home sweet home

Home Sweet Home

why I visit my high school every year

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On a beautiful Thursday afternoon, I rolled into the parking lot of Mount Sinai High School, just a week after graduation. The red bricked entrance beckoned me inside, and memories unbidden jumped to the forefront of my mind as I swept past the hallways that I had once sauntered through as a student 4 years ago. I made my way to my old AP teacher's class, and introduced myself to a group of 15 year olds with a sheepish grin, excitement prevalent in my demeanor:

"Hey guys! My name's Adeel, and I just graduated from Stony Brook University with a BS in Biology and a Minors in Business Management, and I'll be talking to you guys today about college."

I moved to Mount Sinai during the summer before high school, and it was with a heavy heart that I left all of my friends at Herricks (I had previously lived in Manhasset Hills) to move on to something new. I was the new kid in a school district where everyone had gone to school together since at least middle school, and for the first week of freshman year I struggled to make new friends. Only after considerable effort did I manage to make a dent and start to develop a sense of belonging and accept Mount Sinai as my new home. The four years I spent in high school as a Mustang defined my demeanor and helped me grow into the adult I am today. The teachers that guided me through my turbulent teenage years are still some of my closest mentors, and I don't know where I would have ended up without them through my difficult times.

When I look at the faces of the students sitting in desks that I once sat in in my old teacher's class, I see a reflection of who I once was, excited to be graduating from high school but anxious for the future, so full of potential and spirit that it swells my heart with pride that these kids have such bright futures, and the fact that I get the privilege to speak to them about my own experiences makes me feel so old and yet so lucky that maybe, just maybe, my words might guide the next doctor or lawyer or CEO to their success. I tell these bright souls of my own failures too, of my mistakes and tough times, to remind them that they can and they will get through the difficulties that lie ahead, that life itself is an everlasting continuation of mistakes that help you grow as you get older and teach you in ways you wouldn't have thought possible. I can only hope that my story helps to inspire them to achieve as much as they possibly can, to surpass everything that I have ever done and reach for the stars that I know they are destined for.

Many of my colleagues ask me why I continue to go back and visit my old high school after I've graduated; they feel that it's a part of their past they never want to revisit. For me, my high school years were a major cornerstone of my journey throughout life, and I feel that every year it's important for me to remind myself of my roots and how much I've grown. It's an honor for me to have been a Mount Sinai Mustang-- after all, this town is my home sweet home.

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Bonnaroo Is Unlike Any Other Music Festival

4 days of camping, 150 performers, 10 stages, and the most incredible experience you'll ever encounter in the middle of Tennessee.

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The Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival takes place in an enormous 700-acre field -- nicknamed "The Farm" -- in Manchester, Tennessee. Festival-goers from all over the country fly, drive, or walk into the festival to experience 4 days of music, activities, and food. This past weekend was my first time going, and I can without a doubt say that it was one of the greatest experiences of my life. One of Bonnaroo's common sayings is "Radiate Positivity," and the 4 days spent there are factual evidence of the saying. At Bonnaroo, there is no stress, no worry, and not a care in the world. People of all kinds come together each year to celebrate life, love, and music without judgment. Each person's authenticity was something I noticed as soon as I stepped foot into the festival.

You can embrace your true self without apology. Each person is there to lift you up, too.

The atmosphere is much different than anything else I have experienced before. Even when my friends and I felt tired, or if the sun was just too hot to bear, we still did not mind being on our feet for hours on end. We enjoyed being exactly where we were, despite the minor inconveniences we may have faced -- like sitting in 5-hour traffic to get into the campground! I may sound crazy for saying this, but time truly did slow down while we were on The Farm.

My friends and I pulled up to the campground at 6 a.m. on Thursday morning as The Farm buzzed with people. We were too excited to go to sleep, so we spent the morning exploring the place instead. Day or night, everyone was alive with smiles that were contagious. We heard the words "Happy Roo!" from friends and strangers alike.

No matter where you came from, everyone was family at Bonnaroo.

One thing I noticed this past weekend was that everyone was there to help one another. If we needed help with setting up our tent, our neighbors who camped next to us were there to help in seconds. If someone tripped and fell, three people would be there to help the person up. If someone needed a few bucks for water, there was someone in line who was more than willing to cover the cost. I felt so at home there, as if I was a part of this community consisting of all types of people. I felt like I belonged there.

Alongside incredible people and a fulfilling community, there was stellar music as well (of course!). Headliners such as The Lumineers, Post Malone, and Kacey Musgraves rocked The Farm with new and old hits that hyped up the crowds.

Each performer reminded us that Bonnaroo is a safe place and does not discriminate against any person.

Hearing these words so often gave me so much hope for this world and the changes we can make. Bonnaroo is known as a Music and Arts Festival for a reason because it also promotes and sells eco-friendly living and handmade creations all throughout the festival. The activities that are available to attendees set the festival apart from other music festivals.

Bonnaroo connects us all through music, acceptance, and love. I can't wait to go back next summer!

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I'm Socially Awkward, And If You Don't Believe Me, This Will Take Care Of That

I'm always awkward, but here are the moments where I am at my most awkward.

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I think I come off as socially awkward because I make the situations that I am in awkward for myself when they don't have to be. Sometimes, I tell myself to think confidently so that way my actions will follow suit. But most of the time, I know the awkward position that I'm in, and that's when I freeze up and become unsure of what to do. What I've realized is that the older I get, the more I notice how awkward I am. Maybe that's because I'm part of society now, and I have to learn how to be an adult, but don't we all?

1. On the streets/in the hallway

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When I see someone in the distance who I haven't talked to in years or who I didn't end on such great terms on, I try to keep a low profile. And when I mean low, I mean I try every possible way to not make eye contact or I cross the street (if there is a street to cross) before it's too late. But let's just say that this was in a hallway at school and there was nowhere to run, I would whip out my phone and pretend like I'm messaging someone until we pass each other, but when in reality, I'm just typing out gibberish and hitting backspace a million times when the coast is clear. I know, I cringe at myself too.

2. On the train

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For those who are not New Yorkers or have never taken the MTA before, there are seats on the train that seat three people next to each other. I'll just call them three-seaters. I always try to avoid sitting in the middle seat because if I sit in the middle and the person on either side of me gets off the train, do I stay in the middle seat or do I shift over to where that person was sitting? If I shift over, then maybe the person who is still next to me would think that I don't want to sit next to them. If I don't shift over, then maybe that person would be asking themselves why I won't move over to make more room for the both of us. Or maybe I'm just overthinking the situation and I should stop half-shifting and just make a damn decision.

3. When people shout my name

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Oh. My. Gosh. I hate this. I get that if you see me, then you may want to say hi (or you may not. That's okay too), but please hold back screaming my name if you're like a mile away. I understand if we're a few feet away from each other, and I could hear you without you having to yell, but if you're at one end of the dining hall, and I'm at the other, this ain't going to work. If you shout my name from far away, then everyone's going to hear it and everyone's going to turn around. What am I supposed to do? Scream back? Absolutely not. That's going to look even worse. I would rather ignore you (I'm so sorry in advance).

4. When I’m not interested/too tired to listen

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This happens a lot (Again, I'm sorry in advance). When people talk about something that I'm not really interested in, you probably can tell that I'm disinterested when you hear me say "wow" or "oh really" because I don't want to add anything to the conversation to make it longer. Sometimes, I'm too tired to listen, but I also don't want someone to not talk about something they're interested in, so in this case, I would just nod to everything. This means that when I nod excessively, that's when you know you lost me. What's even more awkward is when the person asks me a question or asks me for my opinion on what they said, and I just say "okay". Even if it's a yes or no question, I respond with an "okay" and I don't even realize it.

5. In the dorm

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This depends on the people who you live with, but there were a handful of awkward silences in my dorm. My friends call it a "comfortable silence", but in my opinion, there's nothing comfortable about it. Of course, we set aside to study, and it's quiet during that time, but the silence dragged on for too long over the course of the semester. Maybe it's me not knowing what to say, and oftentimes, I really don't know what to say. I would always talk about school, but after awhile, how much more can I say? Even I get sick of what I say. I guess I just need to learn how to break the silence or it just wasn't meant to be.

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