Saturday, January 15, 2011

Com-pli-ments

Have you ever thought about how superficial compliments are. "I love your shoes" "That dress is so cute on you" "I have a necklace like that, but it looks a million times better on you" "Oh my, have you lost, like, two and a half pounds? You look sooo skinny." "Those hair extensions are so hot." The list is a million miles long. It's all so shallow. And what's worse, it genuinely makes us feel better. Isn't it a little sad that we care so much about how people feel about our clothes. All that says about me is that I was willing to spend money on shoes. Is that really something to be proud of?
I've started working on giving compliments to people, meaning a characteristic that defines them, rather than just an article of clothing. It's easier to compliment clothing. It's obvious and doesn't take sincerity. But real compliments are hard. They take really knowing a person and a little bit of bravery.
But think about it. I really think sincere compliments could change the world. What if instead of hoping for a perfect hair day or to find the perfect pair of jeans, we strived for something more. What if you heard "you're really gentle, especially with shy people. I appreciate that" "You are the best listener I know. I love talking to you." "Thanks for always smiling at me. It makes my day." Wouldn't that mean so much more than a comment on your outfit or manicure? I think that if characteristics are what we compliment, then characteristics will be what we come to value.
Maybe someday we can have magazines dedicated to people of exceptional substance, rather than beauty.

Monday, January 10, 2011

School is for schmucks

Over Christmas break I did hours and hours of homework:
75 AP calc problems
Huck Finn for English
4 chapters (about 120 pages) for APUSH
2 books about pinhole cameras for physics
Ridicule for French
So imagine my surprise when I on the first day I realized no one else had done that much homework. Granted, much of it was getting ahead. But I'm a junior. Getting ahead now only means being less behind in 2 weeks. All of last week I had almost no homework. Few things are more energizing than having an almost blank planner coming home from school.
Waterford did a school wide homework survey. Among the students, the most popular of the question was "do you use caffeine to stay awake to do homework or to stay awake during school from lack of sleep?" It was so funny because we all do. Of corse we do. It's a pick your poison kind of game: coffee, green tea, energy drinks, 5 hour energy, or soda.
My mom gets mad when I do too much homework. Not mad at me for doing it, but mad that I have so much and I have such a compulsion to do it. I long ago learned that not doing my homework was not an option. She often threatens to write the school because this amount of  homework is "unreasonable". I always try to explain that that's just the way it is.
But here's the sad thing. I have lots of homework, but I know sooo many people who have soooo much more. Because they're smart, and dedicated. And they'll put in 8 hours a day after school when I would have a nervous breakdown if I did what they do every single day.
And that's just the way it is. But sometimes I have to wonder, why does it have to be that way? When did we lose the value of free time in the last few years before adult hood?
Until then, I'll buckle down, do my homework, and pay a thousand dollars to get Kaplan tutoring for the SAT, since just doing my homework isn't enough to get me into college.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Faire ce qu'est difficile

I hate the term "new year's resolution". I think when you call something a "new year's resolution" it cheapens it. It means you're not doing it because you want to, but because you need a new project, new goal, new something for the upcoming year. I think you set yourself up for failure. New year's resolutions demand less dedication because it's such common practice to quit.
So this is not a post about my "new year's resolution".
This is a post about doing things that are difficult.
2011 will be the last full year I live at home. 2012 will bring graduation, college, moving out, living somewhere else, adulthood (yikes). I've been thinking about my last year of dependancy. I think of all the great opportunities I've had in my life, I haven't done enough things that are difficult. I've done things that require strength, and things that require work, and some that require both. What I haven't done is something I really didn't want to. Something that required a huge amount of sacrifice.
So I've decided 2011 will be my "buy nothing year". What does this mean? Well, I'm not going to spend money, mostly. Permitted spending includes: shopping at the grocery store (I can't grow my own food), haircuts, gas, school supplies, and the occasional emergency I'm sure I'll have. Not permitted includes: eating out/fast food, going to movies, buying clothes, buying books, and getting presents for or from other people.
Why?
Well, I don't have any sense of necessity. I often catch myself thinking things like I need to buy a new pair of boots, because the 4 pairs I have don't fit this specific purpose. Or I need to buy that book, because event though I have a huge pile to read, this one looks so good. Those aren't necessities. I don't want to start my adult life and learn that lesson the hard way.
Also, I want to learn to spend time without spending money. I don't like to think that I can't enjoy myself or my friends without spending money. Isn't it sad to think that having leisure time takes money? I don't want that for the rest of my life. Some day, I'm sure I'll be a starving writer (with my best friend the starving actress), and I don't want to be miserable because I can't afford to go to a movie or dinner.
Maybe I'm utterly crazy. But the most important thing for me maintenent est que ca c'est ma choisir. I'm doing this. It's not that I can't get food after school or swing by starbucks. It's that I won't. I never thought I would find so much strength in the verb "will". I've always thought it was a rather ugly word. Yet, I find that I can say I won't do that, and feel incredibly empowered.
Yes, it's January 3. I probably sound like I'm taking this way too seriously. But this is something I've been thinking about since November and decided on since December. I've put a lot of thought into this and I'm serious about it.

So whatever you do, don't invite me to go to Nordstrom Cafe with you. Invite me to come to your house and we'll make waffles.