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3 Words, 8 Letters

The English alphabet has 26 letters. Letters. They are just a few lines put together and some have curves.

Letters form words, words form sentences and sentences form paragraphs. The letters used to write the most magnificent poem are the same letters used to write a suicide note. These random letters put together in some way make us feel so many emotions. Envy, disgust, love, hatred, happiness, bliss, and literally every emotion you can think of but one thing never changes. It’s the same 26 letters. The possibilities it has are endless. We can choose what we want to do with it. Choose the wrong combination and create a very different outcome, a different emotion, a different reaction, a different ending.

It is the same set of letters that make you cry and laugh, it can hurt you, it can cheer you. It is the same number of letters that take to say “I love you” and “I hate you”, 3 words, 8 letters.

Give, Take

Lose, Gain

Chaos, Peace

Whole, Empty

Hard, Soft

Live, Kill

Devil, Angel

Notice how each pair of words have the same number of letters.
Coincidence? I think not.
They are two sides to the same coin.
It is because one is irrelevant without the other. There is no light without darkness, there is no good without evil, there is no love without hate. You cant appreciate peace until you experience chaos. You can’t always give, you need to take too. Gaining is meaningless if you haven’t known loss. You wouldn’t know how it feels to be whole if you don’t know how it feels to be empty. And even the devil was once an angel.
Back to my original point. It is the same number of letters that take to say “I love you” and “I hate you”. 3 words, 8 letters; that is all it takes.

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What I learned in 2020

It’s been a while since I’ve written something and I have come with new wisdom. 2020 has been a rollercoaster for all of us. I would like to share what I learned as a 16-year-old. On my birthday I was absolutely terrified of being 16. I was literally balling my eyes out. I was not looking forward to it. I felt like I grew up and this was it, and I was so afraid of the potential of making mistakes just because I had turned 16. Now looking back it seems so silly. Because the thing is whether we like it or not, the tiniest of actions will influence the course of the rest of our life and you cannot control it. So many factors play a role in where you are today: a delayed bus, an extra cup of coffee, the number of minutes you took to brush your teeth. This is chaos theory. Mathematics. Every choice you have made has led you to the most wonderful moments in your life but also the worst moments in your life. Butterflies will keep flapping their wings and causing hurricanes. While you exist, every moment and movement matters. Even if you are standing still. So all you can do is do your best and hope that things turn out well.

I also started feeling like the things that an average teenager enjoyed and their priorities were immature and cringe which to a certain extent is true but I realized that we have our whole lives to be mature and not do cringe things. And the time we have right now is so priceless. I really took advantage of my time last year. I realized that in a few years I’ll be off to college and I’ll be an adult. Even though I may not act anywhere near to an adult but that title is scary. I started to hold on to things a little longer, hugged a little tighter, smiled a little bigger, laughed a little louder, talked a little longer, forgave a little quicker, and held on to hands a little firmer not wanting to let go. You are only a teenager for around 6,570 days and most of that time is spent in school and homework and procrastination. If we put together all the time we spend in school it will add up to years. We also spend time sleeping and showering and eating and in the end, we end up with only 2,555 days to be a teenager. So do what you want to do. I’m not telling you to abandon everything else but just always keep in the back of your mind how short it’s going to be. But just because I said this does not mean that you’ll never have fun ever again or it won’t be your “peak”. For some people, the time as a teenager is the worst time in their lives. I feel like any age can be your “peak”. It all depends on your mindset and what you want and whether you are willing to work for it. Every chapter in life has something to offer and appreciate. Yes, there may be factors that you cannot control but all you can do is make the most out of it and believe that things happen for a reason.

Even the darkest days lead to something beautiful or so I’ve heard. I read this analogy for life in a book. It said that life is like a video game and it gets harder and harder but it’s okay because you get stronger and more skilled. So if you feel like you are failing it’s probably because you are leveling up.

I also learned to only hope and never expect. When you expect you are already assuming that things will play out a certain way and when it does not happen you are hurt. So it’s best to hope for the best but not expect the best.

A quote I saw last year, said: “I may have lost the battle but I won the war”. This reminds me to think of the bigger picture. Why are you doing the things that you do? Ask yourself whether what you are doing now helps what you want to do 10 years from now. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a solid tangible thing. Sometimes it may be a feeling. It may be I want to be happy and content or I want to travel, I want to get into this school, I want this certain job or I want to work on this new idea. It can be anything. This quote also reminds me of how in the grand scheme of things the small mistakes or “battles” will not make or break your life, it is the big wins or the big losses that make an impact. So if you make the big decisions right then these small ones will eventually fade away.

This is where it gets tricky. On one side you want to live in the moment and experience and enjoy life and on the other side, you want to plan ahead and do things for the future. What is the solution to this? I don’t know yet. I wish I did but I’m not that wise. But I think it’s a balance each of us has to find and there may be slip-ups but as long as you come back it’s going to be fine.

Too Much

When I was younger I remember slime being a big hit. All the kids were obsessed with it and were constantly making more of it. Cloud slime, clear slime, butter slime, crunchy slime, and the list just goes on. I too decided to hop on the trend and made my own set of slimes. After making batches after batches of it, I remember this one event. When I stretched the slime slowly it seemed to stretch forever but when I stretched it forcefully and quickly it cut in half. At 12 years of age, I didn’t think much of it at the moment, but I was careful to not let that happen again. Now, 5 years later, that one lesson transcends itself and has spread through all aspects of my life. 

When you try too hard, too much control, too much planning, that is when things fall apart. It disrupts its natural laws. Time and time again this belief has been proven to me, from the trivial to the substantial. 

It is when I plan my day to the minute and it ends up going nothing as I wanted or when I put too much energy into an unstable friendship that I don’t want to lose but it was already at a crossroads long back. 

It is when I try to put down the first perfect stroke of paint and sometimes don’t even end up touching the canvas because I just want to get it “right”. It’s art, there wasn’t a right or wrong in the first place. 

When I thought I knew exactly how life was gonna go, where I would live, what I would do, what my day to day activities would be like was when the unexpected hit. Covid broke through and nothing was the same anymore. Schools became online, you had to wear masks, you couldn’t go out anymore. I thought, okay, this is probably it. How much more could things change right? But the kicker was yet to come.

I moved halfway across the globe. Now this change was so unexpected and too out of my control that I became numb to it. As someone who tries to control every detail in their life, I couldn’t comprehend this change. I was void of emotion. Everything I had known was changing. It has been months since this change and I still don’t know what to feel because I keep facing new changes every single day! Different ideologies, different perspectives, different priorities, different people. The things that I see and hear and feel are all different. 

I hear the clicking of the keyboard and not the clicking of pens. I see google docs and not notebooks. My clothes feel different every day instead of the familiar sensation of my uniform that I had been wearing for the past 11 years. 

Even after all this I still catch myself tempting to take over the reins, to pull on them a bit tighter.

I soon enough realized that my want to control stems from my fear of uncertainty, fear of the unknown. But the thing is things are always going to be uncertain. I can’t always have a fixed plan. Actually, I can have a plan but it need not necessarily go according to plan. I just can’t control everything. Change is inevitable. But what I can do is alter how I perceive those changes and try to make the most of the situation. 

Smile :)

One way in which I try to have a positive impact on the world is by smiling. Which I know seems like a very cliche but there is a lot of thought behind it. We never know what a person is going through and a genuine smile truly brightens someone’s day. Do we realize that all of us are coming from very different lives with different experiences and thoughts and emotions and desires? The person you saw last week, you may never see them again. You don’t know if they just broke up with their significant other or lost a parent or maybe even had a near to death experience. Well, life is not usually that dramatic, and these things seemingly don’t happen that often but the point still stands. Genuinely smiling at someone makes them feel so seen and heard. You are validating their existence and their presence. As a stranger who you would probably never meet again and also have no advantage out of doing this, a genuine smile is the best gift you can give. And that one smile may be it. It may be what gave them the encouragement to choose life or to give it one more chance or they realized there is still some good left in the world. And you never know who they are or what they are capable of. They may be the ones creating the next “big thing” or maybe as simple as helping another person with the directions. Either way, you are still affecting the world for the better. It is a chain reaction and you never know what the output could be. I mean, if a mere butterfly flapping its wings can cause something as powerful as a hurricane, I don’t see what’s not possible

Is Coffee Good For You? ☕️

For the longest time, I thought that coffee was something that we should be avoiding and it’s really bad for you we should not be taking it. But I was wrong, the other day I accidentally stumbled across a video on coffee and it piqued my curiosity so I watched it and I was intrigued by what the person said about it so I decided to learn more about coffee, specifically about the caffeine in it which I believed was so bad for you. Turns out it is not that bad for you and may even have benefits.

So what does coffee actually do, well as you might know coffee contains caffeine which is the worlds most widely consumed psychoactive drug, blocks one of the neuron transmitters in the brain called adenosine. Adenosine is an inhibitory neuron transmitter and its foremost action is to hose down brain activity. So when coffee blocks adenosine it increases overall neural firing in the brain that increases the activity of other neurotransmitters like dopamine which ultimately stimulates changes in our energy, mood and attention.

Positive impacts of Coffee

  • Enhances memory performance
  • Improves memory and recall
  • Improves mood
  • Enhances physical performance
  • Improves recovery from exercise
  • Contains more antioxidants than green tea and cocoa.
  • Coffee drinkers may have a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases(including heart attack, heart failure, and stroke), type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, uterine and liver cancer, etc

Negative impacts of coffee

  • Can cause insomnia
  • Can cause restlessness
  • Can cause anxiety
  • Can cause jitteriness
  • Bad quality coffee can be toxic
  • Too much coffee raises stress levels
  • Coffee can seriously dehydrate you so for every cup of coffee you should be drinking two cups of water.
  • Can suffer from caffeine withdrawal
  • Pregnant women should not be having high amounts of caffeine.

Conclusion

So is coffee good or bad for you? There are many more positive and negative impacts of drinking coffee. The ones mentioned above are only a few. All the negative effects of drinking coffee are caused when consumed in high amounts or when the person becomes addicted to it and feels like they cannot go through the day without coffee. At the end of the day, we should remember that caffeine is a drug and we can get addicted to it. But there are many benefits to drinking coffee. So the best strategy would be to not take it regularly or take a week off from coffee every three weeks if you are a daily drinker. This builds your tolerance to caffeine.

My thoughts

In my opinion, I feel like people who do drink coffee can change to decaf coffee. Decaf coffee tastes exactly like normal coffee or at least very similar to the normal coffee and it has no caffeine. Even though it is labeled as “decaf” when people drink the coffee since it tastes exactly like normal coffee they might believe that it doesn’t really make much of a difference, and thanks to the placebo effect they will experience the same benefits they had while they drank normal coffee. In fact, there are people who drink decaf coffee unknowingly and believe that whatever outcome they were looking for from that coffee occurred because they drank “caffeinated” coffee. This is just my opinion.

The 5 Golden Rules of Skin Care

Cleansing – The first rule is to cleanse every morning and night. At least at night because our skin renews itself when we sleep and we don’t want our skin to work with old dirty cells because if they do we start seeing acne. Not cleansing at night is one of the primary reasons why we get acne. If your a person who wears makeup then at least take off your makeup before you go to sleep. Sleeping with makeup on is so very harmful to our skin.

Exfoliating – The second rule is to exfoliate your skin two times a week preferably at night because that’s when our skin renews itself and any product that you apply to your skin after exfoliation will soak in much deeper into your skin, therefore, increasing its effectiveness. Exfoliating during the morning can irritate your skin due to environmental factors. You don’t necessarily have to buy an exfoliator for this, you can make your own by just adding a teaspoon of sugar into your cleanser. The sugar acts as a physical exfoliant. Brown sugar is a better option to use for this purpose because it acts not only as a physical exfoliant but also as a chemical exfoliant as it contains glycolic acid. Glycolic acid is the holy grail of exfoliation.

Using an antioxidant – Use an antioxidant-rich cream or serum. Antioxidants are vitamins a, b and c. It helps our skin to fight against free radicals. Free radicals are environmental aggressors which are hard on our skin and body. So by using antioxidant-rich products and eating foods rich in antioxidants we prevent free radicals from attacking our body and skin.

Sunscreen – This is so important. Sunscreens act as a shield against the harmful UV rays which penetrate every time your skin is exposed to the sun. Our skin has three layers, the first one is the epidermis, the second one is the dermis and the third one is the hypodermis. UVB(ultraviolet-B rays) are the short high-energy wavelengths that hit the uppermost layer of the epidermis and when this layer is irritated this is what causes the redness and swelling of what appears to be a sunburn. This is what causes freckling, age spots, or any kind of skin pigmentation. UVA (ultraviolet-A) reaches the hypodermis and it affects the DNA of the cells of the dermis. When this is attacked, it causes the wrinkling of your skin, and sagging and also skin cancer is a real thing so we should be using sunscreen even if you are not worried about your skin’s appearance.

Drinking water – This is the most important rule and is not only for your skin. Drinking water helps every part of your body. Water flushes out all the toxins from our body and therefore keeps our skin and body healthy. You can also use hydrating products in the form of toners, serums, or moisturizers. An ingredient to be looking for in hydrating products is hyaluronic acid. I’ve written a whole blog on this acid so check it out.

How to Not Forget Things (Conquer the Forgetting Curve)

I’m pretty sure that all of us at some point in our life has wondered how or why we forget things quickly. The information that you learned today very well, the next day you remember only bits and pieces. Sound familiar?. Most people think that this is their fault but actually it’s not at all your fault. If you forget things the next day after you learned you’re completely fine, this happens because of the way our brain has been designed. But there are exceptions.

Our human brain forgets things because of something called The Forgetting Curve. It is also called The Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve. The theory is that humans start losing the memory of learned knowledge over time, in a matter of days or weeks, unless the learned knowledge is consciously reviewed over again. The forgetting curve is exponential because memory loss is rapid within the first few days of learning. But the rate of memory loss decreases and the rate of much forgetting are much slower from then on.

https://www.growthengineering.co.uk/what-is-the-forgetting-curve/

Solution

Suppose you study a topic “A” today and you review it tomorrow you have interrupted the forgetting curve. Now you will forget only 25% the following day and if you review it three days later you go back to 100% and now it’s going to take you even longer to forget it. The idea is that the more times we do this the more spaced out our repetition becomes the more likely we are to encode this information into a long term memory. Now you’ll never forget the topic “A” because we have repeated it so many times that the forgetting curve does not apply to it anymore.

The idea behind spaced repetition is that you allow your brain to forget some of the information such that when you revise it again it’s not mindless repetition it’s actually taking you some brainpower to retrieve the information. It is a scientific fact that the harder your brain works to retrieve something from it the stronger that information gets encoded in your brain. So the more brainpower it takes, the more you’ve forgotten and harder your brain has to work, therefore more strongly the information gets encoded in your brain. Studying by this method is much more efficient than any other method. You’ll save much more time and energy by this method. Even medical students use this study technique.

This is such a valuable piece of information that everyone at every age will benefit from. You can use this technique to learn any sort of information. If you got to know this at a young age then you are extremely lucky because you can save so much time and learn things with much greater understanding and efficiency which will greatly affect you in a positive way in the long run. If you’re not young it’s still fine, learning is a never-ending process. Even if you have got a job, to grow in it you have to learn more, you can use this technique from now and I promise you will never go back to studying the same way as before.

The Skincare Basics – Vitamin a, b and c

VITAMIN A / RETINOID

Vitamin A and retinoid is basically the same thing. In the bottom layers of the skin where the cells are produced in the dermis layer, it will regenerate new cells and this will push out the old ones to the surface. Our skin sheds normally after a period of 30 days. What a retinoid does is that it reduces the number of days that takes the skin to shed. For a retinoid, it takes 14-21 days to increase cell turnover. Beginners should first use retinol which can be found in stores, unlike retinoid which has to be prescribed by a dermatologist. Retinol is less stronger than retinoid. Our skin will take time to adapt to the retinol. Retinoid or vitamin a is the strongest of the three vitamins a, b and c. Start using retinol only after the age of 20.

VITAMIN B3 / NIACINAMIDE

Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3. Vitamin B3 is one of the best forms of B vitamins for your skin. Niacinamide helps support skin clarity, improve the appearance of large pores, tames oiliness, known to support skin hydration, evens out skin tone and promote collagen for firm youthful skin. Niacinamide is a stable ingredient so you don’t have to worry about mixing it with other ingredients. Foods rich in niacinamide are yeast, meat, fish, milk, eggs, green vegetables, beans, and cereal grains, etc.

VITAMIN C / ASCORBIC ACID

Vitamin c helps lighten, tighten and brighten the skin. Vitamin a b and c are all antioxidants. Antioxidants help fight our body and skin from free radicals. Free radicals are environmental aggressors which are hard on the skin and body. Eating vitamin c rich food like citrus fruits can help increase vitamin c in the body and skin. Also, vitamin c boosts your immunity system. In addition to its antioxidant properties, vitamin c regulates the synthesis of the structural protein collagen. Thus increasing collagen helps in the repair of damaged skin. Collagen helps the skin cells to renew and repair themselves, it also helps to keep the skin moist.

Things to remember

Don’t use all these vitamins together. Use one vitamin each day and make sure to wear sunscreen on top. Vitamin c and sunscreen together form a greater protection additive which will completely protect the skin. You get the most out of your sunscreen when you pair it with vitamin c. Niacinamide is a stable ingredient so you don’t have to worry about mixing it with other products but vitamin a and c cannot be used with all kinds of products. Make sure that you research the possibility of any harmful reactions from the products that you use and use it accordingly. Mixing products wrongly can cause really bad effects on your skin.

Why do Babies have such Plump Skin?

Have you ever wondered why babies have such plump skin? It’s because of hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring substance in our body but as we get older it slowly diminishes. What it does is that it holds 1000 times its weight in water and gives your skin a very plump appearance. Babies have a lot of hyaluronic acid in their skin which is why their skin so plump. It replenishes moisture and suppleness in the skin.

You can use hyaluronic acid products twice a day for the best results. Once in the morning and then at night. Make sure that you use it only after cleansing and follow it up with a moisturizer. In the daytime use sunscreen too after the moisturizer. You can also increase hyaluronic acid in the skin by consuming foods rich in hyaluronic acid.

Soy milk contains high amounts of hyaluronic acid. A lot of Korean celebrities drink soy milk daily to increase the level of hyaluronic acid. Soy milk is not the only food that has high levels of hyaluronic acid. Other foods are bone broth, leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, etc.