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

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

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.

Taking Up Space

Photo by Daniel von Appen on Unsplash

Another Friday has come upon us and I’m spending it attempting to be as productive as possible and failing rather miserably. After all, we’re heading into prep-week in only a few days and that means finals are just that much closer.

I’m definitely not ready.

I’ve had an issue with being productive lately. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like there has been a whole lot on my to-do list but not much crossed out every day, and at a certain point, that catches up with a person.

Even so, there have been some positives to this past week— a few bits that have reminded me just how much I’ve grown as a person in the last year of my life.

Yesterday, I sat on a panel of students and told other people about my experience being a Cross Cultural Experience Orientation Leader. Just picture that for a moment: for two hours, I’m sitting on a high chair in the front of the room with four of my peers and people are all there to sit and listen to us talk.

Just us.

A year ago there was absolutely no way I would have been up there. I used to avoid being the center of attention; in reality, I used to not like having eyes on me at all. Sometimes I still find myself mumbling too quietly to be heard because in the past, I was afraid of taking up too much space.

Photo by Jon Eric Marababol on Unsplash

So I spoke quietly. I only did things that would make a positive difference and didn’t publicize it when I saw that difference come to fruition. I kept my head down when I walked and tried to walk quickly, not wanting to be too slow for the people around me. And I always, always, kept my mouth shut until I knew that when i opened it, it wouldn’t cause any disturbances to  the atmosphere of a room and the presence of anyone else around me.

I didn’t want to be too much.

It’s hard to break out of a habit like that, of constantly reminding yourself to stay quiet or take up less space or let the attention be on people who matter.

I know I’m not the only one in saying that reminding myself that I matter too is something that takes getting used to.

Some of that space belongs to me. Some of that noise should be taken up by my own voice. Sometimes, maybe I belong at the front of the room.

Photo by Ksenia Makagonova on Unsplash

The more people I talk to, the more I realize that maybe I have something to say that they need to hear. It’s not that I have all the answers, it’s simply that I might have a little more information to get them to where they want to be. In sitting in on that panel yesterday and feeling like someone who might actually hold some worth in pushing other people forward, I guess maybe it’s safe to say that being someone people pay attention to isn’t so bad.

At least, not when it’s for the right reasons.

Even while I may not have been productive as I wanted to be this week and I haven’t quite figured out what that balance in being quiet or too loud might look like for me, I’m figuring it out. For now, I think that’s good enough.

Happy Friday.

To Be or Not To Be

Photo by Dawid Zawiła on Unsplash

I don’t know if you all know this, but the original Hamlet “to be or not to be” quote is about suicide, and today I’m changing that association. This blog post is about living. You’ll see.

Well it’s a Friday night, the end of a four-day week, and what I hope has been a good day for you. This week has been a bit hectic in my life, classic quarter system week 7 with more midterms, projects, story reviews etc. The list goes on.

Maybe it’s because week 7 of my winter quarter is over and I’m realizing that I will only ever be able to say that one more time in my college career, but I’ve been thinking a lot about my path lately… All of our paths.

Not a single one of them has been linear. Let me explain why this matters so much.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Something about American culture, especially in my generation and below, makes us feel the need to compare ourselves and where we’re at with one another. You were either an early bird or a late bird, GATE or not GATE in elementary school. Then middle school and high school: you were in accelerated math/english or not, you were an AP student or not. We have grown up comparing ourselves to one another.

Even when it’s not really fair.

But now, when you get to age 20 or 21, most of our lives can’t be compared that easily. In college, we’re all in different majors and outside of college, everyone is doing something different.

Some people are married with kids, others are single and travelling the world—the rest of us are somewhere in between.

And somewhere between point A and… wherever we are now, someone told us that we’re supposed to be doing what all the other people are doing. But think about that. When we’re all doing something different, that makes “success” impossible. I guess what I’m saying is, with that attitude, we’ve been raised to fail.

Don’t you see that?

Photo by Emma Dau on Unsplash

The way I’ve been living my college years so far, at least the first two, I did things because I thought that’s what I was supposed to do. From clubs to orientation, I joined things and became a part of my campus because I figured it was what I should do. If all my friends found themselves liking college by doing that, I thought it would make me happier here.

Long story short, it didn’t.

I felt out of touch with this campus, my schoolwork, and so much else that makes me who I am. After two years of doing things that I thought was good or right or better, I started listening to myself and trusting my gut.

But even more so, I began asking for help if I really wasn’t sure.

Then things started changing.

My relationships began to feel intentional, my goals started to feel more like mine, and my place on this campus started to feel a little more comfortable.

Photo by Rupert Britton on Unsplash

Because I stopped looking at where everyone else was and started to think about where I wanted to be. That’s it. The only person I ever need to be is a little bit better than the girl I was yesterday. Sometimes, there will be steps back and other times there will be four steps forward.

No matter what, this week I’ve learned to let myself just exist as I am and stop comparing so much. Maybe now I can figure out what my own success might actually look like.

Here’s to the weekend, I hope you are all doing alright. Happy Friday.

Adjusting to Yourself

Photo by Janko Ferlič on Unsplash

Did you notice that there was no Bookworms on Tuesday?

There’s a reason for that.

You see, last month I did a post on the Mortal Instrument series along with the two other branch off series by Cassandra Clare. So I’ve been joy-reading all of those from the very beginning since last month—very slowly since my life has been a bit jam-packed lately—which consequently means that I haven’t gotten the chance to sit down and read another book.

Maybe it sounds like an excuse, but honestly, I just haven’t had the time to make it a good post for you.

You deserve that much; maybe I do too.

We all have our responsibilities, as students, parents, employees, human beings… There are things that we have committed ourselves to doing whether or not we can really do it well at the moment. Even if we want to.

Photo by Janko Ferlič on Unsplash

That’s where adjusting comes in.

Just like we have our responsibilities, we also have our own lives that in the grand scheme of things, we make the rules. Sure we have our plans of how things go or when we retire or what comes next, but maybe that plan changes as you change and circumstances change with it.

Just like I didn’t write a post I had nothing for this week—instead of speed-reading a new book or recycling an old one I have little interest in—change the rules for where you’re at (within reason of course).

Think about it.

Everything we do comes from what we’ve got left to give. If we have no energy, say you skipped breakfast or didn’t sleep last night, then you’ve got a little less to give than another day where your circumstances would be better.

This is the small screen version of the picture; take a moment to zoom out.

Photo by Alex Perez on Unsplash

Every one of us has jobs to do, things we partake in every day that keep the world running as it does. It’s that idea that everything affects everything.

So if you forget to eat breakfast today, then tomorrow, and the next day until it becomes a habit, your performance falls. And when your performance falls, maybe you start to skip out on meetings with friends or nights with your family too. Before you know it, someone else has to pick up the slack and maybe they start missing things right behind you. When they miss things, someone else has to make up for the time that they don’t have to spend on their other jobs, and well… The cycle only continues.

But what does this have to do with you?

Like I said, everything affects everything. And it starts with you. In order to make sure you can be what and who you want to be every day, you can’t skip breakfast or skip sleep or do something that you simply aren’t prepared for.

It’s not worth it in the long run if you’re still going but everything you do is a little less than it could have been.

Photo by Sergey Zolkin on Unsplash

So take a moment to look where you’re at, what you’re doing, and maybe adjust a little today. Take more time for your morning routine, hum in the shower, take a break when you need it; just listen to yourself and do what you need.

Because only when you’re doing good for yourself can you efficiently do good for others. It starts with you.

Going into the weekend, I hope you remember that. Happy Friday everyone.

Why Today, You Need To “Have a Day”

joanna-kosinska-166353-unsplash.jpg

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.

letizia-bordoni-283388-unsplash

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.

rose-elena-501361-unsplash

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.

Why Sometimes, It’s Not About the High Road

bjorn-grochla-592825-unsplash

Photo by Björn Grochla on Unsplash

“When people go for the low blow…”

You have two options here: you either take the high road OR you decide to go just a little bit lower.

So which way do you go?

The thing about taking the high road is that you get to have the full knowledge of what happened and still follow through on being a good person– maybe a little more cautions, but good nonetheless. It lets you be the bigger person, right?

But what about the other option, being petty and deciding to maybe go for the low blow back sometimes? Because if I’m being honest, taking the high road can make a person feel pretty small and maybe, maybe some days you deserve to fight back for yourself a little bit.

This week has been an absolute whirlwind and not necessarily a good one. Among everything else, I got an email on Monday telling me that I am almost at my graduation date… I wanted to delete that email. Because that means that I’m headed out into the real world soon or I at least need to know where I’m going.

I have no clue. Not really.

I mean, how do we figure that out when there are midterms and classes and auditions and articles and homework and work…

And then the drama, there’s always more drama isn’t there? Whether it’s drama in your work environment or even within your relationships, there’s always a little something to top it all off. My mom keeps telling me to take the high road– she’s right, as always, but maybe I want to be a young and slightly petty, reckless twenty-year old sometimes.

Because, well, college is hard.

Most of us are barely sleeping, let alone balancing that with the amount of work there is to do and things to keep track of. Of course, you can’t forget the fun in there somewhere too– with a day of 88 degrees in SLO today, you can bet half of the campus was at the beach.

There’s got to be some kind of balance in it all. And yes, I’m sure you know how I feel about finding that at this point; I talk about it a lot. But remember this: just because you find it, doesnt’ mean it’ll always hold.

Sometimes that balance breaks, into all these teeny tiny pieces that you get to clean up and rearrange all over again. Then it’s got a new weight and a new type of equilibrium to it, a new kind of balance.

Maybe you find that through taking the high road and being the bigger person.

Maybe you go for the low blow instead…

But is there some inbetween?

Like that in-between of being too nice versus being a narcissist. I’m more on the early end of that spectrum, therefore I get stepped on and taken advantage of a lot.

chris-lawton-154388-unsplash.jpg

Photo by Chris Lawton on Unsplash

Maybe my inbetween means changing that.

Among the rest of it, this week has reminded me that some things truly are not always what they seem– authenticity is hard to find in everything we do, especially the people we surround ourselves with. Who knows, maybe I’ll take the low blow or maybe I’ll take the high road. Either way, the status quo here is changing.

So we will see whatever happens next.

Nobody Puts Baby In A… Box?

leone-venter-469710-unsplash.jpg

Photo by Leone Venter on Unsplash

Okay, I have to be honest with you about something… I’ve never actually watched Dirty Dancing all the way through. I mean, who doesn’t know the famous line regarding babies and corners whether or not they’ve seen the movie? It’s a classic.

But what I can tell you I have done, through and through, is something I think we all do without even noticing it.

I’ve put myself in a box, plenty of them actually.

And I’m not just talking giant refrigerator boxes borrowed to make forts out of, I’m talking the hypothetical box we oftentimes put ourselves in that may turn out to be boundaries holding us in rather than opportunities to branch out.

Think about it, as children we are asked what we want to be when we get older— I think I said a veterinarian because I loved animals, typical I know.

Next it was a doctor, a professional reader, even a designer at some point. These are the things I held onto, that I shaped myself around and into even when the definition didn’t quite fit.

jd-mason-304430-unsplash

Photo by JD Mason on Unsplash

Welcome to Box #1.

How about, the one that we’ve all seen before whether we want to answer it or not, from job applications to standardized testing. For some people it can be an identity crisis because, what if more than one applies and you’re only allowed to pick one? There it is anyway, the question we all see coming: What’s your race or ethnicity?

Box #2.

And of course, that universal question on personality tests, you know the one that asks you what kind of person you are before only offering two options. That stereotypical difference between those sitting in the back of the bleachers and those leaning far over the front of them: Are you introverted or extroverted?

Box #3.

From the things we love and the passions we hold to the people we chose to be and the paths we pursue, they’re definitions, ideas to fit into. These boxes help people to figure out who they are, but they can also hold us back.

Let’s go to that second box for a minute, humor me. Do you remember the amount of times I’ve told you I’m an introvert, that I’m quiet and generally pretty reserved? It wasn’t a lie, I am and if you asked my friends they would probably agree. But only sometimes.

Give me an option to go out to a party or kick it back with a few good friends, and I’ll probably choose the latter. But throw me in a group where nobody knows each other, and you might catch a little extra sass and comedy from yours truly.

This isn’t because I have a big personality, though I might, but because it can be nice to vibe off the energy from people around me. I’m not saying I’m very funny and in reality a complete extrovert, but in some situations, I can find myself somewhere in the middle of that box.

thought-catalog-470985-unsplash

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

So why do I hold onto the label of being an introvert so tightly?

Because it makes me feel like I belong to something.

It’s the same way for some people who believe themselves to be more analytical than creative— maybe they were told in grade school that their mind is so strongly geared towards logic that they decided to follow that belief.

Even if creativity was always itching up their arms in the meantime.

In figuring out who we are or what defines us, we can get so attached to the identity we think we already know that we forget to let ourselves back out of that box every once in a while.

Just because you are a talker at heart, it doesn’t hurt to listen.

Or if you are good with computers and have never picked up an instrument in your life, there’s no reason not to try your hand at music if you want to.

tyler-nix-570472-unsplash

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

There are these middle ground, gray areas, that allow people to be more than one thing or the other. If you feel so inclined in one direction, then go for it. Follow it to your heart’s content.

But if you ever feel a pull coming from your other side, don’t let the person you’ve always been or thought you should be turn those boxes into a cage around your personality.

Nobody should put you in a box you don’t want to be in. Not even you.