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Promma Mia! It’s exactly what you’ve been expecting…only better

Ahh, the beautiful sounds of birds chirping, the light wind blowing amidst the trees, the sun is shining, and it’s PROM DAY baby!

If you’re like me, or any other teenager I know of, prom night is one of the most important nights of your life, and no, I don’t mean that for the trashy after-prom sex most teenagers have in the backseat of a car. It’s basically the one day you get to glam yourself up. For me, it’s the one day I got to wear a floor-length gown, get my hair and makeup done, and feel 0.1% of what celebrities feel like during award show season.

Prom is the adios amigos to your high school. It’s ending four years of hell, misery, and pain with a bang: a bang so loud, you can’t hear yourself while dancing. Initially, I wasn’t too keen on attending prom. I knew that deep down, I always wanted the fancy dress and fancy makeup and fancy hairdo’s, but on the outside, trying to be ‘different,’ I told my friends “Prom is sooo overrated. I’d rather eat pizza and watch Netflix at home.”

And part of that isn’t necessarily untrue. If you think about it logistically, prom is very much overrated. I spent $180 for a dress, $125 for hair and makeup, $60 for accessories and $30 for corsage (the last one was a total waste of money, by the way…especially if you’re someone like me who didn’t have a date to prom and was forced by friends to purchase one). Despite the glitz and glamour of prom itself, it takes a huge toll on your bank account, and considering the fact that I’ll be going away for university next year, I really should be saving every dime.

If we are left stuck analyzing the facts, however, prom would never be enjoyable. Millions of teenagers attend prom, despite the slash on their wallets. After attending my own prom, I could see why. It was an incredible experience, and I got some amazing pictures out of it!

Let’s start with the beginning. My day began at school…I know, a lot of people do skip school that day for hair and makeup, but we had a grad breakfast, where they announce some superlative awards or Most Likely to… awards (ya girl won Most Likely to Become an Actress), and announce valedictorian (which yours truly was nominated for, but I have no idea how or why). It was a pretty emotional ceremony because a montage of pictures of our four years in high school played, and our school had GOOD food, especially considering the fact that we all thought grad ‘breakfast’ meant a granola bar and a croissant.

After the ceremony, my friends and I went to pick up corsages from a little flower shop behind the school. The biggest problem was how to keep the flowers fresh until prom? Some of my friends were taking pre-prom pictures, I was getting my hair and makeup done until like 2 seconds before prom, other friend was getting a haircut, it was all a mess! We eventually figured it out, and corsages looked GORGEOUS (I still think it’s a waste of money if you don’t have a date).

Speaking of dates, something I noticed at the actual event of prom was that a lot of the times, if there was a couple or a date together, 99% of the time, they looked bored out of their mind. I mean, seriously! One would think that if you had a date it would be much more fun, but I just really felt bad for everyone there. They were all sitting at their tables, talking…WHO JUST ‘TALKS’ DURING A SEAN PAUL SONG?! If you’re not on the dance floor, you are missing out. Other couples were slow-dancing to up-beat songs, and that’s where I found the most pity. I get it, you guys want to spend the night together, but seriously: you are NOT obliged to spend the entire night in your date’s arms. Free your mind, go out and have some fun on the dance floor. If you’re dependent on your date so much that you can’t leave them for a minute to enjoy a few dances with your friends, prom won’t be as great as you think. This statement, however, was just from what I had witnessed. Who knows: maybe sitting and talking does sound like fun to some people. I, on the other hand, am going to use up every cent of the $80 I paid for my prom ticket.

For all the ladies before prom, listen up: my experience with hair and makeup was INSANE! I was immensely stressed out and panicking (then again, I stress out over very small things). My makeup and hair appointments were back-to-back (almost), and of course, makeup was running late because it’s prime prom season. Be sure to book your makeup at least half an hour, if not, more, between your hair appointment. If you run early (which is very unlikely, but possible), it’s better than running late. I was lucky because although my makeup ran late, the hair appointment before me was running late, so I was able to arrive ‘early’ almost. Book your appointments several months in advance, otherwise, big stores like M.A.C or Sephora will be booked. When getting your makeup done, be sure to let the artist know EXACTLY what you want. During the process of getting your makeup done, don’t hesitate to tell them what you want changed. If you’re paying a hefty load of money, you might as well get it done just the way you want it.

Once you’re at prom, just enjoy it. Don’t stress about little things because you’ll end up forgetting about it in the end. Take LOADS of pictures. Be a model that day: it’s your day to shine. Post it all over social media if you have to. If the food there isn’t satisfactory (a lot of the times, they aren’t), grab something to eat after prom ends. A lot of drive-though’s for fast-foods are open very late. If I had the energy, I would’ve asked my dad to buy me some McDonald’s because boy was I hungry after prom.

Dance the night away. You’ll notice a lot of sexual activity throughout the course of prom. Make outs, car sex, bathroom sex, grinding, all kids of ‘jobs,’ etc. Kids get very turned on in tight clothes and heavy makeup and hey, it’s all cool. I don’t have much advice if you’re in that position, but if you’re an outsider, just ignore it or laugh it off, and move on. This is where the movie stuff comes in. Everyone’s twerking on the dance floor, grinding against one another during a slow song…quite humorous, if you ask me. It didn’t distract from my experience at all, if that’s something you may be worried about.

That’s my prom experience in a nutshell. Although I did basically lose a crap ton of money, I’d do it all over again. It’s not really like what you see in the movies…I would say it’s way cooler.

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A cup of java a day keeps the F’s away

Tick, tock.

Tick, tock.

Tick tock.

Rrrrrriiiinngggg! It’s 7:00 am! Let’s get up from bed and face another day of school while running on three hours of sleep! Woohoo!

This has been my life for the past two months. I can’t imagine going to bed before at least 2:00 am, even when my eyes droop down to my desk, and I can’t tell the difference between a ‘one’ and a ‘seven’ in the math equation because everything becomes blurry. Just…one…more…question…

When I was in elementary school, I found the concept of pulling ‘all-nighters’ to be quite exciting. Staying up all night to finish homework was my transition into adulthood. It’s what every kid in every Disney Channel show did. It was my key to becoming an official high school student…a teenager.

Boy, do I really regret that thought.

Here’s the truth about all-nighters and staying up late: television needs to stop romanticizing it. It is not a great feeling. It’s equivalent to having a hangover in the morning, minus all the ‘fun’ of the alcohol. Every day, I feel like a zombie walking through school. I am breathing, yes. I am aware of my surroundings, yes. My brain is functioning, yes. I am living, no.

If I was given the opportunity to take an entire day to sleep, or even just lie in bed, I would take it in a heartbeat. All-nighters drain you out like crazy. Fortunately for me, I have not yet gone to the point of pulling an all-nighter for school work because I tend to finish my work by 2:00 am (which is ‘better,’ per say, but at least I get some rest). I know for a fact that I will not be able to function in school without a minimum of three hours of sleep. Six hours seem close to impossible, and don’t even get me started on trying to get eight hours the week before March break.

Three tests, two presentations, two assignments, all due next week. Senior year is really a buzzkill. As exciting as it sounds to be able to go to prom and graduate and be ‘on top of the world,’ the euphoria does not kick in for a while, so don’t get your hopes up just yet. I’m sure it will come to me eventually.

My advice, however, is this: practice time management. I cannot stress to you how important it is in high school, especially as you move forward into your upper years. Many grade nines that I speak to tend to take it for granted, but trust me, good practice with time management goes a long way. For myself, I would say that I have learned to manage my time efficiently, with school, extra-curricular activities (and quite a few of them), socializing and spending time with friends, spending time with family, and finding time for myself, because you really need it.

School is always important, but remember to prioritize. If you leave yourself enough time to do the things you want to do, you will have less stress. Stress is inevitable in life, and high school is just the beginning, but there are ways to effectively manage stress, with time management being one of them. Tests, quizzes, assignments, and presentations will come and go, but you only have one life. Take some time to enjoy yourself. High school is not about work, work, and more work. You only get to be a teenager once. The best thing you can do is balance.

If you feel as though the stress is getting to be too much, talk to someone. Please, talk to someone. I promise you someone is there to listen to you, whether it be parents, friends, guidance councillors, siblings, teachers, coaches, or anyone you feel comfortable approaching. High school is not about doing everything all at once. You should be given the opportunity to enjoy the last four years of your adolescence. If you feel like you need to drop a course to balance your schedule, don’t be afraid to talk to your guidance department about it. If you feel left behind in math class, talk to a friend or your parents about after-school help or finding a tutor. There are so many options waiting for you…you need to figure out what options are best for you.

Don’t feel like you need to do everything at once, because trust me, you are not a superhuman. We all have a breaking point, with some being able to bear a heavier load than others. Find your maximum capacity, and use it to your fullest potential. Don’t take it for granted.

And please, for god’s sake, get some sleep at some point or another. Let your body recover from all the work you’ve put in. It needs to replenish all the lost hours of rest. You can’t run on a cup of java every day. Despite what those Hallmark mugs may say, coffee is not the solution to all of your problems.

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How to get a university acceptance: let your parents belittle you

Every teenager has had that moment of screaming “Ugh, I hate you mom! You’re the worst!” and storming up to their rooms.

Of course, if you’re someone like me, from a south Asian family background, you’re more likely to ‘mentally’ scream because should your mom ever hear you utter those words from your mouth, you can say goodbye to all your hopes and dreams in life.

As cliché as it may seem, we’ve all felt a moment of aggravation or frustration or misunderstanding towards our parents. For the most part, our parents want us to thrive and succeed in life. My parents have always told me that they want me to be much better than they ever were, whether this be financially, romantically, educationally, etc. Parents always want their children to do better in order to make them proud.

Sometimes, however, making our parents proud can become rather difficult, especially when they degrade your confidence levels and make you feel like you are unable to achieve anything.

Again, I don’t know if many of you have faced this kind of experience from your parents, but it has certainly impacted me.

I used to think that my parents did not care about me. All they ever did was tell me how awful my grades were, and how I “needed to make sure I was above a 95% in all of my courses, just like Shiela aunty’s daughter.” I mean, what kind of a support system was that? I always dreaded bringing home report cards because I knew I would get a lecture on how being “above provincial standards” is not good enough.” If there were no 90’s on that report card, I knew that I would not hear the end of it.

For a while, I made myself believe that I was worthless. My parents just wanted my grades to be high because they wanted to compare me to other people’s children. I was just a way for them to rise on the social ladder. My education did not mean anything to them.

I was dead wrong.

You see, I didn’t realize it then, but this kind of ‘degrading,’ as I called it, infuriated me. Ever since I was a child, I had always been an excellent student. I would always follow the rules, colour in between the lines, hand in homework on time, get perfect on spelling tests (except this one with the word ‘because,’ but we don’t talk about that test anymore), you get the idea.

I had always made my parents proud. It made me happy to see them be proud of me. This was my life for thirteen years…until high school came around. Naturally, my grades began to fall because the transition period for me was very difficult. As high school progressed, however, my marks fluctuated, but they remained in the high 80’s to low/mid 90’s.

This was never good enough for my parents.

I was unable to please them. I could not bring back that happiness of watching them smile and say “Wow, good job!” anymore. This frustrated me to my core. And subconsciously, it made me work harder.

One day, perhaps in the eleventh grade, I had this surge of energy after my mom finished mocking me over how I will not be ready for university. I was angry. I was infuriated. I was frustrated.

I was going to prove to my mom and dad that I could get into the best universities.

Maybe it was my personality that triggered it even more, or maybe this really does happen to other individuals that have the same experience with their parents, but I began to work harder than I ever worked in my whole life…and I felt it, too. I stayed up late nights watching additional videos for concepts I did not understand in chemistry, took on extra math question to further develop my understanding, read, re-read and re-re-read my essay for English, and begin studying for the biology test a week in advance.

I never knew that what I was doing was pushing myself harder. I just knew that I HAD to prove to my parents that I could get into good universities. I just had to. My top choice was McMaster University for their Life Science program, and I knew that if I could get an acceptance from that university in the twelfth grade, my work would not have gone to waste. My parents, however, worshipped the University of Toronto, and they wanted more than anything for me to attend that university.

Here I am, in my senior year, a time when university acceptances are rolling around. Although I have not received any news from McMaster yet, I was able to tell my parents that I got an acceptance letter from all three University of Toronto campuses (St. George, Mississauga and Scarborough) for Life Science today. That was the moment that I knew my work had not gone to waste.

My mom, who did not even consider the idea that I would get accepted into the University of Toronto St. George campus (because it is the most competitive out of the three) was in shock as I showed her my acceptance letter today. I think it’s safe to say that they’re both very proud, and that happy feeling has finally returned to me once again. This is not an opportunity for me to brag about my acceptances to university, gosh no. You just have to know that sometimes, when your parents ‘belittle’ you, and you feel like giving up because you think there’s no point in trying to please them or make them proud anymore, take that energy and channel it into something greater. Prove to your parents that you are in fact capable of doing something greater than what it may seem. It doesn’t necessarily have to be university acceptances, but prove to them that you are capable of doing great things.

Trust me when I say that the feeling of seeing your parents realize that they were wrong about you (in a good way, of course) is one of the greatest feelings ever.