Reading Taught Me

I’ve been reading all my life, and I believe reading is something the world does not appreciate enough. In all my years, I’ve learned more about life from reading than from actually living. Here are 7 lessons I’ve learned over the years.

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1- Love is perhaps the most instrumental part in a well-lived life, regardless of what type of love it is. (From Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling)

2- Watch your words, because you never know what anyone else has going on, what pain they’re holding onto. (From 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher)

3- Things are tough all over. Everyone has something going on and whether or not their issues are bigger than yours does not determine the relevancy of your problems. (From The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton)

4- Sometimes the most important thing is taking care of yourself first, before anyone else. (From The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins)

5- Remember where you came from and how you got to where you are now. (From The Selection Series by Kiera Cass)

6- Each of us is gifted. Someone may be able to do the same thing as you, but nobody can do it the way you do it. (From Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan)

7- Being kind is more important than being right. (Wonder by R. J. Palacio)

Some people learn by doing. Others learn by watching others do. I learn by reading about others succeeding and failing.

Expectations

When I’m in class, my teachers talk to us about our futures and the opportunities we’ll have later on. They talk about moving on to university after graduation and then getting a job and raising a family. I realize they expect us to all follow the same worn-out path.But the truth is that not everyone graduates. Not everyone gets into university or finds a job afterwards. Not everyone follows the path, whether it’s by choice or fate.

The expectations everyone has for us are suffocating. We’re stressing ourselves out trying to fit the mold. We try our best to figure out how to balance what we want to do and what we’re told we should do in order to minimize disappointment.

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Other people’s expectations of us should not define our life decisions. We are the ones who have to live our lives. I, for one, am not interested in living a life that someone else chose for me.

I have a friend, the kind of person that can go really far in life. In reality, her plans do not at all correspond to the expectations that have been lain out for her. She’s expected to be a lawyer, or a politician, someone powerful. She wants to be a schoolteacher. She doesn’t mind that she’d be ‘giving up a whole lot of potential’ or ‘settling into a life where she could do better’. She is choosing to do what she wants to do, what she’s passionate about.

She risks disappointing a handful of people, and yet, she doesn’t care. Because she is the one who has to live her life, and she is the one who needs to be happy with her choices.

Expectations are the reason why we feel like we’ve failed if something doesn’t go our way. Expectations that other people have of us are the reason we’re stressed about making decisions and choosing our paths. We deserve to have control over our lives.
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Teenage Fatigue

Tomorrow morning, when my alarm blares at 7 AM, I will start contemplating whether or not exams really, honestly, truly matter. Is it worth missing the exam to get a bit more sleep? At 7 AM, my fatigued brain seems to think it is.

But later on, at around 10 pm, I’ll be wide awake! Why is that? How does that make sense? Simply put, I am a teenager.

See, teenage brains are built differently than adults’, or even children’s, brains.

As teenagers’ brains develop, our sleep-wake cycles change a little bit. We tend to fall asleep later and wake up later than any other age group. We also need, on average, around 8.5 to 9 hours of sleep at the minimum.

So because of our natural tendency to sleep later, we sleep later. But because of school, we wake up much earlier than we should be. Biological clocks, combined with extracurricular activities and busy homework schedules, some teens report getting as little as 5 hours of sleep a night.

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This lack of sleep leads to many, many problems such as impulse control or mental illness.

A human being’s frontal lobe, the part of the brain used for making decision, is only fully developed into their early to mid 20’s. This is why teens are impulsive by nature. Add to this a lack of sleep and a depressive episode and you get quite a scary situation.

Last year, my school decided to test this theory and changed our starting time to an hour later for about 3 weeks. Instead of starting at 7:30 AM, we started at 8:30 AM.

It was only an hour’s difference but it worked wonders for students. Everyone was in a better mood, we paid more attention in all our classes, we were more cooperative with the teachers. Best of all, by the end of the month, our grades had improved by at least 30%.

Aside from my observations, this phenomenon has been scientifically proven (University of Minnesota’s Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement). Teenagers function much better on later school start times and are able to perform better academically and in sports or extracurriculars.

Teenagers simply are not built to function so early in the morning. There are, of course, the exceptions. In general, we like our sleep and we’d appreciate getting as much of it as posssible.

If you have an idea for something you’d like me to write about, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below or shoot me an email! 
radeeyah.ebrahim@careerfear.org

Pollution

I have a teacher who prints A LOT of booklets and worksheets for our class, and he never prints them double sided! It drives me crazy. The amount of trees that are cut down every year just so that we can have and waste paper is unimaginable.

Everyone, as residents of this planet, should care about the effects of our lifestyles on the environment. But should teenagers, as the future of this planet, care the most?

If we don’t start caring, start doing something, then very soon there won’t be an earth for us to be the future of.

Some of the world’s most beautiful animals are dying as a direct result of climate change. If we continue at this rate, millions of species will not exist anymore. Generations to come won’t know about pandas, or polar bears, or snow leopards.

Deforestation is affecting the world’s favourite plant: coffee. Rising temperatures and decreased rainfall results in more pests and reduced harvests, as noticed by coffee farmers.

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Every year, I notice the effect of climate change in the air around me. Our summers last longer and are much hotter. Our winters have a lot more rain and are colder than ever. It’s been theorised that by the year 2050, parts of the Middle East and North Africa will be uninhabitable.

Clean water and air is essential to life. Right now, India is being blanketed in clouds of smog that are causing illnesses and reducing visibility. Experts say the smog will only get worse as temperatures decrease and is a result of pollution in the country. Factories all over the world pump harmful waste into rivers and streams that are sources of drinking water for humans, animals, and plants.

Pollution causes a host of diseases, most recognisably cancer. A lot of the pollutants in our water and air are known carcinogens. Their effects may not be seen now, but they will be much later on, maybe in your kids and grandkids.

If we really want somewhere to start our own lives and raise our children, we need to start caring. We need to start lessening the amount of waste we produce and reducing our carbon footprints. We need to make a change.