Looking Back at 2015

Last year, I wrote an end of the year blog post in which I talked enthusiastically about seven happy things about to happen in 2015. At the time, I assumed 2015 would be filled with reading, running, and writing. Well, then 2015 wound up being more like this:

  1. Watch everyone in my high school tear each other apart (and spend an afternoon wondering if we'd get torn apart).
  2. Write an awkwardly personal op/ed (multiple, actually), revealing to everyone I'm a survivor, and deal with the resulting chaos.
  3. Part with Jon Stewart, leaving us to deal with this dude alone.
  4. Watch the 49ers and the Oakland A's combust.
  5. Spend hours fighting against a seemingly bulletproof administration.
  6. Give awkwardly personal quotes for articles and deal with that resulting chaos.
  7. Watch everyone shoot each other, including shooting 12-year-olds, and get away with it.

Of course, there were many positives mixed in (see photo gallery at the end of this post for a more varied version), but overall, 2015 was less than ideal. To summarize how my year went with one story, it began positively with Jameis Winston (you know, this guy) getting deservedly humiliated by the Oregon Ducks, and concluded with him being the #1 overall pick in the NFL draft and almost leading his team to the playoffs as if nothing ever happened.

So what is there to say about 2016? Will things be any better? Maybe. I hope so.

In an effort to delude myself into thinking the U.S. will get its shit together despite our impending joke of a national election and that I'll cruise effortlessly through my year, I'm going to make another list of seven things I'm looking forward to:

  1. Finishing my novel. (If I say this twenty times, it'll happen.)
  2. Swimming.
  3. Watching the A's have a less-ugly season (please?).
  4. Reading Harry Potter in Spanish just because.
  5. Really, really learning how to use Twitter.
  6. Finishing House on Netflix.
  7. Actually running that 3.8 mile thing I mentioned last year but never got around to doing.

But listen, I can't make 2016 a better year alone. It's up to all of us to push ourselves to be better human beings, to go out of our way to be kinder, conscious, and compassionate. We can control the election (vote if you can, even if you don't love either of the candidates). We can control social media. We can control our behavior.

It's 2016. Screw Trump — it's up to us to make the world great again.

2015 IN PHOTOS

Sunday Night Catchall: College Edition!

I'm back. And on a new website! Subscribe to the newsletter (hint: on your right) to get occasional writing updates! (And cat photos!) Now, in honor of failing to post over the past few months, I thought I'd try to give a rundown of not just this past week, but the past few months (because, you know, that sounds easy to do after the first few months of college):


Noredtape-4.jpg

Finally got that obligatory activist-holding-a-megaphone photo of myself that I've been lacking for years, courtesy of speaking at a rally about sexual violence and discrimination.

On a separate but still activism-related note, mad props to all the activists at Mizzou, Yale, Howard, and other schools nationwide that have stood up against discrimination even in the face of threats.

I discovered that all the seasons of House are now available to stream on Netflix, as are some campy crime shows and The Office. In other terms, I've got limitless things to watch when procrastinating.

Friday the 13ths are cursed, as, apparently, are the days before and after them. My heart goes out to everyone in Beirut, Paris, Japan, Syria, and anywhere else I'm sadly failing to mention who has been lost in the deluge of media coverage about those first four things. Try to remember to treat everyone with respect, dignity, and compassion.

I found an Onion article that sums up exactly what I wonder if my creative writing professor is thinking every time she gives me feedback. (I'm kidding — her name is Ellis Avery; she's wonderful and writes kick-butt LGBTQ-related books that you should read!)

And for a new thing I'm adding to these weekly roundups, a weekly YA book recommendation: Traffick by Ellen Hopkins!

Denial, Denial, Denial, Denial, Denial: the Five Stages of College Decision Grief (March 28, 2014)

www.nerdnirvana.org/2010/11/04/personalized-rejection-letter/

www.nerdnirvana.org/2010/11/04/personalized-rejection-letter/

This week has made me thankful that I am a high school junior, which is impressive considering how painful junior year generally is. Anyone who is a high school senior or a parent of one knows that this week, many college decisions came out. The air in my school was heavy with dread and disappointment as e-mails shattered dreams. A few happy students floated around amidst the bubble of sadness, but for the most part, students focused on their rejections, not their acceptances.

Why? Why can’t we celebrate our acceptance letters, not our rejection letters? Why can’t we be thankful that we get the opportunity to receive an education at all?

The college admissions process is subjective. Getting rejected from your dream school doesn’t mean you’re an idiot just like getting accepted to your dream school doesn’t mean you’re a genius. A rejection means the person reading your application felt you weren't the best fit for that school. That's all.

An example from my recent life that highlights how subjective awards or acceptances are is that I recently found out I won a national Silver Medal in the 2014 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards for Journalism. I also won 3 regional Silver Keys and 2 regional Honorable Mentions. However, those results don't tell the whole story. Two years ago, I submitted three of those pieces to the 2012 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. They didn’t even receive Honorable Mentions. At the time, I felt horrible and like my dream of becoming a writer was slipping away.

But two years later, those same pieces with no new edits won two Silver Keys and an Honorable Mention. Nothing changed except for the people who happened to be judging my work. My “bad” writing suddenly became “good.” I should feel like a better writer now, right? But I don't. Instead, I now realize that judging myself based on the subjective opinion of others is stupid. Those pieces are no better now than they were two years ago. That also means they were no worse back then than they are now.

Don’t attach yourselves to rejection letters. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’re worthless. In five years, maybe you’ll get into the graduate school of your dreams. Maybe in forty, you’ll win a Nobel Prize. Maybe you won't but you'll make incredible friends and be with a family you love.

Be proud of trying and remember that you’re smart.