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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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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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Photo by Wes Hicks on Unsplash

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.

26 Weeks– New Quarter, New Perspective

“Tragedy blows through your life like a tornado, uprooting everything. Creating chaos. You wait for the dust to settle and then you choose. You can live in the wreckage and pretend it’s still the mansion you remember. Or you can crawl from the rubble and slowly rebuild.”
– Veronica Mars

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Six months ago I wrote a blog post, quite possibly one of the most important I’ve ever written, and somehow 26 weeks have gone by. Both surprisingly and not at all at the same time, somehow I looked at my views yesterday and realized that not a single week has gone by since it went up without someone looking at that post.
Not because of my writing, not because of my blog itself, and not because of me. No, because of her.
Because her life is something worth remembering.
Six months ago, Maddie Elliot’s death was that tornado Veronica Mars was talking about. Over the past few years, between being lab partners in sophomore biology and laughing in memorable Spanish classes, her presence in my life wasn’t one that demanded attention— always front and center— she was the kind of person who didn’t have to be. The good in her would be there regardless. In the way she lived and loved and cared about others, the hard part was losing someone like her and not knowing how to understand and move on from something like that.
It’s not easy.
Because can that dust really settle in six months?
I’m starting to think that, in some parts of who we are, maybe it can. But in others?
Never.
And that’s okay, because when I reached that choice, to live in the wreckage and to recreate it or be ignorant of the change instead… This was something I couldn’t let go, one I haven’t gone a day without thinking about.
This change in my perspective and my life was everything.

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Have you ever heard of the glass shattering metaphor, namely from the show How I Met Your Mother? The idea is that your reality is held behind a one-way mirror, or a glass so-to-speak. When something happens, maybe someone spoils a movie or the lightbulb in your head finally clicks on in math class, the glass shatters and the mirror is broken. You can’t go back.
Losing someone so young and so incredible, that was my glass shattering moment. And every day, my eyes open just a little bit more in the way I see things or people, in how I act. I feel like I’ve almost redefined my life, what I want and what feels worth it. How to open up. How to live. How to love.
It’s sink or swim in college these days and lately, I’ve been deciding to swim a little harder toward something meaningful every day. To make the most of what Cal Poly is and can be to me.
After change or tragedy, the moments that leave you breathless and lost, you begin to rebuild again and again and again. Just keep doing it. You pick up the pieces of what’s left and rearrange it all until it fits, whether it’s your career, your heart, your relationships, or more times than not, yourself.

You make it work as best you can.
Kind of like college where none of us have this figured out, the idea of what we’re supposed to do or how we do it. Choosing a major to come in with is hard enough, let alone actually

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graduating when you feel like you should, hopefully with a job or some sort of plan lined up once you do. Once I got here, the process never really seemed that simple.
Because in the midst of it all, we fail, we stumble, we hope, and we keep trying to move forward as our minds change and our perspectives open up to figure out just what it is that we’re doing every day.
We take it one day, one class, one step, and one breath at a time. Until it feels like maybe we’re on the right path and those pieces are starting to fit back together again. Not perfectly, of course not, that wouldn’t be life if it did. But maybe in a way, with a little more time, you can adjust to the imperfections just enough to be content with what you’ve become.

That dust begins to settle.
In the past year of my life, I’ve learned to give myself time to let change devastate me if it must, to let it wash over every reality and every hope and every idea I once thought was set in stone. Once it does and it fades, I figure out where to go from there.
Like so many of my friends or my classmates, that’s what it’s like trying to navigate our lives and educations together. There is so much more to understand about the realities of this life in what our futures will be while trying to make the most out of a college career that’s flying by.
So six months later, this is me rebuilding the person I used to be– the life I held a year ago, two months ago, two days ago. I am rebuilding from the wreckage, the kind of process you’ll see in my writing, in my choices, and most importantly, in who I think I am. Who I think I can be.
This is how you let your heart adjust to new burdens before turning them into a beautiful kind of chaos; just the kind I’ve come to love being in the middle of. One that makes sense to you. Because stumbling and falling, losing our way and our balance, it doesn’t mean we are incapable to moving forward or getting it all “right.”
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That just means maybe we will figure it out along the way. Sometime and someday, it will make sense.
As long as you trust that maybe, every change is just a step closer to who we are going to be. And if you’re on this journey with me, then you know, there’s so much more to see through the dust and the chaos. Whether there are more tornados on the horizon or something completely new, I’m excited to take you all with me.

So happy Friday, happy April, and here’s to whatever comes next.

On Love’s Changing Image– Love, Simon

zoltan-tasi-273195-unsplashI’m not quite sure how we got here already, but here we are. Happy Friday Everyone! I’ve been home for a full day, only to leave again soon, but I’m making the most of it. Wednesday I spent a few hours in the sun once I got home, reading and trying to get rid of my sock tan. Then, last night I got to do one thing I’ve been looking forward to since the day it came out two weeks ago.

I finally got to see Love, Simon.

Based on the book, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, this is another one of those books that I watched the movie first; I haven’t gone back to read the book yet, but I might; I just didn’t want to spoil the ending this time. So what’s the movie all about anyway? Well, our main character Simon Spiers is a closeted high school senior and is forced to face his secret when the twists and turns (and people) threaten to tell the whole world.

In between the raging turmoil of Spiers and his high school experience, this movie was the slice of life a lot of people have been waiting for. Not only because this movie was complete friendship goals and an experience into another world for a little while, but because this slice of life was more than just another story told on screen. For a lot of people, Simon’s experience looked a whole lot like theirs.  

The thing about this movie and a handful of other movies that I thoroughly appreciate is that they offer representation for many youth that feel misunderstood. It unlocks the door for the kind of conversation that just hasn’t happened yet. 

So let’s talk, I promise I won’t spoil anything.

noom-peerapong-30948-unsplash.jpgI just want to start with saying how incredible it was to watch that movie, not because of just the film itself, but because of the atmosphere in that theatre. As we waited for the big reveal, literally all sitting on the edge of our seats, there wasn’t a single person in that room who wasn’t whooping or yelling or possibly crying when we got to the part we were waiting for— no matter who any of us are and what our lives look like, everyone was invested in what happened to Simon. We all wanted to know where his story was going.

Beyond the atmosphere, I think this movie was something important for more than the experience, but also for the understanding. To know how it feels to fall in love, to feel something, and not be so sure if those feelings can ever be returned back to you the way you want it.

We’ve all been there right, it’s your classic coming of age. 

But what about the rest of it? To understand what it’s like to protect a secret that feels too dangerous to your own wellbeing and security to let out. Growing up in a world where we are all surrounded by the things we are told we should be and things we are are told we should have done by now, it’s hard to figure out where we fit into the picture. 

Especially if that picture never looks like you.

Once what you want people to see falls apart, everyone can see it and it your reality might be one you’re not ready to show. That’s terrifying, and for a whole lot of people, it’s also real. This story is so much more than just another romcom, it’s allowing people to feel like maybe they deserve their own stories, beyond a sexuality or gender or race or their past…

This movie gives people permission to take their time to figure out who they are on their roman-kraft-421410-unsplash.jpgown, and who they want with them along the way while they try to get there.

No matter how long that takes, it’s okay.

Because Love, Simon shined a light on a lot of things, from a new perspective to a different experience. But in a way, movies and books like this are why I feel each is so important to our lives. These are the stories people need to see, need to read, the experiences we need to open our minds to a little bit.

Maybe one of these days, I’ll be lucky enough to write a story like this of my own. But for now, I can settle for Love, Simon because my eyes are open wide and I’m ready for whatever else comes our way. So here’s to change. 

And if you’ve seen the movie, I would really love to hear what you thought about it, leave your thoughts in the comment below!

Keys to Happiness- Intro to Change

If you’ve been following my blog for the past year or so, you would know that even though I’m a current chemistry major, I’m switching my major to English. To a lot of people, this might seem foolish, wasteful, or even flat out irresponsible. Here’s the thing: I’m okay with that.ksenia-makagonova-229007.jpg I would rather stress, or struggle, or find my way through college doing something I love rather than do all of that feeling stuck in something that makes me feel inferior or in a major I simply do not care for.

Can you see the difference?

Now I say all this with the understanding that leaving college as an “English major” does not have the best reputation— for good reason. Although it is extremely versatile, it is also not something that people are necessarily looking for throughout the professional world. The job outlook is not great. I know that. But I said I’m switching my major, I didn’t say that’s all I was planning to do… Even the biggest dreamers need a backup plan; for me, that includes adding a minor, at least. Have I fully decided what it’s going to be? Not yet, but I’ve got a pretty good idea of how to make these next three years worth everything I’ve got.

If I’m not setting myself up for a better life now, then when will I ever?

College is a difficult four years where our lifestyles are something completely different from they have ever been or ever will be again— this is a world of it’s own. Once we get out of here, we cross the border between young adult/just figuring things out to stepping into the realm of the professional world with no real way to go back. Once I leave this college life I haven’t finished creating yet, it’s going to be hard to know where I need to go; that doesn’t mean I’m not going to be able to succeed. The success of my major switch is riding aaron-burden-195608not only on successfully switching, but also on finding internships, making connections now (network, network, network), and capitalizing on every opportunity I have to make this college experience worth it.

As I figure out how to make every action I take here count, one of my closest friends here is also in the process of switching her major. We both started at the same time. Ironically, we are switching from almost the same major but we are headed in completely different directions. One big difference between us two? She is on her second major switch right now.

As one of the hardest parts of college and just like so many other students, she’s had a hard time finding the right fit, the right major for her time here. After choosing a different path last quarter, she go into it, took a few classes, and realized it wasn’t what she wanted. A crossroads. The way many might see it, she had two main options: panic, dropout, stay home, and come back after figuring it out, OR take a deep breath, think about her own interests, and give herself a chance at another path.

Lucky for me, she chose option two.

So over the summer, she did a little research, found an internship, and in the process, discovered a better direction she really liked. Now she’s three weeks in and I’m starting to see that even though a lot of us might end up in a bad spot or we aren’t quite sure we like the direction we’re headed in, it doesn’t mean we can’t do anything about it.railroad walk

Because how is that second switch going for her right now?

She is thriving.

You see, there are a lot of things we could do to be happy with where we are in our lives. Some people read self-help books, others meditate, and plenty decide to stick it out and work for something better. But there’s one thing I think a lot of people are afraid of but often desperately need to do, something that we leave for a last resort: Making a change.

As I grow up, maybe that will mean moving to a new city or finding a better job. I know right now for a lot of people my age, it’s finding a new club/group to join or switching to a school that fits them a little better. But just like me or my friend, sometimes making a change is the best possible decision we can make. Don’t be afraid to make it.

If you’re not happy or you’re struggling, find a way to make it so that if you have to struggle, you can at least struggle towards something that will be worth it. We only have one life to live, a life that we don’t have a timeline for when it gets hard and complicated and messy. And we’re going to get lost, I know I have countless times already, but that’s all a part of the experience.

Without a little struggle, the good times couldn’t possibly be worth it. And as cliche as I know it all sounds,sean-afnan-244576 without trying out the wrong paths, we wouldn’t be able to find our way to the right ones. So here’s to discovering success, discovering ourselves, and of course, discovering the keys to being happy.

Until next time, have a beautiful weekend everyone 🙂

 

Getting Unstuck: 5 ways to get back up again

Welcome to the second week of August— aka, the time when all the high schoolers realize that a new year just started and all the college kids realize that the end of summer is inevitable. lisheng-chang-239427With a new year starting for everyone and all the adults giving in to the impending end to vacation time, sometimes we look in the mirror on that first day and realize something: We’re stuck.

Personally, I’ve been finding myself getting restless lately. As all my friends head back to college or move on to new things, I’m taking a summer class I’ve ironically already taken and doing most of the things I’ve always done because there aren’t many people here to do new things with. I guess you could say that I’ve been feeling a bit stuck.

We’ve all been there right?

But as a way to get myself back up and moving again, and maybe to help out anyone else feeling the same way, I decided to write about it. Let’s be honest, it’s what I do. So if you’re feeling stuck, if you’re looking for something new, or you just have a little time to read, here are 5 ways to remind yourself what it’s like to live your life.

 

Be honest with yourself

“Honesty is the best policy.” I know my parents used to always remind me of this and I’m really not sure who said it, but I can tell you that when it comes to ourselves, the truth is important. Are you pushing yourself in a certain direction even though it may not be where you want to go? Stop pushing, break those boundaries. When people get stuck, it’s often because we feel like we’re not headed towards anything special. The thing is, the only person who can make where we’re headed anything but boring is us. So be honest with yourself— if you don’t like dancing then stop dancing, if you need new friends then find new friends, if you don’t like who you’re becoming… Find a way to become someone better. Just because you’re stuck doesn’t mean you can’t get out. You’ve simply got to want to.

Try something new

Have you ever found yourself watching the same Netflix show or re-reading the same book because you liked it the first (few) times? As someone who absolutely loves to re-read books, even I get bored of it after a while. But our hobbies and our outlets, they change who we are— you cannot change if you’re still doing the same things you’ve always done. Maybe there’s a sport that you have had your eye on for a while, thinking “I wonder if I would enjoy doing that.” As a student, there’s no time like the present, put yourself out there! Even for the adults there are different things for different places, like wine tasting and monthly hiking meet-ups, or Thursday night markets and live music… The only way to try something new is to go all in and do it. It takes a bit of vulnerability, the idea of being in a zone that may not exactly be comfortable. But give it some time and effort on your part, and maybe that comfort zone can get a little wider.

Find a different path to follow

Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what path we’re on, like Little Red Riding Hood finding herself going down the wrong one. Finding the right one is a trial and error kind of thing. ivana-cajina-337709If you don’t like the people you meet or the things you find along the way, change your direction. Easier said than done? How about this: everything we do is an attempt to get closer to that next chapter, whether it’s paying off bills for the house, picking a college major, or even working hard at a job in hope of a raise and later on, retirement. We do all of these things with a goal in mind. Yet sometimes these goals are too far ahead of us; we get tired. You have to set smaller goals. Allow yourself to feel like you’re accomplishing something every day, even you just read a few pages in a new book or tried that new yoga pose. No matter what you do, give yourself a chance to feel something other than stressed out or over-worked. By giving yourself that break and finding a bit of breathing room, you might feel like you’re headed in the right direction along the way.

Be okay with failure

This one is short and sweet— sometimes you are going to fail. And that is okay. A few weeks ago, I tried picking up a new hobby: painting. Not that I expected to be a prodigy or anything, but in hindsight, I’m not very good at painting. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t fun. Usually when I try new things, I have the security of knowing I’ll be good at them. Like pursuing writing or trying out for a capella— I knew I at least had a shot. But if you’re trying to get out of a slump, maybe what you need is a little failure. We could all use the reminder sometimes; we’re only human and failing comes with title… As long as we don’t stop there. So let yourself fail, let yourself try, and let yourself fail all over again. If you are enjoying something new, then it doesn’t matter whether you’re good or not. As long as it makes you feel alive or like a part of this life, never let failure stop you. Who knows, maybe you’re better than you think.

Let go of Expectations

Last but not least, this is something a friend of mine told me last week that I’ve been trying to take to heart: There will be times when you need to let go of the expectations you have and just live your life day by day. Simply expect yourself to keep going. As someone who loves to read and get lost in the fictional worlds others have build, it gets easy to lose sight of reality and the life that actually belongs to me. I was a little disappointed that some giant didn’t bring me a cake on my eleventh birthday to tell me I’m a wizard, or that I didn’t grow up with a satyr as a best friend because Poseidon is actually my father. My expectations were a smidge too high.But we all have them and sometimes, they don’t push us forward. They hold us back. So right now, I am asking you to do one thing: let them go, just for a little while. Live outside of your boundaries, brooke-cagle-336464outside of what you think you want, and go find something that makes you happy right now. Once you find that, go find another thing, and another thing, until your heart is so content that you’re running out of room. Then take a look at those expectations— have they changed a little bit? And most importantly, have you changed? I hope so.

With these 5 ideas, I’m hoping that I can find my way to change. I keep telling myself that I’m too young to be stuck, and maybe I’m not. I just haven’t been trying hard enough to get up. But if you’re ready for something new, then allow yourself to go chase life, whether you have all the time in the world or a just a few minutes here to pick up that book. Every little bit counts.

So here’s to getting unstuck, another attempt at painting for me, and to looking in the mirror to realize that maybe this truly is a good life. Good luck and until next week 🙂