The Message My 15-Year-Old Self Needed To Hear

The Message My 15-Year-Old Self Needed To Hear

"Wish you could go back and tell yourself what you know now."

"But in life you'll do things greater than dating the boy on the football team, but I didn't know it at 15."

Taylor Swift couldn't of said it better, granted she has a song for anything that could possibly go wrong in life but "Fifteen" is just too relatable. If there's anything I have learned from graduating high school and moving onto the next phase of my life, it's that high school was made to be way to big of a deal. To all my girls going through it now, I can promise that whatever you're going through isn't the end of the world. I know it feels like it is, I've been there. I've begged my mom to let me leave early because I couldn't deal with the drama that day, I've walked into that big lunch room feeling like I have nowhere to turn, I've had my heart broken by that boy we swear at the time is "the one", i get it. My mother has taught me a very important lesson; give yourself the night to be sad, cry, scream, whatever you need, but wake up the next day and move on. It's a new day and you can either choose to be sad or you can choose to be happy. I asked some of my best girls what they would go back and tell their 15 year old self and the words they said were so good that I'm going to share it with you all.

You will survive that breakup. Oh man, that end of your world break up you never think you're going to get past, you will. It sounds cliche but time really does heal all wounds. That pit in your stomach starts to go away and with each passing day you realize who you are and how much you're worth until one day you wake up and it just doesn't hurt anymore. Remember the key words of Tiffani Thompson (my mother), you choose to be happy or you choose to be sad. Choose happy.

Quality over Quantity. At 15, you think you have to be friends with everyone in the world. Even if in your heart you know they're not the kind of people you should surround yourself with, you do anyways because it feel's nice to be included. Y'all, don't surround yourself with bad people. If I could go back a few years and tell myself one thing it would be that. Stop trying to make friendships with the wrong people, I could of saved myself from a lot of bad situations if I would of just relaxed and stopped feeling like I had to be doing something 24/7 or I wasn't "cool." Your true friends will come, I know mine did. Be patient and don't lower your standards just to fit in.

Be nice without expecting it back. You will go through life constantly hurt if you believe everyone has the same heart as you. Girls, being mean shouldn't be a trend. There is no reason to ever intentionally make someone feel bad about themselves, and you will look back a few years later and regret the way you treated someone. "Be the type of person that makes everyone they come across feel perfectly okay with being exactly who they are." Strive every day to go out of your way to compliment someone because everyone could use a pick me up. You just might tell someone exactly what they needed to hear at the right time. Be a good person, it takes a lot more effort to be mean than it does to be nice.

Be strong, be courageous and be a little wild. No, I don't mean go out and make poor decisions you'll regret in the morning, I just mean that you do need to live a little or college will be a very scary place for you. High school seems like the end of the world, but it's really just the beginning. I've learned so much but I still have such a long way to go. To my girls, it's all going to be okay.

"I've found time can heal most anything, and you just might find who you're supposed to be, I didn't know who I was supposed to be, at 15."

With love,

Taylor Thompson

Cover Image Credit: Snapchat

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4 reasons how Drake's New Album May Help Us Fight Mental Illness

Increasing Evidence Points to Music as a Potential Solution to the Mental Health Problem.


Okay, You caught me!

I am NOT just talking about everybody's favorite actor-turned-rapper— or second, if you've seen Childish Gambino's "This is America" music video. Unfortunately, current research hasn't explored specific genres and artists. However, studies HAVE provided significant evidence in possibilities for music to treat mental health disorders. Now, before you say something that your parents would not be proud of, ask yourself if you can really blame me for wanting to get your attention. This is an urgent matter concerning each one of us. If we all face the truth, we could very well reach one step closer to solving one of society's biggest problems: Mental Health.

The Problem:

As our nation continues to bleed from tragedies like the horrific shooting that shattered the lives of 70 families whose loved ones just wanted to watch the "Dark Knight Rises" during its first hours of release, as well as the traumatic loss of seventeen misfortunate innocents to the complications of mental health disorders in the dear city of Parkland— a city mere hours from our very own community— it's impossible to deny the existence of mental illness. As many of us can already vouch, mental illness is much more common than what most would think: over 19 million adults in America suffer from a mental health disorder. Picture that: a population slightly less than that of Florida is plagued by hopelessness, isolation, and utter despair.

Disease in the form of depression holds millions of people prisoner, as anxieties instill crippling desperation and too many struggles with finding peace. This can be you. It could be your brother, your sister, your mother, your father, your cousin, your aunt, your uncle, your friend, your roommate, your fraternity brother, your sorority sister, your lab partner, or just your classmate that sits in the corner of the lecture hall with a head buried into a notebook that camouflages all emotion.

I hope we— the UCF community— understand the gravity of the problem, but it's clear that some still see mental illness as a disease that affects only a handful of "misfits" who "terrorize" our streets, while the numbers reveal more to the issue. In fact, 1 in 5 Americans suffers from a mental health disorder. The problem is so serious that suicide has risen to become the second-leading cause of death among 20 to 24-year-olds. While many continue to ask for more antidepressants and even the occasional "proper spanking," recent studies indicate increases in occurrence, such as one in depression from 5.9% in 2012 to 8.2% in 2015. So, clearly, none of that is working.

The Evidence:

If we really want to create a world where our children are free from the chains of mental illness, we need to think outside the box. Doctors and scientists won't really talk about this since it's still a growing field of research, but music has strong potential. We don't have any options at the moment, which means we need to change our mindset about music and to continue to explore its medicinal benefits. If you're still skeptical because of the title, then please consider these 4 pieces of solid evidence backed by scientific research:

1. Music has been proven to improve disorders like Parkinson's Disease.

Researchers sponsored by the National Institute of Health— the country's largest research agency— saw an improvement in the daily function of patients with Parkinson's Disease. This makes patients shake uncontrollably, which often prevents them from complete functionality. The disease is caused by a shortage of dopamine— a chemical your neurons, or brain cells, release; since music treats this shortage, there's an obvious ability to increase dopamine levels. As numerous studies connect dopamine shortages to mental illnesses like depression, addiction, and ADHD, someone could possibly use music's proven ability to increase dopamine levels to treat said problems.

2. Listening to the music has the potential to activate your brain's "reward center."

In 2013, Valorie Salimpoor and fellow researchers conducted a study that connected subjects' pleasure towards music to a specific part of the brain. This key structure, the nucleus accumbens, is the body's "reward center," which means all of you have experienced its magical powers. In fact, any time the brain detects a rewarding sensation— drinking ice-cold water after a five-mile run in sunny, humid Florida, eating that Taco Bell chalupa after a long happy hour at Knight's Library, and even consuming recreational drugs— this structure releases more of that fantastic dopamine. So, with further research into specifics, doctors may soon be prescribing your daily dose of tunes for your own health.

3. Listening to Music may be more effective than prescription anti-anxiety medication.

In 2013, Mona Lisa Chanda and Daniel J. Levitin— two accomplished doctors in psychology— reviewed a study wherein patients waiting to undergo surgery were given either anti-anxiety medications or music to listen to. The study took into account cortisol levels, which are used daily by healthcare professionals to gauge patient levels. This "stress hormone" was actually found to be lower in patients who listened to classical music rather those who took the recommended dose of prescription drugs. Sit there and think about that for a second: these patients actually felt more relaxed with something as simple as MUSIC than with chemicals that are made specifically to force patients into relaxation before surgery. Why pop a Xanax when you can just listen to Beethoven?

4. Music may release the chemicals that help you naturally relax and feel love.

Further studies continue to justify music's place in the medical world as results demonstrate increases in substances such as prolactin— a hormone that produces a relaxing sensation— as well as oxytocin— the substance that promotes warmth and happiness during a hug between mother and child. So this study basically showed us that music has the potential to actually make you feel the way you did when Mom or Dad would embrace you with the warmest hug you've ever felt.

The Future:

The evidence I present you with today is ultimately just a collection of individual situations where specific people found specific results. There are a lot of variables when it comes to any research study; therefore, data is never truly certain. We should take these findings as strong suggestions to a possible solution, but we must remember the possibility of failure in our search.

The neurochemistry behind the music and its medicinal properties is just beginning to unfold before the scientific community. In fact, extremely qualified scientists from the National Institute of Health— the organization that basically runs any important medical study in the United States— continue to remind us of the subject's youth with the constant use of "potential" behind any and all of their findings. Therefore, it's our responsibility as a community to look into this— not just that of the scientists at the National Institute of Health.

We're all surrounded by music. It's at the bars. It's in our ears during all-night sessions at the UCF library. It's keeping us awake through East Colonial traffic at 7:00 AM while hordes of students focus on their cell phone screens instead of the paved roads ahead. It's in the shoes we wear, the actions we take, and the words we say. IF YOU'RE READING THIS: it's accessible to you. So, don't be shy, and try to play with your Spotify account, or even just on YouTube, and gauge the power of music. As more and more of us see the light, we can promote the movement and carry on as more research comes out to support us.

Drop the bars, drop those addictive pills that destroy your body slowly, and pick up your headphones and press PLAY.

Just relax, close your eyes, smile, and live.

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Lower Your Expectations To Never Feel Disappointed Again

You won’t be disappointed if you didn’t expect much in the first place.

Imagine you’re throwing your best friend a surprise party. You’ve planned the dessert menu for weeks, spent hundreds on the decorations, and invited everyone you knew to come celebrate with you two. In the end, your wallet is empty, the decorations look tacky, and only a couple of people show up. Your best friend is touched by the lengths you went to in order to plan a party for her, but you’re upset that the dream surprise party you had imagined didn’t go as planned.

Why’re you disappointed? Because you had high expectations.

Having high expectations is almost inevitable for every college student. We bust our butts to get good grades, apply for countless internships and programs, hope for a career that is both high-paying and enjoyable, try to find a potential partner who has similar interests and understands us, and strive for the ideal college experience that we see so often on television. The point is, achieving all of this (unless you’re extremely lucky) is impossible. Disappointment is going to follow you throughout your college experience, and likely your entire life. The only way to avoid it is to lower your expectations.

Imagine the same scenario about your best friend’s surprise party, but this time without expecting too much. You still prepare an elaborate dessert menu, put up expensive decorations, and invite all the people you know, but deep down you believe that regardless of what happens you know the two of you can have a good time. Even if things don’t work out, the two of you can always end the night by going to a nearby club or a trusted restaurant. Without the looming presence of high expectations, you’re excited to celebrate your friend and can have a good time no matter what crappy stuff life throws in the way. Having low expectations is the perfect way to move on when life inevitably doesn’t go your way.

Yet, having low expectations is a tricky road: studies have shown that optimists do better in all career fields (except law), and it’s easy to fall prey to a self-fulfilling prophecy, or when a negative mindset influences events to happen as negatively as expected. Still, you don’t have to be a pessimist in order to have low expectations. Instead, view low expectations as a chance to be pleasantly surprised when things do go perfectly. It’s a lot easier to be satisfied when every little thing exceeds your expectations.

Cover Image Credit: Hindustan Times

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