one else does/no one else is going to act on. For example, don’t be afraid to start your own club or do your own service project.

These are the main cliché statements I’ve encountered when searching for extracurricular advice. I’m still trying to find my “passion” and figure out what I want to pursue through my activities in high school/how I want to use my time, and it’s honestly really difficult. There’s so many options out there; therefore, there’s so many different paths you can take- the amount of options overwhelms my indecisive brain! The main thing that calms me down is just remembering that we’re all exactly where we’re meant to be right now, and things will work themselves out in the long run.

-Brooke

Why We Need to Stop Comparing Ourselves to Others – Especially Online

Good morning everyone!

I have a feeling that in some point during each day of your life, you compare yourself to those around you. I know this because it’s natural, and we all do it. Sometimes subconsciously, sometimes consciously, sometimes in a positive light, sometimes in a negative light; whatever the situation is, you’re going to make self-comparisons. I’ve always been a bit shy and unsure of myself/my decisions, so I’ve often turned to others for inspiration- this can be motivating and helpful sometimes, but it also leads to a lot of negative self-talk. Lately, I’ve felt the need to address why this is detrimental to our mental health, and why it’s important to be aware of the comparisons you are making.

Especially in high school, when everyone’s trying to find their footing and situations can vary greatly between peers, it’s easy to look around and compare yourself. It could be something simple, like seeing someone else’s outfit and wishing yours was as cute as their’s, but it could also be a lot more serious- like seeing someone who’s super involved in school and has started their own business, and thinking since you don’t have those achievements, you’re less of a person than them.

As a nerdy, anxious, overthinking student, I’ve spent many hours watching YouTube videos, reading Reddit/College Confidential/Quora threads regarding how to be successful in high school and therefore get into a good college. Sometimes the advice was helpful (it’s great that there are FREE online resources like these if you don’t have anyone else around you to educate you on college admissions), but more often than not, it just left me feeling horrible and unaccomplished. My friends would tell me to “just stop watching” if they made me feel that way about myself, but I somehow couldn’t- I was addicted to comparing myself to others.

Somehow I thought that by hearing about these amazing, successful students, I would magically transform into one. Surprise, surprise- the only thing I got out of it was diminished self-worth and the realization I’d wasted hours I could’ve spent with friends or actually DOING some of the activities those superstar kids had done. The damage was done, so it would be worse to dwell on it… but what was I supposed to do now?

I’ll admit, I will still sometimes click on a YouTube video highlighting someone’s stats, or go on one of the aforementioned websites if I have a specific question/topic in mind that I need information on. The key difference is I stopped ACTUALLY comparing myself to these online profiles of people I knew nothing about; I now go in already knowing to take the information with a grain of salt, and I make sure to reassure myself of my own accomplishments (even if I still don’t think I have much).

It’s okay to admire those around you, and you obviously still will! Like I said, the key difference is making sure the admiration doesn’t reflect inward onto you feeling inferior. Accept that you’ll never understand how some people do what they do, and that everyone has their strengths. I know it’s hard, but you just have to tell yourself you’re already on track to find your “thing”; I mean, it’s true! The right path for you is out there somewhere, and by thinking about it, you’re halfway there to finding it. No comparison necessary 🙂

-Brooke

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The Problem with “Gifted” Education

Good morning everyone!

I recently watched a YouTube video (by Tiffany Ferg, I believe, in case anyone’s curious) that outlined the many issues with GATE programs and labeling young children as gifted. I was immediately hooked and knew I had to watch it. I was in the GATE program in elementary school from 1st-4th grade, but it wasn’t anything special; we weren’t separated from other kids and there weren’t any unique activities. I transferred schools/school districts for fifth grade, and my GATE standing didn’t transfer over- there was no way to get into GATE at my new school, but it didn’t really matter since again, there weren’t any special activities for GATE students.

Now that I gave a little background on my brief and unexciting experience with gifted education, here’s why I think it’s a significant issue to discuss. As a GATE kid myself, I know I definitely had huge dreams as a child. I was an early reader, so my teachers in elementary school were very impressed with me. This inflated my ego a lot– I thought I could do anything. I told people I wanted to be the first woman president, and in first grade I walked around with my Harry Potter books acting like I was some mini-scholar. All of this was because of that label, because of people telling me I was so smart for being an early reader, because of people telling me I would do such great things.

I know it might sound like it, but I’m not bashing these teachers for complimenting me and being supportive. It’s just the labeling of children as if they’re already adults and accomplishing big things that bothers me; it sets them up for disappointment. Some of these “gifted” kids actually are complete geniuses and will go on to accomplish these great things they were told they would, but that’s pretty rare. A lot more of them will grow up, realize they’re not that special, and experience feelings of failure or loss of identity.

That definitely happened to me, once I got to middle school. I realized I was not a genius; I was just lucky enough to have an aptitude for reading as a little kid. I wasn’t the smartest in all my classes anymore, and I had to try if I wanted to succeed. This happens to a lot of “gifted” kids once they move on from elementary school, and it’s pretty crushing. I still struggle with it a lot today, since those dreams of accomplishing something amazing and being known as a genius still exist somewhere within my brain.

That’s not to say that it would be impossible for me to make my dreams come true or accomplish something significant in life; I definitely still could, and I hope to. The issue is, it’s not a given that I’ll go on to do these things as the teachers and adults in my life implied when I was young. In the YouTube video I watched, Tiffany shared her own story of being a GATE kid. As she talked about having an inflated ego similar to mine when she was younger, she said “When people keep telling you something, you start to believe it”. This could not be more true.

Hearing people tell me how smart I was and how amazing I was set me up with such a toxic mindset/idea of success when I was very young. I believed I was amazing and stood out from the rest of the world, so it was really hard to accept that even though I was smart and could do well in school when I worked hard, I wasn’t special. I wasn’t… well, gifted. I think this labeling of young children can only impact them negatively; the ones that actually are amazingly gifted will go on to use their talents no matter what, so there’s no need to make these programs and treat these kids differently.

This is an issue that affects kids all across the country (possibly the world, but I don’t know if they have these types of labels/programs in other countries), and it needs to stop. If you’ve had an experience with so-called “gifted” education, feel free to share. I truly believe there’s not enough benefits of these programs; the drawbacks far outweigh them. We need to prioritize the mental well-being of these kids, and this isn’t doing that.

-Brooke

Click HERE to watch Tiffany’s video! “The Curse of Being a ‘Gifted’ Student”

5 Study Tips Everyone Should Use

Hello everyone!

As we near the end of September, we get farther into the school routine and closer to finals *gasp*. I’ve personally already had lots of tests and assignments, but I’ve still been working on fine-tuning my study routine for each class. I wanted to share my current study tips that have been helping me get good grades while also balancing my long list of random activities/extracurriculars, so here you go!

  • Quizlet. That’s it. I’ll never stop advocating for Quizlet because it’s a life saver for anything you need to memorize.
  • Making my own study guides – I usually do this for history classes and English classes, but I’ve done it for math too. Write about all the important concepts/people/dates/etc. and then when you’re done, use it to quiz yourself. It also helps if you give it to a friend or parent and have them quiz you.
  • Rewriting notes – I never used to do this because I thought it was a waste of time, but it’s really worked for me recently. In my AP Euro class, my teacher usually just does lectures and he’s a super fast talker, so we’re always scrambling to write notes. This results in very messy notes, so a studying method I’ve used has been to rewrite the notes neater since it helps me remember the information as I’m writing it all again, but it also gives me neater notes to study off of when I’m done.
  • Reading the textbook after lectures in class – People often say to read the textbook before covering the topics in class, but I think depending on the subject, reading it after might be more beneficial. My teachers tend to give a more general overview of topics in class, breaking them down to make sense. Textbooks have all the details and give a lot more specific information; once your teacher has outlined a lesson and you understand the gist, read the textbook section to get a deeper understanding and reinforce what you learned.
  • Redoing homework/finding practice material – This is mainly for math, but you can do it for any subject. I like to redo any math problems I had trouble with on homework assignments throughout the chapter to make sure I could get them right if they were on a test. For other subjects, I’ll usually ask my teacher for practice material or find practice tests online (especially for books in English- look up tests!!).

Once you start enforcing good study habits, they’ll become natural. Carving out extra time to study on top of actual homework can feel like wayyyy too much school in a day, but I promise it’s worth it. I’m still working on getting better study habits myself- it’s all a long journey. Good luck with your studying and any tests coming up, you got this!

-Brooke

How You Can Make the Most of Being in High School

Welcome back everyone!

I’ve been thinking a lot about my high school experience thus far, as I often do, and I’m always asking myself one question. How can I make the most of my situation right now? We all have to go through high school (unfortunately), so we might as well make the most of it, right? I’m lucky enough to go to a good public school that is also fairly large, so there’s lots of opportunities available to high school students in my community. Even if that’s not your situation, here’s how you can make the most of what’s available to you!

  • Do well/do your best academically – I know this is kind of an obvious thing, but a lot of people don’t think that freshman year matters, or don’t consider their future right away. Make sure to try your best all four years and take classes that challenge you. It will give you so many more/much better options when applying to colleges among other things in your future.
  • Find out all of the extracurriculars offered, and get involved in ones you’re interested in – There are so many options at most schools! Sports, a variety of clubs, band, choir, academic teams like mock trial and academic decathlon, peer tutoring/volunteer opportunities, career education classes, journalism like the school paper or yearbook, among various others are the main things you can get involved in, but it depends on your school. If you’ve been participating in an activity since you were young continue it, but I would still recommend trying new things.
  • Talk to people! – Find people with similar interests to you, talk to people in your classes, be open to making new friends, you get the drill. The people around you can really make or break your experience in any situation, so make an effort to find the right friends for you.
  • Foster relationships with your teachers and counselors – These people are there to help you, and you’ll find a lot of them are really amazing people once you get to know them. I’m a shy person and I’m easily intimidated when talking to adults, but I’ve learned that reaching out to your teachers and counselors is the best thing you can do. They’ll like you more, and you’ll feel way more comfortable knowing they’re here to support you.
  • Utilize college planning tools – Most schools have some form of college and career center, and often colleges will visit/there will be a college fair or multiple throughout the year. Utilize these connections if you know a school you’re interested in is coming to visit, and log into websites like Naviance once in a while.
  • Go to dances and sports games – You only get so many homecoming football games or dances in your life, so go while you can! If these functions aren’t fun at your school and you/your friends would prefer doing something different, definitely do that instead- I know school spirit isn’t for everyone. However, I think everyone should at least try it.
  • If they don’t offer an activity/class you want, advocate for it/try to start it – Leadership is a great skill to develop before becoming an adult, since you’ll need to advocate for yourself all the time. If you want an activity or class at your school, tell your counselor and other admin members. If you end up pulling it off, it will be a huge victory for you, and a great thing to put on college applications.
  • Take advantage of elective classes – At my school, band/choir, journalism/yearbook, and student government are all considered electives. There’s also computer science, digital media, graphics, and a lot of tech classes. There’s even a few random electives like comparative religion and contemporary world issues! If there’s something you’re interested in as an elective, don’t be afraid to take it in place of a more boring, academic class. It will be more fun and you never know where it might take you.
  • Don’t be afraid to try new things, and don’t be afraid to quit/drop things you don’t like – This is another obvious one, but it’s so important. It’s never too late to join something (I’ve joined a ton of activities this year as a sophomore), and it’s never too late to get out of something you don’t want to do anymore. Just do whatever you’re interested in and see where it takes you.

High school is difficult, but doing these things and utilizing the tools available to you can make it a lot easier. Understanding that it will be tough and some things may not work out how you would like is the first step to making the best out of your experience. Your attitude can make all the difference, so get out there and go conquer high school!

-Brooke