25 Ways To Make 2017 Your Best Year Yet

25 Ways To Make 2017 Your Best Year Yet

Welcoming a year of positivity, investment, and change.
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Either you left 2016 believing it was a great year or a pathetic one. Whichever it may have been for you, it's over and done and the new year is here. With that comes endless opportunities for personal change and growth--the possibilities are plenty and options are endless. As we welcome 2017, try to implement the following steps to brighten your life and ensure an incredible year.

1. Take the time to learn and educate yourself on important issues.

Whether it's a class at college you think looks interesting, or a topic you want to feel well-versed in, do it. Research everything. Take responsibility for initiating knowledge in your peers and others around you. Racial injustice, white supremacy, women's rights, global warming, and everything else under the sun--where do you stand and why?

2. Invest in yourself.

You'll never regret taking the time to create a better you.

3. Find a hobby.

Maybe it's an old hobby you want to rekindle. Maybe it's something you've always wanted to try but have been too afraid of in the past. Find something proactive to put your time and energy towards and you'll reap the benefits.

4. Save more money.

Not even for anything specific, but save just to save. You'll feel more stable. Create a budget and set yourself up for a successful and financially sound future. Even $20 per month makes a difference in the long run.

5. Set realistic and attainable goals.

There's nothing bad or negative that can result from making goals (big or small) for yourself. Anything to help drive you that much closer to your dreams is worth the energy and effort in 2017.

6. Take care of your mind, body, and spirit.

Go to yoga. Read a book. Get a massage. Sweat it out. Go to church. Light a candle. Relax.

7. Live your life for you--not for anyone else.

How many times have you ended up doing something not because you wanted to, but because someone else wanted you to? Or because you knew it would make someone else happy--even though it didn't make you happy? Cut that out. It's time to put yourself, your needs, and your desires first.

8. Love your body in all its stages and forms.

Self-hate will never be trendy. Take a long hard look in the mirror and remember that you are more than just the body you see in your reflection.

9. Eliminate negative people and energy from your life.

If they aren't making your life better, get rid of them. Don't give your time to people who bring you down. Free yourself from negative people and you'll notice a sure difference.

10. Spend more time outdoors.

Have you ever taken a moment to just look around you? Take in the green grass and blue sky and have it take your breath away? Appreciate the beauty around you. Bask in it and soak it all in.

11. Make the effort to reach out to family and friends more often.

Taking the time to send your grandmother a quick text saying you love her isn't hard nor time consuming. Take a moment out of your busy day and let your loved ones know they're on your mind.

12. Be more in tune with your emotional and mental needs.

Talk to yourself. Be aware and ask yourself why you're upset, why you're hurt, or why you're angry. Pinpoint the cause of your emotions and learn how to take positive steps forward to reach solutions. Solutions lead to break-throughs and break-throughs lead to life changes.

13. Take risks.

Scare yourself. Growth doesn't happen in your comfort zone.

14. Put yourself in situations that stimulate growth.

Get uncomfortable. Don't be afraid to mess up, fall over, and fail. You will learn more by putting yourself in uncomfortable situations than staying safe in your bubble. To stay the same, or to grow?

15. Be more patient with yourself and others.

You're not perfect, and neither is anyone else. Be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. Give everyone the time they need to grow, heal, learn, and prosper. We are all traveling through life on our own timelines.

16. Take a step toward becoming a healthier you.

Buy a gym membership, eat more fruits and vegetables, and drink more water. Baby steps still count. You can create goals and chase them down through your commitment to a healthy lifestyle.

17. Be a good human.

Just do it, it's not hard.

18. Be real with yourself and others.

At the end of the day, your honesty will earn the respect of others. Instead of telling them what they want to hear, tell them what they need to hear. Same with yourself.

19. Don't sweat the small stuff.

Keep perspective. Don't let things that don't matter control your mindset or your life. Will whatever you're worrying about matter one year from today? If not, great. If so, take it one day a time.

20. Eliminate self-sabotage.

Don't be your own enemy. Don't stop pursuing your dreams and goals out of fear. Nothing can take you down.

21. Be a beacon of light and positivity.

Who doesn't love to be around someone with a smile that brightens an entire room? Be someone others love to spend time with because of your spirit and positive energy.

22. Make effort to break a bad habit.

Commit to making a change that's going to benefit you. Spend three weeks putting effort toward breaking a habit that's detrimental to your health or mindset--that's all it takes.

23. Pray--to anything, or anyone.

And if you don't want to, that's okay too.

24. Adjust your attitude.

Are you a glass half-full or glass half-empty kind of person? Take a moment to evaluate how you view the world and what happens around you.

25. Be more grateful.

Say "thank you" more often. Focus on the people and things you're blessed to have. Appreciate them without taking their presence for granted.


Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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8 Struggles Of Being 21 And Looking 12

The struggle is real, my friends.
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“You'll appreciate it when you're older." Do you know how many times my mom has told me this? Too many to count. Every time I complain about looking young that is the response I get. I know she's right, I will love looking young when I'm in my 40s. However, looking young is a real struggle in your 20s. Here's what we have to deal with:

1. Everyone thinks your younger sister or brother is the older one.

True story: someone actually thought my younger sister was my mom once. I've really gotten used to this but it still sucks.

2. You ALWAYS get carded.

Every. Single. Time. Since I know I look young, I never even bothered with a fake ID my first couple of years of college because I knew it would never work. If I'm being completely honest, I was nervous when I turned 21 that the bartender would think my real driver's license was a fake.

3. People look at your driver's license for an awkward amount of time.

So no one has actually thought my real driver's license is fake but that doesn't stop them from doing a double take and giving me *that look.* The look that says, “Wow, you don't look that old." And sometimes people will just flat out say that. The best part is this doesn't just happen when you're purchasing alcohol. This has happened to me at the movie theater.

SEE ALSO: 10 Things People Who Look 12 Hate Hearing

4. People will give you *that look* when they see you drinking alcohol.

You just want to turn around and scream “I'M 21, IT'S LEGAL. STOP JUDGING ME."

5. People are shocked to find out you're in college.

If I had a dollar for every time someone had a shocked expression on their face after I told them I'm a junior in college I could pay off all of my student loan debt. It's funny because when random people ask me how school is going, I pretty much assume they think I'm in high school and the shocked look on their face when I start to talk about my college classes confirms I'm right.

6. For some reason wearing your hair in a ponytail makes you look younger.

I don't understand this one but it's true. Especially if I don't have any makeup on I could honestly pass for a child.

7. Meeting an actual 12-year-old who looks older than you.

We all know one. That random 12-year-old who looks extremely mature for her age and you get angry because life isn't fair.

8. Being handed a kids' menu.

This is my personal favorite. It happens more often than it should. The best part of this is it's your turn to give someone a look. The look that says, "You've got to be kidding me".

Looking young is a real struggle and I don't think everyone realizes it. However, with all the struggles that come with looking young, we still take advantage of it. Have you ever gone to a museum or event where if you're under a certain age you get in for a discounted price? Yeah? Well, that's when I bet you wish you were us. And kids' meals are way cheaper than regular meals so there have definitely been a couple times when I've kept that kids' menu.

So, all in all, it's not the worst thing in the world but it's definitely a struggle.

Cover Image Credit: Jenna Collins

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Sociolinguistics Series: Part 41

Language is a powerful tool.

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After our lunch at the market, the sun began to go down. When the sun sets on Jerusalem on Friday nights, the city essentially goes to sleep. The people don't, but the city as an institution rests; it's the observance of Shabbat, or the day of rest. For Christians, the day of rest is Sunday. For Muslims, it's Friday.

A cool linguistic tangent about Arabic--the days of the week in Arabic recognize the label of "Shabbat" for Saturday. In Arabic, Saturday is called "يوم السبت" or "yom al-sabt" in transliteration. "Yom" means "day," and "al-sabt" is the label for Saturday. "Sabt" sounds like "Shabbat," and it is the name for Saturday as a reference to the Jewish community that observes Shabbat on Saturdays.

The rest of the days of the week in Arabic are also very interesting. The first day of the week is Sunday, and its name is "yom al-'aHad," which refers to the word for "one": "waaHid." Monday's name, "yom al-ithnayn," is in reference to the number two: "ithnayn." This pattern continues with the words for Tuesday (three), Wednesday (four), and Thursday (five). However, Friday is different. The word for Friday is "yom al-jumea," or "يوم الجمعة."

As mentioned previously, Friday is the day of rest and gathering for Muslims. At a mosque that we went to in Haifa, we learned that when Muslims pray, they always gather as a group to pray; the movements of prayer are in-sync with each other and beautiful, as if it seemed to be the motions of the waves on the ocean.

In Arabic, nouns are made from roots that consist of three letters. Every noun that shares the same three roots have meanings that trace back to a central theme; for example, the nouns that derive from ك-ت-ب, or k-t-b, have meanings that go along the lines of "writing." "Kitaab" means "book," while "muktaba" means library; "muktab" means office, which is a place where people write, and "kaatib" means writer.

The word for Friday, "يوم الجمعة," has the three root letters "ج-م-ع" or "jiim-miim-ayn." Other words that are derived from this root pattern are "mosque" ("جامع" or "jaami3a"), "university" ("جامعة" or "jaamie3at"), "all" ("جميع" or "jamee3a") and "to collect" ("جمع" or "jam3a"), to name a few. All of these have to do with gathering--students gather at a university, observers gather at a mosque, and a collection of things are gathered.

The reason the word for Friday also uses this root is because Friday is one of the most important days for Muslims to gather and pray together (of course, all days are important for prayer for those who follow religion). Arabs congregate for family visits on Friday as well, and thus, Friday is named accordingly.

I hope you found that tangent as fascinating as I did! We are back to Shabbat in Jerusalem, where observant Jews are not allowed to do work. What does "not doing work" mean? A circuit cannot be completed. For example, elevator buttons cannot be pressed, because when the button is pressed, an electrical circuit is completed.

At our hotel, there was an elevator that became a "Shabbat elevator" on Friday night. This meant that no buttons were able to be pressed; instead, the elevator automatically stopped at every floor. It was a slow process to ride that elevator, but it did follow the rules of Shabbat.

On Friday morning at the hotel breakfast, there was a coffee machine where guests could choose for a latte, espresso, cappuccino, or Americano to be made. On Saturday morning, the coffee machine was turned off and covered by a blanket. For those coffee addicts, though, there was a pot of Americano.

At first, I was very confused by how this coffee was made without doing "work." I learned that the hot water used to make the coffee was actually boiled the day before, on Friday before the sun had set. The boiled water would be kept in a thermos-like container (much like the kind my family uses in China to make tea at a minute's notice) overnight, and it would be used to make coffee with pre-ground beans for Saturday morning hotel guests.

One person in our group of students argued that even moving a chair across the carpet is completing a circuit, if we're speaking in terms of physics--we laughed this off as a joke and informally established that they probably meant ~electrical~ circuits cannot be completed on Shabbat. Most observant Jews will not use their phone or drive on Shabbat, and all the public transportation in Jerusalem is not in use either.


Since Tel Aviv is a more secular (and less religiously observant) city than Jerusalem, Shabbat there is very different than Shabbat in Jerusalem. But we'll get there later.

In Jerusalem, restaurants and stores close at sundown on Friday and don't reopen until after sundown on Saturday. When we were at the market for lunch on Friday, we noticed that Jews were frantically gathering groceries--stocking up for the next day, but more importantly, stocking up for Shabbat dinner.

By 2 or 3pm, the energy surround the markets and stores had died down; since the sun sets between 4 and 5pm, people were already getting ready for their 25-26 hours of rest.

Every Friday night in Jerusalem, families gather for Shabbat dinner, which is an important occasion that happens every week. There is something beautiful and ritualistic about the way Shabbat dinner is carried out.

We were fortunate enough to be invited to a Shabbat dinner at the house of our guide's friend; we arrived at the Amit family house by walking that night, as our bus driver had gone home to observe Shabbat--and we couldn't use the bus on Shabbat!

We started dinner by reciting prayer--the blessing over wine, which is called Kiddush. It was presented, almost as if singing a hymn, in Hebrew. After it was finished, we washed our hands in the traditional manner and then broke bread with each other at the table.

We were then served some delicious, homemade Israeli food, including couscous, hummus, and chicken. No one used their phones a single time--both out of respect for not using technology and for being fully present at dinner instead of distracted by social media.

At dinner, we went around and introduced ourselves to the host family--and vice versa. The family had many sons, but only one daughter. The mom of the family was originally South America, but she and her husband--the dad of the Amit family--made Aliyah to Israel to raise their children. Their daughter, Leya, was sitting at dinner with us; she had previously studied at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and gotten her first degree there.

Some of her brothers were in the IDF at the time, and the others had already served their time (all Israeli citizens, no matter what gender, are required to serve in the IDF--girls for at least two years, boys for at least three--upon turning 18 and graduating high school, though there are other options (like community service) to accommodate for people with disabilities/other conditions, or who choose to not join the army in some day). Leya had chosen community service. She plans on going to medical school in the future, and she was currently studying for the MCAT.

Once we learned about our host family, it was our turn to talk. At this point, our group had not really gotten to know each other very well yet, so this introduction helped us just as much as it helped the host family. Keep in mind that we've only been there for a little over 24 hours, though it's already felt like forever.

We were asked "who are you?" by our host family, and each student spoke individually about themselves for a few minutes. It really allowed our group to break the ice with each other, as I learned something new about every person.

Even for a place as diverse as Berkeley, our group was special--it was a slice of the pie that was more diverse than I had ever seen before. We came from all different walks of life. One Caucasian girl had been born in Indonesia and raised their for the first part of her life, which is something I never could have known just by looking at her.

One guy was half Indian and half Jewish-German and had spent years of his life living in India. Another girl, who was Indian as well, had actually been brought to India to live and study there by her parents--as a surprise! She didn't know she was there to stay until she had gotten there already, which was hard at first but ultimately shaped the way she is today.

That was just a few examples of the amazing stories I heard that night, and thanks to this introduction around the dinner table, I began to really start knowing the genuine, curious, and strong people who were with me--for which I am incredibly grateful.

The next morning, while the Jewish sector of Jerusalem was at rest, we explored the Christian and Muslim Quarters of the Old City. Stay tuned, as we will cover that in the next section!

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