A Snowball Effect

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It’s been a pretty regular week in the life, more projects and classes and work shifts to attend to. Nothing special, not really.

At least not directly.

There is one news story that did catch my eye, one that got me thinking about my career and what it could look like. It has nothing to do with me, but it was about an author I used to read a lot of; I idolized her and her work. Sure, my tastes changed over time, but she does her job well regardless.

Most people do, that is, until they begin to abuse the position that job may give them.

I’m talking about Sarah Dessen and the slew of authors that got involved after the resurfacing of a commentary on her work. Here’s a quick rundown of what happened and why it matters on a larger scale to the rest of us:

As a junior in college, Brooke Nelson volunteered on the selection committee for the Common Read program. This program selects certain books for incoming students to read on Northern State University in South Dakota. As her reasoning for joining, she spoke out against the selection of Dessen’s books, as they were not on par with Common Read standards.

The reaction to this, however, was not as small as a single opinion. Dessen took to Twitter in order to say that authors are still people and that this opinion hurt her in a time that she is going through a lot. Many of her fellow YA authors backed her up, also offended by Nelson’s words.

So that’s the summed-up version of what happened. Here’s why I think it matters to the rest of us:

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On one hand, we need to remember that everything we do ultimately impacts someone else. What we say, what we do, when we do it… It all matters. In the words of author Jay Asher, “Everything affects everything.”

We only ever know our own circumstances and some semblance of how we impact our own lives. There is no real way to predict what skipping one class or getting gas another day or breaking routine will do for the people you may have come across. We don’t know, I personally don’t think I’d want to know all those possibilities.

In that vein, be kind when you can and pay attention to the world around you. Maybe it’ll make a difference, maybe it won’t. You can’t really know.

Now for the other hand: we are all in a position of power somewhere in our lives. Whether it’s with siblings or coworkers or just someone that friends look up to, that gives you power. With that power, the more you have reflects what you say or do on a much bigger stage.

You are never off stage.

By speaking out as someone whose work is widely read, beloved, and admired by fans and authors alike, Dessen found herself on a large stage. And a lot of other people decided to join her. Other popular YA authors then chimed in and supported her, therefore speaking down to Nelson. 

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Unfortunately, Nelson is now just a graduate student and when angry fans and authors came mobbing at her through social media, the impact was a big one. Because not only did Dessen back herself up, but she had a whole lot of other people to join her.

In the end, there was a lot of harm done to the girl and a lot of support for the author. As someone who writes and wants to be successful in that aspect of my life, I recognize that not everyone is going to like everything I write. I mean, I don’t even like everything I write; that is not an expectation I can hold over other people.

Beyond writing, it also extends to relationships and jobs even. Not every job is a good fit, nor are people always the right people. Though I used to try to get everyone to like me, that isn’t possible. So why bother? Ultimately, it’s not supposed to be possible. There’s a reason for that.

The adversity we face oftentimes opens up to other perspectives or opinions that we do not have. Sometimes that can hurt and sometimes it can help. But every time, it is also a chance to learn from what we didn’t see the first time. It’s almost like hindsight but seeing it from a different direction than looking back.

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So maybe this didn’t happen in my life, no one told me (directly) that they don’t like my writing this week. But it did happen somewhere. One person was punished for having an opinion when that is what she volunteered for in the first place. And the other took that opinion as a reflection of her own person.

Writing is personal, yes. I think to a certain degree, everything we do is. The question is whether or not we pay attention to how what affects the world around us.

So, think about it, what have you put out into the world today?

It’s Not You, It’s Me

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Someone asked me today why I don’t drink, and I realized that my explanation has grown as I have. Here’s the thing: It’s not that I don’t drink, not really. It’s that I choose not to a lot of the time because I generally don’t enjoy it.

That’s not always the case, but it got me thinking.

Just because we like something some of the time or other people are doing it, doesn’t mean that we have to always stay that way or join in with them. We’re far too complicated as humans to follow such social concepts.

Yet, we do. And part of me thinks I know why—at least for myself.

There are a lot of things I have done in the past, not because I particularly wanted to or because it felt right, but because I felt like I was supposed to. I drank occasionally at parties because everyone else did and I was tired of people judging me. In the same vein, there are a few AP classes I took in high school— definitely should not have taken calc AB— that I took because I thought I should.

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But right now, I’m realizing that this is one of the first times I’m seeing how much it matters as to why I do what do. If I don’t enjoy something or at least gain skills, friends, etc. out of it, then why am I doing it?

The last few years, I’ve gotten so involved because part of me wanted to despite being shy and afraid. If you ask my friends now, they probably won’t use either word to describe me. Considering that I’m 21, there are a whole lot of opportunities coming at me in life right around now that offer something that I don’t really like—options. It’s not that I don’t want choices, it’s that I don’t want to have to make those choices.

Because making decisions that just might change the direction my life is headed in is kind of intimidating. Kind of in the same way that doing things that you want to do but aren’t comfortable doing in the moment doing, it’s not always easy doing something that you have to do even if you want to.

Here’s a slightly different example that changed my week up a little bit.

Earlier this week, my seminar class on literary theory and criticism—yes, it is as dense as it sounds—was trying to unpack a passage we had just read. Though the reading itself was on the concept man being the superior sex, it was likened to race as well. Now, this part didn’t bother me even though I was one of two minorities in the class, both of which were used as an example in the readings.

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My issue came up when someone raised their hand to offer their own insight and used the words “colored individuals” as a way of referring to people of color.

I think I froze when I heard her say that, my shoulders going still and fingers actually stopping mid-reach for my water bottle as an old segregation sign popped into my head. Many of us, our professor included, were so surprised to hear it that nothing was addressed about the usage of language.

In that moment, I wanted to say something; I felt like I was supposed to say something. But I didn’t. Because Cal Poly isn’t the easiest place for people like me to speak up.

What I did do, however, was email my professor after class to express both my discomfort with the language and concern as we move into queer and postcolonial theory. When I felt uncomfortable, I didn’t do something just because I thought I was supposed to or obligated to. I’m not really sure that would have benefited me in any way and most likely would have felt worse.

Instead, I found a way to do something I personally wanted to do that didn’t put me in an uncomfortable situation in the process. Sometimes, you can’t avoid the discomfort. Sometimes, you can. So, I did.

There are a lot of situations and settings that I don’t drink in simply because it would be uncomfortable and hard to enjoy. But when I am comfortable and actually want to, I can. Because that is my decision to make.

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Studying when I don’t want to is a benefit to me just like going to class or working. There are other things we do for other people or for ourselves only out of expectation or sometimes a lack of self-respect. That isn’t really any way to live a life we want to be living.

So, don’t live it that way. It took me a while, but I’m starting to understand what it means to lead my own life rather than let other people or circumstances dictate it. After all, my life is about me, isn’t it? Even in the face of uncomfortable moments or hard decisions like last week, I think dictating my own life is worth it.

Don’t you?

Take Yes for an Answer… Unless

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Over the past 3 years, I’ve done everything I could do here on campus and sometimes I forget just how much that is. From my adings and my WOWies to my OLs and my coworkers, I guess you could say these past two years were a whole lot of saying “yes.” Especially my junior year. It was my year of yes.

Honestly, I think it was one of the best things I could have done for myself. I don’t think I would have gotten so involved otherwise.

The thing about all of my involvements, from working as customer service to orientation, a lot of it has been work focused on the benefit of other people. Not me.

Now I say this to point out that these are people I adore and would truly do anything for, but at this point I kind of have. I’ve done a lot and I am proud of all the people I have done it all for too. Even so, there needs to be a balance.

This is my fourth year here and college has been incredibly hard for me on just about all fronts. I’ve grown a lot, yes, but I’ve also been through a lot. We all have. So when a decision came up this week whether or not to put all my time and energy this year into continuing the work I’ve been doing, it wasn’t an easy one to make.

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To me, it was an either or thing. Either I put my time and energy into the program and CCE or I put that time into myself.

Until now, I hadn’t considered that it’s possible to do both. Just differently. In knowing that, this time I said no; no to an opportunity that would benefit so many people I care about because maybe I care about me too. In some ways, that no to them was very much a yes to myself and the focus I need to be putting into my own wellbeing.

Because the better I am for me, the better I can be for other people regardless of what position or title I hold.

If someone asked me what the difference was between the me walking into freshman year and the me right now, I would probably say my perspective—the way I see the world, myself, and what I owe to each has grown immensely. And I am only just reaching the beginning of that change.

For those of you who know me, you know that I tend to put the needs of others first. Whether that’s a positional need that I can fill or support for a friend that I can give.

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Looking at myself, there are endless things that I could do for other people or positions. And I have. Even when I shouldn’t.

Everything we do is a give and take: if you give in one area of your life, you are most likely taking from another whether that is a positive or negative thing. For me, I always thought giving to others and being the person to fill those roles was my job if I could; I mean if I didn’t, who would?

Someone else. And sometimes, that’s okay.

Regardless of who does it, the job always gets done. I don’t always have to be the one to do it.

Neither do you.

Personally, I’ve been fighting a cold for the past two and a half weeks and migraines/tension headaches for over the past month now. If that is any indication, it’s probably a good time for me to be focusing on my own life.

It’s a give and take: these past few weeks I’ve been so diligent about giving time to my schoolwork and getting things done and other people that I’ve been taking away from myself.

See how that all kind of plays out?

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Just like I talked about a hierarchy of needs a few weeks ago, we also have a hierarchy of people or things we care about. When it comes to us, we’re not always on the top of that list and that’s okay. Unless it isn’t.

There’s a time and place for everything including when to place other’s needs above your own.

This week, I chose for that time and place to be here and now.

Considering that it’s November, the second to last month of the year, I want you to think about this: are you choosing yourself in some way, every single day? Because you deserve to, we all do.

If you aren’t, start now. There’s no time like the present. Happy Friday.

Another Week, Another Lesson to Learn

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Welcome back to another Friday!!

This week was long, but even more so, it was HOT. It’s been in the 90’s for the past few days here in SLO and my wardrobe is as confused as I am. Even so, we keep on keeping on. 

Because with long weeks comes more time for good moments, and let me tell ya, there were a few.

First of all, I’m a fourth year here but I’ve only just started going downtown on weekends this year (shoutout to my roommate) and I have to say, dancing can do so much good for you. Almost nothing compares to taking a few hours to shut off your brain and turn on your rhythm instead—it’s not about always thinking about life so much as it’s about feeling it too.

Some people do yoga, IM teams, biking, etc. and some of those take skills, equipment, or teams.

All dancing requires is a body and a solid beat to move to. That’s it. If you’ve seen what Grey’s Anatomy used to be, you might remember Meredith and Yang solving problems by “dancing it out.”

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I get it now. Sometimes life necessitates taking a step back from everything and I am beginning to find that dancing is one incredible way to do it.

I’m just saying. Try it, you won’t regret it.

Beyond that, I also realized that I register for the second to last time of my undergraduate career in under two weeks. My senior project forms are officially turned in, my fiction writing workshop is (almost) set for next quarter, and this quarter is forcing me into creative limits I haven’t pushed before.

I’m running out of time but I am also growing, a lot. It’s incredible.

My digital projects have been taking a lot of time with software I have never used before, but they’re also turning out quite well. These days, I have projects that I lose sleep over just to make it something I can be proud of—I’m lucky for that.

Even regarding things that I love too much not to be insecure about.

Here’s what I mean:

Three weeks ago, the first six pages of my novel were handed out in class, read aloud, and picked apart. Brutally. After feeling as if I’d found my groove again and a voice that I was consistently proud of, I was honestly really discouraged. These were stories and characters that I’ve been thinking about for the past year of my life, that I’ve fallen for, constructed, and molded into people I can almost touch. 

I have never been so passionate about and dedicated to a story and its characters—they’re real to me in a way I can’t explain.

Leaving class that day, though, I felt like it wasn’t enough.

That feeling is never something easy to move through. Whether it’s feeling like your work can’t meet expectations, you don’t quite measure up, or something about what you’re doing just isn’t enough… It’s hard. Even when you move past it, it’s hard.

Sitting on those pages for days, thinking and overthinking just what I needed to do to make it work, I was unhappy with the writing I defined myself by. All of it. 

I couldn’t touch any of it for fear that it would only get worse from there. With a deadline yesterday, I knew I had work to do and still put it off until the last minute when I truly had no other options but to do what needed to be done. 

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So in the hours before it was due, I took the boundaries of what I set for my story and I pushed every single one of them, again and again, before printing my copies and bringing them with open hands to class. 

And they loved it. My two workshop partners, both writers I highly appreciate and respect, loved my story. They want me to keep going.

So do I.

At some point, in doing my work and chasing my passions, I forgot that I needed to be my own advocate along the way. I forgot that no matter what anyone else says, we need to be the ones pushing ourselves to keep going or to go out dancing and shut off our brains when we need to or believe in what we do, otherwise sometimes no one else will.

That, and sometimes on the other side of that, if you ever need someone to be your hype person, all you need to do is ask. Trust me, there is always someone out there who believes in everything you are.

What else are the people you love for if not to remind you of that love when you need it?

Because if you had a week like mine, it was filled with ups & downs, lefts & rights, and maybe a little too much heat.

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But it was also filled with moments that could have lasted forever and reassurance that you just might have needed.

Some weeks are like that. The good, the bad, and everything in between. These days, I think I’m learning to be okay with that. If you’re not, I dare you to do something about it.

I know I am.

Happy Friday, see you next week. 

A Human’s Amended Hierarchy of Needs

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Another week down and if I’m being honest, this was a rough one. It’s midterm season and even though I’m ahead of my classes and all I had was a project review, sometimes I think we forget that all of us students or workers or marines etc. are humans first.

We have to attend to our human selves before we can even begin to think about anything else.

Yet, we tend not to. We say that we can sleep when we’re dead or make up for it tomorrow or do something another day, but it tends to add up you know?

It can be a lot.

On top of the classes and work and campus involvement, my body has been telling me to slow down and I can’t really say that I’ve been listening. So the migraines and exhaustion and overall red flags decided to crank it up a notch.

Now I can’t ignore it.

So today, I don’t have classes. I’ve instead caught up with an old friend, seen a really cute dog, and slept a bit extra. As much as it was a rest and recharge kind of day, I still feel like there’s work I need to do and I should stay ahead of my classes or attend to this thing as well…

There’s almost always more to do.

Our culture tends to be a go go go kind of vibe that isn’t always great for us as human beings. Sure, we are productive and maybe get the things we need to do done. And sure, we would like to think our work lives are thriving.

But do we?

Are they?

I’m honestly not so sure that they are.

In the same way that every single one of us is made up of intersections in our identities from what we believe in to what makes us up, our lives are too.

The quality of our lives are made up of our social circles, our personal lives, professional atmospheres, the way we think, how we’re treated by others, how we work, and so much more. That’s why spilling coffee on your way to work impacts you just as much as maybe someone not holding the door open for you when your hands are full.

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I know, those examples are small and aren’t that impactful, but they add up in the same way our work lives do with deadlines and projects and assignments, etc.

When I say take care of yourself or have a good weekend, I mean every aspect of your weekend. I hope you eat well and enjoy the food, I hope you sleep well and get some rest, I hope you work well and get what you want done, and I also hope you relax well and really do take some time for yourself.

Upset even one of those things and it offsets the balance of everything else.

It’s like that triangle of things where we’re only allowed to succeed in two in college. There’s the social life at the top, good work, on the right, and personal needs on the left. A running joke among college kids is that we’re never allowed to find a balance in all three because one will always affect the other.

We’re not wrong—not quite anyway.

When it comes to the concept of “balance” we decide what takes priority over other things. It’s not about being perfect in everything, whatever that means, but about creating an equity in the way you treat the different aspects of your life.

Let’s take three things that each of us need to pay attention to on a regular basis: sleep, nutrition, and social lives. Some of us can run off 4 hours of sleep a night and be fine—you shouldn’t, as that can really impact your health down the road, but do your thing—some of us need at least 8. In the same way, some of us eat maybe two meals a day with snacks in between and others eat five meals a day. Or in our social lives, some people need their people every single day while others can check in every few days and be fine with that.

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Our definitions of what is enough is very different because every single one of us is a very different person from the next.

The problem lies in the fact that we do not treat ourselves as such. I just want to know why.

Ultimately, the priorities of our society often align with productivity and work at the top of the list due to the values of American culture. I can’t say I know how that happened or how to change it beyond just ourselves, but in my perspective, this is the status quo.

It doesn’t have to be for all of us.

For me, that prioritization really isn’t working my body is now constantly reminding me of this. If I’m more or less constantly exhausted, missing something of satisfaction in my social life, and ahead of my academic life and still not quite happy with it, I need to change something. It’s as simple as that.

As human beings, we need to listen to the changes we ask for of ourselves. I haven’t been doing that and it shows. Sure, maybe finding what that looks like for me will be a longer journey and more work than I want it to be but it’s worth it isn’t it? Life’s too short to live as less than we deserve if we have control over something that can make that better.

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So on this Friday, I have a single question for you. You don’t have to answer to me—though you’re welcome to in the comments if you want to share a little about yourself—but I want you to at least think about it for yourself. Understand the answer and acknowledge what you can do for yourself here. It’s simple, really:

Are you treating yourself like someone you love?


With that, happy Friday. 

Leaning into Senior Year Changes

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Another week of my senior year is over, and if the lines of students buying scantrons in the University Store were any indication, I’d say it’s the beginning of midterm season.

The kind that doesn’t really end until finals begin.

Personally though, I can’t say that I’m feeling a whole lot of stress. Somehow, I’m still ahead in almost all of my classes, I’ve written two 1000+ word papers that aren’t due for a while, and my study plans are already set for when midterms and finals do finally come around.

Truly, I can’t tell you the last time I was this on top of things… Probably fall quarter my sophomore year.

Just because I’m ahead of the game though, doesn’t mean that I’m coasting through this school year. If anything, this is probably my most challenging quarter on the creative side of things. And it only gets tougher from here.

As an english major, I can write you an essay, plead to the humanistic or logical side of things, and understand literary theory/criticism (if you give me an hour at least) any day. 

As a Creative Writing emphasis student with a Media, Arts, Society, and Tech minor, writing a well balanced and interesting story or creating a digital render of a sand dollar that covers expression, technical lines, gesture lines, and symbol qualities are a little outside my norms.

It literally gives me headaches.

On the realistic side of things though, it’s probably not the material or the work giving me headaches. And the new kind of work I’m doing, well, it’s new. Here’s why that’s important.

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Have you ever watched little kids try to play soccer or basketball, any kind of sport really, and recognized how bad a lot of them were starting out? Growing into our bodies, I can’t say that we’re born knowing how to dribble a ball and throw it perfectly or how to kick something without the rest of our bodies moving too. That’s why we practice. 

Even while I started getting into digital art back in high school, I hadn’t touched it in college until this past summer when I chose to take a refresher course online. I’ll be honest, I am not that good. And if you ever ask me to draw a face of any kind… You will be sorely disappointed—for now.

Because here’s the thing, even while I’m doing work that I’m not used to and trying programs that I never thought I would get to touch, it’s exciting. Because I know that it’s a good fit for me.

Between my creative writing workshop, literary theory seminal, intro to science and tech interdisciplinary studies, and digital class, my life looks very different than it did last quarter. Last quarter, I went from one english class to another, all of which had a whole lot of readings and far too many things to remember. Now, I get to use my head and my own comprehension along with my creative skills and imagination. I can’t say that I’m good at what I’m doing quite yet, but I’m passionate about it. And I know exactly where I want to go with it.

That says a lot.

Unlike a lot of other students right now, I’m not stressed even with week 4 upon us soon enough. I’m still ahead of my work, my study guides are being finished, my classes are being attended no matter how surface level they can get, and I’m working hard. That, and I’ve been doing a little more playing hard every weekend with my roommate too—lemme tell ya, dancing is good for the soul.

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So yes, my classes are hard and there are some things that I am really bad at right now. Sure, it’s midterm season and I’m trying to stay on top of all my material. But also, classes are interesting and I know these are things that I actually want to learn about. I’m finding a better balance in this whole college thing.

Took me 4 years, but like I said, it takes time to get good at something. And even if I’ve gotten that far, I know I still have a whole lot to learn.

This time, I think I’m open to whatever comes next.


Have a good weekend everyone.

Giving in to the Temporary

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I am a sentimental person, I think we’ve all established that by now. There are a lot of things, from the simplicity of college years to my relationships, that I like to keep for as long as possible—even when I know that all of it is temporary. I forget that sometimes, that can be a good thing.

Let me explain.


First of all, things that are supposed to last a while have a whole lot of pressure on them. From our expectations, our time, and the effort we do (or don’t) put into it, it’s all there. It can get overwhelming.

Because when you expect so much from one thing, whether it’s time or strength, etc. it probably also takes a whole lot of you to keep it going. Even when they’re not supposed to.

Just like our teenage years, our college years do not go on for an infinite number of days. If they did, I know I wouldn’t put so much effort into my classes. I also wouldn’t feel the need to put time into my relationships or learning or even adventuring, because I would have all the time to do it later.

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That just isn’t as fun.

You know how they say people are meant to come into your life and leave once they’re impact is done? While I can’t say I agree that it can be boiled down to that, I can say that it says a lot about what we ask of others.

Of ourselves.

If I went around asking someone to marry me, but only if we dated for six years after moving in together for two with out life plans mapped out… It wouldn’t go well. For some people, there is always such a thing of asking too much.

Here’s why I’m bringing this all up now.

It’s my senior year of college and I’m starting to lose track of who I do and don’t know on campus. From my WOWies and OL’s and now both of their own WOWies, to my adings or coworkers, the connections are almost endless. And some connections are not going to last me through to the time I graduate.

I have to be okay with that.

Maybe some of them are the people I go out with and that lasts us through for a couple months. Whether something big breaks up the group or we all just stop going out together, that doesn’t have anything to do with how much fun we could have right now.

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When it comes to my relationships, my time, and my commitments, I need to learn to give in to the temporary. I think maybe a lot of us do.

Take WOW Team for example—I spent so much time and effort and my existence on doing a good job for CCE and the people in it. Part of me forgot that by the end of The Week, all the students would have had their orientation, my WOWies would have their own, and my job would be coming to an end. After all, the “job” was never going to last forever even if maybe a few of the friendships do. Or maybe they don’t. What I’m saying is that we shouldn’t let that part shouldn’t matter so much, not if it only gets in the way.

After all, this life is something we’re supposed to be living. We go out to new places, experience new things or take on new challenges, and we grow. That goes for everyone, including the people in our own lives. So as they come and go, as we change our jobs or cities or past times, we also remember to take a step back and really appreciate it.

I know, sometimes I wish that in the best moments, all things could last forever in just that way. But they can’t and you know something? It’s exhausting trying to hold something together when it’s meant to fall apart. We shouldn’t have to, I know I have in the past and maybe I’m learning that I don’t have to either.

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Because I’ve got only this last year of college left before something new and most likely temporary comes along. That’s a single year to enjoy the last of my largest years of growth and connection. From parties and going downtown to late night session or bike nights, it won’t last forever.

If it did, it wouldn’t matter so much.


Maybe there’s something you need to let go of today, or a little less pressure you need to hold it to. Do it. Change your standards, just a little bit. You might be surprised what that feels like, the freedom it can allow you.

Who knows, maybe it’ll lead you to living your best life. I know that’s my goal.

Happy Friday everyone, see you next week.