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.

Photo by Ksenia Makagonova on Unsplash

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.

The Help– A Book Review

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It’s the fourth Tuesday of the Month and the last post for Black History Month, so it’s about time I got back on track and gave you what you’re looking for…

Welcome to Bookworms, BHM edition!

Today, I want to review one of my favorites and one of the few pieces of literature where I’m still not sure whether the movie or the book was better. But either, there’s got to be a reason I have a quote from this book on my laptop. So without further ado, here we go.

The Help—Kathryn Stockett

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As a novel that builds on the historical subjugation of black people, this one is a hard hitter without making sure to catch some pretty sweet moments in between. Even as Aibileen takes up her job as a maid and nanny in raising another white child—Mae Mobley—soon after the loss of her own child, we have an inside look into the discrimination and prejudice that she along with her friends and coworker Minny face in this 1960’s slice of life.

One big thing that this novel that tackles, something that many people did not brings a whole lot of attention to, was the idea of being an ally rather than a bystander. We see this through the character of Eugenia, or Skeeter, in her determination to stand against the prejudicial society she was raised in. In this situation, just like those who stood by Dr. King Jr and all those who fought for equal rights (that we still don’t have), we wouldn’t be anywhere without the noise we created as a collective. Allies are necessary. Through her own white priviledge, Skeeter found a way to use her own access to create some for people who would never get it on their own.

She became a catalyst. Every chance to make a change needs one.

As for another reason I like this book so much, well the quote on my laptop reads: “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” Just take a look at those three sentences; read it an extra time for good measure.

Did you notice the grammar? It isn’t proper. It’s the basic stereotype that black people don’t know how to speak properly. But the thing is, that concept is steeped in a whole lot of history because black people were not allowed to go to school and therefore, many didn’t learn to read and write unless their “master” taught them. If they didn’t learn that— and even when they did, they weren’t taught to any high standard— then they couldn’t learn to speak well because… Because the barriers of prejudice, racism, and an unequal society didn’t let them ever learn how. That is why, when Aibileen speaks those words to young Mae Mobley, it immediately created a juxtaposition between black and white, unbiased child and everyone else.

It’s not that the child didn’t see color, not at all. It’s that she hold prejudices attached to skin color that changed how she saw the woman who raised her rather than her own mother.

If that’s not a book that breaks barriers in just a few small parts of the book, then I don’t know what is.

I hope you’ve read this book; if you have, I want to hear about it! And if you haven’t, well put it on your list because this is a novel you don’t want to miss out on. Trust me on that.

See you Friday.

To Be or Not To Be

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I don’t know if you all know this, but the original Hamlet “to be or not to be” quote is about suicide, and today I’m changing that association. This blog post is about living. You’ll see.

Well it’s a Friday night, the end of a four-day week, and what I hope has been a good day for you. This week has been a bit hectic in my life, classic quarter system week 7 with more midterms, projects, story reviews etc. The list goes on.

Maybe it’s because week 7 of my winter quarter is over and I’m realizing that I will only ever be able to say that one more time in my college career, but I’ve been thinking a lot about my path lately… All of our paths.

Not a single one of them has been linear. Let me explain why this matters so much.

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Something about American culture, especially in my generation and below, makes us feel the need to compare ourselves and where we’re at with one another. You were either an early bird or a late bird, GATE or not GATE in elementary school. Then middle school and high school: you were in accelerated math/english or not, you were an AP student or not. We have grown up comparing ourselves to one another.

Even when it’s not really fair.

But now, when you get to age 20 or 21, most of our lives can’t be compared that easily. In college, we’re all in different majors and outside of college, everyone is doing something different.

Some people are married with kids, others are single and travelling the world—the rest of us are somewhere in between.

And somewhere between point A and… wherever we are now, someone told us that we’re supposed to be doing what all the other people are doing. But think about that. When we’re all doing something different, that makes “success” impossible. I guess what I’m saying is, with that attitude, we’ve been raised to fail.

Don’t you see that?

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The way I’ve been living my college years so far, at least the first two, I did things because I thought that’s what I was supposed to do. From clubs to orientation, I joined things and became a part of my campus because I figured it was what I should do. If all my friends found themselves liking college by doing that, I thought it would make me happier here.

Long story short, it didn’t.

I felt out of touch with this campus, my schoolwork, and so much else that makes me who I am. After two years of doing things that I thought was good or right or better, I started listening to myself and trusting my gut.

But even more so, I began asking for help if I really wasn’t sure.

Then things started changing.

My relationships began to feel intentional, my goals started to feel more like mine, and my place on this campus started to feel a little more comfortable.

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Because I stopped looking at where everyone else was and started to think about where I wanted to be. That’s it. The only person I ever need to be is a little bit better than the girl I was yesterday. Sometimes, there will be steps back and other times there will be four steps forward.

No matter what, this week I’ve learned to let myself just exist as I am and stop comparing so much. Maybe now I can figure out what my own success might actually look like.

Here’s to the weekend, I hope you are all doing alright. Happy Friday.

Today is Not the Day

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It’s been a whirlwind week here, beginning with jumping my car at 10:30 on a Sunday night and ending with the mayhem of midterms and Valentine’s Day festivities. It was one of those weeks where I got about 3 hours of sleep one day and almost 11 on another.

Sounds kinda like college.

If you noticed, there was no Poetry Place on Tuesday, hence the midterms Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday took priority. But I did want to give you at least a little something.

So that’s part of today’s post. Because after all, it is Black History Month, something that people are also beginning to realize is not only ‘his’tory but ‘her’story too. The more I think about what has had to happen in the past for me to be where I am today, the more I also think about what I do and care about that will then lead me into a future I hope to have.

After all, my current reality will become a part of my own history before I know it. The least I can do is make the most of it.

You see, everything I’ve thrown myself into on Cal Poly’s campus is a huge part of what is changing my future. The things I’m passionate about and the people I hold onto in my life, all of that is changed by what I’m doing here. That’s why I write, why I follow the things I do or pay attention to the people that I want.

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Weeks like this one put it all in perspective. Because, sure, I’m working hard to get a degree to then find a career so I can afford a stable life. But it’s bigger than that.

Beyond the degree and the classes I have the people and the passions and the aspirations that are molded out of the clay I walked onto this campus with.

While I fight to figure out what I want and the directions I want to go in, I’m also beginning to realize that I need to pick my battles somewhere in between.

Some days are better fit for buckling down and grinding out a few hours of hard studying. Others are the ones to maybe spend a few hours watching too much tv or wasting too much time with friends.

I’m starting to realize that college is about learning to pick my battles.

Because within that, some days are the ones to allow myself the grace to take a step back from everything that will take away pieces of me that I need for my own good. And others, well… You get the point. Sometimes I can afford to give a little. Other times, I need to learn when not to.

The Poetry Place of this post, it’s about learning the difference in what that means. Learning the balance.

It’s a part of my life after all, every one of our lives. It’s about deciding which day is which. Maybe if you’ve figured it out, you can pass along some tips in the comments. In the meantime, here’s Today is Not the Day.


Today is not the day

to feel like I can conquer the world,

to hold my head a little too high,

or feel like this will be alright.

Today is just a day

to exist, to keep breathing,

to understand it’s all I can do,

to remember that I’m not okay

and that’s okay.

Because today is just a day,

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time will move forward,

and it will pass.

This day will become

a part of the past

just like they always do.


Happy Friday everyone. I hope you had a wonderful Valentines and remembered all the love that should come from you too. See you next week.

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