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  • Articles, GirlSpring.com, Home Life, Lifestyle, Relationships

    How to Make Your Parents Proud

    parents

    Many of the parents I know, including my own, give everything for their children. My parents allow me to go on endless adventures and support me through any opportunities I have. They let me study abroad for the summer, they are allowing me to go to residential school for the next two years, and they are always positive lights in my life. The least I can do is strive to make them proud, right?

    Growing up, I had ideas of what my parents expected from me. Regardless of the amount of truth in these ideas, I agreed with some… but was extremely confused by others. I thought they wanted me to follow in my dad’s footsteps and become a lawyer. Or that my mom wanted me to stay close to home and my dad didn’t want me to ever grow up.

    Me with my dad

    I didn’t know who I wanted to be, because I wanted to be who they wanted.

    I don’t know where I got these ideas because my parents have always been supportive and encouraging in everything I do. Is it even possible to make your parents proud if you don’t grow up to be like them? I wasn’t sure at the time. But yes, it certainly is possible.

    My ideas of my parents’ expectations couldn’t be farther from the truth. My parents always wanted me to be whatever I wanted, with a few actual expectations. They taught me that I could be whoever I wanted to be, as long as I was kind, hardworking, generous, and had integrity. Honestly, I am ashamed that it took me so long to realize what they were doing. They want the best for me, but they wanted me to make mistakes. They allowed me to learn on my own, probably because they knew I wouldn’t listen if they told me directly. My parents never truly placed any expectations for my future, because they want me to be independent.

    I have to figure out my own life, with their guidance, because it is mine, after all.

    My mom and dad’s goal is for me, and my brothers, to be happy, healthy, and love what we are doing. It’s that simple. Although, it’s cliché, it’s true, all you have to do to make your parents proud is be yourself. If I would’ve spent my life trying to make my parents happy, I would’ve missed the opportunities I had to accomplish things that truly make them proud. It is important for me to fulfill my own expectations, with the help of my parents. I take everything I am given to the fullest potential and hope that I can add to their pride, through doing what I feel is right.

    Parents should let their children live their own lives, let children make decisions, and fail sometimes. I know my parents enjoy watching what I can accomplish independently, after learning from them my whole life. I experience whatever is on my own path, regardless of what is on the paths beside me. Dreams have to be fulfilled by the dreamer. You can’t live someone else’s dream for them. The only way to succeed is to follow your own dreams, and have the ones you love support you along the way.

    Spend time with your parents and family! Here are some ways that you can grow closer this summer.

  • Articles, Body Image, Confidence, GirlSpring.com, Health, Lifestyle

    5 Small Tips for Loving Yourself More

    body confidence

    Everyone who knows me is aware of the fact that I’ve struggled with my body confidence throughout my whole life. My extra pounds and my acne when I was younger, being taller and bigger than everyone, maybe too muscular when I used to weightlift or having no muscles at all now that I’m recovering from an injury. There’s always something to complain about my body or the way that I look… I can never be truly satisfied. 

    These past few months, after a guy that I was seeing decided to end our relationship because he “couldn’t love me if I didn’t love me”, I’ve decided to change the pattern. See, since I had been feeling the same thing for almost 22 years and it wasn’t helping me at all. Maybe it was time to try something else! And I still don’t know how, but I’ve managed to make huge changes in my confidence. So what better way to celebrate these changes than to share them with everyone else?

    Here are 5 small tips that I’ve used to accept and care for myself more:

    1. Tell the voice in your head to shut up. I know… It’s like every time I look at myself in the mirror, or I see myself in a picture, there’s an instant voice yelling “ugh… disgusting!” Well, it’s time to make a conscious effort to shut it down. I understand it will be hard, but try covering it up with positive thoughts such as “I look amazing!” “I feel great!” At first, it might seem unnatural, but after a while, you can revert the habit.
    2. Take a look at your beautiful self in the mirror. If you feel uncomfortable with yourself, it’s highly likely that you avoid seeing yourself in a mirror. I used to close my eyes a lot when I had to see myself in some sort of reflection. I didn’t want to face what was in front of me. It’s time to quit that: see yourself carefully, every little part of you. Look at yourself in the eyes and get to know who you are. 
    3. Make a list of all the wonderful things you’ve done in your life and what you’re capable of doing. When I feel sad, I remember something amazing that I did a while ago: maybe that time that I did stand-up comedy on TV, or how strong I was in a sports competition. I also take time to be grateful for what’s to come, for the many things that I am capable of doing. Body confidence to me is not about how I look, but about what I am able to do. When you take some time to remember what you’re good at and the things you’re passionate about, you accept your own self more.
    4. Be careful with social media! Social media can be very toxic. When your feed is full of pictures of what beauty is supposed to feel like, or hurtful tips about “how you should achieve your summer body” (ALL bodies are summer bodies!) it’s very hard to get out of the negative spiral. We spend lots of hours surfing through social media, so my suggestion is to clean up your following list. Be careful with who you take advice from, and try to find other inspiring things rather than just pictures of other people. 
    5. Get out. Go for a walk! Work out! Play the piano! Do whatever makes you happy. Appreciate time with yourself, do things that are healthy for you, follow your passions. I find that when I have an amazing day just with myself, I am the happiest when I go to sleep.

    Learning to love yourself can be a long journey, here are some tips on self-care that can help you along the way!

  • Articles, Depression, Lifestyle

    How to Free Yourself When Feeling Down in the Dumps

    Down in the Dumps Girl

    We all have those days when we’re feeling less than stellar. Whether it’s about ourselves, our job or just a current life predicament;it’s completely normal to have moments or days where you’re just not feeling as amazing as you deserve to feel. Since your wellbeing is so unbelievably important, here are some ways to get yourself out of the dumps and into a better mood ASAP! 

    Plan a Vacation 

    Everybody needs a vacation every now and then. Finding time to get away from your daily stresses is so important, especially for your mental wellbeing. Whether you want to plan a weekend getaway or an elaborate trip around Europe, take time for yourself and map out a fun vacation. If you’re not in the place where you can afford a vacation, use the time to plan a stay-cation or simply get out of the house and do something you’ve been dying to check out. No matter what it is or what you end up planning, this will give you something to look forward to along with giving you a chance to enjoy new experiences andget yourself out of the daily rise and grind.

    Embrace Color 

    Color has more of an effect on us than we’re aware of. If you’re going through a phase where you’re not feeling like yourself, color can help be a solution. There have been many studies performed showing the psychology of different colorsand how if you surround yourself with the right colors, it may just help elevate your mood. The most immediate places to add more color will be throughout your house and your office space. Doing little things like adding brighter decor to your desk or swapping your sheets for a more vibrant set can improve your wellbeing. If you’re more of a beauty guru, don’t be afraid to add more color into your beauty routine either. Spicing up your look with a turquoise eyeliner or bright pink lip can be more than enough to give you an extra spike of confidence. The same goes for your hair color. If you’re not afraid of being bold with your hair, apply a vivid new hair colorthat will leave you surrounded by color no matter where you go! 

    Give Yourself a Mental Health Day

    If the way you’re feeling is drastically affecting your day to day, don’t be afraid to take a mental health day for yourself. While trying to give your mind some cool down time with work and other things can be a wonderful distraction, some people find that they need a whole day to reset themselves so they can be the best they can possibly be. Whether you spend the entirety of your day watching reruns of your favorite show or just using the time to get some Vitamin D in with a little extra sunshine, your mental health is all about you so use your mental health day to do whatever makes you feel good. 

    Talk it Out

    One of the worst things you can do for yourself if you’re not feeling great is to keep it all to yourself. To help you feel better, talk to friends, family, your significant other, your therapist, whoever you’re close to in your life about what you’re going through. Some people don’t like to open up for fear of being vulnerable or “being a burden”, but you have to ignore those worries because in the end, that’s what they’re there for! It can be hard to be honest about what you’re going through but opening up will make you feel loads lighter in the end. 

    What are some of your recommended ways to get yourself out of the dumps? 

  • Articles, GirlSpring.com, Lifestyle, Travel

    Volunteering this Summer Changed My Life

    volunteering

    by Zoe Zahariadis

    This summer I am volunteering in two different refugee camps in Lesvos, Greece. Kara Tepe, the first camp I volunteered at, is a camp for families only. It hosts over 1,000 people from primarily Afghanistan.

    My Experience at Kara Tepe

    Kara Tepe provides a community atmosphere for its residents, meaning that its staff and volunteers are comprised of both international volunteers, local staff and residents themselves. The homes are not described in terms such as “section” rather than “area” and the refugees are called “residents”. For the first two weeks, I volunteered with Movement on the Ground (MOTG), a nonprofit located in the camp, to put up shading between the 200 plus homes in the camp. Shading was extremely hard work because I was in the sun on the roof for hours a day, but I really learned a lot about the structure of an NGO (non-governmental organization) and the importance of working together as a community. I worked alongside residents from across the world and was able to communicate and work efficiently, through the awkward language barriers, through it all.

    After working with MOTG, I worked with SOS Villages teaching English to children ages 7-13. It was a really great experience to learn about working with children from a different culture that also speak a different language. 

    Some of the words we taught to children
    Crafts that the children made

    My Experience at the Moria Refugee Camp

    After working at Kara Tepe, I became a French translator for Kitrinos Healthcare, a medical NGO in Moria refugee camp. Moria is the most notorious camp on the island, equated to concentration camps and prison. Working in Moria is extremely heartbreaking. In the medical clinic, we see victims of war, torture, and just overall sickness. It is so hard to have to see people break down in front of you.

    Being a translator makes you a conduit for language and understanding because at times you are the only one who can listen. It’s such a difficult place to navigate as an unbiased listener. Sometimes you just want to buy their medicine yourself or take them back to a doctor back home, but you can’t. And with very limited options at the camp, the doctors do their best. There just comes a point when you can’t do much with the small supplies we have and it is really heartbreaking.

    This work has made me grow as a person to understand more complex issues on a deep, personal level. I am so beyond thankful to have had this opportunity to learn from the community in Moria and Kara Tepe. 

    You can change the world with as little time as a summer or with more time like a gap year. Check out how Alexandra took a year off and became an activist!

  • Articles, Bullying, Confidence, Environment, GirlSpring.com, Interview, Lifestyle, Local, Mental Health, Relationships, School, Sexual Health, Social, Stress, Tough Questions, Writing

    Deciding To Come Out

    coming out

    ( Author’s Note: This website is for women empowerment. Men and Women can be feminist, therefore there are some males in this article.
    bri xx )

    Coming Out

    Coming out and discovering your sexuality is a really touchy subject and not everyone is comfortable with talking about their experiences. Although, it is a sensitive subject I know people (especially those who aren’t out yet) like to hear other LGBTQ+ coming out stories. Everyone’s story, of course, will be different! Some were accepted while others maybe weren’t. I had an okay experience which made me very curious about what other LGBTQ+ peoples’ experiences were. This led me to interview a few people with different cultural backgrounds to see how their experience went. I asked them all the same four questions.

    Here are their responses:

    Hayden Robinson
    Current Age: N/A
    Age You Came Out: 15
    Gender: Male
    Sexuality: Gay

    When did you discover you were apart of the LGBTQ+ community?

    During middle school, it felt kind of awkward walking through the underwear aisles. He started to realize when he had a crush on rapper Flo Rida.

    When and Why did you decide to come out?

    It all was a bit of a process, the first person he told was already a part of the LGBTQ+ community. He told them over Instagram demos, but then told them to delete their conversation. Then in November, he told his sister. The next month, he told his mom, and the month after that, his father. Soon, he told his stepmother on Valentine’s Day. Eventually, he told his close friends, but he still wasn’t out to everyone which affected his mental health. So, one Friday afternoon, he made a Snapchat story saying he was gay.

    What were your responses from friends, family, teachers, etc?

    Most of them knew already. Sister thought it was awesome that they could talk about boys together. Mom took it hard and was scared. Dad was kind of quiet and didn’t ask many questions besides how long did he know he was a part of the LGBTQ+ community. Stepmom didn’t think it was a big deal.
    Friends were excited and pretty much already knew it.

    Looking back, are you happy with your decisions on coming out?

    He is very happy about it! He would not be where he is today if he hadn’t come out. His family and friends are also still very supportive.

    Linus
    Current Age: 16
    Age You Came Out: 14
    Gender: Female
    Sexuality: Queer / Doesn’t really like labels though.

    When did you discover you were apart of the LGBTQ+ community?

    Younger, people would say a lot of homophobic things and she would take up for the LGBTQ+ community, not really realizing she was just standing up for herself.

    When and Why did you decide to come out?

    It wasn’t really formal, she just kind of talked about a crush who was apart of the LGBTQ+ community.

    What were your responses from friends, family, teachers, etc?

    Overall, friends acted normally while one “friend” tried to fully push her out of the closet which resulted in her cutting them off.

    Looking back, are you happy with your decisions on coming out?

    She’s only out to friends, but is happy about making that decision. She plans on coming out to family when ready.

    Carter

    Current Age: 15 turning 16
    Age You Came Out At: 12
    Gender: Transgender Male
    Sexuality: Bisexual

    When did you discover you were apart of the LGBTQ+ community?

    The first time was when he was in a hospital and met people a part of that community. During that time, he was given a chest binder and a packer and decided to try it.

    When and Why did you decide to come out?

    He came out as bisexual when he was twelve around thanksgiving time. He came out as transgender at fourteen.

    What were your responses from friends, family, teachers, etc?

    Friends weren’t accepting at all and didn’t really understand it.
    Mom was giving him the talk when he came out as bisexual and was okay with it. Dad didn’t really care, but questioned if he was really sure he was bisexual. When coming out as transgender, his mom was confused and not accepting. She thought he was too young to make that decision. Four years later, Mom has accepted it but doesn’t want him to make rash decisions.
    Parents told teachers to call him a different name but didn’t tell them that he is transgender.

    Looking back, are you happy with your decisions on coming out?

    Yes and No, he’s still battling with a couple of different things. Wishes he hadn’t told friends, but glad he came out to his family otherwise he would still be confused about things.

    Jamiah
    Current Age: 16
    Age You Came Out At: 15
    Gender: Female
    Sexuality: Lesbian

    When did you discover you were apart of the LGBTQ+ community

    In seventh grade. The first year at a new school and decided that she wasn’t attracted to guys anymore.

    When and Why did you decide to come out?

    Made the decision to come out because she didn’t want to hide anymore and just wanted to be honest with herself.

    What were your responses from friends, family, teachers, etc?

    Mom and Brothers already knew and did not care nor treat her differently. Dad doesn’t know and is not gonna tell him because she feels he just won’t understand. Friends were really happy and weren’t really shocked.

    Looking back, are you happy with your decisions on coming out?

    Yes, Very Happy. She was just tired of hiding it and finally happy she can be open about her relationships.

    Talking with these individuals opened my eyes a lot.

    You always hear stories about people’s coming out experiences. Some are like a happy fairy tale ending. Some are not so happy and end with people taking their own lives. Not everyone is gonna be accepting of the LGBTQ+ community, but every individual has a right to express themselves and not be treated differently or less than anyone else in this world. Coming out is not the easiest to do so wait until you’re ready and are comfortable with sharing it to friends, family or anyone. Don’t let anyone force you to do anything you don’t want to do. If you are not comfortable with coming out, it’s perfectly fine, no pressure, but know that, even if it doesn’t feel like it, there are many people out there who love and support you.

    If you do come out and you start to experience verbal, physical, emotional abuse or any form of bullying, tell someone. Don’t let other people’s stupidity make you feel bad about being yourself. Hopefully, reading other people’s stories helped or educated you a little bit on how different everyone’s reactions and how it changed or didn’t change their lives.

    much love,
    bri xx

    Everyone deserves to feel comfortable being themself, gay, straight, bi, trans, whatever! Check out some tips on being comfortable in your own skin.

    If you are thinking about coming out but don’t know how to, or have more questions than you can count, look at the Human Right’s Campaign’s Coming Out Resource Guide.

  • College, Lifestyle, Travel

    Simple Tips For A Hassle-free Asian Gap Year

    Gap Year Travel

    Simple Tips For A Hassle-free Asian Gap Year

    In 2016, Malia Obama, daughter of then-president Barack Obama, decided that she would take a gap year before attending Harvard University in the fall of the following year as a member of the Class of 2021. Over recent years, taking a gap year after graduating from high school has become increasingly popular among Americans, with approximately 40,000 teens engaging in the practice every year. While destinations such as Australia, New Zealand and Peru remain hot favorites among adventurous youngsters looking to explore the world before settling down in college, there is one destination that possesses a mystical appeal like none other: Asia. Traveling to such a far-off destination may initially seem harrowing for a teen girl, especially as far as funding the expedition is concerned, but a few simple guidelines will make it easy to plan a memorable gap year in one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

    Decide on your destination and draw up a budget

    The first thing you need to do after deciding on taking a gap year in Asia is to pick a destination. Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia and Singapore are all exquisite, and can offer a girl an exceptional gap year experience. Whether you remain in one place or travel the entire continent is entirely up to you. Just make sure you plan your route and draw up your budget accordingly. Take into consideration everything from your plane tickets and accommodation to your food and other basic living expenses, and ensure you will have some extra money at your disposal should an emergency arise.

    Find cheap flights

    Your flights will more than likely be the biggest expense you incur when traveling to Asia for your gap year. Whether you’re looking to book a simple two-way ticket or plan to travel extensively and make use of multiple flights, make the effort to search for the most affordable flights available. Be flexible when booking your flights, and make use of a reliable fare finder tool to find the best deals available. If you travel frequently, you can also benefit from making use of a credit card that will reward you with airline miles, which will take the pressure off significantly.

    Making money in Asia

    Unless you’re extremely wealthy, chances are you will have to find a way to fund your gap year while abroad. Thankfully, living and traveling in Asia is typically very affordable, which means you can make your money last for longer. If, however, you want to extend your stay or have more spending money at your disposal, there are a number of ways you can earn extra money while exploring the continent. If you have a way with words, you may want to consider becoming a digital nomad and start your own blog that documents your travels. You can also offer other online services, such as web page and logo design, copywriting, and online editing that will enable you to earn money while traveling. If you consider yourself to be eloquent, why not take up a job teaching English as a foreign language? You can offer this service either online or wherever you’re staying, depending on how frequently you’re planning to change your location. 

    There is something distinctly magical about Asia that makes it the perfect gap year destination for adventurous girls. As long as you plan your trip properly, there’s no reason why your year abroad couldn’t become the most memorable time in your life.

  • Articles, Lifestyle, School, work

    An Internship Changed My College Experience

    internship

    Not the Typical College Experience

    Going into college, I knew my college experience wouldn’t look like the “typical” college experience. I didn’t live in a dorm. I moved in with a family member who lived close to my college. I didn’t rush to be in a sorority. Because of these circumstances, It was incredibly hard to adjust to a new city and a new life. Making friends was difficult after being with the same people for the past 12 years of my life. I was completely lonely and scared.

    After an extremely emotional and anxious first semester, I heard about this internship/volunteering opportunity called “2:52.” The internship was associated with Church of The Highlands and it consisted of a group of about 60 college kids. We gathered on Monday nights for Chapel to grow in their faith and in community and be poured into. Then, on Thursday nights, we had the student-focused church service called “ONE.” There, we could serve and pour out to other students who were looking for the same things we were: a community, faith, and Jesus. I took a leap of faith and signed up… I had no idea I would find everything I had been looking for in high school, and throughout my first semester of college, there.

    During this Internship, I gained so much more than expected

    The internship has molded me into a leader and taught me how to seek after Jesus on my own. It taught me to not rely on a church, a building, or people to shape my relationship with God. Rather, it’s a personal walk. I was able to serve my community and learn to be selfless by helping others. I made friends who were after the same things as me. I made friends from different backgrounds and states and who had different stories than me. I learned that you could find friends that truly cared about how you were doing and looked out for your best interest. In two semesters, I lead a small group and now am leading within the internship. I have come extremely far from where I started and now have the boldness and confidence to do things that I had always been afraid of before.

    I found who I was without living a typical “crazy” college lifestyle. Now, I run next to people who are chasing the same things. We have all gone through things and pulled each other back towards Jesus when we’ve fallen. I found out that a relationship with Jesus doesn’t have to be pretty or perfect. It just has to be real. No matter your condition, He is always waiting to meet with you. God has a purpose and a plan for your life and the fun part of the journey is discovering what that is. This internship has grown me and shaped me a prepared me to be whatever God is calling me to be and that is life-changing.

    Read about Jade’s internship experience at Marvel here!