Dear Madame Lestrange Love Advice

Do you have any advice on how to be single?

Dear Madame Lestrange is The Tempest’s love, sex, and relationships advice column. Have a question? Send it to Madame Lestrange here.  It’s anonymous!

Dear Madame Lestrange,

So, I’m a serial monogamist. I’ve finally come to admit it after years of denying it. I have an incredibly hard time not being in a relationship. So far, I’m a month strong, which is great, but being home for the summer is really lonely, and I’m having the urge to hop on Tinder or OkCupid and find the next one.

I know this would be bad, but I’d like to tell myself, “what’s the harm?” But I know the harm; I need to work on myself this summer, and really spend some time with myself, something I haven’t done in years.

Do you have any advice on how to be single? I love being in relationships, and I love to hang out and get to know someone really well. But in the end, I always end up losing myself in it and distracting myself from my real problems. Can you help?!


—Your Single Gal

Dear Single Gal, 

You’ve already recognized what you need to do and that is to stay single. It’s always good to take some time out for yourself to figure out what you want and what you are looking for. 

My advice would be to figure out why you feel the need to always be in a relationship, do you miss the companionship? The sex? Or intimacy? This is the first way to figure out how to be single! Try finding things that ignite your passion, if there is something that you have been ignoring whilst looking for a relationship push your free time towards that. 

It’s not easy being single when you’re so used to being in a relationship and it can be really lonely. This is something that you have to push through in order to make sure that you are working on yourself. It’s important to recognize the things that you enjoy doing in a relationship you can do on your own.

You can go to the cinema and go to restaurants. You don’t need someone to be with you. Equally, grab a couple of your friends and head to the movies! 

Your welcome, 

Madame Lestrange 

More Dear Madame Lestrange

I’m planning on having sex with my boyfriend soon. It’ll be my first time but not his and while I’m very excited, I’m also very nervous. I want to make this a pleasurable experience for us both and I have no idea what I’m doing. I gave him my first handjob too and while he did cum, I feel like I could’ve done better. Do you have any tips?

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Love + Sex Love Life Stories

Have you ever felt unrequited love?

Usually when I think of unrequited love, I think of something great. Some sort of grand story full of catharsis. Unrequited is generally special.

A type of love that demands to be talked about for an eternity. Something electric, with compulsive wavelengths. Something like the movies that comes with its own playlist attached to it.

Something with late and long nights spent together in a damp minivan twinkling and spitting out dreams on a whim. Something with vicious fights fueled by our own desire. Something that makes my soul open up just as swiftly as it gets torn apart. And, somehow I wind up bursting at the seams yet feel completely unsatisfied. I always want more. 

Why do we long for the type of love that hurts so much it imprints our hearts? It is difficult to locate the line that separates struggle and triumph, as nearly every love story in popular media blurs the two. But unrequited love is so unbelievably magnificent and sad at the same time that it becomes all encompassing.

Unrequited love is an entire body, overwhelming, feeling. I have broken hearts before and I have had my heart broken, so I can tell you that the feeling never fades, one way or the other. It feels as if you are running fast, and for a long time, yet making no distance at all.

One time I waited two months for a guy to message me back before I realized that he just wasn’t going to. Ever. Again. And that entire time I couldn’t help but wonder why I cared so much. What we had wasn’t at all special, but I still was left longing for a distraction from the heartbreak. I was showered by his passivity instead of his kisses and I wanted him to know how much his absence hurt me, but he was so equally careless and carefree that none of it mattered.

Not even for a second. 

I felt unrequited love again while in a long-distance relationship. This kind of unrequited was different. It wasn’t one-sided. Instead, we felt tremendously for each other. It’s just that our bodies weren’t able to be physically together for some time. We were only long distance for the few months that I would be studying abroad, but it felt like an eternity. I remember being there and using all of my senses to try to gauge what his touch felt like.

Somedays I would wake up and watch the sun from my window, silently knowing that that same sun wouldn’t bounce to him for another six hours, and I would recall how that same sun looked dancing across his back at dawn. I’d lay in bed at night and want to tell him about my day, but I knew that I couldn’t. I was constantly reminded that he no longer took up the space in between my arms when we slept. But I was, and still am, fascinated by the immediate consumption of these moments. I am so grateful to have given him my heart. He still has it. 

The extent of passion is practically boundless. We should feel like we can fly on a whim, or scream and dance, when we are in love. Unrequited love just forces you to confront that intensity, those struggles and triumphs, head on. Some of it is beautiful; some not so much. I like to remind myself that love doesn’t need a reason, love just is. 

Unrequited love is messy, but worth it. It is a collection of fleeting moments. It teaches us that all love should be leaking, dripping, through every difficulty yet also a thread that is continuously weaving through and connecting our bodies and our souls. The whole point of longing is to continue, because there will always be potential to love someone rather than to have loved someone. They can’t be the one that got away if they weren’t the one in the first place.


Here’s why tattoos are more than just skin deep

There has always been a lingering, extremely negative stigma around tattoos. Whether that be the impression that they’re a reckless craft or profession, that they’re a reflection of unprofessionalism on the wearer, or that the kind of person who gets tattoos is a bad influence and misguided. My whole life, the narrative that tattoos are associated with illegal activities and reckless behaviour has been practically embedded into my social imagining. For a while, I believed it too. I thought that having a tattoo very much meant being unsuccessful in the career that I chose and that I would be going against the picture that had been painted for me. And in doing so, I would be letting everyone around me down, everyone who played some kind of part in raising me. Funnily enough, these are the same people who told me countless times that it is important to march to the beat of my own drum and to be the captain of my own ship. Go figure.

Especially being a girl, I’ve been told that tattoos are ugly, inappropriate, and distasteful. That the second I taint my body with ink, the body that is also supposed to be my own canvas, my worth diminishes dramatically. People start to look at me differently. I am no longer the girl that they thought I was. In a matter of seconds, their entire perception of me changes and everything they know about me is altered. 

This is the reality for so many young people and it is incredibly disheartening because most tattoos, if not all, can hold a deeper meaning. Plus, it shouldn’t even matter if the tattoo is meaningful or not, as long as the person adorned by it is happy and comfortable. Tattoos can be an exceptional medium for self-expression. Every little detail in a tattoo is an example of individuality that is impossible to replicate because everyone’s skin and everyone’s intent is entirely different. 

Most tattoos are real-life embellishments drenched in symbolism and motifs, and if you really think about it, tattoos are beautiful beyond being art. They are meant to be read like a book and tell you something about the wearer. You can learn a multitude of unspoken stories about a person just by looking at their tattoos, and these are usually the things that are most dear to their heart and truly make them who they are. These are the things that they’re so determined to never let go of that they literally make it a part of their skin and their blood. They tell you stories of growth, romance, culture, grief, passion, religion, wit, and determination. People wear art that speaks to them and makes them feel something. Tattoos are a love story in and of themselves. 

I cherish my tattoo. It’s a very small pink dove near my left rib cage. I was 18 years old at the time that I got it done. Most people thought that I was acting in defiance, that I was being rebellious, and that I would regret it eventually. 

Well, they were all wrong. 

I wasn’t being defiant and I will never regret it. I got my tattoo because it is something that I knew I needed to do for myself if I was ever going to move past what had happened, if I was ever going to move forward. That year, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, had a double mastectomy, and went through multiple rounds of chemotherapy. With all of those odds against her, she survived. She is the strongest woman that I’ve ever known and will ever know. 

But still, the pressure and the helplessness that I felt and continue to feel can sometimes seem never-ending. I can never shake that fear, no matter how relieved I am to be out of the thick of it. So, I decided to commemorate the moment with something meaningful that is mine, and mine entirely. 

My favorite quote from the novel Jane Eyre says this: “I am no bird and no net ensnares me, I am a free human being with an independent will.” That quote seemed to describe what I was feeling, and really what I needed to be told, effortlessly. So, my bird is pink for breast cancer. I got it as a daily reminder of strength, resilience, and soaring above the ashes, just as my mother did. I too can soar.


Money, rather than fulfillment, is my community’s main career concern

“I think I’m going to apply for Journalism,” I said without a second thought. It was the last year of high school and teachers were constantly inquiring about our future plans. I saw my teacher stop in her tracks. I could almost see the knobs turning erratically in her mind while the wires glitched and sparked. “Journalism? How is that going to make you any money?” she asked while looking incredulously at other students who stared back at her in confusion.

This was not an isolated incident. My plans to pursue a career in journalism were constantly interrogated and mocked in my last years of high school, especially by my teachers. The same treatment was not afforded to students who sought a degree in medicine, mathematics, engineering, and computer science. The sciences were simply glorified more than the arts.

I lived in a community that was founded by the first Indian settlers who were brought as indentured laborers to work in sugarcane plantations. Their lives were difficult, and education, as a means to escape poverty, was (and still is) an immense privilege. A culture of striving to attain high paying jobs was born out of this poverty my ancestors constantly fought to escape from.

Both India and South Africa are developing countries. When my ancestors left India for South Africa, they brought with them the mindset of only pursuing things that are monetarily advantageous. Studying towards a high paying job was the goal, and that demanded one to excel at mathematics and science. Many believed the average doctor or engineer to bring in a higher income than the average painter or poet. However, being good at (or simply just passionate about) English Literature and writing? Well, that was of no use.

My grandfather saw his own father pursue his passion to the detriment of his family. My great-grandfather fought against the Apartheid government – an undeniably admirable thing to do. However, this did not afford him the luxury of having a stable job or home. He was constantly on the run. Constantly in hiding. You can imagine the effect it all had on my grandfather’s childhood. To put it quite simply- he grew up with zero financial security. It shaped the way he thought about work, which in turn, shaped his life.

My grandfather loves singing. In his youth, he was in a band. When I was growing up, he used to burst out into song whenever the mood suited him, and all his grandchildren loved to listen. However, despite expressing regret at not being able to pursue his passion, he knew that becoming a factory manager was the responsible thing to do for his family at the time. They needed to eat, and singing did not pay the bills.

No one can deny the immense sadness that comes with this mindset. Many in my community had to sacrifice their passions in order to live with the security that a stable income brings. This is not to say that people aren’t passionate about maths or the sciences, or that the arts can never make one any money. However, occupations paid through a commission system or only pay once someone gets a gig provided a less constant income – something people living in poverty can just not afford to risk. As seen in my grandfather’s case, some just do not have the luxury of pursuing what they love.

Things have changed for the worse in my experience. This culture has evolved into not just viewing education as a means to earn more money, but it has become a shaming tactic. The prioritization of the sciences over the arts resulted in my community attributing intelligence to only those who excel academically in the former. Anyone else was basically considered stupid.

There is a stereotype that both East and South Asians excel in school. My mere racial identity placed this pressure on me to prove my worth through academic achievements. But even when I did well in school, if it was not in mathematics, then it meant very little.

Though the historical context of gravitating towards certain professions to alleviate poverty makes sense and once served a purpose, I now see how outdated and unhealthy it can be for a community, especially their youth. Money can be a powerful thing, so choosing between what you love and how much you want to earn can be an incredibly difficult decision. However, I like to believe that if you follow your heart, you’ll figure out the practicalities along the way.

Some may believe my decision to make a career out of writing was too risky…perhaps outright irresponsible. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Love Life Stories

How ‘The Spark’ could be working against you

We are all, through experience or observation, aware of ‘The Spark’. We’re told about it in all the stories of how our parents met, in the dating advice our friends give us, in the anecdote about how an uncle adopted a stray dog on a whim. Every story chronicling the beginning of a significant relationship features ‘The Spark’ in some way, shape or form. Maybe it’s romantic love at first sight, or laughing at the same joke and knowing you’ll be friends forever. Maybe it’s instant, intense hatred. What it’s not is casual interest, or indifference, or anything that doesn’t jolt you awake and make it very difficult to get back to sleep.

Using the evidence I have acquired by being in constant observation of feelings and art and other humans, I have formulated the following definition of ‘the spark’: ‘the spark’ is a definite and undeniable physical, emotional, and psychological indicator of belonging. It is the closest we get to proof that Fate really does exist and that she is sending us one of those signs we keep asking for.

Popular 'The Muppets' characters Kermit and Miss Piggy stare lovingly at each other in the midst of a crowd.
[Image description: Popular ‘The Muppets’ characters Kermit and Miss Piggy stare lovingly at each other in the midst of a crowd.] Via Giphy.
My mother says she felt it when she met my father. My cousin says she felt it when she met her fiancé. Almost anyone I know that’s in a healthy and committed relationship mentions knowing. Meet-cutes in movies and impassioned lyrics about love at first sight have only reiterated this narrative. But do we always know? And is knowing a prerequisite for a successful relationship? Or are the pressures we place on first impressions standing in the way of real connection?

The science behind love at first sight asks even more questions of it – whether it’s love or lust you’re experiencing, whether it’s still love if it is unrequited, whether there’s still a chance if ‘the spark’ doesn’t come into play at first. To answer the first question, a recent study concludes that a lot of the same areas of the brain respond to both lust and love, making it confusing to pinpoint which you’re feeling. The difference in how your brain processes love and lust, however, is that it treats the former as a more abstract, complex representation of the latter. Whether love grows out of lust or whether the two can exist simultaneously remains unanswered.

A redheaded man and a brunette man speak to each other at a bar. The latter says to the former, 'Do you believe in love at first sight or should I walk in again?'
[Image description: A redheaded man and a brunette man speak to each other at a bar. The latter says to the former, ‘Do you believe in love at first sight or should I walk in again?’] Via Giphy.
Love at first sight is, apparently, often one-sided, although one partner’s intense initial reaction may influence the other’s recollection of that first meeting. And as for whether a relationship can be successful if there is no spark present initially – only a third of Americans have reported experiencing love at first sight, and yet more than half of them are in relationships. So maybe there is life beyond ‘The Spark’. Why, then, am I still so preoccupied with the concept?

It could be because I’ve heard more success stories coming out of love at first sight than not. Or that I’ve watched Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes stare at each other from either side of a fish tank one too many times. Or that I’m surrounded by romantics who could have, in retrospect, projected the intimacy and affection they feel in their relationships currently onto its inception. Which is why I wonder whether ‘The Spark’, and my fixation with feeling it immediately, is standing in my way when it comes to forming meaningful relationships. I’ve built my expectations up so high for the first meeting that I won’t give anyone a chance unless, when we first meet, a solar eclipse, a medical miracle and world peace all occur simultaneously.

A young man and woman, playing Romeo and Juliet respectively, stare at each other in wonderment from either side of a fish tank.
[Image description: A young man and woman, playing Romeo and Juliet respectively, stare at each other in wonderment from either side of a fish tank.] Via Giphy.
Perhaps we should stop putting so much pressure on first meetings, on first impressions, on all kinds of firsts. Second, third, fourth chances are all opportunities for a delayed Spark. After that, I’m drawing the line. If it’s not love at fourth sight, then it’s not love. And if it doesn’t keep me up all night feeling like several sparklers are being lit in my stomach, brain, and heart, then it deserves to be slept on.


Understanding labor of love through the life of Maryam Mirzakhani

“Life is not fair. I was born in a loving family. I was born with a smart head and had good people around me. I didn’t complain about how fair it is. Many people in this world don’t have these things. Why should I complain now?”

These are the words of the renowned mathematician, Maryam Mirzakhani, who passed away at the young age of 40 of recurrent cancer. Maryam is the first and the only woman mathematician, to have won the Fields Medal, considered an equivalent of the Nobel Prize.

The Fields Medal is awarded every four years, to persons who have made distinguished contributions to Mathematics. Maryam was honored for her groundbreaking work in studying the dynamics and geometries of curved surfaces. Born and raised in Tehran, Iran; Maryam showed exceptional brilliance in the subject during her middle school years, going on to complete a Ph.D. from Harvard University.

In terms of her achievements and her caliber as a mathematician, her life is nothing but exemplary. However, the more I read about Maryam, the more I see her as an artist, who simply loved what she did. To me, Maryam’s life is the definition of the labor of love, a quality that every creator must possess in order to produce the best work possible.

Through her values, she metamorphosed the idea of leading life with passion, becoming an example for the rest of the world to follow.

Maryam showed the world the value of enjoying the process. In her own words, she described herself as a “slow thinker”, who had the patience and the optimism to tackle the most challenging issues of theoretical mathematics.

Like a dreamer, she doodled over large white charts laid out onto the floor, scribbling formulae on the margins of her mathematical drawings.

The chart acted as her canvas and her ‘painting’ represented the beauty that she saw in solving a complex and time-consuming problem. Her drawings gave her a window to the possibilities that the geometric complexities represented, and with it the drive to find answers through them.

Another aspect of Maryam was her remarkable quality of being optimistically ambitious. She was undeterred in the face of tough mathematical problems, and found answers not just through sheer grit but also uncomplicated hope.

Her colleague, Alex Eskin, remembers, “She is very optimistic, and that’s infectious. When you work with her, you feel you have a much better chance of solving problems that at first seem hopeless.”

However, most importantly, Maryam held the simplest values in the highest regard as her way of life. She valued her family and her work, without caring much for distractions.

Her husband, Jan Vondrák reminisced this quality of hers, stating, “She didn’t worry about what people said. People criticized her. She really didn’t care. She knew what she wanted to do.”

Like a dreamer, she doodled over large white charts laid out onto the floor, scribbling formulae on the margins of her mathematical drawings.

Maryam’s fortitude and strong character were the reasons she continued working despite suffering from critical illness in her last years. She did not have answers when she began, but she had the uncompromising belief that she would figure them out eventually.

And that is the kind of force that can move mountains. As I discover more about Maryam, I believe that each one of us driven by a passion, can derive hope and strength from her life, and forge our way ahead.

Just the way Maryam did.

Gender & Identity Life

I found my passion in writing and so can you

Sometimes, when a day transitions from bad to beyond abominable and I can almost feel my residual sanity slipping through my fingers, I close my eyes and imagery floats before my eyes, the imagery of my escapade, my solace: I am underwater and the water is scintillating and a calming hue of blue. It is a place which is above mere worldly adversities. It’s just me and water bubbles gurgling through my nebulous floating hair with “Nothing It Can” by Helios playing in the background.

That is my happy place.

While my safe haven seems nothing more than an intangible concept, it is the only thing in the world that can almost make me feel enthralling yet complex emotions. I also find this solace in my writing.

I cannot pinpoint a particular day when I woke up and decided to put pen to paper, but I do vividly remember the turning point in my journey with writing.

I had read the last Harry Potter book when I was about 11-years-old, which was around the same time Leisure by W.H Davies was a part of my school curriculum for English. My unworldly mind was blown away. I was too young to fathom the beauty of the pain lingering with that poem (which I can today, now that I suffer from existential dread every other day). I wasn’t even mature enough to appreciate Harry Potter for its larger than life reflection of reality.

All I knew was that mere words could create a world that is beyond mortal imagination and could make me feel things that I didn’t even know existed. I too wanted to master the art of tugging at heartstrings and making people feel ethereal emotions.

Writing ended up becoming more than just a form of art for me. What had started off as words strung together to have a certain rhythm to them began to fuse itself with my existence. Every scribble at the back of notebooks and scraps of paper and every journal entry began to hold more significance than I realized. It was that idiosyncratic trait that helped me identify myself in a crowd, even if it meant nothing to the world.  As a kid, who always had trouble expressing herself, writing was my savior.

What I didn’t realize was that there is a Joker to every Batman. Even though I was my art own protector, (and there was no knight in shining armor gloating in self-glory that I had to deal with), what I didn’t realize was that I had to deal with the villain to my story: my insecurities.

While writing helped me grow every single day, I was no stranger to society’s obsession with the performing arts. Every brown kid ever is au courant with how the world puts that graceful dancer that embraces every joy in the world with delicacy on a pedestal. I began to feel like my art was just as inconsequential as I believed I was. A part of me perished every time it dawned on me that everything I wrote will perhaps just fade away with the ink.

Today my insecurities still consume me to a point where I am shrouded with dark thoughts of quitting because I’ll probably never be good enough.

However, I have been lucky to have discovered my thing, my art. Owing to my art, I have been lucky to have discovered parts of me, to live every day a little better than I did the previous day. Like every terrible phase of my life, my writing saves me from my burgeoning insecurities as well or at least attempts to.

It is an awful feeling to feel like you’re not good at that one thing which makes you, you. But it’s all worth it when you realize that your piece means something to someone somewhere, even if it holds some significance in only one person’s life.

Everyone has their thing. It’s just a matter of time and place until they discover it and embrace it. And once they do, they’ll know that going on is worth it. It doesn’t matter if it’s your profession, your hobby or means of venting, it’s worth it.

Gender & Identity Life

Student life completely changes your college experience

In college, I basically minored in student life.

(That’s not entirely true, I minored in Humanistic Studies but that’s another story.)

Only focusing on the academic part of your college career is the biggest mistake I’ve seen some of my friends make. “I don’t have time,” is not a valid excuse. We all have homework, work one or two jobs, and some of us also manage to play sports, have an active social life as well as being involved on campus.

Participating in student life is not a waste of time. It’s a way of making your college experience richer. You meet so many people that you wouldn’t necessarily get to know if they’re majoring in a completely different field, for example. You meet people who have the same passions and hobbies you do, and you meet people that you’d think you have nothing in common with.

You learn so many things every day, just from hanging out with people from different backgrounds, and you don’t even realize it. Clubs don’t have to be a commitment, but to me, they are as mandatory as class attendance (and I go to a university where I only have three excused absences before my grade is affected). I joined a bunch of clubs in my first semester, and I applied to be on the board of two my second semester. Don’t ever let anyone tell you freshmen can’t get leadership positions. Especially if you’re a freshman and a woman. Especially if you’re a freshman, a woman, and someone at an American university whose first language isn’t English.

I got elected. Being a board member – I started out small, social media manager and events coordinator – brings a whole lot of responsibilities and deadlines that you need to be prepared for. It immensely helped me better manage my time and duties, it honed so many of my skills, and taught me that no matter what anyone who’s not a millennial will tell you, multitasking works.

I gained so much self-confidence that the next semester I marched into the student services office and started a brand new club. (The Fandom Club, because I’m a nerd like that.) Suddenly I was a president and founder and I had so much paperwork to deal with, but I don’t mind one bit. This is all in preparation for when I become CEO of a big company one day.

Being board members of a club, organization or society is not something you can do part-time. Or rather, you can, but what’s the point if your heart isn’t 100 percent into it? Clubs are about passions. It’s your way of giving something back to the community. I’m happy to do what I do because, apart from personal gratification, I know that I’m giving people the opportunity to meet people like them. To start a conversation, to share ideas, thoughts, opinions.

Organizing events isn’t easy, especially if you have to coordinate with different offices, other societies, and fit everything into your already busy schedule. I spend 90 percent of my day on campus, I practically live there and I really only go home to sleep. But I love hanging out at the university. There’s always an event that I want to go to, a society’s meeting I can’t miss, or my own club’s meeting and I wouldn’t change anything. I know so many people through my clubs, and not just superficially. I’m an extremely extroverted person who genuinely likes to talk to people, listen to their stories, give advice; I know so much about all the people I met here. I always know who to go to for every little thing, and it’s awesome.

Leadership also looks good on your resume. If you don’t have much work experience, you can always mention you were a board member of a club at uni and mention the skills you’ve gained. Now, I know leadership isn’t for everyone, but even just showing up and saying your name at a club’s meeting will improve your college career. If you don’t participate in student life because you’re shy, push yourself. Get out of your comfort zone a bit and only good things will come out. Being active in campus life is what made my college experience truly unforgettable.

As someone who is graduating in only six semesters, working two jobs and having a rather healthy social life (albeit an unhealthy sleeping schedule, but that’s on me), let me tell you, participating in student life is not only doable, but a must. You’ll only live half of your college experience if you refuse to be active.

Gender & Identity Life

I never knew just how awful college would be. Then I saw where my money was going.

I always imagined how classes in college would be. I pictured a strained atmosphere in a silent classroom where all the students were listening to the lecture with full focus while jotting down the lessons in their notebooks. The professors enthusiastically explained some theories or mathematics solution, pointing to the screen full of notes or formulas and equations. A few times someone would interrupt the lecture to ask questions.

I thought once I got into college, my classes would be that way. Unfortunately, my expectations were completely off the mark.

Of all the classes I took in my first year, Business Mathematics was the only class I looked forward too. I enjoyed math. Although I’ve always been terrible dealing with numbers and formulas, nothing gives me greater satisfaction more than getting the answer right after solving the problem. I thought it was going to be my favorite subject and I was planning to ace it.

And of course, I was hoping this class would be just like those I had always pictured in my mind.

The professor was an hour late on the first day of class. But I kept my hopes up. My hopes vanished as soon as he started teaching. He just sat in front of the computer, turned it on and then searched for the syllabus for 20 minutes! Obviously, he wasn’t prepared for the lesson, but that wasn’t it. Once he started his teaching, the lecture became more and more tedious. Throughout the class, all he did was read what was on the screen, clicking the next button to make the steps appear one by one without explaining the math behind the steps.

This professor was in his mid-50s, which meant he had plenty of years to gain teaching experiences and improve his teaching skills. But what we had there was an expressionless man with no enthusiasm to guide us at all. Worst, he taught in our local language, which was Malay. I pitied those foreign students who relied on English as their only language of communication.

There was no group assignment or projects for the subject. But still, I had to endure the mind-numbing class for the whole semester. In the end, most of us failed and had to repeat the course. Including me.

For another class in my second year, this professor was no better than the previous one.

For the whole semester, the class was held for only half of the time allotted. The professor, a woman this time, also had a problem with time punctuality. An hour late, and then teaching for only half an hour. Most times she canceled the class and replaced them with quizzes she put online.

Luckily I didn’t fail that time, but my grade wasn’t great.

I hate to be the one student to give a negative evaluation to teachers in college, but I couldn’t lie just to save their career. There were few times when I got tired of their lack of interest and incompetence in teaching and one day, I told them about my concern in this matter. Even my other classmates have spoken out about this, straight up to these teachers who don’t teach. But in return, they blamed us for our lack of diligence and focus on their teaching. We weren’t  pre-school kids anymore and to them, we’re grown up enough to figure out things by ourselves.

My friends from another college are still facing the same issues. It’s all the same problems – professors coming late, canceled classes for no reasons at all and their passionless lectures.

I came to college with high hopes to learn, explore and strive for a better future. The only thing I want is education, but I don’t need to be spoon-fed or given an exact correct answer for every question. I never ask them to make the learning easier. In fact, I’d be up for challenges if that gave me more experiences to push my boundaries and gain more knowledge. It is highly unfair to pay a large amount of money just to receive their inadequate lessons and instructions. I’m facing an insane amount of stress and pressure every semester, yet the effort and works they’ve put in aren’t nearly as equal.

I’m really glad that there are few other professors and tutors that are worthy to be appreciated. They are the ones who are actually passionate and eager to share their knowledge. When they do, everyone can feel it, including me. These teachers are always enthusiastic and have their own creative way of teaching. However, other professors need to remember their job title as educators and not boring powerpoint makers. To better this world, we need to produce better students who have learned something at the end of the year.

Money Career Advice Now + Beyond Interviews

Meet the homeschooled entrepreneur who started her business at 18. Now, she’s publishing her first book, “Dear Millennial.”

I sat down with Chelann Gienger to talk about her new book, “Dear Millennial: A Compass To Defining Your Unique Purpose, Pursuing A Life Of Fulfillment, And Building A Legacy,” in which she outlines her advice garnered from her upbringing, as well as the last two years she’s spent running a juice bar and hosting the Entrepreneur Before 25 podcast, in which she interviews young entrepreneurs.

At 18, while simultaneously getting her high school diploma and BA, Chelann, her brother, and his business partner set out to open NUYU juice bar in their hometown of Yakima, Washington.

The Tempest: Dear Millennial is about more than business, it’s written as a self-help guide that aims to help readers find their true passions. Where did you encounter the life-lessons you drew upon and at what point did you decide you had enough information to turn it into a book?

Chelann Gienger: So, my entrepreneurial journey started at 15.

I open the juice bar at 18, started the “Entrepreneur before 25” podcast at 19 and wrote this book at 20, so everything was built on top of each other. Because basically, I was 18 and running a brick and mortar.

To this day, I don’t know anyone else in Yakama who was this young and running a brick and mortar. I was so lonely, apart from my family, who are all entrepreneurs. I lost the ability to see eye to eye with a lot of my close friends.

Their biggest struggles were passing a test the next day that they hadn’t studied for. I thought there had to be other entrepreneurs out there who were like me and were struggling with the same kinds of things I was, so I launched the podcast.

I interview inspiring entrepreneurs who started their journey at the age of 25 or younger and the main niche of the podcast; our primary topic was how do you chase your dreams and not only make those dreams happen but live a fulfilled life in the process. A lot of people mixed up fulfillment with achievement and we think if we achieve a certain goal, we are all of a sudden going to be fulfilled and happy. That’s only going to last for a certain amount time; we’ve all experienced that.

To date, I’ve probably interviewed close to 200 young people, and so through the process of the past year, I’ve seen patterns in the millennial generation. They were problems that I felt needed to be addressed by a peer.

I’m not asking people who read my book to do anything that I’m not already doing myself or trying my very best to do myself. This book is meant to basically call the millennial generation to a higher standard of greatness in every sphere of their life. The book walks them through finding their unique purpose, we each have a unique purpose that only we can fulfill.

via Amazon

I look at our lives as a movie, and if we don’t show up on production day, the movie isn’t going to exist.

We then take that unique purpose, and we mold it into how you can accomplish this and still live a fulfilled life. Then we work through how to take those components and build a legacy that will last generations beyond you.

It’s raw and authentic. I get into the details as I talk about boys and business, all of it. Every one of these experiences has either reinforced or showed me how to live out what I’m talking about in that chapter.

The self-doubt was real; these are struggles that I worked through sometimes on my own and often through my family. I was raised with these principles, but the way I’m carrying them out looks different than it did for my parents and grandparents.

I have seen things in my generation where it’s like, “If somebody doesn’t address these, we will literally wipe ourselves out,” and I decided to address them by explaining what I’m doing to get to the goals and the world impact that I have and I want to have in my life and 500 years from now.

You say you see patterns and traits that threaten to “wipe us out” as millennials so if you were to choose, what is the primary thing you would want to impart on this generation?

Chelann Gienger: I would say, “Are you truly taking ownership of our life? Do you understand that you are exactly where you are today because of the decisions you have made for yourself, or you have allowed other people to make for you?”

We sit in our lives, we don’t like where we are, and we blame everyone but ourselves. I’m not saying blame yourself, but I’m saying recognize that you’re here today because of the decisions you’ve made.

So, do the hard work to change that and change your life to what you want it to be.

This interview was edited for length and clarity. 

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I wasted so much time trying to meet my parents’ expectations, but now I’m done

One gold trophy. That’s all it took to raise my family’s expectations on me.

It was a reward for me as a top student in my school. Of course, my parents and my eldest sister were ecstatic. It felt as if their legacy was shown through my small success.

Little did I knew, they had something planned for me.

It was my sister’s idea to send me to a boarding school. I begged them not to. They refused to listen and convinced me that it was for my own good. Deep inside, I could feel they took a great pride from it. Imagine how proud they’d be, telling the relatives and neighbors about it.

I couldn’t disappoint them. So, I agreed.

I spent three years away from them. During those years, I put a lot of hard work in so I could live up to my family’s expectations. I knew they had high hopes for me. My sister kept reminding me about the victories I’d gained in the past and my younger siblings made me their role model. The pressure was more than I could handle. It was as if I owed them my success and I had to fulfill that responsibility.

But I couldn’t do it.

All three years, my results were just average. I graduated, as an average student. I wasn’t as brilliant.

Of course, my family was disappointed in me. But they didn’t give up. Not just yet.

My sister had just graduated with Master’s degree, with honors, of course. She arranged for me to get in to the same college. I thought I could finally choose which major I wanted, but she didn’t give me a choice. It had to be business, just like she did. She reminded me that I’d already failed to fulfill my responsibility, so this time I had to put extra effort to achieve.

My family ignored me when I said I wasn’t interested in business.

I started to feel resentful of them. My relationship with my family became strained. Still, I gave it a try for them. I overworked to reach their impossible expectations and my health started to deteriorate.

I failed even worse than before. This time, my results weren’t just average, they were awful.

I failed to give my family what they wanted: a brilliant student, a high achiever. I’d failed them all. There are no words to describe the guilt I felt for disappointing them. But when my parents blamed me for not trying hard enough, my heart dropped.

Was I at fault for this? I tried my hardest make them happy. What more could I do? I’d been doing my best. Couldn’t they at least appreciate that?

I even abandoned my real passion, writing, to please them.  I didn’t tell them, but I’ve always loved writing. It’s always been my passion and back in high school I’d won many writing and poetry competitions. Most of them were first prizes, but my parents were never interested.

While in boarding school, I’d completed a 300 page manuscript.

As a consolation for my ‘failure’ in boarding school, I showed them my work. I just wanted them to feel happy about my accomplishment, to be proud of me. But all I got was a nod from them.

They promised to read it later. But they never did. They never even give it back to me. To this day, I don’t know where it is.

My heart was broken knowing that my talent in writing wasn’t acknowledged. For them, writing was just a hobby, not something that I could pursue as a career. According to them, writing wouldn’t get me anywhere. I should do something that would promise a bright future.

When they accused me of not trying hard enough to succeed, I remembered the manuscript, and my heart filled with anger and regret. I’d had enough of trying to meet their ridiculous expectations. Years of my life had been snatched away trying to make them happy. For once in my life, I decided to follow my heart.

There was no use in explaining to them why I had to be selfish this time. I have the right to choose and decide my future. This is my life, not theirs. It shouldn’t be wasted by doing things that I hate. I want to spend my life doing something that I love.


The world as I knew it changed completely after this one encounter with science

I was a middle schooler in Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry when my mother told me she bought tickets for an exhibit of dead bodies… Not really something a twelve-year-old, or anyone for that matter, expects to hear.

As we entered the BODY WORLDS exhibit through a dark hallway, I expected some creepy, mad-scientist, haunted house sort of stuff.

What I actually saw was something completely different.

On a case to my left there was a figure called “The Swordsman”, stripped of its skin and fat, left with its organs, muscle, and bone. That may still sound like that creepy, mad-scientist, haunted house image, but seeing it in person was beautiful and miraculous.

I spent about an hour and a half in the exhibit learning about how blood flows through our bodies, what a fetus looks like at every stage of development, and how we digest food. The lectures from my biology class came to life and finally stuck. At the same time, it was just really amazing to look at.

The cadavers come from people who donate their bodies to this project. The founder of the international exhibition, Gunther von Hagens, asserts full consent and extensive documentation of using the bodies. The body parts are then preserved through Plastination, a process developed by von Hagens. Using polymer chemistry, they replace the water and fat in the bodies with plastics that harden even a single nerve without leaving a smell. The bodies and body parts can be arranged in creative and educational ways depending on the purpose of the display.

As the website says, the purpose of the entire exhibit is to inform viewers to make better decisions for their health and to encourage them to learn about anatomy and physiology.

I’m not sure how much I got from the health aspect at the time, but I definitely was captured by the body so much so that this experience is one of the reasons I want to go into medicine. The exhibit made a wonder that is generally only accessible to physicians accessible to the world, without the accompanying stress, smells, and mess.

Not everyone who finds it fascinating has to make a career out of it though. Your relation to the exhibit can turn out to be something more personal and emotional. I learned how to appreciate my body and the work it does during a time when I started getting exposed to negative commentary about my and other women’s bodies. This exhibit is a force to combat body-shaming because it essentially helps you say, “Hey, look how amazing this body is, what it’s capable of doing, and I own it. It’s mine.”

However, the biggest influence BODY WORLDS had on me was letting me see how creative science was. It displayed a lot of the same facts I learned in class but turned it into art. They managed to make the gross cadaver into something beautiful, and I found a lesson in that.

This was important to me because I am both a poet and someone who studies science. BODY WORLDS taught me not just that it was okay to do both, but that the two can mesh together. Poetry finds beauty in the mundane, as does science. I incorporate science in my poems and make vivid stories when I study for my science classes.

The exhibit is international, and I encourage everyone to find the nearest one. Who knows what you’ll find inside you from staring at the insides of others?