Keys to Happiness- Intro to Change

If you’ve been following my blog for the past year or so, you would know that even though I’m a current chemistry major, I’m switching my major to English. To a lot of people, this might seem foolish, wasteful, or even flat out irresponsible. Here’s the thing: I’m okay with that.ksenia-makagonova-229007.jpg I would rather stress, or struggle, or find my way through college doing something I love rather than do all of that feeling stuck in something that makes me feel inferior or in a major I simply do not care for.

Can you see the difference?

Now I say all this with the understanding that leaving college as an “English major” does not have the best reputation— for good reason. Although it is extremely versatile, it is also not something that people are necessarily looking for throughout the professional world. The job outlook is not great. I know that. But I said I’m switching my major, I didn’t say that’s all I was planning to do… Even the biggest dreamers need a backup plan; for me, that includes adding a minor, at least. Have I fully decided what it’s going to be? Not yet, but I’ve got a pretty good idea of how to make these next three years worth everything I’ve got.

If I’m not setting myself up for a better life now, then when will I ever?

College is a difficult four years where our lifestyles are something completely different from they have ever been or ever will be again— this is a world of it’s own. Once we get out of here, we cross the border between young adult/just figuring things out to stepping into the realm of the professional world with no real way to go back. Once I leave this college life I haven’t finished creating yet, it’s going to be hard to know where I need to go; that doesn’t mean I’m not going to be able to succeed. The success of my major switch is riding aaron-burden-195608not only on successfully switching, but also on finding internships, making connections now (network, network, network), and capitalizing on every opportunity I have to make this college experience worth it.

As I figure out how to make every action I take here count, one of my closest friends here is also in the process of switching her major. We both started at the same time. Ironically, we are switching from almost the same major but we are headed in completely different directions. One big difference between us two? She is on her second major switch right now.

As one of the hardest parts of college and just like so many other students, she’s had a hard time finding the right fit, the right major for her time here. After choosing a different path last quarter, she go into it, took a few classes, and realized it wasn’t what she wanted. A crossroads. The way many might see it, she had two main options: panic, dropout, stay home, and come back after figuring it out, OR take a deep breath, think about her own interests, and give herself a chance at another path.

Lucky for me, she chose option two.

So over the summer, she did a little research, found an internship, and in the process, discovered a better direction she really liked. Now she’s three weeks in and I’m starting to see that even though a lot of us might end up in a bad spot or we aren’t quite sure we like the direction we’re headed in, it doesn’t mean we can’t do anything about it.railroad walk

Because how is that second switch going for her right now?

She is thriving.

You see, there are a lot of things we could do to be happy with where we are in our lives. Some people read self-help books, others meditate, and plenty decide to stick it out and work for something better. But there’s one thing I think a lot of people are afraid of but often desperately need to do, something that we leave for a last resort: Making a change.

As I grow up, maybe that will mean moving to a new city or finding a better job. I know right now for a lot of people my age, it’s finding a new club/group to join or switching to a school that fits them a little better. But just like me or my friend, sometimes making a change is the best possible decision we can make. Don’t be afraid to make it.

If you’re not happy or you’re struggling, find a way to make it so that if you have to struggle, you can at least struggle towards something that will be worth it. We only have one life to live, a life that we don’t have a timeline for when it gets hard and complicated and messy. And we’re going to get lost, I know I have countless times already, but that’s all a part of the experience.

Without a little struggle, the good times couldn’t possibly be worth it. And as cliche as I know it all sounds,sean-afnan-244576 without trying out the wrong paths, we wouldn’t be able to find our way to the right ones. So here’s to discovering success, discovering ourselves, and of course, discovering the keys to being happy.

Until next time, have a beautiful weekend everyone 🙂

 

Another Week, Another Challenge

I am now two weeks into my second year of college and I’m beginning to remember what it was like to be constantly going— these are busy lives we live. Between early and late nick-morrison-325805classes every day, studying when I can, working when I should, and making time for the people that matter to me, there’s a lot to do these days. In some ways, I would rather be busy; it forces me to be productive with the time that I have.

But there are downsides to always planning productivity in free time.

Does anyone else get tired of doing the same routines every day? I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s nice that I know when I can expect to be busy or not, but it gets a little boring after a while. We’re only two weeks into classes, so of course I’m still figuring things out here like everyone else, yet I know I’m going to get to that point of boredom and monotony soon enough. With the first day of fall finally here and classes back in full swing, it’s time to really look at what kind of year I want this to be.

Because I don’t know if you’ve heard, but undergrad is only 4(-5) years of our lives. I’m already down to 3 left. I’ve got to make every little bit count.

Last year I came into college with this idea that even though the next four years of my life were supposed to encompass a social life, responsibility, growing up, and living a good life, I felt like my primary necessity was academics. So when I came to Cal Poly, I did more than prioritize my schoolwork— it’s almost all I did. Sure, I had my fair share of late nights spent doing absolutely nothing productive or random movie nights to watch The Grudge or Insidious. But there were too many nights I said “no, I’ve got to study” or multitasked instead, even when I didn’t need to. Looking back, it may have been excessive.javier-graterol-16314.jpg

If you ask anyone I lived with last year about me, they would probably say that I was put together, organized, and oh so focused. I actually heard that comment from people a lot, especially when friends were coming back from parties at 1Am and they walked into the common room to see me working on a chemistry lab. The thing is, I don’t think those are the right words to use for what I was like last year— not quite. So I want to set the record straight about freshman me, the correct term for what I was: I was not put together, organized, or truly focused when I needed to be… I was stressed out, constantly. So I worked to try to balance it out.

Staying up late to study or finishing things early, that wasn’t me trying to be the best student I could, that was me trying to do everything I could to keep the deadlines and the anxiety from catching up with me.

It was me trying to make up for flaws in myself that weren’t actually there.

But did the studying and the working ahead help at all? For short term passing classes, I guess it did, at least according to my okay grades. In the long run though, I look back and see all the missed opportunities to get out of my own head for a little while and out into the real world. Instead of pacing myself, I was always going at full speed and in the process, I didn’t take the time to figure out more than just my own academic habits.

So this year I am making one big change: I’m going to go out and live a life worth living. Not just one of academics and late nights spent with a calculator, pablo-heimplatz-243307but also of quiet nights with my best friends, and weekends of beach hopping for bonfires, and gym time that doesn’t feel too scheduled or forced, and doing at least one thing I love every day. Even for just five minutes.

Because this is important.

For my sophomore year, I am going to live my life in a way  that feels not like an obligation, but an opportunity. Maybe that’s the opportunity to join some new clubs and actually go to all the meetings this year, or maybe it’s making more and more friends all across campus until I can walk into any room and recognize at least one face. At some point, I think we all develop our own conclusions about what this life holds for us, and right now, I’m changing mine. I used to believe that my schoolwork was everything, between track or soccer or school clubs; my schoolwork always came first no matter what.

Yet now, I see that it’s more complicated than that. A lot more complicated.

Because schoolwork is still a priority, absolutely, but now, so am I. I have to pay attention to how I’m doing, how empty or full my life feels, and what I can do to change that. There are things we cannot learn in a classroom or simply by reading a book. And there are things we need that we cannot get out of a purely academic setting, like love, or friendship, or experience, or motivation. Many of these things might start off in a classroom, but to live a fulfilled life, we’ve got to go further than that.luca-bravo-24241.jpg

Take it from Hercules, we have to go the distance to experience this life for ourselves and push the limits of what we can do. That means getting up early some days just to see the sunrise, or going out with a few new faces simply because you have no good reason not to. Whether we hit a few roadblocks along the way, run after a few busses here and there, or  ]fall down a couple times, that’s all a part of it too. This is about living these lives that we hold, and for me, living out these last three college years with all that I’ve got.

I’ll leave off with Langston Hughes, in a short poem of what this is all about, and I’ll see you all next week.

“Life is for the living.
Death is for the dead.
Let life be like music.
And death a note unsaid.”

Welcome to Year 2: Plan for Success

My sophomore year here at Cal Poly officially began yesterday morning and I can already tell that it’s going to be quite an… experience. Quick summary of my two days of class: Ran to catch the bus three times (only for it to be late), started work at the University Store, emailed far too many professors about crashing classes, denis-bayer-97398went from 8 units to 20 in three days, joined a large theatre lecture class made up mostly of freshmen, ran into a wonderful amount of familiar faces, and experienced my first 8-10pm class.

This is going to be a year of firsts and a whole lot of learning.

There’s something surprisingly comforting about not being new to the whole college thing this year— I’m more comfortable than I thought I would be just having been here already, whether I felt like I knew what I was doing or not. I guess there’s something to be said about knowing that there are trials ahead, but at least having an idea of what to expect. That’s the difference between being a freshman and being a sophomore, I actually know how rough this can be.

I also know how fantastic this can be.

As it is with so much in life, the key to getting it all right is balance. I can’t spend all my free time at work because I still need to study. I can’t spend all my free time studying because I have committed to a job. And I also can’t only go to class and do those two things because, well, this is college— a social life is somewhat necessary for both sanity and survival.

So maybe the question is how do any of us find that balance between everything?

First of all,ben-duchac-66002 your people are so important. Not only do they keep you in check to say “hey, we haven’t seen you around lately,” reminding you that there are people who want you, but they also to check in on you when you forget to do it yourself. With a world heading towards higher productivity and more time working, we often forget to take breaks for ourselves or step back from things and remember to breathe. Our people are always important to pull us back when we fall off course.

Rule number two: Make a plan. We’re all busy people, I get that, and it can be hard to keep track of everything going on in our lives. So make some plans, get a planner going, and mark down some due dates. The key to this part is organization— the faster you get more organized, the easier it is to figure out all the information and to do lists in your head. At least for me, I know that when I’ve got a lot on my plate, it’s at least nice to see on paper that it’s possible to do it all. A little confidence boost never hurt, even when it just comes from everything fitting in one box on my calendar.

Rule number three: Failure to succeed is not the same as failure. Does that make sense? Let’s put this in lettered terms— there is a large margin between passing a class with an A and failing one with a D. If you’re giving something your best shot, asking for help when you need it, and doing what you can to get to where you want to be, that’s all you can ask of yourself. andreas-kind-338509Your best isn’t always going to get you an A, not when there are so many other things to focus on and remember. Lucky for us, a C is still passing. And sometimes, that’s the best we can do. Find a way to be okay with that, and if you can’t, then find a way to make your best a little bit better.

And finally, rule number four: You come first. If your body is telling you something, if you’re constantly tired or have a hard time getting through the day, something has to change. Burnout is very possible, both in work and in education, and it takes a toll on everything you do from your relationships to your sleeping habits. Even when it seems you can’t slow down or you have no other option but the pace you’re currently going at, there is always another way. It just might not be ideal. Before you even get there, it’s best to avoid burnout altogether by taking the time you need for yourself every day, not skipping meals, and definitely not skipping sleep. But it’s not always easy to stick to that, even with the best intentions. So if you fall a little behind on self-care, take whatever steps you need to in order to get back to good health. For college students, that could even mean a quick trip home or dropping a class— do what you need to do. And don’t forget about your people, the good ones are always there to help you out. All you need to do is ask.

September is National Suicide Prevention Month and in the midst of the natural disasters and recovery efforts we see around the world, I am also reminded that some allef-vinicius-230238tragedies are those we don’t see. From the American Psychological Association back in 2013, 41.6% of college students struggled with anxiety, 36.4% with depression, and 35.8% with relationship problems. These three top issues can all lend a hand into impacting the wellbeing of students and if ignored for too long, they could become too large for one person to handle. I say this to point out that these percentages are not small— if you are a part of it, that is okay. You are not alone and you do not have to feel like you are either. Like I said earlier, ask for help and do what you need to do to get yourself to a good place, you deserve that much.

This world is a beautiful place and this life is a beautiful thing, at least I know it can be. So as I go into year two, I am going to do my best to embody the beauty, even amidst the turmoil of getting my life together. And hey, if I’m lucky, maybe running after busses can be a part of it too. Until next week everyone, have a wonderful weekend and here’s to the beauty 🙂

Natural Disasters Worldwide and How You Can Help

As a young person, I’ve heard my fair share of “you’re not allowed to,” or “you can’t” when it comes to doing things simply because of my age. And I get it, there are a lot of things that I am not qualified for at nineteen, like drinking legally or renting a car. The qualifying word adult didn’t apply to me until I turned eighteen, and even then with the word young is placed in front of it. There are countless things we cannot do at this age, many of which we have no business doing in the first place. henry-be-239191But there will always be one thing we can do, especially at this age when so much else seems limited:

We can help others.

In the past two weeks, this world has seen an alarming number of destructive weather events that have left people without homes, shelter, food, family members, and so much more. As we see efforts like Starbucks and Amazon donating money to aid in food distribution in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma is hot on its heels and proving to add just as much fuel to the flame. If you want to keep up with Irma’s coverage, you can find it here, because the storm seems to be picking up speed.

Speaking of flames, have you heard of the Eagle Creek Fire in Oregon? Oregon is home to so many gorgeous landscapes that can be hard to find anywhere else— unfortunately, soon it might be hard to find in Oregon as well. The Eagle Creek Fire is currently burning through the Columbia River Gorge, as well as jumping to Washington burning more ground along the way. Just beginning last week, LA’s La Tuna fire burned through over 7,000 acres of land. According to LA daily news, this was said to be the largest fire in the city since 1961. We may be almost through summer, but fire season is far from over and there is likely more to come. The good thing is, we can help.

So what can we do?

First of all, when it comes to fires, we all need to pay attention to what is going on around us. Not only was the Eagle Creek Fire started by a teenager throwing a smoke bomb into a ravine, but it was also not stopped by those he was with or any passing adults at the time. It is not just the actions of the person who threw the starter, but also of those who did not intervene anes-sabitovic-286668that resulted in the destruction we are now seeing.  In order to help, some of Portland’s professional teams are donating blood while other local businesses are donating food and providing shelter for those displaced by the fire. If you would like to donate, volunteer, or help in any way, take a look at this link— every little bit counts.

With hurricanes like Harvey and Irma raging throughout the globe, the destruction is off the charts. As Irma has already impacted a string of islands, including Anguilla, Barbuda, St. Martin, and the US Virgin Islands, there is more damage yet to come. Heading towards Cuba, the Bahamas, and Florida, threatening to hit Georgia and South Carolina too, there is a lot we can do to help:

Show your support

Through this link you will find the non-profit organizations that are helping those in need. You can also separately donate to the Red Cross and National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, who both need more people to register and volunteer in places like Puerto Rico, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.  Organizations like UNICEF, Antigua and Barbuda Red Cross, ConPRmetidos, Convoy of Hope, Oxfam are all providing help on the ground for the islands already hit and could use both volunteers and donations. When it comes to the animals, the SPCA International alice-moore-192524is providing cover and assembling groups to rescue animals caught in the wreckage. Even if all you want/can do is donate, Global Giving has a goal of $2 million dollars to raise in efforts for Hurricane Irma recovery.

There are so many ways to help the people affected by the storms and the fires we see emerging around the world. If you are a person of faith, many are taking to prayer and hope towards those who are in need. And no matter who you are, your race, religion, or beliefs in this world, anyone can send good thoughts and check in on loved ones who may be in the path of these disasters.

For anyone still expecting danger to come their way, stay safe, know that the One American Appeal is supporting you all, and my thoughts are with you.

Intro to September: Here’s something you need to know

Here’s a little honesty for you: I miss writing. Not because I don’t do it anymore, clearly, but because I haven’t been doing it for me. It’s been a while since I’ve put up a new poem of mine because, well, I haven’t been writing anything. hans-peter-gauster-252751Sometimes we put little pieces of ourselves on hold for other things, things we think are more important or more necessary like school or work. But after some time, we might lose those pieces. We might lose ourselves.

That’s the thing about growing up, losing pieces is a part of the process— as long as we find new ones. I’ve learned in my first year of college that people are going to come in and out of our lives. It doesn’t always matter how long they stuck around for, but really how they change us while they do. Some people give us more strength and happiness, other people give us more stress and misery. The trick is to find the right ones.

The people we surround ourselves with has a high impact on how we see ourselves and how we see ourselves can really change how we feel. September is World Suicide Prevention Month and this post was a very important information piece to me last year. This year I want to go in a different direction: I want to talk about us.

Every single one of us comes with flaws, I understand that fact— we wouldn’t be human otherwise. Growing up, I’ve been told that I’m a bit of a pushover. And I know that, patrick-tomasso-352184sometimes it’s been a good thing. Other times, not so much. But just because we all have our quirks and little thing we could do to be better, that doesn’t mean we should have to change who we are for anyone else. Health and well-being is extremely important for every single one of the 7.4 billion people in this world; it is such a big part of this month, of our lives. And it applies to every one of us when I say that you deserve to surround yourself with people who make you truly feel like it’s a life worth living.

So here’s to finding out who we can be with the people we deserve, flaws, fading adolescence, and all. Here’s to getting back into my writing and here’s to being okay with letting things go when we need to. Even when it’s hard.

Here’s I’m sorry

I’m sorry

I’m a pushover, I know.

People tend to exploit that

and that’s okay.

Because when you love them,

and they make a mistake, they might hurt you.

But you don’t blame them,

no, you couldn’t.

You simple apologize and move on. You let it go.

It’s better that way.

sawyer-bengtson-264361I’m sorry

We haven’t talked for awhile and it’s sad.

I got busy, you got busy, that’s how life goes.

Maybe there was time, somewhere,

we could have made things work.

But we didn’t, distance was too much,

and in the end

we couldn’t stick around for each other.

I’m sorry

I should have walked away back then.

I let bad things happen when they didn’t have to

but they did.

I got hurt trying to pull you back

I kept trying, always trying… But it was never enough;

with you, I never was.

There was never any good enough,

there was just you and there was me.

I was hoping for a change of heart

A change in us maybe.

But the only thing you ended up changing

was my mind.

kristopher-roller-110206So I’m sorry…

But I’m not, not really.

I am not sorry.

Because sometimes things don’t work out

and people get left behind.

Sometimes we grow, we find what’s best for us,

we learn how to cut strings that tie us up

instead of letting us grow and move on.

Sometimes, we need to learn when to stop apologizing

to people who cannot see our worth,

and instead, be okay with walking alone

until we find people who can.

 

So to health and well-being, to World Suicide Prevention Month, and to all the love people deserve to feel in this world: Welcome to September.