The 7 Things I Learned in 2013

1. Never give up on your dreams. At the beginning of this year I knew that I wanted to spend my summer doing research. As a student in my school's Science Research program, I was especially determined to find a lab to work in. I emailed so many potential mentors -- probably over 50 -- and got rejected by almost every one. After a breakthrough moment where I decided to change my topic, I found the perfect lab. I had a great first summer working with mouse models of Huntington's disease, and I am sure this one will be even better. If I gave up, I would still be searching for a mentor now.

2. Don't let your age stop you from doing anything. Since my freshman year, I have been extremely involved in my school's Forensics team. Forensics, also known as Speech and Debate, involves competitive events in a variety of Speech, Debate and Acting categories. Midway through the year I decided that I wanted to be president of the team. I remember being afraid to run, as I am only a junior this year. Thankfully I realized that my grade should not stop me. I am now a proud CoPresident of the LHS Forensics Team.

3. Always keep challenging yourself. For my junior year, I chose to take on a significantly more difficult schedule than the one I took my sophomore year. While it's definitely difficult to keep up with my rigorous coursework, I have no regrets. The benefits outweigh the downfalls. The challenge motivates me to work harder, keeping me constantly on my feet.

4. Keep calm, and carry on. This year, I focused on managing my stress levels. It's amazing how much of a difference a conscious effort to calm down can make. This has been especially key in the first three months of junior year.

5. Staying organized is key to success. In 2013, I finally got organized. I did this in a variety of ways: finally using a planner consistently, following my color-coded to-do lists and organizing all my notes to stay ready when exams rolled around. Staying on top of everything can eliminate so much stress and anxiety from your daily life.

6. Take advantage of every opportunity you get. I am lucky to have noticed when the Huffington Post Teen posted about writing for them early last year. It's been amazing to have this website as an outlet for my thoughts.

7. Writing is an amazing outlet. This year, I finally started writing more. Whether it was for Journalism, or just for fun, I realized just how powerful of a stress release writing can provide. While many associate writing with tedious schoolwork, it really can be much more than that.

It's been a good year. What do I hope to do in 2014? Write even more, read 50 books, sleep more and have another amazing summer.

Bring it on, 2014.