Friday, August 28, 2015

Which Sex Has it Easier?

Disclaimer: this is excluding transgenders, gender-fluids, genderqueers, etc. They have their own problems.
Inspired by: this video because it's stupid and incorrect
Similar: It's Easier to Be a Guy

Things women have to deal with

  1. Not being able to walk around topless (similar: Legalize Female Toplessness) when it's sweltering out. It's literally illegal to take off your shirt if you're a woman in public. LITERALLY ILLEGAL. How is that not a violation of our constitutional rights?
  2. They have to go through the pain of birthing a child if they want a biological son/daughter.
  3. Periods. Obviously.
  4. Bras. Obviously.
  5. Boobs and sore breasts.
  6. Women's pants have small pockets. Men's pants have big pockets.
  7. Therefore we have to carry a purse, which can be annoying to have to drag everywhere.
  8. Being afraid of being outside alone at night.
  9. Being objectified.
  10. Coming out of Adam's rib.
  11. Being expected to be a diligent housewife.
  12. Being way more prone to rape.
  13. Having to watch what you wear, especially in the city, for rape prevention.
  14. Being shorter because of genetics.
  15. Wage gap.
  16. The "war against women."
  17. People are trying to stop funding Planned Parenthood, our only safe place for minors to get affordable birth control and abortions.
  18. Breast size insecurities.
  19. Men have faster metabolisms than women.
  20. Men can lose weight faster than women.
  21. Being expected to shave your legs and underarms.
  22. Being expected to wear makeup.
  23. Being expected to wax/pluck/groom your eyebrows.
  24. Fearing men.
  25. Soap/deodorant/shampoo/conditioner/razors/everything being more expensive and less effective but you still have to buy it because you don't want to smell like a man.

Things men have to deal with

  1. They don't get the joy of birthing a child and breastfeeding him/her.
  2. Women usually get custody of a child during divorces.
  3. Random boners.
  4. Being looked down upon for being a stay-at-home dad.
  5. Penis size insecurities.
  6. It's not as easy to get away with being chubby.
  7. Women are scientifically more empathetic than men.
  8. Having to find a good haircut. Women can just get their hair cut straight across and it will still look fine.
  9. Being feared by women.
  10. Having to take off your shirt at the pool or looking weird/insecure.
  11. Being seen as weird/gay if you choose to wear makeup.
  12. Being shut down with the whole "meninism" thing.
So, either I'm biased, I don't know much about men to make more points about them, or women have it a lot harder.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Dense Swim Seasons

  1. I can relate to this:
    but not this:
  2. My friends are always available to hang out and I'm not.
  3. My friends make plans in the group chat but I can't go.
  4. Other people getting mad at me because I can never hang out and I'm MIA for three months once a year.
  5. High school going by way too quickly because I lose three months out of every year.
  6. Worrying that senior year, I'll regret spending so much time swimming.
  7. I don't actually enjoy the sport but I do it for college and no one understands.
  8. Being utterly sleep-deprived and exhausted but still having to go to swim practice.
  9. People still try to talk to you the next day after you had a 8-10pm swim practice and still had to do homework and shower afterwards.
  10. People don't think it's as time-consuming as it is.
  11. People don't think it's as exhausting and draining (mentally and physically) as it is.
  12. My summer comes to a harsh end with the start of the swim season.
  13. My summer ends a week before everyone else's because swimming starts a week before school does.
  14. Not even remembering what "me time" means.
  15. Not having time to buy school supplies so using the broken ones from last year.
  16. Having literally no one to talk to because no one understands what you're going through with having absolutely no "me time" ever.
  17. Feeling like you just lost three months of your life when swimming ends.
  18. When a fast person insists on letting me go ahead of them so they can talk to their friends. And then they touch my feet constantly.
  19. Casually hating your goddamn life.
  20. Casually wanting to die when you've swum more than you've slept this week.
  21. Casually sobbing into my pillow every night because I have no time or energy or sleep to run on.
  22. The intensity of the season being inexplicable to an outsider.
  23. People thinking I'm overreacting when I complain about swimming when it's actually an accurate description but it's unbelievable.
  24. Being legitimately concerned for my own health because I haven't gotten a full night's sleep in months.
  25. Probably stunting my growth from lack of sleep when I'm already short as it is.
  26. Having to refuse hanging out even when I'm available because I'm exhausted and overworked.
  27. Not having time to adjust to the new grade and workload because I'm too busy swimming, and then when the season ends three months later being like "wait.. I'm a sophomore? And it's a quarter way through the year?"
  28. People probably hating me because I can't help but be sour and rude and in a bad mood all the time.
  29. Falling asleep on your homework because I'm so tired and waking up a few hours later realizing my homework is not done. (great anecdote from last year's season: one time I came home from swimming, took a shower, ate dinner, and resumed my homework but fell asleep on it and I woke up at 2am to my dad saying "Julia, go to bed!" and then had to wake up and continue my homework.)
  30. When my parents tell me to go to sleep at 2am but I can't because I still have hours of homework ahead of me.
  31. Not having time for babysitting [your job] and not making any money. But it's cool, cause you have no time to spend it, either.
  32. Away meets that are 45 minutes away.
  33. Teachers assigning the most homework on away meet days.
  34. Taking a sudden hiatus from my blog for three months.
  35. When my friends want to do anything that involves physical exercise in the middle of swim season when I'm sore as hell, and then get mad at me for being "lazy."
  36. All people see is me looking rather normal at school, so they assume my life is fine, and think it's okay to get annoyed at me for not being able to hang out.
  37. My extreme business being just a nuisance to friends who want to hang out.
  38. I'm the slowest person on the entire team (at least as of last year).
  39. Thinking there's something wrong with me because I don't get a rush of adrenaline before a race.
  40. Sacrificing my studies and seeing teachers before/after school because you literally have no time.
  41. Sacrificing sleep for homework that I couldn't finish earlier because of swimming.
  42. Giving zero shits by the end of swim season.
  43. Being surprised I'm not LITERALLY DEAD by the end of the season.
  44. Having team dinners seldom because swimming itself is time consuming enough as it is.
  45. How I feel in the height of the season:
But I get to eat whatever the hell I want and nobody can say shit about it!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Apple's Pages vs. Microsoft Word

I just bought a new MacBook Air (I sound casual about it, but it was a splurge) and it came with Apple's Pages as opposed to Microsoft Word.
My first thought was, "OK, I have Pages now. I'm used to using Word, and I love Word dearly, but I'll try this with an open mind. I'm trying to be more open to new concepts and ideas. It's part of Self Improvement Summer." This hasn't been a problem yet because I haven't started school and therefore haven't needed to type a document. But I thought I should familiarize myself with Pages before I'm forced to.
Disclaimer: I'm comparing Pages 2015 on my Mac to Microsoft Word 2010 on my PC. So Word for Mac might be little bit different.

  • Pages always asks you what template you want to use before creating a new document. For Word, you have to go to File > New > Sample Templates if you want anything other than the standard blank document. But this is just Word 2010, I'm sure they fixed that in Word 2013.
  • It looks cleaner.
  • Instead of having to go to Insert > Symbols, in Pages (and on Macs in general) all you have to do is press and hold a key.
  • I have used Word 2013 on computers at school, and there are more templates preloaded on it than Pages.
  • You can't choose your own colors for a graph. Given, their color themes are great, but what if I want two specific colors to match a logo?
  • Pages doesn't have WordArt or ClipArt (obviously). For ClipArt, you can always Google Images it, for example "cat clipart" instead of "cat cartoon."
  • Pages has no "text effects" such as "outline," "shadow," "reflection," or "glow."
  • Pages calls highlighting "character fill color." It shouldn't annoy me this much, but it's just stupid! It's called highlighting! Don't try to make it sound fancy! Now I feel like I'm not getting the same thing!
  • Word Count is deep into the task bar at the top on Pages, but it's always right at the bottom on Word.
  • Word has better "Smart Art." Apple's version of Smart Art is some fancy colored graphs. There are no "Process" graphs (you know, like a flow chart) or "hierarchy" graphs (tree map). But I'm sure Apple is working on that. I didn't use any of those anyway, honestly.
  • You can't change the margins in Pages. You're stuck with the standard margins.
  • Pages files are in ".pages" format. Most people still have Word, and Word documents are in ".doc" (for 1997-2003 versions) or ".docx" (for 2006-2013 versions). I sent the Pages document to my PC and it glitched every time and I couldn't open it. However it's easy to export as a PDF, Word (yup!!), or Plain Text.
  • There is no option for a simple table. Every table has to be fancy. You can't make it un-fancy. There always has to be special colors and stuff. I don't have a color printer! It can barely do gray! If fancy is what you want, your book report is gonna look hella. But if you just want a plain and simple table, and it'll just look like you're trying too hard if it's all fancy, you're stuck.
  • Example table (the simplest table possible)

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Back to School Advice

I don't know who I'm writing this post for, because nobody who reads my blog needs this advice. I just thought I'd put it out there? I really just needed to post.

  1. Try to be unique instead of trying to fit in. If you want to wear those cat tights, go right ahead. Don't refrain from doing so because nobody else is doing it. Do what makes you happy, and in the end if you still feel like you stand out and you aren't happy, stop doing it. For example, if you want to go to school in cat tights but you know nobody else will and you feel like you're stick out, do it anyway. If you do it, and people look at you but you don't care, cool! This will encourage you to keep wearing what you want. If you do it, and people look at you, but you feel like everyone's eyes are on you and you're downright uncomfortable, don't wear those tights again because you will feel uncomfortable and it won't improve your overall happiness.
  2. Regarding making new friends: be you, and people will like you for your unique qualities. Don't try to fit in or conform to what everyone else likes to relate to them. You don't have to share all the same interests to be friends with someone! That is not the only way to make friends! With a lot of my friends, they like rom com and I like horror. They like pop and I like classic rock. When you click with someone, it won't matter if you like the same things. When you're friends with someone, you can talk and talk and never run out of things to say. That's friendship. Not bonding over the cutest 5sos boys. Although, you can totally do that too (5sos trash right here). Your unique qualities is what makes you click with someone. So don't repress that.
  3. A great conversation starter is wearing a T-shirt with a logo on it. Maybe a logo for a band you like or a cute meme. More people will approach you, because they already know what to say, and it's clear that you have some of the same interests.
  4. Don't worry too much. The more you worry and spend time being anxious about something (whether it be an upcoming project or test or making new friends), the more difficult it will be when it happens. Just try not to think so heavily about it. Change your mindset from "worried/anxious" to "excited/eager." I understand that this is easier said than done, especially if you have an anxiety disorder, but I went through a time in my life where I had self-diagnosed social anxiety and I used this technique and I think I'm doing a lot better now. All I had to do was gradually try to be friendlier and not overthink so much. When someone waves to me, instead of wondering if they're actually waving to me or the person behind me, I just wave back. Sometimes it will be the person behind me, but making mistakes and getting embarrassed is part of having a social life.
  5. If you have trouble falling asleep because you're stressed out and have a lot on your mind, have a sheet of paper (or whiteboard or something similar. I use my Boogie Board. So green.) by your bed and write down what's bothering you. It helps me to get it all out so I don't have to think about it anymore. There's nothing you can do when you're going to sleep, so you might as well relax and enjoy your overnight rejuvenation.
  6. If you're mysteriously having trouble sleeping, even after trying tip #4, try turning off all sources of light in the room. Even the light from a digital alarm clock or the green light from your charging laptop can be distracting and interrupt your natural sleep cycle.
  7. Find a happy medium between doing schoolwork and doing fun things. Don't spend too much time on either.
  8. Sometimes there is no happy medium because there simply isn't enough time in a day. Keep this in mind, and cut out or cut back on certain things such as extracurriculars, clubs, sports, maybe even spending time with your friends. But school is #1. School is your future. Don't find yourself in however many years, not getting into your dream school, and regretting not spending enough time studying. Don't realize it when it's happening.
  9. College doesn't have to be your motivation to do well in school. Most people have an instinct to do well in school, but some don't. Some people just don't think that way. There's not much you can do about that. Find your motivation instead. Maybe it's to do what you want later in life. Maybe it's to have a family when you grow up. Maybe it's to move to New York. Maybe it's simply to make your parents happy. Maybe it's that accomplished feeling when you see an "A" on your report card.
  10. Regarding when people ask you what you want to do when you grow up: it's okay not to know now. In fact, it might even be better not to know, because then you won't feel locked in or trapped in a particular occupation, and later discover that's not what you want to do at all.
  11. Right now, instead of focusing on what you want to do when you grow up, focus on what you want to do now. That will in turn help you figure out what you want to do later when the time comes. But for now, focus on what you enjoy doing and what makes you happy. What do you do in your spare time? What are your hobbies?
  12. Be confident. Love yourself. Look at yourself in the mirror and love what you see. Realize that you are fucking beautiful, no matter what happens; no matter what anyone says; no matter how hard you are on yourself. You are beautiful, and that is fact. Sometimes when you get wrapped up in school, it's easy to get down on yourself. Don't.
  13. Don't compare yourself to anyone else. I always see people with eyebrows that are on fleek and think to myself, "damn. I wish I had her eyebrows." But then I get home and try to replicate that with an eyebrow pencil in hand and brow products scattered around me, and it doesn't look the same on me as it did on her. Everything will look different on everyone. You're beautiful in your own way, not in comparison to anyone else.
  14. DIY projects will probably never turn out how you wanted or expected. Let it go. LOL. Maybe try a different route for whatever you're trying to achieve.
  15. Indulge, but everything in moderation. Eat a few cheez-its, not the whole box. If you eat a few, you'll probably get the same effect as if you ate the whole box, just without all the guilt and it was for a prolonged amount of time. At the end of the day, you're not going to remember how great those cheez-its were. The happiness was temporary. It's worth it to sacrifice those cheez-its for healthy eating.
  16. However, if you're on a sports team and you're working out for 2+ hours a day, I'm sure you can eat whatever your little heart desires. They say a healthy lifestyle is part diet, part exercise, but if you exercise enough, you can skip the whole "diet" thing. It's not like you're looking to come out looking like a model. You just want to get through the season and enjoy your sport. This is probably terrible advice.
  17. If you have a bad teacher, my best advice is: first go home and try to figure it out yourself, because nobody can explain it to you better than you can, and if you can't, go to your teacher after school with specific questions. I suggest you write down your questions so you don't confuse yourself right before you go see your teacher.
  18. Don't be awkward or shy about asking questions. Your teacher is there to help. No question is a stupid question. Trust me, they've seen it all before.
  19. Everyone looks like they have their shit together, but when they're in the shower, thinking about life, shit goes down. Everyone has that time of day when they ponder life questions and basically have a mini existential crisis. Most people just don't talk about it. Doesn't mean it doesn't happen, you just don't know about it. People have a way of hiding what's really happening, because they don't think anyone cares or needs/wants to know.
  20. Look it up. The Internet is a beautiful place. Unless it's an incredibly specific life question, someone has probably addressed your question in some dark corner of the Internet. If it's a homework question, and it's specific, there are websites that take algebraic equations and solve them for you. If it's a proof for geometry, yeah maybe they can't help you. I would go in to school early to see your teacher about it if you honestly cannot figure it out.
  21. There's always a solution, don't get worked up about it. Especially don't get worked up about it if there's a solution that you're avoiding. For example, if there's a proof you can't solve, and you tried looking it up and asking both of your parents, all your siblings, and all of your friends, and you know your teacher wouldn't mind if you went in to school early and asked for help on it but you don't want to get up early, just do it. There's no use freaking out about it when that's really the best [only] option.
  22. If you don't have time to go see your teacher, email them. This is only if you have absolutely no time to see them in person. They will understand! Teachers are people too, and they've been through this. Explain that you have no frees this week or before the assignment is due, but you really need help on it. Maybe they'll give you an extension on the due date or offer to stay after school to help you. Teachers (hopefully) want you to learn. And don't spend too much time artfully crafting a professional-sounding email to your teacher. It shouldn't be that difficult. Just do it. Stop being so nervous.
  23. Sometimes it will feel like you're at your breaking point, when you've had five hours of sleep this whole week and you have multiple projects due and you just feel like you're going to drop dead... But all of your friends want to hang out. You can't. Don't try to. If you feel like you're going to explode or black out, sometimes you need to say no to hanging out because you physically can't. And don't feel bad about it. They should understand. Say something like "I've had a really terrible and mentally/physically strenuous week, and I would love to hang out, but I just need to rest. Hopefully we can find the time to hang out another time. I just can't right now." It sucks that you'll be missing out, but you gotta do what you gotta do. Says the girl who's writing this at 3:19am and is slightly sleep-deprived even though it's summer vacation. ;)
I hope you got something out of this, or if not, at least I enjoyed writing it. I learned a lot of this from The Happiness Project and things I realized during my Self Improvement Summer and life experience. I finished my first year of high school, so I like to think I have a bit of experience under my belt. Bask in your last few moments in the freedom of summer. Actually though. I have under a week left until school activities begin. shoot me

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Should I Be Offended?

I have run into this problem a lot during Self Improvement Summer. When someone says something mildly offensive, I'm never sure if I should call them out on it or not, because everyone will get annoyed, but they're being ignorant, and I want to enlighten them.

Examples of things that are offensive:
  • Sexism
  • Racism
  • Transphobia
  • Homophobia
  • Biphobia
  • Any other sexuality or gender phobia
  • Prejudices
  • Stereotypes
  • Judgements
  • Gossiping, especially about someone you know
  • Generalizations
  • Ignorance (This could be taken many ways. Examples of offensive ignorant things:
    • Insulting a band they've never listened to.
    • Disliking a food they've never tried.
    • Giving advice on something they know nothing about.
    • Making an argument without checking their facts.)
Examples of things that are NOT offensive:
  • Insulting your favorite band. "Have you ever heard of Cage the Elephant? Their music sucks! It's so unoriginal." Instead of, "Cage the Elephant is my favorite band! How could you?! I don't think we can be friends. Also I'm blocking you on Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, Snapchat, Twitter, Pinterest and Myspace. And Quizlet," I would suggest "Really? I love their music! I find it very original. Did you know that for their Melophobia album, they distanced themselves from the influence of other music? 'Melophobia' actually means 'the fear of music.'" (sorry, I got a little carried away there with Cage the Elephant.)
  • Insulting your outfit. "Oh my god, Becky. What are you wearing?" "It's my favorite outfit. If you don't like it, shove it."
  • Insulting you personally.
Examples of situations where you should/shouldn't call people out on something that's offensive:
  • Anything that sounds like a light-hearted joke and isn't very offensive: let it go.
  • Anything that sounds like a joke with a bit of sincerity: call them out on it.
  • Anything that's actually offensive: call them out on it, but be respectful. Instead of saying, "WHAT HOW COULD YOU POSSIBLY SAY THAT?!? OMG THAT WAS SO SEXIST YOU PIECE OF SHIT," say, "That sounded a bit sexist. Do you mean to say [insert less sexist way of saying what they just said]?" People hate being wrong, so don't make it look like you're correcting them. Make it look like you're tweaking or adding onto what they said.
Basically, the main guideline is: if people will get annoyed at you for being offended, don't call someone out on saying something offensive. If people will agree with you for being offended, call them out on it for the greater good and so that they don't offend anyone else. This post may not have been that helpful to you. I apologize. I mostly wrote it for myself, to help me learn when to and not to get offended.

Self Improvement Summer: Learning to Cook on the Grill

Don't get me wrong, I already knew how to cook and bake. I make cookies, cakes, soup, pizza, eggs, pastries, pasta with sauce, stir fry, etc. I've made chicken and hamburgers on the stove in a pan before, but never on a grill.
I was determined to learn how to do this myself, since I found a pack of boneless skinless thin-cut chicken breast cutlets (the perfect starter meat) in the freezer.
It was annoying how I had so little knowledge as a basis, and I had to look every little thing up.

How I thawed the chicken: honestly, I saw this at the top when I did a quick Google search. I didn't really bother reading up on it.

It took about half an hour to thaw. It floated because the package had air in it, so I had to stand there the whole time and keep it submerged in the water. At some point, I got impatient and switched to hot water. I looked it up, and it didn't seem to be much of a problem, just not the best idea due to bacterial growth. (source)

How I prepared the chicken: I used this recipe. I liked it, I thought the spices worked well together, from what little I know about chicken. I ended up using twice or three times that recipe though for more flavor.

How I turned on my dad's gas grill:
It was surprisingly easy! Although since my dad's gas grill is a mini one, there was a little red button to press to fire up the grill after turning on the gas. And I had to twist on a mini propane bottle first. Before you accuse me of being sexist, I didn't purposefully use this tutorial because it says it's "a special girl's guide," it was just the first link on my Google search.

One minute after putting on grill, half cooked
How I grilled the chicken: I slapped the chicken on the grill and waited. It probably took two minutes on each side (since the chicken was cut thinly) for the pink to disappear. In cooking class, my teacher said you know the chicken is done when there's no more pink. But I cooked them extra because they weren't getting those grill marks you see on Pinterest, so I assumed they weren't done yet (I wanted the Pinterest-esque grill marks, okay?).

After grilling both sides, almost fully cooked

How the chicken came out: delicious

Last thoughts: I'm glad I did this! I didn't really need chicken today, but I cooked it because I thought grilling was something I should be familiar with and know how to do. And as a bonus, it contributes to my Self Improvement Summer! My brother ate all the chicken, so I guess it was pretty good. I would make it again. First time grilling was a success! I think knowing how to cook meat and use a grill is a good life experience, and I'm sure it'll come in handy in my future adulthood.

Finished product

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Self Improvement Summer: My Personal Goals & Resolutions

Inspired by The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.

Here are the goals I set for myself at the beginning of summer, and how I'm doing with them.
  1. Do what makes you happy & do whatever you want. And don't be afraid people will judge you for it. Let yourself be weird! If you want to wear that bank T-shirt for that band you don't listen to, go right ahead! If you want to wear all black from head to toe on day and then frilly pink the next day, go for it! I've been making good progress with this resolution. I now sometimes dress more grunge if I just feel like it one day. I'd been holding back because I thought I would look like a poser emo, but I just decided to do it because I want to. Also, I had my eye on a pair of adorably quirky cat tights at Hot Topic for many months, but they were $10 and I thought they might be too weird or just out of my comfort zone. Something I wished I could wear but probably couldn't pull off. I longed to wear them with skirts or even shorts, and especially with cat shirts. I finally bought them, and never looked back. I've been restraining myself from buying pins because I was afraid they were too hipster/basic/punk, but I decided "fuck it. I do what I want and I don't care if people think I'm basic." So I bought a new all-black backpack (not just for the pins. I actually needed a new backpack.) and stuck a ton of pins in it. It's exactly how I imagined. Next time I go to the mall, I plan on buying these black fake plugs from Hot Topic I've had my eye on (link). I hesitated to buy them because again, I feared looking like an emo poser, but I want them therefore I will buy them.
  2. Don't be ashamed. Don't be ashamed when you do what you want, even though some of those things might be weird. Don't be ashamed of the music you listen to, the clothes you wear, your quirks, or how you obsess over things and then move on and obsess over something else (let's face it, you're basically a fangirl. So what?). You want to listen to Fall Out Boy sometimes instead of Red Hot Chili Peppers? Do it and don't give a flying fuck when people give you crap for it. "Be unapologetic of who you are." -Dan Howell (sorry not sorry, just used a quote from a YouTuber, fight me). I've been doing this. I'm letting people judge me. And they do. And I'm trying not to care. Yesterday, on August 4th, three months from Halloween, I wore my jack o' lantern earrings and wore my hair behind my ears so they were particularly visible and went to the bank. I enjoyed every minute of it. And when my brother saw my backpack, he half jokingly said "now you're a real hipster!" but I don't care because I wanted to put some fucking pins on my backpack so I did.
  3. Don't be hungry for relationships. You always crave companionship (you might want to talk to a therapist about that) and you might not even get that out of a relationship. You have wonderful friends to fulfill that.
  4. Be open to other opinions and ideas. Don't be so opinionated. Allow other people to sway your opinions. Sometimes other people make good points, and you can change your mind based on them. I realized that I don't always have to be right. I think I'm on the right path with this, because I have started listening to other people's opinions. I now realize that I used to block people out when they voiced opinions that didn't align with mine, so now I have started actually listening to what people have to say, even if I don't agree with it. It turns out, sometimes people can persuade me into agreeing with them after all.
  5. Don't feel like you have to label yourself. I don't know if I like girls, or boys, or what. I couldn't choose, so I decided on pansexual for now. I guess the real terminology would be "bi-curious" but I don't like the way it sounds. I don't know. Whatever.
  6. Stop Googling your symptoms. They always tell you you have thyroid disorder or endometriosis or some obscure disease. Honestly, just stop.
  7. Don't feel obligated to hang out with people or do things when you don't want to. Sometimes you just need to say "sorry, I can't" when in reality, you're sitting in the sun in your backyard reading a good ass book. I actually did this a few times already. This seems like a mean and weird thing to want to do, especially because it involves lying by omission (like saying "I cant hang out" instead of "I'm busy"), but it has already helped boost my happiness because I have more me-time and less obligation-time.
  8. Not everything has to be done right now. Manage your time instead of finishing everything right away and suffering. I haven't gotten a chance to do this much because I'm not in school, therefore I don't have any assignments. But I'll work on it when school starts.
  9. Be nicer to the people you love and stop snapping at people. Sometimes when someone says something that you find annoying it's easy to snap at them, even when you know they have good intentions. But remember, they didn't mean to be annoying. I think I'm being nicer to friends and family now.
  10. Put your health before school. Maybe don't go to bed at ten instead of finishing your homework, but if there's a huge project and you decided to do it all tonight and it's due in three weeks, just do as much as you can tonight and finish it later.
  11. Tell people how you feel. If you're mad at someone instead of being passive aggressive for a day until you get tired of it, talk to them and tell them why you're mad and maybe they'll apologize or you'll find that it was all just a misunderstanding.
  12. However, if you're mad at someone for a stupid reason, just stop talking to them for a while until you cool down instead of troubling your friend with your stupid disagreements. I've been working on this. Sometimes I get mad at people for stupid reasons, and I know it's stupid but I can't help but be mad. So let myself be mad for a while, and then I get over it.
  13. Enjoy now instead of always looking ahead. (This is called the "arrival fallacy" according to The Happiness Project.) I have senioritis, and I really want to get out of high school and start my life and have kids and care for them. But I should learn to appreciate my life as is. I now revel in the time I spend babysitting (and as a bonus, I get paid for it!).
  14. Don't let other people push you around. Learn to say "no." I have been doing very well with  this actually! I learned how to tell creepy guys "I'm not interested."
  15. Take risks. Let yourself be scared, but do it. You'll thank me (you?) later. Or at least you'll be glad you did it later.  I did this with a sort of dangerous thing a month or two ago. Everyone was jumping off a slide at the beach, and it was too high for me. I took a few minutes, and then I did it. It was kind of disappointing, and not that fun, but I'm glad I did it because if I didn't, I might have thought I missed out.
  16. Stop judging people. Find something else to take pleasure. I actually realized that I don't judge people. I talk shit about people, but I don't judge them. I can't help it that I enjoy talking shit about people. It's normal for this age.
  17. Allow yourself not to enjoy things you don't enjoy. I went to a museum recently thinking it would be fun to look at the historical stuff. But while I was there, I did not enjoy it and I felt bored. At first I felt guilty for not enjoying it, because I felt it would further my education and be a good contribution to the Self Improvement Summer. But then I realized if it didn't make me happy, and I wasn't really getting much out it education-wise, how it was improving myself I don't like museums and that's that. I don't enjoy looking at and reading about old things, and that's okay.
  18. Be more confident. Other people tell you you're beautiful, so you probably are anyway. However, this is something you need to find within yourself. Looking back on it, I am a lot more confident now. Maybe it has to do with the feeling of summer joy, or maybe I just learned to love myself. The same thing happened last summer.
  19. Do what ought to be done. Stop procrastinating on things that you know absolutely need to be done eventually. Like folding clothes. I have made god progress with this. Chores suck, but I make them better and more appealing by turning on some music while doing them.
  20. Spend out. Don't be so cheap. Sometimes you'll want something but it will be a bit too expensive for your comfort. Get it anyway. You only live once, and right now you have a lot of disposable income. This will be even easier with my new debit card! I have started doing this, with the cat tights and the pins, for example.
  21. Get more sleep. It will make you feel more energized and happy. Well, it's summer and I have more time so I am.
  22. Improve the quality of your sleep. Turn off or cover all sources of light, including digital alarm clocks. Write down whatever is running through your mind preventing you from falling asleep. I got a new clock/radio, and you can turn off the light. I have started sleeping in complete darkness. It does help, but only to an extent.
  23. Give more hugs. You might forget how much you love administering hugs in the future. But trust me, hugs are a beautiful thing. They're proven to help bonding and improve happiness. I am doing this, and it does help. It provides temporary relief from sadness and stress, and it's a good bonding exercise.
  24. Make sure people know how much they mean to you. In case they drop dead tomorrow, you want people to know that you love them and care about them and value them. I did tell my brother how much I love and appreciate him a few months ago, and I have done the same to many of my friends. I make annual birthday Flipagrams for my friends, and I include heartfelt memories and appreciation of their friendship in the description.
  25. Stop doing things that hurt your back. Stop jumping on the trampoline. You have scoliosis, goddamnit. Do you want to spend the rest of your life in a back brace? I haven't stopped jumping on trampolines (hey, I only get to use a trampoline once in a while!), but I jump lighter and for less time to lessen the impact on my back.
  26. Don't let people push you into doing things you're not comfortable with, even if it doesn't look like stereotypical peer pressure. I had/have social anxiety, and I too often let people push me into talking to people I'm not comfortable talking to. You'll talk to them when you're ready, if ever. Don't let people rush you.
  27. Don't let your social anxiety interfere with your life. Push your limits a little bit. Sometimes if you pretend you don't have social anxiety, you forget to be anxious.
  28. Be more awake. Find a way to stop having those days where you're in a fog all day. I realized hat if I don't wake up to an alarm clock, this is more likely to happen. But I don't want to wake up to a stupid buzzer like I did during the school year. My solution was waking up to my newest favorite song! It has worked out so far. :)
  29. Stop waking up at noon or one in the afternoon and wasting your day. I now wake up to "Nine in the Afternoon" by Panic! At the Disco at 11am every morning.
  30. Go outside more. I did this a lot at the beginning of summer when the weather was nicest. I biked to the library alone or to meet friends and took out a book, then went and sat on the grass and enjoyed the sunshine while reading. This proved to be ineffective, because being outdoors while reading was distracting, and I felt unproductive because each page took ten minutes to read. However, it was great to go outside and enjoy nature and spend some time in the sun listening to the birds and the kids.
  31. Make people happy. I realized that I say the first thing that comes to mind without thinking about the impact it will have on the other person. But now I learned to think ahead and think about how the other person will feel if I say something to them.
  32. Don't be so stubborn. Sometimes you just have to be flexible and go with the flow if it will benefit other people and make other people happy. If my friend wants to make cupcakes, and I want to make a cake, but she really really wants to make cupcakes, I should just agree to make cupcakes. After all, cupcakes are just as good, they're just different!
  33. Sing more, and sing in public. You have a good voice, why are you embarrassed about it? This is a new resolution that I have only just begun working on. In chorus class near the end of the year last year, we had a voice test where we had to sing a song in front of just the male chorus teacher (that's a pretty bad idea now that I think about it. How did the school let that happen?), and all I could do was choke out a few notes. He had to put the recording on so I could sing to it. It was pretty embarrassing. I have started humming around other people more. I'm more comfortable singing in front of my friends when we're hanging out and not particularly trying to sing well.
  34. Stop painting your nails all the time. You're ruining your nails. I haven't painted my fingernails or toenails all summer!
  35. Admit when you're wrong. I just did this today, in fact (8/10/15 when I'm adding to this post). It's a glorious thing to say, "I was wrong. You were right." It usually makes the other person happy, and yes they might shove it in your face, which isn't good, but you can only change yourself.
  36. Remember that you can only change yourself. People do things I wouldn't agree with or do myself, but not everyone is going on a self-improvement journey and not everyone is acutely aware of their flaws. This helps a lot when someone is doing something I don't agree with.
  37. Try things that are life skills. So far, I learned how to use the library and the Dewey decimal system, learned how to take out an eBook from the library, started a bank account and improved my money management skills and learned how to use the bank, learned how to use the dishwasher, learned how to wash and dry my own clothes, learned how to water flowers, learned how to cook eggs (it's embarrassing. I just learned how to do this three months ago. I can now make eggs sunny side up, over easy, and scrambled.), got comfortable wearing earrings (I was always too scared because I've had multiple piercing infections. But I learned that and learned how to cook meat on the grill.
  38. Take opportunities and experience things. I tried audiobooks (it was a flop. I have to see it on paper or take notes to comprehend it.), almost went to Comic Con (but my friend cancelled on me. *cough*), jumped off a slide (see #15), and I'm going to a concert at a club (for a band I only like 4 songs from. I'm going for the experience. It's cheap anyway).
**if you noticed I edited in a few more, it's because these were resolutions I made in my head without writing them down on paper.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Starting Your Own Bank Account - Banking Tips for Teenagers

I started a bank account recently and there's a lot they don't tell you that would have been useful to know. Sometimes it's scary to ask questions when everyone looks like they know what they're doing. Or sometimes when you ask questions, you don't get a straight answer or nobody knows the answer. This guide is mainly for teenagers starting their first bank accounts.

How to start your bank account:
  1. Go to your parent's bank (with a parent if you're under 18).
  2. Set up an appointment to get your bank account.
  3. If you're under 18, ask for a joint account with your parent. If you're 18 or older, ask for an independent account.
  4. The bank person will walk you through starting your account.
  5. Deposit your cash at the ATM or the teller.
  • My mom suggests going to the teller to deposit a large sum of money because the ATM could make a mistake with your cash (say, it only puts $50 in your account when you deposited $250) and there would be no proof you actually had $250, and if it comes down to it, who would they believe? You, a money-hungry teenager, or the ATM, a trusted machine?
  • Get the app for your bank. You can see all of your transactions to make sure there's no purchases you didn't make (making you a victim of fraud).
  • When making a deposit through the teller, look for blank deposit slips. You only need to fill these out for teller transactions. How to fill out a bank deposit slip
  • Find the number to call on your bank's website for a lost or stolen card or fraud and put it in your contacts on your phone. That way, if you're out and about and you lose your card, your card gets stolen, or you're a victim of fraud, you can call right away instead of waiting until you get home and locate the phone number to call.
  • The difference between a lost/stolen card and being a victim of fraud is:
    • Fraud: when you still have your physical card but on the app you can see transactions made that you didn't make. This means someone stole your credit card number and/or ATM PIN number.
    • Lost/stolen card: you lost your card or it has been stolen. You no longer have your physical card.
  • The difference between a credit card and a debit card is:
    • Debit card: money is taken out of your account immediately after your purchase.
    • Credit card: money is taken out of your account at the end of the month when you pay your credit card bills.
  • Save your transaction receipts, at least until the transaction shows up on your account (either at the end of the month when you reconcile your credit card bill, or on the app where you can see all of your purchases) so that you have physical proof.
  • Credit or debit?
    • Benefits of debit card:
      • It's harder to go into overdraft so you won't spend money you don't have
      • Better for a fixed budget
      • The money is taken out of your account immediately after a purchase
      • You don't have to remember to pay your credit card bill because there isn't one
      • You can get your card given to you at the bank, whereas for credit cards you have to order one through another company such as Visa or MasterCard.
    • Benefits of credit card:
      • Better for someone who has virtually unlimited money because it's easier to go into overdraft
      • You don't have to pay for things until the end of the month (the money gets taken out of your account at the end of the month when you pay your credit card bill)
      • Better for people who don't have smartphones to help them track purchases because with credit cards, you get billed at the end of the month
      • You can establish a credit score
    • For most teenagers, a debit card is the best option.
  • When people talk about "reconciling" your credit card bill, if you have a debit card you don't need to worry about that. But if you just want to know what people are talking about, it's when you look at all your receipts (from purchases and bank transactions like depositing or withdrawing money) and make sure they match up with what you've been billed for.
  • Overdraft
    • Overdraft is when you spend money you don't have. Like when you go into the negatives with your bank account (like if you have $-5.00) or when you go "into the red."
    • For debit cards, some banks won't let you go into overdraft. They'll just decline your card. Some banks have overdraft protection, that takes money out of a linked account if you don't have enough money in your main checking account. Either way, there are overdraft fees so beware! Always have enough money in your checking account that's linked to your card!
  • Checking account or savings account?
    • Your checking account is the account that money is taken out of when you swipe your card or when you withdraw money from the ATM. It's more likely to be the target of fraud than a savings accounts.
    • Your savings account is the account that is really meant to store money in and not take anything out of. You can't get a debit/credit/ATM card linked to a savings account, but savings accounts are usually not the target of fraud.
    • My banker recommended that I keep $500 in my checking account for spending, and the rest of my money in my savings account. You will need both a checking account and a savings account if you want a debit or credit card. You can transfer money between accounts on the app.
  • Your debit card doubles as your ATM card.
  • You will need to activate your card online (not on the app) at home before you can use it. You can't start using it the minute you obtain it.
  • After a day of using your card, I recommend checking the app to make sure there's no transactions you didn't make and all the transactions you made show up.
  • ATMs take up to 40 bills.
  • Make sure to go to the ATM for your bank. There's usually a $2-5 fee for using a different ATM.
  • Going on vacation? Notify your bank online before using your card internationally. They may cancel your card if they see activity in a foreign country, thinking you're a victim of fraud.
  • There's lots of hidden fees, so hop on your bank's website and look around.
  • You may be exempt from some fees if you're under a certain age.
  • To deposit coins (perhaps from your childhood piggy bank), go up to the teller and ask how to deposit change. The ATM doesn't take change. At my bank, they gave me a bunch of rolls for free and asked me to roll them, but some banks will take your coins as is and put them in the coin counter and later add them to your account.
  • Memorize your ATM PIN number and if possible, your online account ID and password too.
  • Don't put your bank account information in your phone so you don't have to memorize it! If your phone gets stolen or a friend borrows your phone, they have access to all of your money. I suggest storing the information at home in a safe and discrete place, should you ever forget your ATM PIN, ID, or password.
  • Minors can't write checks.
  • How do I swipe my card - which way? I actually could not figure this out myself, as I wasn't sure if the machines needed my card's embossed number or the magnetic strip. Turns out it's the magnetic strip.  "Almost always position the card with the stripe facing the bulkiest (thickest) part of the machine. For ATMs orient the card as per the illustration near the slot (usually stripe down asnd to the right; often that side of the slot is illuminated from within)." (source)