Words vs. Actions

Time and time again, the phrase “actions speak louder than words” has been brought up and used in many situations. Just the other day, for example, my cousin was apologizing to her brother for breaking his miniature trumpet figurine. However, she refused to help put it back together, saying “I thought saying sorry was enough!” My aunt went on to tell her that her actions would show more sympathy than her words, which essentially means actions are more telling than words.

Have we ever stopped to really think about and evaluate this statement? Do actions honestly speak louder than words themselves? Well, to figure this out, we’ll have to dig a little deeper. To do so, a few example scenarios could bring some clarity to the common phrase. The examples I’ll be looking into are Holden’s actions, from The Catcher in the Rye, versus his words; Gatsby’s actions versus his words, from The Great Gatsby; and lastly, Hester’s actions versus her words, from The Scarlet Letter.

Photo @2011 by Vs Heidelberg Photos [CC BY 2.0]

Photo @2011 by Vs Heidelberg Photos [CC BY 2.0]

To begin with, there were multiple occasions within Holden’s story where his words are nearly hollow, due to the lack of tangible action backing them up. For example, while at Pencey Prep school, he fails four out of his fives classes, essentially barring him from returning for the next semester. Even though he is failing, he still continues to act as if the school and the world around him is nothing but a show put on by the “phonies.” I guess you could say in this situation, Holden was a small dog with a lot of bark but no bite. This happens many times throughout the story, often leading him into situations where he appears nosy and unsophisticated, such as when he persists in asking Luce who he is having an affair with. Well, so far, we’ve found out that people without actions backing their words tend to lack a strong, respectable character.

Moving on, however, in the story of Gatsby and his tragic affair, Gatsby is a mix of both actions and words. He constantly throws lavish parties in hopes that Daisy might take notice and approve of such a wealthy and prosperous man. When Daisy and Gatsby finally do meet, however, Gatsby seems to lack the right words for the situation. Instead, he continually asks Nick Carraway for assistance and tries to use actions to make the situation better. In this scenario, we have a man who can definitely get things done and act, but his actions lack the necessary words to accomplish what he wants. On the other hand, in The Scarlet Letter, the main character Hester constantly has to express herself via both actions and words continuously. Throughout the story, she is fighting a battle against discrimination and for the purity and well-being of her daughter. Not only does she have a strong will to do the demanding things she does, she has an, in my opinion, eloquent way of speaking as well, which aids her self-expression.

Throughout this school year, I’ve learned a lot about expression through words and expression through actions. Although we didn’t specifically talk about these two methods of self-expression on an individual basis, our class discussions contributed to us learning expression via words. The simple act of raising my hand and adding information to a group discussion has been great practice for thinking of the right words at the right time to get my points across. Additionally, the publishing credit opportunities have provided ways for us to express ourselves and our interests via our actions of exploring and discussing outside-the-classroom topics individually.

To put it all together, I think it is safe to say that actions do tend to speak louder than words, especially when it comes down to strong emotions between people. Simply speaking cannot and will not suffice in many emotional situations such as anger, sadness, and joy. However, actions that do not have words are often ambiguous and leave much to be answered. Basically, words are the brain of self-expression, while actions are the muscles of self-expression. Both contribute to one’s expression, although actions by themselves tend to draw more attention than words alone.

– Bryan Clements

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More About Me

I have been a motivated student throughout all of my school years. I strive to achieve while challenging myself at the highest level. After completing middle school with a 4.0 GPA, I began my freshman year in high school with honors and AP classes and have since taken advantage of as many AP classes as possible. Currently, as a junior, I am taking 5 AP classes along with Honors Music with my current rank among my peers being 1 out of 820 students. My current ACT score is 33.

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Photo @ 2005 by dcJohn [ CC by 2.0 ]

My goal has never been to be at the very top of my class academically. It has, however, been my desire to learn as much as I can that has put me there. Although I consider myself to be an intelligent person, I feel that it is my curiosity, love of learning, and the tireless effort I have put into my studies that has brought me this far.

In addition to academics, I have participated in many clubs and have devoted many hours to volunteer service. A passion of mine is music. I have expressed this passion through being an active member in my high school marching band and through participation in Huntington Beach Union High School District Honor Band and Jazz Band.

I seek out new learning opportunities on my own. Growing up, I have had to take this approach. You see, neither of my parents have a college degree. And, although they have been supportive as well as loving parents, they know little of what it takes to get into college or how to succeed there. Being a first generation college student, I have many questions. Most of the answers will probably come with time and experience.

Throughout my high school experience, one topic that keeps coming up in my mind is whether it’s better to take it slow and mainly study one subject or if it’s smarter to do what I’m doing, and take a full course load while I still have free education. In my personal opinion, I think it would be more interesting to focus on one subject, but for the sake of college admissions and learning more about the world around me all at once, my schedule is what predominates students today.

Although it’s a bit sad and unfortunate that students are seemingly thrown into this situation, it’s also good life experience, being able to handle everything at once. Doing this type of work now will make stress easier to handle in the future.

-Bryan Clements

Perfectionism

In the past I have had difficulties with being a perfectionist. I would like to tell you how I overcame it.

When I was twelve, I wanted a dry erase board for brainstorming and planning completely wacky things. I didn’t want a typical one and I had no money, so I asked myself, “What do I have right now that will help me to create a really awesome dry erase board?” After searching the garage I found an old forgotten four pane window. After scraping and sanding I thought about what else I had that could make this work for me. I searched some more and found some old stain. It wasn’t the perfect color, but after applying it, it looked pretty good! My next thought was, “This clear glass won’t do.” I then remembered a can of white spray paint that I used for my Pinewood Derby car. I taped off the wood and sprayed one side. The result was great, even with the imperfect components.

Photo @ 2014 by LordEfan [CC by 2.0]

Photo @ 2014 by LordEfan [CC by 2.0]

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College Admission

College admission has become ridiculously competitive. High school students are going to greater lengths to out-do their competition. In my parents generation it was enough just to get good grades. Now, not only do we need 4.0+ GPA’s, we need to stand out in ways that seem unnatural for most high school students.

Even if a student manages to do it all and then-some, he may not get into the school he desires. For example, my brother, last year, was ranked #1 in his senior class, was a leader in FVRR, took part in math competitions, was part of numerous clubs, volunteered many hours, started a volunteer musical performance group, had a super-high SAT score, was a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and even conducted original research at a local university. He applied to Stanford and was flat out rejected. Anyone would think, “If he didn’t get in, why should I even try?”

Photo @2010 by Sean MacEntee [CC BY 2.0]

Photo @2010 by Sean MacEntee [CC BY 2.0]

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Further Exploring the Individual vs. Community

In my last post about the individual vs community….I still felt that there was still more that could be explored. With this I’ve decided to instead of talking the talk. I’ve decided to walk the walk. Now many of you may ask, well how are you going to test out the idea of community vs individual. I’ve decided to experiment this test and put it to the test, in a game of Air soft. Continue reading

Community vs. Individual

With a community. Usually it’s structured and the people there have a way of life they follow. When an individual tries to come in and make the change, everyone tends to reject them. As I once heard from my scout leader recently “Everyone wants a change, but no one wants to be the cashier.” This means that everyone may want a change but no one wants to be the one to make it. The video of choice is a very well known song called “Wake Me Up” by Avicii. In this song you’ll see how these two girls are quickly being shunned by the community as the style of theirs is quite different from the rest. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WIm1GgfRz6M

So the big questions is now.. Continue reading