Here’s to the class of 2017

Last year, I wrote you a letter (If you haven’t read it and want to, it’s right here).

This year, you get an entire blog post dedicated to you. Really, it is a very big thing, you should feel special.

Because you are.

Today is the day, you’re luca-baggio-211858graduating. Just like that, four years of high school, 12 years of mandatory classes, and ultimately your childhood is about to be behind you. Once you cross that stage, there is absolutely no going back. You have made it.

For the past four years, you have made new friends, suffered through boring classes, taken the SAT’s as many times as it took, gone through the stress of college applications, and so many more things that led you to where you are now. In advisory, you spent four years with the same people and now, you may never see some of them after tonight until the high school reunions that seem so far away. People told you to make the most out of high school, that it would be “the best four years of your life…”

I think they just said that because those are the only consecutive 4 years any of us could really remember that well. Whether that’s true or not, here we are.

Take a look at what waits for you on the other side of graduation. Your future is uncertain, none of you really have any idea what the plan is for the rest of your life. Maybe you’re going to a university, 4 year, community, or military. Maybe you’re taking a gap year or following a dream. Maybe you’re going to trade school or joining the working work right out of high school— that’s the thing. There are so many options and so many different roads to take from here on out. In the end, it’s your choice which way you go and there is no one but you telling you where that yellow brick road is.

aaron-burden-261110Because, well, you’re not in high school anymore.

So forget the petty drama, the detentions, the bad grades, and the missed connections. Let go of the admin rules, the rebellion against the system, and the groups you were never a part of. Walk away from the long classes, the scheduled days, and the essence of irrelevance.

None of it matters.

From here on out, you’re growing up and everything is changing. High school was only the beginning. You’ll see what I mean when you’ve been out of high school for a year and have no idea how things look so different. They just do.

Four years ago you walked onto a new campus, back to the bottom of the food chain, ready to show the world of high school what you’ve got. Maybe you wanted to go out for sports, join a bunch of clubs, get the best grades ever, and sail your way into a good college or wherever you might go after that. Some of those years were rough— it’s only four years but its funny how long they can seem when you’re in it. And some of it was the time of your life, you found people who it all made sense with, and high school didn’t seem so bad. By year four, you’re a senior. Taking on the first day of school for the last time, ruling over all of the rallies, and making the most of the time you had left.

Everyone else looked up to you all.

Because they knew, soon enough, that would be them. And they needed to know what to do, how to be, and what they were headed towards. One day, you would graduate and leave them a legacy to fulfill.

Who knew that day would come so soon? 18721448_1216275755165856_1380549139_o

Leaving Vista last year, it was the end of an era. There were some people I would really miss and most of my class that I would probably not see for the next 10 years, at least. After going from seeing people every day to seeing them every few months, you’ll see what it really means to have certain people in your life due to proximity. And if you’re as lucky as I have been, you might also understand what it means when I say distance is not enough to keep some people apart. No matter what you do from here on out, remember that if you want people in your life or you’re striving for something big, it takes effort. A lot of it. But it is always worth it in the end.

So as you cross that stage and head off into your future, don’t forget where you have come from and the person you have become. If you don’t like who you are, you can change it. And if you do, surround yourself with people who will make you even better. Whatever you do today, make sure you thank your parents and anyone else who got you to that diploma in your hands. They’ve done a lot for you. Make sure they know how much it means to you.

railroad walkWelcome to the rest of your life, what was the best summer of my life, and young adulthood at it’s finest. This is only the beginning and I am so proud of all of you, both those of you who I knew well and those of you I didn’t. Because you made it, today is your day.

Make it count. And happy graduation day.


P.S. I was right when I told you about Disney Grad wasn’t I? Best. Night. Ever.

How to build a life

Week 7 here at Cal Poly is over and it’s really odd to think about the fact that I almost didn’t end up at this school. Things would have been so different, from the 80 degree weather without humidity to the 4 weeks we still have left in the quarter. In all honesty, I got pretty lucky with some of the people I have met that I never would have known otherwise— I only have a handful of close friends joshua-clay-27368here but that’s more than I could have asked for. There is one thing that somehow balanced out, one place I’m really glad worked out the way it did…

My roommates. Keep in mind, I did a random roommate assignment.

On my first night here, only one of my roommates (Celeste) was sleeping in the dorms since the other (Rachel), was with her parents. We both went to bed at the same time, with the whole awkward changing and “oh, do you want me to turn off the light or do you want to do that” routine. Looking back, our adjustment is almost comical. I think that night is one of my favorites though, because after we both climbed up into our beds, neither of us slept for the next two and a half, maybe 3 hours. Why? We were talking about Harry Potter. Ironically enough, both of us brought all 8 movies with us and she has read the books more times than I have. Before we knew it, two people who were randomly thrown into a room for three quarters together who barely knew each other just started talking and went from there. It was fantastic.

Guess what happened two nights ago…

All three of us went to bed around 12— we didn’t sleep until 3:30.arnaud-mesureur-132213.jpg

It’s nights like those when the conversation goes from the best tv shows of our childhoods and favorite books, to the idea of love and the flaws of humanity, I have come to really appreciate some of the people I have met here. The people I would have never met if I had gone to Howard. It all ties back into that idea of “what if.” Like what if Nick never got in off the waitlist, or what if I decided to not go to college at all? Everything could have been completely different, yet everything could have been the same just with different people and different circumstances involved.

That’s the thing, we never really know.

Talking with my roommates on Tuesday, sometime within that 3 hour block of the night, we came up on the subject of vulnerability and how it can really change who we are. When it comes down to it, vulnerability almost seems to be the key to change. Think about it: when you apply for a job, or a college, or even an account on social media, you are allowing yourself to be rejected or even setting yourself up to be subjected to things that may not always make you feel good. Here at college, everything you do, from making friends (hey do you want to hang out sometime) to trying to master a subject area, it all comes back to allowing ourselves to be let down. In doing so, we also give ourselves a chance to hear the word yes, or realize that what we do does pay off.

web-agency-29200We never know how it will work out until we try it. But I’ve got to say, it’s kind of nice when it pays off.

I’ve only been here for 8 months, but in that time I can say that I have met some people who I hope stay in my life for long enough to at least meet my kids. Of course, there’s Nick, but now I’ve got people like first and longest friend here, Brianne, or my two wonderful roommates to add to the list. Like I said, I got lucky. I don’t really know if it was Celeste or me who started the conversation about Harry Potter, and I can’t quite say how Bri ended up in my summer orientation group, first week of school orientation group, Chem/Biochem major struggle, and the second floor of my dorm, but somehow it all just happened. Maybe I
opened myself up by saying the first hello, and sometime over summer maybe Celeste and I mentioned that we both love Harry Potter… I just know that I would probably have never met these people if I didn’t come here and for that reason, I appreciate the concept of vulnerability.

By appealing to this school, I gave them a second chance to say no. By choosing to accept their yes, I gave myself a chance to feel out of place. And by making it through (4 more weeks) my first year of college, I have given life a chance to prove me wrong every time I think I’ve done something right.

That’s the point.aaron-burden-189321

Sometimes things will work out exactly the way we wanted and other times we will end up on another path that leads us to something better. The only way we get there is to keep going, to keep trying, and of course, to keep making new friends along the way.  

You never know, maybe you’ll get lucky.

There’s no mom like my mom

Welcome to the beautiful day in which we celebrate the mothers of the world. Whether they are the dads who played both roles or the moms who did everything they could, there are certain people in this world that make the world go round.alex-pasarelu-223684.jpg

I have two special things for you today as a way to show my appreciation for the mother I am blessed to have. I know that I am lucky enough to have my mother still around in my life to appreciate and I intend to remind her of that as often as I can. This morning my mom sent me a video (click that link) that I wanted to share it, not to spoil the punchline, but I think you will enjoy it. Along with that video, I am sharing a poem I wrote for my mom— another Poetry Place, this one dedicated just for her.

So here’s to the beauty of having mothers to fully appreciate and the one and only mom I am lucky enough to have. To all the mothers who deserve everything in this world: Happy Mother’s Day.


To the One and Only


I remember looking at old pictures

of the woman you used to be,

before this new life existed,london-scout-27289

before the kids— before me.

There’s something about that smile,

the carefree way you posed;

eyes right on the camera with that look…

I gotta say mom, you’ve got me shook.

With your strength, your beauty, and your poise,

it’s no wonder you’ve raised two wonderful boys.

Not to mention the best daughter ever, I know

I may be biased, but some things go to show…

You’ve done a good job, you taught me right

I mean I know how to win a fist fight.

Not to forget the intelligence to boot,

let’s just say, I know my roots.

18493563_1205753656218066_1675709340_oCause the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree

And I got lucky with how much you’ve taught us

I’m nineteen years old already, yet still

I’m you’re only little girl, be that, I always will.

Cause in those old photos I see so much potential

for who I can become, from the woman I adore.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom, and I truly hope you do

enjoy it, because you deserve it all and I love you.

Time Flies When…

And just like that, week 6 of the quarter is now over. I would say finally, but it seems a little too bittersweet for that. We are now over halfway through our final quarter of freshman year here at Cal Poly and the atmosphere is starting to change ever so slightly. You know those moments when you know something is coming but nobody wants to talk about it? Everyone is gearing up for the end, the mass exodus from the dorms and the entirety of our first year here. But just as excited as people seem to leave, we all seem to be holding on just a little tighter too.stefan-kunze-26932.jpg

It’s almost as if the stress, the lack of sleep, and the never-ending midterms are all worth it in the end when the pay-off is bigger than us— we get the ultimate experience. Think about it, we live with all of our friends, food is maybe a 2 minute walk away (unless you live in the towers or apartments), you can get up late and still make it to class on time, and if you’re looking for a party, you don’t have to go too far. Despite the occasional burnt bag of popcorn that leaves a room smelling like fire for at least a week, the freshman set up really isn’t so bad. I guess you could say it’ll be something worth missing.

But maybe that’s the point; the closer to the end we get, the more we realize how much we might miss something. As my parents like to “suggest“/remind me of, college only lasts for 4 years, and I have to take this opportunity to make the most of it. Is that why I went to a concert on Wednesday night when I had a midterm Thursday morning? Maybe… The point is that we all have to live our lives in a way we won’t regret all the things we didn’t do by the time we start really missing the youth we will no longer have.

Even though I’ve been a college student for about eight months now, I’m just starting to realize that college life really is a world of its own. This is the in-between. We are largely unsupervised, but still hold the integrity of paying for whatever we walk across that maria-mekht-149860.jpgstage with. We come in knowing barely anyone and leave in less than a year with people who know us better than some of the people we spent the last eighteen years of our lives with. And for some people, we left trying to get out of a town that we can’t wait to appreciate nine months later.

So here I sit, third floor common room just like I started out this year, and I am writing one of the final blog posts of my freshman year. As I look at the calendar, there are only five Fridays left here before I head back home for five weeks of summer before my summer session classes begin here. Five weeks seems like forever, but so did an entire three quarters here. And look where we are now.

Time flies when you’re…

When you’re what? I’ll be honest, this year has not been as much fun for me as I’m sure it was for some people. From a major science struggle to basically changing the direction of my future and building friendships I wasn’t sure would survive, fun is not quite the word I would use for this year. But the thing is, time still did pass me by a lot faster than I was prepared for. Like I said, I will only be a freshman for five more weeks. I guess it makes me wonder, how did the seasons change so quickly? Maybe it wasn’t all fun, and yes, it was a struggle, but it was still my life for the past eight months. And that counts for something right? So how about this:

Time flies when you go to a concert despite a midterm the next morning, time flies when you spend three hours in bed talking to your roommate about Harry Potter, time flies when you have exams to prepare for and classes to admittedly sleep through…arno-smit-83025.jpg

Time flies when you remember to live— So this year, I hope you remembered to do the same.

P.S. If there are ever any topics you want to hear me write about or anything you want me to cover, feel free to leave it in the comments section below! Keep and eye out for a Mother’s Day post on Sunday 🙂

The Beginning of the End

Happy Cinco de Mayo, or what is actually the celebration of a battle victory from back in 1862. We are celebrating a lot today, from the beginning of May to the end of the school year. For a lot of semester colleges, this is the end of the road for their year. If you’re a senior, this is the end of an incredible journey— welcome to the beginning of the end.

It’s been a long time coming, but before you know it, summer will be upon us. Summer means heat, sun, and a whole lot more freedom;loreta-pavoliene-2175.jpg at least I’d like to think so. Whether you’ve been working, going to classes, or just working your way to something better, this is it. This is the beginning of the end for all of us.

For the Class of 2017, high school and college alike, take a look around— you made it. This month will fly by even faster that it seems like the rest of your life already has. All the hard work and the late nights, just a few more weeks for a lot of you, and it’ll all pay off in your hands. For high school seniors, this is the last time you’ll walk around campus for a while and really know most of the faces you see. The last time all your teachers will know your name and the entire school will feel like your own stomping ground. The last time the title of home belongs to a single place. Don’t forget to appreciate it all. And for you college, graduating seniors, congratulations. I looked up to a lot of you as a high school freshman and somehow, four years later, you made it to where you wanted to go. It’s time to graduate and assimilate into this world to be the person you set out to be. Nothing says carpe diem like graduation.

So to all of you, seize the day and never stop.

As a student on the quarter system, I’ve still got another 6 weeks of classes before I can be released into the full summer spirit. For a lot of you however, this is it. This is the end of our freshman year. They all told us it would go by quickly, but I know I didn’t really get that until now. Because today, today friends are flying home or taking their last day of classes, people are saying goodbye to friends for the next few months, and everything is wrapping up with all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed. Just like that, freshman year is flying by and I barely saw it go. To all my friends finishing up classes, I’m so proud that you msarah-crutchfield-549.jpgade it through the year with flying colors. Welcome to summer. And to my fellow quarter system people, I promise we’re almost there.

I used to think that summer was only important for the kids in school, we’re the ones who got 2 and a half months off with no real responsibilities (before this whole adulting thing). Now though, I’m starting to understand how much the adults, and more specifically our parents, needed it too. Because the longer I think about it, the longer this road of life seems to get. We start off in elementary school, the basic knowledge we need for middle school. Then middle school, honestly, I really don’t know what we did there, and high school where we did everything we could to get into college. I used to think that’s all we needed to do. But then there’s college to get a good job, and a good job to raise a family or just build a good life for ourselves, and the work never really stops from there.

For our parents, the work never really ended did it? Those summers were for them, the vacation they might have saved up over the years and that week or two off they finally get… Those were all for the adults. Considering my parents may be vacationing without us this year, I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you. Because my parents have done a lot for me, even being 6 hours away while Nick and I are here at Cal Poly, they still send care packages or come all the way here for our birthday. annie-spratt-135307At 19,I have to say, adulting isn’t all that great. But all the adults I know… they work their asses off and a vacation during the summer is well deserved. So for all of you who will finally get that break, make the most of it. And thank you.

May means a whole lot of things, like today I had a calculus midterm as a friendly reminder that we’re in the middle of a midterm season that never really ends. But it also means a break, a little more time, hopefully more sun, and a whole lot more relaxing. So for those of you who are finishing up your semester, congratulations on the end of another year. And to the Class of 2017, this is it— I hope you’re ready.