Universal Truths of English

Seven days. That’s the number of school days left until summer break. As much as I can’t wait to smell and taste that summer vacation, I will admit that I will miss my AP English class with Mr. Ziebarth. For the past 173 days in English class, I have learned an abundance of information regarding rhetoric, analysis, and the English language in general. From all my newly learned knowledge, I have made a list of main ideas that I learned this year.

1) Everything is an argument, so fight for what you believe in. 

Mr. Z probably said “Everything is an argument.” about 200 times this year, and when I first heard it, I laughed. C’mon Mr. Z, not everything is an argument. If I took out a bag of chips and ate them, that wasn’t an argument of any sort, that was simply me easing my hunger. But that’s just it. I was arguing against my hunger. I was countering it by eating. When writing papers, everything you say is an argument. If you state that the media negatively affects the body types of women, you are arguing against the media. So if everything is an argument anyway, fight for what you believe in. Write about what you thinks needs changing. The more you care about a topic and the more passionate you are about fighting for it, the better your writing is. I found that in each assignment I had to do, if I related it back to something I had strong views about or cared about, my work was better.

2) Write with no limits. 

Often in class, Mr. Z had us to zero drafts, in which we had seven minutes to write about whatever we wanted without editing. Each time we wrote one, Mr. Z had a prompt that we could follow, but we weren’t necessarily bound to it. Zero draft was a time to let your mind free. You could write whatever came to mind in that moment. You make think, what is the point of spending seven minutes free-writing? Well believe it or not, zero drafting was very liberating. Often when instructed to write, you are given a prompt that you must stick with, but with zero draft, you were free to let your thoughts out. By “killing the editor” and not fixing any mistakes, you are able to put your thoughts on paper, which is hard to do when you think about how you want to articulate it too hard. By jotting down whatever comes to mind, the writing process is much easier and gives you a chance to write how you really feel about a topic.

3) Life is a learning process. 

This last tip is more of a life lesson than anything. English class was filled with projects, discussions, and teamwork. No matter what we did, we learned from it one way or another. If we made mistakes in our essays or presentations, we learned what to do to improve. If we rocked a discussion, we learned how to do things correctly. Even Mr. Z learned with us through the year. Take everything as a lesson and learn for it. There’s always room for improvement. Learn that you will not always be right and accept it. Let other people help you when you need it, and don’t be afraid to ask. No one is perfect and knows all the answers, so don’t be ashamed to ask for help. Lastly, you can make any experience a good one if you have a positive attitude. Writing essays isn’t the greatest, but if you learn to make the best of it, I guarantee that writing won’t be so bad.

I thoroughly enjoyed AP English 3 with Mr. Ziebarth. Not only did I learn many useful tools for my future, but I also was able to enjoy the material rather than simply worry about my grade all year. In this class, I learned to learn and I think that’s the best type of learning. These days, many students learn to get the grade. The learn so that they can get into a good college. They don’t care about what they are actually learning, as long as they get the answers on the test right, they are happy. That’s not learning. That’s the art of getting by. I’m not looking to get by high school, I’m here to absorb knowledge and learn the material because I am interested in it.

So thank you Mr. Ziebarth, for an incredible year and thank you for teaching me that life will always go on and you will prevail, even if you don’t have thumbs.

-Kim

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Just Be Yourself

I recently started reading Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger and was immediately intrigued by the sassy attitude of the main character, Holden Caulfield. Holden is getting kicked out of his fourth private high school and has a particular “I really don’t care what you think about me because you are fake” type of attitude. While many people reading the novel will see him as snarky and rude, but I find myself identifying with him.

High school is a place to really find your passions and who you are, so why should you pretend to be someone you aren’t? Does fitting in really mean that much? I think finding friends who accept you for who you are is more important because 30 years from now, I don’t think you will be remembering how good it was to go along with the supposedly in crowd and hide who you truly are.

Holden doesn’t believe in “phonies” and berates them for being someone they aren’t, and on some level he’s right. You shouldn’t have to pretend to like something because everyone does nor should you have to act a certain way to be considered worthy of friendship. True friends will accept you for you, and if they don’t, they aren’t true friends.

Why would want to be ordinary, when you can be yourself and be extraordinary?

Life is too short to pretend to be someone you aren’t. Embrace yourself and be the person you want to be.

-Kim

So Close, Yet So Far

41. That is the number of days left of the school year, including weekends. Now, as a junior, I am ECSTATIC that this gruesome and tiring school year is slowly coming to an end.  But you see, it’s not that easy- this is the last stretch, the final sprint, the full-speed-ahead part of the race. That means I’ve got to work the hardest I’ve ever worked, even with upcoming AP tests.

I can guarantee that not giving up and working hard will be a struggle- then again when isn’t it? At this point of the school everything in me screams to stop worrying about school and just relax. It seems like all I want to do is sleep, eat, and watch new episodes of  Modern Family, but unfortunately I know I can’t.

So just how do I plan on sprinting towards the end of the school year? Well, by working my butt off and doing whatever necessary to complete this junior year. I strive to do the absolute best I can and to stay positive about school. It’s not always easy, but by staying positive, school will seem at least a little better than if you were to constantly think about school in a negative light.

I encourage all of you to push on and finish the school year strong. When you think about giving up, know that by working hard know, the end result will be so much sweeter and you will be so proud of yourself for getting through any challenge you may have had . Just believe that you can do it, no matter what and as the Joads would say faith overcomes all. You got this!

So here’s to AP tests and finishing the year with all you got!

-Kim

Some Sacrifices Are Worth It

If there was a dire emergency and my family was clearly in danger’s way, I would do whatever I could to ensure their safety, even if it meant putting myself in danger. If there was only enough ice cream for one person left in the box, I would give it to my brother. Some sacrifices are easy to make when you truly love the person or people you are making them for. Even though the sacrifices you make for your loved ones may not always benefit yourself, you still make them because you would rather have the short end of the stick than your loved ones.

That is exactly how I think Ma Joad felt when she told everyone to pack up their things from the Weedpatch government camp and move to a less accommodating housing area in order for the family to get work.  Although she was the one to make the family move, I think leaving the government camp really pained Ma. This camp was the first place since their journey west that was like some sort of home to Ma; It was the only thing that hasn’t disappointed her in California. Despite the luxuries that the camp offered, Ma knew they had to leave to find work elsewhere. As much as it pained her to do so, she forced the family to move out because it was for their own good.

For the love of a family member, sacrifices are made all the time, just like in the Disney classic, Little Mermaid. King Triton sacrifices his power as ruler in order to save his beloved daughter, Ariel from being harmed by the evil Ursula. He is willing to give up being king of the ocean in order for his daughter to survive. A huge a heavily weighted sacrifice, but I’m sure it wasn’t a very hard decision.

Walt-Disney-Books-Ursula-King-Triton-walt-disney-characters-34296593-2936-2357Some sacrifices are worth it because you are doing it for those you love. For your love and compassion for the person overrides your fear. I think that is one of the most beautiful things about society. You could be faced with you difficult choices, but when you chose to sacrifice for those you love, you are demonstrating true love.

-Kim

Live Up To Your Own Expectations

Expectations. We’ve all had experience with them. Whether they were set for us, or we made for them for other people, everyone knows a little something about expectations. They can make or break us, literally. Sometimes when expectations are set, we push ourselves to reach them and thus are successful, but when some expectations are too high, disappointment is usually the main result.

Being a junior in high school with very involved parents, I have had first had experience with expectations. Of course every parent has expectations for their child- have manners, be kind, get good grades, make a difference- but to be completely and utterly honest, there are many times when I feel like the expectations that my parents have for me are the reason of my unhappiness. I spend so much time trying to live up to what they want, that I don’t do what I want- what makes me happy. There is no doubt that they only want what is best for me, but at the end of the day to truly be happy, the only expectations I need to live up to are my own.

Recently in English class, in preparation for the upcoming AP exam, we read an essay prompt that was a father’s letter to his son. In this letter, the father (Lord Chesterfield) writes about how important reputation and knowledge are. He expects his son to be the best of the best because his son reflects his parents.

While reading through this letter filled with expectations, I couldn’t help but think about a recent event that occurred that dealt with expectations in my own life.

 

The March SAT scores were recently released and well, to be frank, I didn’t do as well as I- or my parents- anticipated. My score dropped by 70 points from the last time I took the test and I was quite disappointed in myself. However, my parents’ disappointment was much more than mine. After crying through a gruesome lecture about how much better I could have done and what I should have done instead of apparently “wasting my time on frivolous things”, I laid in bed reflecting on these expectations my parents held for me.

In some weird way, my expectations encompass my parents’ expectations for me. They want me to be successful in any and every manner, and as do I. However, I also want to show them that I am capable of the things they tell me I’m not good enough for. I want to say “Remember when you lectured me about not doing something good enough? Well look what I can do now.” I want to prove that I am good enough to surpass their expectations. But other times I want to prove that I don’t have to live up to their expectations to be happy or successful. The bottom line is that: it’s all up to me.

How hard I want to work for something, how hard I want to push myself, that’s up to me. The only way I can be happy with my results is if I work for myself and myself only. I have to work to make me happy.

Go out and make your own expectations. Ones that you will be proud to reach. Ones that will show the world how good you are. It’s your life, so live it well.

-Kim

You Are Never Alone

Even on your worst day, even when you feel like everything is falling apart, and even when you feel like nothing is going your way, know that you are not alone. There are millions of people out there that are going through something similar; we are a lot more alike than we think.

We all share similar struggles, sure every battle is unique to the person, but we can relate. No one’s life is perfect, no matter how hard they try. Bumps along the road are inevitable. But as you get over those bumps, there are people right along side you.

In Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, the Joad family is kicked off there farm that they have had for generations and are forced to take a long journey to California in hopes that life will be better over there. On this long and difficult journey, they are not alone however. They have company from the Wilson family and meet new people at every rest stop. The truly beautiful thing is that all these struggling families worked together to help the other family as best they could. “Twenty families became one family, the children were children of all. The loss of home became one loss, and the golden time in the West was one dream.” They faced their struggles together, and were able to overcome them as one.

Whenever you feel alone, remember that no matter what you are going through, someone out there is going through the same thing. You are never alone. Don’t give up.

-Kim

Your Journey Will Be Worth It

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Life is like a journey. You have to work towards your dreams and aspirations. You have to persevere, no matter who tough it gets. There will be bumps along the way, but once you reach what you that goal, all your hard work pays off because quite frankly, you have made it. You have completed yet another journey in your life.

I think that is what kept Tom Joad, from The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, going. After being released on parole from prison, Tom embarks on this journey to find his way home. It’s a tough and long voyage- filled with hitch- hiking and strange conversations with a pastor he used to know- but nothing stops him as he strives to get home to his family. Things don’t go according to plan when he finally arrives home, to find his house empty and broken down. A familiar local tells Tom and the pastor, Jim Casey, about how his family had moved to his Uncle John’s house- which was eight miles away- because they had been chased off their land by money hungry banks. Now if you think that another eight miles will stop Tom from reuniting with his parents, than you are dead wrong. He spends the next day continuing his journey home until he finally saw the “house, a square box, unpainted and bare, and the barn, low-roofed, and huddled” from afar. The looks on his parents faces was the moment his hard work to get home paid off, I’m sure.

As I read through the chapters of Tom’s expedition and reunion, I couldn’t help but think about Finding Nemo and how the moment that Nemo’s father found him was probably a lot like Tom’s reunion with his family: emotional and filled with joy. It didn’t matter that he had to encounter sharks, or that he almost died in the process the only thing that matters was the Nemo was back in his arms. Of course this example may be a bit cheesy, but think about it.

How many times in your life has your end result justified what you had to go through? My guess would be many times. Giving up may seem like such a good option at times, but trust me, if you keep trying and work through your battles, you will make it and your journey will be worth it.

You don’t even have to be working towards something, but merely working to survive and make it through. Living another day is an accomplishment to me. I guarantee you that your journey will be worth it because you are worth it.

-Kim