Note:  Before I get into this post, I wanted to explain my lack of activity on this corner of the web.  Like so many high school seniors before me, I am immersed in stacks of college applications and senior year homework.  Of course, these will always be my first priority, but when I have extra time on my hands this semester, I'll try to hop on over!

Ever-constant, ever-changing:  fear is an integral component of the human experience.  Fear can be frustrating because of its dynamic nature;  it doesn't always appear in the form of a demonic poltergeist.  For many of us, it comes as an inevitable phone call or the first day of a new job;  it's an important presentation deadline or the "submit" button on a college application website.
I've known fear that was light but distracting, and I've known fear so paralyzing that it hindered my ability to speak.  Neither type is particularly endearing--but no matter its form, fear can always be overcome.

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You see, fear has a very negative connotation in most of our minds.  I'm sure that glancing at the previous paragraphs is enough to give you a clear picture of the feelings that fear evokes in me.  Part of the dilemma, however, is this distinct way that we characterize fear.  Ultimately, we overcome fear by embracing it, and it's rather difficult to embrace something you hold in an unfavorable light.
I'll admit, the thought of "welcoming" fear or "looking forward" to being afraid sounds a bit ludicrous--but it isn't the fear itself that we must embrace.  We must look forward to the opportunities that stem from our being determined enough to face fear.  That is what being courageous truly means, after all.
I'll leave you with a prime example.  I began turning in the first round of my college applications a week ago, and frankly, that experience was a bit terrifying.  It seemed like so many things could turn sour after I pressed the "submit" button.  Indeed, the sole way to receive a genuine letter of rejection from a university is to submit an application--but funnily enough, submitting an application is also the only gateway to admission.  I may fear rejection, but I will face this fear willingly in order to embrace the opportunities that may await me if I am bold enough to click "submit".

Ralph Waldo Emerson once stated, "What you are afraid to do is a clear indication of the next thing you need to do."  We all know where our fears lie;  it's only a matter of seeing the opportunities hidden behind them that allows us to face them.

How do you face fear?


A Bit of Inspiration

Hello, hello!  The month of August has been accompanied by a flurry of back-to-school activities and adjustment periods--I'm sure that some of you understand exactly what I'm talking about!  Even though I only just finished up my first full week of the school year, my mind and body seem to believe that I've been attending class for at least two months:  a hectic two months, at that.  All that being said, nothing helps me overcome stress like a healthy dose of verbal inspiration;  hopefully, the following quotes will alleviate your worries--just as they did mine!

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"The world won't care about your self-esteem.  The world will expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself." -- Bill Gates

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." -- Anne Frank

"Do more than belong:  participate.  Do more than care:  help.  Do more than believe: practice.  Do more than be fair:  be kind.  Do more than forgive:  forget.  Do more than dream:  work." -- William Arthur Ward

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"May we ever choose the harder right, instead of the easier wrong." -- Thomas S. Monson

"The planet does not need more 'successful people.'  The planet desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of all kinds." -- Dalai Lama

"At times the world may seem an unfriendly and sinister place, but believe that there is much more good in it than bad.  All you have to do is look hard enough, and what might seem to be a series of unfortunate events may in fact be the first steps of a journey." -- Lemony Snicket

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"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." -- Anaïs Nin

"Not a single creature deserves to be mistreated or abused.  Not a one." -- Anthony Douglas Williams

"Any fool can know.  The point is to understand." -- Albert Einstein

"If all your prayers were answered, would it change the world or just yours?" -- Unknown

If those words don't leave you feeling the least bit inspired, I don't know what will.  Let us hope that we can follow their sage advice over the next few months.

Any bits of inspiration that you'd like to share?


Four Audrey Hepburn Facts

Audrey Hepburn remains one of the most admired women of the twentieth century, and if you've glanced at a picture of her, you'll begin to understand why.  Although most regard her as a supreme fashion icon and actress, her life consisted of so much more than gracing cinema screens and twirling in black dresses.  Because she is an icon to so many, I wanted to shed light on some lesser-known facts about Audrey and the actions that truly make her a person worth remembering.

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1. First and foremost, she devoted much of her later life to a humanitarian cause.
Audrey Hepburn was named a UNICEF goodwill ambassador in 1988, just five years before her death.  No partnership could have been more fitting;  indeed, Audrey was one of the first children to be aided by UNICEF's predecessor, UNRRA, during the 1945 postwar liberation of Holland.  As such, she felt deeply connected to UNICEF's mission and traveled abroad to aid and raise awareness about impoverished children in communities across the world.

2. She was a wonderful mother.
Perhaps because her chances of becoming a mother seemed slim at the start, Audrey was especially devoted to her children.  She retired early from her film career in order to become a full-time mother, and she worked tirelessly to make her children and their lives the center of her own.

3. She was adored in many Asian countries--especially Japan--because her appearance portrayed her as more "relatable" than other Hollywood stars.
It's easy to see why Audrey, with her small frame and darker features, was more identifiable to Asian men and women than other Hollywood stars known for their blond locks or curvy figures.  She remains an icon and a role model in many Asian countries.

4. Her dancing enabled her to aid the resistance movement in Holland during World War II.
Ballet dancing was a passion that began for Audrey at a very young age, and she had been training for several years by the time the war began.  She contributed to the Resistance in her own way:  raising funds from secret ballet performances held for neighbors and strangers.  She continued to do so until malnutrition left her physically incapable of dancing. This medical condition partly contributed to the slim figure that was so praised in Hollywood.

Evidently, Audrey Hepburn was a wonderful actress and fashion icon, but I think it's unfair that these achievements are remembered as her greatest.  In the words of Audrey herself,
"As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others."
And help others, she certainly did.

Information source:  Audrey at Home by Luca Dotti.

Did you know any of these facts about Audrey Hepburn?


A Guide to Tackling Internships

It seems like every college-aged blogger I follow is participating in a summer internship--but who can blame them?  Summer is the prime time for gleaning work experience.  If you're planning on following in their footsteps in the future, this is a humble guide crafted from my experiences as an intern that is meant to curtail any fears you have about starting an internship on the right note.
A little background behind my own internships:  the first one I completed was part of a curriculum at my high school that involved doing modified clinical rotations at different healthcare practices for several hours each week.  I'm currently job shadowing at a local veterinary referral hospital that performs specialized surgeries and emergency care.  Now, without further ado:

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1. Start With Good Communication:  Nothing is quite as perilous as being unsure of the details behind your internship:  basic snippets ranging from the workplace uniform (provided there is one) to the entrance you should use.  If you are truly serious about pursuing an internship, take the initiative to find the answers to these questions at your workplace--the sooner the better.  Doing this will make future endeavors much easier.

2. Know Your Purpose:  Stemming from the above advice, being unsure of what your daily tasks consist of is a nerve wracking proposition.  Similarly, standing around awkwardly while desperately trying to find someone to direct you is not the best way to establish yourself at a workplace.  It's quite simple to prevent this situation from occurring:  just ask a few key questions about your role at the workplace.

3. Be As Helpful As Possible:  Even if you feel unsure about striking up conversations with other employees or interns, showing a willingness to help others speaks volumes on your behalf.  Lifting items, holding doors, fetching equipment:  completing each of these small tasks establishes you as a conscientious and thoughtful intern (no nerve-wracking feats required).

4. Be Kind To Yourself:  In other words, don't berate yourself for feeling awkward or uncomfortable during your internship.  Allowing yourself enough time to become accustomed to this new environment is the only way to abolish those feelings of anxiety. Until that occurs, self-inflicted negativity only takes away from the internship experience.

5. Take A Deep Breath:  If this is your first internship experience, remember that being a bit anxious or scared is completely normal--but also remember that an internship is an exciting opportunity, no matter what form it takes.  Inhale, exhale, and prepare to learn!

Truly, internships are one of the most valuable learning tools available to younger generations.  Being immersed in a work environment provides a greater understanding of a certain field--and, to a certain extent, a greater understanding of yourself and your capabilities.  Remember:
"The days you are most uncomfortable are the days you learn the most about yourself." -- Mary L. Bean
Do you have any advice about tackling internships?


Life Updates

If you've read any number of my posts, you may have guessed that I enjoy keeping myself busy (as illustrated by my borderline-excessive use of the word "hectic").  When the second semester of my junior year arrived, a new state of hectic-ness accompanied it--the likes of which I had never experienced before.  As a result, blogging slipped down to the bottom of my hefty priority list and stayed submerged there for six months.  Like I mentioned in this post, I sincerely hope that a six-month break will never again be necessary.
Now, on to the fun part:  answering some unspoken questions about my hiatus and what the future holds for the blog.

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Tori, where have you been?
Great question!  Quite simply, I've been studying.  Especially during the month of April, my time was monopolized by studying for AP exams.  On the off chance that I wasn't occupied by studying or some other task, I didn't feel up to doing anything more than lounging around.

What are you doing now?
This summer is certainly going to be a busy one (surprise, surprise), but I feel much more optimistic now that I have a definite break from school.  One of the most exciting developments has been my opportunity to do a modified internship at a local veterinary hospital.  I spend several hours there each Tuesday observing procedures and surgeries.  I'm also taking online precalculus as a review for an upcoming AP Calculus class.  To top it all off, I'm studying for a national health science competition that I'll be attending in a week.

What's to come?
College visits, first and foremost.  My parents and I are visiting six colleges this summer, starting with the University of Florida in a couple of weeks.  I'll be sure to share more about all of the colleges as the summer draws to a close.  Not quite as important (but just as exciting), we're heading back to Disney in a week because that is where the aforementioned health science competition takes place.  Besides that, I'm hoping to get a head start on some college and scholarship applications while I'm on break.  As far as the blog goes, I'm hoping to refine the site's design with a little help from Google (as you can see, that process is already beginning)!

Life will always be hectic;  I wouldn't have it any other way.  You know what they say:
"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us." -- J.R.R. Tolkien
As in the wise words of Tolkien, I've simply decided to fill my time with as many meaningful things as possible.

What have you been up to?


Junior Lessons

Hello there!  I'm back after taking a much longer break than I'd intended.  I dearly missed writing for this little corner of the Internet and sincerely hope that a six-month absence will never again be necessary.  More on that subject will come at a later time, but for now, let's focus on two of my favorite topics:  school and life lessons.
The American high school experience teaches many things besides the obvious STEM and humanities concepts.  After my completion of each year, I've reflected upon the broader life lessons that were highlighted during my academic experiences.  It took me quite a while to ponder my "Junior Lessons" because my junior year was the most difficult--and most rewarding--year yet.

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1. Happiness is a choice, not a random event.
Ever heard the mantra, "You must choose your own happiness"?  It sounds idealistic, but it's true.  Each morning, you have to be bold enough to decide whether your day is going to be a happy one;  you cannot sit idly by and wait for happiness to drop in your lap.

2. Time management is the key to productivity.
Whether you are a student or a graduate, this much is true:  learn to manage your time effectively, and you've overcome an obstacle standing in the way of future productivity and success.

3. Work when your mind is clearest and most awake.
Because I am anything but a night owl, I quickly learned that attempting to finish any type of homework or studying after 8:30 PM was a lost cause;  this translated to adjusting my workload so that I could accomplish more during the morning.  Use this principle to reconsider your own study and work habits.

4. Embrace flexibility.
Before my junior year arrived, I had the luxury of being able to allocate ample time for completing assignments and studying for tests.  In other words, I was usually confident that I would be capable of completing each task in a meticulous, sequential manner, only finishing when the final product exceeded all expectations.  As this was certainly not the case during my junior year, I was forced to learn to be more flexible about the way I approached my to-do lists and to accept that completing tasks was ultimately more important than the sequence I took to complete them.

5. What you think is what you are--so think wisely.
Cultivate positive thoughts to become a more positive person.  In the same way, refute negative thoughts to avoid a negative outlook.

6. Learn the difference between what "must" be done and what "could" be done.
Perhaps the most difficult lesson for yours truly, learning to prioritize a to-do list is a vital skill for any time-crunched individual to adopt.  The sooner you differentiate between which tasks absolutely have to be completed and those which do not, the better.

7. Always keep a smile on your face.
Especially if you are surrounded by important teachers and mentors (also known as your tickets to helpful guidance and wonderful letters of recommendation), it's essential that you make an effort to look happy and engaged rather than upset or annoyed.  And if you are surrounded by your peers (especially those you dislike), a smile is the first defense against rumors and rude comments.

8. Don't waste precious time on people who are unwilling to dedicate time to you.
It seems like a simple lesson, but with the double-edged sword of social media (Instagram, I'm talking about you) playing such a large role in our lives, it's very easy to waste hours poring over the photos and comments of people who are unimportant aspects of our real lives.  Dedicate time to the people who matter most--the people who actively inspire and impact your life.

9. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel.
Truly, there is an end to each obstacle and an exit to each tribulation;  best of all, you only need a tiny amount of courage to get there.

10. Know that you are capable of great things.
You'd be really surprised by how much you can accomplish when you set your mind to doing so.

Certainly, my junior year wasn't easy--but its difficult nature enabled me to grow and learn on a greater level.  If you are a rising junior, I wish you the best of luck (and if you are a rising freshman or sophomore, peruse my "Freshman Lessons" and "Sophomore Lessons" posts).

What lessons did you learn over the previous school year?


Being A Prep For A Week: 1/15/17 -- 1/21/17

Hello, lovely readers!  I apologize for my absence over the past week;  even though Monday was a holiday, the following week days still managed to be a little hectic.  My days have been full of reading (Into the Wild has been pretty good so far), studying (for the ACT, AP exams, a healthcare competition...), and watching various medical procedures (at least I'll know what to expect if I need to have a colonoscopy).  However, I always anticipate turning back to blogging, as it is my favorite creative pastime. Nothing quite compares to a good dose of HTML coding and link gathering!  Speaking of links...

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Now, on to some of my favorite links from the past week:
As someone who has always wanted a white kitchen, I loved this video about alternatives to that beautiful (although somewhat impractical) strain of marble that has gained so much popularity...
Five females from history that should have their own miniseries--now that's an idea to pitch to BBS!
These colorblock leggings are so cool;  they'd pair well with these New Balance sneakers...
Especially in this era, it's important for us to actively study the past so that we can better impact the future.  So, what is the difference between history and the past?  This post answers that question beautifully.
This designer-parody Disney tee is the best thing I've seen today...

Now, in light of this week's Martin Luther King Day and the world's rapidly changing state, let's remember this piece of wisdom:  "I have decided to stick with love.  Hate is too great a burden to bear."

How was your week?