To The Guy Who Used his Phone During the Break at the SAT

You want to get into a college? Really? You’re working this year because you wanna get into higher education and then have a job that will follow guidelines and rules that you will have to agree to?

I don’t think so.

Something as easy as giving up texting for a couple of hours, you weren’t able to do. Better than that, you protested. You contested. You said that those who enforced the rules and had to take your phone away made you “waste your *precious* time and money”. Pardon my Frenchman’s French, but I think you waste your precious time not with the SAT but by sitting on your @ss and using your phone all day, seeing how you couldn’t let go of it for 2 hours.

Yes, I’m being judgmental. But I’m trying to make a point. 

If you want something, you get it. You don’t play the victim. It’s easy to see when people do it, and harder to notice when it’s your own turn.

The Real Problem Behind Labels

There’s this mainstream idea that “labels are bad”, and “you shouldn’t label people”. I think it’s absolutely true, but that we do a terrible job of explaining what that phrase actually means. Here’s my attempt at offering my point of view on the subject. 

Go back to when you were a kid. Now, you just snuck candies in your room without your parents noticing (let’s say they told you not to do it). Your parents ask you where all the candies went. You say you don’t know. They ask if you ate it. You say no. They ask if you took it. No again. Then they find the candies in your room.

At this point, your parents could easily use the dreaded term: “liar”, and tell you to not be a liar. Here’s the huge problem with that: we’re all liars. From an innocent “Yes, that looks good so on you”, to telling yourself “I swear I’ll start working after that one episode”, to saying you didn’t do your homework because you “didn’t have time”, yet finished half a season of Dexter during the weekend, it’s a part of our daily lives. And using the term “liar” makes it seem like there are only 2 alternatives: being an evil liar, or only always saying the truth, the “good” option. Which is false. You don’t tell your friend who just lost their dog that “it’s okay, dogs live less than humans anyway, it was about time he died”. It’s not “nice”, and wouldn’t be considered “good”, yet, it’s the truth.

We lie all the time, big or small, to ourselves or others, but we aren’t “liars”. Those lies are not always “bad”. Saying “I’m sorry” when learning about someone in your class who’s grandfather just died is not mean at all, yet you may not care 100% of the time, because people die everyday, and her grandpa was 93. It’s still a nice thing to say, and not big “E” liE, but one that’s meant to reassure someone you probably feel empathy towards. 

An additional reason why calling someone a liar, cheater, bad student and more is a terrible idea is the way we associate with labels. If you call someone a liar, that sticks with them. Although their lie might have been a one time thing, let them hear it a couple of time and the term will become a small but noticeable part of their person. The “bad student” example explains this really well. I’ve seen a countless number of my friends putting themselves down simply because they haven’t been getting straight A’s students their whole life, and their parents, sometimes teacher (but a big part is themselves) are there to remind them of that. Those teenagers might then think they are bad students, which is probably absolutely false. Like the term “liar”, the word “student” means more than just what we associate it with. A student learns, likes to learn, and strives for knowledge instead of just sit in a class and earn grades to go to college, get a job and be able to stop learning. Maybe that teenager isn’t seeing their A in Art, and the fact that it’s the only class they really like and feel excited about. Why? “Because art won’t get them to college”. Screw that, welcome to the internet. And that’s just one example, maybe you like to play an instrument, math, video editing, building chairs, are really good with people, I don’t know! The thing is, telling yourself you’re a “bad student” is probably untrue, and is certainly not going to help. Maybe the problem is just that you haven’t found what “thing” you want to be a student in. Or you have, but it’s video games, and you don’t think that there’s anything to learn, create, or get out of the entire subject. Which is absolutely false.

So if your sibling, daughter, son, or friend ends up doing something you don’t like but want them to stop that behavior, don’t call them a liar. Instead, ask them to “be honest with me next time”, don’t tell them to “stop being a liar”, or “don’t be a liar”. Because once you tell people what you like them doing -being honest- and make sure they don’t feel attacked when you tell them, is the moment they will actually hear you out.

A Letter From My Future Self – Dear Mentor

Leo Gura is the owner of the website and Youtube channel Actualized.org. He puts out videos every week, on a very consistent schedules, videos that often last for 45 minutes to an hour (or more) without making any cuts. This is my letter to him from my future self in December 2018.

Hello Leo,

My name is Robin Playe, a frenchman living in North Carolina. You must get thousands of these everyday, so I’ll keep it concise.

I am currently a senior in high school, turning 19 in a couple of weeks. I first stumbled upon your videos on Youtube about 4 years ago, during one of the lowest points in my life. I was depressed, but fed up with that state of mind, and actively looking for ways to come out of it. This is when I came across a video of yours called Why Am I Depressed? – The Shocking Truth Behind Your Depression.

Watching this changed everything. I felt as if many things I knew to be true but scared to execute were suddenly given permission to be believed, and additional knowledge was coming, pouring in. I have always been fascinated by psychology, which I will study in college, the main reason why your videos were so fascinating to me. Self-awareness has since been on top of my priority list and something I constantly try to improve on. Out of the many, many hours of your content I ended up listening to or watching, 13 of your videos I went through slowly and took long, detailed notes of (62 handwritten notebook pages).

As I kept watching, I tried to also take action, and not just engage in “mental masturbation”, as you would describe it; only taking in content but not actually doing anything with it. I started doing meditation, explore different subjects, and tried to hone in on what I thought to be my passions.

But here’s the thing. My 20 minutes meditation sessions got harder and harder to keep up with, and after about 2 solid weeks, ended. I tried picking it back up multiple times, but failed even more.

I started to see your determination towards enlightenment, but felt as if it was too much for me at the moment. The turning point of my depression had been when I moved back again from France to the U.S. I had, then, stopped being a people pleasure, explored my masculinity, as well as worked on my my emotional awareness, following some of your (best) content like How To Be Attractive – The Ultimate Attraction Strategy and How To Master & Control Your Emotions. Much of the information shared  seems like really basic information when I listen to it now, but wasn’t on my first time listening to them. Nevertheless, I felt that spiritual enlightenment was just too big of a commitment, especially including the fact that I was (and still am) in high school and absolutely not financially independent, among other factors.

It became obvious to me then. Self awareness was what I needed to keep pursuing, along with finding my life purpose, to build the necessary foundation for living my extraordinary life. Since then, I’ve decided to take the habit of doing at least 5 minutes of meditation per day; a small amount, but the habit itself is more important to me. I meditate more on days when I want to, and force myself to do that amount during tougher days (or more, sometimes). I have also, since then, decided to take the habits of taking at least 1 cold shower a day, often in the morning, in order to set the mood and foundation for my life: being able to throw myself into highly uncomfortable situations in order to grow as a human being and grow out of my comfort zone.

This next one is something that’s hard to declare in a publicly permanent manner, but one that’s been very important to me, and not talked about, as far I know, in any of your videos so far. I have decided to join the group NoFap, am now completely rebooted, and still on a very good no-PMO streak. I believe that PMO was having a very negative effect on my own psyche, and quitting it is one of the best decisions I could have taken in my entire life.

On top of all this, I have now written and published an ebook, something I’ve been meaning to do since I was a little kid, writing the first chapter of a novel in my blue notebook. I remember it like it was yesterday.

But all of that, although having had to be done by me kicking myself in the ass, is in big portion thanks to you. I don’t know where I would be at this point in my life if I hadn’t stumbled upon your content. Sure, what I’ve achieved so far could be considered small, but is, most importantly, the foundation for a soon-to-be freshman in college that wants to build an extraordinary life for himself.

Thank you for what you do and keep living your extraordinary life,

Robin Playe

The Kid Who Dug Up Dinosaur Bones

Humans of New York recently posted the picture of a little kid on their website with the following caption:

“I want to be an archeologist. That’s a person who explores the desert and looks for dinosaur eggs and Egyptians. I’ve been thinking a lot about it. I’m already watching Jurassic Park and collecting dinosaur stickers. And once I found a piece of coral in the shape of a heart.”(Bogotá, Colombia)

And that got me thinking.

I was that kid, once. Okay, I’m still only 17, but bear with me.

I wanted to be an archeologist. I owned these small solid sand blocks that you’d have to dig through with tools to find dinosaur bones inside of.

I was crazy about them. I’d sit for hours, just concentrated on that one task, digging those blocks, until the fake rarity would point out its nose at the extremities of my tools.

Why did I want to be an archaeologist? The thrill of the search. The patience required that would eventually lead me to something I knew I would discover. The joy of the process.

I still am that way, but just haven’t found what truly puts me in that state. The state of everything else around you getting faded, all that matters being the task at hand. The innocent joy – happiness – of simply enjoying the process, even more so than the end reward in itself. I’ve only stopped wanting to dig up dinosaur bones because of the reality of the actual job of being an archeologist. But in a way, I haven’t stopped dreaming. I still crave to dig through blocks of solid sand, sitting in a chair, glasses up my nose, tools in hands, time sitting still, with only one objective in head. I still want to be an archeologist.

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How to Talk to A French Person

Ever been afraid of talking to a french person? Unsure how to approach the fact that because of their difference in culture, despite the fact that they might live in the U.S, your mannerism and speech should be drastically changed for them in order to not offend them or their culture in any way, shape or form? Ever wondered what the tips and tricks to be accepted or admitted by a french person were? Foreigners are a tricky thing, and interacting with them, even trickier. Well, fear not, as this guide will tell you the exact process for understanding and dealing with the french mind, its strengths, limitations, and the things to do and not to (ever do) in case of multicultural interaction.

First things first, never approach a french person head on. As we all know, french people tend to be rude, so even a simple greeting in english might kill your chances of interacting with them. No, to get the french person to like you, you have to greet them in their native language. But here’s the tricky part: you can’t obviously be of a different culture when doing so. What I mean by that is if your french isn’t at a near perfect speaking level, then you might as well forget doing this entire task altogether. Trying to sound french isn’t enough, you have to put in the time and the work. Plus, trying to sound french might offend them, as it is putting the “sound” of french people under only one stereotype, and although french does “sound” a certain way, a foreigner would – or should – not be able to tell which is the correct “way” for it to sound. Therefore, in order to acquire the correct level of french needed, I recommend taking the language throughout high school, in college, and making most of the media you consume in french, for about a couple of years, and living in france in total immersion for at least 6 years. If you’re still in the process, or worst, haven’t started, don’t engage in conversation.

Now, let’s imagine your greeting was successful. You’ve engaged the french person. This is the delicate part, as you are subjected to the most judgments and possible misunderstandings in the first minutes of the interaction. Know your surroundings. If you are in France, speaking english might offend them, as you are neglecting their native tongue in their own country, but speaking french might be delicate, as they could think you are neglecting their native tongue in their own country, with any slight pronunciation or grammar error that you make. The french language is a very complex one, and not investing all the time you possibly can into it, before speaking to a native, is highly offensive.

Let’s say, however, that you two are in the U.S. You are already engaged in delicate and elaborate small talk. What now? The rule of thumb is to never come across anything stolen from the french when in presence of a french person. I’ll illustrate this with an example. You have met a frenchman and have been talking while walking at the same time. In the corner of your eye, you notice a bakery. Without the frenchman noticing, walk slightly in front of them, while doing your best to identify the bakery before passing it. If the shop window contains croissants, turn around, as the sight of such traditional french breakfast food might cause the french person great offense. If, by mischance, the croissants happen to be stuffed, leave the interaction, as this is a clear theft, appropriation, and americanization of an iconic and natively french food, and the reaction of the frenchman might be too great for you to handle.

It’s important to note that the french person will always have an advantage in certain topics of conversation, and imperative for you to accept and respect this aspect of their culture. Because France have been around for a number of years, more than the U.S, a french person will automatically have a better legitimacy when it comes to certain subjects. It terms of food, the french person will have a better qualification to talk about it than the american person, as the ancestors of the french person have been creating different foods for longer than the ancestors of the american person. Although all ancestors, when looking deep enough, become detached from the person living and reading this paper right now, but possibly are attached emotionally to them, and that all people are linked together by common ancestors, it’s important to note that their national attachment links them to a culture that disregards anyone that has lived before or/and outside said culture. Following that logic, a french person will be linked more strongly to their french descent than an american to their possible spanish, african or chinese descent, just to name a few, and therefore will have a stronger basic legitimacy to base their qualification for an argument from. How should you go about it then? Well, if you think the french person might be more qualified than you to talk about a subject, not because of individual knowledge, but because of assumed stereotype of what that culture knows or does better, then don’t. Furthermore, if you didn’t hold that belief for a certain topic, but the french person informs you that it is the case, then abort talking about it, as the french person could be extremely offended if you begin appearing to be explaining that topic to them.

Now, let’s say you’ve executed all of those: you’re talking french perfectly, hidden the most blatant signs of cultural appropriation from the french person, and avoided (or let them speak and not dominate conversation) subjects for which they have a basic and higher qualification to talk about. Then what? At this point, it should be that you’ve made the french person your friend, and that it will stay that way for a while, as long as you make sure not to counter or discredit their beliefs. French people are known to be very rude and close minded, therefore, the slightest challenge in ideology could cost you the end of the interaction, and all that hard work on building a meaningful interaction would amount to nothing. Which raises the question once again: what now? You could take your friendship to the next level and propose to visit France with them, if the U.S is the setting you’ve been exercising in until now. First of all, if the french person agrees, you will have to pay for your plane ticket, but not theirs, as the french person could take this as negative judgment and microaggression on their social and economical status, which would immediately offend them and could kill off, there and then, your relationship with them.

Lastly, let’s approach fasion. French culture really does care about its appearance. Therefore, when comes to time for hanging out with a french person in France, make sure to wear appropriate and thought out clothing. Failure to do so could result in the french person faking not knowing you and screaming bloody murder into the streets before you could tap their shoulder to ask where they’d like to eat for lunch. There have even been cases where a french individual has genuinely failed to recognize their american friend because of lack of fashion of the latter, which has resulted in the american person getting lost in the French wasteland that is Saint-Dié-des-Vosges in northeastern France. Despite big lack of network connection, the entirety of the event was recorded on Snapchat, and the duo have since then been reunited.

There’s a lot that comes into befriending a foreign person, in this case, a french person. You cannot come in the interaction and expect the foreigner to accept you for who you are in your own culture, even if you end up interacting in the United States of America. The french is a sensible, yet fierce, attentive, yet cold creature, and they require a treatment different from your everyday casual encounters. That is why, to finish, I’d like to introduce another type of french person you might encounter. That person doesn’t care that much about the culture differences that you might or might not have with them. Apply the steps incorrectly, say “Bonjour” while accenting the N, or fail to hide that your country offers such things as ham and cheese croissants, and they might laugh for a bit or even want to try the latter. They might approach you head on, or would appreciate it if you do so, and would rarely, if ever, get offended by anything you tell them, as long as it’s told without malice. These are the most dangerous types of individuals. Do not ever interact with them. In case of overcoming one of their kind, turn around and walk away. The differences you hold are to be kept, but not cherished, exist, but whose existence should kept a shame, and such individual could go against all of this as well as the very foundation of all that this guide stands for.

Kitties and Grandmas

Context: This was written in about 10-20 minutes in my AP. Lang and Comp class. Everyone wrote 3 random nouns on 3 pieces of paper, and each person drew 2 out of a hat and had to write a paragraph about how your 2 nouns are similar. Then, 3 people ended up reading their paper to the class. I got “Kitty” and “Grandma”.

The grandma sat on her chair, taking a nap, while her kitty stood next to her doing the exact same. Because of their age, grandmas can often be calm and restful, much like their animal counterparts. However, I also know of grandmas who do nothing but visit different places, take care of their gardens, and generally just run around everywhere. Have you never heard of a single kitty doing something similar?

The kitty walks on more than 2 legs, and if your grandma makes use of a walker, she might be  just as well. Ever heard of a kitty that forces you to eat broccoli, brussels sprouts, or foods or vegetables you don’t like? No, of course not. Ever heard of a kitty that can manage to read a book without its reading glasses? No, me neither.

They say that a cat always lands on its paws, no matter the height, but how are you sure your grandma can’t? She’s lived a pretty long life, and I’m telling you, you can’t be making assumptions about what she can and can’t do.

The kitty will come and rub its fur against your leg when it’s feeling affectionate, your grandma might come and give you a hug, or even a big kiss on the cheek when she feels the same way.

Spending too much time on your computer? The kitty might come and lay on the keyboard to get you to stop, while your grandma tells you to go play outside to get you to stop.

It’s almost like they could be working together without us actually knowing about it.

 

Procrastination – A Spoken Word

“8:49AM I’m up and moving, awesome. This is gonna be a productive day

9:10AM I’m done with breakfast, let’s take a shower, and see what I need to work on today

9:25AM As I climb the stairs, my brain entices me with the thought of a pre work satisfaction

9:26AM The attraction of my laptop is enough for the liquefaction of all attempts at redaction

9:30AM What am I doing? Ok, I’m already in the middle of a video, I’ll start working after this one.

10:40AM Well crap. At this point, I’d better wait until 11

 

And 11 passes by, but the hours abruptly rush consecutively, the one following always quicker than the one before. Your brain, fidgety, intensely tries to think of ways to trick the passing of time, chooses to rhymeleisure” with “pleasure” instead of “work” with “measure” and “grind”. Because changes have to occur to avoid the fermentation of your obscure but manageable workload. You could be moving nations, you think to yourself, but the expectations that such actions hide are daunting, thus you chide any attempts at doing what you should. You fuss, almost in pride, at your way of getting things done at the last minute. Yet all that time you decided to use putting off is gone. Fused with the past, passing an awful bitter sweet yawn to your mind.

 

So the days have to pass, the next more painful than the previous for you to realize how to break out of it. Then, your vision grows, a fusion of past experience, and purpose, manifesting itself like crows in the nighttime, too hard to be spotted, but present enough to be heard. A bird so big and majestic that you should fall to the temptation of seeking it.

 

There are so many things to be done on this planet. But being curled up in a safety blanket, being too scared of the world taking a swing at you is not worth it. You know all this, yet stay frozen, having chosen a path really comfortable for your subconcious. Yet, still, you feel a ferocious craving in your stomach, in front of computer,  as you finish the autobiography of a serial procrastinator.”