DAY 5: THANK YOU MELISSA SCHOENLEIN

Dear Reader,

I was never very good at making friends. I mean, I always had school friends, and sports friends, and birthday party friends, but they were just that. Kids I only saw at school or sports or birthday parties.

A lot of the people I hung out with in grade school were boys, and I don’t think my dad ever liked me being around the opposite sex much. I still remember my parents vetoing my decision to invite my best friend (a guy) to my second grade birthday party.

Anyway, I never had a lot of play dates or visitors at my house. And I never had a best friend.

Everyone had a best friend. Someone they sat next to in kindergarten or shared their pudding cup with at lunch (can you really share a pudding cup, though? Seems messy). Before long, best friendships were popping up everywhere, whereas I was always part of a group.

I never minded this, and I never really realized this until reflecting on my childhood, but I’m writing now to thank Melissa Schoenlein for being my first best friend.

I’m not sure where we met or where this started (band? lunch? study hall?), but as of seventh grade, I had myself a best friend.

We were still part of a friend group, but the two of us became very close. We took silly pictures that we messed around with using picnik, we e-mailed back and forth constantly, we wrote in a journal in a secret code, and we gossiped (mostly about boys) constantly.

I’m pretty sure we had at least one fight, but that was about it. We never had drama in our friend group, really. The things we talked about were stupid, but they were at least innocently stupid, and we never concerned ourselves with the girl drama that many junior high kids find consuming their lives. Of course, we listened when our friends dealt with it, but our friendship was perfect healthy and fun.

And I need to thank Melissa. Once we got to high school, our friendship faded. Cliche as it sounds, we just sort of grew apart–which was fine for both of us. We still worked together on math projects sophomore year and chatted during symphony orchestra when we were seniors, but we were no longer at the point of on-going email chains and text message conversations–which is fine.

But Melissa, I thank you for letting me be my complete self, always. I thank you for helping me grow while letting my inner kid live. I don’t think I ever told you how much I appreciated you or how much our friendship meant to me. How much it still means to me. But I just wanted to say thank you for everything.

And I still wear one of the many friendship bracelets you made me sometimes.

Sincerely,

Sammy

PS. (Second) song of the day: Reflections – MisterWives

My Week in San Antonio

Dear Reader,

This year, I had the amazing opportunity to travel to San Antonio, Texas, for FCCLA’s National Leadership Conference. For those of you who don’t know, FCCLA stands for Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America and is open to any student enrolled in a Family and Consumer Science class. Because I took a teaching professions class this year, I joined FCCLA and participated in a STAR event at the regional, state, and national competitions.

So, last Saturday, I left my hometown for the Detroit airport, flew into Atlanta, Georgia, and then connected to a flight arriving in San Antonio, Texas. We ended up getting to the hotel at around 3AM because of some scheduling issues involving our shuttle, but the next morning we got up around 8 and traveled to New Braunfels to visit the Schlitterbahn Waterpark, which has been voted the World’s Best Waterpark for 16 years in a row. Needless to say, it was amazing. I mostly just went in the lazy river, rode the master blaster, and sat in an inner tube in the falls, but it was such a fun day.

I was so happy that we finally landed that I felt obliged to take a selfie.

I was so happy when we finally landed that I felt obliged to take a selfie.

The view from our room on the 19th floor.

The view from our room on the 19th floor.

The Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center--where most of our meetings took place.

The Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center–where most of our meetings took place.

On Monday I presented my STAR event, which was in the category of nutrition and wellness, but because I think it would be pretty boring to read about, I’ll skip through the details. Basically I just helped my family lose weight and presented it to three judges who looked extremely bored and uninterested, no matter how excited or passionate I tried to seem. So I thought I did awful, but, as we found out on Thursday, I received a gold (the highest) rating. So I guess I just got myself worked up for nothing, which seems to happen to me a lot.

The rest of the day was spent at the mall and roaming around the cities with the new people I met, and we ate dinner that night on the river.

A nice eating area in the center of the mall.

A nice eating area in the center of the mall.

An old friend, Colleen, and I reconnected on this trip and ventured off, forgetting that we would have no one to take a picture of us so we opted for yet another selfie.

An old friend, Colleen, and I reconnected on this trip and ventured off, forgetting that we would have no one to take a picture of us so we opted for yet another selfie.

Where we ate dinner on the river on Monday night.

Where we ate dinner on the river on Monday night.

The next morning I went to an 8AM seminar about texting and driving, which truly opened my eyes. I think the #ItCanWait campaign is so important and am enforcing it with everyone I can. Distracted driving is dangerous and texting behind the wheel is just not a risk worth taking.

Afterwards, I helped my friends prepare for their presentation and went sight-seeing with some people from the group. We also hung out on the 5th floor roof that day and sat in big, comfy couches that overlooked the city.

The sitting area on the 5th floor roof.

The sitting area on the 5th floor roof.

The view from our 5th floor roof.

The view from the 5th floor roof.

On Wednesday morning we had another seminar to go to, this one was about fundraising, and walked around some exhibits. Afterwards we spent the day at the Six Flags in San Antonio, where I discovered that I love roller coasters. Despite the fact that I live about an hour from Cedar Point, I’ve only been there twice–and neither times were particularly spectacular. Six Flags, though, was awesome. Who would’ve known that I’m an adrenaline junkie?

By the time Thursday came around, everyone was exhausted. Luckily, our only obligations were the awards ceremony, closing sessions, and the gala–all of which were more fun than I had anticipated and a good way to end the week.

I reconnected with an old friend from soccer, Brissa, and made new friends, Lily and Ryan, while on this trip.

I reconnected with an old friend from soccer, Brissa, and made new friends, Lily and Ryan, while on this trip. This is us right before we left for the gala.

The view from our 5th floor roof at night.

The view from the 5th floor roof at night.

Then on Friday we drove to the San Antonio airport, flew to Chicago, had a two-and-a-half-hour layover, landed in Detroit around 10, and got back to our school by 11. So I got home, showered, unpacked, repacked, caught up with my sister, and left for my friend’s at 1:30 in the morning only to leave less than four hours later for Indiana.

But that’s another adventure.

Sincerely,

Sammy

 

5 Favorite YouTube Videos: Inspirational

I am a big fan of YouTube. I spend much of my time on this website, watching hours of people I wish I knew take on adventures I wish I could be a part of. Most days, I live vicariously through them. Hoping one day I’ll have my turn.

But that’s no way to live.

And every once in a while I’ll come across a video that makes me shut me laptop (sometimes even power it all the way down), and do something productive. Have an adventure of my own. And some videos just give me a fresh perspective on life, or hope for the future. Something that shows that we’re doing something right.

So I wanted to share some of these videos.

Press Play, Smile. 

Too often we find ourselves in a world of negativity. A world where celebrating is synonymous for making risky decisions that can steer a good life down a nasty path. This filmmaker took his camera into his hometown, Cape Cod, South Africa, and found some positivity to share with the world.

“Stop listening to answer and just listen to understand that your time here is worth celebrating. Looking at your life as an outsider, it’s more beautiful than you could ever imagine. Embrace it.”

What Teachers Make

The first video is Taylor Mali presenting this live, and the second is more of a lyric video with his powerful speech playing in the background. I’m probably biased because I want to become a teacher, but I think this is so wonderful and perfect. Everyone should watch this video.

“I make parents see their children for who they are and who they can be… Let me break it down for you so you KNOW what I say is true. I make a difference, now what about you?”

Jessica’s “Daily Affirmation”

In just 50 seconds, young Jessica gives one of the best pep talks I’ve ever heard in my life.

“I. Like. My. Whole. HOUSE. My whole house is great. I can do anything good. Yeah, yeah, yeah.”

Ellen Page Joins HRCF’s Time to Thrive Conference

Ellen Page gave this speech on Valentine’s Day, announcing to the world that she is gay. I can’t say anything better, myself, so I suggest watching the 8-minute video or reading the transcript that is linked in the bio. It’s worth it.

“I am young, yes, but what I have learned is that love, the beauty of it, the joy of it and yes, even the pain of it, is the most incredible gift to give and to receive as a human being. And we deserve to experience love fully, equally, without shame and without compromise.”

Look Up

You’ve probably seen this video. After all, it’s gotten over 43 million views in the two months it’s been on YouTube. But that’s simply because it’s brilliant. We live in this world where technology is brainwashing us to believe this new definition of “social.” Social media is not all that social when you can’t interact with the people next to you or the entertain the children before you without a screen as a distraction.

“I took a step back and opened my eyes. I looked around and realized that this media we call social is anything but, when we open our computers and it’s our doors we shut.”

So those are five of my favorite videos to watch when I’m looking for inspiration, or just looking to smile. I hope you enjoyed, if you decided to take a few moments and watch one or two. Let me know if there are any others I should check out, as well, and thanks for sticking until the end.

Sincerely,

Sammy

Nice People Are Important

Dear Nice People of the World,

Compliments are one of my favorite things in the world. Genuine, whole-hearted, humbling compliments. They can instantly make someone’s day better and, though often given in the spur of a moment, can stay with the receiver months or years after the moment has passed. And they take no time at all. ANYONE can compliment. We all have nice thoughts about people hidden somewhere within us. So instead of burying them and biting your tongue, voice a few! It will make the whole world a little nicer, if just for a moment.

The reason why I’m writing about this on such a dreary, rainy morning is because I have amazing friends. Throughout high school, I didn’t go to much. I either felt too insecure to leave my house or talked myself into staying home and “being productive,” which never really happened. Sometimes I just felt that no one would care if I went, and that in itself was enough validation for me to stay home. (PSA: That’s no way to think and no way to live. It all just came down to a screwed up perspective that I had created myself, and that’s how I truly wasted my high school years. If you’re going through the motions the same way I was, I strongly recommend to reevaluate your life and change some things. At the very least, find genuinely nice people to surround yourself with and, in turn, become one of those people yourself.)

Anyway, last night I went out to dinner with some people to celebrate a friend’s 18th birthday and one of my favorite people, Marissa, was there. Let me tell you, this girl gives the best compliments. She’ll just randomly look over at me and say, “Sammy you’re so cute,” or “I love hanging out with you.” Not to the point where it’s overdone or anything, but for example, yesterday when we took a group picture, she said she really wanted to stand next to me. And instead of being paranoid that I was the D.U.F.F. or something, I just let the compliment ring genuine and was flattered.

And these compliments, though they don’t seem like much, are thoughts that stay with me. I’m sure people who have complimented me aren’t aware for how long I stay thankful for it (which may be embarrassing but oh well), but I remember a lot when it comes to people being nice. One day in junior year biology, my friend Adrianne said that my hair color was her favorite. Here I thought it was just your standard brown, but she called it chocolate or something much more attractive and said it was her “dream color.” So for me, who has never been a big fan of my hair, this compliment made my whole day and I still remember it whenever it’s looking particularly flat or lifeless. I’ll think, “at least it’s a good color.”

Now, I understand I shouldn’t use others’ opinions to validate my own self-worth–and I don’t! It’s just that sometimes being confident (for me at least) is hard when you feel like you’re the only person seeing what you see. So you shouldn’t fish for compliments or seek them just so you can feel good about yourself, but you should give them as frequently and genuinely as possible because you have no idea the kind of impact they can have.

My final example is with my teachers. I had to write a total of 24 essays this year for my Teaching Professions program (about one a week, give or take) and after each one my teacher would compliment me on my writing skills. Here’s the thing with compliments, though: they only work if you know how to take them. At first, I didn’t. I was in constant denial. I thought that maybe my teacher couldn’t tell a good essay from an excellent one, making mine simply adequate (after all, his specialization was history–not English). But he was persistent. He complimented me after almost anything I turned in, from September until May. He was constantly telling me how he “could hardly find a mistake in this one!” Or say something like, “you’re a really good writer, you know that?” And by the time the year was over, I did. Or, at least, I believed I did.

This consistency was crucial in the development of my self-confidence and by the time November came around and my English teacher complimented a piece I had written, I was flying. At the end of a movie review I wrote for class he wrote, “I think writing will be a significant part of your life ahead.” Later down the road it occurred to me that he might’ve just tried to write something positive on everyone’s papers and mine was nothing special, but at that moment, the thought didn’t even cross my mind. And that’s the power of compliments. Because those nice words, simple as they were, gave me enough self-confidence to start writing the novel that I intend to finish and publish sometime in my life. See, I’ve always had this passion, but I doubted my abilities much too much to even think about starting a novel. But a few nice words from people who I admired–people who I looked up to, was enough to inspire me and make a difference in my life.

I’m still really new to blogging and writing these kinds of posts, and I think I’m really bad at keeping them short and sweet. But the point is: be nice. Compliments are important and nice people are important. And if you ever notice how passionate or devoted or punctual or caring someone is, what’s holding you back? Tell them! Even if it doesn’t change their life, the least it could do is make their day. Or their hour. And if it could make this person happy for even a minute, that should be enough to keep you from biting your tongue.

Sincerely,

Sammy

IMG_2788

PS: I haven’t posted a picture on here yet, so here’s my amazing friends and me at Hannah’s birthday dinner last night. (Marquis, Tia, Michael, Hannah, Marissa, Me, Jake, Maeven, Missy, Kassara, Maddie)

 

My Story

Dear Reader,

Let me set the scene for you. The room is pitch dark and freezing and the house is silent. All except for the laptop sitting on the bed in the tiny alcove of the bedroom. Alt-J’s “Interlude 2” is playing from the sleep playlist that has been droning on for a solid two hours and the clock reads 3:43 AM. And here I lay, bored out of my mind and perfectly awake. And perfectly aware that I have to babysit two boys in about four hours. I guess that’s the downside of taking two naps in one day.

To be honest, I could probably sleep if I tried, but I haven’t been trying. Instead, I’ve been exploring parts of the internet that I’ve remained unfamiliar with for all of these years. Well, I’m only seventeen, but I’ve been pretty comfortable navigating YouTube, Tumblr, Facebook, and all that jazz for a good five years now at least. Blogging, though, is new to me.

I’ve come across blogs before, mainly through Pinterest, but I never thought I would actually start one myself. Actually, I’m surprising myself as I type. But I guess that’s what boredom or procrastination or whatever you want to call this will drive you to. It’s all a very strange concept to me. These posts will be accessible to the entire world, but maybe a handful of people with read them–if that. Still, it’s the risk that’s exciting. It’s not like I’m going to deliberately keep this a secret and pull a Hannah Montana act and get the best of both worlds. I won’t become “average teenage girl by day; super blogger by night” (I meant for that to be lame but it came out cheesier than expected but you know what? We’re past it and I’m keeping it in here. No edits). What will probably end up happening is I will occasionally use this blog to post… things. Stories, opinions, recommendations, rants, advice, I don’t know. Whatever else I want to. And maybe no one will read it (probably no one will read it) or maybe one person will. And that person will use my advice and make a change. Or maybe they’ll be inspired and start their own blog that becomes super popular and they become famous and start inflicting change all over the world and in a way I helped, which is enough. Or, at the very least, maybe someone will be bored or sad and they’ll read this (probably just the beginning because this is already getting to be unnecessarily long and we’re not done yet) and smile. Actually no, at the very least, I’ll come back and read this and laugh at myself for being such a dork. And that’s enough for me. Either way, this exists now. It’s a thing. And it needs an introduction, so this is what it gets.

I’ve kept a journal since the sixth grade (all on Microsoft Word documents and Pages, mind you–I’m awful at keeping hand-written journals), and I ended every entry with “Sincerely, Sammy.” Cheesy, sure, but I was pretty darn proud of myself when I coined that tagline at age 10. So, that’s the name of this blog. Now to explain the name of this post.

I am an aspiring writer. Aren’t we all? Actually, probably not, but that’s just how I’ve felt recently. Anyway, I want to be an author. Someday. I really want to be a high school English teacher, but I want to continue writing as well. It is this desire that navigates my thinking throughout the days. I see everyone as a possible character. Sort of. More like I see their characteristics and think about the characters I have created and am in the process of creating and I make mental notes to give them these different qualities or assets. Similarly, it is this sort of thinking that has caused me to think of myself as a character in a novel. I used to think everyone did this–which they might, to some extent. Because let’s be honest, we’re all the protagonist of our own stories. We’re all the centers of our own lives. Sure, we’re a part of a bigger picture, but our lives revolve around us. Specifically. Individually. I’m not explaining this correctly (I hardly ever explain anything correctly), so I’ll probably come back to this topic in a future entry. When it’s not four in the morning and I can think straight and articulate my thoughts in an organized manner. But I digress. And we’re missing the point that I’m trying to make.

Spoiler Alert: I don’t have a story. 

Not yet, anyways.

After coming to terms with the perspective that I am the main character of this story, it was hard enough for me to decide what kind of character I wanted to be. What kind of person I want to be. And I’m still working on it, but the story needs some work too. What I’m thinking is if I start this blog, if I start writing about my “story,” something is bound to happen. Something! Anything! Because if my life leading up to this moment was a novel, I would rate it a solid two stars out of five. I would say, lovable characters, hilarious protagonist (hey, it’s my story), but no plot. Hardly any conflict. No adventures. BORING.

So maybe I’m just the character and fate or destiny or God is the writer. Maybe I have no say in where this story goes. In which case, I am starting this blog to say: Yes, hello, it’s me, Sammy. I’m bored and pathetic and would like some change, please. Preferably something spectacular. And maybe that’ll work!

Or maybe I’m both the character and the author. That’s how I’ve been raised to think: that I can do anything–be anything I want to be. In which case, I’m forcing myself to take some initiative by starting this blog. I have created this place to share some things about my life. With whom, I have no idea. But the point is that I want to share some amazing experiences and crazy stories and I want to go out and live in order to have solid advice and opinionated feelings! So this is a turning point for me, then.

Or maybe nothing will happen and this site will be filled with a whole lot of pointless nothingness. God, that’s an awfully put-together sentence. But no edits, right? I’m far too lazy and tired for that.

Either way, this has already been a success because I am exhausted. I have managed to kill an hour by starting what is possibly the greatest project of my life.

I’m also fantastically optimistic.

Sincerely,

Sammy