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.

Why Today, You Need To “Have a Day”

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Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

The holiday season is truly upon us with only a few days to Christmas, so I’ve spent the last week working and trying to catch up on sleep. If I take a look at my Fitbit, I’ve definitely succeeded on the sleep end of things but what about the holiday celebrating part?

Well, as a lot of us know by now, the holidays come with a whole lot of expectations. And expectations can be hard to meet sometimes, in the same way kids tend to get so excited about the holidays and the season because it means more gifts and less school. As I’ve gotten older, I haven’t really known what to see coming out of this season or what I really want out of it… Which kind of reminds me of something someone told me yesterday.

Instead of saying “have a good day,” let go of the expectations. It doesn’t have to be good, or beautiful or fun. Just have a day.

The more I look at my life and the way I live it, there are a whole lot of expectations on each of us. Playing sports, going to college, what it’ll be like to meet the parents, liking this kind of person or that one, having kids, etc. There is a lot mapped out for us before we even get a chance to choose the road we want to take and well, such expectations can get in the way.

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Photo by Letizia Bordoni on Unsplash

Because even if you expect yourself to be one way or another, sometimes it doesn’t work out. After all, you can’t fit a circle into a square hole—some things truly aren’t supposed to be the way you want them to.

Don’t expect them to be.

In the same way I took on my junior year, I looked at my first year as an English major and decided that the pieces would fall where they may. I could make Dean’s List, I could also fail all my classes. I could have a fantastic WOW with 16 incredible WOWies that I love (which is what happened), or half of them could have decided not to ever show up and hate me instead. Either way, I went into it all with my arms wide open to take whatever got sent to me and handle it from there.

As it turns out, sometimes that’s the only way to do things. Whether you’re a newbie or you’ve done it a million times, removing the expectations you have of something and taking it from where you are or what you can handle can alleviate the pressure of doing it right or well or however you expect it to go.

Just do it and figure it out as you go.

When it comes to the holidays, the only thing I’m expecting is to have another day. A day hopefully filled with people I love, lots of music, cheesy matching pajamas, and food I look forward to, but nonetheless these are all hopes of what will happen. I expect nothing. All I plan to do is show up and go from there.

If we spend so much time focused on the expectations, they don’t push us forward. All they do is hold us back. There’s a difference between giving yourself the chance to be prepared to meet your goals, and expecting things happen the way you want them to when there really is nothing stopping it all from changing directions. As my parents like to say, don’t count your chickens before they hatch—until something happens for certain, don’t expect it to.

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Photo by Rose Elena on Unsplash

So as we move into the holidays and only too soon, the new year, I wanted to share the reminder that I needed to let go of the status quo I want out of things and instead let them be as they are or find a way to change it myself.

Maybe it’ll make the season a little lighter for you. Happy Holidays everyone and I wish you and those you love all the best. See you Tuesday for Bookworms.

Overwhelming– Poetry Place

patrick-fore-381200Two poems for you today, pay attention and see if the context is a little different than you think— you tell me.

But we all have certain things we run from, pieces of ourselves that are hard to separate from the rest; it can be quite the crisis of self that comes when we try. So here you go, for my finals week, here are two very dramatic poems that I kind of love. Especially the second one.

Let me know what you think.


One

tim-marshall-82948-unsplashIt’s exhausting, the way you follow me around

and believe in yourself when you take me down

to drown out all the noise that you put in my head

with words I don’t want to hear, your presence like lead.

It drowns me, suffocates me, while I lose all the love

that I believe can help fix me up; you just push and shove

your hands straight into my chest, the other wrapped around my throat

I can’t breathe a single breath, can’t even stay afloat

paul-wong-465234-unsplashbefore you take me over. It’s no longer a choice to make

I have no other options, only to let you in to take

every last bit of my sanity, I let you under my skin.

Because I’ve played this game, I’ve fought this battle

too many times, and every time

you win.

Two

I sat there watching as you crawled over my skin,

grinning as you gnawed your way through me

past my gritted teeth and screaming eyes, asking you not to.

I knew you wouldn’t listen.

I could feel it in my bones as you hollowed me out,

inch by inch I lost every space I called my own

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Photo by Claudia Soraya on Unsplash

to the shaking the hoping, the fading in my body.

While you drained that hope from the inside out,

my vision went blurry, the voices in my head

twisting the volume up and up and up

as high as it could go. The louder you got

the louder I needed to be, hands shut over my ears,

screaming against the cacophony of your voice;

It’s okay it’s okay it’s okay

its—but it’s not okay.

I don’t like the way it feels when you make a home

out of me, make me shake and make me cry,

you make me question why I’m alive

so  I can’t answer when someone wants to know

if I’m okay; you take my tongue, you twist it up and

all I can ever seem to do

is let you.


See you Friday.

 

Self-Care: If We Don’t, Who Will?

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Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash

With a few exams under my belt already, we’ve got finals coming up next week and I have just the thing for you today. Because lately, I have to be honest in saying I haven’t been taking care of myself at all— I keep telling myself that I’ll sleep tomorrow, or I’ll eat after I finish this one assignment and well… Time just keeps going and I wear myself down even more.

So for the good of each of us, I have five ways for you to add to your self care toolbox today. Because you’re the number one advocate for you, the self-care starts with you. So let’s get started together.


Sleep

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Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash

This will always be one of my biggest things to advocate for because, just like Snickers says you’re not you when you’re hungry, you’re also not you when you’re tired. Take it from someone who was in bed by 9:30 last night, sometimes you really just need the sleep. Whether you’re working or just trying to enjoy a day off, sleep is the first step to having a solid day of doing what you want to do without holding yourself back. Treat yourself to some zzz’s today, nap a little if you have to. Pay attention to your body and it’ll pay you back in feeling more ready for whatever comes next.

Get Out

Sometimes, it truly does help to just get out of the house and go outside. And no, I don’t mean the outside you’re in while you walk to class or go to work, I mean surround yourself by nature and walk in a park or go for a hike. If those aren’t an option, then find a coffee shop or some place to sit down and relax for at least thirty minutes without doing any work. And if you really can’t do that either, then change your surroundings even if all you do is clean your room or move to a new area. One way or another, get out of your current space for a bit. Your mind and your body will thank you.

Drink. A lot.

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Photo by Clint McKoy on Unsplash

And I mean water, come on now. Hydration is incredibly important for your body to function properly, but on top of that, it helps you feel more balanced throughout your day. Not only does staying hydrated help your focus, sleep, and overall feeling, but it also helps to keep you from snacking throughout the day. If you’re like me, maybe you procrastinate with food, or even just snack when you’re stressed. Drinking more water can help you with that because sometimes when you think you’re hungry, you really just need water. So grab a glass of water and treat your body well today.

Meditation

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Photo by Samuel Austin on Unsplash

When I say meditation, I could mean it literally for some of you, especially if you’re into the headspace app. But if you’re not, this could also mean maybe meditating over a good book, or even better, a good meal. Just take a step back from whatever else is going on in your life and be present in the moment. Give your full attention to those around you, your work, your books, and even your shows. Just be there and be a little productively unproductive for a while. You probably need it.

Company

anthony-intraversato-455600-unsplash (1).jpgFor some people, self-care might look like studying and working until it’s all done and that’s one less thing to worry about. For other people, it might look like spending a little extra time around the people who matter to you. After all, they say misery loves company but in reality, all of us need a little extra love sometimes. Whether it’s the moral support or even just a fun time to get your mind to relax a little, you know yourself and your people the best. So don’t be afraid to ask for what you need.


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Photo by Carli Jeen on Unsplash

I know we’re all busy people with busy lives, but I hope that you can take some time to care for yourself today, you deserve that much. It’s a Friday after all, why not head into the weekend with a mind and body feeling rested and ready.

And hey, if you’ve got anything that works really well for you, feel free to tell me about it in the comments; I can always use more tips for my toolbox!

So happy Friday. I hope you have a beautiful weekend. See you Tuesday for Poetry Place.