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Sandra Baranowska (Future Lawyer)

Is there an activity that calms you? A place or a thing that makes you feel at ease?

Oh, 100% cooking is that activity for me. Growing up, I would always see the female part of my family sit in the kitchen and create different meals. Usually, only one of them would actually be preparing the food while the others were just watching and occasionally assisting, but it was still an amazing sight.

They would just spend time together with a bottle of wine or a cup of coffee, always talking, laughing and catching up on everything that was going on in their life. I was super envious of that because I was too little to realistically join them, so I would try to create food on my own. When I was 5, I always went into my great grandmother's kitchen and proceeded to reach into all of her jars, where she kept her spices and ingredients.

I would get a small pot with water and actually cook random combinations of rice, flour, and pretty much anything I got my hands on. Then I would tell my great grandfather that I made him soup, and my poor grandfather would actually eat it because of how happy I was while handing it to him.

Now that I'm actually old enough and skilled enough to bring this childhood fantasy into a reality, I still cook as much as possible.To this day, it always makes me feel very connected to those early memories, which is very calming to me. Plus, delicious foods are also a great reward! Can you remember a time in your life you felt the most alive? Tell me everything about that memory. I never really thought about it before, but I think that the time in my life when I felt most alive was actually 2 years ago during my summer vacation in Poland. Those were the first holidays to which I had gone on with just my mom, and they were truly epic. We would go out every day and just re-explore all of our favourite locations around Warsaw.

I would never be in the house because there was always something to do, people to meet and things to see. I would see my childhood best friend daily, and we would do those completely spontaneous sleepovers together. We would go to cafes and do typical polish-teenager things that I so dearly craved because they are very different from what Canadian teens do. I still love spending time with my Canadian friends don't get me wrong, but there was this completely different atmosphere while hanging out with my polish besties.

Moving to Canada made me a lot shyer, and a bit uncertain of myself, and that trip reminded me that this is entirely not me. That summer made me regained a lot of confidence. I finally started to feel like it's more than okay for me to play around with fashion; to meet new people and start conversations first. It was surely a fantastic and much-needed trip in general, so I can not point out a single individual memory that would stand out above others. It was actually during that time when I decided to start posting on Instagram.

Is home for you a place or a feeling? Describe that place or describe that feeling. I think that a home is a combination of the two. Not too long ago, I actually had a conversation with my mom about this topic. We were talking about how some houses could never feel like home to us, no matter how they would be decorated because of the stiffness of the families living there.

There are certain houses that I just prefer to avoid because they always feel very formal. I could not feel at home in a house that generates those cold feelings even if that house belongs to people I am close with. I believe that a home is all about the atmosphere. A place that makes me feel like I can go and open the fridge freely without fearing that I'm doing something inappropriate.

A place where I feel like I know everything and everyone. It is where I can be somewhere and feel like I've always been there as if that place has always been a part of me. It is where I feel safe and loved and where I can truly rest. I love spending time with my family. Any place in the world with them could feel like a home to me because they always add life to all houses. Where does happiness come from? Define what happiness means to you. To be completely honest, I think that happiness is a lifestyle and not just a temporary feeling. I am one of those people who are happy 95% of the time, and the other 5% is when I'm just hungry. A large part of my happiness comes from my love for my family. My mom is basically my best friend, and I'm also super close to my dad and brother, so for me, spending time with them is nothing but pleasure. To me, happiness comes from an appreciation for the little things, and you can be grateful even for your failures. I also believe that happiness comes from attitude. One person might look at an inconvenience and will let it affect their mood. I usually just look at these "problems" and either look for solutions or for lessons out of them, which in effect always makes me happy about them.

Thanks to that, I know that these "bad" things are the best motivations. A pessimistic person can be unhappy with even the most excellent opportunities, so being an optimist makes me happy even when something doesn't go my way. In one of your Instagram posts, you said that "I'll rather be honest than impressive." Why do you think that there is a proliferation of filtered content out there? I think that a lot of people these days are very insecure about themselves. They lack self-assurance, so they try to impress strangers by pretending to be someone they're not. I know people who put all of their self-worth on the number of likes they get or the amount of attention they get from boys.

They do anything they can to be approved by others because they fear that what they are isn't enough to capture someone's attention. And to me, it's very sad. I think that it is caused by having such free access to social media from an early age. Because our generation grew up with the idea that anyone can become trendy and praised in the modern world, a lot of people took it, heart.

People took on these new, unachievable norms. I believe that many people want to live the same life as some of the "influencers." That alone isn't necessarily a bad thing because it is good to have ambitions, but it becomes an issue when these people start to pretend that they are someone they're not. They waste their adulthood on trying to copy someone's image instead of creating their own, and they feed into this very toxic environment.

Do you believe yourself to be truly free? If so, why? If not, what is holding you back? I think that freedom is very subjective. Considering that we live in times of global pandemic, where we literally can not leave the house, it started to feel like no one is truly free. With that being said, I still think that I am a relatively free person because I have the freedom to educate myself.

I believe that with knowledge, there's power, and since I have access to school, books and the internet, I can learn anything I want. These lessons allow me to know all of my options, and they let me pick my paths. The older I get, the more I realize that there are absolutely no reasons for me to not be able to achieve something. I know that some things will just require more time and effort, but if someone managed to achieve these goals before, then that means that they are very possible, and I can reach them as well.

I am a very ambitious person, and I always set my bar pretty high. I do not allow myself to be limited by a lack of goals in life. My family embedded this idea that I can achieve anything I want as long as I put my mind to it. Do you have a favorite book? A line in a piece of literature? A poem? Why do you relate to it? I do have a favourite book. It's called "The Secret" by Rhonda Byrne. It's been a while since I've read it, but I find that my life regularly circles back to the lessons I've learned from it. I love it because this book allowed me to train my brain into thinking positively. It also taught me a lot about the importance of gratitude from an early age, and it made me the optimist I am today. This book is an excellent lesson on how to get out of a negative mindset. It explained to me how the law of attraction works and helped me clearly set my life goals. I feel like a lot of people take on this attitude that they can not be happy until they will achieve something. They blindly try to chase after possession or materialistic value that they think will somehow bring them long-lasting joy. This book really showed me that this kind of thinking can be very limiting and should be avoided. If someone is trying to improve the way they form their thoughts and learn about the law of attraction, I would highly suggest reading this book!


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