Category: Observations and Advice


On the Defensive

Now that being a nerd or a geek is apparently the cool thing, I’d like to address something. Understandably, nerds can sometime become very… passionate about what they like. Television shows, movies, books, or video games can send a nerd into a frenzy. By definition, they’re very excited and get attached to things. This isn’t bad… until things get ugly.

Centuries of jocks picking on nerds have done their worst, making nerds feel like they’re always under attack. When you mention that you don’t like a specific media item, fans of that thing can become pretty aggressive. Instead of being understanding as to why a person wasn’t impressed by the first series of Doctor Who, they instantly assume that the person isn’t trying hard enough, hasn’t given it a chance, or isn’t watching it in the right order for people new to Doctor Who.

To be fair, sometimes the fans are correct, but you know what they say about assumers.

My point is that some people can become offended or hurt when a nerd goes on the defensive. There are shows and things that I don’t particularly like and I’ve been attacked for it. I know that my fellow nerds get really excited and want to be supportive of their point of view, but raising your voice and proclaiming the things that everyone should like about their show or book is not the way to go. Maybe let the person explain what they don’t like about the show and then accept it. It isn’t your job to convert them to your fandom. If they don’t like it, let it go and talk about something else. You’ll probably be okay offering to enjoy the media together so that it will be more fun, but if they reject the offer, don’t push them.

I think people forget to be courteous when they think their opinions are on trial. Just because someone doesn’t like something that you like doesn’t mean that they have a hole that needs to be filled. Everyone is different.

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Today I was walking through campus, on my way to free food (because there’s nothing more beautiful than free food when you’re a college student) when I saw an old man standing on a corner, holding a sign. People were walking by him, all on their way to super duper important things (like free food), not even glancing over (or glancing over and quickly glancing away.

SO, of course I decide that I’m going to go talk to this man. That’s how I roll these days, impulsive, spontaneous. I’m kidding. I actually believe this decision was inspired. The man was a Jehovah’s Witness.

Now, having grown up in the Mormon hub of the world (aka Utah), I haven’t had the pleasure of knowing a lot of people who aren’t Mormons. In fact, I only know two Jehovah’s Witness, as far as I know: a girl who went to high school with me (and her little brother) and a woman who is a friend of the family (and her children). These two people are the smartest, most intelligent, funniest, most pleasant people I’ve ever known.

The man that I talked to didn’t have much to say, but I could tell that he was glad to have someone to talk to. I mean, it was freaking cold out there and he was just standing there, all alone. I wasn’t talking to him with the intent of converting to his religion, I’m good with my own, and I don’t agree with some of the things he believed, but none of that matters. We both believe in the same God and we’re both children of that God.

I think sometimes that people get so hung up on which religion you belong to that they forget that we’re all part of the same species. We’re all the same, inside and out and that should count for something. Forget all the disagreements and all the hate and just be a decent person. Just because you talk to a person representing another religion doesn’t mean that you’re promising to convert to it, it means you’re being a decent person.

That goes for Mormons as well. I’ve actually heard my fellow Mormons mock or talk negatively about Jehovah’s Witnesses when they are approached by their missionaries. Why is it that Mormons take Mormon missionaries so seriously, yet when another religion dares to try to spread their message, they’re shot down?

I don’t want to get too much further into this because I don’t want to start bashing anyone, seeing as I just told people to stop bashing on each other. It’s just something to think about.

Anyway, I’m sort of in the middle of a class, so I should probably start taking some notes.

Best Wishes.

If you’ve never heard of this website, it’s a dating website. In order to join this website, you have to be voted in. Pretty much, you make a dating profile and then people look at it and go “holy crap, she’s ugly. I don’t like her.” After 48 hours, you’re either in or out.

As far as that, I know nothing. I was voted out. Despite being officially ugly, I feel like this system is a really great way to date online. Instead of months and months of rejection after rejection and no response, you only have to wait two days and then you know whether or not you had a chance in the first place. Yeah, it’s (supposedly) disappointing when you don’t get in, but you only have to be disappointed once and then you can go get a life.

As most people can tell you, I’m pretty fascinated by online dating. I met my boss on a dating website and I now get paid a lot to do something I love WHENEVER I WANT. Yeah, that’s right. I have the most flexible job you can have. [Apparently it’s worth mentioning that I work as a website administrator and content manager, not… something else. :P] Other than that, I’ve met a few people that are really interesting and people that are not so interesting. I’ve learned a lot about people and the way they portray themselves through different mediums. I’ve also learned a lot about my own personal preferences when it comes to dudes.

Online dating isn’t for everyone, but I do think that everyone (old enough) should go ahead and try it it, keeping in mind that they shouldn’t be too disappointed. Think of it as this funny, goofy thing that you’re doing and just relax. I’m a pretty relaxed person on there and I get so much attention on there that I have to stay off it for a while so that I don’t get overwhelmed.

The problem is that people get so uptight about dating that they forget that meeting new people and having fun are the main goals. Those people who are desperately seeking a girlfriend or boyfriend and want to get married and have a hundred babies are kind of scary, to be honest. Let things happen of their own accord.

And remember, you can still have a fulfilling life if you’re ugly like me. ;)

Cheers!

Crazy guy first.

I’ll be the first one to admit that this morning I was in a pretty black mood. A week and a half ago, I requested half a day off from work because I had a physical therapy appointment out of town at 9:30 am and was scheduled for work at 10:30 am. Unfortunately, the request was never processed, so I had to wake up at 8 after only 6 hours of sleep, drive thirty minutes away (without breakfast, mind you) for my appointment and then try to make a twenty minuted drive to work in ten minutes.

So, I was fifteen or twenty minutes late for work today and I yawned about a thousand times. Most of the people I normally work with have Wednesdays and Thursdays off, but I had taken yesterday off for another doctor’s appointment (that was rescheduled…. grrr), so I wasn’t working with any of my normal homies. Plus, people were being pretty unresponsive to my jokes, so… bad day. At lunch, I found two separate hairs in my salad, so I was feeling pretty nauseated.

Fortunately, about half an hour after I finished my lunch break, a guy came through my line who talked just about as fast as the major general off of Pirates of Penzance.

We had a brief conversation during which I just handed him his groceries and he bagged them the way he wanted them to be bagged. He then typed his debit card info into the swipe-y thing very dramatically and yelled a thanks over his shoulder at me as he rode his shopping cart like a scooter away into the crowd of people.

I swear, this guy was, like, forty-five with a mustache. Anyway, it put me in a pretty good mood for the rest of the day.

As for multitasking women, something a lot of people say is that women are actually capable of thinking about two different things at the same time whereas guys aren’t. I’m not sure to what extent this is true, but it has been connected with something I blogged about last week.

So, I was having an argument about religion with a dude on a dating website (I still can’t get over that a guy picked a fight with me on a dating website… like, why are you on there? I’m the least romantic person ever, but I don’t pick fights with people because I disagree with them….).

According to this guy, I needed to hand in my intelligence claim because I am religious. I DEFINITELY can’t be intelligent if I conform to an actual religious sect. SERIOUSLY. Who am I to make such OUTRAGEOUS claims?

I was almost tempted to be offended, but I just find the idea so hilarious. I just bet that this sort of thinking happens between other types of people, not just religious people versus nonreligious people. I’m talking elephants versus donkeys, etc.

Sometimes I see people on television who are science majors in college make fun of the humanities and say “she can’t be smart, she’s an English major.”

Anyway, someone I know from high school (female) was a little bit angry that I didn’t engage in the argument. She believes I could have told the guy off in some lasting way. She said that I could tell the guy off because he’s a guy.

To further her gender-based argument, she made a statement that I very nicely paraphrased, “It’s possible for me to be religious AND smart because I’m a girl and we can MULTITASK.”

I find this even more funny than the thought that I can’t be intelligent and believe in a higher power. This guy was arguing that “radical religious activity and belief” was responsible for the holocaust and 9/11. This is true, but the guy took it so far as to say that if we didn’t eradicate ALL religious notions and belief, then everyone was bound to become just as radical.

This, of course, is also ridiculous. The guy is saying that all religious people are inherently evil, never mind all the charity work that countless religious communities participate in with great cost to themselves… That’s not the point. The point is that my friend reminded me that those horrible things mentioned above were all instigated by men. Of course men think that intelligence and religious affiliation can’t coexist, they can’t entertain two ideas at once. Only a woman can be truly intelligent and religious at the same time.

Now, I don’t believe this. Not one bit. It was meant as a joke and I still find it funny. So should you, dear reader. The most brilliant men I’ve ever known were my religion teachers in high school… or else they were religious men all the same.

The two can coexist. I believe it wholeheartedly. I really hope that people don’t take religious prejudice so far as to think that anyone with a particular set of religious views is stupid. I have so many intelligent friends who have opposite beliefs to mine. I love them to death and I still think they’re smarter than I am.

I just wanted to say this again. I’ve blogged a lot about equality and acceptance. People need to say this more often. They need to hear it too. Those crazy old people who hate everyone based on differences that shouldn’t matter; I don’t want to say that they’re wrong, but they are.

It’s okay for them to hate actions and the things people do, but they should never keep digging to hate the beliefs that may have spurred on the action.

I really hate that Hitler hated so many people because they weren’t the same as he was. I don’t, however, hate that he believed in God very strongly. It may have been that belief that made him do the stuff he did, but that belief is not inherently bad.

I know that people are going to start hating on me for saying that, but think about it. If Hitler had been super lazy and not done all the stuff, no one would hate him so badly, no matter what he believed.

Hating what people believe in is stupid and pointless. It isn’t hurting you in any way shape or form. What does affect you is the actions of the person. Hate the actions.

I hate that this dude on the internet confronted me about my religion and said some VERY unkind things about me personally, everyone I associate with, and everyone that has beliefs remotely related to mine. I hate that he threw insults at me and tried to put a limit on my potential because of what I believe.

I don’t hate that he believes those things. I have best friends who believe some of the same things. They don’t believe in God or a god. They don’t believe in universal morals or consequences, as I do. I know a SUPER nice guy who doesn’t believe in organized religion.

None of that stuff matters to our friendships. It doesn’t physically or emotionally pain me that these guys don’t believe the things I do. The key is that they are nice to me. They’re polite, they don’t step on my beliefs, they don’t push their own beliefs at me and tell me that I have to accept them or else I’m not smart. I like being friends with them and I like that they are decent people.

I don’t want to say that what you believe doesn’t make you who you are, because it does. I’m just saying that what you believe doesn’t dictate (see what I did there?) how you affect people or what you do. You decide that on your own and what you choose to do is a HUGE part of who you are.

Stop judging people on what they believe. I’m not saying you can judge them by what they do either. Don’t judge people. Try to understand where they’re coming from. Sometimes their actions are connected to what they believe. Be careful to realize when this is the case. Try to understand where they’re coming from and forgive them if they aren’t perfect people. People aren’t jerks because of their religion, political views, profession, or interests. They’re jerks because they choose to be.

Choose NOT to be a jerk. Choose to affect people positively. Choose not to judge people by what they believe. Choose to understand. Choose to find the notion of the way people see each other and the world as humorous without judging them.

It’s your choice. No one else’s.

One of the less well-known, uncommonly used definitions of the word “affection” is actually the one that I think makes the most sense.  If you’re a grammar nerd (much nicer than saying grammar nazi…), you’re aware of the difference between “effect” and “affect”. Most people have a hard time with this commonly confused pair of words, but pretty much all you need to keep in mind is that “affect” is a verb, something you do, and “effect” is a noun, it’s something left over.

The definition of “affection” is simply: the act of affecting someone.

Now, keep that in mind as I change gears a little.

If you’ve ever spent any time on the internet, then you’ve probably seen or played this game.

life

If you haven’t, I’ll explain it briefly.

This game has a lot of different names because there are a lot of different versions by a lot of different companies.

The premise of the game is that you start with only the circles of colors and a block of grey squares. You’re supposed to link the two circles of the same color by creating a line of color between the two, connecting all of the circles and using all of the squares.

Pretty simple, as long as you keep one thing in mind. No single line can be created if it prevents another dot from connecting with it’s partner.

Think about that just a little bit. The circles exist together, yet totally independent of each other. They all have individual goals that are both the same and different from the other individuals around them. The game isn’t considered a success unless ALL circles reach their goals.

However, let’s look at this game from an individual’s point of view. In fact, let’s look at a common view of life by individuals.

From the very beginning, children are pressured socially to have a dream job already thought up of. One of the most common things I was asked by principals, teachers, or school counselors was “What do you want to be when you grow up?” To be honest, I don’t even remember what I answered most of the time. I didn’t know what I wanted to be and I didn’t know why I needed to know, so I would answer with a profession that I’d heard other kids say before. For a long time after I got into the higher grades, I said I wanted to be a writer, but somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew that I didn’t really want to do it for a living. Writing is actually really hard and I didn’t ever have the dedication to succeed much with it. I’ve always had it as a sort of backup plan, however. While I was casting my net around, trying to find something I wanted to do,  I would always think, in the back of my mind, “Hey, if nothing falls into place by the time I’m an adult, then I could always do something with my writing.”

Maybe writing will still take some place in my professional life, now that I’m actually and adult, but who knows?

Anyway, by the time you’re ready to start high school, the adults in charge of such things have already got you planning for college. They ask you what you’re going to be and then they have you make a plan of all the classes you need to take to graduate high school and start to gather experience in the field you want. Everything is centered around what your goals are, even thought there isn’t a single kid that I knew in high school that stuck with their original plan. Not even me and I stuck with my plan until only a month or so before I graduated.

As adults, every part of your life is steered toward your goals. The jobs you take, the education you get, even when/if you get married and if/when you have children depends on what you want to do with your life. I’m not sure if other ladies get this or not, but there is even pressure on women to make their career choices carefully so as not to be influenced incorrectly by men on our paths to becoming successful people. I’ve heard women complaining that their plans for a career were ruined because their male counterpart put his needs before hers.

What about co-workers? If you watch television at all (especially crime-drama shows), you’ll constantly see someone doing something underhanded or dishonest to put him or herself ahead of everyone else. Something that may ruin someone else’s chance to achieve their goals.

But what if we were those colored dots? You may want to take the shortest or most direct path so that you can connect with your goal, but the most direct path might not be the right path. The path you need to take may be long and round-about in order for it to fit nicely in place with your comrades goals.

What I’m trying to say is that not everyone has the same goals as you are and aren’t going to be taking the same path to reach those goals, but it is vital that you are aware of those goals and be willing to make little sacrifices so that you don’t cut someone’s journey short. What other people are trying to achieve may not seem all that important to you, but remember that it is of the utmost importance to them. It’s giving them a reason to get up every morning. Some day you may be faced with an opportunity that brings you closer to your goal, but you have to be careful that it isn’t putting someone else in a difficult or impossible situation.

General success and happiness don’t depend on how quickly YOU get to your goal, it depends on you not to mess it up for the other people trying to gain the same success that you want. Be considerate to those people and make sure you affect them positively.

Dear Internet Trolls,

Specifically, trolls that frequent a certain dating website that I occasionally frequent. You know, I’m usually a pretty tolerant person. In fact, I like to think that I can hold a conversation with any type of person you throw at me… except for you. You infuriate me to no end, which is rather the point, I suppose. I have pretty darn good self control. I once carried a candy bar around in my coat pocket for years just to prove that I could do it. However, you have no idea how hard it is for me not to engage in the mud flinging.

Can you seriously see how negatively your words affect other people and ENJOY it? I mean, if I watch a movie where someone yells something rude at someone else, I get uncomfortable and want to hide. I am the least confrontational person ever… When a teacher yelled at my class, I tiptoed around them for months and made sure to never do what they got upset about EVER. I wouldn’t ever be able to cause someone pain with my words and like it.

Now, I know that everyone is different and you guys have the right to all your opinions. I admire that you feel so strongly about your opinions. You have the right to voice and defend them. You do NOT have the right to attack ANYONE…. Everyone knows about you guys and everyone knows what I’m talking about, so I suppose that’s it.

Emily

Side note to the rest of the world (who aren’t reading this, more than likely):

Just a little something about belief. Everyone believes something, even the neutral people. Everyone has the right to believe whatever they want. Everyone has the right to share what they believe with others. Everyone has the right to defend their beliefs. Everyone has the right to understand and know the facts about what other people believe without falling prey to half-truths and myths.

Seriously, people. It doesn’t matter enough what other people think to call names and poke fun. Don’t be stupid about beliefs. EVEN IF YOU BELIEVE THAT YOUR BELIEF IS RIGHT, you don’t need to be rude and you can accept that other people believe different things.

YOU DON’T NEED TO ACCEPT THAT WHAT THEY BELIEVE IS TRUE. You do need to accept that people are different; they think differently, they were raised differently, they see things differently. People can have decent conversations with each other and not be obnoxious. I believe that’s possible with all my heart.

Another point: It doesn’t matter whether or not someone came to their belief through intellect or emotion. It’s just as legitimate. I know there’s this thing about science versus religion/logic versus feeling and I’m definitely not going into it. Stop using the method of reaching a conclusion as an indicator of legitimacy. When I was doing Forensics for my high school Science Olympiad team, I was charged with identifying powders based on a couple of different basic properties of the compounds. There were a couple of different flow charts I could use in order to deduce what an unknown powder was.

Using the flow charts and basic property was the… shall we say “sanctioned” method of finding the identity of the powders. However, when I asked for the advice of one of the Chemistry teachers, he told me that I could determine the identity by tasting the powders. This was against the rules, but he said that he could identify almost any compound by its taste. Apparently, his college professors didn’t like this method at all, but he could reach the same conclusions (and faster, I might add) as his classmates using the “right” method.

All I’m saying is that it doesn’t matter how you come to a conclusion, you’re entitled to that conclusion. No more squabbling about how it was reached or why or when or how long it took. That stuff doesn’t matter. What matters is that you believe it and no one can take that away from you.

I’m not just talking about organized religion or theism or the usual stuff. Any opinions. Anything. Politics, favorites, strategy, morals. Anything and everything. Go ahead and believe what you want to. You can do it without reference to what everyone else is doing. Let’s be chivalrous and courteous. Go on, I DARE YOU.

You know how supposedly repetitive motion is soothing? Like, when a baby stops crying if a person starts rocking it. I heard somewhere that children who weren’t rocked enough as an infant tend to rock themselves later on in life. That’s what they say about orphans and stuff. Some of my peers think that such kids who rock themselves are really super weird, but when you think about how much people like rocking chairs, it becomes less weird.

I was just thinking about how a lot of the “weird” things that we see people do aren’t really all that weird and usually have something to do with early childhood development. I’m not a psychologist or anything, but it’s just something to think about: the way people pronounce certain words because their parents pronounced it that way while they were growing up, the way people laugh or stand.

Next time you see someone doing something really weird or awkward, keep yourself from judging them by thinking of all the situations that person could have grown up in to make them do that thing.

This is a question asked by my incredibly awesome and intelligent friend, Amanda. I am going to use it for an article on my sarcastic advice column later, but in preparation for it, I realized that I had some actually helpful advice for this problem. Thus I am going to answer the question here as well as there.

One thing I’ve noticed in my observation of people is that living life doesn’t equate to knowing what you’re doing. A lot of people go into a situation without any knowledge of the behavior expected or required and they manage not to fail at everything. The key to that is just making it up as you go along. Whenever I’m doing something for someone and they ask me to go get something, I don’t just stand around wondering what I should do, I wander off in the direction indicated and start looking in places that I would put the object I’m looking for.

You aren’t going to do yourself any good sitting around wondering what to do, so you might as well go out and try something. When you’re thinking of the future, unsure of what direction you should head, find something you like or something you think is a good idea and run with it. If it doesn’t work out, then you’ve probably learned a lot about what not to do in order to have things work out and you can use that knowledge and experience to figure out how to get it right.

People are always saying that you should just try things out. This is actually some excellent advice. During this school year, I played in a pit orchestra for our school musical, I joined some dating websites, I took college level Chemistry, I asked a guy to a girl’s choice dance, I went to a Speech and Debate competition, I went to a region Solo & Ensamble festival with my violin, I was the Student Director and understudy for a school play, and I had a ton of fun. I didn’t know what I was doing in any of these situations and it terrified me to try them, but I did it because that’s how you learn to do stuff.

I used to avoid leaving the house because I was terrified to find myself in a situation where I didn’t know what to do. To be honest, I still avoid leaving the house because it makes me uncomfortable. The point is that my fear has depleted significantly the more I go out and live through a variety of situations. I’ve learned to talk to people even though it makes me nervous and I’ve learned how to accomplish the things I want to with the help of others.

I know there are a lot of teenagers like me who feel like they don’t know what they’re doing or who they are. I understand this feeling, but I think that there’s a lot of pressure on people to BE something. What more do we need to be than just people? I know that humans crave acceptance and recognition from their fellow humans, but I think we can get this without having to have a label to pin on our shirts every day.

If you’re wondering what you should do, not matter how specific or general your situation is, just do what you find natural. If you’re wondering what you should do when it comes to a problem concerning your peers, just remember what your goals are and do what is best for you to achieve them without stepping on other people. If you want to help someone else and you don’t know how to, just be nice to them. Don’t baby them or tip toe around them, just let choose how they want to feel and be their friend. Unless people ask me for my advice directly, I don’t usually ask them what is wrong or try to help them out. Just let people know that you’re available for comfort or whatever they need. Keep in mind, though, that you need to find a happy medium of doing things for other people and for yourself. Also, set a standard of decency for yourself because it’s only going to help you to be a decent person. Don’t let people step on you, but don’t be completely closed to giving them a boost up if they need it.

Make friends with people who like to do the same things as you and has a similar view on life.  Your relationships with people should never be forced or planned in a long-term way. Let things happen naturally and you’ll be able to avoid unneeded stress. For romantic relationships, you shouldn’t feel stressed about where you are and what you’re doing when they’re around, just act normally and what happens happens.

As someone who overreacts to stressful situations, I highly recommend you only try to figure things out as far as is necessary. Letting things just happen whatever way they will will help you have a less stressful life overall. I have used this method all throughout high school and it has made my experience a lot less horrific than a lot of my classmates.

Some people say that high school students can’t avoid all the drama that is characteristic of their environment. I believe this is partially true because of the focal point that teenagers maintain. Their primary focus in school is more than likely the social aspect. If a class doesn’t have a friend in it, then it sucks. If they don’t have a significant other or at least a crush, then it’s lonely. If the class requires any work outside of the classroom, then it’s way too hard. If nothing extremely exciting happens, then it’s boring. If they don’t go to every school dance, then it’s because no one likes them.

As long as you’re focusing on things like that, of course whatever you’re doing is going to suck.

I, on the other hand, have focused on what school is actually supposed to be about: LEARNING. Now, don’t panic. I know this is kind of a new concept for some people. It’s okay. Learning won’t bite you… unless you provoke it.

I have had plenty of classes in high school that didn’t have my friends in it, I’ve never had a boyfriend or a crush, I’ve taken hard classes that have required me to work a lot after school, I’ve had days that absolutely nothing noteworthy happens, and I only went to two school dances (one of them, as mentioned above, I instigated the date). None of this mattered to me. I loved high school so much. I took classes that were interesting and my grades in those classes were my biggest priority. I’ve spent a lot of times with my friends, but it wasn’t absolutely crucial for me to be with them as much as possible.

In fact, during the last 10 or so weeks, I’ve survived high school without a best friend (she graduated early). I still have plenty of friends, but not anyone that I always had to be around or that I shared everything with. It was a little lonely sometimes when everyone else paired off, but I always latched onto some group or another and I still had a lot of fun. I didn’t get invited to every party and I didn’t even date all that many people (two, including the date I asked), but I wasn’t always moping about in my room, depressed about how pathetic I am like it seems other kids do a lot. I had far too much AP Chemistry homework to worry about that.

I guess the point is that it’s actually pretty easy to live life and be happy, you just need to understand that a lot of the stress that is causing your unhappiness comes from you.

So, what do you do when you don’t know what to do? Just do stuff. Do stuff that makes you happy, furthers your goals, helps other people, and makes you a decent person. That’s as much as you can do. Everything else doesn’t matter much.

Confidence

I’m not sure when I turned into this sort of blogger, but I guess it’s better than some of the things I posted in the past.

I was reading a post on Tumblr (while pointedly ignoring my open English text book sitting next to me, naturally) that said, “being told i was smart and above average from a young age was probably one of the worst things to happen to me because now i have a complex and question my entire existence when i dont excel at something right away” (it is taking all of my self control not to go in and edit…).

This was mainly my problem in elementary school. All my teachers were constantly telling me that I was super smart and after a while, it kind of made me despise my peers a little bit. Fortunately, I didn’t handle the transition to intermediate school with much grace and made less of an impression on my teachers there. It taught me the difference between being confident and being a twat.

I lost the status that I’d built up in my mind for myself and I realized that I was just as insecure and stupid as everyone else my age. It took me, probably, until the ninth grade to realize that I didn’t need status to be confident. I started to like learning a lot more and I started learning how to be good at it. I also stopped looking at my teachers as a source of praise and attention and started looking at them as actual people.

I’m not sure exactly how this instills confidence, but I think confidence is something that comes from yourself. It’s the same as how you have to learn to accept yourself in order to be happy instead of looking to others for acceptance. Of course, other people can help inspire you to be confident.

The incident that actually spurred this whole line of thought into being happened this morning in my AP Chemistry class. AP Chemistry is one of the only classes I’ve truly struggled in. I mean, I got B’s and C’s in my math classes before, but I never really tried in my math classes. I slept half the time or only half-finished the homework assignments.

The thing about AP Chemistry is that, not only do I have to worry about keeping my grade up, but I have to worry about the AP test at the end of the year. For a long time, I didn’t plan on taking the exam because I didn’t think I could pass it. I’m still not sure if I can, but today in class when I expressed my anxieties about my ability to get a passing score on the test, my teacher told me that I’m smarter than I think I am and that I can pass the test, easily.

In elementary school, a teacher telling me that would have fed my ego and probably would have made me roll my eyes, for I heard them express the same sentiments far too often. However, when it comes to this subject that I do not excel at and cannot easily get a fantastic grade, this expression of confidence in me gave me a feeling that I don’t often get.

It isn’t the feeling that you get when someone says something nice to you out of habit or because it is social protocol, it’s the feeling you get when someone is honest and genuine toward you. The best kind of teacher is a teacher who can inspire confidence and love of learning in a student. My teacher inspired confidence in me this morning. Confidence in a subject that I haven’t been doing well in for more than half a year and with that confidence, I can learn to love the subject more because I’m less worried about doing well at it.

Well, maybe I’m not less anxious about the test, but I know that I am going to try and that’s what counts when it comes to confidence. Confidence spurs you to action.

Abandoned Railroads

I don’t know if anyone else had a little brother who was obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine/trains, but I spent a lot of time listening to my little brother watching it in another room. He used to wake up really early in the morning in order to watch it, which was aggravating beyond belief.

Anyway, there’s this movie, Thomas and the Magic Railroad. Of all the weird things about Thomas, this movie has got to be the epitome. Instead of stop-motion weirdness, they try live-action. I have so many problems with this movie that I won’t even try to describe them. However, there is one thing that this movie has going for it: an abandoned railroad.

I’m not sure what it is about abandoned railroads that seems so fascinating to me. It’s definitely not the train part. I hate trains. It’s the nostalgic aspect, more than likely. However, abandoned railroads don’t do the same thing for me as the ruins of castles or old forests (Ghost towns creep me out).

Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that castles and forests have an element of home to them. People, animals, living things resided there. It’s easy to picture the life that once existed in a place and all the history that happened there. With an abandoned railroad,  it’s much different. Nothing ever lived or belonged there. It’s a new level of loneliness.  The only life that has anything to do with it is the people present when the track was laid.

If you think about that, it gets even lonelier. Think about a hundred and fifty years ago with the Transcontinental Railroad. Those people traveled along the work sight for such a long time. Every foot of rail is just the same as the one that came before it and the one after it. It isn’t likely that any of them is going to remember a specific length of rail. Not only is it not remembered initially, it is to be abandoned later.

Not to mention, trains are solitary as well. Everything about it is just sad.

Crap… I think I’m becoming a bit of a romantic. Trains, castles, forests. Not to mention I’ve been looking at way too many baby animal photos on the internet lately…