viva learn blog

Follow Your Dreams – Advice from a Grade 12 Student

By: Farheen, Viva Learn Content Contributor

follow your dreamsSo, a few months ago, I got a jarring and stinging slap to the face. It was a figurative one, but painful nonetheless. I was hit by the fact that I was in my last year of high school and university application season was coming up. The realization that I would soon have to assimilate myself into real life and make decisions that would impact my future as an adult was terrifying and overwhelming, and I felt like a chicken running around without a head.

Fortunately, I wasn’t the only one who was feeling this way; the rest of my friends were in the same predicament. For the first time in our lives, we were forced to consider the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” with some degree of seriousness.

This brings me to my best friend. Up to the point of a few months ago, as long as I’ve known her, she has wanted to be a veterinarian. It was the one thing she was absolutely set on, and to me that was enthralling and inspiring. So you can imagine my surprise when she came out to me and said that she was considering not going into that field anymore. Apparently, after combing through university programs and peering into the abyss of reality, she perceived that the path to a veterinary future was fraught by thorns of grueling years of study, expensive education and a pittance of an income in comparison to other fields. Knowing her as I do, I knew that it wasn’t the studying that was worrying her but the financial aspect and despite how reasonable her arguments against being a vet were, I also knew that deep down, her soul was rebelling against the thought of giving up on her dreams.

So, as any good friend, I looked her hard in the eye and shook her even harder. I reminded her that if she didn’t give it at least a shot, she would always be wondering “What if?” and nothing is worse for corroding the soul than the rust of regret.

Follow your dreams. Answer your calling. Just the idea of reality and taking responsibility for your choices is as petrifying as swallowing a frog whole. But that is even more reason to pursue whatever you love: we all need passion to guide us and lift us, through and above the scary obstacles of the world outside of desks, chairs, chalkboards and textbooks. Though I’ve only existed for seventeen years, I’ve found that usually when people strive hard enough for something, the Universe, as cruel as it may seem sometimes – complies with one’s efforts and can even take them to situations that turn out way better than ever imagined.

Remember, it’s worth it to chase after what you love.

study zone

Getting in the Study Zone

By: Farheen, Content Contributor

So, I don’t know about you, dear readers, but I had an extremely relaxing winter break. So relaxing in fact that the thought of going back to school last week was like acid melting my brain and a hot flame burning my soul. Dramatic as it might sound, it’s true. It’s difficult to get back in the school spirit and fall back into the rhythm of homework and projects, when you’ve spent two weeks lounging around in your pyjamas and staring at birds from the window as the only form of mental exercise.

Now getting back to school is bad enough just spending six hours within the confines of four walls and a few windows and listening to information that you can’t make sense of, but even worse is going back home with a huge stack of homework. Not to mention, I’m an optimist. I always make big plans of finishing all of my homework and going to bed on time – but when the couch looks so comfy and a new book is waiting for me and the pillows feel especially downy and my sweatpants have just the right amount of warmth, my plans vanish into smoke and before I know, it’s 7:00 pm and I’ve barely done any schoolwork.

Obviously, life cannot continue like this. So I devised a strategy to “get in the study zone” when doing homework. It’s not fool-proof and does require a degree of discipline but I hope it helps.

Getting in the Study Zone

First of all take a break after coming back from school. I give myself an hour, sometimes an hour and a half. Allow yourself to recuperate, rejuvenate and clear your brain.

Then get refreshed. Splash your face with water, comb out our hair, and put on some decent clothes as though you’re stepping out. But here’s the catch – you don’t actually go out. After getting ready, sit down at your desk, kitchen table, etc., and get that homework done!

I’ve found this technique puts me “in the zone” because I associate certain types of dress code with the different aspects of my lifestyle. Sweat pants, pyjamas and the ratty shirt with the stain on it is for home life and the clean jeans, fresh t-shirt and citrus lotion is for school and the outside world. I’ve observed that when I do homework in my home apparel I’m less inclined to work and more inclined to lounge. But when I put on the façade of “going out”- because I associate that attire with school, doing schoolwork, and being out in public, I’m more focused on my work and it gets done much faster. This is basically the “dress for success” ideal but for home.

I hope this technique works for you. And if not, try inventing one of your own, tailored to your way of thinking and lifestyle.

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Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

By: Farheen, Content Contributor

Ever feel like the rest of the world has got their life sorted out and has everything under control? Do you feel like you are the only one who is drifting and struggling to make things happen?

This kind of mindset is the worst, because nothing brings down self-esteem, ambition and determination more than thinking that you are not as accomplished, smart, sporty, stylish, or confident as your peers. On the bright side, this kind of mindset is exactly that – thoughts in your mind.

It can be difficult to see the big picture sometimes, but the fact of the matter is that nobody has a perfect life. Whether it’s visible or not, everybody is struggling with something and it may surprise you to know that even the people you measure yourself against the most, are also fighting to make things work out for themselves.

Furthermore, everybody lives in different circumstances – reasonably speaking, it is impossible to compare yourself to people who live through conditions different than your own. Those respective conditions are what allow for the development of certain skills as well as the revelation of certain deficiencies. What you may excel at, others may struggle through and vice versa; there are just too many variables to consider.

So what’s the use of comparison?  None at all if you are going to allow it to break you down and despise others for achieving, or being what you think you cannot be. But, as always, there is a positive aspect to this situation! Instead of using comparison as a one-way ticket to the pool of misery in which you frequently wallow, use it as a source of inspiration. Allow yourself to be inspired and motivated by the people whom you consider more accomplished or experienced than yourself; pursue them and their habits and try to learn from them to better yourself.

Life is a treasure trove of learning opportunity! There are only so many hours in a day, and I for one, am not content to spend a majority of them thinking that I am not intelligent enough, pretty enough, confident enough, ambitious enough to do what others around me are doing.

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