2015 has been a year of change, some welcome and others, well, not so much. Was 2015 the year I thought it would be? No, frankly it wasn't. 2015 was hard. 2015 was joyous. 2015 was full of disappointment and full of love, laughter, and a new appreciation for life. 2015 kicked my ass. I also kicked 2015's ass. In short, 2015 was perfectly imperfect: messy but wonderfully so.
If I had to sum up what I learned this year, I would say that I learned that I am capable of more than I think I can handle. I have confronted challenge after challenge this year with a persistence that I sometimes forget I possess.
On my way to Niger in March, 36 hours into my journey, I sat in the Charles de Gaulle Airport and cried. I just walked off my plane from the US where one of the aircraft engine's had stopped working. Firetrucks were standing by on the tarmac in case the other engine caught fire. I had just fallen down the end of an escalator with my hands full of camera equipment, sunscreen, and saltines. I had developed a bad cold under the stress of delayed flights, bad weather, and lack of sleep. I was all alone in Paris with no cellphone service and no easy way to contact home. I told myself that this was it. I needed to fly back home. I could not handle a trip of this magnitude. What was I thinking traveling to West Africa alone? I still had to go through Istanbul.
Kate, you aren't strong enough for this trip. You really think you can make it to Niger? Well, you can't. Just give up. Go home. You are already going to be two days late with all of these delays. It's not worth it. Give up. Turn around.
Originally Published in the February Issue 4 of "The Mainsheet"
Remember Valentine’s Day in elementary school? Classroom walls were adorned with red and pink paper hearts. Friends were dressed up in their finest holiday garb with “Be Mine” or “Friends 4 Ever” shirts. And the best part of all had to be the cutesy Valentine cards that you agonized over picking (puppies, princesses or Shrek?) and candy (sweet or sour?) for every classmate: a requirement of inclusion.
Now that I am 18, I understand that Valentine’s Day is not the pink and rosy holiday of my youth. In fact, my friends call Valentine’s Day one of six things:
1) Singles Awareness Day (SAD): A day dedicated to those not in a romantic relationship (usually celebrated in spite of Valentine’s Day).
Originally Published in the November 2014 Issue 2 of "The Mainsheet"
Love her or hate her, Taylor Swift is a force to be reckoned with. Her new record, 1989, is the first album since Eminem’s 2002 album The Eminem Show to sell over 1.2 million records in the first week of sales. Taylor Swift has blown away the music industry and proven whether her music is classic country or electronic pop, her loyal “Swifties” will follow her to the ends of the earth.
Swift’s music is undeniably catchy. Her old hits like “Love Story” and “You Belong With Me” or new songs like “Shake It Off” are near impossible to get out of your head once you hear them on the radio. On paper, she seems perfectly likable: super into interacting with her fans, nice girl reputation, not out partying like her pop star counterparts Miley Cyrus or even Katy Perry. Taylor Swift’s image has been squeaky clean, perfectionist, tall blonde who just by chance (yeah, right) only seems to date bona fide movie stars and teen heartthrobs. With a slew of famous girlfriends like musicians Lorde and Selena Gomez, writers like Lena Dunham, and models like Lily Aldridge and Karlie Kloss, Swift is the perfect best friend and girl’s girl. And yet, there has always been something that has driven me up the wall about her.
I was alerted to a new potential school policy on my first day back from a long, restful summer break (by the way, welcome back, Chadwick).
“Extensions on homework assignments and minor assessments will typically be handled by teachers on a case-by-case basis. Extensions on major assessments (as opposed to daily homework) based on co-curricular school sanctioned commitments that can be anticipated (i.e. performing arts or athletics) will be restricted to one extension per class per year and should be requested at least 48 hours in advance of the original deadline.”
For clarification, here are the facts. According to Head of the Upper School, Mark Wiedenmann, “There is no “new” policy, and extensions are decided by individual faculty members using their best judgment.”
It is extremely important to speak your mind. I have always admired/feared friends of mine who cut straight to the punch. Friends who say what they want to say and don't beat around the bush.
I chose the GIF above from an HBO show you probably haven't heard of (I joke) called Game of Thrones. The character above's name is Ygritte, and she is in love with Jon Snow even though she knows she shouldn't be. She tells him "You know nothing, Jon Snow."
Now Ygritte, maybe you could inform Jon Snow what he doesn't know. You are being a little cryptic. More on this later.
The importance of speaking your mind cannot be emphasized enough. When you don't speak your mind, you are left with a million unanswered questions. You left with the "what ifs." When you don't say what you want to say, when you don't ask, when you don't put yourself out there, you will never know what the answer might have been.
1) Ride a motorcycle.
2) Hike Runyon Canyon.
3) Go to a Dodger Game.
4) Walk around the Santa Monica Pier.
5) Gallop on horse.
6) Bake a gingerbread cake.
7) Find a new wallet.
8) Upload all of my mom's old (cool) CDS onto our computer.
9) Explore the Museum of Tolerance.
10) Learn how to properly shake someone's hand.
11) Compose a new collection of music.
12) See a movie at The Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
13) Marvel at a beautiful sunrise.
14) Visit The Last Bookstore.
15) Be fancy shamancy at Villa Blanca in Beverly Hills.
Some say old habits die hard. I could not agree more with that statement.
Letting go of past habits, past people, past anything can be quite difficult. There is a genuine comfort in things we already know. Even if people disappoint or hurt us, even if habits are destructive and unhealthy, even if the past is not where we want to be, it's known. In other words, letting go of the past means drifting into unknown territory; what a scary thought.
Mustering up the courage to let go of people we once loved (or still love) in favor of a possibly brighter yet somehow murkier future is no easy task. I recently was talking about the idea of letting go of old friends with a close friend of mine. She asked me what I thought about her holding onto a friend who wasn't putting in the same effort into their relationship and to be frank, was no longer honoring her happiness and needs. Should she hold on to the past and let this newer and now constant behavior go, or should she let go of this old friend who still means a lot to her?
I had this to say:
It's easy to feel caught up in the tests and tribulations of life. I often feel like I am barely treading water, barely keeping up with the unending work, the unending challenges, and the unending disappointments.
Focusing on the positive can frankly be really hard when it feels like a million things aren't going perfectly. Positivity and optimism can often be associated with a naiveté, and I don't think they should be.
Any person that has ever had some kind of adversity in his or her life (that's all of us) knows that life isn't always smooth sailing. Life can be heartbreaking and sad and really unfair. Life can beat you down into a juicy pulp where you feel like your love and strength are oozing out of a punctured shell. In those broken down moments, it's very easy to feel bad about yourself. It's very easy to feel un-beautiful, not good enough, and like a failure.
Originally Published in the June 2014 Issue 7 of "The Mainsheet"
So it’s prom season, juniors and seniors! While I have previously written on the financial burdens of the school dances, I have decided to talk about the other kinds of burdens that dances inflict on students: the self-esteem burden.
Dances can either be a major confidence boost or a major downer. Maybe that’s a little extreme of me to say, but for many students, dances are a very real form of anxiety. Will I get asked? Who should I ask? What if they say no? What if no one asks me? What does it mean if I ask him or her?
I would like to simplify this whole process. It doesn’t need to be this stressful or hurtful or frustrating. So here’s my Kate breakdown of how to survive prom season. Godspeed to the classes of 2014 and 2015!
Originally Published in the April 2014 Issue 6 of "The Mainsheet"
I will never let rejection stop me from accomplishing my goals. I will never let rejection keep me down. I have been rejected plenty of times, so I have become very good at being rejected. I mean it. My ability to be rejected has almost turned into a skill.
I was rejected when I was 1 1/2 years old. My biological father decided he didn’t want to be a part of my life anymore. I have had zero contact with him since.
I was rejected in first grade. My classmates told me that I should not be able to go on an Indian Princess Trip to Lake Arrowhead because I “didn’t have a daddy.” I was too afraid to tell anyone how much those words hurt me.
I was rejected by God. My grandmother, my second mother, the woman who picked me up from school every day and held me until my mom came home late from work, died unexpectedly from a rare autoimmune disorder that 1 out of 1,000,000 people get. The last time I saw her she was in the hospital. I was in my white first communion dress she got me months earlier when she still had her curly black hair and warm Irish smile. I didn’t have a chance to say goodbye.