Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Are You a Hamster?

This is an article I wrote for the Carpe Diem, our student newspaper.

A Day in the Life of a Girl

BEEP. BEEP. BEEP. The alarm clock rang at 5 AM. Her hand flew out of the blanket and hit the snooze button. She turned around in bed. Hugging the blanket tightly around herself, she went back to sleep.

Five minutes later, it began beeping again. She opened her eyes and switched off the annoying noise with a groan. She sat up and rubbed her eyes.

Another Monday. She regretted sleeping so late the previous night. She looked in the mirror. Her eyes were underlined with dark circles, her hair a total mess.

She hummed a familiar tune in the shower to calm herself down. She was to write the most dreaded exam of all that day - Mathematics. She had been to parties and malls and movies the whole weekend. Therefore, she had to spend most of the night studying.

Her hair were so tangled she wanted to scream as she brushed them out. She grabbed the concealer and desperately tried to hide the dark circles without the make-up seeming obvious. A little lip gloss and she was good to go. Mr. Hugo would be their invigilator that day!

"No time for breakfast, Mom!" she called out, grabbing her bag and rushing to the car. Her mind was cluttered with endless thoughts on her way to school. Everything from trigonometry to that awesome movie to the cute boy which added her on Facebook.

Laughing with her friends as they tried to remember the endless formulas, the tension in her mind only grew. She hadn't prepared as well as she should have. She could not fail maths this time.

As Mr. Hugo handed out the question papers, her heart thumped like a hard ball thrashed by a madman. She could hardly breathe from all the anxiety. Breathe in...and out. She consoled herself as best as she could.

She was deathly silent on her way home. She couldn't even count how many questions she had left out. She felt like crying. Her parents would be so disappointed in her.

She needed to get good marks to get into a good university. She would have to work hard there to get a good job, where she would once again have to work hard to get a good salary. A good salary meant a big house, a nice car, plenty of dresses to achieve the perfect Prince Charming. She needed to achieve her dreams and her parents' by becoming a doctor.

Failing mathematics was not an option. Why do I even bother? she wondered. She worked hard day in and day out to get the best marks she possibly could. But now she was sick of living on this hamster wheel. The repetition of every boring day of giving up everything she had for marks was killing her. She would probably die working for those marks.

Back at home, she was depressed about how badly she had done but she was glad it was over with. Just a few more exams and then the long awaited holidays would arrive. She was done with the most difficult one, now all she wanted was time to go fast so she could enjoy her vacation. Whenever she was at school she longed for the weekend. When it was weekend she enjoyed it but was sad because it would be school again soon. Although she did enjoy the holidays, her family and the outing with her friends, she would never be truly happy.

Are You a Hamster?

So many girls live your lives like the girl in the story. Hating school, but needing the marks and being unable to get them unless they overwork themselves to the max. Still, their marks are never good enough. And they never will be. For those with very low marks, getting something a little higher might feel good, but she still won't be satisfied. Those with average marks will always look up to those with high marks. And the ones with high marks always wish they had done better yet.

Competition is tough. Life is a race, if you don't run fast others will trample you to get ahead. You need to work hard and aim for success. This is what people have been taught all their lives. What if it was all a lie? What if you didn't need to stress and be unhappy?

Truth is, you always have a choice. There is no need to be stressed. Success is not your objective, excellence is. If you chase after excellence instead of success then success will automatically chase after you. Do what you love, and excellence will be second nature. Don't study for the exams. (How the teachers will murder me for this statement!) You're not at school to write exams. You're here to learn. So when you study, do it to learn something new. To gain knowledge. Be so interested in the topic you have no choice but to do well. Understand what you read. Question what you're told. Believing everything you hear is stupid. This is the secret of me never ever studying for tests and exams.

Stop living for weekends. Weekends cannot be the only things which can cheer you up. If you hate every Monday, you will spend almost 15% of your life in misery. This means that if you live up to sixty, you will be miserable for an entire 9 years!

Start finding the little great things about everyday. Even Mondays can have excellent weather, beautiful flowers and a smile on your face! There is something amazing about every single day. 

Here is a short story about this:
"In January 2007, a man played six Bach pieces at a subway station in Washington DC for 45 minutes. It was rush hour, so thousands of people went through the station that day. Most people never even noticed he was there. A few people gave money and listened for a short while but were in a hurry so quickly left. The one who gave the most attention was a 3-year old boy. His mother tugged him along, hurried, but the kid stopped to look at the violinist.

No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the top musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written,with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars. This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context? One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?"

Stop to smell the roses. Literally. We have some amazing flowers at our school, yet I have never seen anyone smelling them. It could be the best thing you have ever smelled. You never know! Enjoy every moment.

Dream big. Despite what people have told you, it is impossible to achieve a tiny dream. Make your dream big enough to be achievable. Go beyond your wildest imaginations. The only way of finding the boundaries of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible.

Once you have dreamt, don't forget to make that dream come true. Do whatever it takes to get there. Why? Because you can. Write down one simple thing you can do today to get closer to your goal. Then do it. Every single day, without fail.

Follow your gut. Seriously, your intuition generally knows better. Go wherever your heart takes you and you will never get lost.

Smile. No matter what happens, smiling releases endorphins which make you feel happy. Laugh, sing, jump, dance. Be crazy. Be wild. Be awesome.

MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL -- Breathe. Wait, what? You read right - breathe. Breathing is the best kept secret in the world. It is the secret to life. It is what allows you to be here now. As long as you're breathing, you're alive. If that's not something absolutely amazing, then I don't know what is. Whatever happens in life, as long as you don't stop breathing, you'll survive. The only thing you really have to do on this planet is breathe. The rest seems to just take care of itself. So just keep breathing. :)

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