B.R.A.W.L. For All

It is one thing to read a book cover to cover, but it’s another thing to uncover the different ways that the text can relate to your life. So began our quest for questions and adventures for answers that we would present in the debate. The B.R.A.W.L. made me realize something I had never recognized before. There is so much power behind a question. It triggers thought, emotion, conversation, opposition, and reaction.

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The Day I Started Hating Distance

I was barely a teenager at the time. I remember that I was itching to see and experience things for myself. Sure, I went out with my friends and went on frequent holiday vacations with my family. But sure enough it would end. I would come home to the same four walls of my room and wake up to my dad, mom, and sister. You would think that under these circumstances, the teenagery sense of adventure would eventually die out in me. I was ready to bury the cause  —until my best friend’s older brother offered to take my friend and I camping.

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What’s in a Name?

name tag 2

Photo ©2009 by Emily Rose (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)  / added text from original

I love my name. If you were to ask me how I felt about my name back eight years ago, I’d tell you the complete opposite. At age seven, I hated my name. Hated it with a cold, hard passion. As a child, I constantly questioned why my name was Joanna. To me, It was hideous. The pronunciation of it was like the screeching sound chalk makes on the blackboard, my ears bled every time i heard it. Yep, Joanna “is” a great name. A great six-letter, three-syllable, commonly mispronounced name that rhymes with banana. I swear, for most of my life, I had many of my friends AND teachers who called me “Joanna Banana” every time they saw me.  They STILL do. It was and still is annoying as ever. My seven year-old self dreamt of having the name Jessica, Allison, Lydia, Kylie, Jennifer, Vanessa, Kendall, Arden, Emma, or Kate; just ANYTHING but Joanna.  Even Hermione, I wouldn’t mind being named after one of most amazing characters ever known.  Of all the names in the world, why Joanna? No one else had my name, and that just made me ever more unpopular in school as no one remembered me due to my “unique” name.

Scenario: (may or may not be exaggerated to some extent)

Classmate: Hi! My name is _______. What’s your’s?

Me: My name is Joanna. Nice to meet you.

Classmate: You have a really weird name. I never heard of it.

Me: Well do you want to go play on the swings with me?

Classmate: Nah. I’m gonna go play in the sandbox with Sandra. Bye…Janice.


The Next Day…

Classmate: Hi! My name is _______. What’s your’s?

Me: …My name is Joanna. Nice to meet you.

Classmate: You have a really weird name. I never heard of it.


Well, that girl. We obviously never became friends. I don’t even recall her presence after the incident.  Nonetheless, I still hated my name with much resentment. It wasn’t until middle school when it hit me and when I realize the beauty of a name. In class, there were so many Michelles, Katies, Katherines, Sophies, Jacobs, Kevins, and Brandons, and it constantly became irritating whenever someone asked for a Michelle when there were like five of them. Two of them had the same last time, and everyone soon lost track of who was who. Throughout the whole school, there were only two Joannas. As a result, most people remembered who we were, as there were only two of us. It was then when I appreciated my name. It was different, yet it made me me. I wasn’t another Emma of thousands, I was a Joanna. It was long, but the sound of it on my tongue is like music to my ears. Even, if the the teachers mispronounced my name, long gone were the grimaces and glares. Instead, replaced with smiles and politeness.

A name is more than an identity. It’s a origin, a brand, and a marker of success. Be happy and embrace your name like it’s a superpower. After all, it makes you YOU.

personal name tag

Photo ©2011 by Alan O’Rourke (CC BY 2.0)

Yours Truly,



I never would have been able to conquer this emotion on my own. Not without my mother. I’ll never forget the cold January morning two years ago that changed the way I would see happiness for the rest of my life. Continue reading

I Was A Puzzled Puzzle Piece


Friendships are quite puzzling things aren’t they? Some are meant to teach lessons, some are destined to become memories, and some might even last forever (also known as post-college).I used to be the girl that believed all friendships can be saved and a good match can be made. The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve realized how difficult it is to find someone that fits you well. Before you surrender yourself to the life alone with sixty cats, get comfortable with the assurance from me that there is someone like you out there.

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How Friendships Start and Others End

We have all been in that situation where you have to witness your friend slowly changing in front of your own eyes. It is painful and this occurrence never really goes away. In kindergarten, you see your friend start to play with the bad group of friends that kick dirt at other kids at the playground. In middle school, you see your friend spend more time with the kids that don’t do anything unless it involves potential trouble. By high school, they’ve become part of the group that attends wild parties on the weekends. They’re drifting, no matter how much your friendship used to pull them back. Days turn into weeks until you have a real conversation with them. Your friend used to have it all together. Now your friendship is falling apart.

“When people walk away, let them go. Your destiny is never tied to anyone who leaves you. They are in no way a bad person, but their part in your story is over.”


Growing up, I refused to think that no single problem could have no solution. Maybe I was too optimistic and cared too much for my little mind. This was until I realized that nothing can stop people from changing, even if they are changing for the worst. I think the reason why it’s so hard to turn around a person who has changed like this is because they have worked so hard to become another version of themselves. How many times have we pretended to have common interests just so we can be friends with someone? How many times have we stood by watching others doing something they shouldn’t be doing just because we don’t want to jeopardize our friendship? We value friendship so much that we find ourselves “compromising” just to preserve it. In all simplicity, we are who we surround ourselves with.

I used to think that was parental nonsense that my mom and dad would tell me. I mean, I would say the same thing to keep my kids out of trouble. I learned that it was true. You might not know it, but you’re changing. Change in life is inevitable, but it’s up to you to decide whether you’re going to let it be in a positive or negative way. You also can’t chose whether or not other people will affect you, but you can make it so at least it’ll be you and the good guys against the world in the end.

Yours Truly,