Another Year, Another Journey

Well, it’s almost the end of another calendar year and time just keeps trudging on to the end of 2019. To kick off this year, I remember calling cancel culture on new year’s resolutions—after all, sometimes they’re great and other times, they’re merely excuses for things we’re going to. Even when we usually don’t.

Anyone else find that to come true this year? I know I did.

But 2020 will be different, right? We’re going to better ourselves and set goals that we can meet and live up to everything we are hoping to… Or not.

The only guaranteed thing about 2020: it’s going to happen. All of us may try to do the best with the time we’ve got left in the year, squeeze in as much time as we can with other people, and just make the most of these last few days. One way or another, the countdown has begun.

And I can’t say I’m ready. I mean, 2020 means graduation—graduation means figuring out my life plans and making a legitimate step into this whole adulting thing. It’s also an election year, a leap year, I turn 22 (whatever that means), it’s the return of a new kind of roaring 20’s, and well, it’s a new year.

All big things.

Photo by Kylo on Unsplash

Before moving forward, though, I’ve got to admit something: 2019 was an incredibly unexpected year. Unexpected in the way that, there were just so many things I couldn’t see coming. The real start of a new novel, a very different Orientation experience, a minor that seemed to be just what I was looking for, the beginning of the end of college for me, and so so much more. It’s hard to keep track of everything that happens in one calendar year—though you might remember that I basically keep a weekly journal about it online—what I can say is that I’ve learned a lot. 

Now, I get to share that learning with you. After all, why not start the new year on the same page.

This year brings me to 5 main areas of takeaways. It’s been a big one and a hard one for so many different reasons. But it’s another year almost done. So, let’s reflect.

Time Does Not Stop

Even when it feels like it does, or feels like it should, time is one of the few constants we have in our world and it stops for no one. On things like a quarter system where classes are hard and ridiculously fast paced, it can be great because it’ll be over soon enough. Or, it can be terrible, when you just can’t keep up. Life itself is kind of like that. While there may be no way to stop time or make it pass any slower, we can always find ways to make it pass a little easier at least. How? Just breathe. When things are hard or blurring a little too fast around you, that’s okay. There’s no way to avoid it, and we don’t have to. Find your people, hold onto the support I hope you have, and let the time pass—don’t try to stop it. You can’t. Just breathe through it instead.

Very Little is Guaranteed

I’ve made a lot of empty promises to myself over the past year, from saying “oh, I’ll start waking up earlier in the mornings” to “just one more Netflix episode.” The thing is, unless I do something about it right then and there, I can’t guarantee it will happen. No one can. Sometimes we get busy or traffic picks up or life does instead; the only things that make a difference are the actions we take right now. Earlier this year, I was planning to spend the summer in SLO, and I finally decided to take my rabbit with me. We were going to spend the whole summer together, me and my white ball of fur. Plus, Nick. Instead, she spent one night with us and I woke up to Nick telling me he had to leave for work but there was something wrong with her. Parasites—kind of like good intentions, they stick around for a while until they’ve taken up enough time and enough life to have done their job. Meanwhile, your plans never get fulfilled. So, stop planning. Start doing.

Life Happens

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There are quite a few words we can substitute here for “life” and I think we all know a good amount of them, they’re all the same. The good, the bad, the everything in between, it all can show up whether we plan for it or not. A pop quiz, a bad hair day, heart attacks, downpours, a car accident, a kind gesture, cancelled class… Nothing is off limits. Not us, our lives, the lives of those around us, and definitely not the way we see the world. I’m not sure there is any way to go into a year with the same mindset you leave it in, too much happens for that. I used to think that I was healthy, that my friends were healthy, my parents were invincible, and good things happen to good people. Well my health, jury is out on that one, a few too many young friends have been lost to be qualified as healthy anymore, my parents have their own lives beyond me or my siblings, and things—good or bad—just happen. Some of it is out of our control, however, how we react to it all will always be our choice. When we can, we handle it with grace.

You Get Out What You Put In

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This one goes exactly as it sounds—if you put in fifty percent of your energy to something, it isn’t like interest that gathers over time. You only get fifty percent back out. In WOW this past year, I gave everything I had to the program because it mattered to me. All of my time, energy, tears, and work was returned to me not through credit but rather through people. Those people mean the world to me and I am lucky to have them. I only ended up with 20 Orientation Leaders I care about endlessly because I gave each of them as much as I could. In classes, my grades were only as good (or bad) as the time and effort I put into them. Sometimes, like Spring Quarter, things are not ideal. I pulled a class load on top of work and Orientation that no one should ever do—I knew that when I went into it even when I had little choice. But I passed all my classes and pulled through some incredible, hard, life-changing experiences. I would never take any of it back. I put everything I am into this past year of my life and I’ve gotten an entirely different me out of it. To me, that’s a year well spent. 

Give Credit Where It’s Due

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I would say that this is about appreciating the people around you, but really, I’m actually talking about appreciating yourself. No matter what 2019 looked like for you, you have made it through all the way through to today. I know that I’ve worked incredibly hard, as have so many people around me, and we deserve to recognize that. Because it hadn’t been easy. As a matter of fact, this has actually been a very difficult year for so many people I love and there is no way to deny it. I don’t want to. How we get through these years make us who we are. Our reactions, understandings, musings, growth… All of it is what defines us as people regardless of class, race, gender, ethnicity, culture, aspirations, or anything in between. So, it you’ve made it this far, don’t forget that you deserve to look back and understand why. Understand how much you had to do with the you that exists in this very moment. Give yourself credit where it is due to you.

Whatever this year has been like for you, take a minute to look back at it. It’s been a long one, one that flew by in some ways and dragged on in others. But a lot has happened, for all of us. And we’ve made it through another decade, I think that warrants a retrospective appreciation.

Once you look back, sit with it, and then it’s time to move forward. Because here comes 2020.

Farewell to Freshman Year

They say that time flies when you’re having fun, and this year… Well if nothing else, it has been an absolute whirlwind of classes, new people, far too many names, and of course, countless nights of fun to collide into what I now hold dear as the memories of my freshman year.

Just like that, it’s over.murray-campbell-29990 (1).jpg

These three quarters here were an entirely new experience, before I knew it independence came with a whole new name— college. Suddenly, we were expected to go to class every day (I only missed one), keep track of all the dates, pay attention to what books we need and what that fine print syllabus said about participation points, not to mention trying to stay healthy, keep grades up, and make new friends. All at the same time. It was like starting over, except we already had everything we needed to thrive. All that was left was to go out there and take a page from Nike’s book: Just do it.

So we did.

Every quarter brought new struggles and new experiences here, but I am blessed to say that my main group of friends stuck around since the beginning. It’s funny how some things work out— you meet someone one day and within a blur of new faces and names, they just seem to keep popping up until somehow, they’re all you’ve got. If you’re lucky, they’re all you need.

It’s safe to say, I got lucky.

Here at Cal Poly, that happened with a lot of things. Getting into this school in the first place was quite a chance to take, one that I can officially say I’m glad I did. After a year in linda-xu-216043.jpgSLO, I guess I’m kind of starting to like it here. To be honest, at first I couldn’t help but feel like I made a mistake— nothing could stop me from thinking that I didn’t belong here if I couldn’t even get in without asking them personally, this school was out of my league, this year was going to be a disaster… If I have learned anything this year, it’s that no matter what, we deserve to be in a place that can change your life for the better, despite what it might take to get there.

As far as I can see, my life is already changing.

I was worried about a lot of things coming in to this school year, but looking back at it, that’s how it was supposed to be. Like most first-years, I wasn’t sure I would make any friends, I could keep my grades or my health up, my roommates wouldn’t like me, and I wouldn’t fit in. In the end, I’m not sure I ever truly fit into the school, but I can say that I found some people to fit in with that feel like home to me. It just took a little time, and quite a bit of coincidence that my closest friend ended up in all my orientation/major groups too. As for the roommates thing, it was pretty weird to be thrown into living with two girls I had never met from an entirely different state, for the past 9 months. But I can tell you, those girls became two of my favorite people here, and it was kind of sad to watch them both pack up and leave this morning. If I have anything to say about it though, even if we don’t talk for a while, they’re at least coming to my wedding. Trust me, they promised.

As for the grades and the health thing… Well, let’s just say it’s an adjustment. As someone coming from a block-scheduled high school, I thought I was ahead of the game and I was about to show quarter system who was boss. I was wrong; but that’s okay. Because you would be surprised at how quickly adjusting happens, somehow you take things in stride, learn your limits, and absolutely start utilizing office hours. arkady-lifshits-117993.jpgThose times are a lifesaver. And for next-year’s class and beyond, just remember this: When it comes to getting extra help, with anything in college from grades/tutoring to an ear to talk to, all I can say is do what you’ve got to do. It’s your life, you’ve got to find a way to not just live it, but thrive in it. No matter what, this is your time.

This quarter, I took thriving to a whole new level— I got my grades up (as long as my finals went as well as I hope they did, fingers crossed), I got out there and socialized a bit more, and best of all, for the past 11 weeks I have gone to the gym Monday-Friday at 8 AM, only missing 5 days total. If you can’t tell, I’m pretty proud of myself. Because sometimes, you’ve just got to do it. Even if waking up that early was as rough as I thought it was going to be, I know that I owed it to myself to become my own priority.

Now, I’m here thinking, I guess this is what growing up feels like.

When I left home in September, I was not quite ready to start over in a new place with new classes and new people. Yet here we are looking back and I have come to realize, you are never ready. It’s like asking my parents if they were ready for an empty nest— of course they weren’t. But we adjust anyway. This is what we do; we take on new burdens, new challenges, and push the boundaries of our own existence until you truly feel like you’re getting somewhere. If you think you’re stuck, try another direction. Because college this year, it was something different.

oscar-dejean-14868And as for my career path, well that is definitely another direction that I didn’t quite see coming. I’ll keep you updated on that one.

All I can say is, I wasn’t ready for my freshman year. But it was ready for me. So I took it in stride and did the best that I could. As my mom always makes sure to remind me, that’s all anyone could ever really ask for.

And now… Now I am just ready to go home.