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. 

If It Ain’t Broke…

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Sometimes I forget that even though this blog continues week by week and my age keeps going up one by one, that doesn’t mean I’m outgrowing everything I think I am. Habits, friends, tendencies, the usual. Just because we’re growing up, all of us, doesn’t mean we don’t fall back on the little things that used to work for us in the process.

Even if they’re little things that we thought worked for us, when maybe they didn’t. If it ain’t broke… Maybe we need a second opinion.

You see, here’s the thing. They say matter cannot be created nor destroyed and we know that as a fact, at least I hope we all do by now. But when it comes to social laws, are there any that say one thing that grows while another one does not can no longer fit together as it has before?

Because there should be. Either that rule has not been defined yet, or human beings simply cannot refrain from testing this rule again and again until our patience has been tested positively past worn down and weary.

As much as I wish for someone to answer that question, I think I already know what the answer is. But here’s why I’m only struggling with it (again) right now.

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When I was younger, I think grew up in people’s shadows as much as anyone else would. We’re all side characters in someone else’s story after all, whether we try to be or not. Even now I tend to have my head stuck in a book or a fictional world that really isn’t this one and I think I took my role as a reader, or that side character, a little too seriously. Always have.

So when other people that I care about or do things for or support, aren’t supporting me in the way I need them to, I wonder why. Anyone would. But then I negate all the times that I haven’t been that support for other people and realize that maybe I’ve done the same thing to people that love or support me too. After all, we’re all our own main character, we put life in terms of ourselves. Sometimes.

This is a healthy way to think, if we question ourselves when criticizing something and examine why we feel the way we do, or if the logic is one-sided rather than at least trying to see all facets of the story before claiming it to be truth. It’s good to think this way. 

Unless, of course, we then believe that we’re the problem. Consistently. I mean yes, sometimes we are. Just ask my mom about my venting or complaining about my expectations for people—the other person is not the problem, at times my expectations are just a little bit too high. Or simply incorrect.

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Other times though, she also does a really good job of reminding me that my expectations or standards for how I feel I’m treated and valued and loved and supported… Those aren’t expectations at all. They should be the set bar for how I feel in my own life and the people that impact that every moment I breathe.

Just like our habits and our tendencies, even our diets and our preferences, as we grow and figure out who we are the key people in our lives should be growing with us.

Maybe that means they grow apart; some people grow to understand that their relationship is more the check in every couple of months kind. Others realize they’re the ones we go to with the “situations” or to “spill the tea” if you know what that means. If not, check this out.

But whether or not it’s together—sometimes better for each party if it isn’t—growing does need to happen. And if we’re the ones holding ourselves back, we’re also only just hurting ourselves in the process. I can’t say I’ve always been a big fan of change; readjusting and finding new normals is hard. And scary. And exhausting. It’s supposed to be.

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Yet, that’s also where I find the best parts of the story: my story, the stories or lives I’m simply a side character in, and especially the fictional ones I get to be a part of too. Growing is necessary and the in-between, the insecure parts… That’s when almost anything can happen, when something almost always does happen. We just have to be willing to make it.

There are no right times or people or circumstances; do what you can with what you have. If what you have isn’t enough, then go find what you need and go from there.

It’s not about fitting in to what used to work or playing a waiting game, not at all. Life seems—is—a little too short for that. Take what you’ve got, and make a move. Grow. 

That’s all you can do.

Legally… Adulting?

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So guess who made it 21 years around the sun? It’s me, I did. Well, Nick and me of course.

But if you ask him, he’ll probably tell you that he made it 29 minutes earlier.

Now that’s I’m 21, the question is, what changes? Maybe I’ll go out to the bars and wildly dancing on tables every day for the rest of the quarter. Either that, or I’ll participate in as many daygers as I possibly can because legally, there’s no reason for me to get in trouble now.

So of course I’m going to go for it, I mean what else am I supposed to do?

Other than study, work, sleep, volunteer… Because I have so much time outside of that right?

Thing is, we live in a society where college students act like this is all we do. Other than the actual schooling we pay so much money for, a lot of time is wasted on drinking, partying, and not really being productive. Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against knowing how to lighten up every once in a while. Living while you can is important after all.

Here’s the thing though, living for me doesn’t really involve alcohol. Unlike what a lot of people seem to believe, not all college students drink. I’m not against alcohol, but I can’t say alcohol is something I really enjoy drinking either. Personally, I don’t like the way it makes me feel.

For some reason though, some people don’t understand that. And that’s where I find a problem. When someone says no to something, I get if everyone else is having fun and they just want you to join in. What I don’t get is the lack of respect by people who are supposed to support you and instead, fail to respect your preferences.

Because as legal adults, we are bound by the law but have a few less limits than we did when we were, say, 16. The older we get, the more we all figure out about ourselves and in turn, the more different we become. Our interests, our hobbies, our talents, our skills… That, and who each of us are as a whole. So you would think that, as we get older and become a little more individual, we would find a little more respect for our differences.

Including drinking habits.

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Some of us like to party, some of us don’t. Some of us like shows like Game of Thrones, some of us don’t. Some of us are DC and some of us are Marvel.

Some of us drink, and some of us don’t.

See where I’m getting at?

Personally, I would love to see some understanding within people my age and younger that what we do or don’t like is up to us. It really isn’t their business. If you really prefer DC, that’s all your choice. I may question your taste—just a little—but that is all you. It’s the phrase “don’t yuk my yum.” If there is something I like, maybe you’ve tried it and maybe you’ve never given it a chance. Either way, that gives you no right to judge me for it.

If it’s legal, we have our own choices to make and deserve a little respect in the process. Concerns are okay, judgement is not.

That’s what I’d like to think it is to legally adult. Maybe you’d agree.

Have You Heard of FISH?

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Short and sweet for you today, have you ever heard of the FISH philosophy? Trust me, it’ll change the way you see things. Four easy steps:

Play

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When it comes to approaching anything, especially in our society, we can either choose for it to be work or we can choose for it to be a bit of play. This comes from the Seattle Pike Place Market where they make a bit of a game out of selling and preparing fish for people. Instead of regular vendors and yelling about their fish, they joke around with customers, offer samples, and quite literally throw the fish around from one person to the next as a way to keep things energetic.

Not only does this remind you every day to remember to have a little fun, but it also says that you can make everything a bit of fun if you want it to be. Find a way to Play.

Make Their Day

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Sure, every person you meet is just another person to walk through your life in one day. Especially when selling things, it’s easy to overlook the fact that you get a chance to really see every single one of those people. So talk to them, every one of them. Ask them how their day is and mean it, see why they came in the first place.

You have the opportunity to make someone’s day every time you speak to them. Why not use it? It doesn’t take a whole lot– as humans, we’re pretty simple. All we want is to be genuinely acknowledged. If you can do that, I think you just might make someone’s day.

Choose Your Attitude

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Now this one is important because there are a whole lot of things in our lives that we don’t want to do. From working and paying taxes to bills and studying, we’re busy people. We never really stop moving. You can easily get stuck in this pattern of doing it all or going through the motions day by day without really paying any attention to it.

But if you have to do it, every single day, can’t you also choose to be positive or be the kind of person people don’t mind being around while you do? You have to choose your attitude, despite how much sleep you got or who’s in a fight with who… Attitude is everything because it starts with you. So choose yours first. The rest takes care of itself.

Be there

Lastly, you’ve got to be there. As someone who is constantly moving and rarely takes a break in my schedule, I sometimes forget that I’m supposed to be 100% there in everything I’m doing. With the students I’m mentoring, I can’t teach them properly or guide them well if I’m not paying attention to what’s going on. At work, I can’t ask a customer how their day is or tell them good luck on a midterm if I’m not present enough to remember to do so.

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You’ve got to be there, for all of it. We only get one life and there’s a clock counting down somewhere just to remind all of us to not forget it.

So be there to live your life every single day. Find a way to play in everything you do, make someone’s day while you’re at it, and just be there. Okay?

Okay. Because every day I’m getting older and even though my life is pretty fast paced, I have to remember these things too. It wouldn’t be a life worth living without it.

That’s the FISH philosophy. I hope you liked it.

Becoming the Game Changer

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And just like that, it’s a new calendar year. Did you spot the differences in the layout? If you did, let me know and I’ll tell you a secret. But like I said, here we are in a new year and I would say my resolution is to actually write 2019 on my papers consistently for the next two weeks but I know I’d break it so there’s no point.

That’s the thing about resolutions, sometimes we make ones we know are impossible for us to meet, just to see if we can make it happen anyway. There’s got to be a better way to do this.

And well, there is. One with with a whole lot less pressure too. It’s not exactly a resolution, but more of a plan. Hear me out:

Take it step by step, each one something you can reach from the last. And keep doing it until you get to where you want to be. Then do it again. And again…

I say this because I know that I have my own tendencies to set goals for myself that I really want to reach, but oftentimes the bar is set a little too high. So when I fail, it’s almost too discouraging to keep trying.

I forget that sometimes it isn’t about changing yourself to be “good enough” to reach that goal, it’s about changing your expectations—change the goal.

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Think of it this way. Throughout most of my life (that I remember), I’ve always been pretty reserved and not necessarily quiet, but more a watcher than a player. As great as it is to have that quieter or more preserved side when it’s useful, it can be kinda boring and maybe lonely. After all, people usually seek out the exciting or fun ones, not the wallflowers.

Last year, I set my goals on changing that, just a little. Not necessarily changing me, but letting what I’ve learned mold me into someone more capable of becoming who I want to be.

It wasn’t going to happen overnight and it definitely wasn’t going to happen in some huge and/or public grand gesture, I had to start small. So I did a mini version of CCE WOW with our Polycultural weekend (PCW) and somehow committed myself to the Black Student Union’s dance routine in the process. In retrospect, there was a bit of a grand gesture in there with the whole dance on stage, under the bright lights, in front of everyone thing… But the hosting part with PCW was a baby step for me, a step that let me meet a lot of people, my voice get a little bit louder, and I found myself in the middle of things a little more often than not.

I couldn’t stop there.

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So I set a new goal: WOW. It went wonderfully, as I hope you all know (if not, you really should catch up), so I kept stepping a little higher and higher the next time. And well, I’m still stepping so that counts for something. This time, I’m just changing the direction a bit.

The goal for 2019 is simple, yet somehow bigger than any I’ve set before.

Just like I had to be the one to push myself to make the grade or get involved or join that club or apply for that job, this year I am letting my life become the epitome of what each of these have in common.

I’m going to be my own game changer.

Sometimes, we rely so much on other people, we look for things we hope can help us fix something perceived to be broken, something that can be better, when it really comes down to us doing it ourselves. We have to stand up and do what needs to be done, even if it’s against our own bad habits or what something used to be.

Because sometimes, sometimes a plan works and you can keep raising those goals every time you stepped up to the last one. You become just a little more of who you want to be for it, whatever that looks like to you.

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But other times, life just happens, whether or not we’re ready for it. You can’t plan for that. More than just a plan, remember that no matter what you do this year, live for yourself. Be ready to take what you’ve got and make it into whatever you can.

Be ready to change your own game.


If you’ve got any plans or any resolutions this year, I want to hear it! Feel free to shout them out a little in the comments and I’ll hype you up if you need it. Good luck and I’ll see you on Tuesday for Poetry Place. Happy new year.