If My Past Self Could See Me Now

“What would our first-year selves think if they saw us right now?” my friend asked as we set up a camera and tripod to film an interview.

“They’d be amazed at our confidence,” she said, answering her own question.

“I would definitely be amazed,” I echoed.

It was a short conversation, lost in the bustle of the interview, but this moment stood out in my mind because it is something I’ve been thinking about lately—what my past self would think of my current self. I know for a fact that my friend was right: my first-year self would think it’s crazy that I am so much more confident in all aspects of journalism.

I wrote last year about the fact that studying journalism forced me to jump out of my comfort zone; and as the year went on, I became comfortable with being outside of my comfort zone. I know that if I feel nervous about an assignment or task, that’s a good thing—because it means I am going to learn from it. This is a mindset that I didn’t always have during my first year, but it is something that I think my first-year self would really admire now.

But let’s take it back further than my first year of university. My high school self might be surprised that I’m still blogging. She’d also be surprised, I think, at all of the amazing friendships and opportunities that have come out of my experiences at university. I have an incredible group of friends who encourage me to be a better journalist and a better person. They help me expand my comfort zone both in writing and in other things, like trying new foods. I tried octopus the other week (OK, one bite, but still). Trying new foods at new restaurants in the city with friends is something my high school self would think was super cool.

I also think my high-school self would also be surprised at how hard her work paid off. At the end of my grade 12 year, I found out that I received a major scholarship to university because of my academic, extracurricular and creative achievements throughout high school. If my past self could see me now, continuing to work hard to maintain my scholarship and achieve new things, I bet she’d be proud.

And my elementary school self? Well, sixth-grade Sherina would be pretty amazed that the article I had published in the local newspaper as a result of joining my school’s writing club had resulted in a desire to pursue journalism as a career. She’d also probably think it’s pretty cool that her future self is writing for thousands of people on the Internet to read. Back then I could only dream of sharing my thoughts with the whole world—so I’m pretty lucky that I get to do that now, through this blog.

So, to answer my friend’s question: What would my first-year self think if she saw me right now? I dare say that she’d be happy and proud—and, strangely enough, that makes my current self feel the exact same way.


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How I Remember

I walk down the street on my way to class, a flood of people wearing red poppies on their lapels. There’s a chill in the air today—a November whisper, a warning of the winter to come. Trying times don’t always come with such warnings; sometimes people are thrust into situations where, unbeknownst to them, circumstances have conspired to become a reckoning challenge.

This was the case, I think, for the brave soldiers who fought for our freedom in the two World Wars. Certainly, some knew what they were getting into, but in the muddy trenches, in the cold night, when November whispered that December was right around the corner… I have to think that that many soldiers didn’t expect that the conditions would be what they were. Still, they fought, and today my country is better for it. When  look at the sea of poppies around me, I find myself reflecting on the sacrifices that were made by men and women long before I was born.

As I walk to class, the safety I feel, the freedom I enjoy, the country I am proud to live in—I remind myself that these things were hard won. It is tantalizingly easy to take these things for granted, to forget that blood was shed and lives were lost. I see the sea of poppies, and I remind myself to be thankful for the things that are all too easy to forget were fought for and earned.

I think about the deployments, the young lives lost in the brutality of war. The families back home. The friends on the battlefield. I think about what those soldiers were fighting for, the fierce belief in freedom that they must have had. I think about those things, and I am infinitely grateful for the bravery and sacrifices of the people who fought for my freedom. I think about these things and I remember because, really, how could you forget?

Two years ago, I sat down in my high school library on a rainy day and wrote a letter of sorts to the soldiers who served (and continue to serve) for my country. Intermixing lyrics from Adele’s Hello, I wrote about the fact that, “While I can’t remember the atrocities of war because I wasn’t there, I do know how it feels to live in a place where the sacrifices and courage of soldiers over a hundred years ago has led to my freedom.”

How do I remember? I write.

How do I remember? I give thanks.

How do I remember? I love—my family, my friends, my freedom, my country.

I remember because it seems irresponsible and impossible not to remember. A better question, perhaps, is why I remember. And here is why: because, after everything that the brave soldiers went through, how could we do anything but remember, appreciate and be thankful?

I think about this as I walk through the sea of poppies in the cool November air. I am able to live my life today because my freedom was hard earned. Lives were lost in order for me to live mine the way I am lucky to today. For this, I vow to never forget—today, on Remembrance Day, and every other day, too.


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Reasons to Hope One Year After the Election

In my memories, the sky was grey and cloudy on the morning of Nov. 9, 2016. I can picture, clear as day, walking through my campus; listening to people around me talk about the results of the election and looking up at the impending storm. That is, of course, only my recollectionin reality, the morning of Nov. 9 may have been cloudless and sunny (through some research it seems like the day was overcast, though perhaps not the “moment before the storm” darkness that I imagined).

Why do I remember that morning in that way? Pathetic fallacy, I suppose. Nov. 9, 2016, was a dark day, emotions-wise, for a lot of people, so in my mind I’ve equated the emotions and the weather.

I’ve written before about the moment I found out that Donald Trump won the electionI heard loud, bewildered shouting in the middle of the night, and assumed the outcome that was a growing possibility had turned into reality. In hindsight, I wish I had stayed up to watch the full coverage of the election, even though it crept into the darkest hours of the night and then the early hours of morning (and even though I had a journalism assignment due the next day).

At the time, I think very few people had an inkling of what was about to happen. When the world woke up on Nov. 9, on the morning I remember to be grey, a lot of us asked the same thing: What now?

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As I wrote in my post after the election, I had been ready to write an article about the first female president of the United States. Accepting not just that I wouldn’t be writing that article, but that I would not be seeing that realityfor at least four years, and likely longerwas disheartening, to say the least. But it was not only Hillary Clinton’s loss that made Nov. 9 difficult; it was who she had lost to, and the policies and rhetoric that were about to take centre stage in the Oval Office.

Watching Clinton’s concession speech made me cry but I was determined to move forward with an attitude of hope. “I looked at my reflection in the mirror and promised myself that I was going to keep fighting for what I believe in, and supporting others who are doing the same,” I wrote.

That bleary morning turned into another night, and then another day. Time passed. In January, Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. I won’t list everything that has happened since then because, unless you disconnected your cable and Internet after the election, you likely know what has happened next. There were, in short, a lot of reasons to be concerned, fearful and angry.

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But there were also reasons to be hopeful. One of the best examples of this was the Women’s March the day after Trump’s Inauguration (pictured above). The sheer number of women and men marching in solidarity both in the U.S. and around the world was nothing short of incredible. The message of the marches was loud and clear: Trump can try to limit womens’ rights, but women will not be intimidated by this—they will fight for what is right.

The ACLU was also a strong force in standing up for equality, freedom and human rights. “President Trump has been in office for 42 weeks. We’ve sued him and his administration 56 times,” the organization tweeted yesterday.

Another source of hope came two nights ago. It was Election Night in America all over again. I had an eerie sense of déjà vu as I curled up on my couch and watched the news. The music, the graphics, the anticipation building up to the results. I allowed myself a smile when the journalists said certain races were too close to call, thinking of the failure of many to accurately call the election last year.

But the feelings of déjà vu ended when the results starting coming in. It wasn’t just that Democrats secured two major victories in the gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jerseyit was there were historic wins for representation and equality.

Danica Roem, an openly transgender woman was elected to the Virginia state legislature. Not only this, but the incumbent Republican she beat, Robert Marshall, actually called himself the state’s “chief homophobe” and previously introduced a controversial “bathroom bill.” Roem had an incredibly classy response to a question about her predecessor. “I don’t talk about my constituents. Bob is my constituent now,” she said. (Mic. Drop.)

Virginia also elected its first two Latina delegates. Another notable victory included Ravi Bhalla, who is Sikh, being elected mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey (interestingly, Bhalla has called himself “Everything Trump hates”). He is the first Sikh mayor in New Jersey. Vi Lyles was elected mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, the first black woman to hold that post. The list goes onyou can read more about the historic wins in this Vox article.

Today marks one year since the morning many of us woke up worried about the future. There are, of course, still reasons to be worried. But there are also a lot of reasons to be hopeful. In the year since Trump won the election, people looking to make their voices heard have mobilized into movements. On Tuesday, voters showed a rejection of Trump’s rhetoric in favour of acceptance of the very people who Trump speaks out against. The newly elected political representatives now have the power to create real, positive change in America.

This is progress. This is a reason to be hopeful. And it is a reason to keep speaking out and speaking up as we continue to live in the world that was made a reality on this day last year.


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Revisiting 11:11 Wishes

I think a lot of bloggers have a love/hate relationship with their statistics. Although most of us know that at the end of the day the numbers are just, well, numbers, sometimes it can be easy to get caught up in the data WordPress shows us. I try not to measure the success of my blog by the numbers. I do, however, enjoy looking at my statistics — particularly at the search terms that led people to my blog.

In 2016, my second most popular post, which is my first most popular post so far in 2017, is “Why I Stopped Wishing at 11:11.” The post was actually published in January 2015, but it continues to get more views than most of my other blog posts. I wasn’t surprised to see that this post was one of my most popular because I often see search terms that would lead people directly to that post. Here is a small sampling from my 2016 statistics:

  • “How to make a wish at 11:11 come true”
  • “Do wishes come true at 11:11”
  • “Someone wished for 11:11 not to work”
  • “My 11:11 wish doesn’t work”
  • “My 11:11 wish came true”

All of these search results led to my blog post (if you searched one of those and it brought you to this post now, uh, sorry about that). In fact, I just Googled “Do 11:11 wishes work” and my blog post is the fifth search result that popped up. This is funny, considering that the post is literally me suggesting that instead of wishing at 11:11 you should make your wish come true on your own. But in the years since I wrote that post, I have often found myself staring at my clock, making a wish when those four numbers appear.

In that post, I wrote, “…you know what’s even more fun than making an 11:11 wish? Making it come true.” I still agree with this. But I’m beginning to think that if you acknowledge that your wish isn’t going to magically come true without hard work, there’s no harm in wishing anyways. Wishing at 11:11 forces you to self-reflect, if only for one minute. It makes you consider what you’d like to improve about your life, or about the world, and identify specific things to wish for. If you think of this wish as more of a goal, then you’ve just taken the first step towards achieving it by identifying a specific end goal to meet.

Of course, simply identifying a goal isn’t enough. If you wished to win the lottery, in order for this to happen you would still have to go out and buy a ticket (unless the odds are really in your favour and a friend buys you a ticket, or a scratch card falls out of the sky and lands at your feet). And for goals requiring more work to come true, you would have to work harder. The element of hope encased in 11:11 wishes is important too, though. Because you can identify a goal and work as hard as you want, but if you don’t believe in yourself, and if you’re not optimistic about your chances of success, your journey to success is going to be wrought with difficulty and self-doubt.

For some reason, I like to close my eyes when I wish at 11:11. Sometimes I open my eyes and the clock says 11:12. In these instances, I wonder whether or not my wishes are still “valid” — but then I remind myself that a wish made at any time of day is only as valid as the hard work you put in to achieve it. In my opinion hard work, hope, and optimism make a winning combination—  whether you wished at 11:11 or not.


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Who Are You?

A few days ago one of my teachers asked my class a question which seemed simple, but left everyone wondering what they might say. The question was this: Who are you? At first glance, it seems obvious. If we don’t know anything in life, we should at least know who we are. Or, at least, theoretically we should. The fact of the matter is that it’s difficult to put into words who we are as people; not because we don’t know, but because we imagine ourselves to be many things – and often, who we imagine we are is different than who we actually are.

It was strange to be having an existential crisis in the middle of a class discussion, but I couldn’t stop wondering “Who am I?” To answer the question in class, I threw together some words that describe me: I’m a student, I’m a writer, I’m a daughter, sister, and friend, I’m a feminist, I’m a leader, I’m kind and positive.

Is that who I am? The short answer is yes. The longer answer is that I am all of those things, but I am also more. I am all of my life experiences, thoughts, and actions. It would take a long time to sum those things up – and it would also be unnecessary. Unless you’re directly asked “Who are you?” by someone (a teacher, in my case, or perhaps an inquisitive blogger in yours) you don’t ever have to answer that question in words. You will still have to answer it, though, in actions.

As you go about your life, you are showing who you are. I don’t walk down the street shouting to strangers that I’m a kind person – rather, I let kindness guide my actions so other people can infer that I’m kind. One of my favourite pieces of writing advice is to “show, not tell” and I think the same advice can apply to life. Instead of spending your time telling people who you are, spend your time showing them who you are.

By doing this you not only focus on your actions and their outcomes; you also prevent yourself from being caught up by the labels of who you are. People can be held back by who they think they are, even if it’s not who they really are. If you focus on doing things you love and surrounding yourself with people who make you happy, you won’t be confined by the image you have of yourself in your head.

That being said, sometimes it’s a good idea to sit back and think about what kind of person your actions portray you to be. Self-reflection is, in my opinion, the basis for self-improvement, especially when the reflection leads to positive action. So, with this in mind, I have a question for you – let me know your answer in the comments. Who are you?

Step Forward if You Have a Story

“Step forward if you’ve travelled to another country.”

I was standing in a circle in my school’s gym with over 150 girls from my school as part of a girls’ empowerment summit. We were doing an activity where a statement was read out, and if it was true for us then we took a step forward. Most girls in the circle stepped in when this statement was read.

After that, the statements became more serious.

“Step forward if you feel pressure to be perfect.”

“Step forward if you feel like you have to live up to others’ expectations.”

“Step forward if you feel stressed out.”

It was a powerful experience in itself to see the sheer amount of girls who all felt the same way. I also found it powerful because in the circle I was standing beside one of my favourite teachers, someone who I have a lot of respect for and really look up to. As I stepped forward for some of the statements, so did my teacher.

I guess it’s one of those things that I don’t ever really think about – that other people can feel pressured and stressed; so it was comforting to know that everyone – even amazing teachers – shares those feelings.

Humans of New York is a social media page that shares a similar message. The photographer behind the site, Brandon Stanton, walks around New York (and recently, cities across the globe) with his camera and photographs people. He posts the photos online with accompanying quotes from the impromptu interviews he conducts with his subjects.

Some quotes are sad, some are funny – but almost all of them are profound in one way or another: and almost all of them tell stories that you wouldn’t be able to guess just by looking at the person in the photo. Humans of New York shows photos of seemingly ordinary people with extraordinary stories.

I just scrolled through the HoNY instagram page and stopped on a random photo: it shows a smiling girl in a winter parka in the subway. You could never guess by looking at the photo that the girl only moved to America this year and left her mother behind in Panama (and misses her dearly), or that she has a job knocking on doors and wants to have her own business so that she can afford to bring her mom to America.

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The stories that the people HoNY captures are inspiring, and so is the premise itself: that everyone has a story that isn’t immediately apparent. It’s incredibly important to remember that everyone has a story, and everyone has some sort of struggle. You can never tell what someone is going through without talking to them (and even then you can’t always tell), so you should be nice to everyone.

There are so many reasons to be kind to others, but this might be one of the most important ones. Be kind because you never know what someone else is going through; be kind because everyone is going through something; be kind because, as the quote goes, “There’s not a single person you wouldn’t love if you knew their story.”

This wasn’t one of the statements that was said at the girl’s summit, but if it was I imagine every girl in the circle would have stepped forward:

“Step forward if you have a story.”

What’s yours?

Live Like the Abyss is a Feather Bed

What would you do if you knew you could not fail?

When I was younger, I saw this quote on a page of one of my dad’s books and became immediately captivated with it. I was fascinated with the question itself, but especially with the idea that there could be some alternate universe in which failure did not exist. I imagined myself jumping off of a cliff with a parachute on my back, speaking at a podium in front of thousands of people, or writing a bestselling book; all confidently and without the option of failure.

A few years ago at school we had to write our personal definition of success. Everyone in the class had a different definition – some were about money, some about happiness, some about fame and recognition. If everyone has a different idea of what success is, then everyone must also have a different idea of what failure is.

If you really think about it, there are an infinite number of ways we can fail at something. Failure wears a million masks: negative judgement, disappointment, and sadness are just a few things that can be associated with failing.

Oftentimes, we are so terrified of encountering one masked version of failure that we cease to do the thing in question. Our society has constructed failure as something so terrifying that if it is an option, we shouldn’t even try to succeed (even if success is also an option). Failure isn’t just present in “big” scenarios, like careers and pursuits of fame; failure is an option in social settings, and in small everyday opportunities that we have.

The thing is, if you never try you’ll never know: and once you overcome your fear of failure and take a leap of faith, you’re more likely to fly than you are to fall.

“Nature loves courage. You make the commitment and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up. This is the trick. This is what all those teachers and philosophers who really counted, who really touched the alchemical gold, this is what they understood. This is the shamanic dance in the waterfall. This is how magic is done. By hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering it’s a feather bed.”  – Terence McKenna

If I could only pick one favourite quote, that would be it. I love the thought of hurling oneself into a dark abyss, facing the prospect of failure and fearing landing on cold cement… only to land on a bed of feathers. This happens far more often than you might think.

I can apply this quote to countless areas of my life, the biggest perhaps being the last couple years as I switched schools to attend a brand new high school. I was terrified about being in a new school, but I made a commitment to myself that I would make my high school experience an amazing one: and the world responded, as McKenna says, by lifting me up.

When school started, I hurled myself into the abyss. I got involved in clubs, made new friends, and stepped outside of my comfort zone in countless ways (I even started this blog!). I shortly fell into a feather bed. I was the happiest I’d been in a long time: I loved my school, my friends, and my life. And if I had never been courageous enough to “dream the impossible dream”, I would not be living the happy life I am today.

The next time you’re faced with an opportunity, consider your options. Imagine yourself taking that risk and having it pay off. Picture yourself jumping into the abyss and landing softly on feathers. Your fear of failure might trick you into saying the jump isn’t worth the fall, the risk isn’t worth the reward, but trust me when I say this: it is.

Making Time For Our Passions

If we all  had a log sheet to track the time we spend doing various activities in our lives, I think the results would surprise us. Most of us like to think that we are good at making time for everything that we need to get done; and this might be true. But how good are we at making time for the things that don’t necessarily need to be done?

It can be difficult to make time for the things we love to do, because we live in a society that, for the most part, does not see the value in doing things that don’t make money. Not only is our society largely driven by money, but it is obsessed with busyness. More and more, it seems that people are praised for being busy and that people who take time to relax and pursue their passions are frowned upon.

It’s a shame that more people aren’t spending time doing the things they love – because following our passions can bring huge benefits into our lives. Passions can blossom into careers, or at least provide a way to make some money in addition to a typical job; but most importantly, pursuing passions makes people happy. We feel happy when we do what we love. It’s as simple as that.

As a student, I have to explicitly schedule time for my passions. I love blogging, and I wish I was able to blog and write whenever I want; but my education has to be my priority, and I need to pencil in “Write a blog post!” in my planner for it to actually happen.

The best advice I can give about making time for your passions is to ensure that you are truly passionate about the activity or cause that you are trying to make time for. If you want to cook more, but you hate cooking, chances are it’s going to be difficult for you to set aside time to cook. However, if you want to spend more time reading because you truly love it, setting aside time will be easier. Passion can serve as motivation to make time, so long as you truly enjoy what you are doing.

You can find added motivation to make time for your passions by considering your personality. In her new novel Better Than Before, Gretchen Rubin outlines four tendencies that people fall into regarding their approaches to habits. She has a quiz on her blog where you can find out which tendency you are; or, you can take a look at the image below and figure it out for yourself.

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When I read Better Than Before, I immediately identified myself as an Upholder (and I got the same result on the quiz). This means that I place the same value on the expectations I have for myself and the expectations that others have for me. In terms of making a habit of pursuing my passions, being an Upholder means I am motivated to do things I am passionate about because it is an inner expectation.

If you are an Obliger, it might make sense for you to tie your desire to make time for your passions to an external source. For example, if you are passionate about playing the guitar but have a difficult time making time for it you could try taking guitar lessons or playing in a musical group. That way, you have outer expectations to meet and you are less likely to break them.

If you’re a Questioner, you should take some time to carefully consider why you want to make more time for your passion. By doing this, you are making your commitment to this habit an inner expectation, which you are likely to meet so long as it makes sense to you.

Finally, if you are a Rebel, you can make time for your passions by not forcing yourself to make time for them. It seems ironic, I know – but Rebels resist both inner and outer expectations. In Gretchen Rubin’s words, Rebels “do what they want to do” – just not necessarily when they know they want to do it.

Of course, you don’t have to take a quiz and give yourself a label in order to make time for your passions. I find that having a deeper understanding of your personality is helpful, and another helpful tool is organization. If you really struggle with making time for your passions, write them  into your calendar or planner. Or, try scheduling a reminder on your phone that will pop up and remind you to take a break from whatever you’re doing and spend some time doing something you’re passionate about.

Sometimes, especially where activities involving creativity (like writing or painting) are concerned, we don’t make time for our passions because we think we need to wait until we’re inspired. Personally, if I only wrote when I was inspired and not when I scheduled time for it, I would barely write at all.

If you take the Four Tendencies quiz, comment and let me know if you agree with your result, and if you think it will help you make time for your passion!

The Scribbles In Between

I was in sixth grade when I had my first article published in my local newspaper. It was the last day of school before Christmas break, and therefore pajama day, so I was wearing turquoise and purple polka-dot fuzzy pants and a matching turquoise shirt.

Arriving at school that day, I had no clue that my article had been published. The principal had mentioned it on the morning announcements, but the pre-holiday conversations in my classroom were so loud that I couldn’t hear what was said. Later in the day, I remember holding the gym door open as students piled in for our Christmas assembly. People I didn’t even know were congratulating me on my article – which, at that point, I still hadn’t even seen in the paper.

After school, I remember casually asking my dad if he had read the paper yet. When he said no, I told him that he should read it immediately.  He dropped me off at my friend’s house, and when I came home there was a stack of newspapers on the kitchen table.

That day was monumental to my life in many ways: it led to my love of writing, and my eventual decision to pursue journalism as a career. Yet, now when I think of that article, I remember my polka-dot pajama pants before I remember all of the hard work that went into writing it. I don’t think about sitting in front of my computer screen, wondering what on earth I could write 500 words about.

I don’t think of the actual process of writing the article: how the words came pouring out of me, as if I was meant to be a writer. I don’t think of printing off my article and having every person I knew edit it. I don’t think of the moment when I composed an email and sent my article to the editor of the paper.

In life, it often seems that when we think of successes – in both our lives, and in the lives of others – we think of the end result and forget to think of the hard work that goes into achieving that result. I think this is really unfortunate, because the process that leads to something – a school dance, a painting, a person’s weight loss – deserves credit. The process of creating anything is unique, but often so buried in admiration of the final product that it is as if it did not occur at all.

Take this blog post, for example. I had written a draft of it all the way back in May. Today I was browsing my Google Drive, found the post, and decided to rewrite it. The original process that led to me writing the post in May consisted of me sitting on my bedroom floor ransacking my brain for blog post ideas, brainstorming with a pen that leaked ink all over my hands and notebook.

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Everyone has a different creative process, but I daresay that everyone’s process slightly resembles the one above in that there is, at some point, some craziness between the idea and its conception, or between the beginning of the work and the end product. We can focus on point A, or, as we often do we can focus on point B, but I think what’s really important to focus on is the scribbles in between.

There is genius in final products, but that genius would not exist in its finished form without firstly existing in the process. There is beauty in final products, and that beauty was first created in the process. In order to fully appreciate the amazingness of the final product, we must first appreciate the amazing process that led to it. Sometimes, this also means appreciating the process of what happens after the finished product is done – or so I tell myself as I recall my polka-dot pajama pants.

What does your creative process look like?

How I Will Remember My Final Year of High School

A few months ago, during the school year, I was looking for an event on the calendar on my school’s website. After I found it, for fun, I kept scrolling through the calendar. I reached the virtually empty summer months, which led into the next school year. I wasn’t sure what was motivating me to keep scrolling, but I didn’t stop. Eventually I saw an entry on the otherwise calendar. When I read what it was, I froze. A week was blocked off for grad photos. In that moment, the reality that I would be graduating stunned me.

I have been at my current high school for two years (this will be my third), and I absolutely love it. Looking back, my time there so far has been an amazing whirlwind of positive memories. I know my last year will be equally amazing, but it will also be emotional. Because it will be my last year, I want to remember everything – including the small moments, like how the air smells in the morning on the way to school, and smiling at friends in the hall between classes.

Of course I’ll miss my high school, because I have had so many great memories there, but I don’t want to feel nostalgic about it. This year I want to be present in every moment so that after I graduate, I don’t spend so much time walking down memory lane that I forget to get out there and make new memories.

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I plan to be present wherever I am by doing several things. Firstly, putting my phone away so I can really focus on the moment; secondly, taking stock of details in my mind to document later. The keyword there is ‘later’.

Last year, I was at a leadership conference with some people from my school. I was having so much fun that at one point I stopped to write everything down in a note on my phone, right in the middle of the excitement. Looking back, I was glad I had documented the memories I was making – but I wished I had remembered the moment without my phone, until later when I could write it all down without missing what was happening.

Another way I can be present in every moment is to clear my mind of anything else that I am thinking of, and focus on what’s happening around me. Even in amazing moments (like that leadership conference) my mind tends to wander and think of random things. It will be challenging to train my mind to focus only on what is happening around me, but ultimately I think it will be worth it.

I am confident that my last year of school will be amazing, and by being present in every moment I hope I can make it that much more special.