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

AP Exams and Stress

With AP tests coming up, it’s hard not to be constantly worried. With how stressful and long the tests are, how can any student not be bogged down studying and stressing? Well, I for one am not actually too worried. Why, you might ask? There are a multitude of reasons, but when it comes down to it, there’s no point in me worrying about tests I already plan to study for. There’s no reason to stress over a test that I’ve already set aside time to study for. This brings me to my next topic: stress and planning.

Photo ©2011 by Eamon Curry [CC BY 2.0]

Photo ©2011 by Eamon Curry [CC BY 2.0]

As I’m sure all of us can agree, going in blind into any situation isn’t the easiest thing to do. Just as going into the wilderness without a map can be scary and dangerous, so can going into a school week without a plan. If I know I have a difficult math test coming up or anything I am nervous for, I start writing out a schedule. Not only does it give me a sort of road-map to follow that is custom-made for my schedule, but it also allows me to relax. Once I’ve realized that I have time to study and that “everything’s gonna be alright,” I can be more proactive with what I should be doing in the moment. Time and time again, it has been shown that one of the greatest fears humans have is the fear of the unknown. This is where most of our natural stress comes from. When we don’t know what we’re facing, it’s all we can think about until that moment of uncertainty passes.
Throughout my life, I’ve personally struggled to not worry so much about what the future may hold. Nowadays, though, I just think to myself the same thoughts: “I’ve been worried before, and it’s always worked out alright in the end. Just focus, plan ahead, and get the job done.” Although I still retain a little bit of that worried attitude, these thoughts do help me to focus on the now rather than the future, which is most important.

– Bryan Clements

Resourcefulness

It has become natural for me to use what I have and go for it. Jumping in and taking chances has become part of my everyday life.

Photo @2014 by Blake Patterson [CC BY 2.0]

Photo @2014 by Blake Patterson [CC BY 2.0]

When I was thirteen, I wanted my own computer. Having no money, I asked myself, “What do I have right now that can make this happen?” I then remembered that my dad had several broken computers. Having worked on computers with him before, I thought, “What if I put the working parts together in the right way to make one functional computer?” My mind raced with anticipation. With great tenacity I began working. Methodically, I put the necessary parts together and soon enough, it was up and running.

Happy with what I had created, I thought about the question I asked myself and the resourcefulness involved. The question, “What do I have right now that can make it happen?” started me thinking. What if I applied this question along with those same characteristics of tenacity and confidence to any endeavor I undertook? I made it a point to have this mindset and apply it daily. When things seemed impossible, I thought of what I had, intellectually or materially, to start things off. As a result, I began reaching more goals. As my accomplishments grew, so did my dreams. Before I knew it, I began picturing myself starting my own company based on a new technology I have yet to develop.

Today, I may not necessarily have the same dreams and aspirations that I once did about possibly starting my own company and what not, but the ideas of taking risks and resourcefulness remain true. In fact, I’d like to think that those traits have helped me a lot in school, usually with projects and critical thinking skills. For example, when I had a few english projects in tenth grade, I not only thought about the task at hand in a critical step-by-step method, but I also thought of the deeper meaning behind the task. Why are we doing this project? When will the skills this is providing me with come in handy? By asking myself these questions, I’ve come a long way in understanding why teachers assign me the things they do.

But out of all the skills required for success, resourcefulness and hard work, the crucial steps between inspiration and success, are what matter most.

 

-Bryan Clements

Family Influence

I’d like to share with you a bit about the person in my life who has impacted my life in so many ways. As cliché as it obviously is, my father has had a great influence on me in several ways. One characteristic he seems to have instilled in me is that of remaining calm in the face of adversity or calamity. Many were the times he would admonish me, though not in these exact words, “don’t sweat the small stuff”. His outwardly calm demeanor, as we dealt together with some of life’s minor “tragedies”, stands out quite significantly in my memory.

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Photo @ 2008 by DeusXFlorida [CC by 2.0]

One such occasion comes to mind as I recall a summer camping trip to a local lake. As was usually the case, shortly after arriving at said lake, I quickly went about the task of collecting some of the local amphibious fauna: juvenile toads to be precise. Also as usual, my father relented and allowed me to bring them back home. It soon became apparent that feeding the little creatures would be a daily chore which we both took on. What also soon became apparent was that despite our best efforts, they were dying.  One by one, they were all succumbing to a mysterious stiffening of their bodies, a gradual rigor mortis if you will. Of course, I was heartbroken and of course my father was there with his reassuring manner, convincing me that they were all better off, having gone to toad heaven.

After having spent so much time with him as a kid, it’s easy to approach him today and talk to him about anything that’s troubling me, whether it’s the struggles of school or just personal thoughts. In fact, just the other day, I asked him after school one day whether or not school was as difficult in the 60’s as it is today. He answered in a brief explanation, saying that things were different at the time, and even though the academic course load was much less rigorous, there were different challenges of the times. I thought this might have just been one of those run-around answers, but I came to realize it was more or less true.

– 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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Is College Worth the Effort?

On my last blog, I vented quite a bit about the competitiveness of college admissions for the University of California system. This week, I would like to take the subject of college in a bit of a different direction. The question, “Is a college education really worth the time, money and effort?”

All of my life I have been told that I need to study hard to get into a good college so that I can have a career that I can support myself with. It has been hammered into my head so long and I never questioned it. Year after year I toil, AP and Honors classes since I was a freshman. I even got a head start on Spanish and math in middle school, taking high school geometry and Spanish I. Now I am taking college classes in high school to get ahead in college.

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Photo @ 2010 by Sean MacEntee [CC by 2.0]

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