Breathing Fresh Air

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Happy Friday indeed because finals are finally over. Somehow, I am officially done with all but my senior project for my major. And that fiction project I told you about, well, it’s going okay.

By “okay,” I mean that I wrote 25 pages for my fiction story in less than a week and got my portfolio turned in with a little bit of time to spare. That is pretty good for me. In the meantime, of getting that figured out, I also finished and presented my studio project, got through a 10-page theory paper, and an 8-page proposal paper.

You could say that it’s been a busy week. But now, that week is over. I get to go home tomorrow.

As the week has wound down, I’ve found my reality catching up with me—you probably know what I mean but let me explain. When you get so busy and have your hand in a couple different pots at the same time, time kinda slips away from you. They say time flies when you’re having fun; that statement should probably be amended to also include when you’re too busy to remember to eat and breathe for a moment.

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Weeks like this one, they’re can feel like you’re drowning before coming up for air only to find water in your lungs. Once that happens, what do you do?

You breathe anyway.

All of our lives are complicated, with so many moving pieces and people all changing at the same time that it can be hard to keep track of. And when you lose track of things, you can get lost in it. Whether or not things are under control, whether your head is on straight or feeling a little sideways, breathing is the only option.

Otherwise, we give up.

Life is too short to give up. Let me put this in perspective.

I had a long conversation with my studio professor after our final yesterday and some things came up that I was not expecting. As one of the two 4th years in that class, the rest being 1st years who never seem to listen or take their headphones off, she was talking to me and we got to the concept of her teaching. She might be done.

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Because she loves teaching people who want to learn about the knowledge she has to share. But when her students no longer show her that they want to learn, she doesn’t have a reason to hold onto that reason to teach. She is coming up for air and the problems, those make up the water she can’t avoid breathing in anymore.

That breath is a warning sign that there is something wrong, something that should not be ignored. And even while she was ready to drop this part of her life, she sat and talked with me for an hour afterwards anyway.

After that talk, she emailed me to say that I reminded her of why she does her job. We talked and afterwards, she breathed in. She gave herself a chance not to give up.

I say all of this to remind you to breathe in today, even if it hurts because there is water in your lungs when water should not be in your lungs. Sometimes, life just happens that way and we have to be okay with that. I have to be okay with a hard finals week because I guess I signed myself up for this. She signed up for a job that some people genuinely cannot appreciate because it is how they are, and it is not her fault. There are still people like me who chose to be in that class because I want to be.

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Every day, we are making that choice to keep going, to breathe in and take whatever comes next, prepared or not.

So, don’t forget that when the road gets a little hard to see, keep driving. Keep swimming. Keep breathing.

You deserve to. Happy Friday.

A Human’s Amended Hierarchy of Needs

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Another week down and if I’m being honest, this was a rough one. It’s midterm season and even though I’m ahead of my classes and all I had was a project review, sometimes I think we forget that all of us students or workers or marines etc. are humans first.

We have to attend to our human selves before we can even begin to think about anything else.

Yet, we tend not to. We say that we can sleep when we’re dead or make up for it tomorrow or do something another day, but it tends to add up you know?

It can be a lot.

On top of the classes and work and campus involvement, my body has been telling me to slow down and I can’t really say that I’ve been listening. So the migraines and exhaustion and overall red flags decided to crank it up a notch.

Now I can’t ignore it.

So today, I don’t have classes. I’ve instead caught up with an old friend, seen a really cute dog, and slept a bit extra. As much as it was a rest and recharge kind of day, I still feel like there’s work I need to do and I should stay ahead of my classes or attend to this thing as well…

There’s almost always more to do.

Our culture tends to be a go go go kind of vibe that isn’t always great for us as human beings. Sure, we are productive and maybe get the things we need to do done. And sure, we would like to think our work lives are thriving.

But do we?

Are they?

I’m honestly not so sure that they are.

In the same way that every single one of us is made up of intersections in our identities from what we believe in to what makes us up, our lives are too.

The quality of our lives are made up of our social circles, our personal lives, professional atmospheres, the way we think, how we’re treated by others, how we work, and so much more. That’s why spilling coffee on your way to work impacts you just as much as maybe someone not holding the door open for you when your hands are full.

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I know, those examples are small and aren’t that impactful, but they add up in the same way our work lives do with deadlines and projects and assignments, etc.

When I say take care of yourself or have a good weekend, I mean every aspect of your weekend. I hope you eat well and enjoy the food, I hope you sleep well and get some rest, I hope you work well and get what you want done, and I also hope you relax well and really do take some time for yourself.

Upset even one of those things and it offsets the balance of everything else.

It’s like that triangle of things where we’re only allowed to succeed in two in college. There’s the social life at the top, good work, on the right, and personal needs on the left. A running joke among college kids is that we’re never allowed to find a balance in all three because one will always affect the other.

We’re not wrong—not quite anyway.

When it comes to the concept of “balance” we decide what takes priority over other things. It’s not about being perfect in everything, whatever that means, but about creating an equity in the way you treat the different aspects of your life.

Let’s take three things that each of us need to pay attention to on a regular basis: sleep, nutrition, and social lives. Some of us can run off 4 hours of sleep a night and be fine—you shouldn’t, as that can really impact your health down the road, but do your thing—some of us need at least 8. In the same way, some of us eat maybe two meals a day with snacks in between and others eat five meals a day. Or in our social lives, some people need their people every single day while others can check in every few days and be fine with that.

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Our definitions of what is enough is very different because every single one of us is a very different person from the next.

The problem lies in the fact that we do not treat ourselves as such. I just want to know why.

Ultimately, the priorities of our society often align with productivity and work at the top of the list due to the values of American culture. I can’t say I know how that happened or how to change it beyond just ourselves, but in my perspective, this is the status quo.

It doesn’t have to be for all of us.

For me, that prioritization really isn’t working my body is now constantly reminding me of this. If I’m more or less constantly exhausted, missing something of satisfaction in my social life, and ahead of my academic life and still not quite happy with it, I need to change something. It’s as simple as that.

As human beings, we need to listen to the changes we ask for of ourselves. I haven’t been doing that and it shows. Sure, maybe finding what that looks like for me will be a longer journey and more work than I want it to be but it’s worth it isn’t it? Life’s too short to live as less than we deserve if we have control over something that can make that better.

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So on this Friday, I have a single question for you. You don’t have to answer to me—though you’re welcome to in the comments if you want to share a little about yourself—but I want you to at least think about it for yourself. Understand the answer and acknowledge what you can do for yourself here. It’s simple, really:

Are you treating yourself like someone you love?


With that, happy Friday. 

TGIF

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TGIF am I right?

If I’m being honest, this week was a real rough one let me tell ya. Even though I know I should be preparing for classes starting back up soon, I was not prepared to get up early every day for the past week. You could say I’m out of touch.

I did, however, get a few things done/make a few big decisions in the process. 

First things first, you know how when you get sick and you’re all congested, it’s easy to remember how nice it is to be able to breathe normally? Well, for the past week, I’ve been missing the feeling of not being nauseous/dizzy/feel like passing out 90% of the time. On top of other things, this week has been a lot and I’m ready to decompress a little.

Still, I managed to accomplish a few great feats even while not feeling well. My house is clean, laundry is done, and best of all, the Galleries for the Week of Welcome are looking incredible.

I can’t say I’ve ever thought I would be so great with a staple gun, but the me from two weeks ago would be quite proud. Things are looking great and I’ve gotten a solid week’s worth of work in—I’ve also been back at work as a jack-of-all-trades at the University store.

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You could say it pays off to work at the same place for three years.

In the spirit of adulting, I only called out of work one morning this week and I think it was in the best interest of all parties at that point. Someone told me that sometimes we have to keep up even when our bodies aren’t quite in tip top shape.

That leads me to my next thing, that decision I mentioned.

I think I am going to write another blog. I won’t be changing anything I do with this one, I appreciate the consistency of it and it means a lot to me. I couldn’t give that up.

What I can do is explore something I haven’t yet: mental health. 

I know I have talked about it every once in a while, but I want a space to open up the conversation and talk about it in itself. Because if I’m being honest, my mental health journey has been quite interesting throughout college as it is for a lot of students and somehow, not a lot of people talk about it.

Just like the rest of our lives, we should talk about it.

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Working within the Galleries for the past year, every aspect of our lives ties into another and I have come to appreciate that. Especially at my age, once we hit 20, it seems that everyone is on a different path than the next.

College, army, working, travelling, etc. There are no real rules for where we are at in our lives. No one has a guideline for what this decade is supposed to look like. I mean, someone created the maxim that college is the best four years of our lives and well… I can’t quite say that’s been true.

What I can say, I have never grown as much as I have in these last three years of my life. That’s as long as I’ve had this blog going so surely, you’ve seen what I mean. Part of me wants to take what I’ve learned and experienced, and use that to change the status quo.

Part of me probably needs the outlet. You see, I’m a creative person who thrives off of our lives and what impacts them. That’s where my creating comes from, where I think we all can relate to one another.

After all, relationships really are the backbone of our lives and our connections.

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So let’s connect. Don’t worry, you’ll be the first to know when I figure out what I’m doing next.

Get ready for a new journey, it’ll be a fun one.

Happy Friday, enjoy the weekend everyone. 

Redefining Expectations

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I was awake to see 11:11 PM last night and all I could wish was to be asleep. Because I was very ready for bed. I was just waiting for my mind to agree with me.

But once it did, I got at least eight hours of sleep last night, and let me tell ya, sleep is truly a wonderful thing. Besides that, it’s been quite a long week here. Between classes and work and orientation, I have become quite the busybody. Just seeing how much I grow from week to week is kind of astounding.

So here’s a shout out to Daily Inkling: Your prompt post.

If I had asked for a wish years ago, I probably would have said something like wishing to be happy or strong or beautiful. In the long run, I think each of those was something I would have to find and redefine for myself.

But the more I think about it, the more I realize that maybe I already have.

I chaired my first development series yesterday. To explain what that is really quickly, as one of the Facilitators for the Cross Cultural Experience, each of us put together a series of workshops that will help students better support their WOWies or incoming students at Cal Poly.

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Though it isn’t exclusive, as you can opt in or opt out of this track, it is specifically designed to provide resources and support to underrepresented minority communities here at Cal Poly. So what my CCE team and I have been working on for the past two quarters is putting together these workshops and finding guest speakers to come and talk to everyone—we’re all still learning too after all.

And yesterday, I got to chair our second workshop. Just picture it, me standing in front of everyone leading them through an icebreaker before transitioning to a speaker who gave us the lowdown on Systematic Racism.

Even though it’s the basis of our lives here at a Primarily White Institute, sometimes we forget that it’s built into the very system of our society. There was a lot to talk about in just an hour and a half.

Personally, it’s very different being on the other side of things; last year, I was training to be one of those leaders who didn’t really know what I was getting into but felt like it was something I needed to do and learn about anyway.

Now I’m the one leading the conversation, creating that space for other students to then create a space for their own students.

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Talk about growth. You see, I used to say I’m an introvert and I don’t like talking to people if I don’t have to. If that were true, I definitely wouldn’t have been up on stage with my team in front of 900 leaders in training last week to tell them why CCE matters.

Trust me, it’s been a whole lot of work to get this point and I am quite tired. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been life changing and absolutely worth it in the process.

Because when am I ever going to get another chance to do all these things and touch so many lives in a positive way?

That’s the thing, I don’t know if I ever will.

If you knew me in high school, I really don’t know how much digging you’re going to have to do to find that girl again. Because I’ve changed. A lot. Some parts of me have become a whole lot louder and more unapologetic. Other parts have become more patient or accepting of circumstances that I can’t change.

I’m slowly learning to adjust to the world around me and make the most out of what I’ve got. If I didn’t do that, I really don’t know what the point of any of this would be.

After all, we’re here to learn and live and leave a mark and change our lives as many times as it takes to feel like we are doing something worth doing. To feel like we aren’t just breathing for the sake of breathing.

Let’s pretend it’s 11:11 PM and you get one wish. Tell me, what could you wish for to make it feel like you’re living and not just alive?

Maybe it’s time for you to redefine what that looks like to you.

Feel free to share in the comments below. And I’ll see you next week.

Winter Quarter Wrap-Up–One For the Books… Or Not

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It’s not that the quarter was a bad one, that’s not it. When I say it wasn’t for the books, I mean it quite literally.

This quarter was for the time.

For the short stories,

For the Team,

For the experience.

This is probably the first quarter of my life I found myself getting lost in something other than my grades. Sure, they still matter to me. A lot. But not in the way they used to.

For me, grades used to be everything, my only sense of worth. I thought that if there was one thing I could control, not my inspiration or my talent or my classes, I could at least control myself. I had a say in how ready I could be for anything and everything.

I guess it’s about time I realized maybe I can’t control my grades either. Sometimes, you’re not ready for something. And nothing can really change that.

Maybe it’s not about the control at all.

I know, I know. About time I have come to understand how futile it may be to try to take care of everything, I know. But that’s not it.

I guess maybe I’m starting to care a little less about trying to control everything. I mean, just look at this quarter: I learned how to jump a car on my own. Three times. I managed bus schedules and academic navigating. I managed my own schedule which has never been so full. I have spoken in front of clubs and crowds of people dozens of times. And I have taken time to stop taking so much time to do things.

Sometimes, you’ve got to just do it. Think later. Act now.

Okay, not with everything. If all your friends were jumping off a bridge… You know the rest. But in some cases, slowing down isn’t the best option. It’s picking up extra shifts when you know it’ll be most productive for you. It’s not leaving a study space for 14 hours in order to get a study guide done (shoutout to my Sunday night/Monday morning and 36 pg study guide). It’s forcing yourself to sit in whatever space you’re in and understand that maybe you can’t control what happens next.

So don’t try. Just roll with it.

I’m at a point in my life where I can see the end of the next chapter—sooner or later, I’ll have no choice but to graduate and step out from the comfortable routine chaos of undergrad into whatever comes next. There are times when I can pinpoint exactly when something began to change, when my mind shifted or my perspective widened, and there are times when I knew there was no going back to who I was the day before given a choice I made.

But I made those choices. I took those steps forward. And I’m learning to let go of control sometimes.

I’m learning about what my life and my people here have to teach me. When it comes to college, I’d say it’s not just about the books anymore. Not even a little bit.

The Truth About Learning

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There’s something about this week that has made me really think a lot about who I have grown to become in these past few years. Maybe it’s the newer people I’m finding in my life, maybe it’s the amount of things I’ve thrown myself into, and maybe it’s just… Me. This is how we grow.

Wednesday marked 16 month since Maddie died. 16 months and I still can’t believe it. I miss her every day. But I look at the person I was when she was here and who I am now that she’s gone and they are two completely different people all together.

I mean, a lot can happen in a 16 months.

Lately, I’ve been learning how to be honest. I’ve been struggling with a few big things in my life for years on top of years now, but I am only just forcing myself to face it all or find people who truly will support me in each of them; life is too short not to feel like you’re actually living it.

There is no point spending time on people who don’t make us better in the process.

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This extends to the things we put ourselves into. Even though I went into my first year telling myself that I would never be a WOW Leader or volunteer for it, somehow I’ve found just a few people through orientation that truly made me realize what a difference we can make on our campus. Sure, so I haven’t loved my time here at Cal Poly. But what I do love is the power and the capability I have to make it so other marginalized and minority students might be able to.

After all, I still have another year to enjoy it myself.

But the more things I get involved in, from Her Campus to CCE, the less time I have to allocate into taking care of myself. Admittedly, this is very important of course, but so are all the little things I am involved in.

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I work because I am a lead and have a responsibility to learn more skills from it. Plus, money. I write because we deserve to have our voices heard by people willing to listen to us. This blog is irreplaceable to me.

And I volunteer, so so much of my time and effort, whether it’s to orientation, people, or other things simply because every person I am doing it for or listening to or spending time with or working towards making something better for is incredibly important to me.

I do it because it means something, even when it’s difficult.

I’m just having a hard time balancing it all along the way.

There will never be another time in my life that looks like college. From the people to the classes, I’m probably never going to learn so many different things in such a short period of time ever again.

I won’t have multiple opportunities a year to have my voice heard and put my work out there. I won’t be surrounded by some of my favorite people in mandatory weekly meetings every Sunday. And I won’t live just a floor away from my womb-mate to roommate of a twin brother.

Just like I miss a few people because I never saw their goodbyes coming, I don’t want to miss out on college opportunities and my own life because I didn’t apply myself. Because I wasn’t honest about it.

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So I’m working on it, all of it, for you and for me. It’s going into my writing, my drawing, my hoping, and my loving. Every bit of that impacts you and this blog. And I’m excited to see what might happen.

I hope you’ll stick around to find out.

When There’s Nowhere Left To Go…

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After a week two that felt a little more like week seven, I found myself procrastinating a few too many assignments and calling my parents instead of doing any of them. First things first, I told them I was going to drop out of college and they laughed… Jokes on them if I actually do it (I won’t though).

Then I told them that I’m going to create my own company, one that they’ve never seen before. And do you know what they said?

“Do it.”

So I said okay.

Because truly, such an idea is not impossible. It’s based around the things I love and the pieces of what I’ve become here at Cal Poly, all the bits of myself that have only become stronger in the last few years.

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When you have something like that, something you’re passionate about—one of those things that you can’t tell where it ends and where you begin—you don’t let it go.

You follow it through.

There are a whole lot of things that get in the way of our lives, homework and school included (sometimes). It gets easy to lose sight of what we’re passionate about or what other options we have in this life to build because we’re so set on the same path.

As an English major, people ask me if I want to teach… Not really, it’s a good career but it’s just not mine. And as a chem major, people asked if I was going to be a doctor. I used to say yes, knowing the rest would be too long to explain. But no, that wasn’t what I wanted either.

These are not my paths, these are not the directions I plan on taking my life in. Sure, maybe they were at some point, but not anymore.

I’ve changed over the years and my paths have changed with me. I’m beginning to see that there are so many more options than the ones I thought I needed to chose.

What I want to be is a writer for the rest of my life—at this point I already am, but you know what I mean. I want to write something that means something to someone. And I have, I plan to keep doing it. But that’s not all I want to do.

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I want to create, I want to build something that people see their worth reflected off of. A representation of what it means to see all the people who never feel like they deserved to be. Part of me wants to take charge of my own ship and be the only one who can do that, while another part of me wants to surround myself with extraordinary people who can contribute just as much as I can to what we build together.

By my parents saying the words “do it,” I recognize that it doesn’t have to be an either/or kind of situation. Of course we can’t pretend to know where our lives are headed or what’s going to happen, but we can build the foundations of what we want into it all, can’t we?

If I really wanted to, I could still go into the medical field. Not a dream of mine anymore, but I could. I could just as easily drop out and do something else, something different than college. Not really the direction I want to take, but again, I could.

And I could create those stories, the novels that mean something to someone starting with just one person. I could write everything I want to write and still find another path to add onto it. Just like I plan to.

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Because I can still create that company if I want to; not alone, no one can do something like that without help, but I can build something out of what I’ve got and start to fill the gaps this world still needs to fill.

Right now, it’s not about putting yourself into set paths and hoping for the best, it’s about creating the ones you want to take and making them happen, whatever it takes to get there.

Do it, I dare you.