Shirley Tang

Written by Shirley Tang, a senior in high school in Houston, Tx., and member of Camp Fire’s National Youth Advisory Cabinet (YAC)

I look left and right at my papers piling up on my desk. I look down at my to-do list. The homework kept coming in every day, steps 3 and 4 of my research project are due this Friday, I have to call businesses and write letters to prospective guest speakers for my club’s TEDx event in a month, finish training for my job, dedicate time to work out every day, learn filmmaking this semester as I’d committed to do, write a blog post for Camp Fire…

STOP. I take a deep breath.

This is not working.

What am I doing wrong?

Recently, I’ve realized how unhappy my bad time management habits have made me, and I started to make a conscious effort to improve on my habits. I started making a to-do list everyday, which has helped me not to forget tasks.

Fast forward a few weeks and I’ve set the good habit of making a to-do list everyday but I realize I’m still not getting things on my to-do list done. And that brings me to where I am now, typing up this blog post, a couple of days late.

how youth thrive reflect

REFLECTION is #4 in Camp Fire’s research-based Thrive{ology} program framework to help youth thrive.

I’ve been reflecting a lot these past few months, thinking about the person I want to be in contrast with the person I am now. I accepted my appointment to the United States Military Academy a few days back, and while ecstatic, I realize now how much effort I must put in within these next few months to become the successful West Point cadet I so desire to be. I cannot find myself at the end of a day to have nothing on my to-do list crossed off when the lives of 100 troops are up to my discretion…I need to reorder my time prioritization, and eliminate my procrastination habits.

I’m sure many of you reading can relate to this: it seems that at least once a week, I have an especially crappy day, and perhaps only because of one or two singular events. Every time I experience one of these days now, I sit down and trace the events of the day, to identify where I perceived it went wrong and how actions and attitude on my part would have turned my day around.

I hold true that all the mistakes in one’s life could have been prevented and can be healed by a little (or a lot of) reflection.

The biggest takeaway I have from reflection is setting a goal every time I realize my discontent in some area of my life. I set a goal today to limit my morning and night routines to 10 minutes each, as I realize these two things are taking away from my sleep time and my efficiency during the day.

I hold true that all the mistakes in one’s life that have been a result of your own actions, could have been prevented and can be healed by a little (or a lot of) reflection.

So I challenge all of you reading this blog post, sometime this week, take out a notebook, a sheet of paper, or your phone, and write what’s on your mind: your troubles, your blessings, your goals, and start now to make that change to take your life into your own hands.

Shirley Tang is a current senior at James E Taylor High School in Houston, Texas. She is interested in pursuing a future career in the military and in politics. She enjoys working out and hanging out with friends. She also loves being involved in her community through community service and expressing youth voice in various local youth councils. She works hard in all her AP classes and has co-founded TED-Ed Club at her school, a club which allows students to express their deepest passions and inspire others to do the same. She loves being out in nature and going on spontaneous adventures. Furthermore, she always enjoys a good political or philosophical debate.