Risk vs. Reward– Defining Worth

There are nights when your friends ask you to go out for dinner or a movie and you answer without hesitating: Absolutely. Then of course, there are the nights when someone asks what you’re up to and you tell them something along the lines of this Harry Potter gif: giphy

So what do you do about the times when you really have no idea what you want… Say yes and miss out on this. Or say no and miss out on that. Whether it’s your grades or a fun night or even just good company, it’s a bit of a toss up right?

For the last week, I have been trying to find a balance within that toss up, between working almost forty hours and cramming for two finals and an essay, among other things. Did I hesitate to say yes in going out with my old team last night, while staying up with them till three am in the process, knowing I had another full shift today? 

No I did not.

But should I have?

I’m not sure. Because between my grades, very little sleep, a long shift, and one final still to go, I have to figure out what is more worth it to me and make that a priority. As I think most of us understand, figuring out priorities isn’t the easiest thing.

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Photo by Nicolas Lobos on Unsplash

Take spending money for example— sometimes when you’re really just craving Thai food or you see an outfit that you cannot pass up, you decide that you want to spend the money and go for it. But even as I tend to do that on occasion, I still hesitate and think, at least for a moment, that maybe I should save my money.

What if I need it tomorrow and that’s the exact amount I needed?

What if I get home to realize someone else already bought the food and wants to share.

What if I wear the outfit out and actually hate it, so I never wear it again?

What if I should use my money to put into my retirement fund instead? Unlikely, but still a possible thought.

It’s a risk and reward type of situation, and it comes down to the decision of what’s best. The difference is whether or not what you consider “for the best” is in the moment or in the long run.

Maybe it can be both.

Because we can bring this back to my work schedule, catching up with friends last night, and knowing I worked today, while still deciding to… Go for it. Was it worth it?

Absolutely. As much as people and sometimes I like to say “GPA is forever,” my GPA isn’t always the best company. Especially if it’s so low that it can’t even pick me up if I needed it to. In the long run, my grades probably won’t be what I remember, nor will the amount of hours I worked or the time I spent studying.

What I want to remember are the nights like last night, the people who are worth my time, the fun that I have to remind myself I deserve, and the moments that I get to slow down in for a little bit. Even when I don’t think there’s time.

That’s probably the best time to make some.

When it comes to risk and reward, only risk it if it’s for you and you alone— risk it for your success, your happiness, your youth, your love. Risk it for your life. Because your life is worth the good that comes next.

The reward of having lived fully, not holding yourself back, and remembering that you’re the real priority in this, that the good. And you deserve that.


See you all on Tuesday for another Poetry Place, here’s to another summer weekend.

Life is like a Palindrome- But not Quite

Did you know that starting on the tenth, this entire week of dates has been a set of palindromes? Take a look, they read the same way backwards as they do forward: 7/10/17, 7/11/17… 7/17/17.  What a crazy life we’re living isn’t it?

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Anyway, that was your fun fact for the week and today I am writing about something that isn’t as straight-forward and backwards as a palindrome: Choosing our paths.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my past vs. my future and everything in between. I’ve been out of high school for over a year and after catching up with friends in the short time I have been back home, it’s amazing to me how much some of us have changed. Our mindsets seem a little more practical, the way we act has matured just a bit, and our heads are now set in another direction… We are no longer the scared/excited/lost freshman trying to find our way around campus we had been. We’re growing up.

As we keep moving, we are handed a little more responsibility here and a couple more things to consider there. Going into my sophomore year of college, I’m switching my major— little did I know how difficult and complicated that would be when I first showed up. But I’m switching to a major that doesn’t have the best reliability when it comes to jobs once I graduate, ideally, in the next 3 years. With the way things are going, the issue with jobs doesn’t only apply to me; that seems to be the case for a lot of us.

So we play our cards right, add a minor or score all the right internships we can possibly find along the way to where we want to be in the working world— possibly.

I say possibly because, well the truth is, a lot of us have a pretty good idea of where we want to be in five years. Or at least a rough estimate. Others of us have no idea where we want to be in the next two. Yet once each of us gets there, we will probably be somewhere entirely different. My generation is said to be filled with high achieving students that have even higher aspirations. I know I definitely have some of those high aspirations in mind. But the truth is, as reality sets in, our plans change a little bit and we begin to adapt to the paths that we started on.

Sooner or later we begin to realize what we can or cannot have in this world isn’t always up to us. Sometimes it’s all about circumstance. And we cannot always change those.

But we can change who we are because of them, we can adapt. If we don’t, we either get what we wanted or find out that there are other people willing to do what we weren’t. As they say, such is life.

osman-rana-263702When I was younger, I had this dream of doing something that I still carry with me in the back of my mind: I wanted to change the world. I used to think it was impossible for one person to do that. Now I’m not so sure.

You know the butterfly effect, where small causes can have larger impacts? Well, that is the embodiment of my dream. Just because I say I want to change the world doesn’t mean I need to impact 7.4 billion people all by myself to do it. All it means is that I need to effect a few people, who in turn impact a couple more, and before you know it, I’ve changed the worlds of enough people for it to matter.

That’s all any of us can ask for.

Now take that idea and apply it to the paths we are choosing— the butterfly effect is still in play. Because if any of us have dreams, a place we see ourselves in 5 years, there are ways to make that happen. Maybe it costs too much to dream that big, but if you save twenty dollars here and thirty there, sooner or later you’re saved enough for rent or a big move to that city you’ve been dreaming of for so long. Or what if you’re not experienced enough to get where you want to go? You’ve got to snag an internship one year, try to network your way into another, and maybe in time you can find yourself in the heart of the goals you hold in your own.

The thing is, the paths we choose and those dreams that many of us have, we can only reach them if we put in the work to get there.

Because, we’re growing up. All of those friends in our lives we consider to be “our people” right now may not be the same ones here later on. And some of those aspirations we think mean so much to us now may not hold as much weight in the long run. If there is any time for our lives to be changing, to be rearranging into something else, this is it.

We may be choosing paths to begin the rest of our lives on, but that doesn’t mean we have to stay on it— there is always another direction take and another opportunity to find as we make our ways to the future we cannot always control.

dawid-zawila-279998Like I said, it’s not as straight-forward and backwards as a palindrome: life isn’t supposed to be. We’re supposed to get lost a few times, pick ourselves up, and keep going. Because we only get one life to live, and this truly is a beautiful life we’re living.

Let’s talk about College

It’s that time of year again, if you’re part of the Class of 2017, then you know exactly what time I’m talking about— it’s time to make some decisions.mohamed-nohassi-191165

Even though I have two and a half weeks left in my second quarter of freshman year, I remember the stress of college decisions and acceptances like it was yesterday. There were so many questions running around in my head: what am I going to major in, how far is too far, what if I don’t get in, why did I get rejected, how do I decide… As much fun as senior year holds, these decisions have a way of consuming everything you do for the few weeks you find yourself unsure about where to go or what to do. In hindsight, it was all a bit simpler than I could have possibly seen, I mean I’m in college aren’t I? The most important thing you need to know:

You will end up right where you need to be.

I know it sounds cliche, but the point is, there are always more options. This is a big month for most of you and there are a lot of college acceptance decisions coming out within the next few weeks. While some of you know where you’re headed, some of you don’t.

Just know this— that’s okay.

Last year, two hours before I needed to submit my decision of intent for one college, I was sitting in my room with a list of four colleges, their pros and cons, and a coin in my hand. I took one look at Nick and I asked him, “Heads or tails?” After a lot of back and forth, I finally settled on Howard University in DC and Nick chose Purdue University in Indiana (currently waitlisted by Cal Poly).

Did you notice that neither of us ended up at either of those schools?

If there was one thing I wish I knew, it would be that there are so many ways for your circumstances to turn out the way they need edmundas-stundzius-183589to be. I thought I would be at Howard University, with about two months left of school to go. Instead I am here at Cal Poly with Nick, on the other side of the country from where I was going to be, and now we have three months left to go with finals in two weeks. That’s the crazy fact about college and our futures, it’s always going to change.

I think one of the main concepts I was worried about when getting into college was not feeling like I chose the right school, or finding myself stuck in a position I couldn’t get out of. Committing to a school felt like I was etching my future into stone— once I made that decision, I couldn’t change it.

I was wrong.

Because right now, I am changing my major. A month before I was supposed to start at Howard, I changed my college. Don’t underestimate the power of an appeal, or a waitlist. If you really want something, do everything in your power to make it happen. The decisions you make now have the potential to impact a lot, but no matter what you choose, believe in the choice you make. Last year, I wish I remembered to congratulate myself for choosing to pursue more education in a future I wanted. As long as you’re going after success and happiness in the future (whether you’re going to college or pursuing another path), you cannot ask any more of yourself. So be proud of it.

A key point about choosing your college, pay attention to the people you’re about to surround yourself with for the next four years. I’ll be completely honest, I was not prepared for the lack of diversity at this school. Would that have changed my decision? I have no idea, but I’ve made a handful of wonderful friends that have made all the difference in my freshman year so far. When you toured colleges, maybe you paid attention to the campus hills and the dining options, but don’t forget about the people. They can make a pretty big difference.

Are you going to want to wake up on that campus every day to go to class?

Can you handle being surrounded by the demographics and the attitudes of the people around you?

Just make sure that you’re asking the hard questions, considering anything and everything you can about both opportunity and what it’ll be like to live there. This is yoerik-heddema-1380ur future, a bright one, and this decision is completely yours to make.

No matter what you end up doing, just remember that you deserve to be proud of yourself. You’ve made it through 4 years of high school, you’re graduating in two months… This is a time to get excited about your future. You’ve done the work, you are everything you need to be.

Choose your school wisely, but take a moment to look around at where you want to be for the next four years. Here’s to an amazing journey coming to an end just for another one to start, why not make it count?

I wish each and every one of you the best of luck in all the decisions you’re about to make, you’ve got 2 months left of high school. Trust me, it all goes by pretty quickly.