TGIF

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TGIF am I right?

If I’m being honest, this week was a real rough one let me tell ya. Even though I know I should be preparing for classes starting back up soon, I was not prepared to get up early every day for the past week. You could say I’m out of touch.

I did, however, get a few things done/make a few big decisions in the process. 

First things first, you know how when you get sick and you’re all congested, it’s easy to remember how nice it is to be able to breathe normally? Well, for the past week, I’ve been missing the feeling of not being nauseous/dizzy/feel like passing out 90% of the time. On top of other things, this week has been a lot and I’m ready to decompress a little.

Still, I managed to accomplish a few great feats even while not feeling well. My house is clean, laundry is done, and best of all, the Galleries for the Week of Welcome are looking incredible.

I can’t say I’ve ever thought I would be so great with a staple gun, but the me from two weeks ago would be quite proud. Things are looking great and I’ve gotten a solid week’s worth of work in—I’ve also been back at work as a jack-of-all-trades at the University store.

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You could say it pays off to work at the same place for three years.

In the spirit of adulting, I only called out of work one morning this week and I think it was in the best interest of all parties at that point. Someone told me that sometimes we have to keep up even when our bodies aren’t quite in tip top shape.

That leads me to my next thing, that decision I mentioned.

I think I am going to write another blog. I won’t be changing anything I do with this one, I appreciate the consistency of it and it means a lot to me. I couldn’t give that up.

What I can do is explore something I haven’t yet: mental health. 

I know I have talked about it every once in a while, but I want a space to open up the conversation and talk about it in itself. Because if I’m being honest, my mental health journey has been quite interesting throughout college as it is for a lot of students and somehow, not a lot of people talk about it.

Just like the rest of our lives, we should talk about it.

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Working within the Galleries for the past year, every aspect of our lives ties into another and I have come to appreciate that. Especially at my age, once we hit 20, it seems that everyone is on a different path than the next.

College, army, working, travelling, etc. There are no real rules for where we are at in our lives. No one has a guideline for what this decade is supposed to look like. I mean, someone created the maxim that college is the best four years of our lives and well… I can’t quite say that’s been true.

What I can say, I have never grown as much as I have in these last three years of my life. That’s as long as I’ve had this blog going so surely, you’ve seen what I mean. Part of me wants to take what I’ve learned and experienced, and use that to change the status quo.

Part of me probably needs the outlet. You see, I’m a creative person who thrives off of our lives and what impacts them. That’s where my creating comes from, where I think we all can relate to one another.

After all, relationships really are the backbone of our lives and our connections.

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So let’s connect. Don’t worry, you’ll be the first to know when I figure out what I’m doing next.

Get ready for a new journey, it’ll be a fun one.

Happy Friday, enjoy the weekend everyone. 

An Aside–A Life Obliged

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So about that poem I just posted yesterday—if you haven’t read it, check it out here before reading this. I don’t usually do posts like this, but I feel an explanation and understanding is due. This is it.


Opening up about my mental health and how much I have struggled with it for a very long time, from obsessive thoughts and anxiety to unnecessary melancholy and persistent sadness… It’s one of those things that once I did it, there was no going back.

And I’ve spent so much of my college career simply figuring out where I’m at, what I believe in or how I feel about this life that I didn’t know what to say.

This poem was me saying everything.

I wrote it a few months ago and I’m not in the same place, but that’s not because things have gotten better or life has become great. It’s because I’ve grown and the way I handle myself has grown with me.

Thing is, it’s not just about me. Not anymore. This generation and those after me are growing up in the absolute in between—everything is very divided, we need to be individuals but also fit in, we value maturity but also don’t know when to act our age, we’re afraid to go to concerts or school or a restaurant or the DMV because who knows what might happen if someone gets too angry or takes something the wrong way. We are stuck in an atmosphere that is not healthy. Not even a little bit.

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In addition to that, we are growing up around so many standards for what we do with our lives or what we look like or the things we enjoy or the people we love and there really is no way to avoid it all. You can’t unsee the standards nor the fact that so many of us don’t fit into them.

We focus on the histories of white cisgendered men. That is not to say that they aren’t important, this country wouldn’t be what it is without them—good and bad. But it is to say that histories other than theirs are important too. I mean, with everything changing so quickly in our fast paced world, are you having trouble keeping all straight?

Notice that phrase, keeping things “straight” as if straight is correct and anything else is not.

Why do we do that?

Put people into boxes and tell them whether they’re right or wrong? I’ve dealt with it my whole life. I am a black female in CLA—in of itself, a college largely disrespected despite the fact that the basis of who we are as human beings is held upon the foundation of humanity and what CLA is—and maybe I don’t fit into a lot of the boxes that would make things “easier for me.” That would make me more “normal.”

I’m black and not just black, but a woman. In CLA. And throughout my entire life, I’ve have about two “crushes.” It doesn’t seem like that would be a big deal but in a society so focused on a women’s success as a pair rather than an individual, or at my age, the parameters of a society so focused sex and hook-up culture, all the while sex is something we also try not to talk about.

We are a contradiction.

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We tell other people to take care of themselves and don’t do it ourselves. We ask others how they’re doing and don’t take the time to listen to the answer.

We are not paying attention.

And I feel like in so many things about myself that I cannot change, I am incorrect. My existence is wrong. At a school like this where people don’t feel like blackface is wrong or don’t see why I would have a panic attack on my way to the car because I’m walking alone or don’t see the value or success in a major that focuses less on systems/engineering/stem and more about us

I will never be able to win if I set myself against the standards. But I’ve grown up doing so and in turn, sometimes maybe I don’t see my worth. Or maybe I don’t feel so good because maybe I’m not who other people want me to be. Not when people I admire and loved so much died without getting a chance to live a life that they lived “better” than I believe I ever have.

It’s guilt. It’s feeling wrong. It’s hurting but never saying so… Because so many people are worried about burdening others or being “too much” or imposing themselves on others when truly, maybe they should understand that the right people will never find fault in who you are. And it’s complicated. But the right people in your life don’t always need to fix things or change things, they simply sit with you in it when you need that.

There has to be space to allow such an need to be not only understood, but respected and followed.

My generation is growing up in the in between and we are not okay. Not at all. I see it, I live it, but I want to change it and I am doing what I can. I am using what I’ve been through or my beliefs or what I understand and letting this world mold me into someone who can make change. To be better than the girl I was yesterday.

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I’ve been sitting in this for years, all of it. And even though I can’t change it, sometimes you can’t. Sometimes you have to be okay with making it work and letting it become just one more reason to fight for something better.

That’s why it’s a life obliged. A life I owe to myself to make beautiful and painful and lovely and full. Of anything and everything. That’s A Life Obliged.

So with that, I would love to know how you feel about all of this. Now it’s your turn.

A Life Obliged–An Original Poem

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So, I promised you something today. It’s National Poetry Month and this poem holds a whole lot of meaning for me. This one is a bit longer than what I usually write, but it’s long for a reason. You’ll see. I care a lot about mental health and the awareness around it, but I’ve never really talked about mine.

Not only am I breaking that boundary today, but as my readers, I’m letting you in. Because I’ve got a lot to say, and maybe it’s about time I said it.

Without further ado, A Life Obliged. Let me know what you think.


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Sometimes I really love cancelling plans,

it’s not that I cancel them if I have no reason to—

my guilty conscience is far too heavy for that—

but if I have a reason or I find some excuse not to go,

you can be sure as hell my fingers are moving like lightning

when I type out the words, “I can’t tonight…”

Don’t forget the sad face at the end,

wouldn’t want anyone thinking that I truly

didn’t want to go.

Trust me when I say that, the second I send that message,

it’s a relief of a weight I cannot explain.

It’s a diffused time bomb

of hands that do not stop shaking

and a mind that will not stop racing

even when the finish line

was a couple miles

behind me.

Photo by Eric Nopanen on Unsplash

Because sometimes, this life feels like a song I’m trying to sing,

and I swear to God that I’m the one who wrote it.

But every time the chords start playing

and the bass bumps blindly through my chest,

I open my mouth to the words I should be saying,

and it turns out that

I forgot the rest.

My entire world is a play I scripted myself;

I filled each and every role with lives of the ones I love.

And I feel that love, I do.

It’s just some days I wish you knew,

the love

and the hope

and the need to keep going,

it isn’t strong enough to make it all the way

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to a place

where I might believe it.

That place can be kind of hard to find sometimes,

especially when you don’t see any of the worth

that’s supposed to belong to you.

Instead, I lost two friends in the last year:

two beautiful, incredible, extraordinary people.

The kind that looked at life like it were a challenge

and they were the Barney Stinsons of the world, so

of course, they would accept it—

to see who could live

and love

and laugh

the loudest…

At only nineteen, I think they lived

more

than I ever will.

And it makes me wonder, why this world

would take away two people here,

and leave behind someone like me,

who doesn’t even know how

to live.

Not like this.

I’m the kind of girl who gets up in the morning,

wishing I didn’t, thinking maybe tomorrow

I won’t.

When this world,

it handles me like a play toy.

Yet depression

and anxiety

and OCD

seem to be the only ones

handling the strings.

A tug this way, a thought that way,

and suddenly

I’m doing whatever it wants.

All I can manage is to nod,

let it control me like a marionette

where the strings tie back to my heart,

as even more hold close to my body,  

pulling on me so tightly

that I have not a say,

not a care,

not a want.

Not a breath that I call my own.

Because not a single one

of those damn strings

seem

to belong

to me.

You see, suicide for me is like the ace in my back pocket,

it’s game that I chose not to play

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every single day I wake up.

Because it’s not that I want to die,

no, for that would be far too simple…

It’s that I look at who I am, the people I love, the way I live

and I just don’t want to exist

like this

anymore.

I need a reset button for the last time I saved this game of life;

back before I remembered how unfair this world can be

to the people who might not be the majority,

or how easy it is for men in power to get away with taking things

that do not belong to them because the word “no” wasn’t said

loud enough,

maybe it’s how little it takes to lose people we love because

we can’t control that either,

and how hard it can be when every one of us is fighting something

yet, in this society,

not a single one of us feels

like we’re allowed to be.

I just want to know why.

It’s not that I don’t love you,

no it’s not that at all.

It’s that I don’t think

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I love me

enough.

Sometimes, I wonder

if the only thing I know about living

is how to spend every day of my life

trying to convince myself

that I don’t want

to die.

If we are so depressed, so beaten down and

broken through and

bummed out

by everything we are turning out to be,

so depressed

and done

and diligently abiding by the rules of an unspoken pact that says

we need to keep going,

that the suicidal thoughts become relief,

or the absence of pain is terrifying…

If we are so ready

to pull a trigger finger,

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to pop a cap,

to inhale invisibility…

Then why are we here,

still moving, still going,

trying so damn hard

to live?


See you Friday.

Overwhelming– Poetry Place

patrick-fore-381200Two poems for you today, pay attention and see if the context is a little different than you think— you tell me.

But we all have certain things we run from, pieces of ourselves that are hard to separate from the rest; it can be quite the crisis of self that comes when we try. So here you go, for my finals week, here are two very dramatic poems that I kind of love. Especially the second one.

Let me know what you think.


One

tim-marshall-82948-unsplashIt’s exhausting, the way you follow me around

and believe in yourself when you take me down

to drown out all the noise that you put in my head

with words I don’t want to hear, your presence like lead.

It drowns me, suffocates me, while I lose all the love

that I believe can help fix me up; you just push and shove

your hands straight into my chest, the other wrapped around my throat

I can’t breathe a single breath, can’t even stay afloat

paul-wong-465234-unsplashbefore you take me over. It’s no longer a choice to make

I have no other options, only to let you in to take

every last bit of my sanity, I let you under my skin.

Because I’ve played this game, I’ve fought this battle

too many times, and every time

you win.

Two

I sat there watching as you crawled over my skin,

grinning as you gnawed your way through me

past my gritted teeth and screaming eyes, asking you not to.

I knew you wouldn’t listen.

I could feel it in my bones as you hollowed me out,

inch by inch I lost every space I called my own

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Photo by Claudia Soraya on Unsplash

to the shaking the hoping, the fading in my body.

While you drained that hope from the inside out,

my vision went blurry, the voices in my head

twisting the volume up and up and up

as high as it could go. The louder you got

the louder I needed to be, hands shut over my ears,

screaming against the cacophony of your voice;

It’s okay it’s okay it’s okay

its—but it’s not okay.

I don’t like the way it feels when you make a home

out of me, make me shake and make me cry,

you make me question why I’m alive

so  I can’t answer when someone wants to know

if I’m okay; you take my tongue, you twist it up and

all I can ever seem to do

is let you.


See you Friday.

 

When a Flaw Becomes a Risk…

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Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

I saw this article in the New York Times earlier this week, one that we all should be talking about. So today, let’s talk.

Take a look here at the article, the one that showcases a class-action lawsuit against Stanford regarding ill-addressed mental health and its students.

The title reads Feeling Suicidal, Students Turned to Their College. They Were Told to Go Home. Like many colleges nationwide, Stanford struggles to support its students with their mental health as conditions ranging from eating disorders to anxiety are on the rise in the college-age generation.

The Lawsuit

Yet, according to several reports from groups like Top Class Actions or the Stanford Daily, one University is not doing enough to support students but rather ask them to leave in accordance with their Dean’s Leave of Absence policy.

Including this article from the Disability Rights Advocates Corporation, most state that “Stanford routinely bars students from campus and on-campus housing when Stanford perceives that they may be at risk of self-harm or experiencing suicidal ideation.”

The Problem

Now I understand that many schools face the issue of caring for more students that they can truly handle efficiently or appropriately. Yes, at a certain point it is beyond the scope of a university to provide certain kinds of help, and in some cases it is best to point a student towards facilities and resources that can properly suit their needs.

But cutting students off from their current resources or even schooling when they are in need of help does not seem like a solution. It seems like rather a diversion.

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Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash

One that may help for some students who take a leave of absence and find proper treatment from home before returning to school with a better mindset and overall wellbeing.

That does not mean it is a solution for all.

For some students, turning them away only hurts them more. Not only this, but the alternative options of medication or counseling outside the school may not be affordable– even more so, the trial and error approach along with the side-effects that come with medication may leave the student worse off before they get better, especially without a proper support system in place.

Not only does this say something about how college’s value a student’s overall wellbeing, but also about the flaw in an educational system to provide a productive environment for students as a whole. Just like professional companies often offer services, sick leave, and other options for their employees, it seems student’s don’t quite have that luxury.

Not unless they’re willing to pay, more than their tuition, but also the loss of that tuition in order to leave school and find the help that they need.

This is a broken system.

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Photo by JD Mason on Unsplash

When I say “system,” I am talking about both our mental healthcare and collegiate educational systems. First of all, the amount of people who cannot graduate high school or get to higher education at all– due to family obligation, school-to-prison pipeline, money, complication, etc.– is astounding and largely unequal.

If so much of the professional world depends on a degree and proper education these days, how can we hope for a diverse and productive work environment when there is no equity in getting to that education?

From ages 25-34, we see about 37% earning at least a bachelor’s degree while only 23% of African Americans and 16.4% of Hispanic Americans earning college degrees. I understand that some people do not desire/need college degrees for what they want to do and that is fine.

These numbers are a problem for those who do hope to attain degrees out of their reach.

So within our education systems, there is a flaw of gross inequity. And within the mental healthcare systems, it seems proper care is not always being offered.

When you combine these two issues with the academic, financial, social, and professional pressure of college, it becomes dangerous. This puts the future of a generation’s professional and personal wellbeing at risk for failure.

No matter where this class-action lawsuit goes, I know we can do better as a people. There needs to be a higher value on mental health as well as equity within education as a whole.

Students have to get to a point of being suicidal; it doesn’t just happen out of the blue. And children need to be educated properly from the very beginning– all children from all backgrounds, with some way for them to reach higher education if they would like to.

We Need Change

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Photo by Marco Bianchetti on Unsplash

Think of the world we are about to live in, the one we want our kids and grandkids to thrive in. We shouldn’t have to live within these broken systems that foster inequity and improper treatment. And they shouldn’t either, not when we can start making a change for better now.

Those students are using the law to make a difference. As of today, I have my voice for change so I am using it.

*Cue Allstate guy “are you in good hands?” voice…

So what are you going to do about it?

A Quick Reminder on Mental Health

henry-be-239191Last week I told you all I had a post planned, but I moved it to this week due to some new circumstances… Well it’s next week isn’t it?! So here we go.

We are now in the second week of May, what I like to remember as Mental Health Awareness Month and also Asian/Pacific Islander Heritage Month— today I’m focusing on that first part. This isn’t just for people diagnosed with mental health issues or those who have love ones who are, this is for everyone. Because just as much as a broken leg can hold us back from our routines, a broken mentality can do the same. Just in a different way than one might expect.

Hear me out.

If you know me, you would know that I love to people-watch. On a college campus, this becomes 10x more interesting— college students talk about so many things in public that I never imagined I would hear and sometimes, I wonder if I should be hearing at all. But one thing that I’m not surprised to hear far too often? The same answer when someone asks “How are you?”

Good.

As long as someone means it when they say “good”, that’s great! But there are a lot of times when someone isn’t good and doesn’t mean it or does need to talk about it, yet this answer comes out automatically instead. I’m not saying to spill everything to the grocery store cashier just trying to get through their shift, but I am saying to be honest with a friend if that’s what you need. 

Because that’s the thing; if you’re not good, you’re not good. There’s nothing wrong with that. Even if it’s just waking up on the wrong side of the bed or not really feeling it some days, we get so caught up in our lives or grades or work that we forget to take care of ourselves and really consider our answer when someone asks us how we’re doing. We forget that maybe it matters.

Everyone is different— some people need to talk about things as soon as they go wrong and other people would rather work through it on their own, not needing someone constantly checking in to make sure they’re okay. A lot of times, people are just looking for acknowledgement of their own situation, whether they failed a class or lost a friend; it’s acknowledging other people’s situations as they are regardless whether you can “fix” it or not. There’s a reason there are 7.6 billion people in this world and each and every one of us has a different way of functioning.joshua-clay-27368-unsplash.jpg

That doesn’t mean we can’t help each other function better when we do need the help.

Even though I’ve seen attitudes around mental health change in my short lifetime, there are still a lot of people who worry about the stigma of seeking help because they believe “it’s not even that bad” or “it could be worse.” I mean it could, maybe, but it shouldn’t have to be. If someone has to qualify their own struggle, it’s enough to at least talk about it, right?

Let’s take a look at some of the numbers for college students from January 2016 (USA Today):

One in every 12 U.S. college students makes a suicide plan, according to National Data on Campus Suicide and Depression.

49.5% Students who reported feeling hopeless in the past year.

60.5% Students who reported feeling lonely – a common indicator of depression – in the past year.

Two-thirds of students who are struggling do not seek treatment, according to the American College Health Association Spring 2015 assessment.

Suicide is the No. 2 leading cause of death among those ages 15-34, according to the Center for Disease Control.

john-noonan-420156-unsplashNow mental health goes far beyond these statistics and factors, but did you notice that little piece about loneliness? As much as we focus on suicide rates or depression or eating disorders, they all have to start somewhere. For college students, a lot of the time they start with being lonely.

Whether you’re mentally diagnosed with severe depression and can’t get out of bed, a social butterfly, or somewhere in-between, loneliness has a lot to do with how we feel on a day to day basis. It can be in our relationships or how we feel, it doesn’t have to be one thing. But anyone can get hit by a heavy workload, a long to-do list, a day that never seems to end, a week that seems to drag by…

And anyone can feel like they’re up against all of that on their own. It’s important to remember that you’re not, sometimes you just have to let someone else know what you need. Or, for all you autonomous people who want to try this first, you can get out there for yourself and do what you need to do. Just remember, sometimes a willful independence can hold you back too.

At Cal Poly, we have this saying— 25/35— to remind people they should be studying 25 to 35 hours a week. As much as I advocate for it, and probably almost doubled that on a bi-weekly basis freshman year, I also know how easy it is to get caught up and forget to exercise or eat in a timely manner. Or sometimes, you know, breathe.

Mental health is about more than medication or statistics or yoga, it’s about knowing when to take a step back when you’re overwhelmed, when you’re struggling, and doing whatever you need to do to get past that. It’s about taking care of our minds the way we are constantly reminded and taught to take care of our bodies.

Because I have to say, this is a beautiful life and though college isn’t quite the best four years of it, they shouldn’t have to be the worst either. And none of it should be made harder than it needs to be. Mental health is incredibly important for all of us, just like hydrating more or being on our phones less. The point is to be better clement-percheron-607072-unsplashfor ourselves on a daily basis, to let us thrive the way we want to. This month is just another reminder and I hope you remember to take care of yourself today.

I think we all deserve at least that, right?


Hotlines are here, I hope you never need them but if you or a loved one does, remember these: Crisis Text Line (Text HOME to 741741 in the US) which is a toll-free, nationwide 24/7 crisis text line. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) is a 24/7, toll-free, confidential suicide prevention hotline for suicidal crisis or emotional distress. And, The Trevor Project,(1-866-488-7386) a nationwide organization that provide crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth.

Lost in Translation– What now?

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I wanted to focus on Black History Month for all 4 of my posts this month, but I feel like this is important to talk through. In the midst of watching the world grow up around me, my goals and hopes rearranged with every step I take. I’ve got some big plans for my future, I know I have said that before.

But weeks like this make me wonder “what if I never get there?”

I used to follow every news story, whether it came out in class or late at night, I would go through each memorial and headline and tribute video down to the end. Call it an need to know, I’m not sure why I did that, but it felt important. I guess in some sense, I was trying to understand how we even got to where we were and where we are now, how it all happened. Each child, each sibling, each mother, each friend… To me, their losses felt personal.

Because they are.

When I look at the news, I have to acknowledge the fact that those could be my friends, my parents, my brothers, my classmates. I know it’s not just me; I’ve gotten a few extra calls from my parents this week, not because midterms have made these weeks so busy or for Valentines day ,but because they miss us. And I think they need a reminder that we’re still here.

That we’re okay. I’m sure my parents aren’t the only ones.

I’ve only been out of high school for almost two years now and it is astou

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nding to me how much I see changing. I remember the lock down drills we used to do– good for preparation but I don’t think we truly took them seriously enough in the weight of what we were possibly preparing for. Even as the last six years hold the 4/5 deadliest mass shootings in the US modern history, schools often being targeted, I know I was ignorant in my own security. Maybe I has the privilege of feeling that way, of not quite acknowledging the reality around me.

I can’t say students now have that luxury.

There’s a video circulating Twitter that’s been up for past two days; a Florida student is filming in a classroom as police come in to help a girl with a gunshot wound to the leg, before ushering others out through the halls. The officers keep telling them to stick close to the walls while they cry and run, passing unmoving friends and peers on the floor along the way out.

I wasn’t going to watch it, I didn’t want to. Yet I clicked play anyway, the need to understand more compelling than the need to be complacently ignorant. But in watching that video, nothing makes any more sense than how devastating it is to go through something like that. To accept the reality as it is for students and citizens trying to figure out where to go from here.

People are scared and I could not imagine being in middle school or even elementary school right now. Maybe comprehension at those ages isn’t as deep as it is for me now, but I think everyone knows something is wrong.

As a young black woman, I can be proud of the opportunities I have and the platforms I can reach in this day and age– fifty years ago, things were very different for people like me. Sometimes I get excited, thinking of the capability and creativity and intelligence I see in the presence of my generation. It can be humbling to acknowledge just how much I think we can do,

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with so much technology and capability at our fingertips.

But I also worry, about the lives we are coming into and the safety of our current state, the questions that come with it. I worry about the fear that now seems to haunt my generation and those coming after us. Because this uncertainty doesn’t discriminate by skin or gender or color or even political party. Every single one of us is living in this reality of yet another mass shooting just this year.

Shouldn’t just one be enough?

Something needs to change. There have been too many “prayers go out to…” or “my heart is with…” You can fill in whatever place you want there; it’s probably still on the ever growing list of places tragedy has struck. Yet nothing changes, people pray and lives are lost and it happens all over again. Now I’m not saying gun control is the solution, nor am I saying the opposite.

What I am saying is this: memorials and prayers and testimonies and thoughts are not enough. Though thoughts are great and we all have our own need for faith, neither is doing anything to change the future. We need to do something more than just watch more people lose their lives. Sure, I talk a lot about mental health because it’s important– these news headlines talk about mental health because it’s an excuse. This is just a factor. There’s more to these situations than that, than being “orphaned at 19” or having an “undiagnosed mental illness“.

We need to go deeper and find a way to fix the problem, whatever and how large this problem may be. Because it’s not going away.

Students shouldn’t have to be afraid to go to school. I wish I didn’t have all these plans in my life only to lie awake and night and wonder “what if I never get to finish that book?” or “when was the last time I told my parents I love them?”

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I don’t want to keep following these stories, the friends or the families or the lives, taking each loss personally when they aren’t and they are at the same time.

I just want to see things change– I don’t know how or when or what, but we can’t keep waiting. We can’t keep watching it all fall apart. I don’t want to live in a world where I look at the news and think “Oh, another one?”

And I know too many people feel this way too.