Making New Year's resolutions is completely out of the norm for me. I simply find them a ploy that people use to comfort themselves about a year that perhaps didn't go as well as they expected. Writing down specific goals for the coming year, personally only accomplishes making them feel like a list of chores that I put off completing. That being said, "sometimes the best of us must sometimes eat our words" (Dumbledore's line, no less). The past year has been such an adventure that I feel that the coming one deserves a few "resolutions" or rather things to remember for 2015, in order to honour everything I've learned in this one.
1. Your worth is not measured by numbers but that doesn't mean they don't matter:
This first thing I learned or rather, was confirmed when I entered my first year of university, is that it's competitive. Not only are you up against a crop of all the top students from high school, but everyone is competing for very limited spots in professional programs. I try to stick to the motto of "if I try my best, my grade point isn't important". Yet it is easy to become disheartened when talking to other students who insist not only on advertising their stellar grades but also on giving you advice on how they think you should study.
The irony in all this is that although colleges are constantly telling students to take care of their mental and physical well-being, relax and maintain a school/social life balance, they are setting the standards higher and higher for students to be able to achieve their career goals. My aim in 2015 is to continue studying hard while keeping in mind that the resulting grade point is not always a measure of how smart, committed or hardworking a student is.
2. Make time for your passions, even if it means dedicating a little less time to necessary everyday tasks:
In the first semester of my first year of university, I managed to take a full course load, keep up with all my textbook and novel readings for class AND have a tiny bit of leftover time to read for pleasure; all while maintaining a decent GPA. As a second year science student, I have fewer labs, less readings to do for class and curiously enough, no time at all to read my personal novels. Although I have added volunteering to my weekly rituals, I was still puzzled as to where the rest of my time was disappearing to, until someone proposed to me the theory of "stealing free time". It works like this: all the time spent becoming distracted while attempting to do homework such as by checking Facebook, looking at your phone, having random conversations with your dorm-mates etc... add up. At the end of the day, I'm often guilty of both not meeting my daily quota of studying and not feeling very relaxed.
By setting aside chunks of time when one is not allowed to indulge in any social media or real-life time wasting activities to solely focus on school work allows one to also set aside free personal time without any associated-guilt. My goal is that I will not allow a single week to go by in 2015 without exercising either my passions of writing spoken-word poetry, reading for fun or photography (the picture at the beginning of this article is the result of a final exam studying procrastination session). Enrichment for the soul should be taken as seriously as cultivation of the mind.
3. Don't forget to tell the people you love, how much they mean to you once in a while
It sounds cheesy but I truly believe that we sometimes have the hardest time telling the people closest to us, that we love them. I'm not talking about just telling your mom and dad this but also your friends and mentors. It may seem fatalistic to think this way but you never know when seeing someone that is dear to you will be your last or at least your last in a while. In the past year, I've seen a rise in the effort that people have been putting into battling the Mental Health Stigma and I've come to realize that a kind word, telling people how much you appreciate them or even something as simple as a smile has a bigger positive impact than most people realize.
Over this winter break, my university residence community lost a beloved upper year member to a tragic accident. Although I didn't know him personally, what struck me was how many people reflected on how he had touched their lives just by making them laugh or making them feel comfortable to be themselves. I heard time and time again, he was truly a special individual for always telling the people that meant a lot to him, how much he loved them. As young adults, I feel as though our society looks down upon those who dare to over-express their feelings and our lives are so fast paced that it's also easy to forget to. As a tribute to Carter C., I want to overcome my reserved nature to ensure that the people in my life feel valued and loved.
Here's a quick spoken-word piece I threw together, to start honouring resolution #2:
I will never be the girl to wear her heart on her sleeve,
never the first to offer her shoulder up as a rock to support a peer's waterfall of tears,
never the first to cheer aloud at a friend's victory.
And although I am blessed with a tight circle of family and friends,
in a crowd, I'll always be the first to feel lonely.
But I believe in the inherent goodness of you and me,
and that the real answer to the human condition
Is to be yourself.
For instance, I see beauty through the eye of a camera lens,
others see it through a home run, through the catcalls of a crowd, the pass-and-shoot rhythm of a ball's song or the rise and fall melody of an opera's hum.
I feel truth in the strokes of a pencil and if actions speak louder than words, then my pen speaks volumes,
ink screaming all the insecurities, I buried deep down inside of me.
I ache to learn how to combat conformity, remain my own island and yet,
If the seas get rough, be able to cast my safety net back to my home country.
I hope to write my way out of any situation that's filled with uncertainty.
I want to stop measuring my worth based on the weight of the world I can carry on my chest,
remembering that although Atlas held up the sky,
it was Icarus who learnt the true power of the heavens, with his faith misspent
and who knew that to truly feel alive one sometimes needs to set their wings alight.
I may not wear my heart on my sleeve but I sure have it branded into my ribcage,
I feel others' hate, rage and tears, as if mirrored in my own brain,
I know that beauty is only skin deep and blood is thicker than water,
yet it is my friends who keep me afloat and remind the importance of life, love and laughter.
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