Welcome to something new on the SeniorInsire blog – Teen Talk! Here you’ll find a talented crew of teen aged writers from across the United States writing about a variety of topics important to them. Pay attention, they’ve got a lot to say!

Click here to meet the TeenTalk Blog Crew!

Debunked! High School Edition

If you take the time to add up exactly how long teenagers will sit at a desk and be stuffed with facts that aid their calculus abilities or knowledge on World War II, it may surprise you.

Roughly 5,000 hours are devoted to a teenager’s high school career: given that I have already accumulated at least 3,740 hours as a rising senior, I’m a bit of an expert in the daily life of a high schooler.

Parents, teachers, relatives, coaches, and many more outsiders may believe they have the inside scoop on the life of a 15 year old in algebra. After all, they’ve been there before, haven’t they?

But the fact of the matter is times are changing faster than ever! We’ve discovered four times more about technology in the past 70 years than the entire human history combined.

Mobile apps are being launched to give a student the nutrition info on what’s for lunch, and an opportunity to give suggestions. Diplomas are being granted as competency-based certifications (students graduate when they master material, not for spending a certain amount of time in school).

So, what are the classrooms really like in this day and age? I’m here to reveal exactly what it means to inhabit the title of a ‘high schooler’.

First, it’s important to look at what the media has portrayed the institution to be.

Cliques that are easily labeled run the school with letterman jackets. Kids are slammed against lockers and bullied openly, everyone graduates, and everyone knows each other.

None of these are accurate in the slightest.

Cliques are far and few between, and not so easy to name. There may be a few popular football players, or some nerdy academic students, but this does not correlate to large groups of students that run the school.

From what I have seen, there are levels to popularity.

The students in very advanced classes have a set of people seen as ‘popular’, but none of these teens know the kids who fly by the seat of their pants.

There is a whole new set of kids that are well known at this level, who also have little to no knowledge of ‘popular nerds’ based on the fact that they never have classes together which would enable interaction.

The world of sports also holds certain individuals to a higher standard, as does the arts and theater groups.

Many of these kids take classes that have to do with how they spend their time outside of school: someone who loves the arts will only take electives that encompass music, theater, or art classes which limits who they know.

It is also important to note that ‘popular’ rarely holds a connection to being well-liked. Many popular kids are notorious for their rudeness: ‘popularity’ in high school means one is well known.

Despite what The Breakfast Club and High School Musical may show, boys do not run the schools, nor do they outnumber their female counterparts in any way. In fact, in 2016 11.6 million females were set to attend college right after high school, while only 8.8 million men aimed for the same stage.

There is also a large misconception that kids are always getting into fights during class time.

Although arguments may be had in the back of the gym during laps, many feuds start online. School is a constant breeding ground for viral videos, new Snapchats, Instagram posts, and more.

Kids begin relationships on these platforms, are harassed, embarrassed when secrets are exposed, and bullied through different apps.

These toxic aspects lead how high school is run: topics of conversation are more frequently on the party everyone was posting on their story, the birthday all the girls put on Instagram, or the rumors spread via text throughout school.

Something adults will be glad to hear is that the popular opinion that teenagers party, smoke, drink, and more because of high school is very false.

Rarely have I seen anyone smoking anything on school grounds: when I have, it was a lone student that was shortly caught by faculty. No one goes into bathrooms to smoke cigarettes, drug deals are rarely seen among students, and parties are far and few between.

Halloween, one of the most exciting times for kids to dress up and go to a party, held no promises for students in my area. No ragers were reported by anyone the next day!

In short, there are many misconceptions that the media and a parents’ personal perspective cling to. There are many more levels to the inner workings of a high school than one may think – and college is three times as complicated!

The most important fact to remember is that high school is what a teenager makes it: there will be good and bad in every experience, but it is up to the student to involve themselves in the aspects fit for them.

Ava Purcell

Ava Purcell

Teen Talk Blogger

Follow Ava on Instagram
her Instagram Photography Feed
and on Twitter

The role of social media in the lives of teens

We are living in the Digital Age!

Nearly everyone has a smartphone and numerous social media accounts. While all of this technology was intended to connect people, I often feel as if it has only made our world ridiculously superficial and less intelligent as a whole.

For one, social media platforms seem to serve as a center to show off your outfit or makeup or the rockin’ party you just had. Each selfie acts as a request for validation that we look good.

And that reassurance is so nice. But is that really a way we should utilize technology? Is constant worrying about our appearances really a way to live? Shouldn’t we be striving to have enough confidence in ourselves to not need that reassurance and flattery?

Social media posting has put so much value on appearance.

Of course, everyone likes to look pretty, and it’s fun for a lot of girls to do their hair and makeup. But what about, “It’s what’s on the inside that counts,” or, “Don’t judge a book by its cover?”

Social media allows us to forget about who we are as people. What matters to us, how we treat others, what we want out of life. Shouldn’t all of that matter more than the new top you bought or beautiful braid in your hair?

Social media and messaging allow us to become someone we are not.

We all want to put our best foot forward. However, we are not just the best parts of ourselves.

Everyone’s got their quirks and has their bad days, and heavy use of social media and texting, in which we have time to formulate a perfect response, prevents those we communicate with from seeing all of us.

As a bit of a hopeless romantic who reads way more than an acceptable number of romance novels in her spare time, I love when two people just click. When they’re “the one” for each other. When they can joke around and be serious with one another. When they are open with one another.

That’s when lasting relationships are formed. And the role of social media in society today, while it can be the beginning of relationships, can often tear apart relationships that depend upon it.

Moving on from the dreamy love talk, texting has brought about acronyms and abbreviations and disregard for spelling and punctuation. In the professional aspects of our lives, we must be capable of writing correctly and coherently to be respected and successful.

Additionally, increased screen time has replaced time once spent reading or talking with friends and family. It seems to me that we could learn a lot more from books or conversation than from TV shows.

As a teen with a significant amount of schoolwork, though, I understand the need for and often indulge in “brain breaks” of screen time.

As a user of social media, I’m sure I spend an ungodly amount of time viewing Snapchat stories, scrolling through Instagram, and pinning on my Pinterest boards. And technology really has made life drastically easier and opened the door for incredible academic discovery.

But hopefully remembering the ways in which digital can inhibit the lives we are leading can help us to be more present and have a healthier mindset on the daily.

Abby Palotas

Abby Palotas

Teen Talk Blogger

A Picture of the Future

The time has arrived for senior portraits!

Finally, the moment we have been waiting for since freshman year has come. The time when we are allowed to dress up to the fullest, carry ourselves like graduates and a time of pure excitement…. For some.

Recently more people have been telling me how easy it is to get the picture done and over with, but I still feel as though there is some huge symbolic power of taking my senior portrait.

It may be childish and silly, but I’m not ready.

Many people say they aren’t ready to leave home or don’t want to live so far away when they leave for college, yet my fear comes before the realization that I will be leaving; I am afraid to be a senior.

It seems like our last chance to indulge ourselves as children, it may be our last chance to get away with little mistakes because we are still teens, not adults. The moment we step on the pedestal of the big “eighteen” is when our whole being is supposed to rise to the occasion.

Some people are not as worried about this transition, after all not everyone is affected by social anxiety like me. Yet I think there is a lesson to be learned whether or not adulthood looms large in your future.

Everyone always says, “Be who you are” and “be unique”.

How can we stay unique when we are constantly conforming to societal norms or even just a teacher’s expectations? How are we allowed to be children when we are caving under the pressure of being the “perfect student” who is well rounded, passionate, and dedicated?

Sure, we need to develop commitment and coachability, but to what extent? When do we lose our childish dreams and just become a dead man walking?

I challenge you to hold onto the passions that aren’t practical. The activities that made you squeal with joy.

When you say you don’t have time, look at what you are doing that takes up so much of your precious adolescent years. School, sports, clubs, are all important, but when it reaches a point where we are up at 3 a.m. trying to cram for that AP US history exam tomorrow, it may not be worth it.

Take time to indulge yourself! Play hooky.

Remember in 10 or 15 years you will not remember what you wore or what grade you got in that class, you will remember how you felt and the ways you acted. Did you listen to yourself? Or did you listen to what others wanted for you?

Bella Hubbard

Bella Hubbard

Teen Talk Blogger

Follow Bella’s personal Instagram
and her Photography Instagram

Working with Models

As an amateur photographer I can tell you finding a good and flexible model is not always an easy task.

Here are some of the tips and tricks I use when working with models and when I am modeling for other photographers.

Photo Model Tips

Photo by Kiera Lockwood from Kiera Jaid Photography
Instagram: @kierajaid
https://kierajaidphotography.myportfolio.com/

The Client

Making your model smile out of enjoyment is one of the most important things during a session. As an aspiring photographer and a newer model, I know it’s not always easy getting your clients to warm up to the camera.

Compliments, jokes, and random statements can help your models become more comfortable with the situation, instead of making them feel stiff or irrelevant.

CONVERSATION!!!

Before shoot day even rolls up, you can get to know your client as well as get inspiration for their photos.

I cannot tell you how important speaking to your client is. If your client is silent during the session, it is very possible that they are not enjoying the experience.

The last thing you want is for your client to not enjoy the experience and not want to continue.

Bring up the weather or sports, ask about their hobbies, their family, or their friends. Getting to know your client during the photo shoot can bring up more ideas for poses or pictures leading to an even more personal and unique session.

Photo Model Tips

Photo by Kiera Lockwood from Kiera Jaid Photography
Instagram: @kierajaid
https://kierajaidphotography.myportfolio.com/

Editing

Blurs and single object focus can easily bring a photo to a new level.

In the photo below leaving the background trees and streets completely in focus would have distracted from the model herself. Adding the soft filter to take those background objects out of focus allows for definition of the model, and benefits different features of the model’s body such as eyes, skin tone, or even hair color.

The model themselves may seem disappointed or uneasy if you tell them about this blurring effect, but ensuring your client about the outcome will help take away some if not all concern.

Photo Model Tips

Photo by Katelyn Adams from KJC Photography
Instagram: kjc.image
http://www.kjcimage.com/

Making the Final Cut

Picking the specific photos to feature or share with the world or your clients can be tough. Personally, I always take too many pictures and want to use and share them all.

My biggest piece of advice…

Never use the phrase “this one is messed up because…” or “this photo has flaws.”

Let the not-so-perfect pictures shine. The ones that have little errors from your vision can sometimes lead to more authentic and unique results.

In this picture, my good friend was taking pictures for her portfolio. The session was going great until a breeze came out of nowhere and kept blowing my hair all over my face!

As you can see though, the picture looks incredible!

In my opinion, the “flaw” in the picture makes it look more authentic and less staged. Many clients may come to you about their pictures looking stiff or boring and using these “flawed” photos can help show them the one of a kind style they were wanting.

Photo Model Tips

Photo by Kiera Lockwood from Kiera Jaid Photography
Instagram: @kierajaid
https://kierajaidphotography.myportfolio.com/

Closing

At the end of every session, always give your client the rundown. Tell them how the session went (always strive to say nice things), give them an estimate on when they can expect to see the final results, and be kind and tell them they were a great model.

Also, whether you actually mean it or not, tell your client that you would love to work with them again and that you will be in contact in the future.

Everyone wants to feel good about themselves and paying it forward by offering that small dose of kindness can make clients even more willing to work with the photographers.

Now…

I know I am not a professional, and I may never come close to the talent of some photographers in the industry. But I am working hard towards getting better.

That being said…

If any professional photographers reading this have any input, please feel free to make comments or send me feedback on my writing. I would love to get your feedback!

Grace Bagby

Grace Bagby

Teen Talk Blogger

Follow Grace on Instagram
and on her second Instagram account

Tick Tick

As an upcoming senior, the realization I am going to be facing many things for the final time has been hitting me hard.

So many things I take for granted are suddenly going to be occurring for the last time, and I don’t know if I’m ready for it.

I’m not ready for my last first day of school. I’m not ready to score my last point in my final volleyball game. I’m not ready to leave these halls for good. There are going to be so many last firsts. So many first lasts.

But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s happening.

I’m going to have my last first day of high school. I’m going to score my last point. I’m going to leave those halls.

I can’t stop any of these things from happening. I can’t freeze time and I don’t have a rewind button. But I do have the ability to appreciate every last second of my high school career.

I don’t want to find myself one day asking why I didn’t appreciate what I had right in front of me. I don’t want to realize the moments I once thought were equivalent to nothing, were some of the greatest memories I could ever have.

At least not when it’s already too late.

TICK. TICK.

Time is a man-made idea created to organize human life. Hence the idea that you can’t get time back. You can’t get more time. You can’t stop time. It’s impossible. Which is why it is so important to appreciate every single living, breathing, moment, especially as a large chapter in your life is about to end.

For me, that large chapter just happens to be the end of everything I’ve ever known.

For what seems like forever, I’ve found myself stuck in the same, sometimes incredibly boring, school routine: Go to school, have some classes, go to lunch, have some more classes, go home.

As a kid in elementary school, I remember not being able to wait to be in middle school. By the time middle school rolled around, high school seemed like a distant dream. And now I can truthfully say I’m not ready to move on to college.

So many of my fellow peers complain day after day and continuously ramble on about how they can’t wait to graduate. I, on the other hand, don’t feel the same.

TICK. TICK.

After years upon years of wishing to be older, I’m starting to understand that wishing away your life doesn’t get you anywhere. It just takes away from all of the things you could be appreciating now. I wish I could have told my middle school self to appreciate every little moment. I would have told myself that every little moment matters.

So this year, I have set a goal for myself to appreciate as much as I possibly can, and I encourage you to do so as well. Whether you’re just starting high school, about to graduate, or have already made it through the majority of your life, every moment matters. Take it all in. And most importantly, don’t wish for something that is inevitably coming anyway.

I want you to understand that one day the clock is going to stop ticking in the same rhythm you thought it would stay in forever. Don’t regret not appreciating that rhythm.

TICK.

Jane Parry

Jane Parry

Teen Talk Blogger

Follow Jane on Instagram Listen to her music on SoundCloud

Patience

In your life, you’ll realize one thing. Time is your enemy and your friend.

We tend to get so caught up with what happened in our past or what may happen in our future, we forget to live in the present.

We can’t go back in time as much as we would like to; to be able to change what we’ve done, but we can work on striving to do well in the present to not regret how our futures will turn out to be.

Have a dream? Commit to it now, work hard, and within time you’ll be thanking yourself for sticking to your goals.

You will have your highs and lows in life. You will be mad when nothing seems to go your way, but before you even realize it, it will be the future and you’ll forget what you were frustrated about years from now.

You may feel it has been an “eternity” of constant waiting just to hope that the future you envision for yourself comes as fast as possible.

Yet, all good things in life take time. Don’t rush your life, because you’ll miss out on the small moments that make life extraordinary.

We get to choose how we want to live. It’s just a matter of how hard we work while waiting for our dreams and goals to become a reality.

Time is such a fragile concept. The enjoyable moments in life go by so quick, it seems that we don’t even have enough time to grasp on to the moments that make us want to explore in the adventures our lives allow us to take.

Although, I will tell you this. Time is the best doctor and teacher. It heals you from your deepest pains and teaches you valuable lessons to learn from.

Throughout time you will learn that you can only be a better version of you if you find your passion and put forth dedication towards it until your battle of constantly waiting has been conquered and you go home with victory on your side.

We wonder when time will run out while we are waiting for our dreams to finally come true. The answer to that is when we don’t pay attention to time at all.

Paying attention to the issues that bother you in life draw you to become stressed about circumstances you just can’t control.

Instead of paying attention to the bad moments in your life, focus on the good and remember that you are only human.

It’s okay to be stressed, angry, happy, sad, excited, scared, or however you are feeling during a certain time.

Life is a treasure hunt. Yet, you find treasures along the path you take and when you reach the final end, you realize that the small treasures in your life make for the biggest treasure in the end.

So for now, find your passion, strive to meet your goals, and have patience.

Gabriella Femia

Gabriella Femia

Teen Talk Blogger

Follow Gabriella on Instagram

Photo Shoots on a Budget

The world of amateur photography holds many challenges: there are few who have avoided paying for parking passes, location fees, ungodly gas prices, and more. The profession is hard to break into, yet those starting out must find a way to produce beautiful photos with little initial funds.

Teenagers with a budding interest in photography and beginners in the field may have trouble finding low cost locations. It can be hard to get creative, but luckily I’ve got some budget-friendly, unique ideas for you!

The most important thing is to do your research!

I’m constantly checking the local paper for any mention of antique car shows, art galleries passing through, or murals in the works. Any of these provide a unique backdrop for a shoot!

Be on the lookout for seasonal festivals as well: music, Halloween, Christmas, boat, and folk festivals are all examples of great opportunities to use backdrops and decorations that other organizations provide to the public for free!

Nature tends to provide lots of free beauty as well. Look into state parks, which can be free or have minimal entrance/parking fees. Nearby commercial farms offer fields of fruits, flowers, or grain as a backdrop for shoots. Taking a hike through mountain trails, visiting wineries, and even adventures through local gardens can prove to be great locations for a photographer.

Tons of commonplace stores can also be great for themed photoshoots!

Any candy store will hold beautiful, multi-colored backdrops and tons of tasty props! To capture a retro feel, visit an old timey laundromat during off hours.

My personal favorite budget locations are nurseries: tons of flowers packed together for sale will truly give you a vibrant source of color. If there aren’t any close by (although it may seem silly), feel no shame in adventuring to Walmart, Lowe’s, or Home Depot and taking advantage of their outdoor abundance of plants!

Here are a few examples of a recent series I completed in a local greenhouse.

Restaurants are also a great choice in venue when picking a shoot location. Not only do they offer unique backdrops, but yummy props as well! Five Guys, retro diners, and cozy coffee shops come with fries, milkshakes, lattes and more to pose with!

Lastly, for those like me who consider themselves flat out broke, getting artsy with home items is the best way to go. I’ve used dramatic makeup, glitter, confetti (consisting of torn up construction paper), face paint, and color-coordinated themes that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also save tons of money!

Any of these options will give you a great starting point for shoots. Remember, it’s not always the location that matters the most, but how much fun you have during the experience!

Have any other budget locations you love to shoot? Post them in the comments below!

Ava Purcell

Ava Purcell

Teen Talk Blogger

Follow Ava on Instagram
her Instagram Photography Feed
and on Twitter

Six Tips for Managing Schoolwork

High school presents many opportunities for students to get involved in their community, pursue their interests, and have some fun.

But sometimes it’s difficult to manage the multitude of activities and responsibilities that come with the workload of high school.

I can say from experience…  Life gets incredibly busy!

Between working a job, playing sports, being an active member of clubs, playing the piano, and maintaining straight As, there is often a lot on my plate. But through years of juggling all of this, I’d like to think I have learned to handle it fairly well.

So here are my six tips to get a handle on your schoolwork…

1. Plan Ahead

If you know what nights you have to work or have other extracurricular activities going on, you can try to do most of your homework the night before. Or if you have weekly assignments, complete them over the weekend. That way, you won’t be stressing about projects at the last minute.

2. Chip Away

If I have to write a research paper, I’ll usually pick a weekend when I have some time and work on it in spurts. In one session I’ll write an introduction. A little later I’ll cover one of the main topics. I’ll take another break and then work some more. This method may not be for you if you prefer sitting down and hammering out papers, even if it means being up until 3 AM. I am not one of those people though, so I find it helpful to break up the work and periods of more intense thinking.

3. Study Long Before the Test

Just like chipping away at large assignments, studying ahead of time breaks down the material you’re learning. You can go over all the material once or twice a day, or you can learn a new bit each day. Again, this can save you from the late nights of cramming or those lower test scores that come from the need for a tad more study time.

4. Ask Questions

Even if you feel embarrassed to speak up in class, teachers are there to help you learn. They should be more than willing to help. And it’s true what is often said… If you are confused and have a question, chances are someone else is feeling the same way.

5. Seek Extra Help

Even if it stinks to have to put extra time into your schoolwork, your grade is at stake. The extra time and help will be worth it.

6. Have Some Fun!

High school shouldn’t be all work and no play! You should have some fun! Certainly don’t neglect your school assignments or sports practices, but you should go to the homecoming game and dance, go to prom, hang out with your friends, see a movie, have some fun!

High school has its rough patches for all of us. Hopefully my study tips will make the road a little smoother for you! Feel free to share any other tips you have for getting through high school in the comments. I’m sure we can all use any help we can get!

Abby Palotas

Abby Palotas

Teen Talk Blogger

The Joy of Unplugging in Big Sur

This past spring break my family and I decided to intertwine college tours with a fun road trip down the California Pacific coast to a place surrounded by redwood trees. A place I always wanted to go and finally got to experience…

Big Sur!

As we pressed on through the winding roads that began in Kettleman City – the only way to get to Big Sur because of this past winter’s erosion events – I periodically looked down at my phone with the thought that soon there would be no connection to this device many people today are obsessed with. I was surprisingly happy!

We arrived just in time for sunset. The red, orange, and yellow colors in the sky, the sound of the ocean waves crashing in what appeared to be slow motion, and the thought that there would be no cellular towers for miles propelled a feeling of calmness in me.

We got to our yurts – circular tents on a collapsible framework – and I immediately wanted to stay in Big Sur for longer than two nights. I loved being inside while surrounded by wilderness. I could hear the wind rattling the trees and could see the shadows of bats through the thin walls.

I truly have never slept better than I did that night in the yurt. I woke up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle my day, with an excited feeling for the experiences to come.

After breakfast we ventured off to go hiking, driving about 10 minutes up the coast to a hiking trail. As we began our ascent, I took a breath and was struck by how fresh the air felt compared to the smog infested cities I’d left behind.

The trail took my family and I through fields of orange poppy seed flowers, lavender weeds, monarch butterflies and layers of green grass.

After finishing our strenuous hike there was nothing else we wanted to do other than go back and relax. Normally I’d be anxious to check in on the Instagram world, but on this trip I couldn’t wait to bond with my family, read and take a nap.

The nights were magical in Big Sur with speckles of stars everywhere and the cool breeze that was just cold enough to make me reach for a jacket.

We met people from all over the United States: a couple from Nashville, a lady from Santa Barbara, a family from the East Coast. Their presence proved to me that Big Sur is more than a weekend getaway; people from all over plan trips to this hidden gem of a coastline.

I believe photographers, hikers, loungers, and anyone in between would find their place in Big Sur, and want to stay longer than just a short time.

I hope wherever you are from you can someday experience the wonders and joys of Big Sur, California!

And I hope you are able to find peace, connect with others, and unplug from your devices in your daily lives even if that means giving up Wifi for a few days.

Susie Lloyd

Susie Lloyd

Teen Talk Blogger

Who Am I?

In high school, you are basically spending all your time figuring out who you are, what you want to do and what you want to be; whether you realize it or not.

In this case, I have already found that out about myself, at least I think I have.

Ever since I was little I was in love with fashion and always thought I would be a designer or something. Now, I am here to pursue my dreams in any way I can.

My name is Madison Houdashelt, I am 16 years old and am a senior in high school. I live in Nashville Tennessee and model for a boutique called Alinora in my hometown, which keeps me updated in the fashion world and keeps me learning.

I am also the writer of the fashion blog Music City Chic. I started my blog to help others learn more about fashion.

In my opinion, fashion is a way to express yourself: your mood, your personality, your creativity and I want other people to understand that it does not matter what other people think.

When I was in middle school, I only cared about what other people thought of me since I lacked high self-esteem and was very self-conscious about myself.

When I got in high school I changed my look, I believe that how you dress plays quite a big role in your development of how you see yourself and how you feel about yourself.

I started blogging almost a year ago and I created my blog to help people learn more about fashion in any way I can. I also provide the most tips I can for my readers, so they can look at how I see things and maybe compare them with other bloggers.

Blogging has a huge impact on my life and every day I think about how I should have started sooner. But here I am!

To get to know me a little better… I think of myself as a: challenger, idealist, adventurer and helper. I strive to be a better person in this world and be as successful as I hope to be. I am very passionate about the things I choose to do. I enjoy learning new things about fashion and sharing what I know with my readers.

I think of my personal style as many different things depending on many things such as my mood or the weather. It is either modern, chic and whimsical or the complete opposite with more of a street style look.

There are many ways to find your personal style, what I did was: find an inspiration, shop smarter so I was not spending $75 on one item, find what makes you confident and for me that is heels, ask other people for help, trust your instincts and remember that no one else’s opinions matter.

You can check out my fashion blog at www.musiccitychic.wordpress.com

Thank you for reading to get to know me a little better, to be involved with my blog you can also follow me on instagram @madison.houdashelt

Madison Houdashelt

Madison Houdashelt

Teen Talk Blogger

Follow Madison on Instagram
And her personal blog

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