Thank You For Your Example

This is lovely, thank you Jo.

The Daring Adventure of Life

Haven’t blogged in awhile… honestly just haven’t had the desire. There is a certain mood I have to be in for writing and without it, unfortunately there’s really nothing that prompts me to update this blog. Something about the combination of this cloudy Sunday afternoon, being sick and trying to avoid the homework I know would be a rational way to spend my time though makes for the perfect situation to blog.

I never know how open to be when writing these posts. There’s a certain awareness that I really have no clue who reads my blog and thus, it’s a bit difficult to establish a sense of who my audience is and consequently how honest I should be with said audience. With this in mind, I am tempted to keep everything emotional to myself, just sharing some of the truly amazing travel experiences I am so grateful for, throwing…

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Simply Unapologetic

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this before, but there is one thing I don’t think a lot of people understand just how much I appreciate— I love people watching. I know dan-freeman-404566there are a lot of people out there who spend their time doing it too, sitting around while pretending to be productive while instead watching the world move around you.

You see some pretty odd things.

I remember last year, a friend of mine who had just committed to Cal Poly asked me something, and I couldn’t help but remember saying that same thing a year earlier: “I don’t know if I’m going to be able to find anyone as weird as I am.” It’s funny, it doesn’t take much time to realize that we’re all pretty weird in our own ways. Call it a quirk or eating cereal with warm milk instead of cold (feel free to judge me, it’s great), everyone has their thing.

Don’t believe me? Well…

Do you remember that I wrote most of my blog posts from my dorm’s third floor common room last year? I spent a lot of time there, possibly too much time, but I liked it better that way; seeing people every day and always saying catching new names. I got to experience everyone else every single day just by putting myself in their paths. And let me tell you something about that common room, things always got weird.

jeremy-perkins-281322Though I don’t need to name exactly what the test was, I can tell you that my main group of friends became a group by taking an inappropriate, funny, and somewhat intrusive online test for maybe fifteen minutes each before putting our scores up on the whiteboard to compare. Then we all proceeded to bother anyone who walked through that room to take the test with us and put their score up too. Even our RA got in on the fun so it couldn’t have been that bad, it was just a harmless, fun way to get people out of their comfort zones a little and into the mindset of holding nothing back.

That’s what these four years are all about.

The point is, we all came into college with our own personalities, ethics, morals, and ideas of who we were or what we wanted. I came in as pretty shy, somewhat reserved and quiet, while my friends… They were kind of like me, while at the same time they weren’t at all. That’s the complicated part, put them in the common room with me and they were always the loudest people in the room. They did whatever they wanted because they were confident in who they were enough to disregard what anyone else might say or think about it.

zachary-nelson-192289Now put them in a bigger space, and it all depends on the atmosphere— yet I can guarantee they were still the loudest people in the room. I admired that so much, let me tell you, the way each of them have grown more into who they are this year; chasing majors they care about, joining groups they like, and becoming more of the person they know themselves to be.

They are unapologetically themselves.

I think that’s what’s missing in a lot of people, not only being genuine, but being okay with it. Do you know how rare that is? To not even be fully confident in who you are or where you’re headed in life, but to still do everything as if you are. To be unapologetic. To be genuine. To be you. It’s a beautiful thing.

I think that’s one reason I like people watching so much, I can catch little glimpses of who people are and what they’re all about by simply witnessing a moment where they aren’t filtering themselves for one thing or another. We all spend so much time on work and 140 characters (280 if you’re lucky) to say what you want to say while still contemplating how you want yourself to be seen. Self-doubt comes from that idea of not being secure or confident in who we believe ourselves to be, but held back by how we feel we should be, how we think we’re supposed to be.

If you take away anything, take this: You don’t have to hold back.

mi-pham-223464I don’t know about anyone else, but sometimes it feels pretty good to let go of that, to be who you are. So for my sophomore year here at Cal Poly, one of my goals is to become more genuine, not quite to fake it until I make it, but truly to make it. And no longer feel the need to fake it. I’ve spent a lot of time not talking or holding things back for the past year here when I don’t have to, when it’s all just a part of who I am. As a challenge to myself, I am ready to get over my self-set boundaries, rip up my cool card, and take a step forward in more than just my career.

This year, I am ready to be unapologetic. Are you?

All the Little Big Things

jian-xhin-281513After a week of working, balancing (or not balancing), studying, and stressing, congratulations everyone; we’ve made it through another week. For the quarter system students, this is the hard part to get through— midterms started weeks ago and from now on they don’t really stop. We are all trying to just hold on until Thanksgiving break. Good thing is, that is now about a month away. Bad thing? It’s a month away.

Ever wonder how you are possibly going to get through it all in one piece?

I am sure I’m not the only one in saying that these weeks get hard. There’s a lot of stress in finding a balance between classes or working or studying or socializing or… You see, there’s a lot to fit into the daily lifestyle of being a functional human being. Notice the word functional.

I’m not even a part of the 9 to 5 working world yet and life already has its struggles. As I get older, it seems things are added to my list of responsibilities, little by little, and I have to adjust to that. Sure, life does get in the way of that adjustment sometimes, throwing new burdens on top of the old, that happens. But there is always a way to get through it all, to keep looking forward. Whether you love what you do every day, or you’re working towards the time in your life that you can, I’m beginning to understand that it isn’t always about that one test grade or that wrong thing you said that keeps replaying in your head…

You have to see the little big things.

Do you remember the last time you got a really good hug? I mean the kind where you’re holding on to that person, they’re holding on to you, and in that moment, nothing has ever felt so comfortable.david-o-andersen-201881

Do you remember the last good sleep you had? The kind where you you wake up slowly, your body stretches out, and your eyes open to a morning that you actually feel ready for; you feel good.

And do you remember the last time someone said “I love you” without those three little words? Maybe they said to “drive safe” or “call me tonight”, or even asked how your day was and meant it or just gave you the attention you deserve— these are the unspoken I love you’s.

Yet none of these are big things. In the midst of all that goes on in our lives and whatever hardship might come your way, looking at the hard parts only makes them harder. It makes them bigger. I know that sometimes it’s unavoidable, the bigger it is in your life more times you think about it.

But for just a moment, I only ask for one, stop and think about the little things that happened today.

Did someone hold a door open for you, even though they didn’t have to?

Did you talk to someone you care about and remember that you have people in your life who care for you too?

And did you wake up this morning, after a good sleep or not, and remember to smell the roses, smell the rain— did you experience life today?

Right now, I am doing my best not to take things for granted, to see all sides of something and take whatever comes to me in stride. Just like my parents always taught me, I’m trying to be better. Not just for my friends, or my career, or my future. I’m trying to be better for me.

michael-fertig-2429That includes a full appreciation of what this life has brought me.

Every week has brought its own challenge, sometimes adding to the last that I wasn’t quite over yet. That doesn’t mean this isn’t a good life, that the little things don’t matter.

In this life it all matters, every little bit. And I hope you were reminded of that today.

 

Before and After– As the Glass Breaks

aaron-burden-185993Have you ever heard that metaphor about the breaking glass? I heard it on How I Met Your Mother, it goes something like this: There are a lot of little things about life that we don’t notice or don’t really see until someone tells us. We don’t see it until we have nowhere else to look. Once that happens, the glass breaks— we can’t unsee it, we can’t go back. Your reality changes.

This week, that glass in front of my perspective on life has been breaking, little by little. And once it’s finished, there is no going back.

If anyone else has been feeling the way I’ve been feeling, things might be a little bit lost right now. You might be questioning things, the purpose and the point, the love and the loss… I’ve been wondering one thing:

Now what?

The phrase carpe diem comes to mind, something I’ve been trying to embody over the years in a lot of different ways. I got a tattoo on Christmas Eve last year because it was something I needed to do for me, I self-published a book after graduating high school because it was an accomplishment I wanted for life, and I am pursuing something I am passionate about because I cannot imagine living my life any other way.

Because life is too short.

The idea of losing friends at this age, an incredible person who lived a life worth living— that terrifies me. Not in the way that it is a possibility, but that it happens. It happened. And there is nothing any of us can really do to change it.

seth-macey-410725Two weeks ago, that was before— if someone asked me what I wanted to do with my life, I would have told them that I wanted to be a writer. I want to make a difference in people’s lives, I want to make change for the better, and I want to do it through my passion and my love for both writing and the people I care about. I’ve had that answer down for years, that’s what I wanted. Make change, spread love, and write obsessively.

But if you asked me now, I don’t quite know what I want.

I mean of course I still want to write and make change, but how? Maybe I want to live this life without regrets, without lost moments. Yet, maybe I want to live a life appreciating what a blessing it is to have woken up to see another day today.

That’s the hard part, that I’m not confident in what I want out of this life anymore. But I’m learning to be okay with that. 

Because there are a lot of times when we’re going to lose our way, our perspective change, and maybe we just need a little help. So ask for it, put a claim on the love you deserve— you are allowed to not be great all the time.

You are allowed to be lost.

These past two years of my life have forced me to grow up, to understand, and to become so much more than I ever thought I would have ever been by now. My path has changed, my heart has been redirected, and my faith has been tested time and time again. Yet that’s what it means to grow up. I have learned to weather the hard times, appreciate the good ones, and never forget the people who have been by my side through it all.

I’m starting to understand more about who we are as human beings as time goes on, as I meet more people and reconnect with old friends. We are the ones that keep each other going. This week I have seen such an outpouring of support from friends and family and even strangers to comfort one another in a time of need… In the midst of chaos, that has been incredibly comforting to me. Not just in a way of knowing that people can be good, but knowing that this life can be too.

This life still holds beauty.

That’s the point of seeing the forest for the trees, it is still good. Bad things happen, fires rage on through our lives, we lose people, and sometimes we lose ourselves.

In the end, we are still here, to live and to lose and to breathe.

We are still here to support one another and to love, to hope, to believe in something more.

The days are still passing, one right after another, and it takes time to remember, this day is yours. The time is now and it’s all right to not know what you want to do with that time. As long as you do something anyway.

I’m not saying go get a tattoo, or write a book, or change your life’s plan. But I am saying to remember what it means to still be here, to seize every day that we get, and to do everything you can to make worth of the moments you get.bright-lights-string

I’m getting used to the control we don’t have, accepting that this life isn’t completely in my hands. I’m finding my way to being okay with that, with the uncertainty of it all. And in time, I hope you can all find a way to go after what you want this life to be.

So here’s to getting lost, to asking for help and finding our way amongst the broken glass. Here’s to loving hard and loving lots before we run out of time to do it all for ourselves.

And here’s to making the “After” something worth living in.

If not now, when?

For Maddie Elliott

Yesterday I wrote a blog post on the fragility of our human lives, the time limits on all of us that we simply cannot see. I know that I wrote it yesterday, yet I had no idea I was actually writing about one of the most beautiful souls kristina-m-m-158842I have ever known. I was yet to realize a wonderful friend and kind heart had just been lost.

This is for Madeline Elliott.

Though I knew her through classes and crossed paths throughout the years, even I could tell that Maddie was truly one of a kind. She was the kind of girl who could bring a smile to anyone’s face with one of the most infectious laughs I have ever heard. Every time I talked to her, whether it was about something important or simply trivial, we always ended up talking for so much longer than we had planned because she was just that kind of personshe could connect with anyone.

From the moment I met her I knew one thing: this girl is going to touch so many lives. And she has. Because it isn’t about how long you live, but truly how you live. She did it beautifully. From someone who keeps their phone password as her birthday and the best friends whose lives were changed with her in it, to the strangers she passed on the street with a simple smile to lighten their day and the people who knew her, adored her, and she didn’t even know… This girl was incredible. Her presence was a light in so many peoples lives, including mine, and when I said in my post yesterday to tell people you love them, I meant it. Because things like this happen, we lose people, and loved ones are gone before they had a chance to make this life their own. But I know that Maddie did, she lived a beautiful life of faith, impacting so many people with who she was. Her loss is a great one, her love was infectious, and her memory will last forever in each one of us.


I wrote this for you Maddie.

I live for the strangers who smile at me as they pass by and those who always remind me that they care.

I live for the “have a good night”‘s from the elderly because they’ve seen enough of bad ones, they know life can be unfair.

I live for the people who know how to laugh, straight from the belly with their heads tipped back in abandon.sabine-van-straaten-280388

And I live for the people who have changed my life, and they never even knew how many pieces of me came from them.

There’s something about free spirits, the ones who’s hearts beat and it feels like the world is beating along;

Every breath they take, the wind blows a little longer. Every connection they make, their life grows a little stronger.

There is warmth in their smile, their hope, their being— that irreplaceable kind of energy that makes the world keep moving

and time keep changing, as the world around us moves, these are the kind of people who help us to get up and move along too.

But sometimes we have to slow down, we lose something big, someone important, and we forget about the moving,

the loving, the changing, the hoping… We might forget about the living to mourn those who can no longer do so.

So what do you do when the one who embodied the idea of life with their own, with their living and loving and hoping;

aaron-burden-195608The idea of making every breath one of beauty, of light, of changing the world by just being part of it.

What do you do when they’re gone?

You stop, take a moment, maybe two— take as many as you need— and you hold on to the blessing it is to know someone like that.

Take a breath, take a few, and remember what it means to tell someone those three little words, “I love you.”

Remember their heart that beat for the world to beat with them, remember the smiles they offered, the hope that they held.

Remember the moments they changed your life, the laughs they abandoned themselves to, the memories they made.

You hold on to the love they left behind for you.

And you spread that love, that hope, that faith; you spread it until there is no place in this world left untouched.

Make the laughter they held the healing you feel as time jerry-kiesewetter-189034goes on and the wounds of loss begin to close.

Say what you mean, those three little words, as many times as it takes for someone else to hear your voice.

And be there, in this world, be present in the lives of those you love. Because we never know how much time any of us have

to leave something good behind while we can.


My prayers go out to her family and her friends, to all those who knew Maddie, for my heart is with you. If anyone would like to support them in this time, here is the link to the gofundme page for Madeline.

In the words of Helen Keller,

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen nor even touched, but just felt in the heart.”

Expectation vs. Reality

What did I put in my empty bag?

My dad used to do this thing with my siblings and I called What did we put in our empty bags; it was a metaphor. The bag represented our knowledge from the day, what we learned— we were supposed to empty it before going to school every ihor-malytskyi-218817day so we could go to class with an empty bag and fill it up with everything we learned. Cheesy, I know. But considering I still remember all of this and that Nick and still I say it to our friends sometimes, it was definitely effective.

So what did I put in my empty bag this week?

This week I have gotten a firsthand lesson on the idea of ignorance and what it’s true definition is: lack of knowledge or information. To be ignorant of something or to call someone out as such is not an insult, but simply a statement to show someone that they do not have all the facts. As a nineteen year old college student, I am ignorant of a lot of things, some of which I am not even conscious of. That doesn’t mean I’m not learning.

If someone were to ask me five years ago where I thought I would be in life, my guess would have come nowhere close to where I am right now. I probably would have said that I would be studying or sitting in class at Stanford University as some kind of pre-med major. I probably would have also said that I would be on the track team, running and jumping as a student athlete. And hey, I thought I would be 5’10 by now. There were so many aspects of this life that I didn’t understand, far too much to be ignorant of for me to have known where my life would take me. I didn’t know enough. I couldn’t have.

I couldn’t have known that my high school experience would so largely influence where I applied to college. I couldn’t have seen that I would decide on switching into a major to follow my passion instead of my obligations. matteo-catanese-401213 (1)And I wouldn’t have believed that I would be rejected by a school, only to be accepted off an appeal to now attend Cal Poly with Nick for the next three years.

They say knowledge is power— I don’t think this is something you can argue against.

According to Business Insider, at nineteen years old I have lived through the last 4 out of 5 “deadliest mass shootings in modern US history”. All occurring in the past 6 years. I’m not here to talk about the politics of it, the devastation or the unfortunate lack of change despite the increasing number of deaths and those affected.

I’m here to talk about ignorance, about learning instead of simply knowing.

I’m here to talk about Expectation vs. Reality.

You see, I have been raised on the idea of hoping for the best but being prepared for the worst. This applies to taking midterms I’m not completely ready for, long drives that might necessitate a blanket or a jacket, and even job interviews that always seem to be a toss up for me. Throughout elementary school to high school, I was privileged enough to grow up in a place where I wasn’t constantly thinking about my surroundings; who was around me, if I was in a place where I had to filter myself from risk of harm, or the possibility of racial slurs being thrown at me as I walked by. That last one only happened a few times.

But in hoping for the best, I just never expected to live in a world where people could be afraid to go to concerts, to diners, to school. I never expected that sabine-van-straaten-280388the largest fear some of us held would have to do with the capabilities of one another.

Unfortunately, that is the reality we are all at right now. We are having to adjust to the way the world is changing around us as the people in it change too. Whether you swing left or right, you’re heterosexual or not, everyone is having to make changes. Sometimes I think people forget about the morality of this life and get too caught up in what they expected to be happening or where they’re hoping they would be.

You can’t always see a hurricane coming, nor can you ever know for sure how things are going to turn out.

This week I am reminded of a concept that ties us all together— we are all human beings. If there is one thing I used to be ignorant of, stereotypical teenage mindset or not, it was the fragility of my own life.

Because in my empty bag this week, I hold all the chemistry formulas and Iliad lessons, but on top of all that I hold my life: The idea that it can be easy to lose. I used to make five year plans, ten year hopes, and imaginative ideas of what my high school reunions might be like. I used to make promises of seeing people without ever following through, or putting off good plans for tomorrow, staying in to watch Netflix instead. But the thing is, in that bag is my life. The only one I am going to get. And while I need to make plans for a successful future where I don’t move back in with my parents and have no job, I also need to be aware of the situation we are all living in.jerry-kiesewetter-189034.jpg

We only get one life to live. In the past week alone, far too many people lost their own. The reality is that we don’t know how long this will last for us, how much time we have. The most any of us can do is say “I love you” while we can, hold onto every moment we get, and make sure that when we contribute a verse to the world, we leave behind something good. Something worth it. Something people can fill their bags with today.

I know what I put in mine.