What Happens in Junior Year…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And you, if you’ll have me too.

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

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

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

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

Miss Me?

Photo by Aaron Burden

Did you all miss me last week?

Well here’s the thing, I missed me too. I’ve been moving constantly and doing so many different things at full speed that I can’t believe there are only 24 hours in a day. Between evaluating the 23 student leaders I oversee and chairing practicals for them to analyzing literature in the classroom and classic customer service work at the store, life has been busy.

I started this blog three years ago and since then, last week was the single time I have ever not written a post on Friday. The only time. Ever.

There’s a reason for that.

Have you noticed my posts have been getting later and later to the point where if I posted thirty minutes later it would technically be Saturday? Well if you didn’t, trust me when I say that I noticed. And I apologize. At a certain point it got a little hard to keep up. For someone who doesn’t have class on Fridays, it’s impressive what my calendar always ends up looking like.

Photo by Kristopher Roller

But you know sometimes, a girl just runs out of steam. It’s the end of week 10, prep week for finals, in what has simultaneously been an incredibly long and unbearably quick year. Honestly, I have no idea how we got here already but part of my mind and the whole of my body sure as hell seem to know something I don’t. Because all I hear, with every slap of my rubber soles on slick pavement and quick zip of my backpack before we move on to the next thing, is that I am tired.

So I took a break. A single post, one week without me, did you notice? I did.

Little do you know, by not posting on Friday, I got to go meet two of my best friends from home and my brother downtown for all if their bar crawls since all of our birthdays are close together. These are two of my favorite people I haven’t seen in SO long and I missed them; I missed what it was like to have part of our squad back together again.

So we danced, we bar crawled, and danced some more, a bartender smiled at me as if I was the sweetest thing when I asked for a glass of water because I was genuinely thirsty (sorry, don’t drink), and I let the clock hit midnight as we joined in on the nightlife for a while. I didn’t even know we had nightlife here.

I worked the ache out of my bones and the rust off my body by letting go of thinking for a while and instead, I put all my worries on hold. I decided to just let the memories happen while I happened with it and enjoyed the company of the people I love.

I’m lucky to have them in my life, but sometimes I forget that. By making the choice to go out with them the one night they were in town, I got to spend their birthday celebration with my best friends and also see them for the last time as just another boy and girl in love. Maybe to me, with us, it’ll always be senior year. Causing almost as much trouble on the track as we did around a bonfire. Because less than 24 hours later, they were engaged. And suddenly, we’re growing up.

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Time really does fly by, if you blink, you just might miss it. But there’s something about loving people as individuals and understanding how wonderful it is to watch them love each other, to choose to spend the rest of their lives together. Call it idealistic, but I’m happy for them.

Especially because I know exactly what I wouldn’t have known had I not gone out on Friday. I wouldn’t have gotten to my step goal for the day, I wouldn’t have made a bartender smile at me for a simple question he probably doesn’t get a lot, and I wouldn’t have remembered the genuine appreciation I hold for some people in my life.

All that, and well, I probably wouldn’t be writing this post early today. Because in the process of missing that one blog last week, of making the conscious decision to tell myself it was okay to go, I also managed to find something I had been missing for a little while.

Myself.

Sure, going out doesn’t mean I’m refreshed and ready to go. We’re heading into finals week after all. But it gave me a chance to let go of the bar I hold so high for myself and remember that I’m 21, that not everything holds the weight I believe it to. My shoulders can’t always bear that burden. I needed to put it down for a few hours.

So I’m sorry if you missed me last week; thing is, I missed me too. I miss feeling the life around me and getting lost in things without a plan. I miss breaking routines and dancing shamelessly even if everyone is watching. I miss that good feeling you get when you’re with the people you love and you just know that you are fully and 100% present in the moment with them.

I needed that back, even just for a night. Maybe it’s called self care, I don’t really know exactly what that looks like for me. But I’m willing to find out, if you’ll give me grace for a change in style and some honesty while I do so. After all, maybe just a few of you missed me last week.

Trust me, I missed me too. I miss me. Just know that I’m trying to figure out how to find a new normal, so maybe I don’t have to anymore.

Happy Friday to every one of you. And thanks for sticking with me.

Have You Heard of FISH?

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Short and sweet for you today, have you ever heard of the FISH philosophy? Trust me, it’ll change the way you see things. Four easy steps:

Play

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When it comes to approaching anything, especially in our society, we can either choose for it to be work or we can choose for it to be a bit of play. This comes from the Seattle Pike Place Market where they make a bit of a game out of selling and preparing fish for people. Instead of regular vendors and yelling about their fish, they joke around with customers, offer samples, and quite literally throw the fish around from one person to the next as a way to keep things energetic.

Not only does this remind you every day to remember to have a little fun, but it also says that you can make everything a bit of fun if you want it to be. Find a way to Play.

Make Their Day

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Sure, every person you meet is just another person to walk through your life in one day. Especially when selling things, it’s easy to overlook the fact that you get a chance to really see every single one of those people. So talk to them, every one of them. Ask them how their day is and mean it, see why they came in the first place.

You have the opportunity to make someone’s day every time you speak to them. Why not use it? It doesn’t take a whole lot– as humans, we’re pretty simple. All we want is to be genuinely acknowledged. If you can do that, I think you just might make someone’s day.

Choose Your Attitude

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Now this one is important because there are a whole lot of things in our lives that we don’t want to do. From working and paying taxes to bills and studying, we’re busy people. We never really stop moving. You can easily get stuck in this pattern of doing it all or going through the motions day by day without really paying any attention to it.

But if you have to do it, every single day, can’t you also choose to be positive or be the kind of person people don’t mind being around while you do? You have to choose your attitude, despite how much sleep you got or who’s in a fight with who… Attitude is everything because it starts with you. So choose yours first. The rest takes care of itself.

Be there

Lastly, you’ve got to be there. As someone who is constantly moving and rarely takes a break in my schedule, I sometimes forget that I’m supposed to be 100% there in everything I’m doing. With the students I’m mentoring, I can’t teach them properly or guide them well if I’m not paying attention to what’s going on. At work, I can’t ask a customer how their day is or tell them good luck on a midterm if I’m not present enough to remember to do so.

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You’ve got to be there, for all of it. We only get one life and there’s a clock counting down somewhere just to remind all of us to not forget it.

So be there to live your life every single day. Find a way to play in everything you do, make someone’s day while you’re at it, and just be there. Okay?

Okay. Because every day I’m getting older and even though my life is pretty fast paced, I have to remember these things too. It wouldn’t be a life worth living without it.

That’s the FISH philosophy. I hope you liked it.

Redefining Expectations

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I was awake to see 11:11 PM last night and all I could wish was to be asleep. Because I was very ready for bed. I was just waiting for my mind to agree with me.

But once it did, I got at least eight hours of sleep last night, and let me tell ya, sleep is truly a wonderful thing. Besides that, it’s been quite a long week here. Between classes and work and orientation, I have become quite the busybody. Just seeing how much I grow from week to week is kind of astounding.

So here’s a shout out to Daily Inkling: Your prompt post.

If I had asked for a wish years ago, I probably would have said something like wishing to be happy or strong or beautiful. In the long run, I think each of those was something I would have to find and redefine for myself.

But the more I think about it, the more I realize that maybe I already have.

I chaired my first development series yesterday. To explain what that is really quickly, as one of the Facilitators for the Cross Cultural Experience, each of us put together a series of workshops that will help students better support their WOWies or incoming students at Cal Poly.

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Though it isn’t exclusive, as you can opt in or opt out of this track, it is specifically designed to provide resources and support to underrepresented minority communities here at Cal Poly. So what my CCE team and I have been working on for the past two quarters is putting together these workshops and finding guest speakers to come and talk to everyone—we’re all still learning too after all.

And yesterday, I got to chair our second workshop. Just picture it, me standing in front of everyone leading them through an icebreaker before transitioning to a speaker who gave us the lowdown on Systematic Racism.

Even though it’s the basis of our lives here at a Primarily White Institute, sometimes we forget that it’s built into the very system of our society. There was a lot to talk about in just an hour and a half.

Personally, it’s very different being on the other side of things; last year, I was training to be one of those leaders who didn’t really know what I was getting into but felt like it was something I needed to do and learn about anyway.

Now I’m the one leading the conversation, creating that space for other students to then create a space for their own students.

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Talk about growth. You see, I used to say I’m an introvert and I don’t like talking to people if I don’t have to. If that were true, I definitely wouldn’t have been up on stage with my team in front of 900 leaders in training last week to tell them why CCE matters.

Trust me, it’s been a whole lot of work to get this point and I am quite tired. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been life changing and absolutely worth it in the process.

Because when am I ever going to get another chance to do all these things and touch so many lives in a positive way?

That’s the thing, I don’t know if I ever will.

If you knew me in high school, I really don’t know how much digging you’re going to have to do to find that girl again. Because I’ve changed. A lot. Some parts of me have become a whole lot louder and more unapologetic. Other parts have become more patient or accepting of circumstances that I can’t change.

I’m slowly learning to adjust to the world around me and make the most out of what I’ve got. If I didn’t do that, I really don’t know what the point of any of this would be.

After all, we’re here to learn and live and leave a mark and change our lives as many times as it takes to feel like we are doing something worth doing. To feel like we aren’t just breathing for the sake of breathing.

Let’s pretend it’s 11:11 PM and you get one wish. Tell me, what could you wish for to make it feel like you’re living and not just alive?

Maybe it’s time for you to redefine what that looks like to you.

Feel free to share in the comments below. And I’ll see you next week.

Today is Not the Day

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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.

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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,

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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!