A Snowball Effect

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

At least not directly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You are never off stage.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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. 

Chasing Time

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These last few years, I feel as if I’ve been chasing time. Trying to make the most of it, trying to enjoy what I had even when I couldn’t, trying trying trying. And yet, time has always seemed to slip away from me.

Life is far too short for that. 

There is a whole lot going on in my world right now and I know some of you are in the same boat. I’m writing this for you just as much as I’m writing it for me, whether it’s a push to make the most of the last bits of summer or reminding all of us that we can. That it’s possible. 

Because every day I am reminded of the fragility of our lives. Even more than being afraid of what that means and the things that happen because of it, I am slowly learning to use it as a reason to stay here and stay alive for as long as I can.

That, and stay moving.

Now, they say that we keep learning and growing with this whole adulting thing and I guess I can agree with that. Sometimes. Because sometimes, even while I want to keep moving and keep living this life, I don’t know how.

Let it happen.

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Let what happen you ask? Everything. There are so many things in our lives that we cannot change or control. I am someone who has tried only too had to do so anyway, though ultimately in vain. In turn, doing so tends to hurt more than it helps, leaving us stressed, worried, exhausted, and feeling unfulfilled.

You have to let it go, trust that it’s okay to not have that control in your own hands.

Believe me on this one.

You’re still allowed to ask someone to sit with you in that turmoil, to weather it with you. You don’t have to do it on your own. But when it comes to the rest, focus on what you can control. Brush your teeth, check in with someone you love, put on something that you feel good in. All of this, this you can do with your own hands.

Do it. Leave the rest up to the universe.

Here are a few things that have gotten me through it all anyway.


Four things:

Acknowledge the dark clouds, remember the silver lining.

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There is always some kind of positive to every situation each one of us go through. Even when we can’t see it. It’s okay to be swallowed up by it all for a little while, that is always something you are allowed. Just don’t forget to dig yourself out every once in a while, wake up and smell the roses if you will. Because I promise, there are roses growing right now somewhere in the world and you deserve a chance to feel them around you. Do your best and if you need help, I can be on my way with a bouquet–just say the word.

Go gently. Or not.

Everyone handles things differently. Starting college, new jobs, taking on new responsibilities, dealing with new experiences. Some people take a step back, needing to go gently and take their time to adjust. Others barrel forward with a plan and a bigger reason to live their lives the way they want to. And if you’re neither of those, the rest of us are in between. Truly, it is okay to fall wherever you do on that spectrum.

Speak up.

Say it out loud, whatever it is. Have you ever heard a child talk about being afraid of something when someone told them this one piece of advice: Things are sometimes less scary once you name them and say it out loud. Just like being afraid of a rollercoaster until going on it and realizing that it wasn’t so bad. If you need to talk about something, say it; it makes things real. Sometimes, that’s exactly what you need to do.

Remember, this life is yours.

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No matter what you’re doing, this life belongs to you. For every one of us it is our responsibility to pick ourselves up when no one else will, be our own cheerleader, take initiative to reach for our passions and understand how to handle it when things don’t quite go our way. No one else can do all of these things for us, as much as I truly wish they could sometimes. We’re the ones who have to keep moving, who have to find dreams to follow and keep following them. We’re the ones who have to live our lives. And we call the shots. Even while the people we love walk alongside us as we do.


So hear me out on this one: I don’t know what’s going to happen in any of our lives in the next year, the next month, even the next five minutes. I used to wish I could just to prepare for whatever was coming next in order to not be afraid of it any longer. But if we’re honest with ourselves, we can’t do that—for good reason, that would be no fun after all. This world isn’t something we are meant to control, nor are other people’s choices or the things that they do.

We just have to do our own thing and trust the rest will fall into place, let them fall where they may. And if it doesn’t, your support system is made up of the people who will get you through that. Even when you feel like you don’t have one, reach out. Ask for one. I promise, someone will answer. 

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Remember that today is Friday and you have made it to another week. Hold on tight to the people you care about, remember that you are the shit, and live a little extra if you can today. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Two days ago was 9/11. Three days ago was World Suicide Prevention Day. Your life is valued, your life is important, and so are those of the ones we have lost. Remember that. And even more so, believe that.

See you next week.


PS. If you know, you know. My twitter handle is here and my email page is here; if you need something, let me know. Even if I cannot give exactly what you need, I can offer my company through it. Take care of yourselves.

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.

Living on the Border– What Happens When That Line is Crossed

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Photo by Phước Lộc on Unsplash

I woke up yesterday morning, walking to my 7am class, the way most of us “millennials” do— trying to use coffee and twitter to drown out the noise of the snoring I could be doing, were I still in bed. But instead, I was walking through a cold building, dragging my feel to class, only to finally look down at the lit screen of my iPhone to find the news of Thousand Oaks staring back at me.

I wish I was surprised.

Because these things seem to happen, far too often, something I’m sure the few unlucky enough to go through this shooting and the Las Vegas shooting know only too well. So I sat through my first class of the day wondering about the trauma, the people, the lives…

How would the news twist this one?

Was the shooter white, would it become another not-so-subtle attack on race?

Would it be blamed solely on mental health, on the system?

What’s wrong with our system?

So I sat through class, nodding along and taking notes with hands only sort of conscious of what I was writing down. Then I left that class to go to another one, only this time, I was waiting for a text back.

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Photo by Edwin Andrade on Unsplash

We talked through the readings and went over what a writing center looks like, my leg bouncing and fingers constantly tugging at my pen for the next hour and a half; I was only halfway paying attention. Because it took me a minute to think about where Thousand Oaks is, to realize how close Borderline was to Pepperdine, to Cal Lutheran, to the college student friends I had who just might have been at that bar on college night.

Just like everyone else, I had to wait.

I didn’t want to find out through Facebook that another person died, not again. I didn’t want to sit in class and think about the 10, the 11, the 12 people who lost their lives.

I didn’t want to think about the fact that one of those people could have been one of my people.

I was lucky enough not to have to think that for too long— ironically Facebook was the bearer of good news this time when my friends checked themselves in safely.

Even while I was relieved, immensely so, I also worry about how it feels to be a parent in this day and age. You’re supposed to be able to send your child to a daycare at a preschool and not worry about the big what ifs: what if they they don’t come home, what if someone breaks into the school, what if they have a gun? What if I never see my child again?

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People send their children to work, to worship, to college, into the real world, so they can understand how to live. This is what sets them up for the rest of their lives after all, this is when the living really starts. At least it’s supposed to.

I will never understand why or how things like this happen, let alone what we’re supposed to do after it does.

Because life goes on, even when it feels like it shouldn’t. Some people woke up this morning not missing loved ones lost, not wishing this reality was just a nightmare. People are going to work or to class or to school today, just like any other day. Some loved ones are accounted for, some aren’t, yet plans are still made for Thanksgiving, planes arranged for break, and people go on with their lives.

Tonight my PCE (Pilipino Cultural Exchange) family gets to welcome in over a dozen new members to our ranks, and tomorrow we all get to eat good food and celebrate our togetherness as one big club. Our lives go on, not thinking about how easily this could have happened in our town, at The Grad, or even to one of us visiting Borderline last night.

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Photo by Angelo Pantazis on Unsplash

That’s the thing about what happened, about what keeps happening: nothing changes. Not really. Sure, we get a little more scared and a little more worried, or maybe we hold people tighter for a little while. And we keep that up, until we don’t.

Personally, it’s a little exhausting and I sometimes wonder what it’ll be like to raise my own kids— would this have gotten better, worse?

I don’t know where we’re going from here, but something has to change. And I guess our lives will go on whether or not something does. For most of us.


I’ll see you on Tuesday for Poetry Place.

Finding a Way Back To Balance

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It’s my junior year at a school that for the past two years, I kept trying to leave every chance I got; every day I stick around, I find myself running into more reasons to stay— my people.

College has been rough, I think I’m allowed to say that, but it hasn’t been for nothing. You see, I spent just about my entire freshman year studying and while my grades didn’t always reflect it, my head was constantly stuck in a textbook. I had NO idea what I was doing. I still don’t.

But there is one thing I did last year that I think will completely change how this year goes for me: I put myself out there. I got involved with PCW and Her Campus, along with WOW and several other clubs which I’ll admit, most of the time I didn’t really want to go. But I went, I found some commitments and I held them. Because the biggest thing I got out of each was a home in just a few people along the way.

Give me five minutes on our campus and I guarantee I’ll run into a least one person I’m friends with, a concept which is still so wild to me. Even just yesterday, I ran into another friend from my freshman dorm and it took at least 10 minutes for us to catch up, just a little bit.

I dove into this year in a way that I couldn’t even prepare for: head first. There was truly no time for hesitation, and evidently sleep because I’m still trying to catch up. Even so, I’m realizing that there are some things you have to go into like that: without hesitation and no expectations as to what comes next. At this point, I can attest that absolutely nothing we do goes as planned anyway.

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

As much as I’d love to say that I’ve finally figured college out and I’m as fulfilled as I want to be, I’m not. There’s something missing. Though this is my first year as an official English major, I’m not going to lie and say that it’s been everything I’m looking for— that’s what minors and clubs are for too. I’m sure all of us quarter system students realize how quickly everything moves at this point; my midterms started week 2 and we’re just finishing week 4, but people are burnt out already. It’s intense. With the heinous amount of reading and assignments we have as students, it can be hard to find a balance.

I think the dangerous thing about college, about any time in our lives, is focusing too much on the wrong kind of balance.

Develop a safe balance between fun and work— maybe mix the two, but not too much.

Create a balance in your people— professional peers or other friends— find some support and love, but also find some wild ones to push your own comfort zone just a tad too. Remember, I said a tad.

And most importantly, find a middle ground between spontaneity and consistency. Don’t dwell too much in one or the other.

It’s great if you usually get your work done early. But if you always stay in on Friday nights or get all your homework done by Saturday morning, maybe try something else this week— hit the movies, go for a midnight doughnut run, try out that new restaurant and get all dressed up for no reason, even just do a potluck night with friends. Anything goes, just remember to do something different every once in a while.

We’re all too young to keep to the same routines or always fall asleep in the sofa by 9:30pm— yes Dad, I’m talking to you. Switch it up every once in a while, live your lives.

I’ve got a lot on my plate this year… After what year two turned into, quite possibly too much. But right now, I’m going for it— all of it. If I need to pull back, I can; there is always room to pull back. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of feeling like I’m standing still, even at a school and in a system where everything is constantly moving. I need to find a way to feel like I’m moving again. At this point, it’s now or never, make or break for me.

We all just have to find a balance— I hope you find yours.


Here’s to whatever comes next. Happy Friday everyone and I’ll see you Tuesday for a new Bookworms.

Two Poem Tuesday

Another Tuesday, another poem– and I’ve got two for you today. I was playing with a little imagery along with the last style I tried out, let me know what you think!


One

With every step this world

winds me up.

Twist and twist

and twist

the dial;

one more time

until it stops.

Now

let go.

Watch me walk,

watch me work,

watch me live my

life like it’s my job.

I will keep going

until that dial

untwists me

all the way back.

For then I will stop,

I will freeze,

I will be stuck

in my own ways,

until the next person

decides

to wind me up

again.

Two

My life has become a play

with missing pieces

and empty parts

of actors

who can no longer fill

their roles.

Must the show go on,

as the cogs

in the machine

always do,

or does a new one

begin,

not so fresh faced

but ready

in good time

nonetheless?

Is it possible

to be

both?


I hope you all are having a great week, see you Friday.