How to Know Where You Are – Student Advice Column

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Ursula Junker and Eliza Chun

I’m having trouble staying motivated for Science Fair. I’d rather do other things that I actually enjoy. What should I do?

The first thing I’ll say is that I feel your pain. Science Fair can be arduous, especially when science isn’t your main academic focus. Things like deadlines and papers can make projects even more daunting when there are other things you’d rather be doing.

My best advice for Science Fair — or any matter involving a roadblock in motivation — is to spice it up by incorporating your interests into your work. For example, although it’s a little late to do this now, I advise you to conduct your Science Fair project on something that interests you rather than something that seems easy, or something that teachers might like. This year, I combined my Science Fair project with two of my other interests, psychology and politics, and while many subjects don’t mesh easily with Science Fair, I’m sure there are some creative solutions. For example, if you have an interest in ceramics you could do a project on temperature in ratio to glazing, or if you prefer drawing you could conduct a questionnaire comparing different drawing styles to find out which one appeals to the masses.

However, it’s a little late now to restart your Science Fair project, unless you have a deathwish, that is. Now the most you can do is to try to merge some of your interests into your existing project. If you enjoy art, decorate your board until it’s the most interesting thing at the whole fair, or draw pictures of your Science Fair process step by step. If you like writing, don’t take this upon yourself as homework, but as a way to expand your style. If you enjoy, let’s say, professional diorama making, make a diorama about your project.

Motivation, in general, comes from passion and excitement about your work. Whenever you don’t feel excited, the work is going to seem longer, harder, and come out subpar. So you have to find a way to stay motivated while you work and change it around until it does motivate you. I wish you the best of luck and hope you can find a way to channel passion into your project. Come Science Fair, time I’m sure everyone will be impressed.

I feel like I’ve been friends with the same small group of people since I came to FA. How can I expand my friend circle?

It can be hard to reach out to new people at a small school, but getting to know more of your classmates and schoolmates is definitely worth it. If you see someone all the time in school and want to get to know them better, use time class to make conversation with them. I bet there are people in your grade (or in other grades) that you say “hi” to in class or in the halls… but you don’t know a lot about them. Turn acquaintances into friendships by following your “hi” with some friendly chit chat. Small talks leads, eventually, to deeper conversations. Remember to ask people about themselves. Everyone likes to be listened to, and most people like to talk about themselves. Being a sympathetic, interested listener is the first step to friendship. Also, find shared interests! You might be surprised to realize that someone you don’t know likes the same things as you. If you share similar passions, like music or cooking or football, you have the makings of a friendship already. For reserved or introverted people, starting a friendship by talking to someone new can be scary. Worrying about other people’s opinions or fearing awkwardness can hold you back from changing your routine. Remember, these obstacles are all inside your head. Try to be brave and trust that people will enjoy your company and conversation. Just be as confident and genuine as you can. Believe that you are worthy of friends, and you will find them. You don’t have to change yourself to impress anyone.

Remember that if you are friendly and kind, people will want to get to know you. Friendships can begin by offering someone help with a hard assignment or eating lunch with someone who’s sitting alone. Try not to assert yourself by stepping on your peers. No matter who you are, you’re not above everyone — or anyone — else. Your goal should not be to become the Queen Bee of your friend group. It should be to have real, meaningful friendships. Making friends means valuing other people’s differences.

Put your queries, confusions, predicaments, and puzzles in the shoebox at the top of the stairs, and we will do our best to answer them!