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— Chelsea Kennedy, Madison High School

* * *

Advice is a funny thing. Some people give advice with the best of intentions, but somehow their suggestion happens to be the worst thing you’ve ever done. While that’s a bit of an exaggeration, I can think of many occasions on which movies, music, and all sorts of other things have been suggested to me. I was just stupid enough, and more importantly bored enough, to listen to some of those people.

One of my dear friends absolutely loves to go to the movies; it is without a doubt his number-one source of entertainment. Sometimes, he goes to movies he doesn’t even want to see. What usually happens, though, is that I go to movies with him that I really don’t want to see.

Horror movies really aren’t my deal, but boy have I been dragged to my fair share. I know how to say no, but sometimes.... The last truly horrendous example would probably have to be The Hitcher, a movie about a killer hunting down a couple and eventually slaughtering the boyfriend. I like gratuitous violence sometimes, but at some point, enough is enough. A little gore goes a long way. By the end I was just glad I wasn’t the one who paid for the tickets.

It’s not the end of the world, but I sure have wasted a fair number of hours in retarded movies. Spending two hours with The Brothers Grimm was another painful experience.

A lot of my favorite music has been recommended to me by friends, but some people, when they start talking about music, I know to just tune out. I am rather picky, so the red flag goes up quickly. I’m sure a lot of people wouldn’t take my advice about music either; not everyone will love the band Tool. A former girlfriend and I had drastically different tastes in music. It was an ongoing game to try and get the other one to listen to our music. It was funny, though, and always gave us something to argue about.

— Grant Barba, La Jolla High School

* * *

Growing up, I never really had a “significant plan” to guide me. I was always more of a dreamer. I just assumed that everything would work itself out the way I wanted, eventually, and that life would be served to me on a gold platter. Unfortunately, I discovered that this method works only if you’re someone like Paris Hilton.

I got my first dose of reality from my counselor in my freshman year. He preached to our class how important it was to get good grades and how slim the acceptance rate is for most colleges these days. As the days progressed into my sophomore year, I started applying myself more and more, making a real effort to try to raise my GPA, and swallow as many extracurricular activities as possible without going completely insane. Unfortunately, I noticed that many of my peers were on a path to self-destruction. I learned it is very difficult to keep your head high when everyone around you wants you to cave in.

One evening I talked with my dad about all of this, and he gave me the best advice that I have received so far: “You can’t blame your failures and wrong-doings on anybody but yourself.” He told me that everything in life is not going to be easy; I should not expect everything to happen perfectly every time. He said, “Angela, if you don’t want to be a deadbeat for the rest of your life, you need to take responsibility for yourself. No one likes a 70-year-old woman complaining about her life, blaming her failures on everybody else.” You can’t control how or why you were brought into this world, but you’re in control of where you go from there.

Since then, with everything I do, I always use his advice to keep me motivated and focused. I overcame many mental, emotional, and physical hardships during my life. Everybody will make mistakes and mess up. Sometimes the mistakes are huge. But I learned that confronting the fact that you were the one to mess up is the first step to fixing it. Obviously, it’s never good to beat yourself up about anything; it’s only bad when you don’t learn from mistakes and repeat the past, which was what my dad was trying to get into my stubborn mind at the time.

I’m sure my father’s advice will always be in the back of my mind and will make me more secure about the decisions I make. It is true, just like George Bernard Shaw once wrote, “People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want and if they can’t find them, make them.”

— Angela Perna, El Capitan High School

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