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. 

Set for Success in Year 4

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Happy Friday, because it’s been a long week. After the last first week of my undergraduate career—hopefully—I can already see the time counting down in front of me. While I’m an English major, this quarter I’m getting more into my minor classes and it’s quite different from what I’m used to doing. 

I mean, I usually study English and literature and meanings and write essays… Now I’m working in Illustrator, learning the Adobe software, and getting a kick start in digital art.

Plus doing a good amount of fiction writing in the process.

All of it got me thinking, I’m coming to the end of my undergraduate career and this is a good time as any to throw what I’ve learned out to all of you—because I’ve made my fair share of mistakes and mishaps. Maybe you will all get a chance to learn from them and the lessons I found along the way.

So here we go:

7 ways to make the most out of a new beginning

Don’t hesitate

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A lot of times, when we’re getting into something we haven’t done before whether it’s a promotion at a company or a new school year, we hold ourselves back a little bit. I mean, it’s hard not to when you don’t know what’s coming next. But that’s okay. If you have a chance to learn or get lunch with the boss, do it. If your professor seems to single you out in class, you’d better get on it and know your stuff then. This even goes for meeting new people and throwing all your cards on the table–if you’re going to do something, do it all the way. Do not hesitate. Give it all you’ve got. 

Invest in yourself

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This goes along with the first one, you only get out as much as you put in. So if you’re trying to succeed, set yourself up for it. Do your work early, do your best in the time you have, don’t be afraid of testing the boundaries of what you know. There are only so many ways to learn and sometimes you can surprise yourself. If there is someone around that you just need to know so you can pick their brain or learn from them, go for it! Networking is a part of everything we do once we get past high school, make the most of it. 

Ask Questions

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I know when I walk into new things, I always worry about doing something wrong or not knowing how to be perfect. But the thing is, part of a job is learning as you go; you’re never going to be taught everything you need to know. Just like the rest of our lives, some things are best learned through experience. If you don’t know how to get an assignment done and can’t problem solve on your own, ask. There is a reason there will always be someone who knows a little bit more than we do. Why not use that?

Be shameless

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Now I put this one in here with a grain of salt—be shameless, but in the way that you’re willing to learn and do what it takes to be the best you can be. That doesn’t mean wiping out your moral compass, stepping on other people, or compromising your integrity in the process. You know your own boundaries, you know how you usually work. Own it and do your thing.

Know your potential

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Even when we work really hard for something, a lot of us have a tendency to downplay just how good we really are. Don’t. If you get hired or chosen or decide to pursue something for yourself, have some faith. Sure, we make wrong turns and risky decisions sometimes. But none of us will get anywhere if we’re so busy being humble or insecure that we can’t find the space to grow from there. You are the only person you will always have. You may as well be your number 1 advocate. 

Use your resources

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There is a reason schools have counseling centers or financial aid offices, just like all jobs have a bosses and HR departments. Use them if you need them. After 4 years in college, I’ve found that some people don’t like using the resources around them because they can feel like handouts or as if they can’t be on the same level as everyone else… I understand that, but I also understand that the resources are there and you’re probably already paying for it. Success isn’t all raw talent, athletes need to train and students need to study. Both use resources to get all that done, so why can’t you? You deserve the best for yourself, this is simply setting up for success.

Ask for help

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When in doubt, ask someone. I remember my first few jobs, I ran into so many questions from how to cancel a transaction to where the break room was. And I was almost always afraid to ask because I felt like I should have known. In hindsight, that makes no sense as we all only know things because we are either taught or we can teach ourselves. Some things can’t be self-taught. Save yourself the anxiety, time, and probably discomfort; just ask. I know as a senior in my workplace, I’ve come to train a lot of newbs and first time retail students; I would much rather someone ask me if something is okay or how to do it than have them do it wrong. Then that’s more work for me and mistakes that might come back for them later. Help me help you. Ask for what you need.


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It’s year 4 and even though there are only seven things on this list, I’m sure I could make a much longer one if that’s really what you want. But these seven, I feel like they’ve really helped me grow and push my own limits in college. There are only so many ways to make the most of something and these are some of the ones that I know quite well.

If you’re on a journey in something new, testing boundaries, or just pushing yourself a bit, maybe one of these will help you find a balance in that success.

I know they have for me. And hey, if you’ve got any favorites to share, feel free to put those in the comments because I would love to hear it. Otherwise, happy Friday.

Have a lovely weekend. 

TGIF

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TGIF am I right?

If I’m being honest, this week was a real rough one let me tell ya. Even though I know I should be preparing for classes starting back up soon, I was not prepared to get up early every day for the past week. You could say I’m out of touch.

I did, however, get a few things done/make a few big decisions in the process. 

First things first, you know how when you get sick and you’re all congested, it’s easy to remember how nice it is to be able to breathe normally? Well, for the past week, I’ve been missing the feeling of not being nauseous/dizzy/feel like passing out 90% of the time. On top of other things, this week has been a lot and I’m ready to decompress a little.

Still, I managed to accomplish a few great feats even while not feeling well. My house is clean, laundry is done, and best of all, the Galleries for the Week of Welcome are looking incredible.

I can’t say I’ve ever thought I would be so great with a staple gun, but the me from two weeks ago would be quite proud. Things are looking great and I’ve gotten a solid week’s worth of work in—I’ve also been back at work as a jack-of-all-trades at the University store.

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You could say it pays off to work at the same place for three years.

In the spirit of adulting, I only called out of work one morning this week and I think it was in the best interest of all parties at that point. Someone told me that sometimes we have to keep up even when our bodies aren’t quite in tip top shape.

That leads me to my next thing, that decision I mentioned.

I think I am going to write another blog. I won’t be changing anything I do with this one, I appreciate the consistency of it and it means a lot to me. I couldn’t give that up.

What I can do is explore something I haven’t yet: mental health. 

I know I have talked about it every once in a while, but I want a space to open up the conversation and talk about it in itself. Because if I’m being honest, my mental health journey has been quite interesting throughout college as it is for a lot of students and somehow, not a lot of people talk about it.

Just like the rest of our lives, we should talk about it.

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Working within the Galleries for the past year, every aspect of our lives ties into another and I have come to appreciate that. Especially at my age, once we hit 20, it seems that everyone is on a different path than the next.

College, army, working, travelling, etc. There are no real rules for where we are at in our lives. No one has a guideline for what this decade is supposed to look like. I mean, someone created the maxim that college is the best four years of our lives and well… I can’t quite say that’s been true.

What I can say, I have never grown as much as I have in these last three years of my life. That’s as long as I’ve had this blog going so surely, you’ve seen what I mean. Part of me wants to take what I’ve learned and experienced, and use that to change the status quo.

Part of me probably needs the outlet. You see, I’m a creative person who thrives off of our lives and what impacts them. That’s where my creating comes from, where I think we all can relate to one another.

After all, relationships really are the backbone of our lives and our connections.

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So let’s connect. Don’t worry, you’ll be the first to know when I figure out what I’m doing next.

Get ready for a new journey, it’ll be a fun one.

Happy Friday, enjoy the weekend everyone. 

If a Project Could Change My Life

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I’ve done a whole lot of things in my 21 years of life, from learning different sports and different instruments, to trying new classes and new hobbies. 

But I think somewhere within the last year of my life, I got involved in something that is changing the course of where I want to go and who I want to be. It’s undeniable just how much. 

We call it The Awareness Gallery.

You see, a lot of the things I have done or tried are things I’ve planned to do or wanted to try. I’m not a huge fan of surprises; that, and I like to be in control change. Ironic, I know. But like a lot of people, I don’t like walking into things without knowing what’s going to happen next. 

In my junior year of college, I decided to spend the year doing it anyway.

Getting involved with Cal Poly Orientation is something that I threw myself into without letting myself back out, for a few reasons. The biggest one: because I knew it would change me.

And it has. Immensely.

This last year has introduced me to just a few things that I think I will love for the rest of my life. One of them is influencing and interacting with people, people who have an insurmountable amount of potential and want to see if they can reach it with my help.

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The other thing is speaking up, in whatever way I can.

I’ve said this in the past and you should know it by now—I adore the art of storytelling. The way it draws us in, introduces us to lives and people and places that we do not know in our own realities… Sometimes I wonder if there is just a little bit of magic in that.

This time, I wanted to be a part of that magic and I have been chasing it for almost a decade now, long enough to learn how to tell my own stories. Poetry, short stories, novels, these are all pieces of what I find beauty in, what I have learned to define as storytelling.

It took me until last year to fully understand just how many other ways someone can tell a story.

That Awareness Gallery I mentioned? It’s a special project in Cal Poly’s orientation program that students like me and the handful of others I am working with get to put together.

We take a look at mental health, sexual assault, relationships, diversity & inclusivity, and drugs & alcohol as areas of our lives that have a heavy impact on college students. As one of the students working on it, I have found, researched, and fact checked statistics we display in the room, along with finding new ways to introduce students to topics that will be surrounding them sooner than later.

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Because students need to know, it needs to be something we can talk about. So why not start the moment they step onto our campus?

The gallery eases them into it.

We each have our own sections to focus on and a partner to work with up until now when we put the galleries together as a whole. Up until now, what we have created and improved upon for this year was all just an idea. They were imagined depictions and hopeful outcomes, things I’ve wanted to see happen but known may not be feasible. Nothing was concrete.

Not until this week. On Tuesday, we started putting the gallery together and let me tell you something: storytelling will never be limited to our words.

It is the things you say, the way you say it, they medium you introduce information with, how quickly you deliver it, what you add to it, and so much more. And this week, I have gotten to literally have my hands on chapters of the stories we have decided to tell. These are the stories students need to understand and hear and know that exist in their world.

They need to know that when they see themselves reflected back at them through the statistics and lives of others, they are not the only ones. And they never will be.

The work I am doing on this gallery with my talented and incredible friends is something priceless; we signed up for this on a volunteer basis because we care about it. Enough to put in hours of our time to adjust and brainstorm and research and measure out just how to put these galleries together in the best way possible.

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As much as I like getting paid for the work I put into things, there is something to say for the work we do simply because we know that we care enough to do it and are passionate enough to do it well.

These galleries will be finished, walked through, understood, witnessed, and taken down all within the next month. Yet, the impact it has on Cal Poly’s next class of students will last much longer than that. And the experience I have gotten, the time I’ve spent around the people who care about these things and discovering what it can mean to tell the stories untold, it is intangible.


So I wanted to share it with you. Happy Friday, see you next week.

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.