It Takes Two Hands to Clap

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If anyone has parents that grew up in a different culture than they did, you’ll probably get what I mean when I say that some phrases really won’t make sense until they’re explained. It’s like my parents saying “wapiece?” when really it’s just a blending of the words “want” and “piece.” Or even “better belly buss than good food waste” or something about the job not being done until the paperwork is finished… Just to name a few, it’ll probably stop you for a minute just to figure it out.

So imagine my reaction when back in the single digits, my brothers and I were fighting in the grocery store over something trivial and my mom hears the “he started it, no she started it” classic. Instead of yelling at us, she spun around in the middle of the aisle and looked each of us dead in the eye, saying “It takes two hands to clap.”

None of us had any idea what she was talking about, so of course we were too confused to keep arguing. Years later though, I find myself using the phrase all the time because essentially, it’s kind of like saying it takes two to tango. Two hands to clap=everyone has a part to play in what happens.

After all, it’s never really just one person or one thing that plays into an outcome, it’s usually a lot of little things. At least two.

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Over a decade later now, imagine the look on my face when I’m thinking this as I tell my parents about something I did that week; instead of getting scolded for not putting my schoolwork first, they told me they were proud of me. Not only for putting kindness and selflessness into the world, but also for making my own choices and adjusting around it.

I said that they taught me well.

They told me that it takes more than listening to actually use what is taught and put it into practice. That’s the second hand.

You see, there are a few people in my life that I’ve known since my freshman year here and we’ve each grown together in different ways. But if there’s someone from three years ago that’s still in my life, that definitely says a lot about our relationship. So of course, when something happens and they need help, I will drop everything to make sure whatever needs to be done is done. And I make sure it’s done the way they deserve it to be.

After all, it takes two hands to clap. Some things, we truly cannot do on our own, even if we try our hardest to make it so. Why not offer a hand where we can? Especially if it’s someone or something we care about, it shouldn’t even really be a choice or just something nice of us to do.

It should be automatic.

With that being said, there is still a bit of a caveat to these situations. Just because you are capable of doing something or care to do so, that doesn’t mean we always should. Like my blog post last week (catch it here if you missed it), it’s a question of intention versus impact. If that impact hurts us more, if someone or something isn’t as good for us as we can be for it, we have to recognize that too.

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When it takes two hands to clap, they’re supposed to be meeting in the middle. Not 30 vs 70%, not 10 vs 90 %. 50/50 when at all possible, throw a little equity in there depending on circumstance, but you know what I mean. Make sure you’re taking care of yourself too.

There’s a reason most of us will have a short list of people we would take a bullet for. Even while that risk seems to grow on a daily basis, off the top of our heads, there are most likely only a few people on that list. Because there are only so many bullets we can take, and at some point, someone else is going to have to be the one to step in front of us instead of the other way around.

It has to go both ways. Otherwise, we run the risk of being used, abused, and simply tossed to the side. This applies to jobs, relationships, work, even how we treat ourselves.

Don’t be afraid to give where you can without the expectation of anything in return, but a genuine trust that you’ll get it back somehow. Slowly, I’m learning to give myself things that will not just take my effort or my love or my time and use it all, but help me grow or learn or love me back in the process.

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I know it’s unrealistic to expect something back from all that we do in this life. But the thing is, we only have one life and so much of ourselves to give within it; there’s not time to waste. Whenever you do give, make sure it’s worth it.

I know that this week, I did.

Legally… Adulting?

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So guess who made it 21 years around the sun? It’s me, I did. Well, Nick and me of course.

But if you ask him, he’ll probably tell you that he made it 29 minutes earlier.

Now that’s I’m 21, the question is, what changes? Maybe I’ll go out to the bars and wildly dancing on tables every day for the rest of the quarter. Either that, or I’ll participate in as many daygers as I possibly can because legally, there’s no reason for me to get in trouble now.

So of course I’m going to go for it, I mean what else am I supposed to do?

Other than study, work, sleep, volunteer… Because I have so much time outside of that right?

Thing is, we live in a society where college students act like this is all we do. Other than the actual schooling we pay so much money for, a lot of time is wasted on drinking, partying, and not really being productive. Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against knowing how to lighten up every once in a while. Living while you can is important after all.

Here’s the thing though, living for me doesn’t really involve alcohol. Unlike what a lot of people seem to believe, not all college students drink. I’m not against alcohol, but I can’t say alcohol is something I really enjoy drinking either. Personally, I don’t like the way it makes me feel.

For some reason though, some people don’t understand that. And that’s where I find a problem. When someone says no to something, I get if everyone else is having fun and they just want you to join in. What I don’t get is the lack of respect by people who are supposed to support you and instead, fail to respect your preferences.

Because as legal adults, we are bound by the law but have a few less limits than we did when we were, say, 16. The older we get, the more we all figure out about ourselves and in turn, the more different we become. Our interests, our hobbies, our talents, our skills… That, and who each of us are as a whole. So you would think that, as we get older and become a little more individual, we would find a little more respect for our differences.

Including drinking habits.

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Some of us like to party, some of us don’t. Some of us like shows like Game of Thrones, some of us don’t. Some of us are DC and some of us are Marvel.

Some of us drink, and some of us don’t.

See where I’m getting at?

Personally, I would love to see some understanding within people my age and younger that what we do or don’t like is up to us. It really isn’t their business. If you really prefer DC, that’s all your choice. I may question your taste—just a little—but that is all you. It’s the phrase “don’t yuk my yum.” If there is something I like, maybe you’ve tried it and maybe you’ve never given it a chance. Either way, that gives you no right to judge me for it.

If it’s legal, we have our own choices to make and deserve a little respect in the process. Concerns are okay, judgement is not.

That’s what I’d like to think it is to legally adult. Maybe you’d agree.

Right Thing, Wrong Time?

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There’s something special at the end of this post, but you’ve got to get through the rest first. And I want to hear from you all on this topic, because I’m pretty stuck on this one. There are a lot of harsh truths about life that we learn as we grow up, but this one is a hard pill to swallow: Do you believe in right person/class/friend/chance, wrong time?

Because I’m not sure how I feel about it. Part of me wants to believe that if it’s the right___, you can always make it work. But then also, what if you shouldn’t have to.

What if there’s some growing that needs to happen before the right time can truly be right? This is where I get stuck, this definition of “right” and I would love an opinion on this concept; there’s both the carpe diem idea of “why not just go for it and figure it out later” and the realistic “you can’t fit a circle into a hole made for a square.”

See where I’m at? I don’t know if either one is universally correct.

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Part of this came up because of my classes this quarter. I’m doing a lot right now,  more than I have ever done at one time. But I fought my way into every single class I’m in right now and there’s no guarantee that I will ever get to take them if I don’t take them now. So do I let a god thing go with the hopes that I’ll get it back, or do I take the idea that it’s going to be a hard quarter and accept it? Bite the bullet.

I guess maybe I’m trying to figure out what bullets are worth the bite. I’m at the point in my life where I’m making a lot of decisions and I have to own them with everything that comes after once I make them. I’m still easing into that doing it on my own thing because with my classes, you can bet that my parents were my first call just to talk through the decision.

That’s why I bring this to you today, because I want to hear what you think. Genuinely, I do. So much of what we believe or who each of us are has to do with both the way we were raised and the things we have gone through on the way to today. Nature and nurture. It’s all of it.

So what about what you’ve been through makes you believe what you do?

Maybe you’d put qualifications on the statement. For me, I would say it is possible for right person, wrong time, because we are constantly growing. But as with everything, there’s a threshold that once you pass it, you never go back.

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Just like once you lose someone close to you and it really hits you, you can never not notice that grief or that loss or that pain in the world around you. Wherever you’re at, if something isn’t fitting right, it really isn’t your fault.

Maybe it’s simply circumstance. I’m not saying you have to believe in destiny or anything like that, but I am saying that instead of trying to figure out why, why don’t we focus more on the “what next?”

Where is there still room for you to grow in this situation? If it’s the wrong time but the right person or the right job offer or the right opportunity to take a chance, what can you do to be ready for it? Because let’s be honest, we are always growing. There will never be a time in our lives when we aren’t still learning from our mistakes and the actions of others.

Use it. Use all of it. Whether or not you believe in the right ___, wrong time, my attitude focuses on growth and what we can do to be more than what we are now. Don’t take it personally. Use it to improve your person.

Because you deserve good things. Even when they come at inconvenient times and maybe you’re just not ready. That’s okay.

Don’t let it stop you from growing a little bit more than you did yesterday.

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That being said, here’s where I follow through on this: there’s a poem I’ve written that I haven’t posted anywhere because it’s really personal and it crosses a boundary that I’ve never crossed on here. It is brutally honest. And hard. And true.

But since it’s National Poetry Month and our annual spoken word show is coming up soon here, I think I’m ready to share it with you all. Whether or not this is it, I’m making this the right time.

I hope to see you on Tuesday for a new Poetry Place and probably a side of me you’ve never really met before.

Have a beautiful weekend. Let me know what you think.

Intention vs Impact and Newton’s Third Law

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And just like that, it’s Friday again. Spring break or not, we’re always learning and today I want to talk about something that a lot of people might not pay attention to: Intention versus Impact.

You see, the things we say and do in our everyday lives have an impact on what our lives may look like tomorrow. But they also impact other people. If we say something offensive in a group chat, intending to be funny and not recognizing the inappropriateness of what we say, it can turn out to have the effect of something we didn’t intend.

It doesn’t matter that we didn’t intend it. Ignorance aside, it still makes the same impact.

So what does that mean in the big picture of things?

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Well, first of all, none of us are experts. In anything. Like I said, we’re each learning every day and there are simply going to be things that we do not understand. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as we are open to learning. But what can we do beyond that?

We can pay attention. I’m not saying we should walk on eggshells every moment of our lives, trying not to offend people… Just like the political climate, that’s exhausting. No one is asking you to do that. But, I will ask you to pay attention.

Watch what you say or do, think before you act. You could assume this is common sense, but I think one thing social media has done for us is lessened the impact we see ourselves having once we say something. Just because it’s online or through an app or confined to one space, doesn’t mean it only has the potential to impact that area. Screenshots are a thing.

Once it’s out there, it’s out there. You can’t take it back. You also can’t stop it from spreading.

I say all this because, as I get older, the more responsibility I hold for my actions. Just like being over eighteen means that I can’t punch someone or start a fight without potentially going to jail, being a young adult means that I have to be conscious of my actions and my words. I could post something on Twitter and find it harmless while potential employers or even friends of a friend might not think so.

That’s the idea of intention versus impact—we must realize that every action has an equal and opposite reaction: Newton’s Third Law of Motion. It applies to life too.

And simply because we could all use a reminder sometimes, I wanted to share it with all of you. This blog is here to share my journey with you and this is part of it. Most of it actually, you’re with me through every step of the learning process.

If you’re still here, I guess that means you’re okay with it. So thanks for sticking around, and if anyone has any big experiences around the concept of Intention versus Impact, feel free to share in the comments below.

I would love to hear about it.

Happy Friday everyone.

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.

Taking Up Space

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.