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?

On the short film— In a Heartbeat

They say a picture is worth a thousand words… What about a video?

Yesterday I was taking a break from bio studying to scroll through Facebook, as distracting as that can be, and I came upon a video that seems to be taking the internet by storm. Anyone heard of In a Heartbeat?gaelle-marcel-189753

Well if you haven’t, you’re about to.

On Monday, Beth David and Esteban Bravo, two students from Ringling College of Art and Design, posted the largely anticipated film as their a senior thesis. In summary, it is about “a closeted boy runs the risk of being outed by his own heart after it pops out of his chest to chase down the boy of his dreams.” With its own page on Tumblr and full funding through Kickstarter within the first 3 hours of the films inception, just 4 days after its posting the four-minute film has amassed over 15 million views on YouTube.

Talk about pay off.

Now this film has no dialogue at all; just a soundtrack (by Arturo Cardelús and available on Spotify), two main characters, and a whole lot of feels. But when I saw the short, it became clear to me how much a little really can go a long way.

On a larger scale, this film deals with something that is very important when it comes to entertainment: underrepresentation. From the LGBT community to those of racial minorities, as time goes by we see more and more portrayal of the people who truly make up our everyday lives. In minority cases, people often speak of breaking the glass ceiling, or surpassing barriers that stand in the way of certain equalities. As one of the hopes the filmmakers had for this project, I think film has reached farther than they can imagine and, in the very least, added another crack to that ceiling. 

eric-patnoudes-46029Finally, on a relatable level to so many of us in the world, the truth behind this film lies in one thing: A crush. The innocence, lightheartedness, and wonderful animation of the short, all tie into something that I appreciated finding in the end of this busy week. I wanted to share it with you all.

So without further ado, here is the link to the animated short film In a Heartbeat. Enjoy!



What it means to have Pride

Welcome to June, the month I finally get to begin my (short) summer, the weather really starts heating up, and the world gets to celebrate something very important.

Welcome to Pride Month.laura-ockel-197421.jpg

If you’ve been on Google today you might have seen the rainbow colors on their doodle for the day, that is something special. Those colors represent the birthday of Gilbert Baker, the man who designed what is now known as the flag that represents LGBTQ+. Though he passed away just this year in March, his activism and his flag, has spread through this world in a way that is very much alive.

That’s what this month is about.

For those of you who do not know, Pride month itself and the celebration of its essence began back in 1969 with the Stonewall Riots: a stand against police harassment towards a group of gay customers in Greenwich Village, New York. At the time, most states had laws passed against the group gathering of LGBTQ+ people, gay bars, and public homosexuality. This riot began in protest of discrimination in the Stonewall Inn, and as people shouted “gay power”, standing up up for their own human rights, they stated something they never saw coming.  

Protests lasted for days with even 1,000 people attending at once. Ultimately, this led to the Gay Liberation Movement and Christopher Street Liberation Day which happened on June 28, 1970; the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots with as well as the first Gay Pride march in U.S. history. It covered an entire 51 blocks through to Central Park.
F3FH5XYZY0Known as the “Mother of Pride” for her help in organizing the march, Brenda Howard originated the celebrations  and festivities held every June and also coined what we now know as the term

From there the movement spread, as all movements do, to San Francisco and LA, then Boston and Dallas, and so many more places before the culture behind it had shifted completely into something global. Something stronger. Here in the United States, it took us until our 42nd President, Bill Clinton, to recognize Pride on June 2, 2000. Since then, both Clinton and Obama acknowledged this month, however, President Trump could have been the first Republican President to do so. The future of that possibility is yet to be seen.

Around the world, we celebrate the people who make up the 7.4 billion population we are surrounded by. Among those who have passed away, many of the most incredible people were also a part of the LGBTQ+ community. Have you ever heard of Bessie Smith, Empress of the Blues, and one of the highest paid black entertainers of all time? Maybe you know of, Tennesee Williams, writer of the Glass Menagerie? Or how about Sally Ride, the first woman in space? Each of them were a part of LGBTQ+ history, a part of what this world has now come to celebrate, and major contributors to the music, entertainment, and accomplishments of the United States.

We cannot celebrate our history without recognizing all the pieces of it. Just like Black History Month or Women’s History Month,

sorasak-217807 (1)we celebrate Pride as more than a month, but an appreciation for every person it applies to. Because no matter what a person identifies with or what defines who they are, they just might change the world someday. I know some LGBTQ+ people who have already changed mine.

Before Baker’s flag emerged in 1978, the symbol of gay pride was a pink triangle— Hitler made homosexuals wear them as a tag during World War Two. We have come a long way, legalizing gay marriage two years ago, but there is still a long road ahead as the world around us becomes more accepting of what being an “American” really means. From accepting that racism is still an issue to coming to terms with the status of our Earth’s climate, things have changed a lot since I was born, but not as much as I believe they will in the future.

One way or another, an easy way to bring change is with education— today, I hope you learned a little bit more about what Pride Month really means. Whether you identify with, support, or simply understand the community, know that like any other identity in this world, it deserves to be respected at the very least. If you join in on the celebration this year, at a Pride parade or anywhere else, it’s important to know the boundaries not to cross— how to appreciate without accidentally discriminating. Like Gilbert Baker believed when creating the flag, “We needed something beautiful, something from us. The rainbow is so perfect because it really fits our diversity in terms of race, gender, ages, all of those things.”

Not only did he create a beautiful flag, he created a safe space for more equality, brought people together, and probably changed so many lives in the process. Because thdimitar-belchev-235925at is the beauty change in this world and the ability people have to come together in communities. In a world of 7.4 billion people and 12 months to celebrate each of every one of us, this one is for LGBTQ+. And that is the beauty of Pride.

P.S. If you want to learn any more, click on all those blue words and it’ll take you right to the info!

To This Day

But our lives will only ever always

jonatan-pie-216311.jpgContinue to be

A balancing act

That has less to do with pain

And more to do with beauty

Back in 2013, I was a sophomore in high school and somewhere along my needs for procrastination, I found something that changed how I looked at poetry and at people— it was so honest, so incredibly beautiful… I had no idea what to with this gem I had just found.

For I had stumbled upon the To This Day Project video on youtube, by Shane Koyczan.

Years later I am still impressed with what it has to say and now, now I know that it was there not only for us to to see, but to think about what it means. It is there for the bullies and the people and the lives it is all talking about, for the people who need a touch of inspiration. That is what spoken word is— it is honest, it is true, and for so many people, it is a reality.

There are countless lines within this video that I wish I could hold onto but this one applies to all of us.

seth-willingham-64594.jpg“If you can’t see anything beautiful about yourself

Get a better mirror 

Look a little closer 

Stare a little longer

Because there’s something inside you that made you keep trying.”

Every day I look around this campus and I see people who are still trying. I talk to friends away at other schools or hear about the ones I miss still at Vista and I can tell every one of us is still trying… Trying to what?

We are trying to live our lives, to find our way to a place we know we deserve to be. Because in a society where it is believed we are defined by the amount of money we make or the degree that will be written on our diplomas, there are a lot of people who have a hard time feeling like they will ever get there.

Let me tell you this, if you believe you can get there and you do everything in your power to do so, the only thing standing in the way is yourself.

Our mentalities and the belief we hold in ourselves is one of the most important things we can hold onto in this life. Because in eighteen years, if I have learned anything else, it is how to keep on trying.

splitshire-01466Maybe sometimes it gets hard to believe in what we are doing when the world around keeps telling to turn in a different direction. Think of the women this month is about and the ones it has hopes to inspire— where would they be if they took “no” for an answer?

Where would we be?

Take a moment (7 minutes actually) out of your day to take a look at this video, and remember the power that words hold in our lives, the power we hold in others. And never forget to believe in how priceless this life can really be when we look past the standards, the money, and the stereotypes, into what truly is the balancing act “that has less to do with pain and more to do with beauty.” 

To This Day Project



More than a label, More than a month

I could have sworn that this quarter just began a week ago, let alone Black History Month, yet somehow there are three weeks left before these classes are over. This is my final post on the black history month subject.

But that’s the thing, it isn’t simply a subject to me— just because tycho-atsma-181053.jpgwe spend a month celebrating black heritage doesn’t mean that I am not reminded of who we all are every single day, 365 days a year. I walk around this campus not only underrepresented by the color of my skin, but overwhelmed by this life I hold.

Every day, I am reminded that no matter our race and the history behind our heritage, we are all still human.

Yesterday, I spent my typical Thursday night working on chemistry and studying with Nick in the common room of my dorm. Even after everyone left, we hung out for a while just talking and somehow, we ended up on the broad spectrum of life.

Why do we live our lives the way we do?

Is it always going to be simply one step to the next?

After 12 years of education to get into college, do we work through college to get a job, before working that job to pay the bills and finally, raising our own children until it’s their turn?

Are we going to look back one day and realize that we forgot to live?

anders-jilden-87205.jpgEven more than representing Cal Poly, more than what people see in the color of our skin, it seems that what we get out of this life comes down to how we want to live it— how we live it, and for what. We all have a certain amount of control on how things turn out for us, just take a look at my blog post last week… I could be an English major, Kinesiology major, or something else entirely. The future is a story yet to be written.

So why does it feel like some of us already know what’s coming?

I’ve been told that the problem with our generation, universally across each of us, is that we are always rushing from one thing to the next that we never take a moment to breathe it all in. This is life isn’t it? I have to admit, amidst the midterms and the planning, it takes me a minute to remember that we only have so much time in the day to appreciate the fact that I saw the sun rise in the morning. This is a beautiful life; one the we just might let slip through our fingers if we’re not careful.

Have you ever looked at a friend or a family member for a quick second and found yourself caught in a moment of appreciation for who they are to you? I know I’ve found myself doing that a lot more lately, like seeing my parents this last weekend or even just hanging out with Nick last night. Even though this campus is primarily white, somehow my closest group of friends is one of the most diverse groups of people I have ever consistently been around. Some days I catch myself looking from one of them to the next and wondering, what does it mean to be who you are?

wil-stewart-7771Though I may be so much more than my skin tone, it is still something that will define me and every single one of us for the rest of our lives. The month of February represents a large part of who I am, but that does not mean that this is the only time of year our heritage is recognized. It’s like a birthday or even Valentine’s Day— just because there is separate day of the year to celebrate something does not mean that you show any less love to those people for the other 364 days of the year.

A person’s pigmentation is more than a label or a stereotype.

Heritage celebration is so much more than a single month of remembering the Martin Luther King’s or the Harriet Tubman’s of our past.

Who we are and the lives that we strive for come down to what is in our hearts and what we do with the intelligence we hold to make this world into something better.

Life is about improvement, accomplishment… The little victories I know we can all achieve.  

Take a look in the mirror for me, look past the colors you see or the texture of your hair. Tell me one thing: did you find a way to live this life today? I don’t mean going to work, or to class, or simply getting out of bed this morning… Did you live this life today?anja-137284

Because with everything else that you see in yourself or what others see in my generation, I would like to believe in something more. I would like to believe that things can change, the pace of this world can be something worth living in every day, and that color of my skin can be something more than a visual representation of everything I know I can be.

P.S. To the Class of 2017, I’ve got another post for you next week so be on the lookout for a little advice on college, graduation, and everything in between!