Reflecting on 2011 by Gabriella Yannotti

Change in life is natural; just as baby birds leave their nests, and caterpillars become butterflies, humans evolve. However, instead of marking our periods of change by the time spent in a cocoon, most opt to measure personal growth in years. And so, the approaching New Year has many students thinking about the changes they’d like to implement in their lives.

Whether we realize it or not, absolutely everyone changes over the span of one year. For example, whereas, at the start of 2011, I was a lowly 11th grader, I now stand at the top of the high school hierarchy, a proud senior. Over the course of the past year, I’ve gained about twelve months worth of experience and wisdom, some of which I wish I’d known at the start of 2011. While I can’t travel back in time and teach my past self the lessons I’ve learned, I can do the next best thing, and share this knowledge with the readers of The Blazer.

To those of you who need a little advice about life, or have yet to find the perfect New Year’s resolution; fear not. Hopefully you can learn from (or, at the very least, be amused by) my vast compilation of the learnings of a 17-year-old. And so, without further ado, I introduce to you My Top Five Absolutely Essential Lessons Learned in 2011.

 

Start Prepping for College.

    I know, I know. You hear this one all the time. Honestly, though, take it from someone who’s waist-deep in college applications, supplements, and SAT prep; Start early. Really early. Like, yesterday. At the very least, start looking into colleges you are interested in, and find out their SAT, G.P.A, and essay requirements.

Juniors, as much as you are consoled by the fact that SATs are about five months away, I guarantee that those will be the fastest five months of your life. You don’t want to end up far behind, and rushing your college supplements like a certain Editor-in-chief I know…

 

Don’t Procrastinate.

    Take it from me, the Queen of Procrastination; putting something off is never a good idea. As the year goes on, your workload will increase, and it will become more and more difficult to catch up on assignments. If you don’t already have one, you must go out and buy yourself a planner. Immediately. Right now. Keeping organized is key. Also, making lists has really helped me to manage my time. If I realize I’ve got a ton of homework to do, I make myself daily and weekly schedules, and prioritize assignments. Study now, relax later.

 

Learn to Laugh at Yourself.

    This past summer, I got my first big role in a community theater production of The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940. I thought I had my lines down pat, but, during one performance, my mind went totally blank mid-way through a line in Act II. Not too quick of a thinker, I stood there like an idiot, repeating, “He was buried in the… uh… um….”

After the longest, most awkward pause of my life, I remembered the other half of my line and ran off stage to change for my next scene. In the dressing room, I recounted every detail of my awful mess-up to my friend, who was helping me change my wig.

About 10 minutes later, the rest of the cast came barging into the room, informing me that I had left my mic on. And so, in case they had missed my blunder the first time, the entire audience heard me explain each excruciating detail of my momentary memory lapse. They also heard me complain about how my wig made me look like Justin Bieber.
The moral of this story is that, sometimes, you will mess up. You’ve got to learn to laugh at your mistakes and move on.

 

Trust Yourself

    I definitely wouldn’t say I’ve got a knack for baking, but it’s something I really do enjoy. And so, a couple of months ago, when I was craving lemon squares, I thought, “Hey, why not make some myself?” I invited my friend, Christine, over and we got straight to work. All was well until we began mixing ingredients for the crust.

    “We’ve done something wrong,” I announced, “Our mixture looks way too dry.”

    After a quick glance at the still-crumbly dough, Christine suggested we add a few cups of milk.

    When we were content with the crust’s texture, we spread it in a pan and stuck it in the oven. My kitchen timer dinged about twenty minutes later, and I ran excitedly back to the over to check on my desert. However, instead of the flaky, golden brown crust I’d expected, my dough resembled a lumpy, discolored block of cement. Far from appetizing.

    If I has stuck with my original mixture, and hadn’t second-guessed myself, the lemon squares would have turned out delicious. Instead, I wound up with an inedible brick that made my kitchen smell of burning plastic for hours.

 

Breathe

    Yes, each and every one of us was born with the instinctive ability to inhale and exhale, but far too many people forget to do it, myself included. School, your social life, and other shenanigans you crazy adolescents will get yourselves into, can be incredibly stressful. You’ve got to realize that you’ll be able to get through it. Sure, sometimes you’ll forget your gym pants, or bomb a quiz, or use the wrong internet translator and hand in a Spanish project written in French. It happens. You need to accept your failings and keep moving forward. As John Powell said, “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” So chill out, calm down, and breathe.

 

What other students have learned

    “Go to extra SAT help courses because they really help. After I went to one, my score  went up.” -Alyssa Longo, 12th grade.

 

    “I learned to respect deadlines, and that I have to be more serious in my classes. For example, in my global class I have to do all of my essays by the due date.” -Samantha Matos, 11th grade.

 

    “I learned to always be prepared for classes. I was behind in my classes for weeks, and [not being prepared] really affected my grades, but as soon as I got prepared my grades went up.” -Aliyah Cortez, 9th grade.

 

    “I learned to place my trust carefully. If I trust the wrong person with a secret, the secret always comes out.” -Ronald Baretela, 7th grade.

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