A Political Side of the Story

After a long weekend of moving in and driving back down for Thursday, summer classes have officially begun. Though this week has been quite an eventful one in my own world, there have also been some major changes in the political world. Everyone seems to be talking about the transgender ban in the military and as someone who has a thing for bandwagons, I’m going to add a little more noise to it.cassie-boca-296277

So let’s talk.

They say that there are two sides to every story, but this one may have several. There are a lot of things to consider in this one. As Americans, there are certain ideals we live by no matter our political stance as individuals. Life, love, and the pursuit of happiness– number one in the bill of rights. Then you’ve got the right to bearing arms, a controversy in its own, freedom of speech, and several others that we all may or may not remember. Over the years, the country has developed a penchant for freedom and personal rights, the question now is how far it all may go.

That is the question this ban concerns.

On one hand, there is the idea that any person who wants to fight should be allowed to. As hypothetical as Captain America was, it still upheld a soldier’s right to enlist. It is something many people both believe in and are very proud of. From family to friends, I know many who are part of the armed forces that have grown and become better people through it. There are several branches of the military and often a good position can be found for anyone who seeks it, that is not the issue. The issue comes up when someone’s ability to fulfill that position is compromised.

Because on the other hand, the ability to fight without hindrance is not something people always have a say in.giovanni-calia-796

The right to fight is a privilege, and unfortunately, one that cannot be given to some people. Did you know that a person cannot enlist if they are anemic, diabetic, or an addict? Though each of these conditions are different, they do have one thing in common: each requires medication to keep the person going. Unfortunately, transitioning can be seen the same way. Though I cannot boast a full knowledge of the process, there is some logic to the reasoning. With a dependence on hormones and intense medical treatments to complete the transition, it would be unsafe for someone in this position to end up overseas unable to get what they need. Look at someone with diabetes, if they were to run out of insulin or their blood sugar dropped too low without anything to treat them, their life would be instantly on the line. For this reason, I also understand the practicality of this side if the ban. It’s not about the people at all; in the end, it’s about safety.

These are the two main sides of the argument, both the freedom to fight for someone people believe in as well as the inability for a person’s body to allow them to. This US alone holds 326.4 million people, each and every one who ideally holds the same 33 rights in the constitution. Whether these rights are upheld is another story, as in this case, equal opportunity is not possible. There are other sides to this situation however, more than I can count, but I invite you to take a look into it if you would like because it is part of the policy our country runs on.

President Trump has been in office for 189 days so far and in that time we have all seen some major changes within our country, from immigration to signing 24 executive orders. This new change announced on Twitter is one more thing to add to that list. With the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” in 2011, a major step forward in the LGBT community, this new development raises the question: is this a step forward or backward?

Only time can tell us how this situation will play out with the hope that we arrive at a better tomorrow.

jason-wong-305496And though this has nothing to do with politics but rather humanity, I will say it louder for the people in the back:

Transgender individuals, like any other group of people in this world, are never a burden to those who care about them. That is absolutely true. And that will never change.

Inside Out– A poem

Today’s the day— Nick and I are moving into our first house this weekend. As summer classes start Thursday and we make our way towards sophomore year, it seems that a lot of things are changing. Little pieces of our adolescence are being left behind along the way.

anders-jilden-307322Call me nostalgic or simply at a loss for how quickly time passes, I’m not sure which one is more true. But in the spirit of out with the old and in with the new, here’s a new poem for you.

These past few weeks have had me reflecting on freshman year, from the Milo protest and needs for  safe spaces, to learning how to start over and figure out where we belong all over again. It got me thinking: if we were always surrounded by safe spaces, like a welcoming campus without any offense or absolute and free expression, would it make us better or would it simply shelter who we could become?

So I decided to take that thought and run with it; the direction definitely changed, but in the end, this is what I came up with. I would love to hear what you think and how you feel about the idea of “safe spaces” on college campuses. Here’s to new writing:

Inside Out

 

Even when you’re a part of it, you’re not;

you never really were.

It’s like stepping inside the circle you tried so hard to get in,

only to realize that even then,

you still stand out.

So you wonder, what’s the point?aaron-burden-261110

Why bother pushing against walls you know

will never crumble,

if every time you go left they tell you to go right?

So you take those rights and yet somehow you’re still wrong

and in every mirror you see reflected back at you

all the ghosts of your past. And in the corner

the skeletons are spilling out of the closet door ajar—

the closet you don’t dare step out from, for the inside…

Well, it’s comfortable there, it’s safer there,

so you keep telling yourself.

Yet it begs the question:

when in your life has a safe space ever stayed that way?

For when you’re right, you’re still wrong,

and when you’re in, you will always stand out.

Because in your bones you know those spaces never existed.

They were never really safe.

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But if a child cries out in a place they believe to be safe

and nobody is around to hear it,

does it ever really matter if they even cried out

to make any sound

at all?

Life is like a Palindrome- But not Quite

Did you know that starting on the tenth, this entire week of dates has been a set of palindromes? Take a look, they read the same way backwards as they do forward: 7/10/17, 7/11/17… 7/17/17.  What a crazy life we’re living isn’t it?

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Anyway, that was your fun fact for the week and today I am writing about something that isn’t as straight-forward and backwards as a palindrome: Choosing our paths.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my past vs. my future and everything in between. I’ve been out of high school for over a year and after catching up with friends in the short time I have been back home, it’s amazing to me how much some of us have changed. Our mindsets seem a little more practical, the way we act has matured just a bit, and our heads are now set in another direction… We are no longer the scared/excited/lost freshman trying to find our way around campus we had been. We’re growing up.

As we keep moving, we are handed a little more responsibility here and a couple more things to consider there. Going into my sophomore year of college, I’m switching my major— little did I know how difficult and complicated that would be when I first showed up. But I’m switching to a major that doesn’t have the best reliability when it comes to jobs once I graduate, ideally, in the next 3 years. With the way things are going, the issue with jobs doesn’t only apply to me; that seems to be the case for a lot of us.

So we play our cards right, add a minor or score all the right internships we can possibly find along the way to where we want to be in the working world— possibly.

I say possibly because, well the truth is, a lot of us have a pretty good idea of where we want to be in five years. Or at least a rough estimate. Others of us have no idea where we want to be in the next two. Yet once each of us gets there, we will probably be somewhere entirely different. My generation is said to be filled with high achieving students that have even higher aspirations. I know I definitely have some of those high aspirations in mind. But the truth is, as reality sets in, our plans change a little bit and we begin to adapt to the paths that we started on.

Sooner or later we begin to realize what we can or cannot have in this world isn’t always up to us. Sometimes it’s all about circumstance. And we cannot always change those.

But we can change who we are because of them, we can adapt. If we don’t, we either get what we wanted or find out that there are other people willing to do what we weren’t. As they say, such is life.

osman-rana-263702When I was younger, I had this dream of doing something that I still carry with me in the back of my mind: I wanted to change the world. I used to think it was impossible for one person to do that. Now I’m not so sure.

You know the butterfly effect, where small causes can have larger impacts? Well, that is the embodiment of my dream. Just because I say I want to change the world doesn’t mean I need to impact 7.4 billion people all by myself to do it. All it means is that I need to effect a few people, who in turn impact a couple more, and before you know it, I’ve changed the worlds of enough people for it to matter.

That’s all any of us can ask for.

Now take that idea and apply it to the paths we are choosing— the butterfly effect is still in play. Because if any of us have dreams, a place we see ourselves in 5 years, there are ways to make that happen. Maybe it costs too much to dream that big, but if you save twenty dollars here and thirty there, sooner or later you’re saved enough for rent or a big move to that city you’ve been dreaming of for so long. Or what if you’re not experienced enough to get where you want to go? You’ve got to snag an internship one year, try to network your way into another, and maybe in time you can find yourself in the heart of the goals you hold in your own.

The thing is, the paths we choose and those dreams that many of us have, we can only reach them if we put in the work to get there.

Because, we’re growing up. All of those friends in our lives we consider to be “our people” right now may not be the same ones here later on. And some of those aspirations we think mean so much to us now may not hold as much weight in the long run. If there is any time for our lives to be changing, to be rearranging into something else, this is it.

We may be choosing paths to begin the rest of our lives on, but that doesn’t mean we have to stay on it— there is always another direction take and another opportunity to find as we make our ways to the future we cannot always control.

dawid-zawila-279998Like I said, it’s not as straight-forward and backwards as a palindrome: life isn’t supposed to be. We’re supposed to get lost a few times, pick ourselves up, and keep going. Because we only get one life to live, and this truly is a beautiful life we’re living.

In Loving Memory and Suicide Prevention

“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” – Harriet Beecher Stowe

 

They say that no matter what happens, life goes on. And it does— unless something else gets in the way.

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On Wednesday, our 15 year old yellow Lab, Samson, passed away and though I am incredibly sad to have lost a member of our family, I am also thankful he had such a long life with us. Over the years, we watched him grow up, climb fences, father puppies, and eat our food (two whole cakes at one point). Then we watched him grow older, slow down, climb the stairs less, and inch his way towards a deadline none of us could see.  

No one can ever truly see it coming.

But that’s the point. Because lately I have been thinking a lot about life and death, or more specifically, death when it comes by way of suicide. We’re not supposed to be able to see that deadline, but far too often, people make their own.

It has been almost three years, yet I can still remember a young boy who had attended Folsom Middle and went as far as homeschooling to escape relentless torment— Ronin took his own life because he was bullied too far past his breaking point. At age 12, he was said to be kind, outgoing, and even “better than some of the girls” when it came to the junior cheerleading squad. I still remember the green ribbons tied around trees throughout town for him. He was only in seventh grade and sometimes I wonder where Ronin would be now if he were still alive; a question none of us will ever have the answer to.

Three weeks ago, a junior from Cal Poly Slo took his own life after battling what seemed to be bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. I never knew Jack either, but from what I can tell he had an incredible amount of promise and a personality that made others feel like they mattered. Though there may be no proven cure for the two illnesses he suffered from, there are countless ways to find help and reach out when someone is struggling to cope day by day. Every day the stigma around mental illness fades little by little, but even so, the rates of suicide in young adults and teenagers continues to rise.michael-dam-258179.jpg

Something needs to change.

Two weeks ago, a girl I can only say I knew from passing in the halls of Vista Del Lago High or as part of the Class of 2015 also took her own life. Yet Cinnamon is survived by so many people from the music program at the high school, which you may donate to in memory of her, to her family and friends alike. Though I can say nothing about her motivations or the situation she found herself in that led to her death, I can say that she was loved and made an impact on countless people throughout her life.

A life that was cut too short.

I said this last year in my post on world suicide prevention month, but this is something I can never say enough: Your life matters. No matter what you’ve been through, from family divorce and bullying, to heartbreak and failure, the universal truth of the matter is that life goes on.

But it can only do that if you let it.

When it comes to mental illness, or bullying, or hardship that seems too large to overcome, people can find themselves wanting to quit, wanting a way out. Maybe you aren’t where you wanted to be in your life or you don’t think you’re strong enough, good enough, smart enough… The list goes on and the people who feel this way begin to add up, when maybe a just few of them can’t hear it when someone says “I love you” or “you’re important to me.”

These words cannot be said enough, if you love somebody, tell them that. To anyone who has ever found themselves losing hope, or running out of fight, know that it is okay to ask for help, there is nothing wrong with that. For you are not broken, you are never a burden, and you will always be loved by someone. Just because you don’t always feel strong or like people need you in this life doesn’t mean either is true.

Just because you cannot see the stars in the daylight does not mean they aren’t there.

For the survivors and those who have lost loved ones, support is always, always a priority. My heart goes out to all of you in hope that healing can come with time.

In order to help raise awareness and prevent tragedies like this in the future, here are just a few warning signs of suicide to look out for and a link if you want to know more: Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose, talking about being a burden to others, increasing the use of alcohol or drugs, or withdrawing/feeling isolated.

annie-spratt-218458Below, if you or someone you know ever needs assistance in a hard time or just needs some help, here is the Crisis Text Line which is a toll-free, nationwide 24/7 crisis text line. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a 24/7, toll-free, confidential suicide prevention hotline for suicidal crisis or emotional distress. And lastly, The Trevor Project which is a nationwide organization that provide crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth.

And on a final but very important note, if anyone ever needs someone to talk to, to not talk to, or just sit and exist with, I am always available no matter who you are, how I know you, or even if I know you at all. My email is on the site, kwilliamsbooks@gmail.com, feel free to reach out to me, any time and any day. Because you are worth it.

Though we may not be at Hogwarts, and I may not be a wizard, the quote still stands…

“Help will always be given [in my life] to those who ask for it.”