Salutatorian Speech

Just thought I’d share the speech I made almost a month ago [insert gasp here] when I graduated from high school. I decided my theme should be “Time”, since I have had such difficulty with nostalgia, growing up, and preparing for the future. And yes, I did reference Mean Girls and quote Doctor Who.

“Good evening parents, teachers, board of education members, siblings who are wondering why they have to sit out here just for that ten seconds during which their brother or sister get their diploma, and, most importantly, the Class of 2014. Graduation seems to always focus on two things: the past and the future. This fall the Science League participated in the Ocean Science Bowl at Rutgers, and we decided to commemorate this experience by buying a fish for Mr. T’s classroom. We named it Fetch, both because this is a type of wind pattern which causes waves, and because of the movie Mean Girls. So, Class of 2014, you’re welcome, we made fetch happen. All of us, no matter what we have been involved with, have these inside jokes and special experiences with those we are close to. Though I cannot name all of these, because they are your own individual experiences, I really hope these are the things you remember about high school.

As a wonderful friend reminded me while I was writing this speech, graduation is not about perfection; we’ve already passed all our classes and possibly trashed old papers. We’re done. Graduation is about honoring us. Let’s honor our high school adventures and the teachers who have enriched our lives. Sorry Ms. F, there are no Shakespeare quotes in this speech. Let’s celebrate each other. Though I am honored to be your salutatorian, there are so many of you out there who are just as or more qualified to speak to our class. You are experts in political science, chemistry, or theatre. You are incredible dancers and athletes. If you are artistically inclined, I envy you, because five year olds have been disgusted with my drawing skills.

Finally, we look towards the future. Elton Pope, an obscure character in a TV show called Doctor Who, states, “When you’re a kid, they tell you it’s all… Grow up, get a job, get married, get a house, have a kid, and that’s it. But the truth is, the world is so much stranger than that. It’s so much madder. And so much better.” Some people say our high school years are the best years of our lives, but I challenge you to get better and better each year. As we look forward to our futures, I challenge each of you to depart from the norm and create your own strange, mad, better world.

My final advice to all of you is to take time. Take time to figure yourselves out, to realize what it is you want. Go out, live, take risks, make mistakes, come back to square one, try again. Fail as much as you possibly can. Take time to be open to new ideas, and to love and be loved. Take your time growing up, and don’t forget to be a little immature and rowdy every now and then. Congratulations Class of 2014, and good luck, though I know you will not need it.”

I’m a high school graduate!

Last night was my high school graduation. While I was at the actual ceremony, I had a headache, nerves about making my salutatorian speech, and the sun in my eyes for most of the evening. I was also hot and sweaty from sitting in the sun, and therefore did not feel the reality of graduating sink in. I felt like I took everything in, as well as I could; I watched closely as all of my classmates graduate, hugged a bunch of teachers, and danced to “Happy”, which they played after the formal ceremony was over and we were all set loose to roam around the football field.

This morning the realization hasn’t fully sunk in yet, but I’m panicing about nothing in particular, so I’m starting to get there. I’m really stressed this morning because there is so much I have to do today. The fact high school is finally over also makes me feel a little depressed…there’s a lot I wish I had done better. My salutatorian speech was okay, but not exceptional or personal at all. Most people did not laugh where I expected them to, and that discouraged me. I did not feel bad about it last night (I was too in the moment of graduation I guess), but now looking back I feel a lot worse about it.

Even though I spent the night with my two best friends in the world, I feel very lonely. Or maybe that’s why I feel lonely? I had the option to go to Project Graduation, essentially a party the school hosted at the Funplex after graduation, but because my two best friends were not going, I chose not to. Either way, not many people reached out to me before, during, or after graduation to talk or share congratulations. I did not anticipate this post becoming miserable, but that’s sort of what happened.

Though I sort of feel like a wreck now, last night was pretty beautiful, even though I had not been hit with the full force of graduating. I feel it’s going to be coming on very soon though…it’s so scary being an adult now. I think once I start making my to-do lists, organizing everything in my life, and completing tasks, I will feel much more at peace.

I’d like to close by sharing the quote I used in my graduation speech.

“When you’re a kid, they tell you it’s all…grow up, get a job, get married, get a house, have a kid, and that’s it. But the truth is, the world is so much stranger. It’s so much madder. And so much better”

-Elton Pope, Doctor Who

P.S. I know that’s not the whole quote, I cut out the “so much darker” part because I did not want to be more verbose than I already was, and because talking about a “dark world” during graduation seemed a little too weird for me. If you wanna read my whole graduation speech, I’m going to make a page for it.

Ungrounded

Whereas last week I did not blog because I was just so gosh darned busy, this week I was plagued by senioritis, depression, and anxiety. I’ve been having a lot of mood swings lately. One minute I’m laughing at a joke my math teacher made or enjoying hanging out with my two fellow lab techs (my best friend and my ex), and the next I am musing how my math teacher stands for so much I hate in the world or despising (and being quite jealous of) my ex for explaining to a teacher how he was given a research intern position at his college over the summer. Just a minute ago I was motivated to write a blog and then poetry, work out, and start making appointments for paint crew as well as summer plans, and now I am amazed I have enough energy to write this simple post.

I feel ungrounded. As if I am just floating around in the middle of space, in the middle of the universe. I am very unattached to reality. I am floating through rough waters in a tiny boat without an anchor or a safe harbor to pull into. As the school year comes to a close and I am almost done with high school forever, I sense a tremendous lack of direction in my life. Previously I have always had an immediate goal to attend to: get an A on the test, do homework, go to a club meeting, prepare for prom, etc.

I still have objectives I need to achieve, such as filling out paperwork for college. However, all of these goals are seemingly abstract. I will be attending college in the fall, but this reality is still surreal, and therefore I cannot perform tasks for college without feeling more ungrounded than before. I was supposed to make my list of things I’ll need for my dorm and create a registry at Bed, Bath and Beyond, but did not get farther than signing up with my account.

In addition to this crazy senior feeling, I am suffering an inescapable case of senioritis, so my lack of motivation has really affected me; for example, I put off a project that was due today, and therefore spent last night completing it. In reality it would not have been too bad because I had finished most of it in class and just had to add some pictures, do a works cited page, and write a final paragraph, but I kept procrastinating and ended up going to bed past midnight, then waking up at 5:10am to finish.

This procrastination and the fact I had to present my project caused my anxiety to increase twofold. This troubling groundlessness-a lack of a sense of direction-also causes my anxiety and depression to skyrocket. I want to be active and work towards a goal, but I feel as if I have nowhere to aim anymore.

Busiest Week of My Life

This week I had no time to blog; as much as I feel bad about not posting anything for a long time, there were occasions and to-do’s that I could not ignore.

Monday was my only semi-fee day, though I had an orthodontist appointment right after school. I spent tonight finishing an application for a special first-year “virus hunting” research course at Gettysburg as well as finishing a variety of other assignments I would not have time for later in the week.

Tuesday was a half day in school, but I attended a paint crew meeting after school. Last year I was hired, along with some of my peers, to be a part of our school’s paint crew, which (you might’ve guessed) paint the parking lots, hallways, etc. of all of the schools in the district; I will be doing the same thing again this summer. This meeting took almost three hours, but I can’t complain because we were all getting paid. We have not been told who will be the paint team managers, and I am torn between wanting to make more money by ascending to a leadership position and not wanting to have to assert myself to be in charge of a group.

After this meeting I went home and got ready for a scholarship reception dinner. I won a scholarship through my father’s union, and we were invited to attend a fancy dinner. I had a slight headache by this time, due to high temperatures that, after a cold winter, I am not quite used to yet. The food was good, the conversation, which I managed to interject into a few times, was excellent, and it was absolutely phenomenal to see all these students who had contributed so much to their community.

Wednesday after school was our Science League party. I had previously been very excited to attend, because Science League has been one of my favorite parts of high school over the past two years, and I love everyone in that club. However, we did a competition bowl, and I did not answer a single question though I knew a lot of the answers. Not only that, I was jealous of one of my peers who is incredibly intelligent and began to hate myself and feel very angry. When I came home I essentially gave up on doing anything and succumbed to sadness.

Thursday I was supposed to take a AP Chemistry test, but even if he put a 64 in the grade books (the lowest grade you can get on a test in AP Chem because of a lenient curve), I would still get a 94 overall. When given the option to skip the test, I took it. I was supposed to have an appointment with my therapist but did not have a car to drive, so we had a very short phone conference before I went to my friend’s house so she could paint my nails for prom. After that we sojourned together to Senior Awards night, where I was very happy (not jealous for once) to see everyone winning small monetary prizes for excellence in academics, athletics, extracurricular activities and community service. I received $50 as an academic award and $50 for Science League.

And…Friday was my senior prom! Half the fun was preparing for it. We had a half day of school and I went to the salon and got my hair (in the style of Elsa’s coronation from Frozen) and makeup done. We went to my friend’s house and stopped at school to get inexpensive professional pictures taken. We did not participate in Promenade, so we went back to my friend’s house and spent some time eating and watching RuPaul’s Drag Race in our prom dresses.

Then our parents all came over and we took a ton of pictures. My parents drove us to and from prom for fear of reckless and/or drunk drivers. The first hour or so was awkward picture-taking with friends. Two girls from my AP Chem class essentially attacked me when they saw me, telling me I looked beautiful and they hardly recognized me (yanno, because I never wear makeup in school and wear glasses, whereas tonight I was all dolled up and wearing contacts). The one girl actually came up to hug me and told me I could easily be the most beautiful girl there. Not to be conceited by writing about this, but I was very grateful for the compliment, which really helped my self-esteem.

I may be biased, but my friends and I were the most beautiful people there. Both of them looked like absolute goddesses. After eating we all got up to dance for two and a half hours straight; my feet did not hurt until the last half an hour of the prom, a huge accomplishment considering I wore my (albeit comfy) wedges the whole time. It was great dancing with my two best friends as well as a lot of my other friends in school. My friends and I reflected a little, on the ride home, how we were already a bit nostalgic because this was our senior prom, which would never happen again. But it was a fantastic time, and I would not have traded my prom experience for anything.

Now that this memorable week is over, I am both proud I have survived and am looking forward to whatever challenges await this week.

The Cotton Anniversary

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedding_anniversary

It has been over two years since I started this blog in my Internet and Web Page Design class. So, I’m going to do what I did on my one year blogging anniversary (blogiversary?), relating 33 ways I have changed/33 things I have done in the past year.

1. I have engaged in therapy to treat depression and anxiety.

2. I have become, not of my own will, single again.

Wow I kind of started off really depressing. I promise it will not all be that bad!

3. I attended my first All Time Low Concert, which was friggin awesome. I started listening to more alternative/alternative rock music.

4. I won a $2,500 four-year scholarship from my dad’s union.

5. I got my first summer job, which was painting buildings for the town’s school district. Basically our paint crew went to different schools and repainted hallways, rooms, cafeterias, gyms, parking lots, etc. It was a really great job, 40 hours a week, and a little bit over minimum wage. This year if I do it again I’ll be paid even more!

6. I survived AP English. That is a huge accomplishment. Not only that, but I improved my writing skills tremendously.

7. I applied to seven different colleges: I was not accepted to Dartmouth College or Johns Hopkins University (woah big surprise there), but was accepted to the University of Rochester, Gettysburg College, The College of New Jersey, Pittsburgh University, and Arcadia University.

8. We attempted to visit TCNJ but I was having an emotional low and my stomach felt bad (which could have been a side effect of the emotional low), so we ended up driving up there, driving around the campus, and coming home. We also visited Gettysburg where I got a fantastic feeling, and the University of Rochester, where I had thought I would be attending but when I got there the feeling was not right.

9. Ultimately, I decided to accept admission to Gettysburg College, and am extremely pleased with my decision.

10. I “played” soccer on the Varsity squad; in reality I was a benchwarmer, and soccer made me feel inferior and terrible about myself almost every day, so I am quite happy I will not have to deal with that pressure and negativity anymore. It was not the other players who were negative at all-they were all fantastic-it was just my own low self esteem causing itself to sink lower.

11. I received 1,000 Places to See Before You Die and have made it a life goal to visit as many of these places as possible.

12. I have gotten addicted to gaming videos on YouTube, and regularly follow everyone in Smosh Games. I have also begun watching Achievement Hunter, including Red vs. Blue. I am currently about to start the fifth season.

13. I have also become obsessed with vlogs, some of them including WatchUsLiveandStuff and MostlyMelanie, to the point where during my day I narrate my life as if I am doing a vlog. I have been considering how I would feel vlogging versus blogging. Should I try it? I do not know if I have the right presentation skills or technology, but maybe I can upgrade my camera before college and try it.

14. I survived 18 years on this planet. That also means I upgraded my license and can drive more than one person at a time.

15. For the NHS induction ceremony this year, the teacher I nominated to speak at the ceremony, my AP English teacher, was chosen. Subsequently, I was given the opportunity to write an introduction for her and speak at the ceremony, which made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside because she is such an important mentor for me.

16. I lost my Mommom (my dad’s mom), which has been a complicated and very sad experience.

17. My ex and I came this close to winning our last Science League competition. We were only 8 points, or two questions, behind the dominant school at these competitions, and our two schools had essentially slaughtered everyone else. It was a fantastic way to end one of my favorite extracurricular activities.

18. I felt lonely, unmotivated, hateful, sad and a conglomeration of other negative emotions. I have essentially become a pessimist, which is a bit ironic or funny or whatever because I used to be the most optimistic person I knew.

19. I became a lab tech for my Chemistry teacher. Though most of the work she has given us has been menial, and the fact people always ask my ex for assistance makes me jealous still, I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience and how chill it is to hang out with the two Chemistry teachers during my SRE and lunch.

20. I saw Frozen, which was really personal for me because of the depression and anxiety Elsa experiences. We also blame Disney for promoting Frozen so much they decided to control the weather and make it the snowiest winter we’ve had in years.

21. Other than on this blog and my sister blog on Tumblr, I still do not share my writing pieces with other people. However, I have given my best friends and my ex (well, when we were together) permission to view my blog.

22. I took German IV (finally), and am so excited to pursue German as a minor in college.

23. I came this close to passing a 2100 on my SATs, but I think a 2090 excellent. Yeah this part of the list is pretty arrogant, but considering how low my self-esteem is, I hope you all will forgive it. Even though it is a worthless number that in no way gauges how smart you really are.

24. I did not attend the senior trip because my two friends did not go; I was not as upset as I thought I would be. I will get to Disney World…eventually.

25. I have decided, for the moment, I want to major in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology while minoring in German; I could possibly add a minor in Neuroscience or English.

26. I have been expanding my comfort zone as far as food goes. Previously I have been a picky eater, but I have been trying new foods whenever I get the chance, worrying most of my family to the point that they will put a hand to my forehead to see if I am feverish.

27. I unfortunately engaged in self-harm, though I have been cut-free for months now. I think that deserves a =).

28. I tried to start learning for the knowledge instead of the grade, and to ingrain information in my mind for long-term learning rather than the short-term, forget-about-it-after-the-test thing I have been doing for most of my academic life. AP Chemistry made this sentiment a lot harder.

29. I attended Black and Gold Night, in which the entire high school is separated by last name and the Black and Gold teams duke it out, first in study hall activities like Pictionary and Wii Bowling, and then on Black and Gold Night, where they have a lot of spirit and athletic competitions. And, for the first time in YEARS, Gold Team (my team) won.

30. We successfully pranked my AP English teacher on April Fool’s Day and made her believe none of us had done our homework. It was one of the most amusing events I have ever witnessed.

31. I started watching Attack on Titan. I am not sure if I am in love with it yet (I have only seen the first three episodes), but I really want to find it subbed instead of dubbed, which is all I can seem to find. I abhor dubbed; it feels weird watching anime without the emotion of the original voice actors. Plus dramatic statements in English just sound awkward to me.

32. I ate at Panera for the first time ever, and have discovered their magical macaroni and cheese. Seriously, the best macaroni and cheese I have ever had. The macaroni, which I think is just spaghetti shells, is soft and the cheese is so gooey, a small cup of that with a piece of bread is enough dinner for me (but then again, I like eating multiple small meals).

33. Though my friends circle has, I suppose, shrunk a little, I still have the best friends in the world and love them dearly. For example, I was emotionally distraught this morning and just laid around the house all day. After telling them what was wrong, they came home over my house for a quick visit to hug me and tell me I’m perfect. They are the reason I have the energy to finish this blog (and hopefully complete other tasks throughout the day).

Well, that is probably the longest list I have written in awhile, so thank you if you actually read through all of it! Happy two years, Just Me and My Thoughts, and here’s to another year of blogging awesomeness!

“Overcome Fear and Anxiety”?

I tried to blog yesterday, but for some reason wordpress.com was blocked on my computer? Anyway, today it seems to be working okay.

Yesterday my therapist gave me a CD to listen to entitled “Overcome Fear and Anxiety”. After going through it today, I’m not sure what to think about it.

I was surprised it included a lot of Christian references, including affirmations about God/divine spirit and many verses from the Bible. I’m religious, so it did not bother me; it just seemed weird.

To spice up the affirmations, I decided to add “bitch” to some of the end of affirmations. For example, “I am confident BITCH!” I was entirely too amused with calling a disembodied voice a bitch.

Some of the sentiments expressed are untrue. For example, the speaker stated “You cannot feel love and fear at the same time”, which is entirely false.

Then, one affirmation stated, “When we fear something enough, it can become real and attracted to us”, and I automatically thought of Amnesia, which was, to say the least, not good. Then I thought, “Oh my God I’m afraid of ghosts and demons, and now they’re going to be attracted to me? That’s not a very reassuring thought!”.

The CD itself made me a little anxious and depressed, because it forced me to think about my anxiety, stress, worries and fears. This was magnified by the fact my mind combated many of the recorded statements, accusing quite a few declarations of being ridiculously cliche.

During the CD, though I was not overcome by any intense emotion or epiphany whatsoever, my hands started shaking and my entire body was soon encompassed by this shakiness. I am not quite sure what that was all about.

Overall, I do not feel any different, though this was the first time I have used this CD, so I do not expect instant results. About a half an hour ago I experienced another anxious episode, and I really hope this tape will help, but I am only slightly optimistic.

I asked my therapist if I could listen to it while I work out, and she said yes. This is fantastic because I can motivate myself to listen to the tape, which will at the same time force me to exercise five times a week, and vice versa. Basically, killing two birds with one hand grenade.

Has anyone else used these affirmation/self help tapes? Have they worked at all?

WTF Bullying Comments

***Note: The comments used in this blog may not all be exact; some time has past between them. I have done my best to recreate the statement as it was said.***

Bullying continues to exist as a major problem in many schools throughout the United States. I have never personally been bullied, but have partaken in acts of bullying (especially when I was in elementary school…gosh I was a real bitch then) and have stood by as a guilty bystander, watching others be talked down to or discriminated against.

Notwithstanding how atrocious bullying is, I have discovered an occurrence that, in my opinion, is worse.

Attitudes about bullying.

You would think people would understand how wrong bullying is, and how we should do everything within our power, especially in schools, to dispose of bullying. But even those in high school who have undergone anti-bullying programs and campaigns for over a decade still retain a stance which lessens the severity of bullying.

On the Day of Silence, during which high school students across America vow not to speak in honor of all those who have been too afraid to stand up for themselves and to raise awareness against bullying, I was appalled to hear a peer’s critique of the Day of Silence:

“Those who have been bullied have had chances to tell someone they are being bullied.”

First, those who are bullied usually aren’t the most extroverted individuals; they are usually introverted people who will experience difficulty trying to tell a trusted adult or peer they are being bullied. Second, this individual failed to recognize how bullying affects one’s mental health. When someone tells another person they are ugly or fat or worthless, many people will just shrug it off because they have the self-confidence to disregard the comment. However, those with low self esteem are prone to taking such comments to heart, to the point where these individuals truly believe what their bullies are saying about them. Ostracization is also detrimental to one’s mental health, and can cause loneliness, depression or (social) anxiety. Even if one musters the courage to report bullying, negative remarks can haunt someone.

Sorry we’re all not as extroverted and self-confident as you.

Flash forward to present day. My calculus teacher enjoys embarking on tangents, and today he began speaking about how technology makes life more complicated; for example, it renders cyber-bullying much easier. This was a fellow student’s response:

“I don’t get cyber-bullying. If you’re being bullied online, just turn your computer off.” 

Oh okay. That’s pretty simple. Because I’m the victim, let me change my lifestyle so I do not get picked on. Because I’m the victim, I’ll just have to remove myself from activities I enjoy, like going on social media websites, so I do not get bullied. As a victim, why can’t you just remove yourself from any place you would be bullied?

But why should you have the deal with it in the first place?

The worst part about these comments is they suggest bullying is not as heinous as it truly is. The first comment essentially states “Oh, if you were bullied you should have done A and B and solved your own problem”. The second relates the victim should simply avoid places where they would be bullied, which is ridiculous, because everyone should be able to enjoy life without being bullied. Furthermore, this comment suggests cyber-bullying is the victim’s fault. Bullying is the bully’s fault, not the victim’s.

I understand these comments reflect an attitude that believes victims of bullying can and should take the necessary steps to stand up for themselves, address the situation, and reach a solution. But they seem to miss the point that bullying is traumatic and thoroughly wrong.

No one, and I mean absolutely no one, should be bullied.