So. I suppose it’s become a bit of a tradition to write an end-of-the-year-post on this blog. At least, I put together thoughtful little posts the last two years. And this year, I’m going to break the mold a little by doing an unedited stream of consciousness. So fasten your seatbelts.
What happened this year?
Actually a lot. Just not much I want to talk about.
The first thing I remember was celebrating New Year’s. It was lonely because all the friends I used to celebrate it with had moved away.
For the first part of the year, I didn’t do much besides wait to hear back from colleges. And then I heard. I didn’t get accepted anywhere I wanted to go.
I spent the next part of the year mourning this.
Thankfully, during my mourning period, I got to meet up with some of my friends on a trip. This was one of the best experiences of my life.
And then I visited the college I did get into for freshman orientation. I realized I would be okay there. The year took a turn for the better.
I started college. I met some great people. Things were going well.
Three guys pursued me, and it was the first time my homeschooled self had any experience with the sort of thing, so it stressed me out.
The crappy election happened. It really brought me down for a while because I was so disappointed in and scared for America.
I ended up with one of the guys I talked about. Things were definitely looking up. I made a great group of friends too.
Things went perfectly for a while.
Then finals happened. I really, really freaked out.
My relationship ended. Suddenly. Unexpectedly. Painfully.
I’m still trying to figure out the how’s and the why’s.
I’m ok now. Or at least I’m trying to be.
I didn’t mean to write all this but oh well. Happy New Year.
So yeah. 2016. Both the best and worst year of my life. It ended on a bad note, so I’m not super hopeful for 2017, but maybe things will get better. Maybe.
I don’t usually post about politics, but by now I think silence is a crime.
When a sexual perpetrator runs for president, don’t accept his degrading comments about women as “locker room talk”. Don’t let boys think that’s just the way men speak. Don’t let girls expect so little from their male peers.
When a sexual perpetrator runs for president, don’t dismiss the private confession of his crime as mere lewd or vulgar comments. Don’t forget these were violations of real, breathing people. Don’t euphemize sexual assault.
When a sexual perpetrator runs for president, don’t remind us that women have husbands, fathers, and brothers. Don’t act like women only matter because they are related to men. Don’t tell us you care because there are women in your life because you should care regardless.
When a sexual perpetrator runs for president, don’t let him win.
It’s been exactly a month since I’ve been going at this college thing. How am I? I’m okay. Not okay in the “everything is just fine and dandy” sort of way or okay in the “I’m doing horribly and I want to hide it” sort of way. I don’t think either of those things are what it means to be okay.
To be honest, I’m not sure this is the best place for me. The sheer size overwhelms me, I don’t see my friends as often as I would like, and I don’t get along with most other freshmen. (most)
(Yes, there’s a but.)
I’m happier here than I have been anywhere else for years. It’s not that things never go wrong. No, sometimes things go horribly wrong. It’s that I know how to handle life when it goes awry.
I’m learning to be happy where I’m at, and that’s why I’m okay.
I’ve been hearing it since the beginning of time. “You’re lucky you are where you are now, because in college, people will treat you differently for being a Christian.” “At college, people will really attack your faith.” “Be really careful around liberals, because they hate Christians.”
I made a mention in my last post of how ridiculous I think this is, but now I have the answer to THE question: What really happens to Christians at liberal schools?
In a word, nothing. Or nothing bad that is. Yes, you will meet people who disagree with you. Yes, your beliefs will be challenged. And yes, you might question everything you ever believed. But in my mind, these are all good things. I did come to college to get educated, didn’t I?
Now I can’t speak for every school, everyone you might meet at these schools, and every setting etc. I can only speak from my experience. To be honest, I haven’t actually started classes yet, so I don’t know if professors will try to force me to sign a paper saying “I don’t believe in God.” Though I seriously doubt it.*
That said, I do believe I have been thoroughly exposed to so-called “liberal college culture”. I am attending one of the more liberal schools in the country, and my experience here began with a service project for first-years, which was a rather liberal program. To top it off, I was in the Gender and Sexuality focus area, which may have been the most liberal focus area at the liberal program at the liberal school.
In case you are still doubting my amount of exposure, here is a picture from a game we played:
Okay, if you were half as horrified by that picture as my mother was, you’re probably wondering how I survived.
When I walked in, I was afraid. I was afraid everything I heard before was true and the people I was about to meet wouldn’t accept me because of my background or faith. In reality, I found my new friends more accepting than the vast majority of people in Christian circles. Yes. More accepting.
By the time I left, I was almost a different person. I’ve gained a lot of knowledge, some of it interesting, some of it… less necessary. I’ve gone from some one who knew next to no LGBTQ+ people to someone who wonders if straight people (especially straight guys) are a myth. But I also finally had the chance to speak out about issues important to me and to be heard.
The people I’ve meet here– religious and non-religious– want to talk about all viewpoints and meet people with all beliefs. They don’t reject me because of my faith, and I don’t reject them for their beliefs. My belief system, faith, and sense of self have all grown in ways they never could have without the people here.
If you simply respect the differences in yourself and other people, you’d be amazed what can happen.
*This post has been in the works for a long time, so I actually have been to classes. And yeah, everything was fine. We’ve discussed religion but from a neutral standpoint.
Do you ever feel like people are asking you the same questions over and over? I think every college-bound student has been asked most of these questions, or some form of them, at least 452 times this summer. Thus, I have graciously provided my answers to all of them, so I can direct people to this page and avoid small talk. 🙂 Warning: Sarcasm ahead.
Q: Sooo, where are you going to school?
A: Boston. Boston University.
Q: Congratulations! Why did you choose to go there?
A: Umm… money. They gave me a scholarship.
Q: Oh, that’s great. Then how did you choose to apply in the first place?
A: Goodness gracious, I don’t know! I was such a confused child when applying to colleges that I didn’t know how or why I was applying anywhere. But if you want to know how I found the school, umm… College Board told me it would be a good fit. Is that a good answer?
Q: Okay. Well you better be careful up in Boston. Do you know how liberal they are up there?
A: Liberal? Well, gosh diddly darn! I never would have guessed Boston was liberal. And it’s not as if I would like to meet anyone with different political beliefs than the ones I’m used to. Because I am every bit as conservative as you assume I am, and because I have no brain, I’m naturally concerned I will absorb all liberal ideas I come into contact with. If Boston is liberal, I’m just going to have to renounce my scholarship, aren’t I?
Q: What are you majoring in?
A: Well, at first I was thinking English or Creative Writing or something, but then I realized most of the jobs available to me would be teaching jobs, and I do not have the patience to deal with one of those. So then I decided on the most PRACTICAL, money-making major ever: sociology.
Q: Why did you choose that major?
A: Like I said, it’s the ultimate millionaire’s major! NO, because I’m passionate about it. But I also happen to be passionate about being able to eat so I’m thinking about that career factor…
Q: Do you know what job you’re going to get?
A: *Facepalm* All these questions make me feel like I don’t think things through well.
Q: Are you planning on finding a husband in college?
A: Oh yes. That’s my one and only goal. Why else would I have spent so much time studying for the SAT, move to another continent, and work to pay for college? It wouldn’t be to get a good education. What a preposterous idea. I mean, a woman trying to get an education in order to get a job outside the home? In the twenty first century? Laughable. And it’s not like there are perfectly free dating sites I could use to find a date if that was my goal in life.
Q: Are you excited?
A: YES. But also nervous and terrified. Because I’m an introvert and shy and moving to a whole new culture with tons and tons of people and I’m an obsessive freak about my grades and want to do really well and… did I mention I’m a tad nervous? But, yes. I’m excited.
Hey guys! I am (surprisingly) still alive, and I think I might start a journal series about my transition to college. Hopefully it will be interesting/ helpful to whoever may happen upon it. If not… then at least I think it will be helpful to me.
Last year, I felt like I was a part of an inhumane social experiment. For most people, senior year is your last year with all your friends in high school. For me, it was my first year to be homeschooled full time, making it my first year without my friends in high school.
Now, I did still have friends–good friends– but my friends have a nasty habit of moving to different continents and filling their schedules up, so there wasn’t a ton of interaction. I spent the vast majority of my waking moments hunched over my laptop in the corner of my room, trying to get through the work to finish the year.
But I made it through. More than that, I made it into Boston University, which I am told is an accomplishment. What exactly does this entail? Well, for one thing, I am going to be surrounded by people. A LOT of people. And these people– in general– have a different belief system than the one I grew up with. To say the very least.
As you can imagine, I feel as if I’m jumping from a freezer to a boiling hot vat. Okay, that’s an odd metaphor, but you get the idea. It’s a transition. For one year, I spent most of my time alone. Next year, I’m not sure I’ll hardly EVER be alone. For most of my life, I’ve lived in a very conservative, very religious community. Next year… that won’t so much be the case. That may be the biggest change.
Back home, the waters were easier to navigate. You read the Bible every day and never questioned it… or traditional interpretations of it. You never swore or used the Lord’s name in vain. You tried to date “the Godly way” (which usually meant kissing dating good-bye). You never talked about sexuality, and if you did, you referenced the Bible in every sentence. Men were men. Women were women. There was no in between, no changing.
Basically, there were several unspoken norms and rules you never challenged. If you did, people still loved you, but there were consequences. Everyone thought I was a wonderful person. Because I scarcely challenged the rules. Out loud.
In my head. I challenged all of them. Every last one.
The thing is, I learned the script. I knew what to say and when, what to believe. I knew the beliefs that would keep everyone happy with me. It was easy, and I played along.
Now I’m leaving that world, and I’m discovering something very important. My old social script is useless. Of course, I’d guessed that, but I didn’t guess that I wouldn’t have a script at all anymore. At a place like BU, where there are people from all sorts of religions, beliefs, and backgrounds, there is nothing you can say that will make them all happy. Maybe some statements will make most of them happy, but not all.
In this situation, I have a few options:
I can stick to the old script, which I never completely liked and most of the people I come across in Boston REALLY won’t like. Scratch that plan.
I can try really hard to find a new script at BU. I think I’ve already discussed why I don’t think this will work.
I can find my own convictions and stick to them no matter who I offend. I like this plan best, even though it’s the hardest to execute.
So great. I’m going to construct my own system of morality. I have one… partially. See, throughout the process of searching through what I believe, I came across a monumental realization: growing up in the community I did, where morals were all but decided for you, it’s very hard to have convictions of your own.
That’s right. In a place infused with family values, strong religion, and unity of beliefs, personal convictions become an endangered species. Not extinct. Endangered.
Although I love the people I grew up with, sometimes I grew frustrated when they repeated their parents’ political beliefs verbatim when I asked who they would vote for. Or when they wouldn’t challenge a teacher on something wrong. Though the truth is, I did it, too.
Now it’s time to explore new morals, compare and contrast, and decide which beliefs are really mine. I’ve discovered a world out there where gender is non-binary, people evolved from monkeys, and inclusion is of upmost importance. I don’t know how much I agree and disagree with this world yet, but I’m going to find out.
I can see your eyes bugging out at the end of this, homeschoolers. 🙂 Wish me luck.
Greetings followers! For whatever reason, I am in the mood to rant about unoriginal books. Perhaps this has something to do with the dissatisfaction I’ve found with the books I’ve read lately. But don’t worry, I’m throwing a good book in the mix, too. In any event, enjoy! (pics from Google images)
The Beginning of Everything
Summary: Ezra Faulkner starts his senior year as a tragedy. He lost his status as star tennis player and popular jock in a car accident that injured his leg. Then he meets Cassidy Thorpe, an enigmatic girl who introduces him to a world with more exitement and heartbreak than he could imagine.
Review: Having just finished this book, I can’t quite place my finger on what about it makes me feel dissatisfied. I mean, Schneider does make some meaningful points. Good points. And overall, it’s a fairly readable book. But it’s like she tries so hard to write a deep, thought-provoking book that it just falls flat. She’s trying to be John Green, which is kind of lame because John Green already exists. (Brilliant point, I know.) If you like this book, I certainly don’t hold it against you. Maybe the style just isn’t for me. But if I could describe it in a word, it’d be “forced”.
2. Independent Study
Summary: This is book two in the Hunger Games– erm no Divergent…. actually, The Testing Trilogy. Basically, it’s a dystopian world in which you have to win the Hunger Games instead of getting a good SAT score to get into college. (Which may not be such a big difference.) While in college, the world starts to look like you’re being sorted into your faction and learning how to live there.
Review: Okay, my summary was much meaner than it needed to be. Especially considering that it’s a fairly good series. The characters are well developed and the plot kept me intersted. Or at least in the first one. By book two, either I got sick of the unoriginality or the writing got much worse. The truth is, The Hunger Games has already been written, and it doesn’t need to be written again.
3. All Our Yesterdays
Summary: Em’s world is a disaster. She’s time-traveled countless times, trying to stop a horrendous and seemingly unstoppable chain of events from occuring. In a different time, Marina, a naieve high schooler, strives to win the affections of James, her childhood best friend and renowned prodigy. Then, in one disasterous night, everything in her world starts to crumble.
Review: I promised to mention an original book, and this is it. In fact, I’d venture to say this is one of the most orignal books I’ve read in the last year. Action-packed, mind-boggling, and heartwrenching, All Our Yesterdays is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat from the opening sentence to the final page. Not only does it have a fascinating plot, but the characters are endearing and memorable.
So what’s the moral? Well, if you’re a writer out there, don’t try to immitate someone’s style or story. Shakespeare has already existed. Hemmingway has already existed. Jane Austin has already existed. The only thing you have to offer that isn’t already out there is your ideas. Not that you shouldn’t be inspired by other writers, but… be yourself.
The New Year is coming! Yes, I’m sure you’ve noticed, but I decided to tell you anyway. So it’s time to do some serious reflecting and ask the inevitable, all-important question: Was it a good year?
Well, it depends on what you mean by good.
Last year, at about this time, I wrote this cute little letter to 2015. I asked a few interesting questions, like:
“I suppose I’ll change, too. A year from now, will I even be able to recognize the person writing this letter? Or will I be mostly the same person?”
I do recognize myself, more or less. Truthfully, I almost feel bad for the girl who wrote this letter. She had no idea what she was getting into, starting a new year. Though she didn’t really have a choice, did she?
“Next New Year’s Eve, will I look upon you  as one of the best or worst times of my life? Or somewhere in between?”
Ah, back to the “good year” question. Now that it’s New Year’s Eve, I think it’s only appropriate that I answer my younger self.
If you define a good year as one full of fun and lacking sorrow, then 2015 was my worst year yet. May as well be honest. Yes, there were fun times, but I only showed you the best. Though if you define a good year as one full of learning and growth, then 2015 was probably my best year yet. So it’s all relative.
And as for the New Year? I’m bracing myself for the worst yet preparing for the best. Because regardless of what happens, I’m determined to make this the best year so far, in terms of both happiness and development. In the time being, good riddance 2015, and welcome 2016.
On an off note, I’d say this was a good year in terms of blogging. (Here are my stats.) I’d like to thank each of my readers, who bear with me even though I’ve been less than faithful to this blog as of lately. Here’s my excuse: 5,099 words of college admissions essays. And counting.
I think I’m going to take a wee break from Scotland and talk about another one of my favorite things: books! As the year comes to a close, I think it’s natural to reflect upon everything that happens. Is it weird that I sometimes remember things in reference to what book I was reading at the time?
That said, here are some of the books I enjoyed most this year. Note: At the beginning of the summer, I wrote this post about the some of the best books I read last school year. None of these books will be included.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Short Summary: Charlie, a withdrawn, disturbed freshman in high school, writes letters to a nameless “friend” in whom he confides the pain and joys of finding his place in the world.
Review: This is the first book I remember finishing this year, and it’s stayed in my head ever since. Charlie’s voice is truly unique; it has a rare personal and honest quality to it that I loved. Although it has its flaws and contains a few graphic disturbing scenes, Perks is among the most touching stories I’ve read.
2. Catcher in the Rye
Summary: Holden Caulfield, a neurotic, underachieving teenager is expelled from yet another school. To deal with the situation and his inner turmoil, he aimlessly wanders New York City, trying to find himself.
Review: I think there are two kinds of people in this world: those who love Catcher and those who just don’t get it. Although it took a school assignment to get me to pick up this book, I found I fall squarely in the former category. On the surface, it looks like a long, babbling yarn, but if you look closer, Salinger has many deep insights to share.
3. Throne of Glass
Summary: Seventeen-year-old Celeana Sardothien, the most feared assassin in the land, is freed from an infamous prison camp. The crown prince promises her she will stay free under one condition: she will fight for him in a competition and win the position as an assassin for the king, the man she hates the most.
Review: The best thing about this book is Celeana. She is overflowing with sass and confidence, which makes her an endearing character despite her sketchy past. There’s also an interesting fantasy world and a good adventure plot, which makes the book an enjoyable read. I also liked the second book, though book the third bogged me down a little. I haven’t gotten the chance to read the fourth one, but I hope to soon!
4. The Red Queen
Summary: In Mare Barrow’s world, there are two kinds of people: those with red blood, who have no magic, and the magical silver-bloods, who oppressively rule over the red-bloods. When Mare publically discovers she possesses magic despite her red blood, she is forced to play the role of a long-lost silver-blood noble.
Review: The first time I tried to read this book, I didn’t really get into it, though I couldn’t figure out why. The second time, I couldn’t set it down. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time, wondering what would happen and who I could trust. It’s a thriller that will make your head spin.
5. A Thousand Splendid Suns
Summary: Mariam is an illegitimate child who is always treated like a burden. Laila is a beautiful young girl whose father is determined to get her through school. When war rages in their homeland of Afghanistan, jarring circumstances bring these women together, forcing them to set aside their differences and form the strongest of bonds.
Review: This book wins. It’s probably the BEST book I read all year, and definitely one of the best books I’ve ever read. Filled with shattering heartbreak, wartime horrors, and true unconditional love, Splendid Suns is a heartwarming story that will haunt me forever.
And last but not least, I remember reading some really awesome novels my creative writing classmates wrote this year! I can’t write about them all because it would take an entire second post, but they definitely deserve a shout-out.
Quick note: The books listed here have content that will upset some people. It’s too much to go into now, but just because I mention I like a book does not mean I morally agree with all of its content.