10 Stories of 2017

Hey guys!

Yes, contrary to popular belief, I am still alive and well aware of the fact that I have not written a blog post in literally forever.

As always, it was not my intention to go MIA, and the only excuse I have is that my time management skills are not a thing that got better during 2017, but I will make sure that I work on that next year.

smh gif 2.0

…wait a minute…


*frantic whisper* next year is tomorrow!!!

Just kidding, I TOTALLY realized that.

This year, I made more of an effort to follow through on my resolutions, and I have a story regarding each one.

So, here are my 10 Stories of 2017.

1. Be More Positive

Maintaining a positive attitude is something I’ve always struggled with and I really wanted to be better at it throughout 2017 because during 2016, I’d noticed that when I had a positive outlook on something rather than a negative one, it would have a better outcome and even if it didn’t, I still felt good about it overall. And so, I dove headfirst into 2017 with a positive mindset and a determination like no other. And it payed off.

nothing changes until you change

At every audition this year, I walked into that room telling myself I was going to do great and I walked out promising myself I did great. And regardless of how good or bad I did, whether or not I got the role, and how prepared or unprepared I was for the audition, I felt pretty darn awesome about it. I performed in our spring play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and was even cast in two other shows this year (our One Act, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, which received straight superiors at districts and will be moving on to state level competition, and our upcoming spring musical, The Addams Family) and I was able to enroll in the competitive acting class.the addams family

My positive attitude wasn’t just confined to the wonderful world of theatre, it branched on into my grades and exams back in April and May, and I’m proud to say that I passed my AP World History exam!

2017 taught me that walking into an exam or an audition or even just a regular day with a positive attitude and willingness to make it a good experience will always have a good result.

2. Take Care of Myself (Physically and Mentally)

Funny story… I totally ignored this resolution (at least, the physical care) at the beginning of the year. Then, over spring break, I wound up in the hospital for this really weird pain I was having. It wasn’t anything important, but thinking about what it could’ve been prompted me to try and take better care of myself (aka, actually taking my vitamins and such), and I did for a couple of weeks, but once the pain had gone, I started to lack on the simple everyday preventative care measures I should’ve been taking.

I didn’t think about how my everyday diet could be affecting me and I went back to my normal schedule which consisted of no breakfast, little to no lunch some days, snacking when I got home from school, and dinner.

fall in love with taking care of yourself

Then, of course, the pain returned in August just after school had started back up. I visited the hospital yet again to find out that it was, yet again, nothing important, but that not eating enough and not consistently taking my supplements may be affecting me.

I’m thankful to have had my mother force me to start thinking about my health (and also force me to start exercising regularly) when I was too blind to start doing something about it myself. It sucks to say that I didn’t take the bull by the horns and tackle this resolution without help, but I’m glad to say that for the past few months I’ve been on top of things and I’ve never felt better!

3. Practice what I Preach

This is something that’s a lot easier said than done and I’ve been working at it for a while now. I think that over time, I’ve learned to not give advice that I am unable to take myself. My biggest word of advice this year has been to always keep it real and to be authentic, which are two things I definitely consider myself to be. I’ve had no trouble practicing what I preach in that regard, however, I have in other areas.sometiems the advice you tell other people is the advice you need to follow

Something I’ve been saying all throughout 2017 is that I need to be present. What I mean by that is taking the time to look at today and not worry about what happened yesterday or what’s going to happen tomorrow and just focusing on the moment. Yeah, NOPE, lol! Being in high school consists of a lot of stress and stress sometimes means dwelling on the midterm you took the other day or anticipating the test you have tomorrow and so on and so forth.

And of course, I always say that it’s good to take a break from technology and not be immersed in the land of the cellular for too many hours a day, but let’s be real, I’m pretty darn obsessed with my device and social networks.

Practicing what I preach is something that I have the full potential to do, I just need to follow through on it.

time is what we want most but what we use worst4. Have Better Time Management

Ha. Haha. HA.

As I mentioned earlier, time management was not a thing that got better in 2017. If anything, it got worse. I developed a very lazy mindset this year, and I’m not too certain why that is, but I found myself waiting until the last minute to do things rather than completing them early as I’d done last year. I was lazy when it came to school and extremely lazy when it came to keeping up with this blog. While that is also due to lack of inspiration and motivation, I didn’t even make an effort to try, and that is completely inexcusable.

Towards the end of the year (November into December), I started to get better at being on track with my homework, but managing my time to make sure I can get everything I need to get done and still keep up with the blog as well as take time for myself is something that needs tremendous work.

5. Be a Better Friendtrue friendship

Throughout 2017, I’ve gained as well as lost many friends. Some I lost because the friendship just wasn’t working, and some because I made the decision to not have them be a part of my life. I made these types of decisions so that I could be a better friend to the friends I consider close.

Over time, I’ve learned that it is extremely difficult and quite near impossible to be a good friend when you are holding on to those that aren’t adding to your life. This year, I’ve been a better friend to my good friends by choosing to only have the friends that accept me for me, add to my life, and are good friends in return. And whether or not those friends are in the same state, or even the same country, doesn’t matter. They’re still the best friends I could ask for.

The friends I have are such amazing people and I strive to be a better friend to them every day. I couldn’t ask for a more perfect bunch. ❤

6. Be Self Confident Always

love yo selfSelf confidence is something that has been such a roller coaster this year. I’ve learned that being confident doesn’t just mean liking the way you look, but also loving your flaws and personality (even the embarrassing parts) with all your heart. I also learned that if you don’t love yourself, it’s hard to love someone else. And surprisingly, learning that lesson really helped me to be fully happy with myself. Here’s my experience.

Earlier this year, there was this guy that I really liked. Let’s call him Jeremy. Jeremy and I were already pretty good friends, and it didn’t take long for our friendship to take a different turn. We talked for a few months and I was certain that my feelings for him were strong and that he felt the same way I did. Eventually, he asked me to go on a date with him. Now, I’m not allowed to date, and so I had to ask (or beg) my mom for permission to go on this date. While she was open to the idea, she also tried really hard to bring something to my attention. I wasn’t 100% happy with myself and who I was. I was really confident in how I looked at that particular time, but I was still struggling with loving certain things about myself.

I, of course, as teenagers typically do, chose to ignore what my mom was saying. I thought I was happy with myself. I thought I was ready to go on this date. My mom thought not. And so, I didn’t get permission to go on this date for maybe a month. By that time, Jeremy had realized that he didn’t want to go on a date with me and that maybe he didn’t have feelings for me after all. Which, of course, hurt. worry about loving yourself

Here’s the thing: Jeremy was one of the reasons I felt confident with myself. I mean, someone liked me! I had to be pretty, didn’t I? I had to have a good personality, didn’t I? But no. I had it all wrong. I was pretty. I am pretty. I do have a good personality. I’ve got plenty of flaws too, but heck, those are pretty great as well! And it shouldn’t have mattered what Jeremy or anyone else thought. And it’s not at all Jeremy’s fault that I was so hurt. I know he didn’t mean to hurt me as much as I ended up being hurt, and I’m glad he decided to walk away as soon as he realized how he really felt. I should’ve loved myself before trying to allow someone into my life. Now, today, I can honestly and completely say that I am 100% happy with myself the way I am, flaws and all.

7. Have Better Focus

i don't have a short attention span, I just...Focusing is something that definitely needs work. I have a horrible habit for zoning out… a lot. For example, it’s taken my maybe 4 hours to write this blog post (which, really, was an hour long task) and I’ve taken maybe 50 breaks.

I have such a short attention span, and that’s a HUGE issue, especially for someone with so much going on. And while it’s gotten better, it still has a long way to go before I can say that I have decent focus. And so, the journey with focus continues on into the new year.

8. Communicate My Feelings

Feelings are so complicated, but I’ve learned that they’re more complicated if no one knows what you’re feeling. Humans aren’t mind readers, and it isn’t anyone’s job to pay super close attention to you and decode your mood for the day.

I think that, for the most part, I’ve done a good job with communicating whether or not I’m in a good mood throughout 2017. I can always get better at it, and I definitely still have days where I’m petty and don’t give my family or close friends a warning. Granted, they may not always care, but speaking from experience, they’d rather receive a head’s up than an unnecessary outburst because they said something that triggered my already bad mood.

9. Finish my Book

Ah, yes. The book. While I (yet again) did not complete the book I’ve been trying to write forever, I did write a play. I had a lot of fun writing the play and I’m really glad that I took the time to do it. I plan to add on to it and edit sometime soon. Going back to my 2016 reflection, writing the book this year was just not meant to be. I have faith that when it is time for the book to be written, I will have the inspiration and motivation to do so. Maybe that time will be in 2018, who knows?

10. Motivate Myself to Do My Best

I have to say that I’ve landed at 50/50 on this one. There have been plenty of days that I’ve felt motivated and I’ve done my best, and there have been tons of days that I haven’t. I think the blog is a huge example of not being motivated to do my best. Just like focus, this is one I’m gonna have to take into 2018 with me.2018

Reflecting on 2017 as a whole, it was an amazing year. I think I fell into tune with myself this year and that has helped me accomplish so much. I do, however, have a bunch to accomplish in 2018. My resolutions and goals for the new year are as follows…

  1. Manage my time (get done what needs to get done and still have time for myself)
  2. Focus (a blog post shouldn’t take 4 hours and an essay shouldn’t take 3 days)
  3. Be present (really think about the moment I’m in and thrive in it)
  4. Maintain my self confidence (I built it up, now it needs to stay up there)
  5. Set goals and follow through (this goes with practicing what I preach)

What are your goals for the new year? Are they the same as your goals for 2017? Are they different? Let’s talk about them in the comments below!

Happy New Year Everyone!

Until next time,

~ Rina Raj

10 Lessons I Learned My Sophomore Year

goodbye may hello juneHi guys! Happy almost June!

Wow… I cannot believe that I have officially finished my sophomore year in high school. It is so unreal!

A year ago, I wrote a post titled 10 Lessons I Learned My Freshman Year and a lot of my readers found it very helpful.

This year I’ve experienced many realizations, as well as been through a TON, so I feel this post will be super beneficial for anyone entering into their sophomore year or even high school in general. 🙂

#1: Positivity is Keypositive vs negative

When I started this school year, I was extremely motivated to get good grades and do my best. As a result of having such a positive attitude, I made it through the first quarter with A’s and B’s (including my AP class!!).

However during the second quarter, negativity came into play. I lost some motivation and began to cease trying my hardest to get good grades. As a result, a C (or two) made its way onto my report card.

Third quarter, I came back strong (new year, new me LOL) making it through with all A’s and B’s. This led into fourth quarter where I had a month that did not go well but as a result of my positive mindset and motivation to pass my classes, ended the year with all A’s and B’s.

The moral of the story is that having a positive mindset will play a positive role. Essentially, positivity is the key to doing great things. 🙂

so much to do so little time#2: The clock will keep ticking

Time is elusive. In high school, there never seems to be enough. This school year, I have spent more time on homework than anything else and I definitely did not spend enough time on myself.

Some days I’d sit down to do homework around 3 pm in an effort to get to bed early. I’d end up not finishing the same assignment until midnight. Usually what ended up happening was that I’d zone out, take too many breaks, or spend a minute too long texting a friend back.

What I failed to realize is that time doesn’t stop for me when I take breaks. The clock keeps ticking whether I make productive use of that time or not.

I learned that time management is crucial in high school (and life in general). In order to juggle the many tasks on my plate next school year, I have to manage my time accordingly. As long as I make good use of those hours in a day, it’ll be rewarding.

#3: “Never give up! Great things take time.”

A Midsummer Night’s Dream. International Thespian Honor Society.  Advanced Chorus. Director of Publicity. Picasso at the Lapin Agile.

Exactly a year ago, I auditioned for a show entitled The Mystery of Edwin Drood and I was not casted. As I shared in one of my previous blog post, 10 Lessons I Learned My Freshman Year, I was disappointed about not getting into the show. However, I accepted the fact that I had lots of work to do to become a better actress. There were many areas I needed to improve. I had decided I needed to be more involved in theatre therefore, I had joined the set crew for that show.

Our spring play was Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and I was determined to get a part. A lot of people told me I wouldn’t get in and that I wasn’t good enough. Regardless of those voices, I didn’t give up. I received excessive help from a close friend who is EXTREMELY talented and I kept practicing the script in preparation for my audition. As a result, I was casted as Mote (Mote is a member of the fairy queen’s court in the play).picasso at the lapin agile

Due to my participation in these shows, whether it was behind the scenes or on stage, I was able to gather enough points to be inducted into the International Thespian Honor Society. Thanks to Thespians, I was able to audition for the one act we plan to take to competition. Once again, despite the negative voices, I remained blissfully ignorant moving forward with my audition. I am proud to announce that I will be portraying the female lead, Germaine, in Picasso at the Lapin Agile.

Aside from theatre, I also built up confidence in chorus throughout the year and was pleasantly surprised when my teacher decided to put me into the most advanced choir class for my junior year. She also entrusted me with the position of Director of Publicity, a leadership position I am honored to have.

Words cannot describe how thankful I am for these opportunities and the chance to shine onstage. The moral of the story is that if you keep trying, great things will happen. To key is to keep working hard and never give up 🙂

what you want won't always come easy, but if you work hard and don't give up you will get there#4: Don’t take the easy way out

In high school, it is super difficult to make decisions about homework.  For example, copying homework answers from other students.

However, taking the easy way out won’t challenge you. If you don’t understand the material that you are supposed to be learning, you won’t retain the information. Trust me, I know. 😉

What I’ve learned is that doing the assignments myself helps me retain the information better, where as copying answers down from someone else simply helps me to get credit. There are no shortcuts, especially when it comes to truly learning.

#5: Sleep is kind of importantbeing a sleepy girl with a busy life is hard

I know. Sleep? In high school? Funnyyyyyy…

I have been everything but well rested this school year. I kept telling myself that it was either good grades or sleep but what I’ve learned is that it is nearly impossible to keep good grades the whole year without getting enough sleep.

It’s super difficult to function off little sleep when in a classroom setting. Unfortunately I did not retain much information on the days I was sleep deprived.

So remember that old saying? Sleep is for the weak?

Incorrect. Sleep is very important when it comes to high school. Or life in general.  In other words, make time for it because your body needs the rest so that you can function optimally during the school year.

you don't equal your gpa#6: Your test scores don’t define you

You are not the C on your report card. You are not the 2 you scored on the FSA. You are not the AP exam that didn’t go well. These things do not define you. You will do well on some tests and poorly on others. And that is okay.

I’m not saying to completely neglect your grades. I’m saying you should always remember that you are much more than your test scores. Forgive yourself, make improvements and move forward. 🙂

#7: Appreciate the little thingsthe little things the little moments they aren't little

In life, we often focus on the larger things that go wrong and fail to see the smaller things that go right.

This school year, I’ve received some unexpected hate from several individuals. This resulted in my focusing on the larger ‘negative things’ versus the smaller ‘positive things’ that truly mattered. The amount of people who tell me I’m amazing everyday is insane and I could not be more appreciative of the compliments that follow me everywhere I go.

I have learned to focus on these little things that matter. Focus on the people who matter, those who uplift you, motivate you and inspire you.

Which brings me to…

#8: Some people care, some people don’t

its the people that you least expect that help you the mostI made some new friends this year. These are people that I thought I would never, ever become close with or speak to outside of class.

When I was going through some tough times, the people I expected to be there for me weren’t, and the people I least expected to be there for me were for example, the new friends I had made.

The lesson learned is that there will always be someone there to care for you – or to be there for you. Focus on the friends who choose to be there for you. Those are the ones who are worth your time and energy.

#9: The less time you spend on something, the faster you can move onthe sooner you realize its never going to go back to the way it was the sooner you will move on

A really important thing that I’ve learned this year is that the more time I spend complaining about a situation or letting it affect me, the longer it holds me hostage and keeps me upset.

Here’s what I’ve done to cope. Whenever I am upset about something, I give myself 24 hours to talk about it, cry about it, and be mad about it. After that time passes, I let it go. I refrain from talking about it again unless it is absolutely necessary.

Drama costs time and energy and I’d rather use that time and energy towards something more productive in my life. I could be doing something fun with that time instead. Therefore, the faster I choose to cope with it and let it go, the more time I have for other wonderful things that awaits me. 🙂

life moves pretty fast if you don't stop and look around once in a while you could miss it#10: The future is scary, so focus on the present

As my sophomore year was nearing its end, I realized that college was becoming more and more real by the minute. I started to feel worried about my junior year, senior year, college, getting a job, living on my own amongst other things.

All of these thoughts are super scary.

But here’s the catch: These thoughts pertains to things that are in the future. I’ve spent so much time worrying about things that won’t be happening anytime soon that I’ve failed to be present and live in the moment.

While it’s important to plan for the future, it is very important to focus on what’s happening today. What I choose to do today is what’s going to define my future.
a summary of high school

I hope these lessons are helpful to you. I hope they bring much value to you as they have to me.

What are some lessons you have personally learned this past school year? I’d love to hear about it. Share some of your stories and comments below, and let’s discuss 🙂

Until next time,

~ Rina Raj

“Self confidence is the best outfit…”

hello aprilHey guys! Happy April 🙂

This past month has consisted of reading about a guy stuck on a lifeboat with a tiger (the book is called Life of Pi, or should I say, Life of Die… *ba dum tss*), performing at MPA for chorus (and receiving a superior rating!!!), lots of writing (this book isn’t going to finish itself), spring break, meeting Lilly Singh aka Superwoman (AHHH!), performing in my first ever theatre production, getting inducted into Thespians (basically, the honor society for theatre… aka the dark side) and struggling with my self confidence.

Yes. Confidence. IMG_6656

The thing every girl thinks she has until…

You aren’t pretty.”

You need to put some makeup on.

She’s hotter than you.”

No one wants to date you.”

Lose some weight.”

I’m prettier than you are.

You aren’t good enough.

haters gonna hate potatoes gonna potateI know. It seems unreal that girls still get put down like that, but it happens. And from personal experience, allow me to say that it truly does suck.

All throughout freshman year, I struggled tremendously with self love. I didn’t feel comfortable going to school without contacts and eyeliner on, and “pretty” wasn’t a thing I considered myself to be.

Going into sophomore year, I was determined to love myself more and be confident in how I looked, regardless of what I was wearing.

I made a conscious effort to look in the mirror everyday and learned to love what I saw, whether it be a really tired Rina with glasses on, or a Rina with some really nice eyeshadow and a smile. Would you believe it worked?! I was happy with myself and I felt good starting my days.

But of course, this didn’t last for long.theres no need to be perfect to inspire others let others get inspired by how you deal with your imperfections

About a month ago, someone at school called me ugly and told me I was “the most unwanted girl on the planet”. And I hate to admit it, but I let this person’s comment affect the confidence I had built up.

I no longer felt good about myself.

When I looked in the mirror, I detested what I saw and I desperately wanted to change my appearance. After months and months of telling myself I was beautiful and strengthening my self love, I didn’t think I was good enough.

My negative mindset tore me down and caused me to become super insecure. This led up to a really rough night I experienced just a couple weeks ago.

I was feeling especially horrible about myself and when a certain someone made a comment about how my achievement wasn’t a real achievement, I was pushed over the edge. In the moment, I felt like no one cared about me and I could not stop crying. I started wishing that I was better looking, more talented and anything but myself.

I was upset because certain people didn’t like me, but I was oblivious to all of the people who do.

we get so worried about being pretty lets be pretty kind pretty funny pretty smart pretty strongThat night, I vented to three close friends about how I was feeling, and each of them comforted me the best they could. I’d like to share a bit of what they said to me.

Friend #1:Rina, you’re very strong and level headed. Even though I haven’t known you for long, you’re one of the greatest friends I’ve had and you really understand me. You’re the friend that I needed at this point in time and you have no reason to be insecure when you’re such a great person. And if other people can’t see that, so what? To be honest, the only opinion that matters about you is your opinion.

Friend #2:Rina, it’s okay. You’re self confidence does not need to be affected by anyone, alright? You are such a great person and you have me to support you and you have [Friend #1] to support you and you have your other friends to support you. You are good enough, I promise, and there are people who see that and people who don’t. You don’t deserve to feel this way. Thank you so much for your friendship and for being a part of my life. You are good enough, and it doesn’t matter if other people don’t see that, because I do. And so should you.its nice to be told

Friend #3:First off, you’re gorgeous. Second, why does it matter? You are so strong and always such a positive person, and there is no way that one stupid comment should ruin all of that for you. There are so many people who look up to you and who want to be as inspiring as you are. Sure, pretty is great, but it is in no way as important as being the amazing friend that you are.

its not your job to like me its mineMy friends brought a lot of things to light for me. Why wasn’t I paying attention to my opinion of myself instead of focusing on everyone else’s? Why couldn’t I see that I was good enough? And why did it matter that not everyone found me “pretty” when there are more important things than appearance?

The answer is simple: I hadn’t learned how to love all of my flaws.courage is accepting that you're full of flaws and learning to love each and every one of them

When mastering my self confidence earlier this year, I’d focused on loving the physical aspects of myself, but not my personality.

There, mis amigos, is the issue. I’d claimed to love myself, but I didn’t. And because I didn’t love myself, the fact that others didn’t love me was an issue.

This is something common with almost every teenage girl nowadays. We are so caught up in our looks and what others think of our physical appearance that we forget beauty isn’t just about how pretty we are. We are so caught up in making sure others like us that we forget to like ourselves.beauty isn't about having a pretty face it is about having a pretty mind a pretty hears and most importantly a pretty soul

The day you are able to see your flaws and love them is the day that you will truly be happy with who you are.

Recently, I’ve noticed that as I grow to love different aspects of myself, certain people don’t like me anymore. That’s going to happen. But the day I learn to love myself fully is the day the right people will love me. I’m going to be judged no matter what I look like and what my beliefs are, but I won’t be loved by the right people until I’ve learned to be myself and love who I am.there is nothing more rare nor more beautiful than a woman being unapologetically herself comfortable in her perfect imperfection to me that is the true essence of beauty

In other words, if someone doesn’t like you for who you are, then they aren’t someone you need in your life. When you are yourself, the right people will like you.

Be yourself. Be confident. Love your flaws.

Your flaws make you who you are.

And you are beautiful.

Until next time,

~ Rina Raj

When You Finally Finish Your HW at 3am… :/

hello-marchHi guys! It’s already March, can you believe it? 🙂

I’m super excited for the rest of this month. 🙂 My grades are good, I just turned 16 (AHHH), and I’m making progress with my book!

All in all, 2017 is going good as of yet.

However, the new year has had great fun in kicking my butt with insane allergies, rehearsals (not that I’m complaining), class selections for next year (YIKES) and sendingbrian one of my closest friends to Canada for 2 years… *cries*

Oh, and lots and lots of HOMEWORK! -_-

Homework has never been something I’ve deemed necessary to complain about (and definitely not anything I thought I’d ever write a blog post about), but since the school year started, I’ve found myself being very stressed about my assignments. And because I am determined to have good grades all year, I’ve been losing a lot of sleep and personal time over it.

I knew that it couldn’t be just me that was experiencing this, and so I decided to reach out to other high school students and see how they felt about homework. I created a survey and received responses from 50 high school students, the majority of which attends my high school.

Some stats that I gathered from the survey results are:

  • The majority (62%) of students go to sleep either 11p.m. or later on school nights.
  • The majority (56%) of students get up at 6am on school days.
  • The majority (48%) of students spend 3-4 hours on homework each night.
  • The majority (68%) of students receive 3-4 homework assignments every day.
  • The majority (62%) of students have 2-3 days to turn their assignments in.
  • The majority (60%) of students say they enjoy homework depending on the class subject. The other 40% said they do not enjoy homework at all.

just-me-when-i-finally-finish-my-hw-at-three-amNow, looking at the stats and keeping in mind that there is only 24 hours in a day, we can infer what a typical high schooler’s day is like.

The day would start at about 6am, which is almost an hour and a half before school starts (in my case, it starts at 7:20am). The school day would then commence for the next 7 hours (in my case, school ends at 2:20pm).

If we assume that the majority of high school students participate in some sort of extracurricular activity, tacking on another two hours after school to compensate, then the average high schooler would get home around 5pm.

Following the stats I gathered, the average high schooler spends anywhere from 3-4 hours on homework per night.  Assuming they start their homework as soon as they get home, they’d be finished with their homework around 9pm. As relayed in the stats above, the average bedtime is 11pm, which leaves about 2 hours in the day for eating, showering, chores, etc., and provides 7 hours of sleep before they’d have to get up for the next day.

High school students are not exaggerating when they say the majority of time is taken up by education!

I asked a few of the students that responded to my survey if they had any additional thoughts on homework, and these were some of the responses:

“The first day of school, I got 5 hours of homework and I thought it was ridiculous. Also, please tell teachers not to plan PROJECTS during exam week. Also, please don’t give us homework on our exam week because we need to study!!!! Also, don’t give us homework over breaks. That’s why they call it a break. Lastly, LESS HOMEWORK ON THE WEEKEND. One more thing, since I have 5-6 hours of homework a night, and I go to bed at 10, that leaves me with 1 hour to relax when I get home and 1 hour to shower. And that’s it! I have to cram in dinner everyday WHILE I’m doing homework. Ok I’m done.”

“I understand its importance in school, and students need to play a huge part in lessening the too-much-hw-too-little-timecomplaint and the culture of hate against it. However, the work is indeed growing in intensity, and not for the best benefit of the student. It is important for everyone to keep in mind things are best in moderation if they are intended to be good at all.”

“Mostly a waste of time.”

“It is a waste of time that you could use to do be productive.”

“It stresses me out and doesn’t help when teachers assign extra homework that is unnecessary. If I need help with something, doing it wrong multiple times later at night isn’t going to help on tests or in the long run.”

“A lot of homework is unnecessary and provides more stress than it does to help the student understand the material, especially when a student doesn’t understand the work assigned.”

“Homework helps, only if I understand the topic. If I don’t understand the topic, it’s very complicated and boring. This usually means that I’ll have to look up a video on that topic so I could understand it.”

homework-what-are-you-doing“We shouldn’t have it. It sucks.”

“It’s ok but I feel like it’s so much!”

“Why, unless it’s unfinished class work?”

“I hate it. It stresses me out.”

“Although I don’t receive much homework this year, in my past three years of high school I have spent countless nights stressing over it or just giving up on it all together which in turn, made me fail a lot of my classes even though I did well in the class.”

“It’s not fun.”

“Teachers should give a more manageable amount of homework.”

“I find it useless, sometimes my teacher only does notes and relies on me to practically learn it myself just to do a homework assignment.”

In my opinion, homework isn’t entirely a bad thing. In fact, I find myself learning from it every day. However, I also find myself having little to no time to relax and focus on myself, my health and my relationships with others.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t have homework at all. I’m saying there needs to be a balance.

Based on the way many high school students view homework, I think a way to solve the problem would be to lessen the amount of homework each student is given per night. Homework should be no more than two hours per night. And to make sure students enjoy the process of homework, teachers might want to be more creative when assigning homework. For example, I personally despise reading and taking notes out of a textbook, but I absolutely love foldables and educational competitions like Jeopardy.

When learning and homework can be described as fun and interesting, it’s not all that bad.

How much of your time is dedicated to homework each night? Do you think teachers should give less homework? And if so, how can we make that happen?

Share in the comments below and let’s discuss! Parents, you’re welcome to join in too. 😉

Until next time,

~ Rina Raj



If 2016 Wasn’t Meant to be, Maybe 2017 is! :)

Hey guys! Happy New Year!2017 Concept Clipped Cards and Lights

This post is something I’d intended to write and post by December 31st of 2016, but it just wasn’t meant to be. So, this post is going out a little later than I would’ve liked.

Can we all just pause for a minute and think about how quickly 2016 went by?

Yeah… it went by that fast.

When December 1st came around, I immediately pulled out my 2016 resolutions to see what I’d accomplished.

  1. Finish the book
  2. Learn guitar (play at least two songs)
  3. Strive for all A’s and B’s by the end of the school year
  4. Audition for at least 3 things
  5. Have more self confidence
  6. Remember to smile
  7. Be more responsible
  8. Never miss a blog post
  9. Take care of my body (eat well, exercise, get plenty of rest)
  10. Stay strong

meant-to-beI realized I’ve accomplished very little this year. Sure, I auditioned for over three things, I was more confident in myself, I smiled more than I did in 2015, and I assumed tons of responsibility as a student and as a daughter. But I didn’t finish the book I’m writing, I only learned half of each song on guitar, the one C on my report card doesn’t cope with number 3, I missed 99% of the blog posts I was supposed to write, I completely ignored number 9, and I let myself crack instead of keeping a strong mind and heart.

Upon discovering this, I was sooooo upset with myself. So upset, in fact, that I didn’t want to write new goals for 2017 because I was stuck in the mindset of “Well, what’s the point? I won’t do it anyway.”
Not achieving my goals for 2016 got me thinking… maybe completing the things I wanted to complete just wasn’t meant to be.

Life isn’t something you can always plan precisely. Sure, you can try, but life will sometimes take you down a different road based on what needs to happen and when it needs to happen. Sometimes it’s beyond our control. fullsizerender-4

After realizing this, I ceased the thoughts on what had gone wrong the past year and started to think about all the things that went right.

Finishing the book wasn’t meant to be, but reading a book almost every week was.

Learning to play 2 songs on guitar wasn’t meant to be, but writing 5 sets of incredible lyrics was.

Having all A’s and B’s wasn’t meant to be, but passing my first AP class was.

fullsizerender-5Being part of set crew for my school’s production of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, singing my first solo in choir, performing in the talent show, making new friends, spending time with old friends, seeing snow for the first time, getting cast as a fairy in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream; all of these happened and were meant to be! 🙂

Let’s not start 2017 trying to beat ourselves up for not achieving the goals we’d set for 2016. Let’s spend 2017 at peace with what wasn’t meant to be in 2016, and strive for what is meant to be this year. By taking pleasure in the present and doing the best we can do.

  1. Be more positivewhat-you-want-and-what-you-need
  2. Take care of myself (physically and mentally)
  3. Practice what I preach
  4. Have better time management
  5. Be a better friend
  6. Be self confident always
  7. Have better focus
  8. Communicate my feelings
  9. Finish my book
  10. Motivate myself to do my best

Until next time,

~ Rina Raj


An Open Letter to Haley

hello-decemberHi guys, happy December! Get ready for excessive Christmas carols, tons of hot cocoa and random mistletoe! 🙂

If you’re wondering why I’ve been MIA again, let me just share that I’ve been working behind the scenes on my first ever musical with school, performing in Disney’s Candlelight Processional, becoming very familiar with two of Shakespeare’s plays and doing lots and lots and lots of – you guessed it! Homework!

Perhaps I’ll share more on that in another post. In the meantime…candlelight

This post is something I’ve been wanting to write for quite some time. This past May, my best friend (we’ll call her Haley) decided to end our friendship.

Haley and I had been best friends since 6th grade and she easily became a part of my family. Middle school was a rocky road and though we had many disagreements, we always managed to come back stronger and become even more inseparable during our friendship.

high-school-is-the-time-to-find-yourselfLast school year, she and I both underwent many changes. Both of our personalities, views and morals changed significantly and we found ourselves disagreeing on many things in life. We each “found ourselves” and while I didn’t see the change in myself during those times, I did see that Haley was a completely different person.

She was more positive, uplifting and spiritual. She knew how to recover from hard times quickly and she didn’t let negative things drag her down for more than a day, something that I am only learning how to do now.

During the last several months of our friendship, we began to grow apart. And while I understood that we were becoming different people, I didn’t understand what was happening when Haley stopped talking to me.

sos my fave person disappeared.pngThere was no warning. One day we were fine talking about everything under the sun and the next day she wouldn’t speak to me nor look at me.

As the days continued just like that, I was confused. And so, I tried calling her a number of times. After not receiving any responses, I settled on sending her an email explaining to her how confused I was and how much this was affecting me emotionally.

She finally replied, but her response didn’t help to ease my pain at all. She put everything on me, and basically said I had been a bad friend to her. According to her, I complained too much and she didn’t need my negative energy in her life.

Ever since I received her response, I’ve pondered over what I could’ve possibly done wrong and I’ve become paranoid about venting to much of my current friends in fear of “complaining too much”.

letting-go-does-not-mean-giving-upAll in all, I’ve let this affect me way longer than just one day. I told myself that it was okay to cry over this and that it was okay to feel sad because I’d lost someone that had been a huge part of my life for three and a half years. After watching myself grow sad on a daily basis this past month and losing motivation to do anything productive, I decided that letting go of Haley is past due.

The time has come. And the time is now.

And so, I’ve decided that today will be the last time I’ll vent about Haley and feel sad about the situation. From now on, everything involving Haley will be viewed as a happy memory, because I have allowed myself to be consumed by this and it’s time that I go back to being the strong girl I’ve known myself to be.

My open letter to Haley.

Hey Haley, 

I hope life is going well and that sophomore year has been good to you so far. I’ve been alright, but I haven’t been the same since we stopped talking. I didn’t have the closure that I needed to get through losing such an important person in my life. 

Sometimes, I still feel like everything was my fault even though I know it really isn’t, because it takes two to create a friendship, maintain a friendship and even break a friendship.

I’ve thought about it, whether or not I was a good friend to you. I listened to you. I kept your secrets. I let you vent to me whenever you needed to. I helped build you up and reminded you to be confident. Not once have I ever tried to tear you down. I let you become a part of my family. I allowed you to cry on my shoulder. I was a column of support to you.

None of that screams “bad friend” in my opinion. 

If what I offered to you as a friend was not enough for you, then that’s okay. I’m sorry that you felt our friendship needed to end, and I apologize for the constant complaints throughout some difficult times of my life, but you were my best friend, the closest person to me, and I thought that friends were there so you could vent to them, have them to help you feel better, and not make you feel guilty for being sad from day to day.

take-chances-make-mistakesWe both have flaws, Haley. Neither one of us are perfect. Both of us had bad days.

We both complained.

We both vented.

We both made mistakes.

But that’s all a part of growing up. We make mistakes so we can grow from them, learn from them and move forward.

If I knew the reasons as to why you chose to stop talking to me, perhaps I could’ve learned something and grown from those reasons too. 

You walked out of my life so quickly and with no warning, like it was nothing. It didn’t seem to affect you in the slightest. It felt like I didn’t even matter to you.

But you mattered to me a lot. I’ve spent 7 months missing your friendship. 7 months wondering. 7 months afraid to get close to any other friends because I’m scared that they too will disappear with no warning. 

Even though I don’t know what my mistakes were, I’m so frightened that I’ll make the same ones.

7 months is 7 months too many, and I’ve decided that regardless of having no closure and not knowing what went wrong, I have to let you go. 

And so, I want to thank you.

Thank you for building me up when I needed you and being my support system even late at night. You were such a blessing to have in my life and I will always cherish the memories and the inside jokes that no one else will ever understand.

And even though it hurts so much to say this, thank you for showing me who my real friends are.

I hope you find what you’re looking for in life and that the people you surround yourself with are as positive as you wanted me to be.

positive-vibesI’m finding my positivity ever so slowly, and it all starts with letting you go.

I know it will all be okay.

Blessed be,

~ Rina Raj

Be real. Be authentic. Be YOU!

Hey guys! Long time no see?  :))))look-at-all-this-good-food-i-cant-eat Yes, I’ve been MIA but it’s been for very good reasons.

I’ve actually accomplished a lot over the past few months, and I really needed to stay focused. Blogging just had to take the back burner for some time being. I took two virtual classes over summer (and passed with A’s – go me!!!), got braces (*cries*), chopped half my hair off, and poured out chapter after chapter of a book I’m currently working on.

Yes, I’ve accomplished a lot!

I’ve also started my sophomore year in high school and it’s been pretty good so far!

Going back to school has made me come to several realizations. For example, the realization that I’m no longer the youngest in school (good-bye freshman year) and of course, the realization that the cafeteria food just isn’t very good (yep, no change there).

I’ve also discovered that I have a lot of pet peeves. And when I say a lot, I mean a LOTsharpay-meme!

They range from topics of bullying and judging others to simple things such as pouring your cereal into the bowl before pouring the milk, and making sure to never pair orange with pink when coordinating outfits.

For today’s blog post, I’d like to talk about one particular pet peeve. It’s been something that’s been on my mind for quite some time.

It’s about being authentic, being genuine.

Being real.

Now, I know a few of you are probably going “Ahem, I am indeed flesh and blood ma’am”, however, that’s not the kind of real I’m talking about here.

Being real sometimes just isn’t that easy, unfortunately. And it’s all because of the society we have created. There are so many reasons why many of us choose to not be real.

In my perspective, being “real” consists of two main qualities. These are honesty and authenticity.

keep-calm-and-be-honest#1: Honesty

Being honest is such an important quality to being real. Honesty is the setting stone and foundation for “trust” and “trust” is the setting stone and foundation to friendship.

I personally feel as though I’m being fake whenever I tell even the tiniest of fibs, things such as “no mom, I don’t have any homework,”  or “yeah, I totally took my vitamins today”. Even though honesty is something I’m still working on in certain areas of my life (I really don’t like taking vitamins), I feel like I can’t stress its importance enough.

But think about it for a moment.

If you aren’t honest, how do you expect others to be honest with you?

If you aren’t honest, how can you be a good friend to someone, or even trustworthy, towards those you care for?

To be real, you have to be honest. Honest with yourself, and honest with who you are as a person.

And if you’re unable to be honest, it’s important to take some time to figure why that is the case. Take some time to journal about it, maybe talk to a close friend or a family member about it. Reflect on your feelings and figure out why it may be challenging for you. Sometimes it just has to do with giving yourself permission to BE yourself, and allowing others to see you for who you really are. Our society doesn’t make it easy, which leads to the second quality I’d like to talk about.

#2: Authenticitysay-what-you-feel-its-not-being-rude-its-being-real

Authenticity is another important factor in being real. And what I mean by being authentic is not being fake.

I’ve become very outspoken and blunt over the course of months. Personally, I prefer not to talk about anyone behind their backs nor engage in those types of conversations (gossiping about someone). What I’m saying is, when I don’t feel comfortable around someone or I don’t like them, I choose to let that person know directly why I may be unhappy versus gossiping about them behind their backs or telling others negative things about them. In my opinion, this is the best way to be authentic, and the way I choose to do so.

And choosing to be authentic and honest (yes, I can indeed tie my points together 🙂 ) with someone is a much better feeling than being fake.  I feel like a better person, and it makes me feel good to be myself.

I do know that it’s hard sometimes because people around you – and society – make you feel like you have to be someone you’re really not. And it’s so normal these days to be indirect.

be-real-be-yourself-be-unique-be-true-be-honest-be-humber-be-happyBut… telling the truth, being honest about how you feel, and being authentic 100% of the time is giving yourself permission to be your own truth. You have a right to be yourself, regardless of what anyone says or thinks of you. I feel like these are the basics that we all expect everyone to give to us (honesty and authenticity), yet we choose to not BE this ourselves. Makes sense?

Be real.

Be authentic.

Be you! 

Don’t pretend. It will honestly make your life so much easier (I’m speaking from experience) and you’ll be a much HAPPIER person in general. You’ll feel better about yourself, and you’ll notice that you’re making a difference by simply being you.

Now it’s your turn to share. Do you consider yourself a real person? If yes, why? And if not, what exactly is holding you back? Are you afraid of being judged? Are you afraid of not being accepted for who you are?when-your-favorite-blogger-doesnt-post-on-time

Share your experience in the comments below and let’s discuss!

Until next time (hopefully soon 😉 )!

~ Rina Raj


10 Lessons I Learned My Freshman Year

summer adventures here I comeHey guys,


Well, a few days ago, I finished my freshman year in high school and I’ve been reflecting on some of the lessons I’ve learned throughout the year. I wanted to share these with you.

Here are ten lessons I’ve learned throughout this school year.

#1: It’s not as easy as it seemseasy

A lot of students (myself included) are under the impression that freshman year is going to be the easiest thing ever.

Lol, nope!

I jumped straight into taking all honors and an AP class, with my mind set on the fact that it wouldn’t be as hard as middle school.

It was challenging. It really was.

I’ve never had a C before in any of my classes, but this year I did. I was a bit upset with myself at first but, I learned a lot about why it happened.

I’m not trying to discourage anyone from taking all honors or AP classes during their freshman year at all. But I will share that you will need to up your game.

You should always give every project, every assignment and every test everything you’ve got. Be prepared to work harder!  Meet with teachers before or after school, get extra help if needed, form study groups with students, take extra time to study, look at different resources.  Prepare yourself to work harder and you will succeed!

become a teacher they said itll be fun they said#2: Teachers deserve a TON of credit

Students in general often look at their teachers as being annoying, or mean, and I admit to being one of those students for much of the school year.

We DON’T often notice that our teachers have to plan the lessons out and grade all the homework, tests and projects while dealing with hundreds of students (who can be thoroughly disrespectful at times) all while being under paid.

Yes, I said it. Teachers are underpaid and they deal with a lot on a daily basis.

Students may have some relaxation time at home, but teachers bring work home to grade. They’re at school early to help their students, and they stay after school to help their students as well. We just don’t give them enough credit. Remember that whenever you blame a teacher for not teaching, or explaining a topic sufficiently, they are not the only problem. Ask your teacher questions, and you may be very surprised. Teachers are there to help you, not destroy you. 😉

#3: Don’t give upthe mystery of edwin drood

Our Town. Into the Woods. The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Three shows, three auditions, and I didn’t get into any of these shows.

What does this mean?

I know a lot of people who would be devastated by that, by not making it into one show. But I also know a lot of people who wouldn’t be discouraged by it, either. I’m not going to pretend that I wasn’t upset when I didn’t get into the first show, and that I wasn’t equally as upset when I didn’t get into the second. Or the third.

However, after not getting a part in Our Town or in Into the Woods, I started to tell myself that it was okay. There would be other shows, there would be other opportunities to audition, and one day It’d be my turn to shine.

And so, when I auditioned for The Mystery of Edwin Drood this past week and didn’t get a part, I congratulated everyone who got a role and reflected on what I could’ve done better during my audition to improve myself.

The moral of the story – learn what you can do to improve and don’t ever give up. Sometimes, it’s just not the right timing. But when the time is right, it will happen. Just keep going and don’t give up!

push yourself because no one else is going to do it for you#4: If you think you’re pushing yourself hard enough, push harder!

I’m guilty of not pushing myself hard enough this year. Yes, I took vigorous courses this past school year, but I didn’t do any extra credit or do anything more than what was actually assigned. If it wasn’t required, I didn’t feel I needed to.

Extra credit isn’t something I HAD to do to in order to pass a class. But it’s something I should’ve done anyway.

Because in the midst of all the A’s on worksheets and quizzes, an F on one test could bring that grade down to a C in a heartbeat. And that extra credit, well, it would’ve helped. In high school, every point helps. So if you have an opportunity to earn free points, do it. It won’t ever hurt to have extra points.

#5: Friends will come, and friends will gopeople come into your life for a reason a season or a lifetime

For over three years, I had one of the best friendships I’ve ever experienced. I’d never had a best friend until sixth grade, and when our friendship lasted throughout middle school, I thought it would last forever.

But just like in middle school, high school is about discovering yourself, and finding out who you are. When my best friend “found” herself, she was a completely different person. We didn’t have much in common anymore. Recently, she chose to end our friendship.

It’s okay to grow into different people. Friendships do not necessarily need to come to an end. Sometimes being “different” will make a friendship grow stronger. Other times, it doesn’t quite work out that way.

dont let people bring you down focus on those who love you forget the ones who don'tI do miss her a ton, and I have so many wonderful memories with her that I’ll always cherish. But I’m learning slowly that as new people come into my life, others have to leave it.

#6: Focus on the people who matter

The people that care about you are the people you should focus your attention on, because those are the ones IMG_4162that truly matter. The ones who uplift you, the ones that are always there for you. If someone doesn’t care about you, don’t put your energy or time into them. Focus on the people who do care, for those are the ones who will bring value into your life.

#7: Embrace change

Again, high school is a time of self discovery. We learn more and more about who we are as a person. 

you may think you know someone so well but people change and they're always more than what you think about themYour friends might start to hang out with different people, and find themselves discovering different interests. They may start to dress differently, listen to different music, until they’ve become a completely different person. And that’s okay.

Change is okay. It’s healthy, and a natural part of life. Embrace it, learn from it and use it to your advantage. Change isn’t something to be afraid of. Change helps you to learn more about yourself and who you are as a person.

stand up for yourself#8: Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself

One of my friends has been getting picked on a majority of the school year, and she chose to not say anything about it to the teacher.

However, during a class when we had a substitute teacher, the kids picking on her took it a bit too far. She ended up with a lollipop stuck in her hair and tears running down her cheeks. Another friend and I decided enough was enough. After escorting our friend to see a guidance counselor, we gave the substitute teacher a detailed description of what had happened.

The kids never bothered her again.

If you’re someone that’s been getting bullied, speak up and say something. I cannot stress enough how important it is to stand up for yourself. It will continue until you put a stop to it. So be courageous and stand up for yourself!

#9: Be present and enjoy every momentnot everything lasts forever but enjoy it while it lasts

While I’m excited for this school year to be over, I’m also in disbelief that my freshman year is over. I only have three more years left in high school. While that may be a good thing, I can’t help but think of how sad it’ll be when high school is officially over in a few years.

I’m a bit disappointed in myself for not trying my best to enjoy my freshman year to the fullest. I know now (*singing*AND I KNOW THINGS NOW, MANY VALUABLE THINGS…) how important it is to be present during these next few years of high school. I will be more mindful, and I will enjoy every moment of my high school days.

When high school is over, it’s over.  You can’t turn the clock back. All you will have left are the TONS of memories that you’ve created which will hopefully give you something to always smile about. That’s a gift.

#10: Watch out in the parking lot!

No joke.

Upperclassmen can be CA-RA-ZY drivers. 😛

watch out sophomore year, here we comeAll in all, freshman year was a good one, and I definitely learned a lot about my teachers, my friends and myself.

Sophomore year, here I come! 🙂

Now that this school year is over, or is coming to an end, what are some lessons you have learned throughout this school year? Comment below and let’s discuss! I look forward to reading about it!

Until next time!

~Rina Raj

Netflix and Chill (literally)

Hey guys! The weekend is almost here which means MOVIE TIME! 🙂

After a long week of hard work, stress, and tons of effort (aka school), it’s always refreshing to sit down with friends and/or family and have a movie marathon (OR just one movie as my mom enforces).

In my experience, typically when everyone is trying to decide what they want to see, it takes a good 30 minutes to decide what to watch. I thought it may be helpful to have a list of really good movies on hand that either leaves you in tears, angry at the unexpected ending, laughing hysterically, or with a great meaningful message.  AND, if you’re feeling like singing or dancing, I’ll share some great Bollywood suggestions for you as well!  😉


So here’s a list of A-Z movie recommendations.  Go ahead, kick back and have a relaxing weekend (and don’t forget the snacks, and pizza)!

A – Avatar, After the Ball, Another Cinderella Story, Alice in Wonderland, Aladdin

B – Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice

C – Clash of The Titans, Clue, Cinderella

D – Daddy Daycare

E – Ella Enchanted, Everybody’s Fine

F – Fantastic Four

G – Guardians of the Galaxy

IMG_4008H – Harry Potter (ALL OF THEM!!!), High School Musical (ALL OF THEM!!!)

I – Inside Out, Into the Woods, If I Stay

J – Just Go With It

K – King Kong

L – Lady and the Tramp, Legally Blonde, Legally Blondes

M – My Sister’s Keeper

N – New Year’s Eve

O – Oz the Great and powerful

P – Pocahontas, Paper Towns

Q – Quantum of Solace

R – Ratatouille, Revenge of the Bridesmaids

S – Snow White and the Huntsman, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Step Up Revolution, Step Up All InIMG_4010

T – The 5th Wave, The Hunger Games, The Notebook, The Last Song, The Intern, The Princess Diaries, Twilight (ALL OF THEM!!!), The Proposal, The Fault in Our Stars

U – Underclassmen

V – Valentine’s Day

W – Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior, Where the Wild Things Are

X – X-men

Y – Yes Man

Z – Zootopia

For all my readers who love Bollywood as much as I do:

FullSizeRender (1)A – Aaja Nachle

B – Bachna Ae Haseeno

C – Chup Chup Ke

D – Dilwale

E – Ek Paheli Leela

F – Fanaa

G – Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela

H – Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam

I – I Hate Luv Storys

J – Jab We Met

K – Khabhi Kushi Khabhie Gham, Kal Ho Naa Ho, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai

L – Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in Indiaimage1 (1)

M – Mohabbatein

N – Na Tum Jaano Na Hum

O – Om Shanti Om

P – Pyaar Impossible

Q – Queen

R – R… Rajkumar

S – Salaam Namaste

T – Ta Ra Rum Pum, Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic

U – Umrao Jaan

image2V – Vivah

W – What’s Your Raashee

X – **If you find one, let me know 😉

Y – Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani

Z – Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara


If you have any additional movie suggestions, please feel free to share in the comments below.  If you watched any movies this week, share!  What did you think of it, how would you rate it? Would you watch it again?

Until next time,

~Rina Raj

Is Sex REALLY Worth it? *music starts* BABY I’M WORTH IT UH HUH I’M WORTH IT

bollywoodHey guys, it’s definitely been a while! I’ve done so much over the past month and a half, it’s hard to keep track.

In February, I turned 15 years old (though my mom still says I’m 14 *rolls eyes*) and I (successfully!!!) performed a Bollywood dance at a fundraising event with my sister and dance instructor. It was an awesome experience!

In the beginning of March, my school’s chorus program traveled to MPA (music performance assessment) and all 4 choirs received superior ratings (the best you can get, which means we all get to go to state MPA now!!!).

One of the most important things I’ve noticed – especially throughout February and March – is how lightly our generation takes sex.  Yup, you read that right.  Sex is the hottest topic of discussion in school as early as elementary school these days.

In my opinion, sex is an important topic, something that needs to be discussed and that’s worth bringing to light in order to better understand. We can’t pretend it isn’t happening. It is, and with consequences in many situations.

After conversing with a girl my age who was having unprotected sex with multiple partners, and was having a pregnancy scare and planning to abort her baby (which she promptly did), I couldn’t fight the urge of wanting to gather statistics and write a post about this.

2013 US

I decided to gather opinions from 30 females (friends, and friends of friends) who are currently in high school regarding their thoughts on sex. Here’s what some of these female students had to say.

“Do what you want, it’s your body. But it’s better to love and trust the person first.”

“Wait until after high school.”

“We’re all still babies!”

“You should not do it unless you wanna be 16 and pregnant and on TV.”

“If you don’t wanna do it, then you’re just f***ing weird.”

“It should be embraced. You’re in high school, you should have fun.”

“Don’t do it.”dont have sex because you will get pregnant and die

“I don’t think you should have sex in high school.”

“You shouldn’t have sex in high school.”

“If it’s with someone you truly love, then okay if you want to.”

“I don’t think you should in high school, you have your whole life ahead of you.”

“I think it’s stupid to have sex in high school, unless it’s rape and you don’t have a choice.

“I think you should wait.”

“I think you should wait because you don’t know if that person is just using you for your body. In high school, sex is just something for people to brag about.”

“It depends on who it is.”

“Definitely not in high school. Wait until marriage. Sex should be special because it’s for your life long partner and so you shouldn’t, like, waste it on other people.”

“As long as your intimacy is in private and you don’t publicly flaunt it, it’s okay. It is your body and you do what you want. If you believe in abstinence then go ahead and abstain. If you feel confident and you are willing, then go right ahead. Personally, I’m not sure if I would have sex in high school. I’m a freshman and I’m naïve. You make mistakes. You learn from them. If I absolutely love the person I’m with and know that this is the person I want to be with forever, I probably would.”

with sex comes great responsibility“No amount of protection can save you.”

“As long as you have protection, go for it.”

“Sex is awesome, and anybody who doesn’t agree with that has issues.”

“Sex equals babies, and babies aren’t always fun.”

We also asked these students if they, personally, would have sex in high school. 13 out of 30 females said yes, and 17 out of 30 females said no.

I was so surprised that almost half of these students said yes to that question. I’ve always been told that sex is something special, and something that should be saved for someone you know you’re going to be with forever.

Which brings me to the final question these girls were also asked: Do you think sex should be special or not?

22 out of 30 said yes. 8 out of 30 said no.

This one had me thinking… why wouldn’t sex be considered special?

I thought about it a lot, and I realized that most girls give up their virginity because they think that -to put it bluntly- having sex with a guy will make him like her.

It’s sad how young girls think that the only way to have a guy truly like them is to offer their body, and assume that afterwards the guy will stick around.

Though many girls in high school facing this situation are blinded from the option of saying no, it’s still there and it’s still a choice.

It’s your body. It’s your choice.dont be afraid of being different

If you’re a female in high school and you don’t want to say no, then that’s your choice. Just make sure you love yourself and your body before expecting someone else to. Make sure you’re not doing it out of insecurities, or to make a guy like you or stay with you.

Always remember that It’s OK  to say no! It’s okay to choose to wait. And more importantly, it’s okay to be a virgin.

I feel like my generation has totally thrown the importance and beauty of sex out the window and focuses on sex purely being a tool for pleasure, and pleasure only. I’m not sure when being a virgin became a bad thing and sleeping around became a trend. But this is pretty much the way it is portrayed in my high school. One is looked upon negatively if they choose to abstain from sex.

We all have different beliefs on the meaning and basis of sex, and there really isn’t a solid or definite right or wrong opinion. It’s a personal choice. It’s common these days, but we need not shame those who choose to wait.

Several students at school have already asked me what my personal take is in regards to this topic, so I’d like to share my thoughts with you.

No, I would not give myself to someone in high school. I’m too busy trying to find myself, and I have quite a vision for my future.

Yes, I do think sex should be special. You can’t force a special guy and special moment to happen, and expect it to be real. I do believe when I’m older and wiser, love will be the reason BUT at a much later time in my life, when I’m ready to settle down.

Please, let’s not shame those who choose to wait. And if you choose not to wait, please do it responsibly. Remember, there are risks and consequences if you’re not careful.

please dont do itUntil next time…

~Rina Raj

P.S. TO THE MALE STUDENTS: What are YOUR thoughts on sex in high school? Would you do it? Should it be special? Do you plan to wait? We’d love to hear your opinions. Comment below and let’s share in this discussion!


Hi guys! Happy February! 😀 february is that you.jpg

2016 is moving along so fast, I’m sure many of you may agree when I say it feels like a race!

guitar.pngI’ve already taken 3 tests and 10 quizzes, learned about 75% of the 6 pieces of music we’re focusing on in chorus right now, written 3 songs (with guitar >.<), and read 7 books.

While all of those things were incredibly exciting (minus the tests of course) and made for a great January, I’d have to say that my biggest accomplishment so far this year was trying something new.

Typically, upon hearing the words ‘try something new’, many of us feel the urge to hide under our blankets. Try something new? No thanks!

However, trying something new may open doors to new possibilities for you. You may discover something about yourself that you hadn’t known before. You might discover new strengths or talents. You might find out that you like something new.

Or that you like trying new things. 😉

Allow me to share my experience…

Our first unit in theatre was specific to musical theatre. The unit started with a lecture about the golden age of musical theatre, some of the most important shows, and all the different types of musical theatre.sweeney todd.jpg

Once the lecture was over and we had taken our test on it, we watched the staged version (which, sadly, doesn’t have Johnny Depp in it) of Sweeney Todd to get a feel for what musical theatre was really like.

After watching the entirety of the show and taking yet another test (this time on Sweeney Todd), we were allowed to pick groups of individuals to create our own musical theatre number!  😀

I was ecstatic to be included in a group made up of my friends and some of the most talented kids in our class!

We were given two weeks (with a little under 10 hours) to complete our number. We had to have the song memorized, choreographed and have costumes, a backdrop and props. And yes, emoji singing.pngwe had to *le gasp* actually sing!

Our first step was to pick the song we wanted to perform. monty pythons spamalot.jpgHe’s Not Dead Yet from Spamalot turned out to be the best choice for us. Everyone would have something to do, and we could be as crazy and over the top as we wanted, as this was a very humorous number.

Once we decided who would play who, and who would sing what, we attempted blocking. For those who don’t know, blocking is when the director tells the actors where to move onstage for proper dramatic effect (when to sit down, when to stand up, etc.).

group project time to relax while you watch someone who cares do all the work.jpg

As a group, we left the weight of blocking the entire number on the shoulders of one kid. And though he had some great ideas that we ended up using, surprisingly I found myself coming up with random ideas for what the choreography could be and what the other characters, that were being a bit neglected, could do in the background.

After two days of trying to come up with more ideas (five days of rehearsals), I decided to speak up.

The kid who had been blocking everything was actually happy to have some help.

And the result of trying something new from my end (versus just going with the flow) yielded an amazing musical number that lots of people loved including our theatre teacher!

So what did I learn? I realized that my ideas are worth something. I also discovered that having a contribution from more than one person in a group project can have a great outcome. I learned that I have skills that I wasn’t even quite aware of!

Going with the flow is the easy way, and sometimes the easy way is okay. But other times, you have to challenge yourself to try something different, do something different. You never know what gifts will be revealed about yourself. 😉

When was the last time you tried something new? Or stepped outside your comfort? Share, and let’s discuss!

Until next time!

~ Rina Raj

Don’t you just “LOVE” Your Teachers?

Hi everyone and Hello 2016! 🙂

Well, I’m aware that I did not share a blog post last week (I know, I know, we’ll address time management in a future blog post) but my “welcome back” load of homework was quite a load and quite overwhelming. I’m definitely learning about time management and trying to balance accordingly.

Thank you all for your recent feedback and comments. Many of you have asked me to write a funny blog post relatable to high school. Ideas were shared and so, since we just started back at school after our two precious weeks of winter break, I thought I’d go with the suggestion of sharing our experiences about our teachers.

Now please keep in mind, this post is only meant to be humorous; for fun and for laughs. We love our teachers very much, just as much as our teachers love us. 😉

types of teachers.jpg


Teacher #1: The Parent

Ever had a teacher whom you felt was trying to control your whole life? They typically make comments about what their students are wearing, give extra homework, and if someone dare tries to inform them that most of us have six OTHER classes with homework as well, let’s just say it ain’t pretty.

I had a teacher like this a couple years ago and I once missed a quiz in her class. Here is a snippet of our conversation…

Me: When would be a good time to make up the quiz I missed yesterday?

Teacher: I’m free after school today. You can come by my room after seventh period and take it.

Me: I can’t today, I have something important to do after school.

Teacher: What’s more important than making up my quiz?

Me: Um, I have an after school club.

Teacher: Obviously you shouldn’t be in this club if you don’t even have time to attend my class!

Me: …I missed one day…

Teacher: Don’t you talk back to me, young lady! *sigh* Come and take it during lunch. I only say the things I say because I care, all right? Now go back to your seat, dear.

Whaaaaaa??? 😮

Why are you trying to take control of my life outside of your class? *shakes head*

i really don't care.jpegTeacher #2: The “I-don’t-care-what-you-do-with-your-life-but-I-have-to-teach-you” Teacher

Typically, this is one of the “best” teachers to have. They don’t care what you do as long as you’re “working”. You can have your phone out in their class, you can eat a five course meal, whatever. They DON’T CARE.

Normally their first-day-of-school “monologue” goes a little something like this:

“Alright guys. First things first, phones. I don’t want you hiding them behind your backpacks. You can have them out, you can text in my class, I don’t care. Unless I tell you to put them away specifically. If I do happen to catch you with your phone out during a time I have asked for them to be away, I won’t take your phone. I won’t even say anything to you. I’ll just take your points away. I don’t care what you do on your phones when you do have them out, and I don’t care what you take into your life from this course, but I am getting paid to teach you and you have an EOC (end of course exam). So today, you can just chill and talk. Whatever. *shrugs* I don’t care.

You know what, sir? I “don’t care” if you “don’t care”. *peace sign*

Teacher #3: I’m Sarcastic and I Know it! sarcasm.jpg

This teacher is usually the one that everyone secretly hates. They are basically a bully to their students and being in their class sort of – well, you know – sucks.

When a student gets a low grade on a test that they are handing back to them, they say something along the lines of “Your mom must be so proud of you!” or “You are so going to become a doctor with these grades!”

When going over a question that no one has the answer to, they say something like “Wow, no one has the answer? I love how everyone does their homework in here!” When in reality, everyone did the homework and has every other question except that one.

When they teach a new lesson and ask if anyone’s heard of a term or formula before and no one has, their response is typically along the lines of “No? Never heard of it? Wooooooooow! I’ve got a great class!”

*whispers* Only we teens are allowed to use sarcasm, got that? 😉

i can't keep calm he proposed.pngTeacher #4: The Family Oriented 

“My wife LOVES this chapter…”

“My boyfriend hates that I give so much homework…”

“My son refuses to go to the school that I teach at…”

“So since our bellwork today has to do with love, I thought I would share something that recently happened in my life that relates to love… Since we’re all like family here, right?” *smiles* “Weeellll… HE PROPOSED!!!” *holds up left hand* *dramatically wiggling hand with ring on it*

“Last night I found out that dogs can hold grudges. See, what happened was…”

All things that a family oriented teacher will say, they constantly feel the need to update you on their romance life, their parenting techniques, what their dog did the night before… everything!

And they always have some way to relate one of their family members or a personal experience to the lesson they’re teaching.

Generally, they’re very nice teachers… just extremely annoying. I mean, we go to school to not hear anything about family. We try to escape them. *awkward smile*

Teacher #5: The Actormasks.jpg

This is usually the performing arts teachers (chorus, dance, band, theatre, etc.). They’re very passionate about what they’re teaching and so they get very excited over little things (like their favorite musical, play, or song) and use hand gestures whenever they can.

Hand gestures. All.The.Time.

Teacher: “Okay guys, today we’re going to learn about greek mythology!” *excitedly waving hand at the board*

Student: *takes phone out*

Teacher: *le gasp* *hand on heart* “Put your phone away RIGHT NOW!” *pointing dramatically at student* “I can’t believe that kids these days have the nerve!” *throwing hands up in dismay*

Again, hand gestures. Dramatic body language. All.The.Time. (Not that I don’t do the same thing 😉 )

sunglasses.pngTeacher #6: The #SwagDawgTwoThree!

This is that cool young teacher that totally feels how boring classes can be and totally understands you.

They’re basically your best friend.

“Okay guys, I know it’s been boring, we’ve been taking turns reading and answering questions, so take a deep breath, work on the vocab, listen to music, work with someone else… play on your phone, update Twitter…”

*laughing at something someone drew on the board* “Somebody please, quick, Snapchat this!”

They aren’t trying to be one of us. They ARE one of us. 😀

So, these are just a few of the teachers we’ve all experienced. 🙂 Do you have any you would like to add? If so, PLEASE SHARE!

Comment below which ones you can relate to, which ones you find most entertaining, or which teachers you’ve encountered in your life. Share your story and let’s give our teachers some love! 😉

Until next time!

~ Rina Raj















































































































2016 Came to Town, Riding on a Pony ;)

hiding behind curtainMe: *peeks out from behind curtain* “Hey guys!” *awkward smile*

Audience Member: *glares* “You missed 3 weeks!” *whispers* “Plus a day!” *throws tomato*



Merry belated Christmas!!! 🙂 merry xmas.jpgI know, I know, it’s been three weeks. I missed three weeks! But I feel bad and I’m sorry. I know, excuses are lame but hear me out.

Or… read me out? *shakes head* I don’t know what I just did.


i can't remember anything.jpgIf you’re in high school, or even in middle school, you can understand the stress that comes with exams. And in my case, it was exams and an audition.

I was uber stressed out and had no room in my overflowing brain for a blog post, nor did I really have the motivation or time to write even half a post.I'm sorry.jpg

So I’m sorry, and I hope this blog post will compensate for the past three weeks. Before I get into this post however, let me remind you of a very important fact…

2016 is in 2 days.

Let that sink in.

2016 is in 2 days!

Let’s be real, are most of us even ready for this? Did we fulfill everything we planned since January, when we came up with our 2015 resolutions? (Seriously, where has the time gone?)

It’s unreal how quickly this year has gone by, leaving nothing in its path except for uncompleted resolutions. Personally, I feel as though I’ve accomplished nothing this year.

Zip. Zero. Nada.


However, when I went back to review and looked at my 2015 resolutions, I realized I actually accomplished a lot. My list consisted of only 5 things.

  1. Audition at least 3 times.
  2. Write 5 good songs.
  3. Write a book.
  4. Be more caring and responsible.
  5. Be a better daughter.

audition for all the shows.jpgNumber 1 (auditioning) was something I was scared of doing, but I did it. I faced that fear.

Number 2 (writing songs) was something I didn’t see happening when I initially wrote this down. But guess what? I didn’t write 5 good songs. I wrote 13 amazing songs!

Number 3 (write a book) was something I could’ve accomplished, but didn’t. Instead, I fished for ideas day in and day out. I started one storyline, deleted it and switched to another. Finally over the summer, I came up with the best storyline yet and presently I’m working on chapter 6. So no, I didn’t finish a book, but at least I started it!

Number 4 (be more caring and responsible)… I’d like to say that I have been all that number 4 asked of me this entire year, but I’m trying to be an honest person. I’ve definitely made tons of effort to be caring towards my younger sister, but as a newfound middle schooler, she finds my attempts annoying and they most always end in a disagreement of some sort.

(Whatever… she’s annoying too) 😉

Responsibility is something I’ve tampered with. I’ve been responsible when asked to help my sister, I’ve taken on the task of making dinner numerous times, I’ve been trusted with using my electronic devices at school (per mom’s designated times and rules). I wouldn’t say it’s been this way the whole year though. Therefore I consider number 4 incomplete. But I’m working on it.

Number 5 (be a better daughter) is something difficult to explain. I’d rate myself a 50% on this one. While many people have told me otherwise, I personally feel as though I could strive to be a better daughter. So the journey continues with number 5.

I may have only checked off two items on my list with satisfaction, but those resolutions aren’t the only verdict of how my 2015 went.

survived first semester.jpgJust because I didn’t do everything on that list doesn’t mean I didn’t do other stuff.

I started a blog, for one, and it’s been a pretty amazing experience so far!

I started high school, and I’m surviving it! And…

I’ve become stronger!

As a teen, I’m learning to love myself and to define healthy boundaries. I’m learning to take better care of myself and to put myself first in regards to my personal needs, goals and dreams.

So now, I’m feeling inspired and striving to create achievable resolutions for 2016. My list consists of the following:new years resolutions.jpg

  1. Finish the book.
  2. Learn guitar (play at least two songs).
  3. Strive for all A’s and B’s by the end of the school year.
  4. Audition for at least 3 things.
  5. Have more self confidence.
  6. Remember to smile.
  7. Be more responsible.
  8. Never miss a blog post (what did I just do).
  9. Take care of my body (eat well, exercise, get plenty of rest).
  10. Stay strong.

Make sure you hold me to number 8… 😉

Now it’s your turn. What are your resolutions for the new year? Comment below and share some of the things you’d like to accomplish. I would love to hear all about it!

happy new year 2016.jpgHappy New Year everyone! 🙂

Until 2016,

~Rina Raj



Amy’s Dad Dilemma – What Would YOU Do? P.2

Hey everyone! Let’s take a trip down memory lane. Some of you may remember my good friend Amy and her summer dilemma regarding her father (read Amy’s Summer Dilemma – What Would YOU Do?).

To sum it up, Amy had a situation with her father during the summer and in the end, she decided it would be best to not visit him when the summer was over. Well, Amy needs our help once again.

After the situation occurred during the summer, Amy decided to write her father a letter in order to express her feelings to him.

At first, Amy’s attempted letters were ruthless attacks, offensive just me when i finish a letter at 3 amlanguage and resulted in lots of tears. Amy then changed her mind about writing a letter since she was expressing too much negativity. But then one night, she had a sudden inspiration.

She wrote a two page letter to her father.

The letter took her a total of 3 hours to finish.

After writing the letter and mailing it, Amy’s dad called to speak with her sister, Sarah. After the conversation, Sarah informed Amy that their father said he had not opened Amy’s letter, nor did he plan to.dear music i will never be able to thank you enough for always being there for me

Amy felt like an idiot for convincing herself that her time and effort spent writing this letter was going to pay off. She wanted to express herself in a peaceful manner, letting him know how she had felt and that she loved him.

But now, she felt even more upset.

After weeks went by, Amy was able to brush it off and focus solely on her summer camps and song writing.

The summer ended and the new school year began. Amy began conversing with her stepmother. One day, her stepmom called to share the big news.

its a girlAmy was going to be a big sister.

At first she was extremely excited and started mentally planning out the baby shower, the cute little outfits she could save up to get for her little sister. And then it hit her like a bus.

How was she going to see the baby, and help with the shower, if she and her father weren’t speaking?

After coming to this realization, Amy found it hard to be excited about the new baby. She decided not to worry about it too much and figured this situation with her dad wouldn’t drag on forever. Eventually, everything would be okay.

Well, months went by.

i try to act like it doesn't bother me but my dad not caring makes me more upset than i like to admitOne evening, Amy volunteered at Sarah’s concert. And Amy’s father attended. When he approached the entrance way with Amy’s stepmom, Amy felt her dad didn’t acknowledge her and so Amy didn’t acknowledge him either. Her stepmom was happy to see her and expressed that.

After some time went by (they had to wait outside for a period of time since the concert was already in progress)…

“So, you’re not going to say hello?” Amy’s father was now interested in speaking with her and insisted on doing so, but Amy was in the middle of working at the entrance way.  It was not a good time to talk, Amy needed to stay focused and she expressed that.

Since that evening, Amy has felt confused. Why would she be the one to initiate conversation after not hearing from him?  Now she was ten times more confused.

when people treat you like they don't care, beleive themAmy has asked many of us for advice and the responses are typically, “He’s your dad.”

Amy couldn’t take it anymore and recently, she lost it.

“My dad? Of course he’s my dad, but has he raised me? Does he support my dreams or does he only care about himself? He has been to only 3 out of my 13 performances, and 1 out of the 5 concerts! And it’s not like he was out of town for all of them. He doesn’t even know me! I’ll bet if I asked him what my favorite color is, he wouldn’t know the answer. I’ll bet if he asked what I wanted from Starbucks and I said “the usual” he wouldn’t come back with the right drink. All he’s ever done is told me what I’m doing wrong and who the heck is he to talk?! But you know what, it’s okay. We have to learn from our mistakes, right? And now I know how NOT to treat a kid.”having kids doesn't make you a father raising them does

Amy is going through a really rough patch right now. She feels like her dad doesn’t care, that he never has.

Her letter was a way to get him to listen to her – without him yelling at her – in hopes to validate her feelings and understand why she wasn’t ready to visit.

As much as my friend pretends that she is fine, it’s easy to tell that she’s not okay. She’s hurting.

I know in time this experience will make her much stronger. But right now, she’s not there yet. She needs encouragement and words of wisdom.

If you were in Amy’s situation, what would YOU do?  Do you have any suggestions or words of advice? Please share in the comments below, I know she would really appreciate it!

Until next time!

~Rina Raj


Bullies are Like Boogers… No One Likes Them.

This week, I’d like to write about a topic I’ve been wanting to write about for quite some time. Bullying.ouch bullying hurts

The dictionary’s definition of bullying is “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.”


Bullying may be unwanted but it is also unneeded. Many of us have enough on our plates and just don’t need someone picking on us all the time.

dont talk about me until you have talked to me dont underestimate me until you challenge me dont judge me until you know meAnd the one thing that confuses me is why so many people get bullied even after movies like Cyberbully came out.

It seems to me like some people get pleasure from making others feel bad about themselves.

A few years ago, one of my friends had a very traumatizing experience with some bullies.

Let’s call her Nancy.

Nancy had just broken up with her first boyfriend, and she had a perfectly valid reason to. She wasn’t ready for a relationship. Nancy’s ex-boyfriend (let’s call him Derek) didn’t take kindly to that and wound up spreading rumors that he had broken up with Nancy because she wanted to get physically intimate with him.

Talk about not handling the situation very well.

Within a matter of days, everyone that knew Nancy and Derek believed theyou dont know their story dont judge rumors that Derek and his friends had spread about Nancy. Behind her back (and to her face), Nancy was called a “slut” and a “whore”.

Even some of her friends were gossiping about her and assuming the worst without even talking to Nancy about it first.

It tore her up to have people so close to her turn their backs and become part of the problem, especially when none of it was even true.

And yes, eventually the rumors faded and everything went back to being as normal as it possibly could, but those memories stuck with Nancy, and she probably won’t ever forget them.

I have another friend who is currently being picked on. We’ll nickname her Becky.

Becky isn’t the most athletic person on earth, and this results deathballin her hiding during dodgeball.

Hiding = not getting hit.

Not getting hit = not getting out.

(For those who do not understand the game of dodgeball, if you get hit by the ball, then you’re out of the game.)

Not getting out = last one left.

As the last one left on her team, the rest of the team consented to yelling at her to catch a ball so one of them could get back in.

Catching a ball wasn’t really the first thing on her mind when she got pelted from all angles.

Recently, one of the older guys in her class has been picking on her because of her lack of athletic ability. A couple weeks ago, she found out that he gets bullied as well. This detail only made her more angry.

“I get it, okay? He gets picked on, but that is no excuse for him to make me
feel like I’m worth nothing and I’m a fail at everything when in reality the one thing I can’t do is catch a dodgeball. You want me to feel sorry for him? Maybe if he didn’t make me feel so sorry for myself, I would.”

So to sum this up, bullying is not fun. It may make you feel like a better you because you’re on a higher status than the person you’re picking on, but in reality…. your status is way, way deep down in the cellar.dont stand by stand up stand strong stand together

As deep down as love in the Grinch’s heart. *BA-DUM-TSS*

Have any of you dealt with situations similar to Nancy and Becky? What are your experiences with bullying? Do share!

Until next time!

~Rina Raj


The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

the more that you read the more you will know Hello everyone! Recently I read The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe and I instantly fell in love with it! Now as I’ve mentioned before, I love to read. I read during my meal times, during my breaks at school, in between my homework assignments, you name it! However, I have never been a huge fan of poetry before (except for song lyrics) and it was a huge surprise to me when my theater instructor put this up on the screen and I actually enjoyed it! 😀

After reading through the entire poem and decoding everything in it, I realized this wasn’t just a poem about death.

This was a romantic tragedy!

It’s amazing what stories, or messages, a poem can reveal to you and the meanings behind the symbols!

Today I would like to share this poem with you. And I would love to read your interpretations of it in the comments below! Enjoy!

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,once upon a midnight dreary
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
Only this and nothing more.”

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Nameless here for evermore.

purple curtainAnd the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
“’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;—
This it is and nothing more.”

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”—here I opened wide the door;—
Darkness there and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”—
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
“Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—
’Tis the wind and nothing more!”

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,raven flies in
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore—
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door—
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as “Nevermore.”

But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing farther then he uttered—not a feather then he fluttered—
Till I scarcely more than muttered “Other friends have flown before—
On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before.”
Then the bird said “Nevermore.”

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore—
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
Of ‘Never—nevermore’.”

But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore—
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

the ravenThis I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet-violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
“Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore;
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!—quoth the raven nevermore
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted—
On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore—
Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us—by that God we both adore—
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

“Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting—

“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted—nevermore!

Source: Poetry Foundation – http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/178713

Let’s Be #TypicallyThankful for 24 Days!

Hi everyone, Happy November! 🙂hello november

I hope that throughout this month, your days will be filled with friends, family, pumpkin pie and… GRATITUDE!

When we think about gratitude OR being thankful in general, one particular holiday comes to mind. Thanksgiving, of course!

Thanksgiving is a holiday that is supposed to be filled with genuine gratitude for all of the things, people and passions in your life. When we think of Thanksgiving, all those things we love in life are supposed to come to mind.gratitude definition

But let the truth be told (from my perspective of course), it seems that the first thing to come to mind is a turkey? Stuffing. Cranberry sauce. Cake and ice cream. 😛

And let’s not forget about the ever-so-popular Black Friday sales!

I’m definitely thankful for food. Food is delicious! And I’m also thankful for great sales and bargains! But let’s be real.  Society is a bit hung up on these, and that doesn’t help which brings me to the following question.

black fridayIs that all we’re really thankful for?

What about other things like memories, nature and music? Or quality time with family and friends?

It seems like we’re focused more on material things, getting the “latest and greatest” in technology, versus actual experiences or the gift of life.

Interestingly right after Thanksgiving, people are vying for the same phone that’s on sale. The day right after expressing our gratitude for everything we already have, we are willing to shove each other at stores to get that deal.

In my opinion, they’re just that– things.

And in my experience, it’s not so much the latest gadget that’s left an imprint in my heart. But more so the promises, the memories, the quality time spent with family or friends. Showing someone, through your actions, that you truly and genuinely care.

The things that are priceless!

I feel like many of us are guilty for taking certain things for granted in life. Not just things that we already own, but we take people for granted as well.thank you

For example, I think many teens can relate to taking their parents for granted.  Or the time that our parent(s) may spend with us on a day to day basis (yes my mom annoys me and she’s always around me but at the same time, I wouldn’t want it any other way).

we have so much to be thankful for one day hardly seems adequateThis month, I’d like to celebrate gratitude but not just on Thanksgiving Day.

I’d like to celebrate it every single day this month!

I’m challenging myself and you to be thankful for 24 days! #TypicallyThankful that is!  😉

there is always something to be thankful forStarting today, I’m going to share a status on social media on what I’m grateful for. And I’m extending an invite for you to join me as well!  🙂

All you need to do is post a status (on any social media site) sharing something you are grateful for, using the hashtag #TypicallyThankful.

There is always something to be thankful for. We have so many opportunities, experiences, things and people in our lives that one day just isn’t enough to take pleasure in remembering these.

If you can’t think of a reason of why you may be thankful, think of those in our world who are lacking or going through challenging times (hunger, poverty, wars, homelessness, orphans, clean water, a family loss, just to name a few).

I look forward to sharing in this experience with you, and to reading your posts! 😉

Until next time!

~ Rina Raj


isnt is too early to blog halloween stuffHalloween is just around the corner, so I decided to write a post on some struggles we may have during the Halloween season.

Struggle #1: Who will I pretend to be this year?

The number one problem most people (including myself) have around Halloween is deciding who (or what) they want to dress up as. There are just SO MANY OPTIONS TO CHOOSE FROM.

Last year, a couple of friends and I decided to be deceased Disney princesses. We made our own costumes. 😀

We were so serious about this that we went to the store in August (yes, August) and bought clothing items similar to the princess of our choice. Then we began destroying them so we’d look like we were deceased.

By the time September had come to an end, I was so annoyed with my costume that I decided to just reuse one of my old costumes and be a vampire (for the third time) instead.halloween photo 2014

Then Halloween came and I spontaneously decided to be a shadowhunter (from a book series called The Mortal Instruments) instead which meant wearing black from head to toe, carrying a fake dagger (so I could kill demons – duh), and using a body crayon to draw a series of tattoos on my skin.

(My friends hadn’t stuck with the deceased princesses idea either.)happy halloween

One of them continued working on the costume but decided to change her mind at the last moment as well. Instead of impersonating a zombie Rapunzel, she was the cheshire cat.

The other friend had been entirely done with the idea of making a costume, and so she went out and just bought one. Which brings us to…

Struggle #2: Buying a costume has never, and will never be easy.

We all know how this one works. It’s the week (or days) before Halloween and you’ve decided to dress up as….. a pirate (gotta love my random hypothetical scenarios ;p ).

and when the clock strikes midnight halloween will be overNow, you want to be cool so you go to that Spirit Halloween store (you know which one I’m talking about) and try on that first cute pirate costume you lay eyes on. Usually you fall in love with the costume, try it on and it looks AMAZING on you!

Then you check the price tag (and maybe cry a little). Your costume costs $50. Nope, don’t have that.

Then of course you act like you didn’t really like that costume all that much (pshhhh) and you go check all the other pirate costumes they have in stock.

The only one that costs $20 is for a 3 year old kid.

Then you keep calm and go to Party City where unfortunately they have run out of pirate costumes. This usually results in choosing the cheapest costume that fits and just rolling with it. Even if the costume is a banana.


Of course there are always those planners who go online and pre-order their costumes.

But then there’s that 90% of us. Who. Just. Don’t.

I’m going to be completely honest right now…. I still don’t know what I’m going to be for Halloween!  😮

Struggle #3: Is the pumpkin supposed to look dead?


Pumpkin carving.

I think this one speaks for itself. 😉

Every year, my friends and I boast about whose pumpkin is going to be better and what we are going to carve ours as.

surprise meThen we all go out and buy those little pumpkin carving kits with the stencils and that tiny plastic scoop.

Getting the stencil on the pumpkin is no problem.

Getting the blade to follow the design? Now we have a problem.

Usually the results (in my personal experience) involve what one can only classify as a ‘zombie pumpkin’ and two considerably orange and sticky hands.

Now, even though the struggles Halloween brings with it can sometimes be painful, I admit, I still enjoy the holiday.

And a lot of the kids at my high school do as well.  For example, my friend spontaneously decided to bring a mini skeleton to school the first week of October. Believe it or not, she started a trend. POOF! Mini skeletons here, there – everywhere!

I guess that just goes to show how much Halloween spirit many people have. And how much they enjoy the month of Halloween leading up to the day itself. 🙂

So, have you decided what your costume will be this year? Did you carve a pumpkin? And if so, was it challenging for you, trivial for you, and did you succeed (TELL ME YOUR SECRETS)? Share in the comments below, I look forward to reading all about it. 🙂

Until next time!

~ Rina Raj

Selena, Demi, Lilly + Q? Who inspires YOU?!

inspiration 2What inspires you? Actually, who inspires you? Think about that for a moment. Does something, or someone, come to mind?

From what I gather, we all have role models and people we look up to. Most teens look up to celebrities and imitate their clothing and hairstyles. Some, even their personalities!

But many are more drawn to their life choices. Whether it’s battling an addiction, helping the needy or inspiring others to be a better person, we all have someone we look up to as we strive to find our purpose in life.

Whether you are inspired by a celebrity, a family member or a close friend, inspiration is a big part of life and impacts the person you are.

When I was younger, I was inspired by celebrities like Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato simply because they were famous. It took a while before I understood the true meaning of inspiration. I didn’t realize how a celebrity could possibly inspire me until I was asked to write an essay on inspiration last year.

I saved my essay and today I would like to share it with you.

Qurrat Ann Kadwani, May 2013
Qurrat Ann Kadwani, May 2013

I was a very shy and self-conscious person during the summer before I entered 7th grade. I wasn’t sure of myself and I felt that I would never change. One of my friends who had just graduated middle school, informed me that this school year I would have to make a big decision. A decision that would impact me very soon.

I was going to have to choose my career.

It was something I had thought about, but they were only dreams that I felt could never be fulfilled.

I think my mother saw one of them. She listened outside my door almost every day as I read aloud the script to The Little Mermaid, changing my voice to fit each of the characters.

Shortly after I started this daily ordeal, she decided to take me to see a play.they call me q It was the first play I had ever been to, and I was convinced that it was going to be a snooze fest because I didn’t know what to expect.

It was a one woman show. That’s right, one woman.  One woman acting 13 different roles.

Most of the one woman shows I had seen on YouTube consisted of a lady attempting to have a conversation with herself (and I sure didn’t want to sit through something like that).

We took our seats in the front row of the dimly lit auditorium and waited for the actress to take the stage.

As we waited, I decided to read up on the play. The name of the play was “They Call Me Q” and underneath the title was her name, Qurrat Ann Kadwani.

qurratMoments later a girl with long, brown and definitely Indian hair took the stage. Her hair framed her caramel colored face perfectly and her beautiful brown eyes brightened as she smiled, lighting up the room.

She soon began her play starting with a piece about her name. She told of how people called her Q-RAT, but didn’t share the correct pronunciation of her name (yet).

different charactersI watched in awe how Qurrat connected with the audience as she slipped through the various roles in her story. The bullies that created her horrid nickname, her brothers who helped her get through many hard times in life, and her mom who always pushed her to do her best.

At the end of the play, she finally revealed her name saying “You may call me Q-RAT, but I will always be Qurrat.” At this point, many people in the audience were crying and laughing, but I remained just as I had before. Simply in awe!

After the show, we met up with Qurrat for dinner and she shared with me how long it had taken her to compose this play and how ecstatic she was to finally perform it. It had taken her 5 years to compose it!

inspiraion 1My mom mentioned to her how I loved to act, and Qurrat smiled that gorgeous smile saying that was great. That’s when I realized it. My career choice. I wanted to be able to do the same thing Qurrat did.

I wanted to be able to put a smile on other people’s faces, to have them leave the room with something to hold on to, something that inspires them or a message that would change their life.

Qurrat made me realize that my dream could indeed become a reality. She gave me the inspiration I needed to choose a career path that I was interested in, and that inspiration has never faded.

In fact, if it weren’t for Qurrat, I would still be wondering, still be unsure of myself.

Qurrat’s show has sold out in many places (she performed at universities and film festivals in addition to Off-Broadway in NYC) and she’s been so busy on the road to fame that we haven’t seen her since the show.

But even so, I see her in myself every time I perform and get one step closer to my dream.

selena gomezAfter writing an essay about inspiration, I realized that celebrities aren’t there just because they’re famous. I believe they exist to inspire us.

I’m not completely obsessed with Selena Gomez just because she killed it in Monte Carlo (though that is part of the reason). I’m a Selenator because she is passionate about acting and she inspires me to continue learning.demi lovato

I don’t have an infatuation with Demi Lovato simply because I’ve watched Camp Rock a gazillion times. I’m a Lovatic because she was strong enough to get back on her feet after depression and keep making beautiful music, and she inspires me to continue writing songs even when I feel discouraged.

lilly singhI definitely don’t stalk Lilly Singh on a daily basis due to the fact that her YouTube channel currently has 6,925,757 subscribers, I’m part of #TeamSuper because Lilly’s goal is to make people smile and laugh and feel good about themselves. Despite experiencing severe depression, she was able to overcome this and inspire others to love themselves. In this case, she inspires me to be comfortable in my own skin.

Now it’s your turn. What inspires you? Who inspires you? And most importantly, what drives that inspiration?

Share in the comments below and let’s discuss.

Until next time!

~ Rina Raj

It’s Raining Cupcakes! (Includes Recipe) :D

Hi everyone! 🙂 We all have hobbies and things we do to express ourselves. my favorite thing to do is sleep

Some people are really creative and like to draw or paint.

Some people put all they’ve got into a sport.

Some people play video games.

Some people like to capture precious moments through photography.

And some people pour their hearts into words and write! 😉

Regardless of your hobby, if you have one, it is a definite part of who you are.

Although I have many hobbies, one of my favorites is baking.

keep calm and bake onI love to bake cupcakes! 😀

My obsession over cupcakes didn’t begin until I had finished reading practically all of the books I owned (one of my hobbies also includes reading).

By the time I entered into the 8th grade, I had read the Harry Potter series a total of 28 times (and then proceeded to read it again 4 more times for a total of 32 times 🙂 ), finished The Hunger Games trilogy, the Divergent trilogy, the Percy Jackson series and more. I was running out of things to read, and this was a huge problem that no one really understood.

One night – after I had debated about reading Harry Potter again – I wound up grabbing the first book I saw and reading it just because.

It was called It’s Raining Cupcakes by Lisa Schroeder. After reading this book, I was inspired and decided to try baking my own cupcakes.

I had baked before, but not without the help of my grandmother or mom, so the experience of doing this alone was new to me.

After my first batch of cupcakes came out a success, I kept experimenting when stressed and in doubt, cupcake it outwith cupcakes and creating my own unique flavors, just like in the book.

I made cinnamon-raisin cupcakes, strawberry-lemonade cupcakes, apple-pie cupcakes, and candy-cane cupcakes (which I handed out for Christmas gifts that year).

Cupcakes became my ground for a while.

you only live once lick the bowlIf I was bullied at school, I’d bake.

If I got a poor grade on my test, I’d bake.

If I won a contest, I’d bake.

It was like throwing a bunch of random ingredients into a bowl, attempting to create a flavor and getting an awesome result. It showed me that even though something may be a mess for a while, eventually that mess will result in something wonderful.

After Christmas with my candy-cane cupcakes (which took a total of 4 days to perfect by the way), I took a break from baking. This past week was the first time I’ve baked in almost a year!

Due to the fact that Halloween and Thanksgiving are approaching, I noticed how everything has recently become pumpkin flavored. I’ve seen pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin spaghetti sauce, pumpkin soups, pumpkin waffles, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pie, pumpkin cookies and so on. tis the season for pumpkin everything

However, there was something missing. Where were those pumpkin cupcakes?

I decided to create my very own Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes! 🙂

I created this recipe from scratch (literally adlibbed it on the spot) and was very impressed and baking = loveproud of my results! I shared a few cupcakes with my friends and everyone has loved them! 🙂

So if you’re feeling like pumpkin, and feeling like cupcakes, I suggest you give this recipe a try!  Let me know how it turns out for you!

image (1)

Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes

1/2 cup pure cane sugar

1/2 cup coconut sugar

1/2 cup Earth Balance butter

1/2 cup applesauce

1/3 cup pumpkin puree

1 tspn vanilla extract

2 tspn pumpkin spice

1 tspn cinnamon

1/2 tspn nutmeg

1 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1 3/4 tspn baking powder

1/2 cup almond milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix the sugars together and then cream with the butter (you can use a electric beater but I just used a spoon and mixed it very well).

Add the applesauce and pumpkin and mix well. Stir in the vanilla, pumpkin spice, cinnamon and nutmeg.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking powder. Then, add it to the wet ingredients and stir.

Add the almond milk and mix until the batter is smooth (aim for no lumps).

Pour batter into a greased cupcake pan (or use cupcake liners), making sure to distribute the batter evenly. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

This recipe will make one dozen (12) cupcakes.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Frosting

12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 tspn vanilla extract

2 tspn pumpkin spice

1 tspn cinnamon

4 cups powdered sugar

Using an electric beater, mix the cream cheese, butter, pumpkin spice, cinnamon and vanilla on low speed until smooth. Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time, beating slowly and mixing well.

This will make more than enough to frost all 12 cupcakes.

Creative Tip: If you would like to get “fancy” and decorate your cupcakes, try frosting them with white frosting, and then adding some yellow or orange food coloring to the remaining frosting. Add little dollops of icing on top of the white frosting. Also (if you have the patience 😉 ), you can try putting edible pearls on each dollop of colored icing.

“We’re throwing stuff in a bowl, and yeah, it’s a big mess for a while. But we’ll keep stirring, and we’ll cross our fingers, and we’ll hope that when we pull the batch out of the oven, it will be something wonderful.”– It’s Raining Cupcakes by Lisa Schroeder 

Until next time!

~ Rina Raj

DON’T TOUCH MAH SPACE! Questions and Answers

october lolHi everyone, Happy October! 🙂

For this week’s Typical Tuesday, I decided to do a Q/A blog post. I’ve received several questions and comments from many of you and so, I’ve decided to answer a couple today! 🙂Q&A

For privacy reasons, I won’t name any of the individuals who have asked these questions. I’ll use their initials instead.  Here we go! 🙂

Q: I’m concerned about some of my friends. Some of them are not getting enough sleep, or eating breakfast and lunch. Occasionally they eat dinner, but when I ask why they skip meals, they say they ‘don’t feel like eating’. I try my best to help them out by sharing my lunch, but they are starting to get upset at me for pestering them to stay alive. What should I do? – I.F.
helping others

A: Wow, I think your friends are probably stressed. And I feel many of us can probably relate to this, including myself.

If your friends aren’t even remotely hungry, it could be the stress as a result of their classes, the amount of  homework they may have, or a test they may need to take. It’s so wonderful of you to want to share your lunch and help your friends however, it will be difficult to help them unless they open to receive the help.

I can say from personal experience that when I don’t want help with something, and someone continues to offer the help anyway, I get seriously annoyed.

Of course, your scenario is a bit different. These are your friends and you’re obviously worried about them not eating, which would concern anyone to say the least.

As to what you should do, explain your concern to your friends and ask if they would like your help. Let them know you are concerned for them. If they choose to not receive your help, then you will need to respect their decision.  Hopefully in time, they will come to you however if needed. At least they’ll know they have a friend they can count on. 😉

Q: I have a friend who I have known for about a year now and our friendship is okay at times, fun at times, and then horrible at times. Sometimes I try to keep my distance but I have found this to be impossible. She physically abuses me by hitting me in the face with textbooks, kicking me, or hitting me on the head really hard. I tell her to stop but she doesn’t. We carpool to school sometimes and I share things with her but sometimes I feel like she is a bad influence to me. The truth is, I feel uncomfortable at times. How can I keep my distance from her but still stay friends with her? – H.S.

A: Wow, it just so happens that I can relate to this. Now granted, I’ve never been in a situation where one of my friends physically abused me by hitting me and such, but I have been in a situation where a friend did hurt me emotionally.

It was basically the same concept; we laughed together, shared secrets withmaleficent each other and did all of that BFF stuff, but sometimes she became as evil as Maleficent!

She’d insult me and make me feel like I wasn’t fit to be on the planet. And then the next day, she’d go back to treating me like we’re best friends. My solution was to cut her off completely. She was making me feel bad about myself and I wasn’t at all comfortable being around her. Of course I felt bad about distancing myself from her, but it helped my confidence increase and improved my mood a lot.

Your friend doesn’t seem as though she is aware of your personal boundaries, and your space bubble should never be invaded, especially if you feel uncomfortable. It’s only natural that you would feel uncomfortable about this.personal space

Since you’ve tried telling her to stop hitting you, I’d say the next step is to talk to her about it during one of those great days you both share. Make it clear to her that you don’t appreciate the abuse and that she needs to stop. If she doesn’t respect your boundaries and continues the same behaviors, then you may need to distance yourself completely.

Sure you can remain friends, yes, but remember that true friendship comes with respect.

I hope that my answers to your questions are helpful and I will try to address more of these Q/A’s in the near future. I really enjoyed reading your questions, comments and of course, sharing my experiences.  🙂

Now readers, if you can relate to these two individuals and have some additional suggestions you’d like to share, please comment below. I’m sure these individuals would appreciate it.

Until next time!

~ Rina Raj


Being Suicidal Isn’t Craving Attention, It’s Craving Redemption

Hi everyone! Welcome to my first official Typical Tuesday blog post! 🙂

Recently, I encountered a situation involving a person very close to me. I felt the need to write about it because I’ve seen many of these situations before, and mostly all of them have dealt with people in my inner circle.

These people have felt so unvalued, unloved and unimportant that they resorted to believing that the world would be a better place without them.

it can't rain foreverSadly, I’m talking about people who are suicidal.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, suicide is the act of taking your life voluntarily, or ending your life. Believe it or not, the highest suicide rates and suicide attempt rates are between the ages of 15-24, so this topic applies to teens.

Now, the first reaction that some of my suicidal friends have received when they attempted to talk to family members or other close friends about their situation was merely, “You want to kill yourself? Gosh, you’re stupid. You need to get over it . You just want attention.” This is one reason why some teens who are suicidal pretend, or think, that they’re fine.im fine

Suicidal people don’t want to end their life because they’re “stupid” or “just want attention”. They just want to stop feeling like everything is their fault and that the world would be better without them.

They want to stop crying late into the night, and feeling that sinister urge to hurt themselves.

They want to end the pain they feel every second of every day, and stop letting themselves be pushed to the bottom feeling as though they’re a “nothing”.

They want to feel important and as though people care about them. I should know having watched one of my closest friends go through this.

A few years ago, one of my dear friends was completely and utterly depressed. She felt as though no one cared about her and no one would bat an eye if she was to disappear.

i know your notShe shared that she would cry herself to sleep and dreaded waking up to go face the world the next day.

At school, she’d smile and laugh and smile some more, but no one could see past the mask and into her soul where everything was hurting and everything was breaking.

Every push and every insult from anyone would pull her to the back of her mind, where all the empty words had drifted. And they’d hit her like reality, so she’d hurt herself.

Her thought process was always that the tears would hurt more than the blade across her wrist, and that the sting was a way to get all the emotions out.

For anyone reading this, if you’re experiencing the same or feel the need to hurt yourself – please don’t do it.

There are other ways to deal with the emotions and release the pain other than embedding a scar into your skin, or taking a drastic chance. You can write about it to express your feelings, or you can seek counseling. My friend’s personal choice was writing music.

From listening to some of her music, I gathered that the depression was slowly fading and that she was coming to the point where music was becoming therapeutic for her.

She shared that her depression and suicidal thoughts slowly came to an end when her family, and a few of her friends, threw her a surprise birthday party. focus on what matters

The surprise party helped her realize that even though she couldn’t always see it, people did care about her.

When she went to sleep that night, she promised herself that she wasn’t going to hurt herself anymore. She wasn’t going to believe that she didn’t matter to anyone just because certain people didn’t care.

And even though there were always going to be others that wanted to make her feel small and enjoyed watching her break, there were supporters who wanted to see her succeed and valued her for the person she was.

In all honesty, it doesn’t matter what others think of you. All that matters is what you think of yourself. As long as you believe you are worth it, you are beautiful, intelligent and talented, you can pull through anything.

I myself have battled with depression at one point, but I’ve been able to overcome it with the right support system. Also, helping my friends get through their dark times reminded me to never allow depression to take me down that road.

I have another friend who was also depressed and suicidal and her reason was because she felt she was not beautiful. She is absolutely gorgeous by the way, but of course she was not joking and was serious about how she felt about herself.

After a month of listening to her rant and rave, I took her to the bathroom and asked her to look into the mirror.

“Rina, I just see mthe mirror can liee. And it isn’t a nice view.”

“Shut up, you’re gorgeous, but that doesn’t matter, okay? Look past your face. What do you see?”

“I don’t know what you want me to do.”

“Well, I see an awesome girl with a great sense of humor and intelligence. I also see talent. Loads and loads of talent. I see confidence, but it’s hiding way deep down in there. I see a ton of people who care about you and who love you for reasons other than your face. I see you.”

“Rina, I hope you know you just described yourself.”

*Facepalmits gonna be okay*

It took her a while to accept the fact that not only was she beautiful on the outside, but on the inside as well.

If you can relate and feel you are not pretty, or handsome…

Walk over to the nearest mirror right now. Look into it. Smile and say “Hey there beautiful (or handsome)!”

You akeep holding onre important.

You are loved.

You are valued.

You are beautiful!

You may have a little trouble seeing it from time to time but, just keep doing it. Eventually you will see that truth and you will believe it.  😉

Until next time!

~ Rina Raj

Sources:  https://www.afsp.org/understanding-suicide/facts-and-figures

So I’m Surviving High School… TIME TO START A CULT!

Hi everyone! Sorry it’s taken so long for me to write you all. Thank you for all the likes, shares and comments on my last post! 🙂

After being in high school for five weeks now, I’ve come to notice that we often carry labels.

There are the cheerleaders, who are well known and popular.labels

There are the theatre, band and chorus geeks, who aren’t as popular, but if one of them have landed a lead role or solo, they automatically get much attention.

There are the nerds, who utilize the lunch period as a study session.

There are the “emo” kids, who dress in dark colors and don’t typically socialize.

There are thebullying bullies, who walk around picking on whoever is in their way for no particular reason.

There are victims who typically walk with their heads down and avoid everyone.

There are the jocks, who usually play football and are admired by some of the guys and eyed by most of the girls.

And then there are the loners who sit by a wall during lunch period and spend that time by themselves.

The list can go on, and on, and on.

Most of these labels also have certain stereotypes that go along with them.

We often assume that the cheerleaders and jocks are dumb.music

We think the fine art geeks spend their free time spouting Shakespeare, learning a new instrument and breaking out in spontaneous song (not that they don’t).

We assume that the nerds are born smart.  And the loners have no social life, spending all their time locked in a room staring at the ceiling.

We think the bullies are jerks for no reason, and that the victims are targeted for just existing.

And we are so, so certain that the “emo” kids are planning to destroy the school and start a cult one day.

Almost none of those stereotypes are accurate.

Rarely will you meet a jock or cheerleader that doesn’t have all A’s and B’s. They have to in order to stay on their teams.

The nerds often study because they don’t understand the material and they don’t want to fail their classes. And the loners are probably some of the most funny and outgoing people you will ever meet.

While the performing crew do love to sing, dance and act, they have lives outside of that as well, and the day you spot a group of them spontaneously break out into song, please video tape that and share it! 😉

Bullies have reasons for picking on other kids, even if they aren’t valid.  We don’t know their story, for everyone we meet is fighting a hard battle.

The “emo” kids may come across as hating the world (and some of them do), but most of them still sleep with stuffed animals and are the most harmless people ever. While they may joke about starting a cult of some sort, none of them would actually do it.

beyoutifulIn reality, none of these labels or stereotypes are correct. Take me for example: I’m heavily involved when it comes to theatre and chorus, I’m friends with a few cheerleaders, I wear a lot of black and glare at people, I’m a victim of bullying, I sit by a wall during lunch, spend break by myself and I love to read.

That doesn’t make me a cross between all the labels. It just makes me… Me!

Labels are just that, labels. They don’t define who you are. Because you are you. And you’re unique and special, just the way you are.

Have you ever been labeled as one of the above? Or have you labeled someone? Share your own experiences in the comments below and let’s discuss! 🙂

Also, in an effort to be more stable with my blog posts, I’m going to attempt to post every Tuesday. Typical Tuesdays.

Also, do you have any interesting topics you’d like to read about?  Send your ideas my way!

Until next time!

(And by the way, the only cult I’m starting is a study group for Human Geography… 😉 )

– Rina Raj

Hello High School? Yaaaayy??

image3Hi everyone! Thank you for all the wonderful comments on my last post! 🙂

So last week Monday, I started high school. I’ll admit, for the past month or so, I’ve been scared out of my mind about meeting new teachers, new people, having to talk to others and make new friends. Also, the schedule is so different compared to what I’ve been used to in middle school.

For starters, I now have to wake up at 5 a.m. in order to make it to school on time. Also, there is no day during the week whatsoever where we get to attend all of our classes in sequential order. 7th period, usually the last class during the day, ends up as our mid-block class during lunch.

image4 (1)On that first day of school, the teachers got right into the material and started teaching. And they meant business!

I had an essay in English as my summer reading test that Thursday, and a syllabus quiz in Biology as well.

image5On Friday, I had a test in Human Geography on the locations of all the countries on the globe. And despite studying for over a month, all I had mastered was Asia!  :/

My elective classes consist of theater and choir.

image6Theatre is very basic so far and we haven’t done anything acting related just yet. But I have learned that the school’s spring production will be a musical that is none other then Into the Woods! I’ve been obsessed with this musical for quite some time and recently, I saw the movie and fell in love with Cinderella’s role.

I’ve decided I want to audition!

Now, part of entering high school is also making new friends, and I’m not the most social person to say the least.

The first three days of school, I only spoke to individuals that I knew from middle school and during lunch, I made sure to find my best friend and we sort of isolated ourselves from everyone.

Thursday however, this one guy had a guitar with him and was sitting alone on a bench playing and writing music. I looked to my friend and she had already gotten up to go listen to him play. I’ll admit, I sort of hid (hid meaning I let my hair hang over my face and put my hood on).

I tried to hear what song he was playing, but he was too far away from me. Eventually, I decided to go over there so I could hear him better. By the time I’d walked over, he was done playing and had given the guitar to my friend so she could play something.

image2 (2)Within minutes, we had informed him that we were in a band together and quite into music as well. The three of us instantly became friends talking about music for the remainder of lunch. It was actually very fun!

Then, in gym, I was introduced to a friend of a friend and we instantly bonded over our love of cupcakes and our hate of most sports.

I was so proud of myself for being social and actually talking to students I didn’t know. It wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. 😀

I learned that it isn’t so bad to be social once in a while. You never know what you may learn from others, and how that new friendship may benefit you.

Were you ever in a situation where you decided to spontaneously be social? How did your first week of school go and how are you adapting? Did you make any new friends? I would love to hear about it!

Until next time! 🙂

~ Rina Raj

My Sister Mayhem… UGH!

Hey everyone! Sorry it’s taken me a while to write you all. Thanks for those great comments on my last post! 😘

Well last week, I finished my fourth week of summer camp. I’ve got one more week to go!

image1 (1)

My first week of camp was an all high school intensive acting group. I can truthfully say it was the most intense camp I’ve ever taken.

The second week was a Pitch Perfect themed camp. The choreography was the most advanced I’ve ever done at any of these camps, and the vocals were as challenging as being back in advanced chorus!

The other thing about the Pitch Perfect camp is that it’s the first camp I haven’t been alone in. What that means is, my sister was also enrolled in the same camp. It was very different to have to share my week with her and also perform with her. Especially because she wouldn’t leave me alone the entire week!images (2)

I’ll admit, I didn’t want her there. Little sisters can be embarrassing and annoying, and personally I perceive everything my sister does as one of those two.

It took a lot to adapt to the fact that she was going to be in the same camp as I. And once I accepted that fact, I was even more upset about it.

images (1)

She followed me around everywhere, sat next to me at lunch, had more friends than I did, and the instructors kept confusing us with each other.

She did everything better then I did too. She sang all the high notes, got the choreography down really fast, and came up with way more interesting improvisation skits then I did.

I was so sick of it.

But after spending so much time with her at lunch and with her friends, I came to the astounding realization that hanging out with my sister isn’t so bad.

Yes, she was the most embarrassing thing ever who wanted to tell every story about our family.

And yes, she wanted to stand next to me every opportunity she had throughout the play.image1 (2)

But I have to admit, having her there was sort of fun. Yup, I said it.

Being in the same performance for once was also kind of fun.

I guess the lesson I learned here is that being your little sister’s friend isn’t so bad after all. It’s just a very “interesting” experience.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed her company and at least we created some great memories together sharing and bonding (by the way, we’re in camp together this week as well 😉 ).

Do you have any siblings? Have you ever been in a class with them, or shared a summer camp experience with them? Have you ever felt annoyed about it? Or maybe discovered after some time that you do enjoy their company? Do share! 😁

Until next time!

-Rina Raj

Amy’s Summer Dilemma – What Would YOU Do?

Hi everyone! Thank you for all the wonderful comments on my last post! 🙂

Recently I encountered a situation that my friend is going through and I just had to write about it. For privacy reasons, I won’t use her name. So lets call her…. Amy.

Amy has big dreams for her future. One of the reasons Amy and I are such good friends is because we are both striving towards the same career goals.

Amy wants to become an actress and a musician. This summer she decided to become a bit more passionate about it by taking several theater camps and joining a band.IMG_1872

Amy’s parents are divorced and so her dad usually takes her most of the summer. A couple of days before school ended, Amy’s dad gave her a very difficult decision to make, and it was a huge surprise to her.

Her dad told her that he wasn’t going to take her to and from the camps, or band practice, and that she had to choose between her family (him) or herself.

Amy’s dad has never been very stable with his schedule and has been cancelling weekends as long as she can remember. So Amy decided to do what her dad always does to her.

She chose herself.

Amy feels like her dad doesn’t support her dreams and her goals for the future. After constantly telling her that she needs to show more passion towards acting and music, her dad makes it seem as though she is selfish for choosing to take summer camps and have band practices while on his time.

This is a big deal to Amy. She feels as though she was making the wrong decision and being selfish for choosing herself over her family.

But in truth, she’s not being selfish at all.

She’s following her heart, and when following your heart, it can nIMG_1875ever steer you wrong (or can it?).

Amy was under the impression that she would still see her dad on the weekends and during the weeks when she didn’t have any camps.

But boy was she wrong.

Amy’s mom received an email from her dad saying that due to the camps and his schedule, he wasn’t going to be taking Amy at all over the summer.

Amy was torn.

That night, she had a mental breakdown and couldn’t stop crying.

She was an emotional wreck for two or three days after, then she decided that she didn’t want to spend her summer in tears. She was going to make the most of it.

She scheduled longer band practices, wrote more songs and did IMG_0775whatever she could to take her mind off of it. Everything except calling her dad.

Amy is at a point where she doesn’t care anymore. She’s made it pretty clear that she’s done with the drama. She’s decided to not call her dad throughout the summer and to just take a break. The thing that shocks both Amy and myself is her contemplation of not visiting her dad for the rest of the year.IMG_1874

After being let down time and time again by her father, on his weekends, Amy’s decided that it’s her turn to choose herself.

She’s going after her dreams, with or without her dad’s support. And I have to give it to her, she’s a strong and talented girl.

Now I have a question for all of you my readers…

IMG_1873If you were in Amy’s position and had to make a choice, what would you do?

Please share your comments in the area below. Amy and I are really interested in reading what you have to share. She could really use some advice and support.

Thank you for reading my blog post everyone. I hope you all are enjoying your summer so far! Until next time!  😀

– Rina Raj

Thank Goodness Middle School is OVER! *sniffles*

Hi everyone! Welcome to my second blog post! 🙂

Last week Wednesday was my last day of middle school. For three whole years of intense studies, torture, and bullies *rolls eyes*, I had been waiting anxiously for the day to come when I would escape it all.

Then when I entered my eighth grade year, I was struck with the reality of my situation.

I was growing up and life was starting to take a turn.

Suddenly, I had to think about my future career and what I wanted to be. All I knew at that point was that I didn’t want to be the girl with no plan.

I decided on a career involving what I love.

I wanted to write. Not just articles, but I wanted to write a book which I started soon after.images

I wanted to sing, so I started teaching myself how to play an acoustic guitar.

I also started taking piano lessons and writing melodic lyrics. And just recently, I started a band.  😀

And last but not least, I wanted to act. I decided I wanted to take several summer theater camps. The camps include advanced acting, singing and dancing.

After a whole year oIMG_1639f being the “big kid”, I was counting down the seconds to my last day of school and sadly, it didn’t hit me that I should just enjoy my last week as an 8th grader.

In just a matter of days, everything began happening really fast. Before I knew it, the last day of school was here.

In first period, I said good-bye to one of my close friends who was going to a different high school. I didn’t cry.

In third period, I left behind two seventh grade girls who completely made my year (and I am going to miss them so, so much). I didn’t cry.

In fourth and fifth period, I walked out on five extremely close friends, three of which are going to a different high school, and a teacher that has been an amazing inspiration and influence in my life these past two years. I cried for maybe five minutes.

Then in seventh period, I looked around at my group of four friends and for one class period, we didn’t even think about food (like we usually do in seventh period). We just hugged each other and begged the one friend that was going to a different high school to move in with one of us.

I bawled like a little baby.

Then the announcements came on and the eighth graders were dismissed early.

When I walked into that courtyard for the last time, I realized exactly how much I was surprisingly going to miss that school.

I want to thank all of the teachers I’ve had over the last three years for putting up with my negative attitude and helping me to grow.

I want to thank my best friends for sticking through thick and thin with me for what seems like a whole lot more than just three years of school together. You guys are the absolute best!

For those of you teens reading this post who still have a few days left of middle school,  please enjoy them. Savor every moment because they are going to end and they’re going to end faster than you might think.

And although you may be under the impression that the second that last bell rings, you’re going to run out of that school with the biggest smile on your face and not think to look back, there’s a high chance that you will be wrong. I know I was.

And if you just finished elementary school and are scared about middle school, that’s okay. Be scared, but enjoy the journey.

Cherish every challenging exam and every IMG_1637difficult teacher. Believe me, you’ll regret it if you don’t.

My life is changing and rapidly. I’ll admit, I’m not quite ready for it and frankly, I don’t want to grow up. But growing up isn’t a choice and as long as you have a plan, you’ll be okay.

Thank you for reading my latest post.  I hope you all have a great summer! I am enjoying mine so far. Until next time!  🙂

– Rina Raj

Confessions About Mother

Inspiration 2Today is a special day. Due to the holiday and this being my first blog post, I would like to honor the woman who made this blog possible.

She loves the color red and this really weird drink called Kombucha. She possesses the miraculous ability to light up a room when she walks in, and just by smiling she can make anyone’s day.

Her hobbies include dish washing 101 classes for her daughters and dancing around the kitchen to really loud music with the sliding door open. Her job includes working as a quality assurance specialist (engineer) and being a full time single mom of two.

Two amazing, awesome kids that I just happen to be one of.  😉

This article is dedicated to my crazy, care-free, happy-go-lucky mother.

Inspiration 3Now, I do have to admit that most of the time, my mom annoys me to death. The hour long lectures that I hear almost everyday are definitely not appealing, nor is the whole ‘you will hug me whether you like it or not’ requests. But I can honestly say (or write) that I really do love her. ❤

Usually when my mom asks me if I love her or not, I usually respond with a yes and then when she asks why, I utter a simple “because you’re my mom”, and no, that is not the only reason. I feel like my mom deserves a more in-depth explanation of exactly how much I do love her and why.

So here we go…

I love her because she’s not afraid to stand out and be exactly who she wants to be. She doesn’t care that everyone on the highway has front seat viewing when she attempts to dance while driving. Being different and sticking out in a crowd and in society isn’t something my mom dreads, it’s something she gladly welcomes and appreciates about herself.

I love the way she can be so unbearably upset with me or my sister one second, and then pull her phone out to show us a meme that she found hilarious the next.

I love the fact that she deals with my sister and I no matter what we do and loves us for all of our flaws, and believe me, we have a lot of them.

Inspiration 1And last but not least, I love how strong of a woman she is. My mom has been through a lot and she’s gone through life with a smile on her face 24/7. She’s dealt with two kids that push her limits sometimes but she still manages to still keep her cool most of the time.

I don’t know what I’d do without the late night heart-to-heart conversations and the constant reminder to drink water and do all that other healthy stuff.

I think I’d be lost without all the helpful guidance throughout the years and the reminder that everything is going to be just fine.

I’d go crazy if she stopped doing all the little things that matter more than anything to me. Like how she gets annoyed when my glasses are dirty, and manages to find that one little piece of paper on the floor in my room.

If I had a dollar for each time she found something on the rug of my bedroom, I still wouldn’t have enough money to represent how much I love her.

I would like to thank my mom for inspiring me to start this blog and for showing me that dreams really can (and do) come true.

Happy Mother’s Day!

I Love You Mom! 💘💖❤