What Happens in Junior Year…

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You know, every year brings something a little different than the last and I couldn’t quite tell you what I was expecting out of junior year… But it wasn’t this.

First year was all about getting the hang of college and then second year, well, that was for realizing that you never can get the hang of college. So then what about year three?

Junior year has been all about understanding the learning doesn’t quite come from the classroom. That, and realizing the learning isn’t worth anything without people who matter learning alongside you.

I think I’ve gained more people in my life this year than I’ve genuinely been friends with in my entire life. Sure, in high school we knew each other’s names and said hi in the passing periods. But this year, this year is something completely beyond that.

I walked out of the first two days of the week with 16 WOWies and a Co. Every single one of them came into this year with me and I am unbelievably proud of each of them for making it through to the end of this year with me. Between birthdays, reunions, their first finals, scholarship navigation, discovering SLO… Those WOWies and my adings, whom I care about beyond belief. All of these people, they mean the world to me.

So does the entirety of CCE—the Cross Cultural Experience became my family. I’ve never found so much talent, pride, energy, love, culture, and life hidden in a group of people. That’s over 300 students who were knitted into a community that needed them just as much as they needed it.

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And that’s before I was hired as an Orientation Facilitator in Orientation Team. A CCE Orientation Facilitator. Let me tell you, it’s one thing to be a CCE WOW Leader, it’s a whole new ballgame to be a Facilitator. Because that’s where I found 60 more people suddenly in my life and in less than four months, I learned to lead and learn and hope and dance and keep moving right alongside them. In them, I found my Team.

After all, that’s what we were “hired” to do. We were hired to evaluate, teach, mentor and lead all 16 or so of our LITs (leaders in training). All while being students and employees and volunteers who could manage it all. I have never met so many wholesome, incredible, kind, reliable people that I didn’t know existed on this campus until I became one of them. I couldn’t have done it without my CCE team. Those five Facilitators, our Lead and the board members and then the Awareness Gallery; I’ve never held such a passion, admiration, appreciation, and love for such people. Because we did THAT.

We designed the Gallery and I realized just how deep my passion for storytelling runs in my bones.

We built up a community over twice the size of what it was last year because we were right: underrepresented minority students need a space to exist as they are, to find support just to get through the one thing that we believe we are supposed to be do to succeed. Even when not everyone can get there.

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When you provide a space, it’s going to be used. And it will expand right in front of your eyes.

Just like my life did this year. Because there’s one more group that changed everything, my buddy group. Beyonce.

Bey was only a representation of who our group became, but in the space of six months, I have somehow met and grown to love 11 other people more than I have in the entirety of college. And they’ve given me so many reasons to. I want these people to be a part of the rest of my life, if they’ll have me.

Them, and my roommates. Sure, Nick is stuck with me, but I do have another.

And not to jinx it or anything, but I’ve grown immensely with her. She’s the one I look forward to coming home to lay around the living room with every night, reminiscing and spilling tea and supporting… From Slo days to this day, she is one more person I want in the rest of my life. If she’ll have me.

And you, if you’ll have me too.

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Because the only other person who has seen it all happen is you. Every step of the way. It’s been a lot, right? If I get to add you to the home friends who are slowly becoming life friends, and the college friends here who I hope don’t think I’m letting them go just because one of us graduates, I think I’ve got a whole lot of people in this life that make this something worth sharing. With all of you. For what happens in junior year doesn’t have to stay there, I hope it doesn’t.

If anything, junior year taught me that college isn’t about college at all. It’s about life, the ones we’ve lost and the ones moving forward beside us. It’s about experiencing it, not always knowing what it means or what comes next.

That’s what life is. And this year, I sure as hell lived it.

So that’s a wrap for my junior year of college. Here’s to whatever comes next.

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.

On College

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It’s my last blog post of January and somehow, the passage of time is just astounding to me. Somehow the beginning of sophomore year feels like yesterday and last year at the same time (see what I did there?).

Yet, here we are; midterms began last week for us and from now on, they don’t really stop. From the Women’s March (rally) here in SLO to new club meetings and old friends, it’s been quite a week in the life of a college sophomore. It’s been a little while since I’ve stuck to the true college aspect of my life, so tonight that’s exactly what I’m going to do.


On College:

Life as a college student is kind of odd, we’re adults (technically), but if we see a real adult on campus, we remember that we’re basically children playing house or monopoly— just with real money. And real classes. And real lives, with a possibility of making mistakes in the process and having to fix it ourselves.

It can be hard to find a balance in making sure we’re being responsible with how we choose to spend our time/money and who we chose to spend it with/on.

Sometimes, that includes forgetting to spend it on ourselves too.

As a second year, I came in with both expectations and requirements for myself.

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This included going to more club meetings, joining new ones, speaking up when I need help in class, and building a home for myself here in San Luis Obispo. Whether you’re an in state student or out of state one, some people feel comfortable here from the day one, some people don’t. I guess the rest of us figure it out along the way.

I know I still am. But I’m learning to take those expectations, those requirements, and turn them into a life that I truly feel like I want to be a part of.

I have a friend here, the first person I met during summer orientation, who has a tendency to pave the way for me figuring things out without even knowing it. I wanted to be more social this year so I followed her into one of the biggest social clubs on campus. It was terrifying. I needed to make sense of my major switch and my career path too, so I copied her actions and changed my mindset as I took a deeper dive into every one of my passions.

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This year I’ve made a lot of changes, we all have. Maybe there are many more to come as we figure things out for ourselves. Each and every one is leading us to where we want to be and it reminds me, the people we surround ourselves with truly do shape us into who we are becoming— for better or for worse.

As much as college is about the academics, the grades, and the career path, it’s about the living that we do here while we can. How else do we experience that but through the people?

Just like I said earlier, college is this awkward in-between from adolescence to adulthood and it can get pretty overwhelming sometimes. Maybe you caught that terrible flu outbreak this year, someone treated you in a way you didn’t deserve, or you got a little lost under the weight of the world… That’s okay. There are best friends, willing roommates, unforgettable WOW leaders, and good people who are always around to support us through our journeys.

Because in the end, that’s what college is— a journey to our degree and discovering a new piece of who we are every step of the way. I hope that for every one of us, we have those people and we know— between the real money, real people, and

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reality of what college is— it’s our job to do whatever it takes to make the most of where we’re at right now.

Take it from me, things don’t have to be so complicated all the time. College is an experience and it comes with one guideline: Start from where you are.

So here’s to college and change, have a wonderful weekend everyone.

Simply Unapologetic

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this before, but there is one thing I don’t think a lot of people understand just how much I appreciate— I love people watching. I know dan-freeman-404566there are a lot of people out there who spend their time doing it too, sitting around while pretending to be productive while instead watching the world move around you.

You see some pretty odd things.

I remember last year, a friend of mine who had just committed to Cal Poly asked me something, and I couldn’t help but remember saying that same thing a year earlier: “I don’t know if I’m going to be able to find anyone as weird as I am.” It’s funny, it doesn’t take much time to realize that we’re all pretty weird in our own ways. Call it a quirk or eating cereal with warm milk instead of cold (feel free to judge me, it’s great), everyone has their thing.

Don’t believe me? Well…

Do you remember that I wrote most of my blog posts from my dorm’s third floor common room last year? I spent a lot of time there, possibly too much time, but I liked it better that way; seeing people every day and always saying catching new names. I got to experience everyone else every single day just by putting myself in their paths. And let me tell you something about that common room, things always got weird.

jeremy-perkins-281322Though I don’t need to name exactly what the test was, I can tell you that my main group of friends became a group by taking an inappropriate, funny, and somewhat intrusive online test for maybe fifteen minutes each before putting our scores up on the whiteboard to compare. Then we all proceeded to bother anyone who walked through that room to take the test with us and put their score up too. Even our RA got in on the fun so it couldn’t have been that bad, it was just a harmless, fun way to get people out of their comfort zones a little and into the mindset of holding nothing back.

That’s what these four years are all about.

The point is, we all came into college with our own personalities, ethics, morals, and ideas of who we were or what we wanted. I came in as pretty shy, somewhat reserved and quiet, while my friends… They were kind of like me, while at the same time they weren’t at all. That’s the complicated part, put them in the common room with me and they were always the loudest people in the room. They did whatever they wanted because they were confident in who they were enough to disregard what anyone else might say or think about it.

zachary-nelson-192289Now put them in a bigger space, and it all depends on the atmosphere— yet I can guarantee they were still the loudest people in the room. I admired that so much, let me tell you, the way each of them have grown more into who they are this year; chasing majors they care about, joining groups they like, and becoming more of the person they know themselves to be.

They are unapologetically themselves.

I think that’s what’s missing in a lot of people, not only being genuine, but being okay with it. Do you know how rare that is? To not even be fully confident in who you are or where you’re headed in life, but to still do everything as if you are. To be unapologetic. To be genuine. To be you. It’s a beautiful thing.

I think that’s one reason I like people watching so much, I can catch little glimpses of who people are and what they’re all about by simply witnessing a moment where they aren’t filtering themselves for one thing or another. We all spend so much time on work and 140 characters (280 if you’re lucky) to say what you want to say while still contemplating how you want yourself to be seen. Self-doubt comes from that idea of not being secure or confident in who we believe ourselves to be, but held back by how we feel we should be, how we think we’re supposed to be.

If you take away anything, take this: You don’t have to hold back.

mi-pham-223464I don’t know about anyone else, but sometimes it feels pretty good to let go of that, to be who you are. So for my sophomore year here at Cal Poly, one of my goals is to become more genuine, not quite to fake it until I make it, but truly to make it. And no longer feel the need to fake it. I’ve spent a lot of time not talking or holding things back for the past year here when I don’t have to, when it’s all just a part of who I am. As a challenge to myself, I am ready to get over my self-set boundaries, rip up my cool card, and take a step forward in more than just my career.

This year, I am ready to be unapologetic. Are you?

Intro to September: Here’s something you need to know

Here’s a little honesty for you: I miss writing. Not because I don’t do it anymore, clearly, but because I haven’t been doing it for me. It’s been a while since I’ve put up a new poem of mine because, well, I haven’t been writing anything. hans-peter-gauster-252751Sometimes we put little pieces of ourselves on hold for other things, things we think are more important or more necessary like school or work. But after some time, we might lose those pieces. We might lose ourselves.

That’s the thing about growing up, losing pieces is a part of the process— as long as we find new ones. I’ve learned in my first year of college that people are going to come in and out of our lives. It doesn’t always matter how long they stuck around for, but really how they change us while they do. Some people give us more strength and happiness, other people give us more stress and misery. The trick is to find the right ones.

The people we surround ourselves with has a high impact on how we see ourselves and how we see ourselves can really change how we feel. September is World Suicide Prevention Month and this post was a very important information piece to me last year. This year I want to go in a different direction: I want to talk about us.

Every single one of us comes with flaws, I understand that fact— we wouldn’t be human otherwise. Growing up, I’ve been told that I’m a bit of a pushover. And I know that, patrick-tomasso-352184sometimes it’s been a good thing. Other times, not so much. But just because we all have our quirks and little thing we could do to be better, that doesn’t mean we should have to change who we are for anyone else. Health and well-being is extremely important for every single one of the 7.4 billion people in this world; it is such a big part of this month, of our lives. And it applies to every one of us when I say that you deserve to surround yourself with people who make you truly feel like it’s a life worth living.

So here’s to finding out who we can be with the people we deserve, flaws, fading adolescence, and all. Here’s to getting back into my writing and here’s to being okay with letting things go when we need to. Even when it’s hard.

Here’s I’m sorry

I’m sorry

I’m a pushover, I know.

People tend to exploit that

and that’s okay.

Because when you love them,

and they make a mistake, they might hurt you.

But you don’t blame them,

no, you couldn’t.

You simple apologize and move on. You let it go.

It’s better that way.

sawyer-bengtson-264361I’m sorry

We haven’t talked for awhile and it’s sad.

I got busy, you got busy, that’s how life goes.

Maybe there was time, somewhere,

we could have made things work.

But we didn’t, distance was too much,

and in the end

we couldn’t stick around for each other.

I’m sorry

I should have walked away back then.

I let bad things happen when they didn’t have to

but they did.

I got hurt trying to pull you back

I kept trying, always trying… But it was never enough;

with you, I never was.

There was never any good enough,

there was just you and there was me.

I was hoping for a change of heart

A change in us maybe.

But the only thing you ended up changing

was my mind.

kristopher-roller-110206So I’m sorry…

But I’m not, not really.

I am not sorry.

Because sometimes things don’t work out

and people get left behind.

Sometimes we grow, we find what’s best for us,

we learn how to cut strings that tie us up

instead of letting us grow and move on.

Sometimes, we need to learn when to stop apologizing

to people who cannot see our worth,

and instead, be okay with walking alone

until we find people who can.

 

So to health and well-being, to World Suicide Prevention Month, and to all the love people deserve to feel in this world: Welcome to September.