On College

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It’s my last blog post of January and somehow, the passage of time is just astounding to me. Somehow the beginning of sophomore year feels like yesterday and last year at the same time (see what I did there?).

Yet, here we are; midterms began last week for us and from now on, they don’t really stop. From the Women’s March (rally) here in SLO to new club meetings and old friends, it’s been quite a week in the life of a college sophomore. It’s been a little while since I’ve stuck to the true college aspect of my life, so tonight that’s exactly what I’m going to do.


On College:

Life as a college student is kind of odd, we’re adults (technically), but if we see a real adult on campus, we remember that we’re basically children playing house or monopoly— just with real money. And real classes. And real lives, with a possibility of making mistakes in the process and having to fix it ourselves.

It can be hard to find a balance in making sure we’re being responsible with how we choose to spend our time/money and who we chose to spend it with/on.

Sometimes, that includes forgetting to spend it on ourselves too.

As a second year, I came in with both expectations and requirements for myself.

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This included going to more club meetings, joining new ones, speaking up when I need help in class, and building a home for myself here in San Luis Obispo. Whether you’re an in state student or out of state one, some people feel comfortable here from the day one, some people don’t. I guess the rest of us figure it out along the way.

I know I still am. But I’m learning to take those expectations, those requirements, and turn them into a life that I truly feel like I want to be a part of.

I have a friend here, the first person I met during summer orientation, who has a tendency to pave the way for me figuring things out without even knowing it. I wanted to be more social this year so I followed her into one of the biggest social clubs on campus. It was terrifying. I needed to make sense of my major switch and my career path too, so I copied her actions and changed my mindset as I took a deeper dive into every one of my passions.

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This year I’ve made a lot of changes, we all have. Maybe there are many more to come as we figure things out for ourselves. Each and every one is leading us to where we want to be and it reminds me, the people we surround ourselves with truly do shape us into who we are becoming— for better or for worse.

As much as college is about the academics, the grades, and the career path, it’s about the living that we do here while we can. How else do we experience that but through the people?

Just like I said earlier, college is this awkward in-between from adolescence to adulthood and it can get pretty overwhelming sometimes. Maybe you caught that terrible flu outbreak this year, someone treated you in a way you didn’t deserve, or you got a little lost under the weight of the world… That’s okay. There are best friends, willing roommates, unforgettable WOW leaders, and good people who are always around to support us through our journeys.

Because in the end, that’s what college is— a journey to our degree and discovering a new piece of who we are every step of the way. I hope that for every one of us, we have those people and we know— between the real money, real people, and

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reality of what college is— it’s our job to do whatever it takes to make the most of where we’re at right now.

Take it from me, things don’t have to be so complicated all the time. College is an experience and it comes with one guideline: Start from where you are.

So here’s to college and change, have a wonderful weekend everyone.

The Power of 140 Women

splitshire-9614As a follow up from my post last week, if you didn’t see it you can read it here, I am left speechless by the change I see in the world around me. From the drastic differences in presidencies I have grown up under to the prevalence of strength and power I have seen in the world around me.

And that change seems to be only beginning. This week I tuned into a different set of speeches that are somehow both heartbreaking and empowering at once.

Have you heard the name Larry Nassar yet? Even if you haven’t, I can almost guarantee you have heard of the girls he’s connected to. To name a few: Aly Raisman, Simone Biles, Jamie Dantzscher, and far too many others.

Recently, I am one of countless people who have been tuning in while these stories unfold. These are stories of innocence lost, homes broken, and lives changed— a few lost in the process. All because of one man’s actions. Though public allegations against him only began in September of 2016, Nassar has been accused of sexual abuse by an astounding 140 women over the last two decades.

First of all, there should never be a situation in which 100+ women need to come together against such a traumatic experience they all share in order to find a way to move on with their lives. This should have never happened. Whether the issue is systemic, authoritative, internal, or something else, it needs to be fixed.

Second of all, in researching the trial, I found myself listening to testament video after testament video, telling myself “just one more.” But each and every one was captivating, both in the way I could hear how deep the trauma ran in every girl to the blatant honesty behind the impact of what it means to be a victim.annie-spratt-298421.jpg

Take this line from Aly Raisman’s speech: “If we are to believe in change, we must first understand the problem and everything that contributed to it. Now is not the time for false reassurances.”

She and several others spoke of the lack of control they felt, the loss of their own realities when their accusations were passed off as mistakes, experiences passed off as incredible.

I can’t explain how much it means to me to see these women stand up and speak out together about what they believe they deserve.

This is a whole new era of truth.

If I’m being honest, the gymnastics was one of the only reasons I tuned into the 2012 Olympics; I mean I can’t be the only one who was drawn in by the Fierce Five. I’ve played a lot of sports throughout my lifetime, but it was amazing to watch those five girls do things that I could never even dream of. I remember thinking of how powerful I believed them to be back then.

Only in the last few days of watching three of those five girls come forward in the largest sexual abuse case in U.S. sports, have I begun to understand the real power they hold.

Like I said, I am watching the world change; so quickly that it’s hard to keep up. Yet there is one thing that I could watch every day and never get tired— women standing up, speaking out, and having their voices heard. It can be someone like Oprah, a young woman like Aly Raisman, and even a high school student who understands that there are certain boundaries that should not be crossed. These people are finding their voices.

And as far as I can see, the noise will only get louder from here on out.

ryan-riggins-216051Though it breaks my heart that so many people, men included, have experienced their own violations of self, I am excited to see the power they gain and feel deserving of as time goes on.

If you are ever given less than you deserve, treated incorrectly, or abused in any way, you are allowed to speak up.

You deserve to be heard.

You deserve to be in control.

I understand that our world has plenty of issues, too many to fix at once, and far too many to comprehend in my own ignorance. There are a lot of things I don’t know at nineteen years old. But I know this: I do believe in change.

Do you?

How We Overcome– Times Up

eddie-garcia-503631Week 1 of the quarter is officially over and it has been exhausting… I forgot how hard it was to get back into a routine of work, studying, and getting up early after doing none of that for several weeks. Yet the week is done, it’s time for another blog post, and today I’ve got something big to talk about.

So let’s talk.

Now my parents have raised me to be a believer in something better— a better day, a better health, a better love, a better future. Whether I’m sitting in class believing that I can make it through a boring lecture or writing a new chapter hoping I can make it something worth reading, sometimes hope is all we’ve got.

That is until someone hands us some concrete evidence that maybe hope is working.

That evidence came this week.

If you didn’t watch the Golden Globes last weekend, chances are you still know exactly what I’m talking about when I say the words “Times Up”. From the MeToo movement to a fiercely strong front of women standing up around the country, you can bet that things are changing.

sand feetAnd I’m not just talking about sexual harassment. I mean everything.

The questions is, is it happening too slowly?

I know, there is a point when we may be asking too much from the world around us, from the status quo. But I have to wonder why it took so long for a black woman to win the Cecil B. DeMille Award; it took ten years after its creation for any woman to earn it and another fifty six after that for a woman of color to earn it. A black woman. Was this too much to ask until now?

I have to wonder what this kind of thing says to the kids who are trying to live up to the idols they see when… Well, when they can’t see them. It’s all about representation. If you listened to Oprah’s speech, she started off with her own anecdote about watching Sidney Poitier win the Oscar for best actor back in 1964.

She saw him before he went on to win the same award she just did eighteen years later.

Now it’s 2018 and that award is finally in her own hands. It’s been a long time coming, don’t you think?

Yet like I said, my parents raised me to be a believer. In capability, in strength, in change, and most of all in myself. Because no matter how many people have torn Oprah down in the past, no matter what she’s gone through, there’s a reason we know her by her first name— she believed in exactly who she was and became the woman she is now by doing everything she could to get here.

alexander-andrews-394973She is an overcomer.

I think in this day and age, each one of us has to be too. As a teenager and as a minority, I’ve definitely caught myself wondering at times why the world was stacked against me: in missing out on opportunities, in trying to make it to class on time, even in losing touch with good people. Then there are things like finding someone to do my hair, in losing out on jobs I was perfectly qualified for, and even filling out college applications knowing very well what it means to be a minority applicant.

Just because society may act like things are settled out evenly for everyone, that doesn’t mean certain people aren’t going to be the odd ones out every single time.

So we overcome, we work harder.

I am growing up in a very different age than watching Sidney Poitier win an Oscar, the second African American to ever win an Academy Award. And yet, I am here to see the first African American woman win the Cecil B. DeMille Award.

Maybe it’s just me, but I was hoping we would be out of firsts by now.

It brings to mind a quote, kudos to you if you know book it is from:

“So we beat on, boats against the current borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

Moments like Sunday, those are the boats. And circumstances that allow moments like olayinka-babalola-281459Sunday to still matter, those are the currents.

So we beat on through them, we keep going. We keep believing in change and the ability for every single one of us to make a difference.

Because maybe in another fifty six years, we won’t have to worry so much about the “firsts”.

Maybe the world will finally echo it back when we say the words Times Up.

A Resolution for Something Better

annie-spratt-178364.jpgWelcome to 2018, a new year and a fresh chance to accidentally write the wrong year on all your dates for a while. But maybe this year we can get the hang of it a little faster.

New year, new us right?

Except not really. Every year, I seem to share this sentiment more than the last when I consider the idea of starting over. As much as a new year doesn’t truly mean that we have a completely clean slate, even I can’t deny the fact that it means change.

This year is fresh chance to try again. A new start with resolutions of exercising more, getting better grades, spending more time with the right people… The list goes on. But aside from the hope we all seem to hold of something better, these are all good things, I think there’s something that truly needs to be focused on this year.

We need to focus on ourselves.

nathan-lemon-482951As the countdown came for the new year, I watched the time tick closer to the end of my teenage years. Not just that, but in watching my brother’s graduation and the people I always saw as little freshman in high school coming into their senior years… Time is something we have no control over; I knew that, but that doesn’t stop it from flying by.

So instead of focusing on the big pieces of our lives that can change who we are, I wanted to focus in on the little ones for ourselves.

Like trying to be a little kinder this year.

Volunteering more or holding doors, smiling at strangers.

Think about the people who matter to you in this life, remind them of that.

And remember the singular, fragile lives we all hold— try to spend every day doing something worth living for.

Because this is a new year, not quite a blank slate but still a reason to give yourself a second chance (maye a third or a fourth).

I believe it should be a year of self-love, not just taking baths every night and treating yourself while you can, but truly appreciating who you are. With so much technology in our faces and social media showing what people want us to see, especially in my generation, we can lose sight of our own brilliance.aaron-burden-143101

We forget our own worth.

I think sometimes people get so caught up in their jobs or worries or responsibilities or friends that they forget this: every one of you should be a priority in your own life.

At times, that means slowing down. Whether you’re in college, you’ve got a demanding job, or you’re simply in a position where you can work too hard, maybe you should do the opposite. As I’ve said before, burnout is real and it truly affects every aspect of your life.

If you need to slow down do it— this means taking less units, calling in sick, springing a random day-trip… Whatever you need to do to get yourself where you want to be, do it. This isn’t a year to hold back.

This is a year of taking every step that we can towards a healthier and happier population.

With a world that holds 4.7 billion people, I can’t deny the rise of mental health issues and unhappy people around me. That doesn’t mean we can’t do our best to change it. The thing is, that change starts with you. And me. With every one of us making eduard-militaru-133851.jpgan effort in our own lives to being better.

This is day 5 of 365, with a little time left to make yourself genuinely smile at least once today. If there’s something you want, something you need to do, there is no time like the present to get started. Because this is a new year, same old us, but still a chance to change who we are becoming. For today and the next 360 days, here’s to our journey towards a better version of ourselves.