Today is Not the Day

Photo by Fabrizio Verrecchia on Unsplash

It’s been a whirlwind week here, beginning with jumping my car at 10:30 on a Sunday night and ending with the mayhem of midterms and Valentine’s Day festivities. It was one of those weeks where I got about 3 hours of sleep one day and almost 11 on another.

Sounds kinda like college.

If you noticed, there was no Poetry Place on Tuesday, hence the midterms Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday took priority. But I did want to give you at least a little something.

So that’s part of today’s post. Because after all, it is Black History Month, something that people are also beginning to realize is not only ‘his’tory but ‘her’story too. The more I think about what has had to happen in the past for me to be where I am today, the more I also think about what I do and care about that will then lead me into a future I hope to have.

After all, my current reality will become a part of my own history before I know it. The least I can do is make the most of it.

You see, everything I’ve thrown myself into on Cal Poly’s campus is a huge part of what is changing my future. The things I’m passionate about and the people I hold onto in my life, all of that is changed by what I’m doing here. That’s why I write, why I follow the things I do or pay attention to the people that I want.

Photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash

Weeks like this one put it all in perspective. Because, sure, I’m working hard to get a degree to then find a career so I can afford a stable life. But it’s bigger than that.

Beyond the degree and the classes I have the people and the passions and the aspirations that are molded out of the clay I walked onto this campus with.

While I fight to figure out what I want and the directions I want to go in, I’m also beginning to realize that I need to pick my battles somewhere in between.

Some days are better fit for buckling down and grinding out a few hours of hard studying. Others are the ones to maybe spend a few hours watching too much tv or wasting too much time with friends.

I’m starting to realize that college is about learning to pick my battles.

Because within that, some days are the ones to allow myself the grace to take a step back from everything that will take away pieces of me that I need for my own good. And others, well… You get the point. Sometimes I can afford to give a little. Other times, I need to learn when not to.

The Poetry Place of this post, it’s about learning the difference in what that means. Learning the balance.

It’s a part of my life after all, every one of our lives. It’s about deciding which day is which. Maybe if you’ve figured it out, you can pass along some tips in the comments. In the meantime, here’s Today is Not the Day.


Today is not the day

to feel like I can conquer the world,

to hold my head a little too high,

or feel like this will be alright.

Today is just a day

to exist, to keep breathing,

to understand it’s all I can do,

to remember that I’m not okay

and that’s okay.

Because today is just a day,

Photo by Freddy Castro on Unsplash

time will move forward,

and it will pass.

This day will become

a part of the past

just like they always do.


Happy Friday everyone. I hope you had a wonderful Valentines and remembered all the love that should come from you too. See you next week.

Photo by Freddy Castro on Unsplash

Pushing the Boundaries That Need Breaking

I think goals should never be easy, they should force you to work, even if they are uncomfortable at the time. — Michael Phelps

parker-gibbons-1056509-unsplash

Photo by Parker Gibbons on Unsplash

I made a lot of goals for my first two years of college, but I ended each grade with a changed mind and questions of whether or not I met those goals… Whether or not I even wanted to.

This year, I can already tell that things are going to be very different.

Like a lot of people, I tend to stick to my safe zone, you know where the status quo is something you’re used to and find comfort in. It’s always been easy for me to stick to that boundary in most of what I do. It’s comfortable there after all.

Last quarter I committed to something that would completely shove (not even lightly suggest or push) me out of that zone.

You see, there’s this event on campus I’ve seen people put on for the last two years and I always watched, thinking “that will never be me.” It looked like a lot of work and frankly, I wasn’t the type of person to sign myself up for everything it entailed…

Yet here I am, day 1 of WOWies (first-years) on campus and I’m doing it. I am a Cross Cultural Experience group leader for the Week of Welcome (WOW).

There are probably a lot of things we look at in our lives, swearing up and down that it would never be us. Instead, we watch people put in the work and go through the whole process of trying out a different role, one that maybe we still want.

What if it could be us?

That’s been one of the biggest concepts surrounding my college experience, recognizing things I could be doing or should be doing, versus actually doing them. With WOW, I guess you could say I decided to do it for one reason and stayed for completely different one.

I joined because someone asked me to and so I could throw myself into something new and find a purpose here at Cal Poly, maybe find a way to prove to myself that I didn’t choose the wrong school– that the wrong school didn’t chose me. I’ve wondered that since my first day.

Even after the partner I thought I would be going into it with found someone else, I stayed. Normally I would have bailed, I almost did too. But I stayed.

Because, well, I already have a purpose here. Through the people, the cultural clubs and first official CCE program in WOW I have the honor of being a part of, there’s a meaning to what we do. I stayed because leading new students and throwing myself into situations with no safety net or expectation makes me uncomfortable– in all the best ways.

Like Phelps said, goals shouldn’t be easy. And the goal of college– beyond the education– is to grow.

hello-i-m-nik-698722-unsplash

Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash

When people say college is the best four years of their lives, some of them mean it in exactly that way. Beyond the facade of what we think it’s supposed to be, maybe it can live up to that.

Whether or not I hop on that bandwagon by the time I’m done here, I do think that these years should be the ones that impact us the most.

I can already say I believe in that.

And the moments or the lessons I remember the most are the ones that made me uncomfortable, the ones that I honestly couldn’t see coming and wasn’t prepared for– the ones I didn’t think I would be in until they were already happening.

When it comes to college and a whole lot of what we do in our lives, maybe those are the moments we really need.


Happy Friday everyone, I will see you next week. Who knows, maybe you’ll get an update on how WOW is going too. Have a great weekend.

Living out of Obligation

jehyun-sung-486247-unsplash.jpg

Photo by Jehyun Sung on Unsplash

Do you ever do something not because you truly want to, but because you feel like you should? I could easily be talking about work or writing or love or smiling… I could be talking about living.

In a way, I kind of am.

Let’s make this personal shall we: throughout middle school and high school, 7 years of my life, I was a runner. Here’s a concept— I hate running. Give me a 4×1, I loved it. But only if I didn’t start. Give me a triple jump or long jump, loved that too (probably more). But don’t make me run, not in a competition with a start gun and a timer.

I loved the people and the jumping. Not so much the running.

So why did I do it and keep doing it, running varsity all four years of high school and taking on team co-captain senior year?

Because I was good at it. What a shame it would have been to waste my talent right, to let my team down?

It was an obligation. Not one that I regret for the physical shape and amount of connections I made through the sport, but still an obligation.

Now think about yourself, why do we smile at strangers even when there’s nothing funny or amusing or remotely smile inducing about them? I don’t even know if it’s considered polite, we were simply always told to be kind and smile at other people. It’s an obligation of sorts.

Like the black person nod— no, I do not know every black person I see out around Folsom or Cal Poly, but that doesn’t stop me from nodding at them when I pass by. I never really questioned it, it’s just what we do.

You get what I’m saying.

annie-spratt-710486-unsplash.jpg

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

When it comes to these things, from the smiling to the nodding, maybe it helps us in the long run. I know with track, I met a handful of incredible people and learned a lot about myself in the process. Even with the smiling thing, it’s paid off working in customer service and retail for the past few years. We do a lot of things out of obligatory feelings of needing to do it. Whether we’re good at it, it’s polite, it’s “the right thing to do”…

Maybe sometimes that’s a good thing. And maybe other times it’s not.

Because what happens when we do something out of obligation that in turn compromises our own intentions or integrity? Now I’m not talking about doing something out of your comfort zone, those things are important for growth and experience in the long run.

I am talking about priority.

There are a lot of things that we may do because we feel like we should and it ends up helping us too. But if we take someone else’s needs and put them above ourselves, that obligation can turn around and hurt us in the process. Think about it, I’m sure you’ve been there.

vlad-tchompalov-450777-unsplash.jpg

Photo by Vlad Tchompalov on Unsplash

Have you ever had a deadline coming up but a friend needed your help, so you put the work aside and helped them out leaving very little time for that deadline?

Or maybe you offered to help tutor a classmate or walk a coworker through something every day, only to watch your performance and time slip due to your time spent on them.

Whether they’re friends, family, coworkers… Anyone really, I understand the want to help people or to support them as best you can. Sometimes that will in turn take away from your own time or sleep, maybe even your own well-being.

There simply needs to be a line somewhere.

There is this grey area between being kind or helpful, and being a pushover. I know it’s something I’ve always struggled to find a balance in. Always putting other people’s needs in front of your own may not help them in the long run, and it definitely doesn’t help you. But never supporting others or letting yourself not be the center of your own life every once in a while doesn’t help anyone either.

The older we get, the more important our relationships become— that includes our relationships with ourselves. So find a balance in there, between obligation versus self-prioritization or self-neglect versus love and support.

sean-stratton-744839-unsplashI know it’s hard to find the line that balances the two sides out, I’ve been looking for it for years and still haven’t found it. But a life out of obligation isn’t a good one, not when you’re doing it for the wrong reasons or the wrong people. So find a balance and make sure it’s a good one…

I’ll be looking for one too.


See you Tuesday for a new Bookworms post. Happy weekend!

Why Trust Is Hard and That’s Okay

“It is more important to go slow and gain the lessons you need along the journey then to rush the process and arrive at your destination empty.”

– Germany Kent

the-journal-garden-vera-bitterer-682529-unsplash (1).jpgThings don’t always go as planned, we all know that by now.

Maybe sometimes that itus down, makes us doubt ourselves, or even stop moving altogether.

Because it’s hard to trust the process when you don’t know what’s coming next.

And that’s okay.

A lot of our lives are fully scripted; I know the beginning of my path was: get through grade school, make sure grades are enough for a good college, then get through college and make sure grades are enough for whatever comes next whether it’s more school, a job, or something completely different.

There were a whole lot of decisions made and plans mapped out to get me to where I am right now.

So why doesn’t it look like that I thought it was supposed to?

Do any of our plans?

I think we move too fast, trying too hard to get to where we think we need to be only to replace that goal with a new one, a little farther away. We never slow down to reconsider our directions, to let ourselves fail and adapt, or to readjust for whatever burdens come our way.

Just because it seems like everything is supposed to be planned out doesn’t mean that things we don’t plan for aren’t going to come crashing into our lives, straight down the middle of that timeline you’ve got set.

That’s when we need to trust the process.

When things change and so do we.

When new lessons come our way we we have to remember to learn them.

When the journey starts to look a little too long and our bodies are tired…

Even when it’s hard. Trust process.

If you trust it and things turn out well, you’re better for it.

If you don’t trust it and things don’t turn out so okay, you let the pieces fall where they may and rearrange them until you find your way back.

freddie-marriage-40251-unsplash (1).jpg

Photo by freddie marriage on Unsplash

No matter what you do, these lessons and paths and failures and hopes, they will change you if you take the time to notice them. It doesn’t mean you have to always be okay with whatever is going on, but I think all of us could use a little faith sometimes.

Like Germany Kent said, it would be a shame to turn up to the end of your journey empty. Let the lessons and the change fill you up and rearrange who you are with the life you hold as you make your way through that journey.

Trust yourself. Even when it’s hard.

Happy Friday and I hope to see you all on Tuesday.

 

Exploring the Unknown– The Human Library

david-kennedy-383477-unsplashToday, I’ve got something new to share with you all— not a poem, but a story about… Well, other stories. This week I had the privilege of participating in a senior project that I was so lucky to be a part of and now, you can be a small part of it too. 

Welcome to the Human Library.

Picture this, you’re walking into a library just like old times, running your fingers across the spines of countless books holding worlds you can’t wait to dive into and you’re doing the one thing they always tell you not to do— judging them by their covers. Now imagine those books were people, each one with a different story and a different title, from “They Asked Me ‘Where I’m From’” to “Nothing But Another Gay Kid.”

These are the stories of what people feel like represent them, the things that make up the identities we try so hard to define for ourselves. Because these are the stories of what people find identify them, from the way they love and the way they look to the way they act and they way they feel. So what do I think defines me, my title?

Still I Rise— The State of Blackness at a PWI.samantha-sophia-374229 

We all have stories and experiences, little bits of who we are that come to define us in incredible ways. This is part of mine, at least for the next two years here. And as I listened to other people tell their stories it was eye opening to understand just how much we don’t see about others, how much we are ignorant of…

Some of it by choice, some of it not. But all of it unknown unless we ask.

This project was meant to break past stereotypes and the prejudices we hold within ourselves. Because it’s our job to start the conversation and try to see beyond what we think we know.

Everyone who came to the human library to check out the books, they came by choice because they wanted to both be a part of it and see a little more of the students that surround us on Cal Poly’s campus. With everything going on at this school, it’s about time we started listening to what’s happening in other people’s lives and stopped assuming we already know.

Each day I spend here, I am reminded of how little I know, even about the people I love and care for. I’m not saying I plan to pry or force people to let me in, but I am saying that as a whole, a lot of us forget to give people a chance to do so when they want to.

I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m training this quarter to be a WOW (Week of Welcome) orientation leader for next year’s incoming freshman of minority backgrounds. With events like this and each week of training, I hold a little more power in my hands to be a jonathan-weiss-266716-unsplashgood influence on the students I welcome into the school, with a little more strength in my being to do it all right. This quarter, I have become more involved with my campus and the people around me, it’s getting easier to recognize the secrets that hide behind things I don’t understand or the privileges I hold.

I can’t forget about all the books I am still yet to read.

Projects like the Human Library are incredibly important, not just to spread people’s stories, but to also remind us that the world is so much bigger than ourselves. The students who prepared for that event with me over the last two months are just snapshots of our existence, reflections of things we’ve all been through and a whole lot more we haven’t. The thing is, we don’t have to always go through something to understand it, we just have to be willing to learn.

Because, some of these people get pulled into our own chapters, their experiences blending with our own until our pages begin to add up into a heavier, thicker book than what we started with. And as we grow and we change, we take what we’ve got and go from there.

I guess maybe that’s the idea: start with your own experiences, your life, and build on it. Along the way, we can’t be afraid to understand others’ stories while in the process of creating our own. In the end, we are made up of the values wetakahiro-taguchi-574470-unsplash keep and the hopes we hold, all influenced by the things we learn and the people we meet. This week, I got to meet so many extraordinary students. And they got to meet me.

If you want to know a little more about the Human Library, you can find a whole lot of information here and see what it’s all about.

And if you’ve got a story to share, I would love to hear it. As for mine, I think you’ve heard that one by now, but lucky for you, I have plenty of others I can tell you. You’re always welcome to ask.

Happy Friday everyone, see you on Tuesday for a new Bookworms post.

Getting Unstuck: 5 ways to get back up again

Welcome to the second week of August— aka, the time when all the high schoolers realize that a new year just started and all the college kids realize that the end of summer is inevitable. lisheng-chang-239427With a new year starting for everyone and all the adults giving in to the impending end to vacation time, sometimes we look in the mirror on that first day and realize something: We’re stuck.

Personally, I’ve been finding myself getting restless lately. As all my friends head back to college or move on to new things, I’m taking a summer class I’ve ironically already taken and doing most of the things I’ve always done because there aren’t many people here to do new things with. I guess you could say that I’ve been feeling a bit stuck.

We’ve all been there right?

But as a way to get myself back up and moving again, and maybe to help out anyone else feeling the same way, I decided to write about it. Let’s be honest, it’s what I do. So if you’re feeling stuck, if you’re looking for something new, or you just have a little time to read, here are 5 ways to remind yourself what it’s like to live your life.

 

Be honest with yourself

“Honesty is the best policy.” I know my parents used to always remind me of this and I’m really not sure who said it, but I can tell you that when it comes to ourselves, the truth is important. Are you pushing yourself in a certain direction even though it may not be where you want to go? Stop pushing, break those boundaries. When people get stuck, it’s often because we feel like we’re not headed towards anything special. The thing is, the only person who can make where we’re headed anything but boring is us. So be honest with yourself— if you don’t like dancing then stop dancing, if you need new friends then find new friends, if you don’t like who you’re becoming… Find a way to become someone better. Just because you’re stuck doesn’t mean you can’t get out. You’ve simply got to want to.

Try something new

Have you ever found yourself watching the same Netflix show or re-reading the same book because you liked it the first (few) times? As someone who absolutely loves to re-read books, even I get bored of it after a while. But our hobbies and our outlets, they change who we are— you cannot change if you’re still doing the same things you’ve always done. Maybe there’s a sport that you have had your eye on for a while, thinking “I wonder if I would enjoy doing that.” As a student, there’s no time like the present, put yourself out there! Even for the adults there are different things for different places, like wine tasting and monthly hiking meet-ups, or Thursday night markets and live music… The only way to try something new is to go all in and do it. It takes a bit of vulnerability, the idea of being in a zone that may not exactly be comfortable. But give it some time and effort on your part, and maybe that comfort zone can get a little wider.

Find a different path to follow

Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what path we’re on, like Little Red Riding Hood finding herself going down the wrong one. Finding the right one is a trial and error kind of thing. ivana-cajina-337709If you don’t like the people you meet or the things you find along the way, change your direction. Easier said than done? How about this: everything we do is an attempt to get closer to that next chapter, whether it’s paying off bills for the house, picking a college major, or even working hard at a job in hope of a raise and later on, retirement. We do all of these things with a goal in mind. Yet sometimes these goals are too far ahead of us; we get tired. You have to set smaller goals. Allow yourself to feel like you’re accomplishing something every day, even you just read a few pages in a new book or tried that new yoga pose. No matter what you do, give yourself a chance to feel something other than stressed out or over-worked. By giving yourself that break and finding a bit of breathing room, you might feel like you’re headed in the right direction along the way.

Be okay with failure

This one is short and sweet— sometimes you are going to fail. And that is okay. A few weeks ago, I tried picking up a new hobby: painting. Not that I expected to be a prodigy or anything, but in hindsight, I’m not very good at painting. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t fun. Usually when I try new things, I have the security of knowing I’ll be good at them. Like pursuing writing or trying out for a capella— I knew I at least had a shot. But if you’re trying to get out of a slump, maybe what you need is a little failure. We could all use the reminder sometimes; we’re only human and failing comes with title… As long as we don’t stop there. So let yourself fail, let yourself try, and let yourself fail all over again. If you are enjoying something new, then it doesn’t matter whether you’re good or not. As long as it makes you feel alive or like a part of this life, never let failure stop you. Who knows, maybe you’re better than you think.

Let go of Expectations

Last but not least, this is something a friend of mine told me last week that I’ve been trying to take to heart: There will be times when you need to let go of the expectations you have and just live your life day by day. Simply expect yourself to keep going. As someone who loves to read and get lost in the fictional worlds others have build, it gets easy to lose sight of reality and the life that actually belongs to me. I was a little disappointed that some giant didn’t bring me a cake on my eleventh birthday to tell me I’m a wizard, or that I didn’t grow up with a satyr as a best friend because Poseidon is actually my father. My expectations were a smidge too high.But we all have them and sometimes, they don’t push us forward. They hold us back. So right now, I am asking you to do one thing: let them go, just for a little while. Live outside of your boundaries, brooke-cagle-336464outside of what you think you want, and go find something that makes you happy right now. Once you find that, go find another thing, and another thing, until your heart is so content that you’re running out of room. Then take a look at those expectations— have they changed a little bit? And most importantly, have you changed? I hope so.

With these 5 ideas, I’m hoping that I can find my way to change. I keep telling myself that I’m too young to be stuck, and maybe I’m not. I just haven’t been trying hard enough to get up. But if you’re ready for something new, then allow yourself to go chase life, whether you have all the time in the world or a just a few minutes here to pick up that book. Every little bit counts.

So here’s to getting unstuck, another attempt at painting for me, and to looking in the mirror to realize that maybe this truly is a good life. Good luck and until next week 🙂