Have you ever felt so alone and misunderstood? Has it ever seemed like it was you against the world, and amidst your teenage angst, that “no one gets me”? As a result of the paucity of discussion between you and your peers, do you sometimes feel as though your mind and awareness were operating a completely different level than everyone else?
When it comes to concepts like society and thought production, I did.
Until I didn’t, because I recently just found someone that completely seems to understand how I’m feeling. My new kindred spirit is Ralph Waldo Emerson.
You’ll note that there’s no pretty picture today, in honor of the subject of this post.
No one wants to see blurry pictures of a concert or even crappy live footage of a person’s voice, clearly drowned out by a crowd that has screamed itself hoarse.
Additionally, stop instagramming pictures of that bagel with schmear that you ordered from Panera, because they all look the same. And if you follow the #bagel through the depths of the internet, you will find thousands of pictures identical to yours.
It’s the weekend after Thanksgiving, and the beginning of December. More importantly, this is YOUR December. Can you believe that we only have one more month until 2014? Do you remember the resolutions that you made for this year? Are we at all closer to our goals?
No matter, because December is a special time of year.
Students, this is the time where winter break is fast approaching and you can almost imagine yourself sprawled out on your couch with food, watching TV, but with one last, minor hurdle to overcome: exams…
My friends and I are counting down the days until the first semester of senior year ends, until we can officially declare ourselves “second semester seniors.” Maybe then, I’ll be able to go on a proper vacation, because I haven’t gone on one in a few years, unless you count exhausting debate tournaments or college trips.
And the college process itself is brutal. I don’t hate colleges, I just abhor the process itself. The colleges themselves are merely wonderful institutions full of opportunities, but the process seems to have brought out the worst in all of us. It has torn families apart, it has stressed me out beyond belief, and it has scared me to death. Peers, who used to look out upon the world with wide and innocent eyes, now squint at the sun and scurry back inside to slave away at their homework (a little exaggeration, but that’s honestly what it feels like). My college counselor puts it simply: we are, but should try not to, sell our souls to the devil.
Is it too extreme to say that I no longer believe in altruism anymore? Maybe I’ve been feeling too pessimistic, but it seems like every service project, every volunteer opportunity, every leadership position has just become a row on a Common App, a check on a box, a mask for something to augment, to boost, to plump up someone’s college application.
Yummy breakfast with one of my favorite people, on a chill morning.
Sorry I haven’t posted in a long time; for the past few days, I’ve been in Illinois for a variety of debate tournaments, and today we are going to talk about my experience there.
First, I went to a tournament where I did not have to debate, which was totally unprecedented. I rarely go to tournaments without the intention of spending 8+ hours everyday immersed in technical and high speed debates. This time, I was along for the ride of a bunch of debaters to help coach younger kids and judge novice debates.
It was a great experience because this was a huge tournament; thus, many of my friends around the country were attending, but I didn’t have anxiety because I didn’t have to debate! I got to hang out with a bunch of my greatest friends. I also had the opportunity to sit in on very high quality debates, which helped me prepare for a separate tournament that I was going to further in the week (I’ll get to that later).
The world ought to rid itself of people whose job it is to design book covers and album covers. Instead, we ought to go about purchasing nameless, coverless books and music albums with simple prescriptions, not descriptions (i.e. “biography of an empowering woman” or “rainy day 11 PM music”). We should rely on librarians and record store employees to make wise decisions when we say, “surprise me.” We should embrace this form of “blind date.” Imagine leaving a record store (who even buys records these days anymore? Respect to you if you do) with a record, no name, no label. Or a book, with a blank cover. Instead of allowing some sort of arbitrary judgment to dictate your opinion, let the music or literature speak for itself.
Read Young Adult literature, because it helps us relate with one another. It reminds us that we are not young adults struggling by ourselves in a world that just doesn’t seem to sympathize or understand us, and that creepy men in their thirties know what strife we’re grappling with. Stories with happy endings give us hope, brightening the path to what now looks like a dismal future; meanwhile, stories where everything does not end up okay remind us that this world that we live in is imperfect. Not every loose end is tied, not every secret is revealed, and there are always many “what-ifs” left unanswered. But this genre of literature helps us angsty teens cope, situating its main characters and supporting characters in positions that feel familiar.
When I was small, I wanted the conventional Labrador retriever as a pet, and I wanted to name it Spanish Sweetheart. I have no clue where the name came from, and a small part of me still wants a golden lab named Spanish Sweetheart.
I don’t have a religion. I was brought up Christian and considered myself atheist for a large portion of time before realizing that I felt uncomfortable defining myself as such before knowing what the term actually entailed. That being said, the way that my life operates right now, the concept of religion plays a minimal role in my life, and faith carries little significance, so we’ll leave it at that.
I’m acquiring an accent, but I can’t figure out what kind of accent it is. Continue reading →
A year ago, I wrote a post entitled “What It Means to Debate.” Looking back on what I had written, I still agree largely with what I had written. But alas, we are never stationary and that means that my opinion has changed, shifted, and accumulated much more knowledge and experience since when I last touched on the subject on policy debate as an activity.
8. The Novices.
They are the future of your debate team, the kids that will be seniors when you’re juniors in college, whose life courses you have the ability to influence depending whether you convince them with your charisma and behavior to stick with debate.
When you think about it, debate is what you make it and part of what you make it is demonstrated to others that join as weak freshmen and look to the seniors to see what they might look like one day. Continue reading →