Straight From Rojae's Desk

June 8, 2011

What Alcohol Actually Does to Your Brain and Body

Filed under: From LifeHacker.com — Adventurous AdventuRoj @ 8:47 pm

Alcohol, like caffeine, has an enormous reputation but loose understanding in popular culture. Learn how it’s absorbed and how fast, why it’s essential to reality TV altercations, its paradoxical sexual effects, and its life-lengthening potential, whether red wine or Bud Light.

Everyone, it seems, takes their cues on how alcohol affects the mind and body from an eclectic mix of knowledge: personal experience, pop culture, tall tales of long nights, the latest studies to make the health news wires, and second-hand tips. You might have gathered that alcohol is a depressant, that it’s dehydrating, that you can drink about one drink an hour and stay relatively sober. Some of that is true. But much of it depends on a large number of factors.

Let’s dig into some of the things we do and don’t know about alcohol. Relevant sources are linked where cited, but much of the background material comes from Buzz: The Science and Lore of Alcohol and Caffeine (new-ish Kindle edition linked there). It’s a science-based tome written in a clear language by Stephen Braun, and was the main reference for our take on caffeine.

We’re taking a few things for granted here: that you understand some of the basics of alcohol consumption, blood alcohol content, legal limits, what it feels like when you’ve had too much to drink, and the serious illness of alcoholism. We’re not trying to help you get loaded quicker, or drink more for longer periods. We’re digging into some of the science behind how you and alcohol interact.

It Works Differently on Full Stomachs, Young Women, Some Asians, and Aspirin Takers

Your body sees alcohol as a poison, or at least as something it doesn’t actually want inside it. To fight back, and sober you up, humans produce an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase.

That enzyme gets its shot at your alcohol when it attempts to pass through the stomach lining, and when it reaches your liver, primarily. On contact, it snatches a hydrogen atom off the ethanol molecules in your drink, rendering it into non-intoxicating acetaldehyde. Humans can then use aldehyde dehydrogenase as a kind of clean-up crew, breaking down the acetaldehyde that’s sometimes considered a cause of hangovers, along with dehydration. (For more on the myths versus reality of hangovers, see our guide to hangover cures)

Seems pretty simple, no? It’s a fight between how much you can drink, versus how fast your enzymes can bust down your indulgences and their byproducts. But many factors affect certain people’s production of the two alcohol-crushing compounds:

• Alcohol dehydrogenase (AD) is, for reasons not wholly understood, more effective in men than in women. Young men, in fact, may have up to 70 to 80 percent greater enzyme activity in the presence of alcohol. But men’s AD effectiveness also drops off with age at a faster rate than in women, such that, by around 55 or 60, men may find themselves able to handle less alcohol than their female counterparts, all other factors being equal.

• A full stomach helps break down alcohol, but not because your food “soaks up” the alcohol. When you eat a big meal, your stomach’s pyloric sphincter, a kind of release valve into the small intestine, closes tightly. Your body knows that you’ve got food that should get a good going-over in your stomach before it heads straight to the high-absorption small intestine, so it keeps it there, and the AD in your stomach has more time to work on the alcohol. Drink on an empty stomach, and the liquid quickly makes it into the small intestine, where there’s more than 200 square meters of surface area for absorption into your body. 

• Another big factor in alcohol absorption, and alcohol’s effects, is genetics. Your great-great-grandparents have a say in how buzzed your Friday night gets, for sure, but for roughly one-third to half of Asian drinkers, it’s more than a slight variance. Alcohol flush reaction, a flushing of the face when drinking, occurs because the enzyme “clean-up crew,” aldehyde dehydrogenase, is mutated by just one amino acid. That changes how effective its molecules are in bonding with, and busting up, acetaldehyde. With excess acetaldehyde in their system, those with a flush reaction get red-faced, and can experience heart palpitations, dizziness, and severe nausea in extreme cases. Your own genetic makeup of AD and aldehyde dehydrogenase affect your ability to break down alcohol and its byproducts in similar fashion.

• Don’t take aspirin before drinking, unless you love hangovers. Aspirin seriously cuts the effectiveness of your body’s AD enzymes. In one 1990 study, the average blood alcohol levels of those who took two maximum strength aspirin tablets before drinking were an average of 26 percent higher than those who were aspirin-free. Other studies have suggested even more impact on your body’s ability to break down alcohol. That also means more acetaldehyde in your system down the line, so you’ll learn your lesson quickly if you’re considering aspirin as a “helper.”

Side Note: Absorption and Elimination Is a Curve, Not a Straight Line

Think you’ve got a handle on the basic one-drink-per-hour algorithm for your weekend nights? Check out this explainer from a forensic toxicology lab, which also links up an advanced Blood Alcohol Calculator. Your BAC moves through plateaus, responds differently to drinks higher than 20-25 percent alcohol by volume, and eliminates some alcohol in pure form—which is how police can measure it on your breath.

It Extends Your Life—Kind Of

Every few weeks, it seems, a new study suggests a glass of wine, or sometimes any old drink, lengthens your life if you don’t overdo it. Plucking just one out of the pile, you’ll see that in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, researchers followed 1824 people over a total of 20 years, as they aged between 55 and 65. Of those who abstained entirely, 69 percent died. Among those who drank in “moderate” amounts, 41 percent died—which was 23 percent less than the “light” drinkers. Even “heavy drinkers” fared better than abstainers, with just 61 percent passing away during the study period.

How could a substance that everybody and their five brothers tell you to go easy on extend your life? Popular theories center on the antioxidants and resveratrol compounds found in wines, or on the studies showing alcohol as increasing levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol.

But Jonah Lehrer at Wired points out the not-so-obvious: the link between a longer life and alcohol may not be direct, but it’s likely very real. It relates to the long-term benefits of reducing stress, as well as alcohol’s role in facilitating get-togethers and acting as a “social lubricant”:

What does this have to do with longevity? In recent years, sociologists and epidemiologists have begun studying the long-term effects (Direct PDF link) of loneliness. It turns out to be really dangerous. We are social primates, and when we’re cut off from the social network, we are more likely to die from just about everything (but especially heart disease). At this point, the link between abstinence and social isolation is merely hypothetical. But given the extensive history of group drinking—it’s what we do when we come together—it seems likely that drinking in moderation makes it easier for us develop and nurture relationships. And it’s these relationships that help keep us alive.

Theoretically, then, you might get some of the same benefits if you were a savvy, social Diet Coke drinker. But it’s likely a combination of actual alcohol effects, along with their social expressions, that leads to study after study showing drinkers as getting some kind of life-extending benefit.

It Doesn’t “Kill” Brain Cells, but Does Inhibit Them

It’s true that at high concentrations, like the nearly 100-percent pure alcohol used in sterilizing solutions, alcohol can indeed kill cells and neurons (and nearly anything else). But given that the blood reaching your brain is only at 0.08 percent alcohol if you’re legally intoxicated, or, say, 0.25 percent if you’ve just closed a major deal in Tokyo, it’s not doing a lot of damage to your actual brain cells (liver cells and other organs, with long-term chronic abuse, are another matter).

Don’t believe it? A major study by Grethe Jensen and colleagues in 1993 matched brain samples taken from both alcoholics and nonalcoholics, from groups of the two dead from non-alcohol-related causes. There were no significant differences found in either the number or density of brain cells between the groups. Misconception Junction tackles Jensen’s study and the topic in more depth.

What alcohol can and does do to your brain is affect the way your neurons get their firing triggers from glutamate. It infiltrates the glutamate receptors in your synapses, hurting their ability to send off their normal “fire” messages. Alcohol has this impact all across your brain—the parts that control muscles, speech, coordination, judgment, and so on. Keep that in mind the next time you or someone else claims that they drive, golf, or otherwise perform some task better with alcohol’s help. As Stephen Braun puts it in Buzz: The Science and Lore of Alcohol and Caffeine:

Substances such as cocaine and LSD work like pharmacological scalpels, altering the functioning of only one or a handful of brain circuits. Alcohol is more like a pharmacological hand grenade. It affects practically everything around it.

Side Note: That’s Also Why It, Uh, “Inhibits” Sex

The studies and implications are numerous, to say the least, but if you want a thumbnail understanding of how alcohol, as Shakespeare put it, “provokes the desire, but … takes away the performance,” it has to do with the firing of nerves, in the brain and elsewhere, that would relax the arteries enough to get both parties moving. It’s a bit more complex than that, and drinking in moderation can be a net benefit in some cases, but alcohol, paradoxically, doesn’t help one specific region of your self to “relax.”

Side Note 2: Alcohol is Particularly Effective at Inhibiting Memories

Like the sexual response, the way the brain makes memories is far from comprehensively understood. But it does seem linked to N-Methyl-D-aspartic acid, or NMDA, the receptor for which alcohol seems particularly adept at interfering with, according to Braun. Studies have shown that while subjects under alcohol’s influence can recall existing memories, events happening during inebriation are regularly hard to remember. It varies with the amount consumed, and seems to top out at a serious 0.2 percent blood alcohol content, but anything from flimsy recall to full-on blackouts are possible due to alcohol’s unique bond with the stuff that should make memories.

It Makes Other People Seem More “Intentional”

If you’d never been raised to think things through, you’d assume that most actions people took were fairly intentional, and possibly pointed at causing you harm. The same holds when people are asked to make snap judgments about things happening. But give yourself any amount of time, and you’ll generally think out all the reasons something could have happened, avoiding your natural intentionality bias and preventing heated arguments with otherwise close friends, bar altercations, and 80 percent of all reality show plots. Image via terren in Virginia.

But, as you might have guessed, that reasoned thinking gets lost when there’s a night’s worth of alcohol moving through your brain. In the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, researchers detail a study with 92 men, made to go three hours without food, then given a shot of either juice, or juice with more than a shot of pure alcohol. All the glasses were rimmed with alcohol to mask the placebos. The men thought they took part in a taste test, then did unrelated tasks for 30 minutes.

After that, they were asked to determine whether a series of deliberate, accidental, or vague stated actions (“He deleted the email,” “She looked for her keys,” “She tripped on the jump rope,” etc.) were deliberate or accidental. Ars Technica sums up the results:

Nearly all the participants, no matter what condition, judged all the unambiguous statements correctly. However, when the actions were ambiguous and could have been performed either intentionally or unintentionally, the “drunk” participants were much more likely to perceive the actions as deliberate than the sober participants were.

The study showed that it didn’t much matter whether a man thought he was drunk; the jump to conclusions about an intention only took place when someone actually did have too much in them.

It’s a Terrible Sleep Aid

Ever heard the term “nightcap?” People have long believed that alcohol helps you get to sleep—and that part can be true, for some. Once you’re asleep, though, alcohol’s interaction with your brain can lead to some fitful sleep—and no sleep at all, especially if you consumed caffeine anytime close to hitting the pillow. Image via Ella’s Dad.

Just as with caffeine, your brain proves remarkably adept at adapting itself and responding to the ethanol molecules jamming up its receptors and interfering with neuron firings. It takes a bit for the brain to catch up, though, and when your brain starts kicking in and reclaiming all its nooks and crannies, it can wreak havoc on your crucial REM sleep, along with your more passive, general resting. If you’ve had caffeine, too, it’s a drug that can take up to 5 hours to break down half a dose. If it’s in your system at the same time as your brain is trying to compensate for alcohol, the combined “revenge” of both drugs can lead to some fairly restless sleep, according to Braun’s Buzz.


Post from http://lifehacker.com/5684996/what-alcohol-actually-does-to-your-brain-and-body.

June 7, 2011

10 Commandments for the Over-50s

1. Act and behave your age

Face and accept the reality of getting old, its consequences, and the limitations which growing old brings. Quit fooling yourself by trying to look like you were in your youth.

2. Move on

Focus on enjoying people and not on indulging in/or accumulating material things. Enjoy life and meet new people. Do the things you have always wanted to do but was unable to do so. Follow your dream and your hearts’ desire.

3. Plan to spend whatever you have saved

You deserve to enjoy it and the few healthy years you have left. Travel if you can afford it. Don’t leave anything for your children or loved ones to quarrel about. By leaving anything, you may cause even more trouble when you are gone.

4. Live in the present

Live in the here and now, not in the yesterdays and tomorrows. It is only today that you can handle. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow may not even happen.

5. Spoil your grandchildren

Enjoy and spoil your grandchildren (if you are blessed with any) but don’t be their full-time baby sitter. You have no moral obligation to take care of them. Don’t have any guilt feelings about refusing to babysit anyone’s kids, including your own grandkids. Your parental obligation is to your children. After you have raised them into responsible adults, your duties of childrearing and babysitting are finished. Let your children raise their own offspring.

6. Accept your health

Enjoy whatever your health can allow. Accept your physical weakness, sickness, limitations and other physical pains. It is a part of the ageing process.

7. Retire

Enjoy what you are and what you have right now. Stop working hard for what you do not have. If you do not have them, it’s probably too late.

8. Love yourself

Accept yourself for what and who you are. People, who truly love you, love you for yourself and not for what you have or for what you can give them. Anyone who loves you for what you have will just give you misery.

9. Forgive and forget

Forgive and forget all those who have wronged you. Forgive yourself and others. Forget the slights, hurts, and misfortunes of yesterday. Look towards the future. Enjoy peace of mind and soul.

10. Befriend death

Don’t be afraid of death. It’s a natural part of the cycle of life. Death is the beginning of a new and better life. So, prepare yourself not for death but for a new life.

March 18, 2011

11 Ways to Sleep Better [By:Ririan]

Filed under: Thoughtful Thots — Adventurous AdventuRoj @ 8:09 pm

Sleeping Better

Studies show that far too many of us are not sleeping well, and lack of good-quality sleep can lead to more than just feeling tired: everything from traffic accidents and poor work performance to crankiness, illness, and a less-than-attractive appearance can be the result of sleeping poorly.

To look and feel your absolute best, you need to get approximately seven to nine hours of deeply restful, quality sleep each night. Here are eleven simple tips so you can start sleeping like a baby. Find out how to get a great night’s sleep, right here:

1. Create a sleep-conducive environment.

The room you sleep in is vital to getting rest. Make sure it is dark, clean and has good ventilation. Try to keep the air fresh and the room temperature between 60 and 65 degrees for the best sleeping conditions. Make sure you have the right amount of blankets and soft pillows. If it isn’t comfortable, you aren’t going to sleep. Also minimize noise and light during sleep by using ear plugs and window blinds.

2. Avoid caffeine, alcohol and tobacco.

Caffeinated drinks and food such as coffee, tea, sodas and chocolate will keep the mind stimulated much longer than some people think.

And while alcohol may feel like it’s putting you to sleep, its sedating effect won’t last the whole night. Alcohol is a depressant; although it may make it easier to fall asleep, it causes you to wake up during the night. As alcohol is digested your body goes into withdrawal from the alcohol, causing nighttime awakenings and often nightmares. Excessive alcohol use can lead to dependence, and the withdrawal from alcohol dependence can also affect your sleep.

Nicotine is also a stimulant and should be avoided near bedtime and if you wake up during the night. Thus, having a smoke before bed, although it feels relaxing, is actually putting a stimulant into your bloodstream. And by the way, maybe you should think about quiting smoking for good.

3. Exercise regularly.

Working at the office might make you sweat mentally, but it’s not giving your body enough work. People who work physically strenuous jobs experience fewer problems with insomnia than those with office jobs because their bodies feel exhaustion too.

Get plenty of vigorous exercise early in the day so you’ll be naturally tired come bedtime. Try working out for as little as 20 minutes and your body will feel stimulated. Exercise will also help you get more oxygen to relax more. Remember not to exercise at least a couple of hours before bed so that you have time to wind down afterward.

4. Have a bedtime schedule.

Your life may not be routine, but your body likes it that way. Try to fall asleep and wake at the same time each day-yes, even on the weekends. Figure out how many hours your body needs to feel rested and schedule your sleep that way, even on nights you don’t feel tired-it’s good practice and your body will appreciate it. Once your body gets used to a routine, it will naturally want to fall asleep at the designated time.

Keep your biological clock going in the right direction, otherwise you will be fighting against it.

5. Keep bed a place for sleep.

The bed should be for only one thing: sleep … well, two things–but only for sleep and sex. Many people tend to read, work, watch television, some even eat in their beds, but your mind should never associate it with anything else. Let your mind and body identify that comfy spot with sleep.

Also, don’t watch TV or even so much as look at a computer screen at least 30 minutes before you lie down. The light from both a television as well as a computer monitor mimic the same intensity of light as sunlight. This fools your body and brain into thinking it’s nowhere near time for sleep. Also the best way to fall asleep is to clear your mind of all thoughts-the last thing you want is to lie in bed awake and thinking. If that happens, get up and do something non-stimulating, then try falling asleep again.

6. Warm milk or herbal tea.

Looks like Mom had it right when you were a kid. Milk contains calcium to help you relax, while the warmth is also soothing. Milk also has an amino acid in it called Tryptophan that increase the levels of serotonin and/or melatonin in the brain which slow down brain activity. It’s science folks.

But dairy products aren’t always right for everyone-in that case, have a cup of tea. There are many herbal types that are made specifically for sleep aide, but chamomile, anise, fennel and lavender are known for their soothing and relaxing qualities.

7. Relaxation: massage, warm bath, meditation.

There are plenty of ways to relax, yet not enough people do it. You can simply take a bath in warm water containing a cup of bath salts, as long as the water isn’t too hot. A nice massage after work or even a quick back rub from your spouse can do the job. Relieving tension and stress will help you clear your mind before bed so you can concentrate on sleep and nothing else. Play soothing music-even ambient noise will drown out street noise-while aromatherapy also has relaxation qualities, so you may put a drop or two of soothing essential oil of lavender or Roman chamomile on your pillow.

Meditate. No, don’t cross your legs and hum, but focus on relaxing…if that makes sense. Take deep, long breaths. Tense each muscle one at a time from head to toe. Focusing on doing this takes your mind off of other things and you’ll be in lala land in no time. Certainly there are other benefits as well. The Transcendental Meditation technique has been shown to produce deep rest, reduced anxiety, and very effective relief from insomnia.

8. Have a “going to bed” ritual.

Do you have to think about washing your hair? How about showering?

If you’re like most people, these are periods of lost time where you’re doing something but you don’t actually have to think about doing it. They’re so automatic that you can daydream about anything else and come back down to earth when the task is complete. If we can establish such a state before sleep by establishing a repeated pattern, then we’ll set ourselves up for a perfectly relaxed state.

A typical pattern may be:
1) Read for some time
2) Brush teeth
3) Turn on fan
4) Set alarm

After following such a pattern for long enough, you’ll not only induce the relaxed state, but you’ll condition yourself to make the whole process more effective. Like Pavlov’s dogs, once that fan gets turned on (for example) our pre-programmed physiological relax-sleep response will kick in.

9. Don’t nap during the day.

I know it may sound contradictory as I already wrote about the benefits of napping, but practically speaking if you sleep too long during the day, then this will disrupt night time sleep, so it’s important to find the right balance. But if you can’t find that balance you better stop napping during the day.

10. Don’t eat before sleep.

A light snack may be sleep inducing, but a heavy meal too close to bedtime interferes with sleep. Digestion takes lots of energy and will keep you awake. Also spicy or fatty foods may cause heartburn, which leads to difficulty in falling asleep and discomfort throughout the night. Foods containing tyramine (bacon, cheese, ham, aubergines, pepperoni, raspberries avocado, nuts, soy sauce, red wine) might keep you awake at night. Tyramine causes the release of norepinephrine, a brain stimulant.

But if you do get hungry close to bedtime, try eating something that triggers the hormone serotonin, which makes you sleepy. Carbohydrates such as bread or cereal will do the trick.

11. Medication.

Insomnia stems from a number of reasons, and while it is usually due to stress or anxiety, it can be associated with physical disorders. If you find simple methods aren’t helping you fall asleep, it’s time to see a doctor.

Though doctors will probably suggest sleep tips first, they can also prescribe drugs to assist you in sleeping. Always remember that medicines have potential side effects, and though they can help some people beat insomnia, they may not always work.

These are the majority of the things I have either tried or actually do routinely. And remember that by improving your sleep you will have a dramatic impact on your body composition, performance and health. So good luck, and Sleep Well!

March 10, 2011

Stop whining and take charge of your own life [Courtesy of CHICO AND DELAMAR]

Filed under: Thoughtful Thots — Adventurous AdventuRoj @ 9:39 am

May 25, 2010, 3:29pm

 

DEAR CHICO AND DELAMAR…

 

I am a Nursing student who just graduated with honors. When I was applying for college, I was thinking of taking up what my parents considered as a “dead-end course.”

When I enrolled, the chance of getting a nursing job was still high. But now that I am preparing for the board exams this July, my classmates and I can’t help but think about what will happen to us. Many of our school’s previous topnotchers are still unemployed until now and we are very pessimistic about our future.

Many of my classmates are exactly like me, teenagers who had their parents pick Nursing for them. Most of us feel angry at our parents since we feel that they did not just deprive us of our happiness, but also of employment. Many of us cringe at the possibility of being unemployed or that we will be waiting in the very long list of unpaid (sometimes even paying) nurse-trainees in the hospitals for a few months then become unemployed again. Many of us will probably end up as call center agents. Of course, many of us also feel bad about not fighting to the death to study the course that we really wanted. I don’t know how I could live with myself for having a hand in my own destruction. Help! – Lady

 

CHICO SAYS…

If there’s anything I learned in college and eventually the workplace, is that there is NO WAY anyone can predict who will do well and who won’t in the fickle winds of career.

Some people who, on paper, should succeed beyond expectations, fail miserably.

Some losers who were prognosticated to wallow in lifelong mediocrity have hit it big, against all possible odds. And of course there are the many who lived up to expectations either way, good or bad.

All I’m saying is, it’s not what you study in school (or which school for that matter) that would determine a person’s success or failure. There are just way too many factors involved in the mix that eventually guide each and everyone to our individual destinies. There is no such guarantee in terms of course taken that would ensure a bountiful future, or a poverty-stricken one for that matter. There are rich doctors and poor doctors, rich artists and poor artists, rich politicians and…oh well, two out of three will drive home the point.

All I’m saying is, it isn’t the course you take in college that will determine your destiny. Don’t blame your parents for something that is in your own hands.

If you feel strongly about it, there’s still time to shift. I started from English, then Journalism, before I ended up in Broadcasting. And it’s worth mentioning that most of the radio greats didn’t even graduate from Communication! And even if you do shift to the course of your choice, it still is no guarantee for success. The best argument for it, is at least you’re following your passion. But whether you take the course you really want or the course your parents pressured you to take, it will be by your own hand that you will steer your future to either success or failure.

I remember sticking to being a DJ even if everyone was telling me that it was a dead-end job. I was earning 800 pesos a month for six months! But because I enjoyed it, I stuck with it for as long as I could. Whichever course you do eventually choose, the road will bring you to the same point nevertheless: it’s not what you got, it’s how you use it.

Although I strongly disagree with parents pressuring their children to take courses against their will, I also believe that you reach a point where you just have to stop blaming them and start taking charge of what’s left of your future. You can only whine for so long about how you were powerless

against their wishes in the past.

Now is a different matter and maybe it’s time to start taking charge of your own life. Parents only want what’s best for their children. If you show them just how passionate you are about what you really want to do, maybe they’ll eventually relent and let you pursue that which will give you personal and professional satisfaction, even if it may or may not entail generous remuneration.

In the end, your heart will pull you into doing what you really want to do with your life, as opposed to what pays copious amounts of money. It’s a long and sometimes painful process, but trust me, you’ll get there. We all do.

 

DELAMAR SAYS…

 

First of all, don’t sabotage yourself by saying you have a hand in your own destruction. That’s too melodramatic a statement to make in this situation. You’re just at the crossroads of your life and being there is one of the hardest places to be in one’s lifetime. There’s a lot of uncertainty there.

Every new graduate feels exactly what you are feeling. You don’t know where to go, what will happen and if you’ll be able to achieve the success you’ve always hoped for. It’s just that Nursing students always had a guarantee of sorts that they will be in demand by the time they graduate and eventually pass the board exams. And now that that guarantee has failed, you are expectedly upset and scared.

Take responsibility for your decisions in life. Yes, your parents might have pushed you down the nursing path. But they didn’t put a gun to your head to take that course. You DECIDED to follow their recommendation.

You are not a victim here. Think about it, would your parents deliberately sabotage your life by making you take up nursing? No. As a matter of fact, the very reason they thought it might benefit you is precisely because at the time, there really was a high demand for nurses all around the world.

So blaming your parents totally for this situation is NOT fair and you avoid taking responsibility for your decision. I think you are just scared at the scarcity of prospective jobs so you are jumping into blaming your parents because it is easier. However, the first step to being a grown up is taking responsibility for all the decisions we make and living with their consequences.

So accept your part in this scenario. Doing so will make you more eager to make better decisions for yourself next time.

So, what to do? Well, for starters, take away the negativity. This is an energy that will make things worse rather than better. Remember, you are taking the board exams in July. That is your priority. Don’t focus too much on getting a job right now, focus more on passing and maybe placing in the Nursing board exams.

The next steps you will just have to take when you’re there. Cross the bridge when you get there. What is the alternative anyway at this point? Drop everything just because it’s hard to find a job? That will just all the more lessen your chances of getting a good job. Right?

You’re at this point in your life because of decisions you made. And sometimes in life, we will make mistakes but it is up to us to handle life’s unexpected twists and turns. Life is never all planned out. Most of the time we wing things because unexpected things arise that we need to deal with or overcome.

The uncertainty of life IS part of what makes life difficult, unpredictable and well, truthfully, fun! You have to respond to the challenges of life at every turn. There is no other way. Giving up is not an option.

So take the exam. Give it your best shot. Then go and think of the ways to get into the medical field. You’re not even out there yet and you’ve already given up. Yes, you’ve heard stories from past graduates but that’s their experience. It is up to you now to make your own way into the world. And you have to be resourceful and really have the hunger to find your spot in the medical field.

When you realize that just getting your parents to send you to school is already a blessing just because others don’t even have that, then you will become grateful and not angry at them.

In the US, teenagers send themselves to university.

Their parents don’t even pay for their college education but yours did. Isn’t that a good thing? Just because there is at this moment scarcity of jobs doesn’t mean they were wrong. At the time the decision was made, it was the RIGHT decision because you agreed. Right now though, the situation has changed. And now, you will have to respond to this challenge the way other people before us have done it — FIND A WAY. Strive. Struggle. Make do with what you got in front of you. Persist. Forge on. Don’t throw in the towel even before the real fight starts.

Lose the sense of entitlement and lose the expectation that life is going to be easy. It won’t. The most you can hold on to is, you have the freedom to decide where your life goes at this point: HOPE or DESPAIR. Please choose hope. It will lead you to better things.

(Chico and Delle welcome your letters. Write to: youth@mb.com.ph or fax through 527-7511. Listen to the Dynamic Duo Monday to Saturday, 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. over Monster Radio RX 93.1)

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