• school frustrations •

I actually really like school (for the most part). I enjoy learning. I fear mediocrity in anything.

And that’s kind of the reason I also hate school. Because I work so freaking hard to set myself apart, to excel, to make my parents and teachers proud, to avoid the disappointment when meriting only a B (it happened twice in the last four years and still frustrates me to a degree), to avoid beating myself up later because I could have pushed myself a little harder and done a little better.

I also hate school because, sometimes, the amount of energy I put toward it is not in proportion to the long-term rewards. Sure, I’ll have a nice record, but who really cares? I don’t think I’ve ever heard people I admire discuss the grades they received in college or high school unless they didn’t do well. And then they laugh. Those that probably earned high marks don’t discuss it because it’s probably not important.

Yet we spend so much time and energy on it now because adults tell us “it’s worth it”. I’d like to know what “it” is and why “it’s” worth all these frustrations and tears.

I dread the coming of school because I know that, no matter how much I say “I don’t care”, I know that I will still work myself into the ground to do well. That’s who I am. Regardless of what the task is, I have to do try to do it better than those around me.

That doesn’t only go for school. It’s my attitude at work too. Whether I’m at the register, filling the meat, fronting, stocking the cooler, or wrapping produce, I put my all in so the manager goes, “hey, she’s worth her salt. I’m going to give her more freedom than the others because I know she won’t waste it”.

We’ve all heard that comparison is the thief of joy. It’s true. I learn this lesson over and over again and I don’t know how to stop comparing and just be satisfied with my best. I want my best, regardless of the outcome, to be enough for me.

So I suppose I’ll try to focus on that during the fall semester. We’ll see how it goes.

Love,

Rana || xoxo

P.S.

Is it just me, or does anyone else find the extra classes frustrating? “Oh, you’re going for nutrition? Why don’t you take a precalculus class?”

• identity •

We all want to belong and feel at home with another person or group of people.

Sometimes we change ourselves to fit a certain image. For a long time, that was me. I knew that wasn’t who I was. It felt off. I was never comfortable with them or with myself. Occasionally, there were those times where I thought we were friends because we hung out. They invited me to go see The Lion King on stage with them! They must like me enough to willingly spend time with the sheltered ginger chick. But I think they were fooled too. I don’t know that they ever enjoyed my company either but I always tagged along in school so what could they do?

Sometimes we lie to ourselves to get through a situation as comfortably as possible.

Other times, some things feel right – or at least better. So we stick a label to our foreheads and say, “this is who I am” because in this identity, I feel more comfortable. And we do that because we know there are other people out there who feel the same way.

But that’s not who we are. That’s what we’re most comfortable with.

Comfort is a lie.

Most of us live in a society that says, “if you are comfortable doing this, do it” or “if you feel happy doing this, do it”. Ethics, morals, and logic fall by the wayside because they are irrelevant when we focus on feelings and comfort.

We are not here to find comfort and happiness. We are not here to “discover ourselves”.

We are here to make this world a better place by using our individual talents and abilities. “Discovering yourself” sounds like it’s the ultimate goal. It’s not. It’s a step to becoming a better person, but not the end goal. All our lives, I think, we will spend trying to discover our voices and use them to do the right thing.

In order to discover who we are, we need to place our identities in something that doesn’t change. Consistency is key. All the confusion comes when we identify and associate ourselves with something that doesn’t satisfy, doesn’t stay unchanging.

Comfort is dangerous. It prevents us from seeing where we need to grow, where we have become stagnant. We ignore the needs of others because we aren’t suffering. But when we do, we wonder where the help is.

Don’t seek comfort. Seek a better way of life. A better you.

Love,

Rana || xoxo

• chin up •

Last night, I was told that I was ranked within the top 20 students at my school; my immediate response was, “why am I not in the top 10? Do they not do top 10? Is top 20 the best?” I thought back to that time I finished psychology with a B+ and that time I finished the first semester of Spanish II with a B+. Everything else has been an A since I started high school and dual enrolling.

I wondered why I didn’t do better. Why didn’t they rank me higher?

Back in March, I submitted an application for a study abroad opportunity in Korea. I reviewed my CV and motivation letter so many times. What could I do better? If I were reviewing a bunch of applications, would I choose mine?

Today, I found out I didn’t get in. Turns out I wasn’t just competing against the kids in my local college, but against kids all over the world. If I’d known that, I wouldn’t have set my hopes up so high (and thus I am reminded why I prefer the pessimistic worldview).

This semester, I took on six college classes so I could graduate with my high school diploma as well as associates degree. I have 90% in three or four classes, one other 90-, and an A+. And, for some reason, thought it would be a good idea to start working too. I’ve always been a hard worker, so I thought I could handle this. Apparently not because I’m not all A’s or A+’s, it’s hard to find time to shower + exercise, and gotten difficult to fall asleep (and stay asleep).

But here’s the thing:

My worth is not based on a grade, acceptance statistic, or the approval of others.

what

my life is a lie

I’ve always wanted to be the best, the strongest (not necessarily physically; I’ve given up on that), the humblest, the smartest, the prettiest, the favorite, the hardest worker, the x, y, and z.

At the same time, I realize that I will never be any of these things. I will never be the best at anything. I will never be the strongest, the humblest, the smartest, the favorite, or the hardest worker. And I have to be okay with that.

We have to set reasonable standards for ourselves and, if we find that they are unattainable, we need to lower them a bit until we are at the point where we can do better – and then we raise it again.

We’re human. We fail. We learn. We do better. It’s all we can do.

So keep your chin up.

You’ll fail.

You’ll be crushed.

But something better will come along and the temporary defeats will make sense.

Take it one day at a time. It will all work out.

God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

• Hebrews 11:40 •

If you were looking for some encouragement today, that’s hopefully it. xoxo

Love,

Rana || xoxo

• the nomadic heart •

I’ve always (always) had a tough time making decisions. Whether it’s “what’s your favorite color”, “what do you want for breakfast”, or “what will you study in college”, I could rarely give you an answer on the spot.

Even now, I could not tell you definitively what my favorite color is. Breakfast is waffles because my brother’s home from college + that’s kind of what we decided on last night.

It has always been frustrating. Not only for me, but also for my family and anyone asking questions. For so long, it’s just been an annoyance and eternal source of aggravation. I see so many people around me who are either (a) set on what they want to do or (b) don’t know what they want to do, but aren’t under any pressure to find out.

Now, I realize that no one is entirely open about their struggles and there are a lot of people in my shoes, but I haven’t found them yet.

The more I think about this though, the more I realize that this doesn’t have to be a setback. It means that I am meant to do more than work, study, pay bills, and die. We all are. I think that everyone must be born with this sense of instability and fear of commitment because we crave more than the average. Many simply settle for a life and that becomes average but…

• mediocre scares me •

Source: http://www.allkpop.com/meme_view/npp25w/so/. || I feel all of these on a very deep level. Thank you, Bangtan Boys, for existing and daring to be greater.

I have this crazy drive to be the best. Whatever I do, if I’m not succeeding, I feel as if I am doing something wrong. This probably isn’t all good or healthy and it’s probably going to teach me a painful lesson sooner or later, but it drives me to work hard and study hard.

This drive for success in whatever area I am working on, I believe, will open many more doors for me. I want to travel, try new foods, learn from every experience, and live unordinarily. Living like everyone else scares me.

But here’s the thing: whatever happens is what’s meant to happen and I am at peace with that (for the most part). I just keep my head down, do my best, work hard, and I know that it will all work out.

This nomadic heart is not a setback, but a calling to something more than the norm. There is nothing wrong with an inconsistent life as long as the principles and morals stay firm. There is nothing wrong with leading a different life or thinking outside the box.

Dare to be greater + don’t let fear hold you back. Take the time to remind yourself that you don’t have to do what everyone else is doing.

“Dear young people, do not be afraid of making decisive choices in life. Have faith; the Lord will not abandon you!”

 • Pope Francis •

Love,

Rana || xoxo

P.S.

Waffles with chocolate sauce + caramel sauce is daebak.

Writing Tips for Instant Improvement

‘Ello, you!

I hope your week’s been going just splendidly! ❤ Today, we’ll take a look at a few writing tips that will help with showing vs. telling, something most (every?) author has difficulty with. These pretty much help make the writing style instantaneously better. But find what works for you. 😉

I’ve seen a lot of blog posts on how you should show and don’t tell, and I can see how it works in their examples, but I wasn’t really sure how to do that in my writing until recently.

Here are a few tips you might want to keep in mind while writing. I’ll provide examples of my own to show the difference between rough draft and third draft. I hope they help. 🙂

Tip #1: Use Dialogue Tags Sparingly

To cut down the telling and up the showing element, I’ve tried to use fewer dialogue tags. Take a look at the following passages from the first chapter of The Reset and notice how the writing flows as well as how you can sort of get the implied tone of the characters as opposed to me telling you how they’re speaking.

Pay attention to the words in bold in the second excerpt. That’s where I cut the tags/inserted action.

Draft 1: Excerpt 1

“What do you want?” I snap, not in the mood for any sort of conversation.

“I came to see if you’ve discovered anything,” he yawns.

“I haven’t. Now go away.”

“My dear girl, you didn’t even look. I’d bet my cat on it.”

The feline looks up at me with that strange golden eye. The other one is hidden by an eye patch.

“What do you want?” I sigh, pouring myself a cup of coffee.

“I want his blood.”

When I turn around, Fëar is standing right in front of me.

Draft 3: Excerpt 1 of the Same Passage

I sighed and ran a hand through my hair. “What do you want?”

He yawned and stretched. “I came to see if you’d been issued your new target.”

“I haven’t.” I rubbed my temples as a migraine began to torment me. “Now do please go away.”

“My dear girl, you didn’t even go in to find out.” Fëar sat up straight as his feet hit the floor. He swept the room with a quick glance. “I’d bet my cat on it.”

The feline regarded me with that strange golden eye. It adopted a defensive position as if afraid its owner might lose the wager.

I repeated the question as I poured myself a mug of steaming black coffee. “What do you want?”

“Blood.” His words were a snarl in my ear, thick as the crimson liquid he desired oozing out of a fresh wound.

Tip #2: Don’t Let the Cat Out of the Bag Too Soon/The Curse of Knowledge

This is something I’m having to work on. In my first and second drafts, I think I dropped too much backstory/fact at once. It gave the reader nothing to wonder about. Don’t do that. 😛 You want your reader to be curious. They can’t be that if you have an info-dump at the beginning or even throughout your story.

Let’s take a look at how this plays out.

Draft 1: Excerpt 2

“Tough, isn’t it?” Fëar looks sympathetic for a moment, but I know he can’t really be feeling that way. He’s incapable of feeling whatsoever. “You’re still so human. It’s a tough phase. You’ll get over it one day.”

Draft 3: Excerpt 2 of the Same Passage

“Tough, isn’t it?” Fëar appeared sympathetic for a moment, but I knew better. “You’re still so human. It’s a tough phase. You’ll get over it one day.”

Notice how Althea didn’t explain why she knew better. This is what I’ll call the curse of knowledge.

You know how there are some really smart people and they’ll be talking about how one interior angle of a heptagon is 128 4/7 degrees or they’ll go off about the current crisis in Crimea or about how ISIS is beheading people in Iran and you’ll still be wondering what the heck a heptagon is, who Putin is, and what ISIS stands for or if it’s just a name of some Egyptian goddess from times long gone.

The people talking in those situations would have what we call the “burden/curse of knowledge.” They know something, so they think you know it too. But you don’t.

In 1PPOV* novels, we, as readers, are limited to only what the MC** knows. When the book starts in media res***, we miss some information – information that makes us curious. So don’t start off with an info-dump. Keep us guessing for a while. 😉

Tip #3: Don’t State a Character’s Emotions

This implies telling rather than showing. “Felt” is often a clue word that indicates you’re telling. Try not to use it, or feeling adjectives. Avoid:

  • Felt
  • Angry
  • Sad
  • Happy
  • Mad

Instead, try to show those emotions through a character’s actions.

Example 1:

“Leave my computer alone!” I screamed, angry.

Example 1: Edited

My fingers curled into my palms. When I spoke, my voice had risen several octaves and increased in volume. “Leave my computer alone!”

Not the best example, but does this make sense?

Hope this helps, darling. 🙂

How about you? Have you got any editing tips for us? Any tidbits to keep in mind while writing?

God bless!

Rana

P.S.

For better posts on this stuff, check out:

Go Teen Writers and Helping Writers Become Authors.

* = First Person Point of View

** = Main Character

*** = in the midst of things (basically starting in the middle)

 

{break me, heal me}

Good morning, afternoon, or evening, my darlings.

never surrenderWith so much going on in today’s world (like ISIS beheading even children, depression sucking in precious teens, failed relationships that tear families apart, a father’s drug abuse influencing his son to do the same, a mother’s lack of care for her daughter who seeks that love in all the wrong places…), it’s hard to remember that there is still some good in it (like the man who holds the door open for a woman struggling to get her stroller through it by herself, or the random person on the street who compliments you on your outfit, or the stranger who says something small but fills an empty spot in your soul, or the missionaries sharing love with those who didn’t know it was a real thing…).

Whenever it seems like nothing is going to get better again, force yourself to remember that you’ve felt like this before. Remember all the times when you wished you were someone else so you didn’t know the things you were struggling with inside, when you wished you looked like that person, when you wished you weren’t you weren’t your own worst enemy, when you wished you could just feel better, when you wished you could tear yourself apart.

What do you do when you find yourself asking, “where then is my hope? Who can see any hope for me?” (Job 17:15)

Remember that the hard things now make you stronger. Also, so cliche, but it isn’t the end. ❤ Don’t make bad choices based on the way you feel now. You know you’ll regret it. Think ahead to when you’re feeling better — what decision could you make now that will make you happier then?

There’s not insta-cure for pain. There’s no mental iodine.

In the moment, it seems like it’s going to last forever. Everyone’s been through something that would break your heart, love.

It hurts.

It does.

It’s hell.

But not forever.

As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging.  When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening.  They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”  He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”  Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”  Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him,  “What do you want me to do for you?” “Lord, I want to see,” he replied.  Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.”  Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God. – Luke 18:35-43

“You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety.  You will lie down, with no one to make you afraid, and many will court your favor” (Job 11:18 – 19)

I love you. Stay strong. ❤

God bless!

Rana

Peace

Hey, everyone! 😀

So, everything going on in the Middle East is pretty unsettling. =S

I have family over there and things are pretty messed up. I’m half Lebanese, half American, and I’ve got Scottish, Irish, Native American, German, and a few different other cultures mixed in there.

But I don’t think one needs to have ties with those countries to be concerned. We all live in one world. And it’s the only one we’ve got. We need to be taking care of it and each other. Using gas bombs, missiles, and other weapons against each other isn’t the way to achieve anything but war, hate, and death.

If that’s what our goal is, then do carry on.

I don’t think it is though. I think we were made for so much more. I see faces in the newspaper. Beautiful faces, scarred faces, young faces, old faces, fair skinned, dark skinned, red skinned, yellow skinned… It makes no difference. I see these people, I read what they’re convicted of, and it makes me sad.

We were made for so much more.

I think we need to start a movement. Let’s be the ones to change this world for the better. Who cares if we don’t achieve world peace? Who cares if we don’t change the world? If we can change even one person’s life for the better, it’s all worth it.

So, I challenge you. 

You’re reading this. I want you to smile at someone today.

I want you to smile at the cashier in Publix.

I want you to ask them how they’re doing.

Be genuine.

It’s apathy that’s killing our world. We are slowly becoming Desensitized.

No one cares anymore. Let’s change that. Okay?

Write a nice, encouraging note and leave it in a public place (a library book, sticky note on a public restroom stall, anywhere you want) and in that note, ask the receiver, whoever it may be, to spread this.

It doesn’t take much effort. An encouraging quote, Bible verse, or statement on a little piece of paper, on a sticky note.

Let’s be the change we wish to see in this world. ❤ Let’s pray for peace. 🙂

Now here’s something from me to you. This is my note:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Have faith in God and faith in Me. ”

~*John 14:1*~

(If y’all want, we could start reblogging this and make it a thing. 🙂 )

God bless!

Rana