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. 

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.

Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash

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.