Why Sometimes, It’s Not About the High Road

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Photo by Björn Grochla on Unsplash

“When people go for the low blow…”

You have two options here: you either take the high road OR you decide to go just a little bit lower.

So which way do you go?

The thing about taking the high road is that you get to have the full knowledge of what happened and still follow through on being a good person– maybe a little more cautions, but good nonetheless. It lets you be the bigger person, right?

But what about the other option, being petty and deciding to maybe go for the low blow back sometimes? Because if I’m being honest, taking the high road can make a person feel pretty small and maybe, maybe some days you deserve to fight back for yourself a little bit.

This week has been an absolute whirlwind and not necessarily a good one. Among everything else, I got an email on Monday telling me that I am almost at my graduation date… I wanted to delete that email. Because that means that I’m headed out into the real world soon or I at least need to know where I’m going.

I have no clue. Not really.

I mean, how do we figure that out when there are midterms and classes and auditions and articles and homework and work…

And then the drama, there’s always more drama isn’t there? Whether it’s drama in your work environment or even within your relationships, there’s always a little something to top it all off. My mom keeps telling me to take the high road– she’s right, as always, but maybe I want to be a young and slightly petty, reckless twenty-year old sometimes.

Because, well, college is hard.

Most of us are barely sleeping, let alone balancing that with the amount of work there is to do and things to keep track of. Of course, you can’t forget the fun in there somewhere too– with a day of 88 degrees in SLO today, you can bet half of the campus was at the beach.

There’s got to be some kind of balance in it all. And yes, I’m sure you know how I feel about finding that at this point; I talk about it a lot. But remember this: just because you find it, doesnt’ mean it’ll always hold.

Sometimes that balance breaks, into all these teeny tiny pieces that you get to clean up and rearrange all over again. Then it’s got a new weight and a new type of equilibrium to it, a new kind of balance.

Maybe you find that through taking the high road and being the bigger person.

Maybe you go for the low blow instead…

But is there some inbetween?

Like that in-between of being too nice versus being a narcissist. I’m more on the early end of that spectrum, therefore I get stepped on and taken advantage of a lot.

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Photo by Chris Lawton on Unsplash

Maybe my inbetween means changing that.

Among the rest of it, this week has reminded me that some things truly are not always what they seem– authenticity is hard to find in everything we do, especially the people we surround ourselves with. Who knows, maybe I’ll take the low blow or maybe I’ll take the high road. Either way, the status quo here is changing.

So we will see whatever happens next.

Once in a Promised Land– A Book Review

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Photo by wu yi on Unsplash

Back at it again with the Bookworms for you today, here we go.

This has been our first full month back at school, which unfortunately has me in all English classes— so while I’m doing a whole lot of reading, most of it is not for fun. That being said, my diversity in English Literature class is one of the better ones, plus I get to read the Kite Runner again next week. Lucky for you, that also means I have a book that’s a little different but still very a good one to share with you.

So without further ado— here’s my book for the month.


Once in a Promised Land— Laila Halaby

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Photo by fotografierende on Unsplash

This is one of those books that takes you out of your own life, your own identity, and puts you into the shoes of someone else to walk around in for a little while. It explores the concept of marriage, faith, the intersectionality of home and race, as well as so much else; something in this novel will apply to you.

The main characters of Jassim and Salwa both go through incredible hardships just within the short contents of this book, yet each seem to handle them so differently. As regular human beings, they face the betrayals of their own minds, bodies, and in many ways, their countries as well.

My class is focused on post 9/11 Muslim American Literature, but this book doesn’t necessarily focus on that. The event is almost a side-effect in the novel of everything going on in the characters’ lives, something weaved so seamlessly in by Halaby that the story comes naturally.

Without spoiling anything, I have to say that the metaphors and running motifs in this book are necessary to pay attention to. These metaphors are almost literally threaded between the lines and give a little insight to the lives or backgrounds of our main characters.

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Photo by Luke Stackpoole on Unsplash

As someone who was raised in American culture, Once in a Promised Land not only gives me a look into a culture beyond my own, but also helps me understand what it can be like to live that culture. Incidents of micro-aggressions, racism, and even blatant tokenism are both obvious and dangerous within this book, as we see how easy it can be to overlook something that seems so wrong from another point of view.

One reason I would urge you to read this book is for the way Halaby writes the lives of her characters: in a way that makes it hard to figure out who to root for. Every character does something wrong— some more than others— and in turn it leaves us to question both our own morals as readers and as a country. This book is not anti-American, absolutely not, but some actions of America’s post-9/11 are questionable and for this reason, it is something we should recognize. 

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Photo by John-Mark Smith on Unsplash

The only criticism I have of this book is the speed– at some times, it definitely could have moved faster or some concepts could have been left out. Many character’s lives overlapped, as you will see throughout the book, and while some connections were hidden until later for suspense, I am not so sure it was always necessary. Nevertheless, the underlying lessons in this book were good to understand and I enjoyed many aspects of this novel.

This book will make you think— to question your relationships, what it means to love and to be honest, even what it means to belong to a country. But by the end of it, I hope you think you can see a little bit more about the world around you too.

I know I do.


See you Friday. And for everyone struggling to make it there, know that you will. Just take it day by day. I will see you then.

Finding a Way Back To Balance

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Photo by Wes Hicks on Unsplash

It’s my junior year at a school that for the past two years, I kept trying to leave every chance I got; every day I stick around, I find myself running into more reasons to stay— my people.

College has been rough, I think I’m allowed to say that, but it hasn’t been for nothing. You see, I spent just about my entire freshman year studying and while my grades didn’t always reflect it, my head was constantly stuck in a textbook. I had NO idea what I was doing. I still don’t.

But there is one thing I did last year that I think will completely change how this year goes for me: I put myself out there. I got involved with PCW and Her Campus, along with WOW and several other clubs which I’ll admit, most of the time I didn’t really want to go. But I went, I found some commitments and I held them. Because the biggest thing I got out of each was a home in just a few people along the way.

Give me five minutes on our campus and I guarantee I’ll run into a least one person I’m friends with, a concept which is still so wild to me. Even just yesterday, I ran into another friend from my freshman dorm and it took at least 10 minutes for us to catch up, just a little bit.

I dove into this year in a way that I couldn’t even prepare for: head first. There was truly no time for hesitation, and evidently sleep because I’m still trying to catch up. Even so, I’m realizing that there are some things you have to go into like that: without hesitation and no expectations as to what comes next. At this point, I can attest that absolutely nothing we do goes as planned anyway.

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

As much as I’d love to say that I’ve finally figured college out and I’m as fulfilled as I want to be, I’m not. There’s something missing. Though this is my first year as an official English major, I’m not going to lie and say that it’s been everything I’m looking for— that’s what minors and clubs are for too. I’m sure all of us quarter system students realize how quickly everything moves at this point; my midterms started week 2 and we’re just finishing week 4, but people are burnt out already. It’s intense. With the heinous amount of reading and assignments we have as students, it can be hard to find a balance.

I think the dangerous thing about college, about any time in our lives, is focusing too much on the wrong kind of balance.

Develop a safe balance between fun and work— maybe mix the two, but not too much.

Create a balance in your people— professional peers or other friends— find some support and love, but also find some wild ones to push your own comfort zone just a tad too. Remember, I said a tad.

And most importantly, find a middle ground between spontaneity and consistency. Don’t dwell too much in one or the other.

It’s great if you usually get your work done early. But if you always stay in on Friday nights or get all your homework done by Saturday morning, maybe try something else this week— hit the movies, go for a midnight doughnut run, try out that new restaurant and get all dressed up for no reason, even just do a potluck night with friends. Anything goes, just remember to do something different every once in a while.

We’re all too young to keep to the same routines or always fall asleep in the sofa by 9:30pm— yes Dad, I’m talking to you. Switch it up every once in a while, live your lives.

I’ve got a lot on my plate this year… After what year two turned into, quite possibly too much. But right now, I’m going for it— all of it. If I need to pull back, I can; there is always room to pull back. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of feeling like I’m standing still, even at a school and in a system where everything is constantly moving. I need to find a way to feel like I’m moving again. At this point, it’s now or never, make or break for me.

We all just have to find a balance— I hope you find yours.


Here’s to whatever comes next. Happy Friday everyone and I’ll see you Tuesday for a new Bookworms.

Maddloverocks– The Concept of Kindness and Remembrance

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Photo by Wil Stewart on Unsplash

There’s this painted rock sitting on my bookshelf, ready to be placed somewhere here in San Luis Obispo: a beautiful rock, in a beautiful place, to remember kindness and love in a beautiful girl. I just have to figure out where to put it.

For those of you who don’t know the concept behind the title of this post, it’s idea of “kindness rocks.” To commemorate the life of Madeline Elliott who has somehow been gone a week and a year now, I still can’t believe it, and these rocks have been spread not only throughout the country but across the globe for people to find— all of this done with the #maddloverocks and Maddie in mind.

Because who doesn’t need a little extra kindness every day. So let’s talk about that.

Two days ago was World Mental Health Day and yesterday was National Coming Out Day, both large ideas within people’s identities that can either hold them back or give them the wings they need to fly. As long as they take care of themselves. Whether you identify with one day, both, or neither, I think you should keep in mind that they each should matter to you. 

Here’s why:

It’s about how you treat and see and love yourself as you are. That’s it, that’s what these days come down to. While yes, we shouldn’t just save one day a year to remember these things, I think it is just as important to have one day where people can come together about something and celebrate it or support it together. Kind of like these kindness rocks.

Sometimes it helps just to have a tangible representation of your worth, that you deserve a little kindness today. These rocks, some with beautiful designs or simply a handwritten word, are there to spread positivity and light in a place where sometimes it can be hard to see.

I know I tend to forget that even as college students, everyone is going through their own things and figuring it all out for themselves. Once we leave this college bubble, out into the real world, it’s amazing to think about the amount of people we’ll have in our lives. Even now I look around campus and realize how many connections I’ve truly made— maybe not so far as friends, but connections nonetheless. And those make a difference.

Because there are days when I catch myself thinking about these connections and realize that the more I make, the more people I have to lose.

It makes me hesitate. I mean, I love loving people, don’t get me wrong. The issue here isn’t the people, it’s simply risking losing those people. This past year has reminded me how easily that can happen. After all, we are still little mortal human beings in a very large world.

So why spend any of the time we have doing anything but being kind, and loving, and hopeful, and ready to live in a way that’s worth it?

 

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Photo by Suresh Kumar on Unsplash

To me, that’s part of what these kindness rocks are. When I place mine, I hope someone finds it who needs it, and I hope they pass it along. Young, “old” (whatever that means), happy, sad, struggling, thriving… Anyone who finds it deserves what it means to them and owes it to themselves to pass it on. Because I’m sure there’s someone else who could use it too.

So as you go into your weekend, I hope you remember that this world around you needs your kindness and the good you have to offer. Whether you’re working or taking classes, or serving in the military, or prepping for something new, you are where you need to be. We all are. And I hope this is a reminder that you deserve a little kindness today; this last photo is just for you, for I know someone in your life who means it. 

So pass it on. And keep spreading the kindness.

Old Fashioned Love– Poetry

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Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash

Here’s a little poetry for your Tuesday, inspired by the older poetry I’ve been studying in class. It’s interesting to realize that most writing was about religion back then, the faith and the hope people put into a power beyond them just to get through their days and their lives. Fascinating really.

But, enough of that, my point with telling you that is to explain how I modeled these poems. Each is a love poem, written in a way someone would about their own faith. So check them out and let me know what you think.

Without further ado, Poetry Place.

One

Tell me of our navel’s gaze

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Photo by Erda Estremera on Unsplash

when our pasts cannot

reconcile.

Hurt me with my love’s ill hope

when only one can

smile.

Blame me of the sin we keep;

Indict me for our

trials.

But love me not and let me fall.

I concede my heart’s

exile.

Two

I let you be the needle, weaving

threads throughout my love,

making textiles out of

my pain.

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Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Blanket me dearly, tie my arms

behind my back, take my clothes,

drag my worth out through

the rain.

Wash me clean, let the grace fall

deeply to my bones. I will cry,

out at the brightness of

my shame.

In and out pass through me now, open

wide these empty tombs, fill me up

flood each alley with the whispers of

your name.

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Photo by Chris Yang on Unsplash

Take my eyes, take my heart, take

patterned squares within my soul, leave

me open, leave me scarred to

the blame.

For it is mine and mine alone, each

sin that holds me close, you take

my love, I give my life as yours

to claim.


See you Friday.

The Truth about Insecurity

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Photo by Javardh on Unsplash

I’m not the most secure person– I second-guess myself, question my talent, doubt my abilities, and undermine myself. I’m only human after all, I think we all do this more than we realize.

When I published my book two years ago, I didn’t think anyone would read it, let alone like anything I had to say. I did it to just get my work out there.

When I committed to Week of Welcome, I didn’t think my WOWies would like me, I figured I would be just another person in their lives to fit into the collage of what Cal Poly becomes to them.

And two weeks ago when I took a photo holding a whiteboard, my loopy handwriting scrawling across, containing words that I felt defined me, I wanted to take that photo back. I felt awkward, not at all cute like I had hoped, I thought the lighting would be off, and my whiteboard was so much less creative or cool than anyone else’s.

Then became a published author, I turned out to be a great WOW leader whose WOWies love me (so they say), and I took that photo and I shared it on Facebook to let in the flood of reactions that may or may not go to my head. I got proven wrong.

Because more often than not, what we do will always matter to someone.

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Photo by Parker Johnson on Unsplash

So why do we hesitate to do it?

I’m talking about voting… Why does it seem like my generation doesn’t vote? Possibly because we feel like whatever actions we take don’t matter. Quite frankly, whether we vote or not, it makes a difference. Because it can so easily come down to one vote, just like it did at my University two weeks ago when voting to suspend the fraternity who committed the blackface offenses last year. It came down to one.

We could be that one, if we used our rights and our privileges to do something about it. Trust me, with the way the government is turning these days, this matters.

I’m also talking about education, and not just in schools. Schools have their own systemic issues that need to be addressed, right now let’s focus on us. I mean in our everyday lives when we see something wrong, a microagression here or casual sexual harassment there; it’s our job to say something. So maybe the Brett Kavanaughs of the world are stopped before they get nominated for the Supreme Court.

Isn’t one injustice enough to see that something is wrong?

In the end, I’m really just talking about society. The way so many of us seem to put our jobs or our schoolwork or our accomplishments up for judgement when deciding whether or not we are doing enough.

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Photo by Simon Shim on Unsplash

It comes down to how well we do our work, how many positive comments we get back about a presentation, or  the GPAs I know that it feels like college students need if they’re going to get anywhere.

We need to realize that our securities– how we feel about our accomplishments or our voices or our knowledge– all come down to one person: ourselves.

If we feel like our voices don’t matter in voting, do it anyway. Then do it again. And again. And again. Keep proving yourself wrong; one voice can be all it takes to hear the right words.

If we feel like what we know isn’t everything we need to know, keep learning, keep reading, and keep the doors open for finding something new. The day we stop learning is the day a part of our lives gets left behind.

And if we feel like what we do, who we are, or the life we hold isn’t enough…

Surround yourself with people who never make you feel the need to be more than you are, remind yourself that there is only one of you and being 1/7.44 billion is okay.

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Photo by sydney Rae on Unsplash

We are all human after all. Sometimes it’ll feel like our actions, our voices, and our beings just aren’t big enough to matter. If I have learned anything in the past year, it’s that no matter how small a person or an voice or a smile in this world might seem, it can change lives.

So use and be proud of what you’ve got.