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Sara Brenes-Akerman | I want you to want me

(03/15/12 4:00am)

I always impose things that I like on other people. Music, YouTube videos, movies, websites, you name it. I’m always eager to make people like what I love. Admittedly, it’s a flaw in my character. But the neediness that this stems from is something we all share in one form or another. We all want to be heard and we all want to tell others about what we think is important.

Sara Brenes Akerman | Love stories — surreal and satisfying

(11/17/11 4:34am)

I was never one for Disney princesses or Prince Charming. They were never quite to my taste — the princesses seemed too conceited, and the princes struck me as too old-fashioned. But the truth is that I never needed them; I had Meg and Tom. It would take me many years to realize that their characters were as implausible as any Disney creation. But, by then, the harm had been done.

Sara Brenes-Akerman | Untie self-worth from performance

(11/03/11 4:24am)

You are only as good as your GPA and only as valuable as the first job you land after college. This might seem harsh — I would be the first to agree that it, in fact, is. But it is also the only logical conclusion to draw from the way in which we seem to evaluate ourselves. It is hard to ignore the mounting pressure that becomes apparent around this time in the semester. Everyone is looking tired and anxiety is commonplace. Yet the magnitude of the pressure is not solely determined by how busy we are, how many papers are yet to be written or the amount of projects that need to be completed. It is almost as importantly about the value that we assign to the results of these many assignments and the misguided way in which we let them determine our definition of personal success.

Sara Brenes-Akerman | Humanizing cape-less heroes

(10/20/11 4:46am)

As I walked into the theater lobby, I was flabbergasted. Right there, less than a couple of feet away, sat the man himself. Signing books, smiling and schmoozing was the writer that I had grown so immensely fond of over the last few years. My love began, as for many others, with the “SantaLand Diaries”: colored with biting observations, unexpected depth and the best impression of Billie Holiday ever, this recollection of days spent as a Macy’s elf won me over immediately. Since then, I have laughed to tears reading “Jesus Shaves” and “Six to Eight Black Men” and have sent links to his pieces to anyone who has cared to click. Which is to say that I have granted him the title of faultless personal hero. And this is where my problem lies.

Sara Brenes-Akerman | ‘I plus my cirumstances’

(08/04/11 6:52am)

Every sound increases tenfold when it’s 11 o’clock at night and you’re the only one awake in the house. I go quietly about my business, look at the time and start wondering how I’m going to make it out of bed when the alarm goes off at 5:30 a.m. tomorrow. It won’t be easy. I’m back in Costa Rica for the summer and, by now, have fully readjusted to my “at-home self.” Here, I get at least eight hours of sleep every night, usually starting at around 10 p.m.

A Likely Story | Value the learning process

(04/20/11 9:11am)

All classes should be about something more than just doing well on the exam. Sure, it sounds simplistic put on paper, but I can assure you that, despite its apparent obviousness, it is a fact frequently overlooked. It is very likely that you have had the experience of sitting in a large introductory class in which all anybody cared about was getting the notes to eventually get a good grade.

A Likely Story | Don’t skip out on speakers

(03/23/11 9:26am)

When I first stepped on campus during Penn Previews three years ago, I was impossibly wide-eyed and spent those first couple of days in a state of constant disbelief. My visit hit its peak when I was given the first flyer that I ever got on Locust Walk — a piece of paper that informed me that John Legend was giving a mini-concert on campus that very day. Being a big fan of his since high school, I couldn’t believe my luck. I rushed to the venue, excited and eager.

A Likely Story | Post your secrets

(03/02/11 10:52am)

There is this movie that I love called In the Mood for Love — a romance about two neighbors who fall in love but can’t say it to each other because they’re both married. He tells her about a wall in Cambodia into which you can whisper your secrets and let go of the things that you are unable to reveal to anyone else. At the end of the film, we see the man doing exactly that — pouring his heart out to that quasi-magical wall and telling it what he couldn’t tell her. Sigh.