18 Things I've Learned In 18 Years

18 Things I've Learned In 18 Years

The biggest secrets about growing up.

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paris
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Two weeks ago, I turned 18. Do I feel like an adult yet? Not really. But I have definitely learned a lot in the past 18 years that I'd really like to put out there, so here we go!

1. If you don't feel confident, just pretend to be. Eventually, you actually will be.

This one took me a while to catch onto, but it's absolutely one of the most important things I've discovered and want to pass on. I was a pretty shy and insecure kid throughout most of the middle and high school. I always thought that confidence was something that came from within, that some people were confident, and other's just weren't (and that I was simply a member of the latter group). Recently, it occurred to me that this is not the case at all! In fact, most people are not naturally super confident. The majority of us have our fair share of insecurities and nervousness- that's just human! The true key to confidence is just pretending to be confident until you actually are.

2. Your given environment might not be the right place for you, and that's okay.

It's okay to feel out of place, or like you don't quite fit in. The important thing is that you never water yourself down or compromise your originality to fit into a mold. Hold onto your true self and try your best not to lose yourself in the idea of who you're supposed to be. If you keep searching, you'll eventually find the right place.

3. Say yes to everything you can. Stay open to all opportunities!

This seems like a given, but it actually took me time to realize. Every time you say yes to anything, you're opening up a world of new possibilities. So try to stay open to trying new things, even things that may seem daunting or out of your comfort zone. You never know where something will lead you!

4. If it won't matter in five years, don't worry about it for more than five minutes.

A very wise friend of mine said this to me one-day last year when I was stressing out over a quiz. At the time, the simple statement felt so legendary to me. How had I not thought of this before? This little philosophy gave me permission to stop feeling too anxious about everything, so I decided to adopt it as my own. Since then, I've been much less stressed about everything. My quality of life has seriously gone up, and so have my grades! Who knew that when you stop worrying so much, you actually have a clearer mind?

5. There is no perfect high school experience. Just do what you enjoy.

For a while, I struggled with the idea that my high school life wasn't like what I'd expected from watching movies and TV. I even worried that my life wasn't as exciting as the lives of other people my age. Now I know that there is no one right way to go through high school! If you're worried about missing out on a "typical" high school experience, whatever that might mean to you, I suggest that you don't worry. If anything, just try a lot of different things to find out what you really enjoy.

6. Nobody is ever paying as much attention to you as you worry they might be.

This is just a basic rule of thumb. You'll know when it applies.

7. Embarrassment is the world's greatest bonding tactic.

I learned this while trying to bond with coworkers at my first job: if you can manage to casually throw in something mildly embarrassing about yourself, people will warm up to you much faster. Most people feel a little bit vulnerable and shy when first meeting other people, so divulging a personal anecdote does wonders to cut through the tension and anxiety, making the whole situation so much more comfortable. It'll also make the other person feel like you trust them and want to be friends with them!

8. The most freeing thing you can do is stop caring what other people think.

THIS. IS. SO. IMPORTANT. It's a hard thing to do, but it makes everything so much easier.

9. You WILL make mistakes, and that's okay. Try not to regret anything.

I always say that I have no regrets because every choice I've made, mistakes and all, have brought me where I am today and made me the person that I've become. I think that mistakes are inevitable and important. How else will you truly learn?

10. If you're contemplating taking a chance, just take it.

If you're thinking about taking a risk, ask yourself, "If I don't do this thing, will I look back and wish I had?" If the answer is "yes" or "maybe," do it.

11. Try your best to be happy wherever you are in the present moment.

It's easy to say that you'll be happier when something happens, when something begins or another thing ends, etc. But it's so much better in the long run if you make the conscious choice to find happiness wherever you are right now. If you're unable to control your environment and situation, then you just have to make the best of it!

12. Not everyone dates in high school, and that's not a bad thing.

My middle school self expected to have had multiple boyfriends by now. Needless to say, that didn't really go as planned. Actually, I haven't had one real, official boyfriend yet. I used to worry about that, but it's really no big deal. I have so many friends with varying levels of experience with romance and dating. Some have much more than I do, some have less, and nobody really cares that much! I've learned that it's so important to trust the timing of your life. If the right person hasn't come along, then it's probably just not the right time.

13. Trying to be like someone else never works, so just be yourself.

Self-explanatory.

14. It's important to make an effort to truly understand yourself.

You might be thinking that this is obvious, you already understand yourself fine. But do you really? Sometimes, I don't even realize I feel a certain way about something until I take a moment to truly check in with myself. I do this by journaling and turning off distractions (phone, I'm looking at you) for a little while, usually before I go to bed, so I can just be alone with my thoughts.

15. Comparing yourself to others is useless and will only make you sad.

Everybody is different and everybody is wonderful and interesting in their own way! Don't waste your time comparing yourself to other people. If everyone was the same, life would be terribly boring.

16. The hardest thing you will have to do is learn to love yourself the way you are.

I still haven't gotten there, but I've gotten a lot closer.

17. Nobody really has the answers. We're all just making it up as we go.

All it takes is a little improvisation.

18. Childhood goes by insanely fast, so hold onto it for as long as you can.

For the past 18 years, all I wanted to do was grow up. Now, I just wish I had a little bit more time to be a kid. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Well, there you have it: 18 things I learned in 18 years. Hopefully, these will help someone out there!

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My Best Original Screenplay Oscar Predictions Based Solely On The Writing, As It Should Be

Let's focus on the writing, not the politics.

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The Oscars are almost here, so it's time to make predictions.

Except, if you're like me, you probably haven't seen all the nominated movies. This year, I realized I had not seen any of the films up for Best Original Screenplay. This was a bit of a failure moment for me as a hopeful future screenwriter, but I took the opportunity to do something everyone always says to do when you're learning—read scripts.

I decided to read these scripts and make my predictions based solely on the writing, as it should be. I read each script, then watched the trailer and read a few articles about the movies to answer any questions.

And here's what I decided.

"The Favourite"

I'd heard great things about this movie before reading it, so I was excited to study this screenplay. It was well written, I will be honest, so bravo to Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara. But, it still left some to be desired. It definitely has its good qualities and is justified in its being a, well, fan favorite.

Except, the script relied heavily on subtext for commentary. Any narrative, no matter what time period it takes place in, will be held against the current societal environment regardless of intentions. However, it was clear that this film's intentions were to place a female voice in history and in current outlets. Which, of course, is not a bad thing. However, this film does so with disregard for true equality. The female focus is at the men's expense, which is not true equality (but that's an argument for another time).

I actually found the story predictable. The story tried to build suspense around the war, but even that seemed like a second priority to the writers after the love triangle. The script didn't explicitly tell the reader "how to feel," but it was strongly implied by the end.

"First Reformed"

This was a solid film written by Paul Schrader. Each scene really does move the plot forward which is story 101 but still important to note sometimes. Even the scenes that seemed like they would be time fillers allowed for the voice-over narration of Toller's journal.

This voice over was a nice touch of characterization and introduced well in the first scenes. This introduction was so well written, I could see exactly how it would play out, which is textbook screenwriting. The dialogue was believable. The setting description was a good balance and told part of the story too.

But there was that ambiguous, "La La Land"-dream-sequence-ish ending though.

"Green Book"

Okay, this one. This film is important and was skillfully written, so definitely a bravo to Peter Farrelly, Brian Currie, and Nick Vallelonga.

This film spoke to racial equality in the sense of true equality—meeting on the same level. It took place in one of America's shameful times and followed a white man realizing how things really are for those different from him and learning how to use his privilege in a way that helps and not harms. Like Dr. Shirley said, "You never win with violence." And as far as movies nominated in this category based on true stories, this did the best at maintaining the integrity of the original.

The writing was phenomenal. There was a personality in the action. The characterization was shown, not told. This was done through the actions, letters, reactions, how the characters treat others and how other characters treat the main characters. There was evident development in growth in the two main characters Lip and Dr. Shirley. It ended nicely, and the scenes were paced well.

"Roma"

This story would be better as a novel, in my opinion. The descriptions were beautifully written, so much so that every time there was dialogue or a scene change, I was roughly drawn out of the story. For a script, the action was almost too artsy and I could tell that it would be better visually than in writing. There were a few inconsistencies, like how Pepe calls Cleo "mom" in the beginning when Señora Sofia is actually his mom. Of course, this was probably meant to be just a kid crying for his mom when he was tired, but it leads to some confusion going forward when introducing characters.

This film was artfully written by Alfonso Cuarón. Most of the time, there was a good balance between detailed and vague descriptions (except that one part that described the color of the sky even though this is a black and white movie). I was struck by the impactful use of sound descriptions woven into the script, such as the car horn or the plane flying overhead. This was something that was present in the other scripts but didn't make as much of an impact, in my opinion, as it did in "Roma"

"Vice"

Oh goodness, where to begin? Adam McKay begins this script with an indignant tone in the superimposed text saying they "did their f***ing best" to tell a true story. But did they? No. If this Best Original Screenplay award is based on the writing, then "Vice" is shockingly nominated. If it's based on political people-pleasing, then I guess the nomination makes sense. The film is riddled with a bias to the left. It assumes the viewers agree with the flat narrative of the film and that we all see the characters as the one-dimensional people they movie portrays. The film even addressed this bias at the end, but the way they did didn't level the playing field at all, but just pandered to that bias, trying to pick a fight. Well, they shouldn't be dignified with a response, in my opinion.

But I digress. The writing. That's what we're here for.

Unfortunately, even the writing was objectively bad compared to the other scripts. And I don't say that lightly. It read like a school project that was completed the night before it was due. There were typos everywhere (notably, "due" was spelled "do"). The story and scenes seemed willy-nilly thrown together with the only goal of pushing an opinion. The framework and organization were centered around how best to convince the viewer of McKay's views, not tell the story. It's a very serious subject that's covered here and could've been handled better instead of this script that reads like a comedy with political propaganda tendencies.

And now, my predictions for best original screenplay go to...

I'll break this down into categories.

My favorite: "Green Book."

What should win: "Green Book."

What will probably win: "The Favourite."

They all have a chance, but if "Vice" wins, then what are we all here for? The writing, or politics?

The other films all had their stance in politics without taking away from the story being told. "The Favourite" was female-driven with LGBT aspects and classist themes while telling the story of Queen Anne and her ladies. "First Reformed" critiqued megachurch culture, environmental activism, and big business while telling Toller's story of grief. "Green Book" also had some classist themes and attacked racist tendencies in a way that can educate and change minds by telling a historical story. "Roma" was the story of a family set in cultural and political context. But "Vice" was just about politics and not the story.

Let's focus on the stories. Let's focus on the writing.

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A Little Something About My Favorite RomCom

Cheers to an old school love... one for the books if you ask me.

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Valentines Day has come and gone this year and instead of focusing on the fact that no one was standing in front of my door
with a large teddy bear, my favorite snacks and telling me to get back in bed because we're binging Netflix movies.

I've decided to recognize a love that I grew up seeing.

Over the years, I watched my parents continue to fall in love with each other. 5 years as friends and eventually dating,
27 years of marriage. 32 years together and 3 beautiful children later, they still pick on and laugh with each other as if
they just met. They still kiss each other hello and goodbye as if they are sharing their first kiss all over again. They still argue
and say I love you like they are continuously stuck in the honeymoon stage. I often find myself sitting at the kitchen island watching my dad watch my mom as she works. And when I truly look, there is nothing but love, support, and satisfaction
within his eyes. Over the years I have asked my dad what it feels like to be in love and be with one person for the
rest of his life, and he would reply along the lines of "because you know, your mom, she's my best friend... wouldn't want to spend this life with anyone else".

This type of love is really the only type of permanent love I have seen, and it made me think.

That although I am always gagging at the public displays of affection that my parents put on no matter who is there or
where we are, I didn't realize that when I grow up I want a love like my parents' love until this past New Years. You see,
New Years at my house isn't a rager. There isn't a lot of people. Just close friends and family that we as a unit want in
our lives for ball drop after ball drop. My house at New Years involves music and laughter that can be heard throughout
the entire neighborhood. At 18 I always envied my friends that got to celebrate together in someone's basement, but this
year I envied less because of this; let me paint the scene. Cue up an old school love song and imagine two wildly in love individuals dance and laugh together. My mother's hand in my father's as they sway and whisper to each other with nothing
but laughter and contempt in their eyes. They swayed and hugged and danced and laughed as if they were alone. As if the
whole room came to a slow spin and all that they could see is each other, all that they have achieved together, all of the years that they spent together, all of the things that they have seen and experience together, all wrapped up within their embrace.

My siblings and I are always the first people to bust their chops when they are all-- for lack of a better word--"lovey-dovey"
and I know I can't speak for them but I know that the love I see from my parents makes me hope I am lucky enough to experience that love. That type of forever love. It's the little things that stick with me and make me realize that this type
of love is beautiful. The type of love that takes its form as my mom falling asleep on my dad's chest while he watches
the game. Or the type of love that looks like unplanned outfit matching and even offering the last bite of a good meal just because. For 18 years I have had the honor of watching my parents continue to fall in love with one another and find
new things to love as time goes on. Constant love. Beautiful love. An irreplaceable type of love.

So to my parents, thank you for giving me the perfect example of what love should look like. Thank you for giving me my favorite romantic comedy within the walls of my own house. Thank you, because at 18, I now understand a little bit more
than I did. Love is messy, pure, and specific to the individuals. My parents' love can't be duplicated but they did give a rough outline for me to follow and make my own.

Thank you for reminding me that love isn't perfect and it takes effort and will, to keep something so wholesome.

Forever your fan,

M
(or their favorite child... you know whatever works for them)

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