Intention vs Impact and Newton’s Third Law

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And just like that, it’s Friday again. Spring break or not, we’re always learning and today I want to talk about something that a lot of people might not pay attention to: Intention versus Impact.

You see, the things we say and do in our everyday lives have an impact on what our lives may look like tomorrow. But they also impact other people. If we say something offensive in a group chat, intending to be funny and not recognizing the inappropriateness of what we say, it can turn out to have the effect of something we didn’t intend.

It doesn’t matter that we didn’t intend it. Ignorance aside, it still makes the same impact.

So what does that mean in the big picture of things?

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Well, first of all, none of us are experts. In anything. Like I said, we’re each learning every day and there are simply going to be things that we do not understand. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as we are open to learning. But what can we do beyond that?

We can pay attention. I’m not saying we should walk on eggshells every moment of our lives, trying not to offend people… Just like the political climate, that’s exhausting. No one is asking you to do that. But, I will ask you to pay attention.

Watch what you say or do, think before you act. You could assume this is common sense, but I think one thing social media has done for us is lessened the impact we see ourselves having once we say something. Just because it’s online or through an app or confined to one space, doesn’t mean it only has the potential to impact that area. Screenshots are a thing.

Once it’s out there, it’s out there. You can’t take it back. You also can’t stop it from spreading.

I say all this because, as I get older, the more responsibility I hold for my actions. Just like being over eighteen means that I can’t punch someone or start a fight without potentially going to jail, being a young adult means that I have to be conscious of my actions and my words. I could post something on Twitter and find it harmless while potential employers or even friends of a friend might not think so.

That’s the idea of intention versus impact—we must realize that every action has an equal and opposite reaction: Newton’s Third Law of Motion. It applies to life too.

And simply because we could all use a reminder sometimes, I wanted to share it with all of you. This blog is here to share my journey with you and this is part of it. Most of it actually, you’re with me through every step of the learning process.

If you’re still here, I guess that means you’re okay with it. So thanks for sticking around, and if anyone has any big experiences around the concept of Intention versus Impact, feel free to share in the comments below.

I would love to hear about it.

Happy Friday everyone.

Five Feet Apart–A Book Review

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So is a book always better than the movie? In this case, I hope not, because I’ve got a book for you today. And it’s not quite what I’d hoped it would be.

We have a history of blockbuster teenage romance movies that somehow turn out to be pretty good. Not because they tell a story we have never heard before, but because they tell us one we have. And they tell it well.

The Fault in Our Stars, Love, Simon, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, and countless more do what they do well. Each of these was both a book and a movie—and both turned out quite nicely. Sure, my opinion might be a little biased depending on my tastes against yours, but hear me out on this one.

Some books just don’t measure up.

So without further ado, I’ll tell you what’s up with this one.

Five Feet Apart—Rachel Lippincott

This book starts off with the classic troupe for a romance story with teenagers involved: Two people hate each other and slowly fall for one another somewhere between point A and… wherever they end up. But there’s a catch— there’s always a catch. They’re not allowed to be together.

In this case, they can’t be together if either one wants to live. Both are cystic fibrosis patients, have been for years and they know the rules. They need to be at least six feet apart at all times in order to avoid contaminating one another due to their weak immune systems and low lung functions. Logistically, it’s simple. If they break the rules in place set to keep them alive, they could kill each other.

So what’s up with the story?

When introduced to main character Stella Grant, I actually quite liked her. She’s got this fierce independence and witty humor that makes it easy to appreciate her as a person. She seems a little complicated, something that you’re let more and more into as the story continues on, and the people that surround her are part of what makes the story so colorful.

Enter love interest: Will Newman. The boy who is classically angsty and just wants control over the health. Control he can’t possibly have. Because he’s terminal. And with a new infection, his margins for hope are growing smaller.

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So what is it about the love story between these two that didn’t quite make the cut?

I guess, maybe, I wanted more. We were let into their lives and their minds, told about their insecurities and anything that held them back. But, to me, I felt like there was more. We’re missing the whole person. I wanted to know what made Stella laugh, what was Will worried about when it came to living, what about Stella’s best friend Poe made him special, why was this a story about Will and Stella?

We were being told a story about these two human beings. My questions was why them? Usually I can find that why in the story, find a reason why it had to be them and no one else. But throughout this story, it felt like the details were held at an arm’s length from the characters, as if this was a story happening to them, not one told by them.

Maybe that’s why the ending that you see coming falls a little flat. By the end of it, I didn’t care enough about them.

I wanted to, but I didn’t.

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When it comes to good writing, you know something is written well when you can’t put it down or you look up from the pages and surprise yourself by still being in your own life, not theirs. I love books like this, especially those in which the movies and the books are such different animals that they are both great in alternate ways.

If I end up going out to see Five Feet Apart, I want to see just how the movie measures up. And if you’ve read this book, I would love to hear from you.

Did you feel that this book was as much as you wanted to be?

Winter Quarter Wrap-Up–One For the Books… Or Not

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It’s not that the quarter was a bad one, that’s not it. When I say it wasn’t for the books, I mean it quite literally.

This quarter was for the time.

For the short stories,

For the Team,

For the experience.

This is probably the first quarter of my life I found myself getting lost in something other than my grades. Sure, they still matter to me. A lot. But not in the way they used to.

For me, grades used to be everything, my only sense of worth. I thought that if there was one thing I could control, not my inspiration or my talent or my classes, I could at least control myself. I had a say in how ready I could be for anything and everything.

I guess it’s about time I realized maybe I can’t control my grades either. Sometimes, you’re not ready for something. And nothing can really change that.

Maybe it’s not about the control at all.

I know, I know. About time I have come to understand how futile it may be to try to take care of everything, I know. But that’s not it.

I guess maybe I’m starting to care a little less about trying to control everything. I mean, just look at this quarter: I learned how to jump a car on my own. Three times. I managed bus schedules and academic navigating. I managed my own schedule which has never been so full. I have spoken in front of clubs and crowds of people dozens of times. And I have taken time to stop taking so much time to do things.

Sometimes, you’ve got to just do it. Think later. Act now.

Okay, not with everything. If all your friends were jumping off a bridge… You know the rest. But in some cases, slowing down isn’t the best option. It’s picking up extra shifts when you know it’ll be most productive for you. It’s not leaving a study space for 14 hours in order to get a study guide done (shoutout to my Sunday night/Monday morning and 36 pg study guide). It’s forcing yourself to sit in whatever space you’re in and understand that maybe you can’t control what happens next.

So don’t try. Just roll with it.

I’m at a point in my life where I can see the end of the next chapter—sooner or later, I’ll have no choice but to graduate and step out from the comfortable routine chaos of undergrad into whatever comes next. There are times when I can pinpoint exactly when something began to change, when my mind shifted or my perspective widened, and there are times when I knew there was no going back to who I was the day before given a choice I made.

But I made those choices. I took those steps forward. And I’m learning to let go of control sometimes.

I’m learning about what my life and my people here have to teach me. When it comes to college, I’d say it’s not just about the books anymore. Not even a little bit.

The Little Victories

So I don’t know if I told you all, but I got back into writing lately—fiction writing that is. And I know that’s bad because, ultimately, I should have a set schedule for writing on a regular basis by now, but I’m working on it. Even though I’m more of an ambitions kind of girl who takes on novels rather than short stories, I wrote a short story this quarter.

And I really like it.

Granted, I took a fiction writing class this quarter and a short story was one of our assignments, but you’d be surprised how I ended up with the story I turned in.

You see, the concept of a short story was kind of daunting to me. Because I love writing and stories and I have so SO many ideas, but I’m not great at getting to the point when I need to. My “short” stories never turn out being short.

There’s always too much ambition in the way for that.

Five days before this story was due, I had the first page of four different short stories written. The first page. Only. Picture this: It’s 11:00 pm and I’m scrolling between each one on a Friday night, trying to decide which one I want to keep going with. And every time I tried to add to any of them, all I could produce was cliche melodrama.

The hours passed and I watched the cursor mock me, blinking at me in a constant reminder of my lack of work from the open nothingness in front of me. 1:00 am. I had nothing and I was lying with my head on the table, staring at the computer sideways while I traced lazy circles on the dinner mat my head rested on.

I started typing: “What do you do when a creator’s hands want to create, but their insecure mind keeps telling them that they can’t?”

It made me think of my attempts at painting, the blank canvas a daunting demand to be filled.

1:30 am. At this point, I started messing around with the keys, opening a new document and typing out everything I was thinking. Painting. Not being able to, maybe there was something in the way. And my main character, I wanted her to paint, but she couldn’t.

Why couldn’t she?

For the next two hours, I was on a deep dive into my own thoughts, trying to figure out why this painter couldn’t find beauty in her painting anymore and somehow it just made sense to keep going, to try to get her to the painting she missed so badly it ached but somehow couldn’t touch a single brush without losing it.

I took a painter who couldn’t find the will to paint anymore and I wrote up a life for her in which, that made sense.

I was a writer who couldn’t write something beautiful to save my life. So I wrote about it.

Maybe I didn’t save my life, but I did feel like a writer for the first time in a whole because this story, it turned out quite beautifully.

It opens with Janice, standing among her paintings and staring dismally at her studio walls, aching with a need to create again. But there’s some reason she can’t bring herself to do it and as she walks around looking into each colorful canvas outlining her past, you fall into her life with her and begin to understand what exactly it is standing between her and the person she wishes to be.

Juxtaposed with her daughter, Anita, who is so full of life and energy and constantly pesters her mother to paint with her, there’s something about this story that brings to life the concept of writer’s block in a way I never imagined it. The questions is, does she end up giving in to the pull of creating, or does she walk away from it?

If you want to read the story to find out what happens with Janice and Anita, let me know. I’ll share it with you. Otherwise, I tell you all this because that night, I created something out of nothing. Simply by waiting and giving myself the space to do so.

If that doesn’t make this a successful quarter, I don’t know what does. I did one thing I’m really proud of in the last three months and well, I think that’s got to be enough for me right now.

Hopefully you can find at least one thing too. Happy Friday.

Taking Up Space

Photo by Daniel von Appen on Unsplash

Another Friday has come upon us and I’m spending it attempting to be as productive as possible and failing rather miserably. After all, we’re heading into prep-week in only a few days and that means finals are just that much closer.

I’m definitely not ready.

I’ve had an issue with being productive lately. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like there has been a whole lot on my to-do list but not much crossed out every day, and at a certain point, that catches up with a person.

Even so, there have been some positives to this past week— a few bits that have reminded me just how much I’ve grown as a person in the last year of my life.

Yesterday, I sat on a panel of students and told other people about my experience being a Cross Cultural Experience Orientation Leader. Just picture that for a moment: for two hours, I’m sitting on a high chair in the front of the room with four of my peers and people are all there to sit and listen to us talk.

Just us.

A year ago there was absolutely no way I would have been up there. I used to avoid being the center of attention; in reality, I used to not like having eyes on me at all. Sometimes I still find myself mumbling too quietly to be heard because in the past, I was afraid of taking up too much space.

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So I spoke quietly. I only did things that would make a positive difference and didn’t publicize it when I saw that difference come to fruition. I kept my head down when I walked and tried to walk quickly, not wanting to be too slow for the people around me. And I always, always, kept my mouth shut until I knew that when i opened it, it wouldn’t cause any disturbances to  the atmosphere of a room and the presence of anyone else around me.

I didn’t want to be too much.

It’s hard to break out of a habit like that, of constantly reminding yourself to stay quiet or take up less space or let the attention be on people who matter.

I know I’m not the only one in saying that reminding myself that I matter too is something that takes getting used to.

Some of that space belongs to me. Some of that noise should be taken up by my own voice. Sometimes, maybe I belong at the front of the room.

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The more people I talk to, the more I realize that maybe I have something to say that they need to hear. It’s not that I have all the answers, it’s simply that I might have a little more information to get them to where they want to be. In sitting in on that panel yesterday and feeling like someone who might actually hold some worth in pushing other people forward, I guess maybe it’s safe to say that being someone people pay attention to isn’t so bad.

At least, not when it’s for the right reasons.

Even while I may not have been productive as I wanted to be this week and I haven’t quite figured out what that balance in being quiet or too loud might look like for me, I’m figuring it out. For now, I think that’s good enough.

Happy Friday.

How to Build a Resume–Or a Life

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In the past week and a half, I’ve found myself re-working my resume and cover letters for what seems like the millionth time throughout college. Every time I go through it, I find little things here and there that have changed since the last time I did; this time I’m looking a little farther than I used to.

Now I’m a junior, no longer an underclassman. I am also officially an English major with my own concentration and minor/certificate. I am also about 6 classes away from graduating if I wanted to.

Each time I go back through it, I am reminded of where I’ve come from. I am also reminded that I truly have no idea who Karina Williams will be in the next two years. After all, if I guessed my own progress two years ago as of now, I would have been completely wrong.

Two years ago, all I really had to go off of was what we were told in high school—join anything and everything in high school that would make you stand out in college and go from there.

They told us how to get into college, they never told us how to pick one, let alone who to be once we got in there. And I can definitely say I had no idea.

Coming in, I kept my head down and did my work, joining a few clubs but just trying to keep my head above water. The idea was to survive, thriving would come later.

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But you know, surviving doesn’t get you anything to put on your resume. And it definitely doesn’t give you the kind of experience that’ll make things any fun. All that does is put pressure on what you’re already trying to do—survive.

The way I see my old resume, that was me trying to figure out who I wanted to be in the middle of figuring out who I was allowed to be without slipping on what I was supposed to be doing. Get the grades, hold a job, graduate and stand out enough to get a job.

What do we do after we get a job? Keep working every day and never find a new one, just stay on the same timeline for the rest of our lives? Or do we take another road sometimes, make a left or a right and change careers somewhere along the way? Maybe we have kids way sooner than we were planning (I‘m only joking mom and dad), or maybe we never quite take the time to settle down because that just isn’t who we turn out to be.

Our resume can’t tell us what that is supposed to look like and they definitely don’t tell us who we’re going to be in two years. The major may change, the amount of words you realize is appropriate for a cover letter and the absence of a high school GPA that really doesn’t matter anymore.

Did it ever?

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I can’t tell you who I’ll be by the time I turn 23, nor the city I’ll live in or the people who will know my name.

But I can tell you that I’m kind of excited to see where we go together. Whatever happens this summer, I think it’ll have a lot to say about what 23 is going to look like on me. All of this matters, everything affects everything.

Even what we do to fill our resumes and lives and hearts up in the process.

So we may as well make it look good. I can promise at least I’ll try.