Nobody Puts Baby In A… Box?

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Photo by Leone Venter on Unsplash

Okay, I have to be honest with you about something… I’ve never actually watched Dirty Dancing all the way through. I mean, who doesn’t know the famous line regarding babies and corners whether or not they’ve seen the movie? It’s a classic.

But what I can tell you I have done, through and through, is something I think we all do without even noticing it.

I’ve put myself in a box, plenty of them actually.

And I’m not just talking giant refrigerator boxes borrowed to make forts out of, I’m talking the hypothetical box we oftentimes put ourselves in that may turn out to be boundaries holding us in rather than opportunities to branch out.

Think about it, as children we are asked what we want to be when we get older— I think I said a veterinarian because I loved animals, typical I know.

Next it was a doctor, a professional reader, even a designer at some point. These are the things I held onto, that I shaped myself around and into even when the definition didn’t quite fit.

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Photo by JD Mason on Unsplash

Welcome to Box #1.

How about, the one that we’ve all seen before whether we want to answer it or not, from job applications to standardized testing. For some people it can be an identity crisis because, what if more than one applies and you’re only allowed to pick one? There it is anyway, the question we all see coming: What’s your race or ethnicity?

Box #2.

And of course, that universal question on personality tests, you know the one that asks you what kind of person you are before only offering two options. That stereotypical difference between those sitting in the back of the bleachers and those leaning far over the front of them: Are you introverted or extroverted?

Box #3.

From the things we love and the passions we hold to the people we chose to be and the paths we pursue, they’re definitions, ideas to fit into. These boxes help people to figure out who they are, but they can also hold us back.

Let’s go to that second box for a minute, humor me. Do you remember the amount of times I’ve told you I’m an introvert, that I’m quiet and generally pretty reserved? It wasn’t a lie, I am and if you asked my friends they would probably agree. But only sometimes.

Give me an option to go out to a party or kick it back with a few good friends, and I’ll probably choose the latter. But throw me in a group where nobody knows each other, and you might catch a little extra sass and comedy from yours truly.

This isn’t because I have a big personality, though I might, but because it can be nice to vibe off the energy from people around me. I’m not saying I’m very funny and in reality a complete extrovert, but in some situations, I can find myself somewhere in the middle of that box.

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Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

So why do I hold onto the label of being an introvert so tightly?

Because it makes me feel like I belong to something.

It’s the same way for some people who believe themselves to be more analytical than creative— maybe they were told in grade school that their mind is so strongly geared towards logic that they decided to follow that belief.

Even if creativity was always itching up their arms in the meantime.

In figuring out who we are or what defines us, we can get so attached to the identity we think we already know that we forget to let ourselves back out of that box every once in a while.

Just because you are a talker at heart, it doesn’t hurt to listen.

Or if you are good with computers and have never picked up an instrument in your life, there’s no reason not to try your hand at music if you want to.

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Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

There are these middle ground, gray areas, that allow people to be more than one thing or the other. If you feel so inclined in one direction, then go for it. Follow it to your heart’s content.

But if you ever feel a pull coming from your other side, don’t let the person you’ve always been or thought you should be turn those boxes into a cage around your personality.

Nobody should put you in a box you don’t want to be in. Not even you.

It Takes Two– A Pride Month Themed Book Review

alisa-anton-632369-unsplashI promised you a Bookworms post today didn’t I?

So here I am, with two YA books for you that each touch on LGBT topics and a bigger picture of love or adjusting to who we are that tie them both together.

As two very different novels, I chose these because one was about something I know almost nothing of and the other was something that I think could be relatable for anyone, whether or not you identify with the community.

They’re about growing up and living live as we are, after all, I think that’s something we’ve all gone through. So without further ado, here we go.


Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe–  Benjamin Alire Sáenz

diego-duarte-cereceda-714994-unsplash.jpgThis book is full of tender moments that still surprise me to be pulled into through the pages. Aristotle watches his life move around him, his parents changing while his own perspectives do, as he figures out who they are alongside himself.

We watch him grow up as the story plays out and his story is wonderfully written.

One line stuck with me that I believe sums up the novel quite well, something I think many people have thought before:

“When do we start feeling like the world belongs to us?

I used to wonder this myself, now questioning whether or not it ever will. Dante and Aristotle both explore this as their friendship changes throughout the chapters. Even more than a book about sexuality or growing up, it’s a story about love and adapting to change. Each relationship is no longer what it began as, exploring what it means to be a parent or a friend and what that looks like from the outside. redd-angelo-11901-unsplash

Aristotle’s character goes through a lot, from the anger and the loss he feels to the disconnection and anticipation within his own life. Add these feelings in with the violence he experiences toward the LGBT community, the kind that many people forget truly happens, and we realize just how hard it can be to sometimes accept who we are. Especially when other people don’t.

That is the journey of this book.

Through intensely real characters, a strongly interwoven Latino culture, and the mind of a boy who’s just trying to understand it all along the way, it’s about love just as much as it’s about trying to hold the world in your hands when it never quite seems to fit right.

It’s about trying to discover the secrets of the universe.

The Symptoms of Being Human– Jeff Garvin

scott-webb-270034-unsplash.jpgFirst of all, there’s a Bratz doll that comes up in this book and when I read those pages, I could feel that same doll in my 7 year old hands. Talk about nostalgia. This book is the epitome of high school drama surrounded by the confusion of growing up feeling misunderstood. You’ve got classic lunch scenes, the misfits, the popular people so clearly in the wrong, and teachers that never see anything.

Maybe it’s a cliche— maybe it’s also true.

What struck me about this book is how closely Riley’s struggles could relate to thousands of young people while at the same time, be so specific to one experience that it goes both ways. Because part of me understands exactly what the character was going through, a lot of it happens to all of us in some shape or form. The bullying, the distance from people we love, the adolescent angst, the list goes on.

The other part of me was thrown into a world where gender fluidity is more real than it ever has been. I personally have never experienced it nor do I have any close friends that openly identify with it, so if anything this book was an inside look into a life that I’ve never had. And I can empathize with Riley’s struggles.erol-ahmed-255854-unsplash

Because growing up, things get pretty confusing pretty quickly. We all get that. Especially in high school, everything is always changing. But through Riley, Solo, and several other characters, their personalities were there along with a whole lot of information about something most people don’t understand.

What this book lacked was a solid foundation for a plot. If you want a good story with a solid plot that isn’t too predictable, this might not be what you’re looking for. But if you’re looking for a little more understanding of gender fluidity and the possibilities of what that can mean, this is a good place to start. As long as you don’t stop here.

For we’ve all got a whole lot to learn in today’s world. Thanks to the internet, now we can.

Also, if anyone has read this, did you hear catch Folsom Prison reference in chapter 6? Classic, all we need is a Johnny Cash mention and my little hometown is on the map.


So thanks for sticking around for these two books and if you check them out, let me know what you think! I’ll see you all on Friday.

5 Things YOU Need to Know About Pride Month

“Pride has to resonate from within;shine out to everyone around you.It has mean something to you and only you first before you announce it to the world.”– Solange Nicole

As the third week of June and my first week of summer, it looks like quarter systems let out just in time for the myriad of Pride festivals throughout the United States. So before we hit the full festivities of the weekend, here are a few things you should know about Pride.

One

tyler-nix-525388-unsplash.jpgYou do not need to identify as part of the LGBT+ community to participate, but you need to respect those who are a part of it.

If you take a glance through history just like my blog post from last year does (you can brush up here if you want), these festivals are a whole lot more than just celebrating who this community is— they’re a protest, an appreciation, and a chance for people to feel like they belong somewhere in a society that has so often told them they don’t.

Whether or not you are part of this community, just like with Black History Month or Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month, allies are just as important as the people who identify with the culture. So be an Ally.

Two

Appreciation is NOT appropriation.

Even with the amount of access to the internet that we have these days, sometimes the education gets lost in translation. To be clear, appreciating the culture of Pride or any other appreciation month does not mean appropriating it.

As someone who does not personally identify with something, it is not okay to “try it on” like a Native American headdress, straight women kissing one another for attention, or blackface. Appreciate. Don’t Appropriate. Plain and Simple.

Three

kyle-sterk-419086-unsplash.jpgEvery person needs at least one place to be unapologetic about who they are.

For some people, that place is Pride. The one weekend– one month– to be open and honest and comfortable with everything that makes up these complicated and confusing identities we hold. Yes, some people do not understand the need to have a month or a celebration like this one. Maybe because they never needed a safe space for pieces of who they are.

Over the years I have come to truly understand the need to be unapologetic with who you are in at least one part of your life— it can be family or friends or school or whatever you consider your home. No matter what, there needs to be at least one place. I think everyone should be able to respect that.

Four

There is more to Pride than rainbow outfits and a stereotype around gay people.

As I mentioned earlier, there are a whole lot of identities and cultural histories surrounding this month; all of them are equally important to Pride. There is more to the acronym than the L and the G, every single one of them should be respected. Whether you agree with this or not, it is not a time or place to be spreading hateful opinions. If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

In addition, remember the protests and fights and trauma that have gone into festivals like this one over the decades. Remember the hate crimes that still happen on a daily basis that a lot of people do not feel the need to notice. All minority groups go through a lot to get to where they are today. The LGBT+ community is no exception.

Five

levi-saunders-133027-unsplash.jpgIt is not over yet.

Just because we celebrate our own cultures or how far we’ve all come within our own identities or cultural histories, that doesn’t mean we have finished the fight. There is still discrimination and racism and camps to “pray away the gay” and children being locked in warehouses. As far as it seems this society has come from hurting people for who they are or the circumstances they are born into, there’s a lot more to fight for. Keep fighting.

So celebrate, appreciate, enjoy, and don’t appropriate. Because this is a month for unapologetic expression and unbounded love. This is a month for the self-respect that comes from understanding who you are. June is a month for a community to come together and fight for their rights.

This is a month for Pride.

cory-woodward-485315-unsplashI hope everyone stays safe this weekend, and for all those participating in the festivities, Happy Pride. Love is love after all.

Be on the lookout for a new Pride themed Bookworms post next week. Otherwise, Happy Friday everyone, hope to see you on Tuesday.

Cheers to the End of Sophomore Year

levi-bare-290792-unsplashWith one final left to go, I am one 3 hour test away from the halfway point of my undergrad career. And I am so ready for summer.

But before I get there, I think it’s about time I took a look back at these past two years— that’s what halfway points are for right?

Recap for year one: living in a triple with communal bathrooms, taking over common rooms, claiming two different dorms as my own, meeting far too many people to remember, making a handful of friends to hold onto, staying up till 3am on a regular basis to struggle through chemistry, and getting to know two roommates that I am still so blessed to have in my life.

So what about year two?

Well this one has been quite the year and I would start with a comparison to year one, but I don’t know where I would start. If I had to choose one way to put it, here it is: Year one was an academic struggle of figuring out where I stood here at Cal Poly.

Year two has been a personal struggle of trying to figure out who I am amidst everything else; my relationships, passions, involvements, and ideals have all changed more than I thought possible this year. So much so that a lot of the time, I’ve found myself feeling stuck— in my major, in a class routine, in a need to do or be more…the-journal-garden-vera-bitterer-682529-unsplash

It’s called the Sophomore Slump.

I came into college with a lot of expectations, the kind that can really take away from fully enjoying things. They are also quite hard to avoid. But I did my best to push those expectations to the side and coming into this year, I felt more comfortable than year 1 with friendly faces scattered throughout campus. I thought I knew a little more about that I was doing.

Life loves it when we feel that way right?

Because before I knew it, I was running after busses, making a trip home for a memorial, throwing myself into a new club way more outgoing than I have ever been, and retaking a chem class that I shouldn’t have needed to in the first place.

I was off to a good start.

Throughout the year, things got pretty busy with work, a major switch, training to become a CCE WOW (cross-cultural experience, week of welcome) orientation leader, working on my book (sorry, still not done), a few civil rights protests against the blatant racism this campus has seen this quarter, and a bit of the kind of socializing college is actually supposed to hold.

And those are just the big things.

marco-bianchetti-539177-unsplash.jpgBut the goal this year was to become a larger part of the school than I was before and remind myself of why I chose Cal Poly over Howard University. There are a lot of things this year that have made me doubt myself and my choices, my value and place here at this school, but there are a few that have also managed to reaffirm me at the same time.

Among any doubts of worth, I think all anyone needs are a few people who remind us exactly why we belong where we are. Over the past two years, from the dorms to my clubs, I’ve started to build up those relationships here and at the end of it all, I’m hoping year 3 will be an opportunity to make them stronger while finding some new ones along the way.

So Sophomore year, you have been quite the roller coaster that I don’t think I could have ever prepared for. In the last three quarters I’ve lost two friends– two of the most lively people I have ever met– and it’s changed my perspective on a lot of things including my college career and how I live my life. While I’m reminded of my education and why I’m at Cal Poly in the first place, I’m also reminded that we need to live and love while we still have the time.

As Robin Williams quoted, “gather ye rosebuds while ye may.”

Like I said before, here’s to whatever comes next— one more final and I’m off to see just what that might be.

Truly, today is a happy Friday. Have a good weekend 🙂nathan-fertig-334383-unsplash.jpg

The 7 Necessities of Sanity

nick-morrison-325805-unsplash.jpgWelcome to week 10 of my quarter, where I have four essays and three final exams to go within the next week— and that’s just academically. So today I’m going to keep it short.

I don’t know about anyone else, but when things get busy, I tend to skip meals or sleep, missing out on what I really need to be doing to keep myself going in the process. Since we’re all human and I’m probably not the only one who does this, here’s a little list for you (and a reminder for me) of 7 things you can do to keep yourself sane when life gets hectic.


One– Music

juliane-mergener-657310-unsplash.jpgDid you know that there’s a song called Weightless by Marconi Union that is proven to reduce anxiety by 65%, designed specifically to reduce blood pressure, lower cortisol levels, and reduce your heart rate? Not only can music help calm you down, but it can also just give you a quick break in the middle of a busy day. So grab some headphones, pick a playlist, sit back, and relax for a minute.

Two– Food

As I like to remind my dad who always seems to forget food, you can’t be productive without bringing anything to sustain yourself. They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but the key thing is to remember to actually eat all three meals in one day. Sustenance is important! Can’t do anything well on an empty stomach right?

Three– Netflix

Need I say more?

Four– Breaks

bewakoof-com-official-205686-unsplashEven while burnout is more common over the course of a year, it’s also possible in a day— on a smaller scale, but still. A lot of us have a tendency to go full speed ahead all the time, forgetting that even while we may not have completely finished a task, it’s six hours later and we haven’t taken a single break. Just to keep yourself sane, remember to take breaks whether they’re for a snack, a shower, a walk, etc. Make a little time for what is important.

Five– Get Up, Get Out

A change of scenery can do wonders for productivity. I know I can get in this mode of practicing problem after problem or re-reading essays so much in the same place that it starts to feel very trite very quickly. Sometimes a walk or a quick tea break can help.

Six– Phone a Friend

Well, maybe you don’t have to call them, but a friendly face/voice can always be a comfort when things get really busy. I know that people think my generation doesn’t know how to value real social contact, but I can tell you that definitely appreciate taking breaks just to talk to someone or catch up for a minute. That being said, if you’re anything like me, it’s a slippery slope between a five minute call and an two hour one.

Seven– Breathe

joshua-rawson-harris-665620-unsplash-e1528509705179.jpgStop for a second. Whether you’ve been going all day or just really need to grind, a lot of times I know I forget that air is supposed to be moving in and out of my lungs in the process. But just like food, oxygen is necessary to keep going and good for the soul. Remember to take a step back a breathe for a moment. Then it’s back to work.


So with that, I will leave you with these seven tips and good luck with anything you’ve got going on these days. Have a great weekend everyone!

 

Penny For My Poems

thought-catalog-470876-unsplash.jpgAnother day of poetry for you, here’s something new— short and sweet. I’ve been doing a whole lot of writing in the past few months, trying out new styles and working through what I can. What I’ve got for you today is a lot more recent, partially because my old writing is on my old phone, but also because this has been my headspace for a while now.

Though they may seem self-explanatory, I’d like to think there’s a lot of meaning in each line. Poem number one is a mirror of another poem I’ve written (shout out to you if you recognize that first line), but I changed the angles a bit. And that second one was written while not paying attention in English class– I’d like to think it was more important at the moment, but my professor may not agree. So give these a quick read and let me know what you think. Maybe you can figure out the full meaning along the way.


One

hernan-sanchez-160709-unsplashAs I lay my head to rest

I wonder if

you’re resting too.

I wonder if that rest is what

you needed, what

you knew

was coming. I have questions now

too many…

If only you

could come back home and answer them…

one thing I know

you can’t do.

Two

lucas-sankey-365365-unsplashCreep around my edges, careful that you be

around the glass, sharpened pieces

that have become of me.

Let your fingers ‘bout each door, who’s locks are

never shut, never hinged, confirmation

of which you may be sure.

I’ll let you in, let you close though

our fingers never touch, call to question

of your purpose here to show.

ornella-binni-148189-unsplash (1)For you are here, a lie to hold

within the brokenness I know; for your

beauty may never grow old.

But let your presence hold me steady,

bring me peace until you go; hold me up

till on my own, I can be ready.


Have a beautiful rest of the week everyone, see you Friday.

 

A Lost Life Isn’t Lost Love— A Dedication

34124953_1563548653771896_7372034991028436992_n.jpgHave you ever stopped to consider the amount of people we meet on a daily basis and how those numbers add up to this moment? Classes, sports, work, colleagues, coffee shops, friends of friends… Take a moment to stop and think about that.

Thought about it?

I graduated high school two years ago and the world got a little bigger once I left home. Before coming to Cal Poly, I had never considered what might happen once I got here– I was so focused on getting in that I didn’t think about what happens next. But I integrated myself into the school, found friends in my orientation group and classes. I discovered little pieces of home in this place last year, and in one quarter, I probably met as many people as my high school graduating class.

And I realized, some homes we make, others we are lucky enough to find ourselves in without even knowing how it happened in the first place.

Tower 7 was that home for me last year. For those of you that don’t know, I lived in 3-story dorms last year, each floor containing maybe 40 rooms each give or take a few. The amount of people I met was astounding to me, there were just so many new faces. jian-xhin-281513But lucky for me, I made my spaces a little smaller and spent the majority of time in the third floor common room or over in Nick’s Tower 7 dorm– each floor had about 12 rooms. As much as it wasn’t even my living space, floor 2 adopted me all the same.

I’m even more thankful for it now than I was then.

Like I said, we meet a lot of people in our lives, but there are some groups of people that really change us. Maybe it took me a little while to see it, but I got lucky to have two homes last year.

In the last few months of my life, from my job to my friends, I’ve come to understand how fragile our mortality really is. It’s one thing to know that we don’t live forever, it’s another thing for the world to hand you proof.

Losing Bryce Adams has brought Tower 7 back together again, not only to miss someone, but to love everything he was and left behind. In the memories, photos, videos, laughs… It’s all there, everything that needs to be. And it’s been a beautiful thing to be welcomed into; to be allowed to feel a loss but also to appreciate a life. I know it sounds cheesy, but at my age I think it’s important to understand how to do both.

Too many of us don’t know how.

34067493_1563548540438574_3374910598830620672_nIt’s a reminder that we have to live while we’ve got the time to do so. We need to make time. Have a coffee date with an old friend and take a moment to forget about the grades or the schoolwork, take advantage of the youth that people keep telling me won’t always last.

It’s a process– figuring out who we are, navigating changing relationships, or even learning how to let people go. It’s something we learn along the way. Even though that’s one thing I’ve been trying to understand this year, just as I think I’ve got it down, life reminds me that I really have no clue what I’m doing.

I’m starting to see that none of us do.

Remembering someone and being okay with a loss, it takes time. It’s different for everyone, but we don’t talk enough about the ripple effects grief can take through things like our groups or friends or hearts or faith.

Because things will change.

It’s all a part of life and if you think about all those people you’ve met, they’ve all been through it at some point. Every single one of them is living their own lives carrying their triumphs or struggles or smiles. And that’s okay, whatever it takes to get back to where you need to be, it’s okay to do it.

I think of the people Bryce met, through wrestling and high school before the dorms and freshman year here, and the concept of that impact is beautiful to me. Tragic, but beautiful. And I am thankful to have been one more person to know him.

Like I said back in October, “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.34108605_1563548620438566_8022201359270936576_n

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

So if you will, live a little for me today, hold onto the love. And as much as I don’t like how many times I’ve said this in the past year, I mean it wholeheartedly:

Rest easy Bryce. Here’s to whatever happens next.