What You Think You Know

Once of the first mistakes you can make in 2019 is to assume anything; unfortunately, we are all guilty of doing so. 

And it makes us overlook people far too often. We cross the street when someone potentially dangerous walks our way, we think we know gender when we see it, and if someone looks like you can’t depend on them, maybe you’re right.

But maybe you aren’t.

Because stereotypes and assumptions only help us see what we think we know. It doesn’t mean it’s actually true.

I am a woman. 

And also black.

And a liberal arts major.

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So I guess there are plenty of assumptions probably made about me. Some people tend to ask if I’m good at basketball or because I’m tall, I might be in modeling. If someone sees me walking with my twin on campus, they will probably assume we’re dating.

But none of those are true.

I mention this, not because these assumptions bother me because that last one definitely does, but because people things like this cause us to overlook people.

Just because I’m an English major doesn’t mean I can’t crush a Cal 2 final. Because I did. Just because I’m almost notoriously single in all my friend groups, that doesn’t mean I know nothing about relationships–trust me, you learn a lot on the sidelines. And just because I can be a sometimes detrimentally nice person, trust that I know when people are underestimating or taking advantage of me. 

Ignorance isn’t always bliss.  

One person with all the right merits in all the right places on a beautiful resume may be completely unqualified for the job. Instead, the single mom going back to school or the kid who never graduated high school may be just what a company is looking for. If we keep making assumptions for what we think is best for us rather than what we know will be beneficial, we may actually sabotage our own success in the process.

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We end up getting in our own way. 

I know that this week, I did.

When we look at schools and jobs and cities, we take a list of criteria and compare what each of those things have to offer us versus what we want. The thing is, if you know me then you know that I love my lists. That’s how I chose Cal Poly or how I figure out what tasks to do first every day.

And every time I’ve overlooked something. On paper, the school looked great and well, crossing things off on a to-do list feels pretty great. It just doesn’t account for the people, environments, or even what the commute might look like.

Like they say, don’t judge a book by its cover.

The cover might tell you a few lies if you do.

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You never know what something might be like until you try it. I used to have a friend that I are afraid to ask to brunch because they intimidated me—turns out it was just their face. I chose a self-publisher based on their name and the company they were attached to while a little more research would have been smart. And a summer in SLO with new friends and the beach sounded pretty great, until I ended up spending more time with dogs than actual human beings and as much fun as that can be, it’s not quite the ideal. Plus, of course, I missed my parents.

Fact is not quite fact until you know it for sure and until you do, don’t pigeonhole your options. Maybe things aren’t quite what they seem or someone isn’t who you think they are.


We don’t always know what we think we know and I guess I’m starting to understand that. Even moreso, I’m trying to apply it to my life. Who knows, maybe it’ll turn out to be one of my best learning curves yet. 

Breaking Glass and Broken-in Shoes

I know I’ve already put up two posts for the week and maybe they were a lot to process. So I’ll keep this short and sweet.

Do you remember the breaking glass metaphor I told you about? The one where you can’t see through something blocking your way–the glass– because even though you should be able to see right through it, the light just might play tricks on you. But once that glass breaks, once it falls away from your view, you can never go back?

That’s a lot like our perspectives.

Personally, my poem and my blog post were no surprise to me. It’s just another part of who I am and my life and what makes me… Me. But some people didn’t know that.

And because of that, I think I forgot about the glass that might be shattered by what I had to say, simply by being honest. It’s all nothing new to me.

Even when it’s new for other people

It takes time to adjust to something; even in Orientation, we have to give grace to those who maybe don’t understand pronouns or sexuality or other concepts just because the glass hasn’t broken yet. Their perspective hasn’t been challenged enough to change it.

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We have to be allowed to not be see things sometimes right?

It’s like that glass ceiling, the one we keep pushing and pushing against. No matter how many cracks we put in it, it still never gives.

Sometimes, other people won’t either. Not everyone is going to understand where we’re coming from and maybe that’s because they haven’t walked a mile in your shoes, yet still tried to pretend that they understand the path you’ve worn in the process.

It’s on us to listen, to pay attention, to learn, and to see. It’s not on us to change other people.

I think that’s something only we can do for ourselves and sometimes I see that in who I’ve become here. I’m honest here, more honest at least, because maybe I’m tired of not doing so. If a parent asks me how I like it here, I won’t lie and tell them I love it. Up until maybe this very moment, I thought I should have gone to Howard.

Because maybe I would have been… Better?

At Howard, the glass would have been cracked in different places and sometimes, it wouldn’t have broken the way it has here. I wouldn’t have grown in the ways I have been forced to and I guess maybe I’m saying that circumstance doesn’t define what you can make out of it.

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Sometimes, maybe we need to recognize that where the glass still lies defines our perspectives, and offer a little grace when there’s remains some growing to do. Ignorance isn’t always bliss. But it can be a chance to step back, listen up, and learn something.

I hope you’ve been listening. Because I want to listen back.

Mind if I borrow your shoes for a little while?

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

Photo by Daniel von Appen on Unsplash

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

I’m definitely not ready.

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

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

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

Just us.

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

Photo by Jon Eric Marababol on Unsplash

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

I didn’t want to be too much.

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

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

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

Photo by Ksenia Makagonova on Unsplash

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

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

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

Happy Friday.

The Truth About Learning

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There’s something about this week that has made me really think a lot about who I have grown to become in these past few years. Maybe it’s the newer people I’m finding in my life, maybe it’s the amount of things I’ve thrown myself into, and maybe it’s just… Me. This is how we grow.

Wednesday marked 16 month since Maddie died. 16 months and I still can’t believe it. I miss her every day. But I look at the person I was when she was here and who I am now that she’s gone and they are two completely different people all together.

I mean, a lot can happen in a 16 months.

Lately, I’ve been learning how to be honest. I’ve been struggling with a few big things in my life for years on top of years now, but I am only just forcing myself to face it all or find people who truly will support me in each of them; life is too short not to feel like you’re actually living it.

There is no point spending time on people who don’t make us better in the process.

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This extends to the things we put ourselves into. Even though I went into my first year telling myself that I would never be a WOW Leader or volunteer for it, somehow I’ve found just a few people through orientation that truly made me realize what a difference we can make on our campus. Sure, so I haven’t loved my time here at Cal Poly. But what I do love is the power and the capability I have to make it so other marginalized and minority students might be able to.

After all, I still have another year to enjoy it myself.

But the more things I get involved in, from Her Campus to CCE, the less time I have to allocate into taking care of myself. Admittedly, this is very important of course, but so are all the little things I am involved in.

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I work because I am a lead and have a responsibility to learn more skills from it. Plus, money. I write because we deserve to have our voices heard by people willing to listen to us. This blog is irreplaceable to me.

And I volunteer, so so much of my time and effort, whether it’s to orientation, people, or other things simply because every person I am doing it for or listening to or spending time with or working towards making something better for is incredibly important to me.

I do it because it means something, even when it’s difficult.

I’m just having a hard time balancing it all along the way.

There will never be another time in my life that looks like college. From the people to the classes, I’m probably never going to learn so many different things in such a short period of time ever again.

I won’t have multiple opportunities a year to have my voice heard and put my work out there. I won’t be surrounded by some of my favorite people in mandatory weekly meetings every Sunday. And I won’t live just a floor away from my womb-mate to roommate of a twin brother.

Just like I miss a few people because I never saw their goodbyes coming, I don’t want to miss out on college opportunities and my own life because I didn’t apply myself. Because I wasn’t honest about it.

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So I’m working on it, all of it, for you and for me. It’s going into my writing, my drawing, my hoping, and my loving. Every bit of that impacts you and this blog. And I’m excited to see what might happen.

I hope you’ll stick around to find out.