The Art of Doing Nothing

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I’ve got to be honest, we live in a society that doesn’t know how to stop moving. And I’m a part of it. We all are. 

Even though this is my last summer of rejecting adulthood, I’m also gearing up portfolios and plans and applications for graduate schools because something has to come next and I need options. It just so happens that some of those grad schools are in New York and if I remember correctly, there was something about that place that was so bright and so blurry…

Part of what drew me into the city was the fact that it never felt like anything could stop moving. Our minds, creativity, business, photography, entertainment, tourism… None of it was allowed to ever stop otherwise the whole city wouldn’t quite be what it was anymore.

I thought everything just might fall apart without it.

Sometimes, that’s what it feels like to be growing up right now. On the cusp of the 2000s and right in between the defining factors for two very different generations, I find myself being pushed more and more to keep moving. Forward, up, sideways, it doesn’t really matter. As long as I keep doing something

Something productive, of course.

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That’s the culture that surrounds us, no matter what generation you are or what your life looks like right now, people constantly feel the need to keep up with one another. As much as Nike would love to tell you that rivals are the best motivation, it only goes so far. 

There is a fine line between being super productive or the best worker you can be and well, a burnout. Because burnout will come if you never stop, and that’s not a choice but a fact.

Knowing that, feeling the pressure of sports or writing or future industries and accomplishing as much as I could to be the best before I get to my future, it’s a lot.

Maybe at some points, it was for me and at others, it wasn’t about me—we might be the priority of our own lives but that doesn’t mean we don’t put other people first sometimes. That’s what I’ve done for years now, especially my junior year of college when so much of it was working to support or be better for others so they had everything they needed to be the best.

After moving so so much, I am just realizing that I started moving forward in 2017 in an effort to fix all the things I felt I was doing and being wrong. I joined clubs, was offered a high starting position at work, and I hit 300+ plus pages in my novel. 

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It’s just that, I know these are past accomplishments but this was only the beginning and I didn’t stop working or thinking or trying until I hit July of this year. This is the first time I’ve stopped moving.

And I’m tired.

If I’m being honest, I’m not as healthy as I should be. I am not sleeping the way I should be. I am not eating the way I should be. I do not feel the way I should, the way I want to. 

Even after all this work and time and accomplishing that has truly been incredible, none of it has changed what I lost in the process. And I really needed to recharge.

So I stopped—sort of by choice and sort of by my body making me. Instead, I’ve taken two online classes I wanted, spent a lot of time with dogs (dog sitting is a surprisingly lucrative job), and taken a break. In the past two weeks, I have read three average length novels and right now I’m on my fourth. I’ve spent time with my family and watched shows for no reason but the mindless distraction they bring.

For a little while, I’ve done nothing. And honestly, I don’t quite look forward to the structure of 16 units on quarter system again, but I’ll be starting better than it ended.

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That counts for a whole lot.

Maybe if you remember to truly take a break, from social media and influence and work, you’ll give yourself something you truly need in the process.

I would like to think that I did and for my own literary enjoyment and fun-starved soul, I needed that time to reconnect both to the world and myself in the process. If you need that, do it for yourself. Do whatever it takes.

Trust me, you’re worth it.

Happy Friday. 

Nature or Nurture… Both?

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Have any of you ever wondered why our environments matter so much to us? Why the “what if”s even come to question or the outcomes of what we do or why we do it always seem to come down to the details?

Well, it’s like they say: Nature and nurture. Some of the things we do are simply human nature. And some of it, well, it’s influenced by the world around us.

Think about it; have you ever done something without thinking, maybe say a word or pet a dog, and a child mirrored exactly as you had just done? It’s like finishing a test and waiting around while you pretend to work until someone else gets up and turns theirs in first—their actions are permission, affirmation, that it is what you’re supposed to do.

Sometimes our surroundings set the standards.

And I’ve been thinking about that because I am going into my senior year of college, and if you’ve followed me since the beginning, you would know that ending up at Cal Poly was a road with a lot of… details. Getting denied, appealing once Nick got in, Howard Orientation right before the call that I had been conditionally accepted here, etc. A lot changed really quickly and the moment I made the decision to stay in California or go, I may have also decided part of who I would become in college.

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Hear me out. With rising tuition fees and ever changing components to that, the in state student is very different from out of state. Howard would have meant I was a DC resident for 9 months out of the year, if not more. Our nation’s home base is very *very* different from San Luis Obispo.

One school is a PWI, a Primarily White Institution that may be considered adverse to diversity. The other is an HBCU, a historically black college/university. In just knowing that, I understand that my experience in college would be altered depending on which school I went to. In one, I would be the minority and probably never be able to forget it, whether or not it was a good thing in any situation. In the other, I would experience not being the minority for the first time in my life.

One is in DC, talk about a colder and much more political atmosphere than California. The other is in San Luis Obispo, California’s Central Coast where it’s never really warm nor cold and politics only matter in specific battles.

Do you get what I’m trying to say? I made the decision and as of now, I am happy with who I am becoming, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think about what it would have meant for this Karina Williams—for the me 2 years ago—to go to Howard.

Nurture defined by environment would have been almost complete opposites from one place to the other. I can’t ignore that.

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I bring it up now because I understand there are some big decisions and changes ahead of me. I am an English major going into my senior year of college and I know that I do not want to teach. That in itself means that my path will be non traditional, again within the minority. Not because I love being “different” or finding my own path, but simply because I can’t live outside what I love. If I did, that wouldn’t be living.

Here, I am in Orientation, Cultural clubs, journalistic clubs, and I surround myself with change makers; my closest friends are some of the most incredible people I have ever met. Sure, involvements in these things had to do with my nature to care about people and what makes them who they are. It also had to do with what has been necessary to keep my head above water as a minority here.

Where I go from here, well that depends on what I plan to do. I think I know what I am headed towards and passionate about, let alone the logical decision, but I can’t help but find significance in what I’ve been through and how I’ve gotten through it.

I’m a creative. By nature and by nurture, I am not living without creating something. Even if I try, I can’t not do it. I feel that pull in my heartstrings and the gravitation of my bones to do something, make something, anything, and it’s almost always present. It’s become undeniable.

I don’t know if I would be who or where I am if I did not spend the last three years here. I am almost sure I wouldn’t be the Karina you know now, but I am also pretty positive creativity is something I wouldn’t be able to ignore.

I have to do it. It’s my oxygen.

If that’s the case, where does that mean I’m going next?

Well I can’t tell you everything, I’d need to figure out details first. But after so many dreams from the medical field to publishing, I think I’m heading toward neither.

You can’t take the creative out of the girl after all, so I’m taking that and I’m running with it—no, I’m living it. Fully.

I am going to create things. Whether they’re films or companies or logos or visions, trust me when I say, I am giving it my everything (even now) because part of me has no choice. My life is in the stories I tell and drawings I create or movies I fixate on. I breathe through poetry and music. I live for the details.

And well, I am going to make all of that my life’s work. The details, the stories, the creating. It’s going to be everything I do. Maybe it’s because I couldn’t have made it through these last few years without writing and seeking out creativity the way I have through my major and my passions. And maybe it’s because that’s just who I am, a creator to the core.

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I might never know what that balance looks like in who I am, one versus the other and how much of each I am made of. But I do know that it’s who I am and what I cannot live without—nature and nurture in real time. So trust me when I say switching my major to English, going to school here, choosing to stay, they were all steps to get me to wherever I go next. After all, what comes next is going to be a big change. One that I welcome with open arms. Happy Friday night.

If a Line is Crossed and No One Is There to Stop It…

It’s been quite a busy week filled with plenty of homework and a long bus/train ride between home and SLO; I’ve been so caught up in my work that I tend to lose track of time. Before I knew it, time for another Friday post. 

Have you ever had that happen? That feeling of being excited or so invested in something that you lose track of time and little details, getting lost in whatever it is instead. I do that a lot when I’m writing or working on a good piece of artwork. 

It can also happen with people. Because last week I talked about dating and how there are so many different ways to meet people nowadays—for all we know, we could meet someone on an app and never actually meet in person for weeks. That’s how some people end up falling for what or who they think someone is. After all, we just want the best for ourselves. Sometimes though, that want can come with a little tunnel vision. 

And when it comes to dating, such tunnel vision can be a dangerous thing for all of us.

Let’s say two people decide to finally meet up in a public place and get to know each other. So they make a date and get to see one another face to face.

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Now picture this: both people are having a good time, drinking lightly and just talking for a while. Once the initial nerves start to fade and they settle in a bit more, laughter gets a little louder and their faces flush because maybe they realized they’re enjoying themselves together. So one of them asks if their partner wants another drink, you know, can’t hurt to ask and everyone should be comfortable right? But the question is answered with a “no” and a smile; it’s shrugged off and diverted into another conversation topic for maybe the next ten minutes.

Then they ask again, “drink?”

Again, “no, thank you though. Not trying to drink too much.” Nervous laughing to try to keep the atmosphere light, but it’s a first date so that can be hard to do.

It was only by the third time of hearing the same question within fifteen minutes that things were beginning to click. But it didn’t make sense, they had talked about boundaries together and comfortability way before the date. Everything was set. And this person was funny, they were kind despite a few awkward moments of weirdness between them both.

So why would— 

“Thirsty yet?”

Cue the very large red flag thrown off in one of their heads, thinking that maybe it was time to go home. Alone.

So in just a few minutes, that’s exactly what they did. Politely and kindly, but firmly stating that they were leaving before making their exit.

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It was only a couple blocks away did they finally take a deep breath, glad to be out of that situation. But what would have happened if the tunnel vision they had going into the date didn’t fade until after the first several drinks… What if they only noticed the weirdness a bit too late?

Because I have a lot of smart, incredible, wonderful friends. And lucky for me, last week one of them followed their gut and left this date before anything went farther than weird and uncomfortable. Maybe add pushy to that. 

But they’re okay. 

The part about this that isn’t okay though, the part that I hate, is the pit in my stomach when I know that some people aren’t okay. No matter what someone is wearing, no matter if a mind was changed, and no matter if boundaries were set, things happen.

Of course they do, when some people enjoy crossing those boundaries or taking advantage of other people. As much as I wish it weren’t the case, it is something we have to look out for and the older I get, the more I understand why. 

In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter your gender or age, your confidence or your choice of place—you have to look out for yourself as the only priority in these situations. Tell someone where you’re going, check in on your friends. Keep an eye on your drinks (though this does not excuse a lack of affirmative consent), meet in public places, use your voice. And use the people around you too. 

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Because sometimes, it helps not to be a bystander in your life and other people’s. If something feels weird, figure out why. If someone seems too drunk to leave with their date, give it a quick check or tell someone else who can. After all, it isn’t hard to get caught up in someone or something, what you think it may be; just don’t get so caught up that you lose your grip on reality too. 

Reality is your truth and well, truth can be pretty powerful if you pay attention to it. So look around, for the good moments and the bad ones because there is a time and place for everything, including carelessness.  Look out for yourself and those around you too, wherever you’re at, stay safe. All of you deserve that much. 

The Last Summer

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And here we are, another Friday. I don’t know how all of you usually spend your summers, but if mine aren’t filled with a couple rereads of my favorite books and discoveries of new ones, then I am doing something sorely wrong.

After all, travelling right now isn’t in my budget and travelling alone isn’t really my thing regardless. So what’s the next best way to get out of town, even if not physically? Our imaginations. Whether you prefer movies, books, video games, or wine, all of it is a chance to get out of our reality for a little while. 

Another word for that, at least in my case: escapism. Usually this word gets a bad rep for people using it as an out instead of dealing with their problems, but let’s be honest, I think that’s just human nature. In my case, escapism is a way for me to get away from the banality of what summer can sometimes turn into. 

It’s also a chance to take solo adventures, learn a few new skills with summer classes, and of course, create my own worlds to escape in. I mean, that’s the fun part of being a creative… Creating.

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If I want to make creativity and art part of my future, if I want to be good enough that it’s the only way to live, I have to practice it. I would like to say that it’s the path to a successful future for me, but I guess none of us can really tell exactly what the means until we get there. 

Not unless one of you can tell the future, in which case if you can, I have a few questions.

Because I’ve been talking to a few friends and I’m starting to get the feeling that none of us are quite sure what path is the “right” one. There are quite a few options after all. 

There’s getting a job straight out of college and seeing where that takes us. There’s freelance or travelling and seeing what this world has to offer before settling down into it as if we know what it all looks like. Then there’s grad or post undergrad studies and depending on what we’re looking at, it could take a couple years. Even then, we still have to figure out what to study or specialize in. Another path per say. 

And these are just a few of the options, I can’t say I know what all of them are. I don’t even know what I would prefer. This is most likely my last summer of wandering somewhat aimlessly between jobs and places and friends that I’ve known at least for a little while. After this, all of us are supposed to be heading in directions others cannot follow, down what at least for them will be path number 1.

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To be honest, I’m only just starting to realize that I don’t have a plan for my blog once that happens. There’s no plan, no telling what my days will look like or weeks will hold. No telling how many paths I’ll settle into. I have no idea where I’ll end up. 

For me, I love falling into fiction and writing my own ways out of this reality. Art in itself is a whole different kind of study in escapism. But this idea of figuring out where we’re headed and what we really need to be doing in order to get there, that’s something that escapism doesn’t really work for. There’s no running from time.

If I play my cards right this summer, I’ll head into senior year with a few extra options I created for myself. From books and extra skills to job prospects and even just a hunch of where I want to go next, one of the few things I can control is what I do right now.

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So who knows, maybe my version of turning a mundane summer into something interesting might just pay off in the long run. Again, if you tell the future, feel free to let me know what you think. Otherwise, I’ll have to wait just like everyone else.

At least we’ve got right now guaranteed. Happy Friday everyone. 

If It Ain’t Broke…

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Sometimes I forget that even though this blog continues week by week and my age keeps going up one by one, that doesn’t mean I’m outgrowing everything I think I am. Habits, friends, tendencies, the usual. Just because we’re growing up, all of us, doesn’t mean we don’t fall back on the little things that used to work for us in the process.

Even if they’re little things that we thought worked for us, when maybe they didn’t. If it ain’t broke… Maybe we need a second opinion.

You see, here’s the thing. They say matter cannot be created nor destroyed and we know that as a fact, at least I hope we all do by now. But when it comes to social laws, are there any that say one thing that grows while another one does not can no longer fit together as it has before?

Because there should be. Either that rule has not been defined yet, or human beings simply cannot refrain from testing this rule again and again until our patience has been tested positively past worn down and weary.

As much as I wish for someone to answer that question, I think I already know what the answer is. But here’s why I’m only struggling with it (again) right now.

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When I was younger, I think grew up in people’s shadows as much as anyone else would. We’re all side characters in someone else’s story after all, whether we try to be or not. Even now I tend to have my head stuck in a book or a fictional world that really isn’t this one and I think I took my role as a reader, or that side character, a little too seriously. Always have.

So when other people that I care about or do things for or support, aren’t supporting me in the way I need them to, I wonder why. Anyone would. But then I negate all the times that I haven’t been that support for other people and realize that maybe I’ve done the same thing to people that love or support me too. After all, we’re all our own main character, we put life in terms of ourselves. Sometimes.

This is a healthy way to think, if we question ourselves when criticizing something and examine why we feel the way we do, or if the logic is one-sided rather than at least trying to see all facets of the story before claiming it to be truth. It’s good to think this way. 

Unless, of course, we then believe that we’re the problem. Consistently. I mean yes, sometimes we are. Just ask my mom about my venting or complaining about my expectations for people—the other person is not the problem, at times my expectations are just a little bit too high. Or simply incorrect.

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Other times though, she also does a really good job of reminding me that my expectations or standards for how I feel I’m treated and valued and loved and supported… Those aren’t expectations at all. They should be the set bar for how I feel in my own life and the people that impact that every moment I breathe.

Just like our habits and our tendencies, even our diets and our preferences, as we grow and figure out who we are the key people in our lives should be growing with us.

Maybe that means they grow apart; some people grow to understand that their relationship is more the check in every couple of months kind. Others realize they’re the ones we go to with the “situations” or to “spill the tea” if you know what that means. If not, check this out.

But whether or not it’s together—sometimes better for each party if it isn’t—growing does need to happen. And if we’re the ones holding ourselves back, we’re also only just hurting ourselves in the process. I can’t say I’ve always been a big fan of change; readjusting and finding new normals is hard. And scary. And exhausting. It’s supposed to be.

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Yet, that’s also where I find the best parts of the story: my story, the stories or lives I’m simply a side character in, and especially the fictional ones I get to be a part of too. Growing is necessary and the in-between, the insecure parts… That’s when almost anything can happen, when something almost always does happen. We just have to be willing to make it.

There are no right times or people or circumstances; do what you can with what you have. If what you have isn’t enough, then go find what you need and go from there.

It’s not about fitting in to what used to work or playing a waiting game, not at all. Life seems—is—a little too short for that. Take what you’ve got, and make a move. Grow. 

That’s all you can do.

Taking Back My Initiative

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It’s been a very odd week here in SLO. After heading home for maybe 8 days, Nick and I got back to SLO on Sunday. Let me tell ya, summers here are much quieter than the school year. I mean, there is space to park outside my house… That never happens. 

So much open space outside is starting to remind me that while I know change happens quickly, I kind of forget about it until it hits me in the face. A couple years back, sophomore year of high school I think, I convinced my parents to let me get a bunny while running errands on the way home from a track meet; after all, we found ourselves in a feed store and still had a cage left over from previous rabbits at the house, so when I saw all these little floofs in a cage running around in the store…

Gotta love impulse buys. Fast forward a couple years, I’ve been meaning to bring sed rabbit here with me to college but I’ve been worried about neglecting her. Beyond that being sad, rabbits legitimately need a lot of physical love and time around their humans if they’re going to stay healthy. Last week, I finally realized that this summer would give me the time to hang out with her and she could cool off from 100 degrees to 70s the whole time too. A win-win if I do say so myself. 

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But the dream didn’t last very long at all. Long story short, she died on Tuesday morning of a fly strike (if you have a rabbit and don’t know what that is, please do check out the link here) and Nick came running into my room at 7am just in time for me to hold her and give her company. My bun, along with all those little moments and hopes I had for our summer together, were gone in under 2 minutes.

It may seem small, but add onto that a 180 with the 6 month old german shepherd mix that my brother and I are dog sitting. I forgot what it was like to have a pet around that–unlike a small rabbit–has so much uncensored energy, let alone his compulsion to steal our socks constantly and take naps with me on my bed. 

Just like that, my plans changed. And I’m starting to realize that I’m tired being the one it happens to instead of the one that makes it happen.

After throwing myself into a different kind of change, my junior year was full of me constantly moving, completing tasks, starting new ones, connecting to this person or that one, trying new things, and more often than not, surrounded by a whole lot of people.

So I figured this wee would be a much needed change. At least I had hoped it would.

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See, my plan for the summer was to work on my writing (crank out another novel, maybe two), teach myself to animate, working on storyboarding and art, painting, etc. You know, actually doing all the things I don’t have time to do during the year. And I’ve done almost all of it in just this week, minus the whole novel part. 

The challenge, though, is finding company to do it all with. Now I have to figure out who is here, who’s free/who would actually enjoy spending time with me, or where I can go make new friends. I mean, the thing about me is that I love my free time as much as anyone else, but spending my free time doing almost anything with the people I love is almost always preferred. 

In good company, any time can be a good time. But I’m also awkward in newer relationships to find sed company; without knowing where the boundaries are, I can’t always be sure if I can call someone at 11pm to drive around town with the windows down and the music up, or pull someone into late night shenanigans to attempt baking some random pastry at 2am because why not.

I can guarantee I’m not the only person who’s like this, especially in college or when our worlds become a revolving door of people and personalities. I told you, this year was the most social year of my entire life and the year ended just as quickly as it started up—while wonderful in the moment, such a thing tends to leave a little whiplash as to what just happened or what we’re left with at the end of it all.

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After this year compared to so many previous years of feeling insecure in my friendships, these changes are hard. Going from group to group before landing on something that feels secure only for summer break to get in the way, it’s exhausting. And a girl gets tired of being tired after a little while, you know? So I decided, maybe I’m going to take a little bit of my control back. I might edit that summer plan a little—take out a novel, add in some extra people with a pinch of my own initiative around personal happiness instead—and see where it takes me.

Before I end up in the “real” world and have a legitimate job tying me down, here’s to taking the wheel back in the last summer of this freedom we’re told that we hold.

Could be fun. Happy Friday.  

Timeless

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Every time I come home, it always reminds me that time keeps moving even if we’re not here to see it. There’s a new building up in a shopping center or a new family moved in across the street. A few less friends to visit and a bright new pergola (fancy overhang) in my front yard, or of course–courtesy of my dad–a new clock to be found somewhere in the house.

Each time I visit, there’s something new to whisper, “time has passed, don’t you see?” Even if it’s just in the way my dog sleeps a little more or the cool air I got used to here over break hit 102 this week instead.

And in seeing all, the small pieces that make up what I see of the world, I wonder what the world looks back and sees of me.

After all, the only thing that matters is our perspectives, our vantage points. You only see the changes if you’re looking. Chances are, you weren’t looking at me.

Nothing about me, nothing specifically, could tell you what’s happened in the last three months of my life. Just so you know, I did pass all my classes; surprisingly so considering the amount of things I was juggling. Truly, I don’t know how I passed a single one of them.

But I did. Just like I spent another quarter in my job and am technically a quarter of english classes away from graduation. I am.

I am so much of what you don’t see.

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The new houses and buildings and people here up in town? Those are the skills, the memories, the hurt, the passion, and the knowledge that have built small homes in who I am. It’s a new complex of professional development built into what is becoming my repertoire, a new attitude around skipping classes or getting sleep because our priorities change over time just like we do.

But none of you can really see that. Nor the friendships built and lost. Trust strengthened or loosened. Threads between my expectations and my reality; they’re thinning as one grows farther away from the other.

Every time I come home, it’s a different girl walking through the front door.

And it’s a shame that maybe some people won’t get to see that.

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions–as much as I’d love to catch up with all of the people I miss and want to see, some don’t have the time, the capacity, the opportunity, or even the want. Some of you just can’t.

Sure, I can try to cover it all in a blog post, in this site that has somehow catalogued the last three years of my life. But it can’t catch everything, define the change and the process and the truth about my life for you; nothing can but me.

After all, we’re all liars aren’t we?

Think about it, everything we say or do, it is because we see or know things to be a certain way. But only from our perspective. No two people will ever see the same thing happen even if they are all watching the same event occur.

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The proof cannot come from a testament of what happened or even how we individually change because of it. You would have to look at all of us to really understand what happened, to pieces together each individual change as a collective of the aftermath and the why of what occurred in the first place.

Unfortunately, I cannot fill in what you all see or think unless you tell me. As for you, all you get is me. Take it or leave it.

Hopefully though, you’ll keep betting on me and take it. because as always, things are changing. I can’t guarentee what these posts are going to look like this summer, but I have a feeling they’re going to be a little different.

I can’t tell you what girl is leaving home again this weekend or which one will be back later, but I can tell you that you’ll find out.

Stick around and find out, find out with me, since you know that I have no idea either. And this week has given me time to think about what I can do or where this girl can go over summer to really make the most of what I’ve been given.

I only get this one final summer as an undergrad.

And well, they say we only live once.

Maybe that’s true; but maybe in the mix of perspectives and truths we all hold about a single event we call life, maybe the moments can be infinite.

Let’s find out together.