high school just got simpler

Sunday, August 28, 2011

New Year. New You.

Summer is ending, and high school is starting. You've heard the phrase "it's a new year" before, but what does it really mean?

  • You are in the next grade.
  • You have new classes.
  • You are one year older.
  • You are more mature (I hope).
  • You have more responsibility.
  • You have more freedom.
  • You have become more you.
This is a lot to think about. It may mean nothing to the general public, but when you do actually think about it, it hits you.

You can be whatever/whoever you want. (Within good reason).

This new year lets you get a fresh start.

Bad grades last year? This year you know what you need to do to get good grades. Do your homework, or whatever needs changed.

Getting sucked into the wrong crowd? Don't let peer pressure control you. Do what is best. Even if it isn't necessarily the "cool" thing to do.

Find your own niche in life. Was last year's style of chains, dyed black hair, and black clothing just not for you? Don't repeat something you didn't like!

Take this new year to think about the complex life you've formed by society's pressure and today's culture. Do you really need those $100 jeans for school, does last year's pair still fit you? Make this year at school your most simple year ever. You'll be more likely to have less stress, get better grades, and be an overall happier person.

My senior year was by far the best year of high school. But before my senior year, I struggled too. Freshman through junior year I had problems with homework, testing, studying, everything. I needed more help than I was willing to admit back then. But I am glad to say that I succeeded, and did what I could to achieve my goals. I wasn't a 4.0 student, but I was able to juggle decent grades and extra curricular activities. I didn't prioritize correctly, and took on way too much. I let my commitments take over my life. I was constantly stressed and distracted.

I wanted to know how to fix this. How to juggle commitments, school and life simply. 

I looked to the internet and found blogs covering just that. I gave it some thought. I read, and jumped into it. I started with the mental things: noticing what commitments I had, making my life easier, etc. I fell in love with the results and continued. I noticed how much I had changed over the summer of 2010 and thought about how much this would impact my schooling. It would either help it extremely, or hurt it.

It definitely wasn't the latter.

My grades during the 2010-2011 school year were the best I've ever had. I had a 4.1 during the first quarter. That is a huge difference than the 3.2 during the end of my junior year. I kept my grades up by simply paying attention, eliminating distractions, and focusing. I turned all my homework in, all of my tests were fantastic, and I was happier with my life outside of school as well.

This is all possible just from living simply and minimally; but if these kinds of results exist, why doesn't every high school student do this?

Society tells you no. Our culture wants you to have more. Do more. Be more. They want you do be the star athlete, take AP classes, be the student body president, and manage your social life. This is all wrong. Do what you want. Find the things you like and stick to them. Don't load your life with commitments and things that won't help you become what you want to be.

This year, do one thing. Live simply.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Help Yourself In Order To Help Others

I had a nice heart-to-heart conversation with a great friend of mine a while ago. He seemed caught up in a mix of teenage drama, other people's issues, and problems in his own life. He is usually this happy, carefree, laid back guy. To see this side of him was a big change.

I was more than happy to help him though. I don't have anything too prevalent going on in my life. So I could give him all the help he needed.

What makes people so interested in other people's problems? Reality shows, school drama, and fights intrigue people daily. 

This is all wrong. You shouldn't be putting more stresses on yourself than you need. Not only do you have your own problems, now you're throwing more and more at yourself. There ends up being piles of stress, problems, and commitments to things that do not affect you personally in any way. All of this stress makes your life complicated. You are unable to complete tasks, work on goals, or be truly happy. 

You need to take care of your own issues first. You should be priority #1. 

A few tips on helping yourself first:
  • List out everything that's going on in your life.
  • Go through this list one at a time. Doing everything in your power to take on this issue. If it's a simple commitment, see if you can drop it. Only take on one thing at a time. Go down the list one by one. These can act like goals, but don't work too hard on them all at once. Do one thing a day to help with it.
  • Take time to work these out. If you need to take a month or two to deal with something, whether it's a finance issue, bad break up, or something deep in your life, do so. Stresses need to be dealt with as soon as possible or they will sit there and fester.
  • Say no. When someone comes to you with their problems, say no. You might have been there for them before, but you need to be there for you. They will understand. Tell them you are dealing with things yourself right now, and can't take anything else on at the moment. You shouldn't be expected to take on their problem before your own.
  • Listen, don't do anything. If you truly need to help someone, just listen. Most of the time, people just need to vent. If you can't say no, then just listen. Listening is a powerful tool, and takes minimal effort from you. Just be in the moment for them, and pay attention. You don't need to fix any problem, give any advice, just be there for them to talk to. You don't need to worry about their problem, but they will know that you care.
"The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers." -Thich Nhat Hanh
Listening to someone and just being with them can make all the difference. You don't have to stress about their issue, and you can deal with your own before you worry about theirs. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Glimpse Into A Barefoot World

It feels amazing being barefoot. 

It's pure, simple, and, well, bare.

I feel more relaxed, and less confined than when wearing shoes. 

I love feeling everything beneath my feet. The different textures and temperatures feel so awesome.

I feel much more present and in the moment. 

For the past month or so, I haven't chosen to wear my tennis shoes. In everything I've done, I have chose to do it barefoot or wearing my Sanuks, which don't need socks. I've gotten so used to it that I had formed a habit of not wearing shoes and socks.

I actually noticed about a week ago that I actually didn't have many pairs of socks. That would explain why I never could find a clean pair when I was wearing my tennis shoes. 

Since I've been going mostly barefoot, I haven't needed socks. I've pretty much forgotten all about them. I say pretty much because I've had a few instances when I needed to wear "normal" shoes. That's when I went on a scavenger hunt to find any at all.

I want to fully embrace the barefoot lifestyle. You can do a lot of sports barefoot. I have wanted to get back into running, and I could do it barefoot. I don't know about being barefoot while climbing, I'm too attached to my climbing shoes.

If it weren't for Ohio's unpredictable weather and cold winter, I would probably get rid of all my socks. But since I can't change weather, I need to keep my socks for the colder seasons.  

Monday, August 1, 2011

My Steps To 100 Things

Narrowing down everything I own to 100 things is challenging. Since my last post about 100 things, I've only been able to add one or two items. The 100 Thing Challenge is going to be tougher than I thought.

But if I thought this was going to be easy, it wouldn't be called a challenge then, would it?

So I came up with a plan.

My Plan:
  • List out everything I use.
  • Narrow it down to 100.
I'm not going to make a list of what I'm planning on taking, like what is normally done. I think that is defeating the purpose of being minimal. Instead, I'm going to make a list of everything I use daily. And then narrow that down to 100 things. 

Why I think this plan is better:

  • I don't need to think about it. Normally, I would sit down and think of everything I use and would use and write it down. This way I get a perfect idea of what I use.
  • I account for everything. I won't miss little things like a toothbrush, or alarm clock.
  • I'll have a list ready to go. Since I won't be making the list on the spot, I'll have more time to think about what I need. I'll have a list made already to start making the final 100 thing list.

For the next week or two, I'm going to write down everything I use: clothing, technology, pencils, and even my trash can. This way I'll see what I'm currently using, and what I can cross off my list. Then I'll work on shortening that list. 

What I like about this approach is that I don't need to sit down and think about what I'll need. But one flaw I can think of is that I have to do precisely what I'm talking about: writing down everything I use.

It'll be easier than I think though. I have a notebook I carry around with me, and my phone I can write in if need be. But I'll need to remember to write it all down. Which is exactly why I'm trying it out. By the end of this week, if I don't have anything accomplished, I need to consider a different method. That is my goal for this week: write down everything I use. Next week will be to write down anything new, and to narrow the list down. 

I'll write again after this week is up on my progress.