Just a Quick Note: Self-Esteem


Today, I am at peace with who I am and am proud of myself. I say this not about achievements, grades, or external procurements (although I value those things as well), but more about my internal acceptance.

For years, I’ve struggled with my self-esteem and confidence. Much of it was due to pressure: pressure that I put on myself, pressure that my environment put on me, and this internal nagging that whatever I did, I was never going to end up feeling truly happy with myself. I hope to create an article about this one day that really goes in-depth, because I know I’m not alone in this ongoing journey of self-acceptance.

To anyone who has ever felt that they aren’t good enough, that they won’t be happy, or anything else like that: just know you are not alone and that you are WORTHY and CAPABLE of living the life you want. You are capable of success, whatever that word means to you. You are capable of creating, and you get to define what is worthwhile.

I have a couple videos from two YouTubers who really helped me start my journey:

  1. Marie Forleo: How to Stay MotivatedFeeling Behind in Your Life? Watch This
  2. Mimi Ikonn: Message to My Younger SelfHow to Deal With Negativity

I love all of their videos, but these were a few of my favorite 🙂

Again, amidst the college apps and all the craziness of wrapping 2017, this is all I have time to post for now. I hope in the coming months I can share more on this subject, and hopefully it helps anyone who also struggles with self-esteem. Upon reflection from January 2017 to the present, I have found that becoming your own best friend is a constant journey, and one that I believe is worthwhile.

I’ll see you in 2018!


Luisa Rodriguez


The Restaurant Metaphor

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I always lived with the belief that if you want something, you have to live with the attitude that will bring your desired outcome.

I like to think about a restaurant as a metaphor for life.

 You are the chef of this restaurant and you create all the meals. If you believe your dishes will be delicious, then you will put in extra effort to make sure the lobster bisque turns out just right. On the other hand, if you believe your meals will taste like garbage, then of COURSE you’re going to add too much salt or burn the soup. (Speaking of which, is the latter even possible?!)

I’ll come back to this metaphor later.

 I truly believe that what you put out into the world is what you get back. If you give love and positivity, those good things will come back to you.

However, in my AP Literature class, while we read Kafka’s Metamorphosis, which portrays existentialist traits of randomness and injustice in society, I began to question my initial beliefs. Look around at all the sickness, tragedies, and violence. Is the world really fair?

We were prompted to write a few sentences about our ideal city. My city included improved, free resources for dealing with mental health and abuse and ran completely on clean energy. I also described it as celebratory of all religions and the LGBTQ community. We were then asked to share. Unsurprisingly, my classmates answered with similar views: no violence, no poverty, the list goes on.

My teacher then asked us the following questions: Can we end poverty and sickness? Do you think it’s possible to end all war and violence? 

Personally, I’m not sure. I became skeptical about there being some “larger truth” of the universe. Maybe the world really is just a random, meaningless place, I thought.

Philosophers like Plato and Buddha dedicated their entire lives searching for the meaning of life… then hundreds of years later, Nietzche, Kierkegaard, and Sartre lay some major objection bombs and send the general public into a vat of existential crises. (Just kidding, listen to your humanities/history teacher for the real facts.)

While no one knows for certain if there is some higher truth about the world, I believe it’s important to not just give up and say, “Hey! You know what? Life is meaningless so I am just not going to care about anything!”

Instead, I got to thinking: can I do something to better the life of another human being? To which I immediately said (literally out loud): “yes.” For me, life about taking action and practicing what you preach (oh yes, I went there with the cliché).

Going back to the restaurant metaphor, I forgot to mention that you are not only the chef, but SURPRISE! You own the restaurant. This means that you are not only responsible for cooking delicious meals for yourself, but you also must be able to feed your customers and make sure there are enough seats to accommodate more than yourself.

To put it simply, the customers are the people around you who cannot afford to cook their own meals.

The ability to brainstorm a perfect world is a luxury. For many of my peers (myself included), we can dream endlessly of a perfect world and still have a life with—at the very minimum—our basic needs met. But simply thinking and planning are not enough. 

Life isn’t always fair. There is so much poverty, sickness, and violence around the world. Often, people in those situations are defenseless or have difficulty acquiring necessary resources. It is up to people with platforms and voices—the chefs— to be proactive in helping others.  

When I say, “if you put goodness into the world, you will get it back,” I mean: if you have the ability to influence a situation in your life, then take action. And if you are in a position to help others, spread that goodness around by taking action so more people can sit at the table. 

blog pic 5

Will we end poverty? Or war? Such broad statements are hard to answer. But can we bring more chairs to the table so more people can eat? Absolutely.

The world is not always fair, but we can make it safer, more welcoming, and happier if we use what is given to us to help others.

I challenge you to do something this holiday season, even if you want to start small, to help another person…And don’t forget to take time for yourself too 🙂 

Put your goal into writing and comment below!

All rights reserved (c) 2017 Luisa Rodriguez.

My current project/ inspiration behind this post:

I’m currently working on a school-wide fundraiser for YouthCare, a nonprofit (local to WA, U.S.) whose mission is to end teen homelessness in the Seattle area. As a school, our goal is to raise $4,000 and other needed supplies. If you wish to donate to YouthCare, please feel free to donate at this link (if you are affiliated with International Community School, please put “ICS fundraiser” in the comments of the donation link so we can track your donation to our goal!)

 For more information about YouthCare, visit http://www.youthcare.org/



What is Patriotism?

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Happy fourth! 
During my humanities class this past year, we discussed patriotism and its role in literature. We read articles of various viewpoints on what patriotism means to different people (from 18th century farmers to a Stanford professor). As I reflect on this, I have been led to question: 
What does patriotism mean to me?

To me, patriotism isn’t boasting how great our country is over others. It isn’t a way to say, “America is the greatest, it is the best!” 

America is great in many ways, but we should not use such broad statements. America also has its fair share of flaws, and to me, patriotism means working on these flaws to create a more equitable country for ALL its citizens. To me, patriotism means that we recognize our great power; and we must also show sympathy for countries who are not in our same position.

“With great power comes great responsibility.”** 

I believe that our responsibility as Americans is not to turn a blind eye. Not to be ignorant or apathetic to those who have less than us. With current political leaders who do not represent these sets of beliefs I (and many others) hold, it is our job as the people of this country to clearly redefine the true meaning of patriotism.

This means speaking up for black lives, Muslims, LGBTQ, and other marginalized groups. 

This means not letting America get away with things that leave lasting damage on people in other countries (such as the chemical attacks in Syria). 

This means that healthcare is a RIGHT not a PRIVILEGE. 

To me, patriotism means that we can celebrate this nation while at the same time recognizing its flaws. America is beautiful, and I am proud to be American. However, we have a lot of work to do to create a more equitable, aware country. 

I implore you to think about how you can practice mindful patriotism.

What does patriotism mean to you?

(**note: I looked up various sources to find the author of this quote, but was unable to find this person. Some credit Voltaire, others say it was Spider-Man comics. Please comment below if you know the author. Do not quote me on this, it is not mine.$

Letting Go of It


Why is it that we hold on to the things we no longer want?

Is it because we hold sentiment and carry memories with it?

Do we actually really want it? 

I’ll let you interpret what “it” is, maybe something going on in your life.

Maybe we’re afraid we won’t find something better. Maybe we think we’d better hold on because something this great won’t ever come by again.

But the truth is, you can never find what might be better, more suited to you, more rare, if you only search and cling on to what you know.

Never settle for anything that doesn’t bring you joy or excite you about life.

I hope that one day you will find the spectacular, miraculous “it”.

I know you will.