The Reflections unit challenged us to truly understand who we are and what we stand for. For me, I was able to dig deeper into my beliefs and I learned a lot about myself that I probably would not have otherwise. In English, we were assigned the infamous This I Believe essay and I was inspired to write about my passion to live for myself. In Digital Media, we were assigned to indulge our creativity into a mandala. Creating the mandala was not only therapeutic, but it was very interesting to see how drawing several lines could accurately represent the kind of person you are. In Design, we brainstormed and designed a PSA that depicted a message we were eager to get across to our audiences.
The Mandala project was one I had looked forward to since I attended the Freestyle exhibition in February of 2019. The freedom of expression was what I valued most from this project and it was so exciting to see what I could come up with as well as the creative expression of my peers.
This I Believe..
The This I Believe section of the Reflections unit was a project intended to allow ourselves to dig deeper into the things that we love and understand the strengths of our beliefs. We were able to share our thoughts with our classmates and see what drives the people around us. It was an extremely eye opening experience and I feel as though i learned so much about the people around me and I gained perspective on things I had never put much though towards.
I believe in living for you.
It took some time for me to go from preaching this to actually acting on it, but once I did, it became the very thing I live by.
My whole life my mom used to tell me about her love for acoustic guitars. She had fallen in love with the skill but she didn’t believe in her ability to pick it up herself. By the end of the fifth grade I was keen on learning a new instrument, and I was leaning towards the drums. When I told her, she dismissed my thought and insisted that I try out the guitar first. I wasn’t thrilled but I wasn’t against it, so every Saturday for a year of my life I would get dropped off at a music school with a huge guitar hanging off my shoulder.
Don’t let this confuse you, I hated every second of it, but I wanted to make my mom happy. Although, I eventually gave up and I told her that all I truly wanted was to learn the drums. We found an amazing teacher who had space for me in his schedule and we started almost immediately. Six years later, to this day, I see him every weekend and he has become one of the most prominent people in my life.
This is one of the less intense stories representing something I’ve done for someone else, but if I had never spoken up for myself, I would be lacking in a skill that makes me truly happy and a person in my life that I couldn’t imagine living without.
It is hard to grow up in such a vigorous environment because children are pushed at such a young age to accomplish the goals their parents have already set for them. It is hard for them to hold themself to any other standard and it is even harder for them to keep from comparing themselves to the ones who soar above and beyond what is expected of them.
It is extremely common for these children to bite off more than they can chew and they fail to realize that what they are doing is not for them.
You’ll always hear people tell you to “just do what makes you happy,” but no one ever grasps the true depth of that phrase until they really start acting on it. Taking part in the things that make you truly happy presents no downside. It brings the feeling of accomplishment, confidence, motivation, and success. It gives you the ability to influence the people around you and inspire them to do the same.
The motivation for happiness is the motivation for life, it is the motivation to take for granted your freedom of expression, and it is the motivation to never do anything at your own expense.
I believe in the power to live for you, to eat for you, to sleep for you, to laugh for you, and to cry for you.
I was given a lot of different feedback on my essay. Most were comments that really enjoyed the way I wrote the essay and others were simple grammatical errors that I had overlooked, but everyone who read my essay was looking for a personal story so that is what I focused on the most when revising. I think that writing down a personal experience and then tying it to the society I live in gave my greater audience a sense of what it is like here, but it also gave my peers something to relate to. The repetition at the end really sticks with you as a reader and I figured that if there is something to take away from this essay, it would be the last sentence.
Personal Statement Essay
This project required me to do a lot of thinking and reflecting on different aspects of my life. I had a list of values I believed in from the This I Believe project but none of them seemed to be enough. I took a lot of time to write out several drafts until I found a theme that I felt as though truly sounded like me.
Most, if not all, of my friends struggle with a low sense of self-confidence, whether it concerns body image, skill levels or academics. The loss of confidence is an increasingly prominent concern of my community. The issue clearly seems exacerbated by social media use. Passive-aggressive comments and actions, social media trolling, unsolicited hateful Instagram comments, direct messages, conversations, and school bulletin board messaging have many things in common, but they all add up to an erosion of self-esteem in my peers and my elders. This disempowers citizens at large and those in my immediate society in particular.
At the beginning of sophomore year, my friends and I became part of the Women’s Empowerment club. I felt an immediate thrill when I sat in on the first meeting, and I was eager to participate in every event. Art became my biggest contribution. I designed flyers and worked closely with the PR coordinator to help advertise club meetings and fundraisers on their social media platforms. Seeing the number of students show up excited to learn and be a part of the club is what made all of our work worthwhile. The club sparked a passion to get involved in the lives of the people around me and to spread positivity in a world that seemed to fall so short of it.
That summer, I participated in a neuroscience course at Stanford University, and I became fascinated with the way the brain reacts to societal pressures and subliminal messages. With all of my newfound knowledge, I wanted to find a serviceable way to make a difference, regardless of how big or small, in the communities I was a part of. Those who fail to meet the “status quo” lack the confidence to be their true selves because of these societal messages, so I considered a variety of methods I could use to help empower myself and help other people empower themselves. So, at the beginning of junior year, I suggested adding a body positivity aspect to the Women’s Empowerment club. The idea gained traction and I started to create flyers and small art pieces that represented the positive messages I was aiming to communicate. The art pieces portrayed different body types, both male and female, in an effort to normalize the average rather than what gets glamorized by the media. We have refused to shy away from difficult topics such as bulimia, anorexia, and self-harm. We offered support to every individual who reached out to us.
When junior year ended, I was determined to maintain my trail of empowerment. Shelter-in-place orders gave everyone the opportunity to devote themselves to learning new skills and improving themselves. One day, the little girls across the street asked me to teach them the basics of art. It served as an amazing opportunity to teach the young people around me an exciting new skill and a new way to express themselves. They were excited to learn different techniques of drawing and painting, but I was most excited to see them find self-satisfaction in their hard work without comparing themselves to others. My ability to instil the values of patience and self-confidence into their lives at such a young age became a precious sentiment to me.
Watching those around me better themselves through my help gave me a sense of fulfillment. I realized that if there was anything more important to me than helping people, it was watching them grow and expand their knowledge of empowerment with individuals they came across. So what is the next step? My goal is to amplify my own path of education on societal empowerment issues in order to continue to support others who are in need through my career and personal actions.