SHEILA RAGHAVENDRAN

"This world would be a whole lot better if we just made an effort to be less horrible to one another." — Ellen Page


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Breaking point

Stress is a mess.

Immense stress that results in an intense emotional moment, coined the “breakdown” or “meltdown”, is not uncommon for high school students.

According to The Franklin Institute, lack of sleep, lack of exercise and overstimulation result in overactive stress hormones that damage and kill brain cells. School psychologist Jeff Schlaeger said that this imbalance in the brain triggers a breakdown.

“You have portions of your brain that are geared to respond to stress or danger or overstimulation or work, and that balance is knocked off or skewed [during a breakdown],” Schlaeger said. “There [are]…not enough of the healthy things for your brain–like appropriate sleep, exercise…so then the system…gets unbalanced and is hard to get balanced again. So then you have this vicious cycle, where you’re already unbalanced, you’re staying up until 2:00 am for…a tough AP class, and you’re adding more coffee and Monsters and sleeping less and less, and not exercising…that’s not the solution.”

For junior Jenna McCabe, her breakdown moment involved the two-time damaging of her self-portrait project. The first accident was because of spilled hair dye. The second was thanks to McCabe’s dogs playing on top of the project.

“[My dogs] got on top of it and they were just scratching it and I yelled at them and told them to get off,” McCabe said. “I looked over and I just sat down on my bed and I was like, ‘Mom, I give up.’…I just bawled. I felt so pathetic.”

McCabe’s stress was soon alleviated with help from drawing teacher Beth Eline, who helped cover up the marks.

Not every breakdown, however, is resolved similarly. According to junior Corie Lawhorn, breakdowns are attributed to many demanding responsibilities piling on a person. For Lawhorn, a dance team member, long practices and schoolwork are a difficult combination.

“Recently [in] AP Bio…there was a point where she updated grades and I was really frustrated about it,” Lawhorn said. “And there was stuff going on at dance and it just gets super stressful when there’s a lot happening altogether. I just kind of broke down.”

Parental pressure is also a driving force of overwhelming stress, according to Lawhorn.

“I think there’s a lot of pressure now as you get older because you have college looming over your head, and with [pressure from] parents,” Lawhorn said. “My parents push me really, really hard. So that causes it too.”

Schlaeger said that expectations imposed by parents, teachers and counselors lead students to stress and eventual breakdown. The key to overcoming outside pressure is to prioritize responsibilities and [to be] aware of personal breaking points, he said.

“Everyone has their limits of what they can handle, from personality and cognitively and just attention span,” Schlaeger said. “…Prevent- ing [a breakdown] is just knowing your limits.”


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YouTube loyalty

A friend of mine is going through a rough time. She used to be the most popular girl around — everyone knew her, and everyone wanted to hang out with her. But lately, she’s been feeling a little low. This new guy moved in a few years ago, and since then she hasn’t been the same. He took over her social clique – which was incredibly non-selective – and now none of her old friends spend time with her anymore. They all diverted to him, never looked back.

That is, except me.

My long-time friend, YouTube, still jerks a twang of loyalty in me. What did we do with our time just before Netflix? Where did we go to stream video? It’s YouTube, and for me, it’s still a major time-waster. Whether it’s a piano instrumental of my latest song obsession or a 40-minute blooper reel, I respect YouTube for the power it contains.

YouTube has a way of catapulting regular people to fame. Take Jenna Marbles, Michelle Phan, Tyler Oakley. Beyond personalities, YouTube offers an integral voice of communication. A simple link to a video, music clip, audio byte, can reinvent the way of thought. It’s just a click. No account necessary. No pop-up, hidden-close-button advertisements. YouTube is gentle and tame. And YouTube was first.

Don’t get me wrong, Netflix is one of my best pals. But YouTube offers something that few others can – a combination of music, audio, video, television and film. Netflix is particular about episodes and movies, iTunes and Hulu Plus ask for cash. Sketchy sites are notorious for transferring sketchier viruses. YouTube is safe. YouTube is all-encompassing. And YouTube, as we know it today, is getting lonelier.

It’s no surprise. “New is always better,” as Barney Stinson reminds us. But just remember – while you’re hanging out with the new guy, in the end your old friend, YouTube, really has all you need.


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Frank Bruni on NFL player’s coming out

Ah, of course! If anyone is to write about Michael Sam’s coming out, it’s Frank Bruni.

Bruni’s sarcasm is top-notch. It enables him to write about these tense social issues without offending too deeply, without being too bland. His wording is too good — too precise to replicate, so see his column for yourself.

Bruni’s got a keen way of calling out society. Not necessarily one general group — sometimes anit-gay NFL players, sometimes the Sochi government, etc. I find it admirable that he sticks up for the LGBT community — that he’s openly a part of — so adamantly and frequently. Some would disagree, but no surprise there.

I love that even with the nation’s scrutiny, potential implications and emotional toll Sam took this giant risk. I mean, someone had to.


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Twenty fourteen

I suppose we’re all obliged to make some sort of “goodbye-2013-hello-new-year” post. Or statement. Or some kind of formal huzzah.

And I don’t fully care for that responsibility. It’s interesting that millions of people feel a sudden motivation on just one day (December 31) to find the significance of the entire preceding year. Why just today?

It’s no surprise — people spend too much time complaining, criticizing, putting down and moping that they miss out on appreciation. You can’t live like that.

I’m not one for new year’s resolutions, but this year is an exception. This time around I have been more aware of my surroundings — the people, the events, everything. And my resolution is not only for myself, but I wish it upon everyone it can reach.

I hope that 2014 will bring more care, more appreciation, more life.


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My tribute to a freedom-maker

sheilaraghavendran:

Lasting legacy laced with love.

Originally posted on Gina Deaton:

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It only takes one spark to start a wildfire.

Nelson Mandela, the spark for anti-apartheid movements in South Africa, died an incredible leader with an unbelievable legacy.

The definition of courage, 67 years of Mandela’s 95 total were spent fighting for civil rights. In college, when his stepfather announced his arranged marriage, Mandela ran from home because he did not agree with his stepfather’s calm, reserved plans for his life. This life was his, and he was determined to use it to make a change.

Mandela participated in peaceful protest after protest against apartheid with the African National Congress. Within this group, he and a few others banded together to form a new movement of stronger protests, believing that the old, polite protests were ineffective. For this, he was imprisoned.

Nelson Mandela received a lifetime imprisonment sentence and spent 27 years in confinement. 27 years. That’s 324 months spent restricted…

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Gym class gay rights lesson

The class I dread the most this trimester is P.E.

I don’t sport.

But I go in trying to make the best of it — putting up with the preppy sophomores afraid to break  a nail, the nerdy freshmen with their idiotic jokes, the seniors that somehow got dumped in this freshman class. It’s slightly brutal, but I’m taking one for the team (myself) because I must graduate.

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Staying alive

Last week I mailed a package to my friend who goes to college in Texas. It was her birthday gift.

Her birthday was 44 days prior.

I’m a witness of that snail-mail fatality. It’s dying. Clearly. Gina Deaton can tell you exactly why.

It’s not that I was too consumed in my own life for 44 days that I couldn’t take half an hour to go down to the post office and mail a package, it’s that the post office is dying in a fashion unaccustomed to my schedule.

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Story holders

My dad is the type of guy who calls waiters by their first names and tells cashiers about his kids’ school activities.

He has Costco’s phone number saved in his phone and he laughs at sub par jokes.

He’s personable — shortly said.

He’s also the type of guy who appreciates giving back. Being amicable and caring go hand-in-hand, kind of.

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