Letter To My Past Self

A Letter To My 13-Year-Old Self

"I promise you that you're going to be okay."

paris
paris
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Hi, Paris. It's me, well, you, in four years. Right now I'm 17 years old, and I'll be 18 in less than two months. I'm about halfway through the first semester of my senior year of high school. Soon enough, I'll graduate from high school and move on to college.

So, how's eighth grade? From what I remember, it's pretty brutal. Some people are really mean and it's definitely not a comfortable environment to grow up in. Right now, you're probably wishing that your final year of middle school could just be over already. I know how much you're dying for something new and different. I know how deeply you crave a creative and unique environment where you can finally feel free to be yourself. I'm here to tell you that you're going to find that environment, and you will grow and change so much within it.

I hope you know that the anxiety and uncertainty that surrounded your middle school experience and, as a result, your identity, will not last forever. The things that feel so monumental to you now will, not long from now, feel so trivial and inconsequential. You're going to wish you hadn't ever worried so much. I won't lie, it's going to take you some time to reject all the negative and individuality-stifling messages you've internalized over the years, but you will.

I know that you have a lot of hopes for high school. I'm here to tell you that pretty much nothing is going to go just the way you expect. But I'm also here to tell you that that's okay. Here I am on the other side, and things ended up pretty great, probably even better than you could've pictured.

You're going to meet some really amazing people who are more unique and confident than anyone else you've encountered. These people will, in turn, inspire you to embrace your own uniqueness and stop trying to conceal what makes you different. As a result, you're going to become so much more confident with who you are. You're going to discover so many new and interesting things about yourself that you never knew were there inside you. Some of your old interests will fade away, and that's okay because you will replace them with new, vibrant, wonderful ones. With every new book you read, movie you watch, and role model you research, you'll feel yourself becoming more and more who you are meant to be. You'll pinpoint characteristics, attributes, and qualities you wish you had, and one day you'll begin to embody them yourself. You will realize that your identity is malleable clay and you are the artist that shapes and molds it. And you will never stop changing, growing, and reforming around new things you learn, new interests you develop, and new people you connect with.

Over the summer, I saw a movie called Eighth Grade. The writer and director, Bo Burnham, does a really perfect job of portraying exactly what it's like to be in eighth grade. You know that I never cry watching movies, but this one actually made me tear up, because the whole time, I was thinking about you. I kept thinking about what a strange, confusing, and uncomfortable time you're fighting through. I thought about how you so frequently feel like you're not good enough, like you have to change things about yourself to blend in. I thought about how desperately you're trying to find yourself and how it feels as if the whole world is working against you. But I promise you that you're going to be okay. I'm here to prove it.

I am so, so different from you in so many ways, but at my core, I am you. Everything that I am is somewhere deep inside of you, and it always has been. You just need the right people, the right environment, the experience, and the confidence to bring it out. So when you're feeling hopeless, look toward the future. Look at that blank canvas that's waiting for you, and promise me that you'll paint it with the brightest colors you can find.

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8 Of The Best Songs To Bring In The Summer Warmth

...and kick out that seasonal depression!

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It's so close to the end of the school year. It's time to drive around town with the windows down, music blasting, and hair blowing in the wind. These eight songs are perfect for this time of the year.

​​1. ​"Pink Tree" - Caye

If you have never heard of Caye before you might want to consider listening to his music after this song. He is a great rap artist that has an amazing voice too. The album cover says it all. "Pink Tree" is a perfect song to be listening anywhere by water in the sun. It will definitely have you feeling the warmth on summer on your skin.

2. "UCLA" - RL Grime

"UCLA" came out last summer but still remains as a perfect song for this upcoming summer. When listening to "UCLA," it's easy to imagine yourself soaking up the sun rays of Californa, laying out on Venice Beach. One of the greatest songs to get you in the mood for the heat.

3. "Smoke & Retribution" - Flume

The 2016 hit "Smoke & Retribution" from Flume has returned to make an even bigger hit in the spring of 2019. If you like EDM type of beats, this is a perfect song for you. This song will have you craving headbobbing with all of your friends all summer long.

4. "Summertime Magic" - Childish Gambino 

Of course, you can never go wrong with Childish Gambino. "Summertime Magic" gets your body swaying back and forth, dreaming of having someone be your summertime valentine. A great chill song that can get anybody ready for summer.

5. "Sucker" - Jonas Brothers

The Jonas Brothers really had to come back and hit everyone with such a great hit this spring. "Sucker" just proves why the Jonas Brothers will always be the best brother band out there. This song will for sure make you a sucker for those warm nights all summer long.

6. "Joyride" - Fallsteeze & Klanked Remix

At number six, a perfect song to roll the windows downs and turn the volume up. "Joyride" is not a song for everyone, but this is the song for you if you like a techno beat. It will definitely put you in the mood to blast it on those car speakers and make the mirrors shake while driving through town.

7. "Kids" - MGMT

Although the MGMT "Kids" music video isn't for everyone, the song has an amazing beat that everyone can love. This song is the definition of an oldie but a goodie. "Kids" will be a great choice for a summertime playlist that anybody can listen to in the warmth of the summer.

8. "Sunflower" - Post Malone

The last but definitely not the least, "Sunflower" by Post Malone made for the movie "Spider-Man Into The Spider-Verse." This song has it all! Whether you're spending the day at the beach or doing that annoying yardwork your parents always make you do, the beat is relaxing and very catchy. "Sunflower" needs to be on everyone's summer playlist. Even if you haven't seen the movie and would like to, I would advise not watching the music video it does include spoilers.

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When There Are Guns In The Home, Protection Needs To Be A Priority

"I'm not against guns or gun ownership...at all...but I am against innocent children being killed because of lack of safety and lack of responsibility."

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Three stories. Three stories just this week I have read about children accidentally being shot as a result of careless gun owners. This is a giant problem in itself, however, the smaller problem within this is people need to start locking up their firearms, especially parents with small children in the house. If it is in a place that is easily accessible, then a child will find it and, most likely, use it improperly.

"Toddler suffers 'permanent, irreversible' brain damage after the accident when he found a loaded gun under pillow...

After reading this article in particular I was absolutely outraged by the lack of care and responsibility of these firearms. More so, I am even more perplexed as to why this gun was not only left out, but even worse, left out in the presence of a child. If this was an attempt at hiding the gun, the owner might as well leave it out on the kitchen table. Children are curious, especially at Na'vaun Jackson's age, four years old. They also have no knowledge of gun safety because they will not use firearms at this age. It was even easier for Na'vaun to pull the trigger that would cause him to change his life forever because the safety was off. The owner of the gun also claimed that he forgot that the gun was there. He had shot himself in the middle of the forehead between his eyes. Na'vaun has recently awoken from his coma and is expected to be brain dead, and will have to try to relearn how to walk.

"The boy took a gun from the car's console and accidentally fired it while his mother was outside, striking his sister in the head..."

During the few moments the children's mother was outside of the car trying to get it to startup, Millie's brother had accidentally shot her in the head, later killing her. The safety on the gun was not activated, therefore it was easier to be able to shoot the gun, especially for a child. Again, having a curious child, at four years old, who has no knowledge of gun safety and access to guns, it will lead to tragedy. It is said that he had grabbed the gun from the console and accidentally fired it.

"Investigators determined that a gun in the diaper bag accidentally went off, hitting Smith (father) in the chest and the child in the leg..."

I have so many questions after reading this article in particular. First of all, the gun was left in a diaper bag, which is definitely not intended for a firearm. Second, this incident happened in the parking lot of a Chuck E Cheese. Although I wonder why the gun was necessary for this trip to Chuck E Cheeses with his daughter, I am more focused on the fact that it was in a diaper bag.

Also, since we know the gun had gone off by accident, we know that the safety was also left off, like in the other cases mentioned. Simple steps to keep guns secured are often skipped for whatever reason, whether the owner is being lazy, doesn't think anything bad will happen, or even forgets. Unfortunately, this girl will have to survive without a father as he had recently passed away from his gunshot wound to the chest. His daughter is expected to make a full recovery.

I think it is important for us to realize that this is not only a problem with children, even adults, the owners themselves, can become victims of accidental shootings due to improper security. Whether it be lack of education in gun usage and safety, shortcuts are taken such as not activating a safety, or improper storage of a firearm, it is a problem which can easily be fixed. No new laws, stricter gun laws, none of that is necessary. What we need is for gun owners to be responsible themselves, to take the necessary care and precautions that come with owning a gun, especially with other people in the household.

In 2016, there were 495 incidents of accidental firearm deaths. Four hundred ninety-five people. That's 495 deaths which could have been prevented by activating the safety on the gun. 495 deaths that could have been prevented by receiving the proper training in gun safety. 495 deaths that could have been prevented by putting the gun in a safe, or even on a high shelf.

We are not doing all that we can.

So, what can we do?

It starts with you. You the firearm owner, you who knows someone who owns a firearm, you who has a voice. We must stop looking the other way when tragedies such as these strikes. We must also stop looking at the guns themselves and start looking at the owners who fail to properly care for these weapons. I'm not saying we should change the gun laws altogether. But what I am saying is we need to start taking more responsibility and care ourselves, these are weapons, not toys to leave out. I'm not against guns or gun ownership...at all...but I am against innocent children being killed because of lack of safety and lack of responsibility. This responsibility begins and ends with the owner. There are little things that can be done to prevent huge tragedies.

Keeping the safety on:

-If the weapon you own comes equipped with an external safety, it should always be left on when the firearm is not in use. -This should be done especially if there are small children in the house.

Lock up your guns:

-One of the most common tools used to lock up guns is gun cases or safes. This will ensure that the gun cannot be accessed as long as there is a passcode unknown to anyone but the owner.

-This way, the gun will be easily accessible to the owner and untouchable from any unauthorized user.

Educate any child in the house about gun safety:

-If kids who are around guns from a young age are taught about gun safety, they will know right from wrong when handling a gun, or will not handle that gun at all without an adult.

-This will prevent further accidents like the ones mentioned previously because if children are taught basic rules of firearms such as "never point a gun at someone" they will be less likely to have such a horrific accident.

Keep guns unloaded:

-In the event that the gun was not locked up safely and a child had found it out with the safety off, there is no risk in firing the gun if it is unloaded.

If we take some, if not all these precautions, we can save so many lives unnecessarily lost at the hands of irresponsibility. As we see, this is not only happening in one area, this problem is widespread and happens all over the United States. Luckily, these problems can be easily fixed, as long as we are willing. It all starts with you.

For more information on firearm safety, go here.

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