Redefining Expectations

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I was awake to see 11:11 PM last night and all I could wish was to be asleep. Because I was very ready for bed. I was just waiting for my mind to agree with me.

But once it did, I got at least eight hours of sleep last night, and let me tell ya, sleep is truly a wonderful thing. Besides that, it’s been quite a long week here. Between classes and work and orientation, I have become quite the busybody. Just seeing how much I grow from week to week is kind of astounding.

So here’s a shout out to Daily Inkling: Your prompt post.

If I had asked for a wish years ago, I probably would have said something like wishing to be happy or strong or beautiful. In the long run, I think each of those was something I would have to find and redefine for myself.

But the more I think about it, the more I realize that maybe I already have.

I chaired my first development series yesterday. To explain what that is really quickly, as one of the Facilitators for the Cross Cultural Experience, each of us put together a series of workshops that will help students better support their WOWies or incoming students at Cal Poly.

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Though it isn’t exclusive, as you can opt in or opt out of this track, it is specifically designed to provide resources and support to underrepresented minority communities here at Cal Poly. So what my CCE team and I have been working on for the past two quarters is putting together these workshops and finding guest speakers to come and talk to everyone—we’re all still learning too after all.

And yesterday, I got to chair our second workshop. Just picture it, me standing in front of everyone leading them through an icebreaker before transitioning to a speaker who gave us the lowdown on Systematic Racism.

Even though it’s the basis of our lives here at a Primarily White Institute, sometimes we forget that it’s built into the very system of our society. There was a lot to talk about in just an hour and a half.

Personally, it’s very different being on the other side of things; last year, I was training to be one of those leaders who didn’t really know what I was getting into but felt like it was something I needed to do and learn about anyway.

Now I’m the one leading the conversation, creating that space for other students to then create a space for their own students.

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Talk about growth. You see, I used to say I’m an introvert and I don’t like talking to people if I don’t have to. If that were true, I definitely wouldn’t have been up on stage with my team in front of 900 leaders in training last week to tell them why CCE matters.

Trust me, it’s been a whole lot of work to get this point and I am quite tired. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been life changing and absolutely worth it in the process.

Because when am I ever going to get another chance to do all these things and touch so many lives in a positive way?

That’s the thing, I don’t know if I ever will.

If you knew me in high school, I really don’t know how much digging you’re going to have to do to find that girl again. Because I’ve changed. A lot. Some parts of me have become a whole lot louder and more unapologetic. Other parts have become more patient or accepting of circumstances that I can’t change.

I’m slowly learning to adjust to the world around me and make the most out of what I’ve got. If I didn’t do that, I really don’t know what the point of any of this would be.

After all, we’re here to learn and live and leave a mark and change our lives as many times as it takes to feel like we are doing something worth doing. To feel like we aren’t just breathing for the sake of breathing.

Let’s pretend it’s 11:11 PM and you get one wish. Tell me, what could you wish for to make it feel like you’re living and not just alive?

Maybe it’s time for you to redefine what that looks like to you.

Feel free to share in the comments below. And I’ll see you next week.

How to Build a Resume–Or a Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Did it ever?

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

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

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

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

To Be or Not To Be

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

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

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

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

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

Even when it’s not really fair.

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

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

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

Don’t you see that?

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

Long story short, it didn’t.

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

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

Then things started changing.

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

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

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

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

Today is Not the Day

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

Sounds kinda like college.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Today is not the day

to feel like I can conquer the world,

to hold my head a little too high,

or feel like this will be alright.

Today is just a day

to exist, to keep breathing,

to understand it’s all I can do,

to remember that I’m not okay

and that’s okay.

Because today is just a day,

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time will move forward,

and it will pass.

This day will become

a part of the past

just like they always do.


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

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The Truth About Learning

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There’s something about this week that has made me really think a lot about who I have grown to become in these past few years. Maybe it’s the newer people I’m finding in my life, maybe it’s the amount of things I’ve thrown myself into, and maybe it’s just… Me. This is how we grow.

Wednesday marked 16 month since Maddie died. 16 months and I still can’t believe it. I miss her every day. But I look at the person I was when she was here and who I am now that she’s gone and they are two completely different people all together.

I mean, a lot can happen in a 16 months.

Lately, I’ve been learning how to be honest. I’ve been struggling with a few big things in my life for years on top of years now, but I am only just forcing myself to face it all or find people who truly will support me in each of them; life is too short not to feel like you’re actually living it.

There is no point spending time on people who don’t make us better in the process.

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This extends to the things we put ourselves into. Even though I went into my first year telling myself that I would never be a WOW Leader or volunteer for it, somehow I’ve found just a few people through orientation that truly made me realize what a difference we can make on our campus. Sure, so I haven’t loved my time here at Cal Poly. But what I do love is the power and the capability I have to make it so other marginalized and minority students might be able to.

After all, I still have another year to enjoy it myself.

But the more things I get involved in, from Her Campus to CCE, the less time I have to allocate into taking care of myself. Admittedly, this is very important of course, but so are all the little things I am involved in.

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I work because I am a lead and have a responsibility to learn more skills from it. Plus, money. I write because we deserve to have our voices heard by people willing to listen to us. This blog is irreplaceable to me.

And I volunteer, so so much of my time and effort, whether it’s to orientation, people, or other things simply because every person I am doing it for or listening to or spending time with or working towards making something better for is incredibly important to me.

I do it because it means something, even when it’s difficult.

I’m just having a hard time balancing it all along the way.

There will never be another time in my life that looks like college. From the people to the classes, I’m probably never going to learn so many different things in such a short period of time ever again.

I won’t have multiple opportunities a year to have my voice heard and put my work out there. I won’t be surrounded by some of my favorite people in mandatory weekly meetings every Sunday. And I won’t live just a floor away from my womb-mate to roommate of a twin brother.

Just like I miss a few people because I never saw their goodbyes coming, I don’t want to miss out on college opportunities and my own life because I didn’t apply myself. Because I wasn’t honest about it.

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So I’m working on it, all of it, for you and for me. It’s going into my writing, my drawing, my hoping, and my loving. Every bit of that impacts you and this blog. And I’m excited to see what might happen.

I hope you’ll stick around to find out.

Adjusting to Yourself

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Did you notice that there was no Bookworms on Tuesday?

There’s a reason for that.

You see, last month I did a post on the Mortal Instrument series along with the two other branch off series by Cassandra Clare. So I’ve been joy-reading all of those from the very beginning since last month—very slowly since my life has been a bit jam-packed lately—which consequently means that I haven’t gotten the chance to sit down and read another book.

Maybe it sounds like an excuse, but honestly, I just haven’t had the time to make it a good post for you.

You deserve that much; maybe I do too.

We all have our responsibilities, as students, parents, employees, human beings… There are things that we have committed ourselves to doing whether or not we can really do it well at the moment. Even if we want to.

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That’s where adjusting comes in.

Just like we have our responsibilities, we also have our own lives that in the grand scheme of things, we make the rules. Sure we have our plans of how things go or when we retire or what comes next, but maybe that plan changes as you change and circumstances change with it.

Just like I didn’t write a post I had nothing for this week—instead of speed-reading a new book or recycling an old one I have little interest in—change the rules for where you’re at (within reason of course).

Think about it.

Everything we do comes from what we’ve got left to give. If we have no energy, say you skipped breakfast or didn’t sleep last night, then you’ve got a little less to give than another day where your circumstances would be better.

This is the small screen version of the picture; take a moment to zoom out.

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Every one of us has jobs to do, things we partake in every day that keep the world running as it does. It’s that idea that everything affects everything.

So if you forget to eat breakfast today, then tomorrow, and the next day until it becomes a habit, your performance falls. And when your performance falls, maybe you start to skip out on meetings with friends or nights with your family too. Before you know it, someone else has to pick up the slack and maybe they start missing things right behind you. When they miss things, someone else has to make up for the time that they don’t have to spend on their other jobs, and well… The cycle only continues.

But what does this have to do with you?

Like I said, everything affects everything. And it starts with you. In order to make sure you can be what and who you want to be every day, you can’t skip breakfast or skip sleep or do something that you simply aren’t prepared for.

It’s not worth it in the long run if you’re still going but everything you do is a little less than it could have been.

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So take a moment to look where you’re at, what you’re doing, and maybe adjust a little today. Take more time for your morning routine, hum in the shower, take a break when you need it; just listen to yourself and do what you need.

Because only when you’re doing good for yourself can you efficiently do good for others. It starts with you.

Going into the weekend, I hope you remember that. Happy Friday everyone.

When There’s Nowhere Left To Go…

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After a week two that felt a little more like week seven, I found myself procrastinating a few too many assignments and calling my parents instead of doing any of them. First things first, I told them I was going to drop out of college and they laughed… Jokes on them if I actually do it (I won’t though).

Then I told them that I’m going to create my own company, one that they’ve never seen before. And do you know what they said?

“Do it.”

So I said okay.

Because truly, such an idea is not impossible. It’s based around the things I love and the pieces of what I’ve become here at Cal Poly, all the bits of myself that have only become stronger in the last few years.

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When you have something like that, something you’re passionate about—one of those things that you can’t tell where it ends and where you begin—you don’t let it go.

You follow it through.

There are a whole lot of things that get in the way of our lives, homework and school included (sometimes). It gets easy to lose sight of what we’re passionate about or what other options we have in this life to build because we’re so set on the same path.

As an English major, people ask me if I want to teach… Not really, it’s a good career but it’s just not mine. And as a chem major, people asked if I was going to be a doctor. I used to say yes, knowing the rest would be too long to explain. But no, that wasn’t what I wanted either.

These are not my paths, these are not the directions I plan on taking my life in. Sure, maybe they were at some point, but not anymore.

I’ve changed over the years and my paths have changed with me. I’m beginning to see that there are so many more options than the ones I thought I needed to chose.

What I want to be is a writer for the rest of my life—at this point I already am, but you know what I mean. I want to write something that means something to someone. And I have, I plan to keep doing it. But that’s not all I want to do.

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I want to create, I want to build something that people see their worth reflected off of. A representation of what it means to see all the people who never feel like they deserved to be. Part of me wants to take charge of my own ship and be the only one who can do that, while another part of me wants to surround myself with extraordinary people who can contribute just as much as I can to what we build together.

By my parents saying the words “do it,” I recognize that it doesn’t have to be an either/or kind of situation. Of course we can’t pretend to know where our lives are headed or what’s going to happen, but we can build the foundations of what we want into it all, can’t we?

If I really wanted to, I could still go into the medical field. Not a dream of mine anymore, but I could. I could just as easily drop out and do something else, something different than college. Not really the direction I want to take, but again, I could.

And I could create those stories, the novels that mean something to someone starting with just one person. I could write everything I want to write and still find another path to add onto it. Just like I plan to.

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Because I can still create that company if I want to; not alone, no one can do something like that without help, but I can build something out of what I’ve got and start to fill the gaps this world still needs to fill.

Right now, it’s not about putting yourself into set paths and hoping for the best, it’s about creating the ones you want to take and making them happen, whatever it takes to get there.

Do it, I dare you.