They say Junior Year is the hardest… they weren’t kidding.
It was indubitably the most crazy, hectic, difficult, transformative year of my life thus far.
Let me make this craziness a bit more digestable by breaking down for you what I did this year.
- AP English Language and Composition – lovely class taught by one of my favorite teachers, Ms. Balzer. It wasn’t exceedingly difficult and I found the work helpful and manageable. At the end of the year, I finished with a solid A and a good feeling on the AP exam.
- AP Physics 1 – this subject came anything but easy to me. It took a lot of hard work, studying, and tears to pull of an A first semester (barely), a feat I was not able to accomplish second semester when compounded with many other things. The class was definitely difficult, both conceptually and logistically. Homework was graded harshly, tests were on a slight curve, and labs followed strict requirements. Definitely a difficult class. In the end, I felt okay going into the AP.
- AP Art History – by far the most interesting and engaging class I took all year. Although I didn’t know a lot of people in this class so I largely kept to myself, I really enjoyed the content of the class and found it genuinely interesting. The class was graded extremely fairly, and I ended with a solid A both semesters. I felt confident about taking the AP exam, but was unfortunately unable to due to logistics.
- Honors German 5/6 – was kann ich sagen? Alle das wissen mich, weiss das ich liebe Deutschklasse. Ich denke dieses Jahr war ein bisschen schwerer als die andere, aber das war gut weil ich habe starker mit meine Deutsch werden. Ich wird nachstes Jahr AP nehmen, und ich fuhle gut mit das.
- AP U.S. History – the actual bane of my existence this year. This class simply required time and effort that I did not have or care to create. The massive amount of terms and content combined with the harsh tests and quizzes galore, APUSH was a big source of stress for me. In the end, I felt like I did alright on the AP exam, but it wounded my GPA and confidence a bit as my first B, ever.
- Honors PreCalculus/Trigonometry – I liked how this class was reliably run and very predictable, although oftentimes I felt I didn’t entirely understand the content because my teacher’s teaching style wasn’t suited as well to my math needs. Homework was easy and I was able to get good test grades (80% and higher 95% of the time). But, the second semester got a bit tricky when my teacher left due to medical problems. They were pretty accommodating for the most part, but it was certainly an adjustment. My grade went down, but I ended with a 92% in the class.
- Student Council – I was active in stuco first semester because I wanted to continue with it from last year, but due to changes in its structure I felt like it was no longer a productive use of my time. I became involved in the election when I helped my friend Vania with her campaign, but although I will continue good communication with student council, I won’t be directly involved.
- The Perspective – school online newspaper; I enjoyed this at the beginning of the year and wrote several articles, but this was something I simply had to drop about halfway through because I felt I wasn’t getting much out of it or putting enough into it to feel like I mattered as a member of the club. I became frustrated because I felt like it could be run so much better but my lack of influence or time to create influence prevented me from changing it.
- Mock Trial – after some difficulties with incorrect scoring, my team made it past regionals and into the state mock trial competition. I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with mock trial, but in the end I leave the season with love. This year’s case was about a boy named Justin who had diabetes and fell down a slippery mountainside at a summer camp. The question at hand was whether the camp or the parent/student were negligent (this is a very brief and simplified summary of a complicated case). In the end, I went for co-presidents with my friend Sydney and we won!
- Yoga Club – one of the few things that helped keep me grounded this year. I became more involved in the club second semester after quitting Student Council. I loved being back on the mat in a group setting and it made me so happy to be part of a sangha again. The 108 sun salutations fundraiser was so fun and I surprisingly was able to do all of them again this year despite less consistent practice!
- Reading Buddies – this cute, low-commitment club was easy and fun. I enjoyed corresponding with and meeting my little buddy. It was honestly just such a fun and wholesome experience.
- OTM Workshop – this is a branch of my business in the school that I use to help students with organization and time management skills. I only did it semester 1 because things got crazy with testing and scheduling, but it will be back in the fall!
- Young Entrepreneurs Academy – this amazing program has gotten me so far in terms of my business. They have given me the tools, connections, and opportunities to take my next steps to expanding my business.
- Student Expedition Program – completed year 2 of my college prep program STEP. They have made me feel so much more confident about the college process and I feel very on top of my college trajectory.
- Matriculate – another college prep program where I’ve been assigned a college adviser who is walking me through some of the steps.
Competitions and Awards:
- Poetry Out Loud – I recited “For Love” by Robert Creeley and won my school’s poetry competition. I moved on to the regional competition and received an honorable mention. Still know and love that poem!
- Poetry Slam – later in May, I performed my own slam poem The Feeling of Not Knowing Where to Go and did well. This poem was less about winning and more about being vulnerable in front of the crowd with a feeling I don’t share often with others. It was a transformative experience in my journey of becoming a public speaker.
- Mock Trial – my team received top 4 in the regional competition and moved on to the state competition.
- National German Exam Gold Medal – I took the NGE exam and was in the top 10%, so I won the gold award!
- YEA! Pitch Competition – I won $650.00 for my business through the YEA! competition as well as in-kind investment from a local entrepreneur. It was an amazing experience to put my business out there to the public and advocate for my cause and brand.
- August – first YEA! meeting, club fair, handing out ALT Planners
- September – toastmasters, homecoming
- October – craft fair, step-up day, PSAT exam
- November – Flagstaff trip, fall fling, poetry out loud, birthday party
- December – mostly finals and Christmas stuff
- January – spring launch, art museum trip, future focus meting, financial literacy course, senior debates
- February – ropes course, poetry out loud (regional), CEO roundtable, freshmen night (for clubs)
- March – in-state college tour, mock trial competitions, craft fair, investor panel, reading buddies field trip
- April – 108 sun salutations, dance show, study assistant launch, ACT exam, teacher strike, speak at an education luncheon
- May – AP Exams, trade show, YEA! graduation
This year, ALT has changed so much. My branding went from (what I now consider) disgusting to clean and streamlined. I have battled with a lot of fear of really throwing myself into the role of an entrepreneur and influencer, and learning to put myself out there has been difficult and transformative. I’ve learned to take myself and my brand more seriously and am continually trying to reach out to new people and am becoming less afraid to share what I’m doing with others. YEA! has had a great deal of influence in this process. I’ve spoken at different events, pitched for money, done trade shows and craft fairs, launched new products and services, overhauled my website and Instagram and branding, and created more meaningful and intentional content.
- Late May/Early June – ACT workshops
- Mid June to Early July – Alaska expedition with STEP
- Late July – summer writing workshops
- Early August: Young Leaders Summit in Chicago
- President of: Mock Trial, German Club, Yoga Club, OTM, Coffee Club
- Volunteering at: YEA!, health class, OTM
- Working at: my business of course, copy editor for an entrepreneur, graphic design projects
- Member of: STEP, Matriculate, Reading Buddies, National German Honors Society
- Classes: AP English Literature, AP Calculus AB, AP Biology, AP German, AP U.S. Government, Honors Economics, Health
I hope you enjoyed and/or are inspired by my insane nature. This year, I’ll admit that I took on a little bit too much. This prevented me from being able to feel grounded and rested most of the year. It left me feeling not as accomplished as I could have been, because I was stressed and not living in the moment to appreciate what I was doing and how I was succeeding.
You see, the key is that none of what I listed above would matter if I didn’t feel proud or accomplished of what I did during the time that I did it. Mostly, I did feel this – but, other times, it just became too much, and I didn’t. It doesn’t matter how much you do – it could be this level, or more, or less – what matters is how you go about doing these things. If you do things with intention and mindfulness, then you will ultimately feel better about you did.
I just shared my destination with you today – everything that I did. I didn’t share with you the long, hard hours I spent getting it done. I didn’t share the nights up at 12AM crying because I couldn’t get it all done. I didn’t share the self-hatred I was feeling for seemingly no reason from the outside. I didn’t share my social struggles, or my personal issues, or my family issues that occurred while all of this was happening.
This reflection is more of a log of what I did, and how I feel about what I did in retrospect. If you asked me how I felt about any one of those things while I was doing them, you may have gotten a much different response.
Ultimately, I learned more this year than I ever have in each area of my life. So much has happened in academics, business, extracurricular, and personal aspects of my life that it’s almost hard for me to comprehend (hence the list). It took me quite a while to remember all of the things I did, which is both extraordinary and sad. I don’t want to forget the things I’ve done and the times I’ve had this year. I want to carry everything I’ve learned with me into senior year and beyond. I want to expand on the knowledge I’ve acquired and learn from the mistakes I’ve made.
Going into next year, my plate is already full. If I’m being completely honest with myself and you, I’m not 100% sure how I’m going to do it, but I assure I will. It’ll take a lot of planning, delegation, determination, and maybe a few more of those 12AM nights. But the difference I will make next year is that I will do it with focus and intention. I’ll be mindful about each thing I’m doing and ensure that I’m taking care of myself – mentally, physically, and emotionally. Because what it comes down to, is that if those three aspects are not in check, none of what I do will matter in the moment.
So, I vow to focus from here-on-out to focus on the journey and the intention.