Five Ways to Find the Right Hobby For You

Hello everyone!

Are you struggling to find a pastime to look forward to after school? Are you unsure of what you actually enjoy doing? Are you lacking in your extracurricular resumé? If any of these apply, keep on reading to find out what you should do!

There’s an activity out there to suit everyone’s interests and needs- you just have to be open to trying new things and do a little digging within yourself to find it. I know that I’ve personally tried so many different activities; some of them I liked, some I loved, and some I didn’t like at all. Here are five ways to make this search easier and root through the numerous options.

  1. Tag along to clubs/activities that your friends participate in. I would advise making it clear to the friend you go with that you’re just trying it out and that you might not end up committing to it, just so there’s not a misunderstanding. That being said, this is a great way to get involved in something new while still feeling comfortable! Trying new things is scary, but everything is better with a friend- especially if that friend can show you the ropes. If you have friends that are super passionate about certain activities, see what it’s all about. You may fall in love with it too.
  2. Ask your school counselor or teachers that you’re close with what activities they’ve heard of and think you might enjoy. Any school staff member probably has a pretty good idea of a lot of the things going on around campus that you may have not heard of before. They can also direct you to resources such as school newsletters or email listings (which you can/should totally seek out on your own as well!) and point you in the right direction. This works best if the adult you’re asking knows you well, as they can give the most personalized recommendations that way.
  3. Think about what you gravitate towards doing in your current free time. Yes, even watching TV or playing video games counts. There’s a way to turn anything into a valuable pastime- for the examples I provided, you could stage your own TV shows as plays or create a YouTube channel with video game reviews. Look at what you do when you can be doing anything you want, and pursue that further.
  4. Look outside of school for community opportunities. School sports and clubs aren’t for everyone, and that’s okay! They’re not the only activities out there by any means. Check local bulletin boards, the newspaper, or your city’s website (specifically the youth section if they have one) to see what else is going on around you locally, or ask your parents if they know of anything. Some examples would be volunteer opportunities/groups since most of those take place outside of school, or clubs and organizations that accept a wide range of ages (both adults and kids). 
  5. If you can’t find a group that enjoys the same activity as you, start your own. If you’ve realized there’s something you enjoy doing but there’s no group or organization around you dedicated to that, making one is a great way to dive deeper into your passion. You never know who else might be interested and was feeling the same way, so be the person to get out there and make those connections with others. This can be even more rewarding, as you will most likely be the person in charge, meaning you can take it as far as you want.  

Hopefully these five steps will aid you in your journey to finding a hobby you love. I also wanted to address that it’s okay if your interests fluctuate- just do what you enjoy and stay open to trying new things even when you think you’re set on a certain activity. 

**This was written as an article for my RaiseMe internship. I’m currently waiting for approval, but I’m hoping it will be used by them in some way! If you want to know more about RaiseMe and what they do, I posted about that at the beginning of October when I got the internship.

-Brooke

Where I’ve Been & Life Update

Hello everyone!

If you’ve been reading this blog for a little bit, you would know that I’ve posted daily for the past few months pretty consistently. I know it’s been less than a week since my last post, but that’s still a significant amount of time offline considering my usual daily posting schedule. I wanted to address what’s been going on in my life and what’s taken me away from posting this past week.

First of all, I usually write all of my posts on weekends and schedule them to go up throughout the week. Last weekend, I was busy from the moment I got out of school to the moment I got into bed on Monday night. After school I had to cheer at the varsity football playoff game (all levels of cheer had to) and then I was out of town for my first official Youth and Government conference in Fresno. It was an amazing experience, I met so many inspiring kids, and I’m absolutely in love with the program, but the long days at the conference tired me out.

I thought I could squeeze some writing time in, but it just didn’t happen- I had to do homework and such as well. I planned to write some posts during the week as I went since I didn’t think I would be too busy, but I was very run-down and exhausted each day that I would plan to get things done. On Thursday after school, I felt so overexhausted and ache-y that my mom took me to the doctor; I had a fever and some sort of virus (not the flu or anything serious). I took a bunch of naps and stayed home from school on Friday.

I’ve been trying to make a speedy recovery since this upcoming week is the last week before Thanksgiving break and my trip to Seattle. I hate missing school because there’s always so much work to be made up, so I’ve tried to do as much of my makeup work from Friday while I’ve been resting. Also, the Post Malone concert that I had been waiting to go to since my birthday (my parents’ birthday present to me was tickets) was yesterday (Saturday). I didn’t have a fever anymore/I was feeling better and we didn’t want to waste the tickets, so my mom agreed we could still go. We ended up leaving early since I got really tired and was having trouble breathing in the smokey arena, but I’m still really grateful to have gotten to see him perform a few of my favorite songs.

This sudden sickness coming on is a sign that I really need to slow down. There’s a lot of things that I can’t change about my busy schedule so I’m not sure how I can make it a little bit easier on myself, but I’m in desperate need of a break. I’m hoping to be 100% healthy for my Seattle trip and I think that will be a nice change of pace, but I’m trying to figure out what lifestyle changes I can make to reduce the stress of my daily life. I think the reason I got so sick was just because of being overtired and stressed; then, not wanting to miss school because of missing work made me more stressed and more sick in turn.

I also just want to add that I have a fairly poor immune system in general. I get sick almost every month, even though I get plenty of sleep, eat decently healthy (not really healthy, but nothing horrible), and exercise. I think my constant stress is what makes it so easy for me to get sick so often, which is why I need to combat my stress first and foremost. Getting sick all the time just makes it harder on me anyways, since I either have to miss school and deal with the stress of makeup work, or go to school and risk becoming sicker.

For these reasons and more, I’m going to be changing up my posting schedule on here. I’m not sure what it’s going to look like, but don’t be surprised if I’m slightly less present on this blog for the time being. I definitely want to get back to daily posting, but I have to figure out how to work that into my schedule without it turning into a source of stress. Hope you all are healthy and relaxed, ready for the holidays!

-Brooke

My Issues With Commitment

Welcome back everyone!

Before you keep reading, this is a continuation of my recent “Coping With Perfectionism” post, so go check that out if you haven’t already- it’s almost like a little series, except I’m not sure if I will continue it beyond this post. I’ve established that I struggle with being a perfectionist and not wanting to do things if I know I’m not skilled at them/can’t do it well, so that has led to a long history of me struggling to commit to things.

When you hear “commitment issues,” you might think of relationships or flaky people. I’m not talking about either of these things. I often start things with full intent of staying committed to them, and I’m usually very excited about starting a new activity/whatever it is. Once I get into it, if I don’t see myself progressing (of course somewhat reasonably, relative to the amount of time/work I put in), I become frustrated and the activity or discipline becomes less intriguing and fun.

The first couple instances of this I can remember are gymnastics, dance, and art. When I was younger, I was super into drawing. I wasn’t particularly talented; I was just a little kid who liked to make arts and crafts. I begged my mom to sign me up for art classes at a real art studio, even though I wasn’t very good. I went to a couple, and saw the amazing art the people around me (some only a few years older than me) were creating. I was intimidated, and quickly lost interest.

I then joined gymnastics, as my parents encouraged me to join a sport/something active. I actually stuck with it for about four years; my parents could already see my struggle with perfectionism, so they signed me up at a recreational gym that was pretty much classes-only so there wouldn’t be any pressure for me to get better and/or compete. It was super fun, but once I got a little older and realized I had just been in the kiddie-classes and not actually learning any gymnastics, I asked my mom if I could switch gyms. I tried going to the local competitive gym (still for classes only) and ended up hating it since they paid no attention to anyone besides the girls on the competition teams. I switched to another recreational gym that had classes geared towards slightly older girls, and took there for a while. It was fun, but I outgrew it by the end of that year. My gymnastics “career” was over.

Around the time I was phasing out of gymnastics, I went through another phase lots of young girls go through: the dance phase. My mom signed me up for classes at a competitive studio, and it was a similar thing to the competitive gym I had gone to- all the classes were a joke unless you were on the company team. Lots of my friends were also dabbling in dance classes at the time, so I signed up with a friend to go to a year-long class at a different studio. I honestly wasn’t the biggest fan of it, but I definitely learned a lot more than I had at the other studio. My friend and I went to the summer camp there together, and we finished out the year-long class by performing at the recital. I knew I wasn’t very good and had pretty much gotten all the dance experience I needed to, so my dance “career” had now ended as well.

I kind of feel similar with cheer at the moment- I’ve mentioned in a lot of my posts that I’m a high school cheerleader planning on dropping the sport next year. I just feel like I’ve progressed as much as I’m going to within the activity and I’m ready to allocate my time to something new. It takes up a ton of time, and I don’t enjoy it anymore, so why do it? I feel guilty that I’ve started and stopped so many different activities over the course of my life, but I don’t see a better way to do things. I’m not a super flakey person; I’ve consistently worked hard in advanced classes in school and I’ve never lost motivation with that. I’ve been writing for a while… but that’s kind of it. Everything else that I do I’ve started within the past year or two.

In some ways I’m thankful that my parents never pushed me to stick with something because I wouldn’t have wanted to spend so much time doing something I didn’t truly like, but sometimes I wish they had nudged me in a certain direction. I’m aware that it takes time to cultivate true talent and become better at a specific skill, but now that I’m almost halfway through high school I don’t have much time to spend on any one thing. I struggle a lot with knowing that I don’t have a stand-out talent or skill; I don’t have a ‘thing.’

A lot of this is closely connected to my perfectionism; if I wasn’t such a perfectionist, I wouldn’t care that I don’t have a ‘thing.’ Obviously I try not to get down on myself too much about it because that wouldn’t be productive, but my perfectionism is a big part of my personality and motivation, so the feelings are still there. The main affirmation that lifts my spirits is knowing that there’s still so much of my life ahead of me, so it’s almost better that I haven’t confined myself to one discipline yet. I can only hope I’ll find it in the near future (and so will you!).

-Brooke

My Town Was On Fire (Again)

Hello everyone!

Unfortuntately, fire season has taken over California again due to the high winds and dry heat. I’m writing this a few days after the fires were actually close/threatening to me, but by the time you’ll be reading this it will have been over a week. I’m not going to be too specific about the details of my location and the fire for privacy purposes, but I could see the fire from my window on the hills across from my neighborhood. It was never threatening to my house/neighborhood because a big road separates us from those hills, but it was enough to close the roads nearby and give everyone a scare.

Last year, the fires weren’t near my town, but they greatly affected the neighboring town that I go to school in. We had a two week break attached to our Thanksgiving break because of air quality and assessing possible damage to school property, so the whole thing was very serious and very scary. This year, there was no threat to my school (besides bad air quality) since the fire was closer to where I live, but luckily my neighborhood was still safe. My school still closed for a couple of a days, so I ended up having a five-day weekend over Halloween weekend.

I don’t have anything more specific to say about the fires or my experience; luckily my family, friends, and I have all been fine after the events of both years. Watching a helicopter drop the red stuff (forgive me for not knowing the name of it) over the scorched hills from my window just made me realize how sad it is that this is a normalized thing. Every year when the winds get stronger and the last remnants of fall’s heat remain, us Californians have to brace ourselves for fires and tragedy. I know there’s not much we can do since it’s an issue of nature, but it scares me. If any of you live near the fires and if any are still going when I post this, I hope all of you are safe.

-Brooke

Books I Read in 9th Grade: Ranked Worst to Best

Welcome back everyone!

I love to read, but I don’t have time to read for pleasure as much as I would like to. Luckily, I’ve actually really enjoyed most of the books I’ve read in my English classes throughout high school so far. Since we’ve only read two books so far this year, I figured I would only rank the ones from ninth grade. I know it’s not a lot, but ninth grade is the only year without summer reading, and we also read a lot of short stories (my favorite was A Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allen Poe).

5. The Odyssey by Homer – We didn’t read the full thing in class, we only read excerpts from our textbook. I think that’s why I didn’t really enjoy it; if I read the piece as a whole and in order, I could probably connect to it more and make more sense of it. I usually enjoy Greek mythology, but I’d never read a formal work like this. It was also the first thing we read at the beginning of freshman year, so I don’t particularly remember it.

4. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck – This book just made me sad. That’s pretty much it; I felt for the characters and I thought it was interesting insight into the harsh realities of a working man’s life during those times, but it was too short for me to get really invested. That being said, I can’t imagine writing a meaningful/classic story in so few pages, so I’m in awe of Steinbeck for that.

3. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare – I know it’s a play, but we read it in book form. It’s obviously a classic that everyone knows and I personally enjoy Shakespeare, so this was pretty enjoyable for me. It just didn’t excite me that much since I already had the basic plot points outlined in my head. It was an easy read at the end of the year after we finished A Tale of Two Cities.

2. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens – This was extremely difficult to understand (shoutout to the Spark Notes line by line translation that I would read alongside my book) but one of the most exciting books I’ve ever read. I wasn’t expecting to like it since it was the most challenging book of the year and there was a lot to keep track of, but I came to love every twist and turn. The ending saddened me a bit, but I think it tied the many plot lines up well.

1.To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee – I loved this book. It was the first “classic” I’d read that I actually understood (it was towards the beginning of the year too), and I think it’s important for everyone to read it. I grew close to the characters while reading, and I liked the emphasis on law and the court process since one of my (possible) dream jobs is being a lawyer.

I feel silly ranking these books since they’re all extremely famous classics that you guys probably know and have read as well, but I figured I would give my input in case any freshmen are curious as to what you might read this year, or any middle schoolers are looking ahead. I might make one of these ranking books I’ve read in middle school, as my middle school English teachers actually picked some great books for us to read.

-Brooke

What’s Eating Up Your Time

Welcome back everyone!

Unfortunately, the past week was a really unproductive week for me. I had a five-day weekend (it was supposed to be a three-day weekend, but then California fire season came in full swing) so I spent a lot of time at home and intended to get a lot of work done, but it somehow just didn’t happen. The time slipped through my fingers, and here we are in the thick of another busy week. During busy times like this where I can’t seem to accomplish anything, I have to reevaluate where my time is going. If you’re having similar issues, keep reading- this might save you a lot of time in the long run.

Time-Waster #1: Too much time spent on social media – This is the probably the biggest and most obvious culprit. Even if you think you don’t spend that much time on social media, it’s probably still a sizeable amount. If I know I have a lot of work to do, I usually leave my phone in another room. The only thing that makes this tricky is when I need my phone to check teachers’ websites/look up school related questions, and end up getting distracted on social media. If you have an iPhone, I suggest turning the Screen Time feature on and limiting yourself on social media apps. It’s also eye-opening in general to see how much time you really spend on your phone. If you still want to keep up with your friends, I recommend limiting your daily social media checks to before bed, when you wake up, and car rides.

Time-Waster #2: Having TV or other media on in the background of work – This isn’t always harmful; as I’m typing this post, I have Gossip Girl on my TV in the background. If you’re doing casual work or cleaning, I find watching TV or YouTube videos makes it a lot easier and more enjoyable. However, if you’re trying to study or do homework that requires a lot of focus, this is definitely a distraction. It’s so easy to look up for a second and get sucked into the storyline. I recommend only having media on in the background if it’s music, or if you’re doing non-academic work.

Time-Waster #3: Multi-tasking – Similar to watching TV in the background, this isn’t always a bad idea. Sometimes you need to be doing two things at once, like eating while studying, or cleaning while having someone else quiz you. In these cases, multi-tasking boosts your productivity and can actually help you get more done. In other cases, it just scatters your brain and prevents you from finishing any one task. If you’re working on different assignments/projects in multiple classes, working a little bit on all of them at once won’t actually get you anywhere. It’s best to tackle one thing at a time and finish it completely; the work will usually be better quality, and you can cross it off your to-do-list altogether.

Time-Waster #4: Not having everything in front of you – If you keep having to get up from your workspace to grab tools or whatever you’re missing that you need to finish your work, it wastes a lot of time and continuously disrupts your thought process. For example, if you need to print out a bunch of papers, print them all out before you start working. You wouldn’t want to print out each paper as you go, because that’s just more time going back and forth to the printer. Lay out all your necessary tools before getting started- it will save you time and it will keep you in your focus ~zone.~

Time-Waster #5: Spending too much time “getting organized” – Kind of the opposite of not having all your materials in front of you, sometimes it’s a waste of time to set everything up neatly. Once you’re pretty sure you have everything you need and you know what you need to accomplish, get started right away. I use a planner to track my homework and write important dates/extracurricular stuff in it, but I don’t spend that much time planning out exactly how I’ll execute tasks. I know some people enjoy bullet journaling and hardcore-planning (I wish I did, it’s so aesthetically pleasing) but unless you really love that and it works for you, I think it’s more efficient to just get started when you can.

Time-Waster #6: Too much time researching/looking things up rather than actually working – This happens to me a lot, but it’s often with extracurriculars and not even schoolwork. I’m very indecisive and like to have all the possible information I can find before making a decision to do something/start something, so I spend a lot of time reading random things on the Internet. It’s good/necessary to do some research before jumping into a project or signing up for an activity, but there’s a point where you just need to get started and learn along the way. I’ve spent soooo many hours scouring forums for extracurricular ideas and opportunities, and those hours could have been spent actually doing something or even starting my own project/activity.

I’m not happy with how I’ve been spending my time lately, so I plan on cracking down on some of these things. Keep in mind different things work for different people and some of these “time-wasters” aren’t always bad things to do- only if you’re really pressed for time or you get distracted easily, like me. If there’s anything you think I’m missing that has really helped you save time, feel free to share!

-Brooke

Coping With Perfectionism

Hello everyone!

I know I’m not perfect and there’s no reason for me to be (because nobody truly is), yet I constantly pressure myself to reach perfection. In some ways it can be a positive thing since I’m pushing to become the best possible version of myself, but it still borderlines on unhealthy. I often discourage myself from participating in certain activities if I know I won’t be good at them, and I usually don’t enjoy what I’m doing if I’m not talented in some way. Sometimes I feel unstoppable and like I can conquer the world (that’s the ultra-motivated, creative side of me who sees all the cool opportunities out there I want to pursue), and sometimes I feel worthless and untalented in all aspects.

For example, as I’m writing this, I’m thinking about my tumbling lesson I had yesterday and my cheerleading experience in general. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I am a high school cheerleader, but I plan on dropping the sport next year. Yes, it’s the right decision overall for me as it’s a huge time commitment and I don’t enjoy it anymore- but why don’t I enjoy it? One of the main reasons is because I’m not particularly good at it. Yesterday at my tumbling lesson, I was having trouble throwing a certain skill without my coach spotting me. He was encouraging me to do it on my own by saying I was talented and he knew I could do it. This was obviously very kind of him and it kind of helped, but in a way it only made me feel worse- because I’m not really talented at the sport, and I know that.

To me, being a perfectionist doesn’t mean I’m actually amazing at everything that I do- it just means that I don’t like doing anything that I’m not good at, because I want everything I do to be perfect or close to it. Considering I haven’t found my passion/talent or anything I’m particularly good at yet, this means I often feel bad about my personal skills when participating in most activities/things. I’m jealous of all my friends who 1) aren’t perfectionists and therefore aren’t as hard on themselves and 2) actually are involved in things they love and are good at. I can be super discouraging to myself.

Moreover, I often get excited about the idea of trying new things, thinking I might find my true talent and something I’ll love doing forever; that’s how I felt about cheer when I first started. I told myself, ‘This is amazing, I love this.” I soon realized that it wasn’t my hidden talent or passion, and the more time I spent on it, the more sad I got realizing that I wasn’t good at it and I didn’t want to do it anymore. Once I get settled into an activity and come to the realization it’s not really my thing or I’m not good at it, I easily grow tired of it and want to stop. I’ve stayed committed to cheer for a longer time mainly because I didn’t want to be a quitter and there still were some parts of it I liked, but this cycle happens with most activities I do.

I want nothing more than to find something that calls out to me, something that I love to do, something that I’m genuinely good at and have some natural aptitude for. I don’t expect to be an expert right away, but I want something where I can see progression. As I’ve mentioned, I’ll get excited about trying new things- I’ll be really motivated when I start and I’ll feel pretty good about how things are going, but I won’t end up improving/growing/progressing as I put more time into it. Things usually stay stagnant, which frustrates me as I’ll still put the same amount of work in (I try to give everything my all), so I lose motivation and want to stop.

I know my perfectionism prevents me from enjoying things that I might have just liked to do for fun, but I don’t know how to get rid of it. At this point, I really do want to find things that I’m good at just to prove myself that I do have some sort of talent, but beyond that issue, I would like to rid myself of the need to be good at something to feel validated and like I have self-worth. I know your skills in certain fields don’t define you as a person, but I just want to be good at what I do and have some sort of success that I can be proud of myself for. If I wasn’t a perfectionist, maybe I wouldn’t care to feel this way at all.

This may seem like a negative spin on things, but I have a positive example of one area where I’ve managed to negate my perfectionism: this blog. As I’ve mentioned, I normally don’t keep participating in activities that I don’t think I’m good at. I’ve questioned my blogging skills quite a few times, as this blog has remained very small-scale and I’m not the best at coming up with good ideas for posts. My perfectionist brain has told me it’s not worth doing and that I should just scrap it, but I enjoy writing and I like having a space to dump my ideas, so I’ve kept going. It may seem small, and I would still like to make my blog more successful in the future, but it’s a big step for me.

It’s hard for me to step back and analyze my perfectionism since it is such a big part of me and my motivation to do things, but I hope I can put more of a positive spin on it in the future. It has given me a more ‘all in’ philosophy in life since when I jump into something new, I come in with full motivation and effort to do the best I can with it, which can come in handy. Honestly, I’m just a high school student as lost in the world as everyone else; however, I have hope good things are coming, to me and to all of you.

-Brooke

Letting Go of an Activity You Love

Welcome back everyone!

I am learning first-hand how difficult it is to discontinue an activity you’ve participated in for a long time. As I’ve mentioned multiple times on this blog, I’m a cheerleader at my school and it’s my second year on the team. I also did competitive cheer for a year in middle school. Football season is now officially over, and I don’t plan on continuing cheer junior year (nothing’s set in stone yet- we still have basketball season and next year’s tryouts won’t be until March, but I’m 99% sure I won’t be doing it). Basketball season is a lot more lowkey, so I’m coming to terms with the fact that the bulk of my last cheer season is over.

Three years (and technically only two of my current team) may not sound like a lot, but these have been the most impactful years of my life so far and a lot of my time has been spent doing cheer, so it makes sense that it actually would’ve had a huge impact on me. Going into high school, I felt like being on the cheer team was a part of my identity- not in a snobby, popular/stereotypical way, but because it was something I was involved in at school and it was pretty much my main/only extracurricular activity going into freshman year.

Because it took/takes up so much of my time and has been such a crucial component of my school experience, cheer has become part of my identity. At first this was a positive thing, but as I’ve gone through this season, it’s been tinged with a more negative connotation. Now that I have a lot more on my plate and classes are harder in sophomore year, practice is just one more block in my busy schedule, making the days even longer. I’m at school almost twelve hours a day some days, I have to wear my uniform at least once a week (at least for football season) to school, and I’ve realized I’m not actually very good at the sport.

All this has attributed to me slowly growing out of cheer. I still take weekly tumbling classes at the gym I cheered at in eighth grade, and I find myself mainly returning for the nostalgia, rather than the actual cheer classes. It’s almost like I can’t bear to quit the classes because once I do, I know I’ll probably never return to the gym and that’s another part of my life that will be gone forever. I know, it’s a little dramatic; some of my friends have suggested that I try and get a job at the gym coaching little kids at some point in the future, but I’m definitely not qualified enough. I’ve never actually been a superstar cheerleader- it’s just something I used to love doing.

I haven’t really felt those same nostalgic emotions regarding school cheer yet since I’m just so burnt out from it and waiting for this season to be over. That being said, I know I will start to miss once I’m removed from the current reality of it- I may not be best friends with everyone on the team, but there is a certain special bond to be had with any sports team, and I’ll miss having that relationship with a group of girls. Practices are rough and game days are long, but the fun moments inbetween like blasting music in the bus and cracking jokes while carrying our 50 pound cheer bags make me question my decision to quit.

I know it’s the best decision for me- it’s not something I prioritize anymore, it takes up wayyy too much time (I want to get a job in the future and there’s other volunteer/extracurricular opportunities I’ve been cutting back/holding back on trying out because of having cheer everyday), and I’m not actually that good at it. Regardless, after giving three years of my life to this sport, admittedly the most time I’ve done a sport or activity continuously, it’s hard to say goodbye. It was the first time I had gotten really passionate about an activity since I was little and experimented with all kinds of sports, and I thought I might do it for the rest of my high school career.

The most important thing in these cases is to appreciate the experience while you still have it. It’s been very difficult for me to do this in the moment, but it does help put a frustrating practice or day in perspective when I remember it’s one of my last days/games/etc. as a cheerleader. I know this decision is what’s best for me at the time, and will allow me to move onto bigger and better things that will give me more personal fulfillment. When something isn’t serving you anymore, it makes sense to cut it out of your life- time is too precious, and you never want to give yourself any extra burdens.

That being said, just because you’re going through a rough patch or a period of unmotivation with a certain activity doesn’t mean you’ve completely outgrown it or should quit right away. This is just my experience where I’ve weighed the pros and cons- it ultimately has to do with what is going to make things easiest for you and keep you happy. Life’s too short to stick with something you don’t like, especially when there’s so much out there to explore and so many other things you can try.

-Brooke

Why Happiness is Linked to Productivity

Welcome back everyone!

I recently read an interesting little article detailing a study that linked happiness to productivity in the workplace. Researchers at the University of Warwick found that happiness led to a 12% increase in productivity, while unhappiness led to a 10% decrease. One can conclude from this that being happy makes you more productive. But why? Should we all just walk around with huge smiles on our face in order to be productive? Keep on reading to find out.

Although I think walking around with a smile on your face is a great thing to do just in terms of being friendly, that’s not exactly the answer here. Happiness is also associated with creativity, which allows people to solve problems faster and come up with ways to work better/more efficiently. If employees are happy, that generally means they care more about their job- they will pay more attention to detail when getting things done.

I can attest to this first-hand- when I’m in one of my mopey stress moods, it’s hard to me to get anything done (even when I really need to). If I channel my energy into being more positive or something cheers me up, it makes it so much easier to start working and completing tasks. The study I’ve been referring to was on employees in the workplace, but it can definitely apply in other situations. They suggested that companies investing in employee satisfaction/happiness will make work more productive; if you apply this to yourself, it means you should invest in your own happiness.

Being tough on yourself and turning the pressure on will only make you unhappy and less productive (unless that’s the environment you work best in- go you!). Try to remain optimistic and see work as a positive thing, picturing the rewarding feeling you’ll have when you get everything done. It’s something I need to work on as well, but it can improve both your mental health and your productivity!

-Brooke

Why Teens Should Care About Politics/News

Hello everyone!

Have you ever wondered why politics, the news, and other “adult” topics of discussion even matter? I’ve definitely been in your shoes. Up until high school, I honestly was stuck in my own little world. I think the key turning point was reading more. It started out with the infamously unreliable Snapchat news stories and Buzzfeed (I still love a good Buzzfeed quiz), and soon I was actually watching the morning news when my parents would leave it on every day.

If you’re in a similar boat and have remained ignorant of these topics for a while- it’s still okay! We’re obviously young and everyone matures differently- these are more serious topics that might not hold everyone’s attention yet. However, if you’re starting to hold an interest in politics, I HIGHLY recommend taking action to pursue it. Here are a couple reasons why, if you need some extra convincing.

  • In a few years, you’ll be eligible to vote – Depending on your age, this might be sooner rather than later. Voting is habit-forming according to lots of different studies, so it’s important you vote in your first election that you’re eligible to. You’ll want to be educated on the candidates and make an informed decision, so you have to learn a little about politics first. This is a super important duty as a US citizen, so if you’re not convinced by any of the other reasons below, think of this one.
  • It’s useful to be in the know for conversing with adults – This is a little silly and superficial, but it’s still true. If you can hold your own in some political banter between adults, you’ll come off as a lot more mature. Also, it might just be nice to know what the heck your family members are talking about, or what’s actually going on when the evening news is on in the background.
  • We are the generation new laws will mainly impact (and generations to come) – The current political climate is the political climate we are going to inherit. Again, it’s important to be educated on what’s going on in the country you live in once you’re an adult, so why not start now? We are the ones with the power to shape the future, but you can’t shape the future without studying the past/present.
  • There’s so many scary developments in our world – Between climate change, gun violence, and everything else, it’s a scary world out there. It’s important to be aware of these issues since they’re constantly hot topics of conversation and have recently blended into pop culture/the media.
  • You have a voice, so why not use it – Teens can and do make a difference in the world; just look at some of the activists out there killing it, like Greta Thunberg! You never know what will happen if you start utilizing your freedom of expression and making your opinions be known. I honestly wish I was more outgoing with this, but maybe I can inspire some of you to be.

It’s totally okay if you’re not super into politics or current events, but I still think it’s an important topic for every teen to try and inform themselves a little bit about. I have mad respect for the kids out there who know every political candidate and attend all these conferences/debates/etc.- I would love to be that involved, but I’m just not there yet in my involvement or knowledge. If you’re still unsure- start small! I didn’t really do anything related to government and politics until joining Youth and Government this year, and it’s been a great decision.

-Brooke