when you’re 21.

When you’re 21 you can feel lost. You can feel like you don’t really know who you are or what you want to do. You can feel like you’ve come so far but are nowhere near where you want to be. You can feel so small. You can feel intimidated just by walking down the street. You can feel like you still have to prove your worth to the world. You can feel completely alone. 

I can’t tell you how much time I’ve spent contemplating these thoughts. And I always conclude with confusion. I never really come up with any answers. This is just a phase of my life, I guess. There will be a point in my life when I don’t feel these things. When I don’t get nervous sick going into a job interview. When I don’t live in an old, un-air conditioned house with four roommates and no front door. When I don’t get scared by adults. When I don’t feel like I have to justify all of my personal decisions.  When I don’t have to mentally debate every purchase I ever make. At least I think that time will come. But even if it does, I’m sure every age has its difficulties and I’m doing my best to enjoy the positives that 21 brings. 

And as overwhelming as these thoughts can be, I think I have more answers than I originally thought. Yes, defining myself is hard. It’s also unnecessary. But even if I don’t know exactly who I am, I know what I’m not. Have you ever noticed that that there are some, many even, types of people that we know we could never be? I’m not that confused. I know I am not going to a lawyer, law school would chew me up and spit me out. I know I would never survive in the corporate business world. I know I would never tolerate half of the relationships my friends are in, in which they claim to be ‘in love’. I know I could never reside in a place where there aren’t lots of people and lots of things happening all of the time. I know I don’t want to have the same job or live in the same place for my whole life. I know that I will never be able to perfectly parallel park. I know that I will never stop loving ice cream or cereal, even though I know they have lots of carbs. I know that I will never stop wanting to see as much of the world as I possibly can. I know that I don’t ever want to stop writing, even if I never publish the book I dream of writing. I know that I will never stop relating to my dog more than I relate to most people. I know that I will never stop requiring adequate amounts of alone time. I know that I’ll never have myself completely figured out. 

I do think I’ve gotten better though. I remember when I was a freshman in college and the pressure to define yourself in a way that other people liked and understood was at an all-time high. I was in a new place. People didn’t know my high school reputation or really anything about me. It was a clean slate. How did I want to be perceived? I remember struggling a lot with this. I pretended to be having fun when I really wasn’t. I had a lot of surface-level friends that didn’t stay in my life for long. I started imitating what I was surrounded by instead of figuring out myself. I had a turn-around the summer after I completed one year at Ohio State. After many conversations with my parents in which I explained that I was simply unhappy, I decided to change my major after contemplating options as drastic as taking a year off from college. My sophomore year, things changed. And sometimes it wasn’t easy, because when college is so expensive there is a lot of pressure to know exactly what you want to do. But for one semester, I had no fucking idea. And it was so great. I enjoyed learning again. I eventually figured it out and I am so thankful for this transitional period. 

And maybe 21 is just a transitional period. And I know that one day I will look back and, even if things are completely different, I will be thankful for this time. 

“Do your thing. Do it unapologetically. Don’t be discouraged by criticism. You probably already know what they are going to say. Pay no mind to the fear of failure. It’s far more valuable than success. Take ownership, take chances, and have fun. And no matter what, don’t ever stop doing your thing.” – Asher Roth

it’s been awhile.

I have thirty-five drafts currently saved on my blog that are yet to be posted. Why aren’t they posted? To be honest, there isn’t a real excuse. Part of it is that when I’m writing a blog post, my mind sometimes gets overwhelmed with thoughts I’ve had recently and sorting through them, trying to figure out if each one fits into the overall idea that I’m trying to convey is quite exhausting. Another reason is that I’m kind of a perfectionist when it comes to these posts, which is strange in the fact that one of my main reasons for beginning my blog was to provide a platform for myself to expressively write without having to conform to academic rules. However, I have to say, that removing the deadlines that accompany academic writing, you also remove the urgency and sometimes the drive to complete and actually finish work. I’m not surprised but I do have to admit that without deadlines, sometimes work, even if the work is important to us, slips lower and lower on our priority lists as most of our time is taken up by, dare I say it, our day jobs.

I think the last post I published was in May or early June and I am quite upset with myself. Not for any reason other than the fact that I feel as if the only thing stopping me was the lack of mental willpower to commit, at least a portion of my time, to writing. As disappointed as you may be, this post is not going to be about my lack of mental willpower. I could write for pages on that but for one, many people would find that exceedingly boring and for two, I don’t find a purpose in deeply analyzing any negative trait of mine.

My summer has kind of been a whirlwind of activity. I’m currently enjoying a well-needed break, at least until Monday when I move back to campus and the chaos begins again. Without going into too many personal details that would bore you guys to death, I’ll just say that I was challenged by my own mental priority list. My problem was that with different aspects of my life pulling me in different directions, I tried to keep each section separate and happy. This is impossible though if you don’t want to have a breakdown after two weeks. Unfortunately, you don’t gain any more hours of the day based on how much you have to do. Everyone only gets twenty four. We all have to spend a majority of our lives working. We also have our own personal lives that we must push along by doing activities such as laundry and grocery shopping and paying bills. Then there are our social lives, whether it be friends or family, that usually get pushed to the bottom of our priority list when we’re busy. Then there are things you must do to stay alive like eating and sleeping. Believe it or not, those things are important, you need to make them a priority if you want to continue working your ass off. The problem with priority lists is that each section is completely individual. It would be nice if your work called and said. “I noticed you haven’t spent very much time with your family lately, why don’t you take the day off?” But they don’t. Each priority list item just takes what it wants without any regards towards other items on your list. Priorities can run you into the ground if you let them, I learned. Each priority has value, and we forget that. You have to respect and make time for each one, even when it feels like it’s impossible. Don’t sacrifice sleep for work,  because your body can’t handle it and in the end your work will suffer. The more time you allow one item to take, the more the other items will suffer. The more items on your priority list you have, the less time you can commit to each one, so you have to carefully decide which ones make the list at all. What I’ve learned is sometimes you have to say no, which is hard if you’re like me and just making everyone around happy, makes you happy.

Maybe you have to sit down and think about what is important enough to go on your list or maybe you already know and just need to consciously remind yourself. What you have to remember is that choosing to commit time to one things is also choosing to take time away from something else. Don’t take time away from something that is important to you, because it might start to remove itself from your priority list, and it might be something you really liked.

“No amount of security is worth the suffering of a mediocre life chained to a routine that has killed your dreams.”  – Maya Mendoza



adventure awaits.

Unfortunately for us, the most common question a stranger will inquire about us is “What do you do for a living?/What are you studying?” (if you’re a student). Why is this unfortunate? Because it indirectly means they’re judging you. Even with the most kind and naive intentions, this question is forming the basis of other’s opinion about you. Other than your name, it is what people associate you by. However, I could care less about what someone does for a living, I want to know their passions, which might be what they do for a living, but it might not be. I’m curious about what makes their heart beat fast and what they could talk for hours about without taking a breath. Anyway, what’s more important to me is where you’ve been and what you’ve seen. Your adventures. Your experiences are far more valuable than money. So, if you want to have adventures, let me explain some basic rules.

  1. Having adventures does not mean you have to travel somewhere far away.                         …Or actually travel at all. Although at some point in your life you should travel far, not all your adventures have to be somewhere on the other side of the world. To me, adventures can be discovering something that has be right in front of your eyes, just looking at it in a new way.
  2.  Don’t go to see something specific, go and discover and look beyond what you’re expecting.                                                                                                                                                   Don’t go to see, go AND see. Often when we have plans to travel, we also have expectations. Expectations and planning can give us a basis for what our adventure will entail, but don’t make an itinerary. Adventuring involves exploring, trying new things, and looking beyond what you’re expecting to see to find the extraordinary.
  3.  Don’t limit yourself.                                                                                                                       The point of adventuring is going beyond what you would experience in a normal day. So don’t apply any limitations. Try things that scare you. Try things that put you out of your comfort zone. More often than not, you’ll probably surprise yourself with your ability to learn a new skill or do something you’ve never done before.
  4. Don’t go with predetermined expectations.                                                                        There is no possible way to expect or predict what you will see and discover, the magnitude is unfathomable until you experience it in real life. So don’t even bother coming with prepared itineraries or images of where you’re going. The fact is that your plans will change. It is inevitable. They an change for a multitude of reasons, most of which are out of your control. So instead of setting your minute-to-minute plans up for failure, don’t make any, especially if your one of those people that gets upset when things don’t go according to plan.
  5. You can’t plan fun.                                                                                                                               It is true. Enter each new opportunity with an open mind, even if it seems like something you normally wouldn’t do, it might be really fun. It might also suck but you will never know unless you embrace every opportunity that comes your way. Some of the most fun you’ll have might be not really doing anything at all but simply having a mini adventure with awesome people that make you laugh.
  6. Do something you’ve never done before.                                                                                 The key to a fulfilled life, at least in my opinion, is having a balance between change and routine. When you’re adventuring, embrace change. Throw your routine out the window for  at least a few hours. Try living like someone else. Or try a new flavor of ice cream (because, let’s be honest, there’s not a bad one). Learn a new language, or at least a few words. Try painting. And if you’re already a painter, try a new medium. Listen to a band you’ve never heard before, preferably one that isn’t widely known. Adventure can be anything, but once it becomes a new norm for you, find something else new to try.
  7. See old things in a new way.                                                                                                             So maybe you’re in desperate need of an adventure but don’t have the opportunity to even leave your house. Fear not! One of the most important aspects of adventuring is clearing your mind of the preconceived and opening doors to new ways of thought. If you’re stuck at home, look out your window. I bet there are things you’ve looked at a million times but have never seen. Take some time to notice what is around you. The sad part about life is that beautiful things happen all around us, natural phenomena so perfect and extraordinary that it takes your breath away. These things will continue to happen whether your  notice them or not. They are always happening at a constant pace and they don’t stop if you’re too busy to notice them. Maybe wake up a little earlier to watch the sun rise. Or take a moment and just watch as it’s raining. Listen to the birds chirp (you’ll miss them when they’re gone for the winter).

The recipe for adventure can be as simple or as complex as you can make it. And I urge you to have adventures, both big and small. Never let a busy and monotonous schedule keep you trapped inside a cage from which you feel you cannot escape. The hope is that we have the power to choose our own adventures. So, go!

“Because in the end, you won’t remember the time your spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain.” – Jack Kerouac

circumstantial happiness.

As hard as it can be sometimes, you have to find happiness in this moment right now. Too often, we depend on circumstances, or more potential circumstances to make us happy. It is important to set goals, even little goals, but there is a difference between having goals and creating an internal list that results in perpetual dissatisfaction.

Even if you want to get better or you are ashamed of where you’re at, you have to realize that there is something, most of the time many things, that are going right. The truth is  when you make a list of things that will make you happy, you’re essentially also deciding that you’re not happy right now.

“Realize you can be happy this moment for no reason. Otherwise, you eternally depend on conditions for happiness. Unconscious of this moment, you remain a victim of circumstances.”

Even when you wake up to your alarm, not even close to being fully rested, when yesterdays problems rush back into your mind only this time they are accompanied by the problems of today too, the only thing pulling your body out of bed is the fact that you have to be somewhere soon, and when you feel far away from happiness. Those are your circumstances now. And you will likely have different circumstances in the future. But your happiness doesn’t have to depend on your circumstances. This is a choice though. And many people chose future happiness over present happiness. Happiness actually doesn’t depend on circumstances, it is  state of mind. Being happy now can actually give you more motivation to continue striving towards making improvements in the future.

what to do when you’re not saving the world.

I believe in moments. I’m a person who fears monotony and I believe that it is in those little, unexpected moments that we can avoid monotony. I believe in constantly discovering and trying new things. I’m undeniably scared of falling into a routine that remains the same every day. I am afraid of being in one place for too long. Here’s the thing though, the nature of life allows for only a select few of those redefining moments. Maybe your breath will be taken away today, but maybe it wont.  Then what?

I’m having trouble dealing with the reality which is that everyday can’t be life-changing. I understand this idea, but it is hard when it seems like you haven’t had a moment in a long time. So when you’re not climbing a mountain or making a difference or changing the world, what do you do?

Choose optimism. I know this sounds anything but original but there is power in making something great about everyday. There will be days when your faith will be restored in humanity and I hope you have a lot of those days but there will also be days when you will be reminded that this world sucks. But I hope that chose to see the parts that don’t suck. I hope you forgive the people who do you wrong, whether they cut you off, didn’t use their turn signal or stole from you, I hope you don’t lose your hope in humanity. Complaining, especially about other people or really anything at all removes moments in time where you could be thanking God for surrounding us with an amazing world. Complaining sells the world short. Find the ways that make it great and believe in those ways despite the others.

Have little adventures. And I mean little. Your adventure might be reading a book for a few minutes or it might be talking a longer walk to class while listening to some good music. Some adventures are really BIG! And you might have your expectations set high but that doesn’t mean that normal days don’t have something special to offer.

Accept it. Even though your Instagram profile shows nothing but you taking hikes or helping feed the hungry or dressing up for fancy parties there might be days where you’re sitting in sweat pants surrounded by piles of homework, and its okay if that’s all you do that day. Just don’t make that everyday.

I hope you have an adventure today. Thanks for supporting my blog today and always.

The useless days will add up to something. The shitty waitressing jobs. The hours writing in your journal. The long meandering walks. The hours reading poetry and story collections and novels…These things are your becoming. -Cheryl Strayed


We Wear the Mask

We wear the mask that grins and lies,

It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes, —

This debt we pay to human guile;

With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,

And mouth with myriad subtleties,

Why should the world be over-wise,

In counting all our tears and and sighs?

Nay, let them only see us, while

We wear a mask.


We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries

To thee from tortured souls arise.

We sing, but oh the clay is vile

Beneath our feet, and long the mile;

But let our world dream otherwise,

We wear the mask!

-Paul Laurence Dunbar, 1896

I read this poem today in my poetry class and as we were analyzing the poem, a deep and intellectual discussion erupted. Unlike many 19th century poems, I find this poem to still be highly relevant. Although initially I interpreted this poem to undeniably represent racial discrimination especially as the poet, himself, is African American, I took the poem to show the emotional agony faced by African Americans that seemed to be overlooked by others. In fear of admitting to weakness, they put on a mask and avoid showing pain and instead put on a smile. After a further look, I realized this poem can apply to a multitude of situations. There are so many times when we wear masks.  We not only hide from weakness but also we hide from expressing inexperience or difference in opinion. We hide our pasts, our scars, and our flaws. We act differently in different settings or around different people. One of my classmates proposed an interesting question. He said “How can you be sure that your true self isn’t just another mask?” This question is what sparked my interest in writing this post. At first it left the class dumbfounded. We all sat there and thought about it for a minute. I think it is a question we have all thought of before though. In the midst of all of our different selves, how do we know which one is our defining self? I, personally, struggle with this fear excessively. I fear that I don’t actually know who I am, or who I would be without the influence of anyone else. My professor responded to the question by saying that we all have a multiplicity of selves, with not one being more authentic than the other. Experiences and external influences shape who we are and our different actions in different settings can be explained by the way our minds work, our personalities and adaptability. Another student suggested that we apply different filters at different times in life but underneath it, we’re still the same person. I thought this interestingly explained the different versions of ourselves.

I especially like the line of the poem “…But let the world dream otherwise.,”. I think it accurately depicts the societal view of ignoring pain and the negative connotation around weakness. Somehow, even though we all have weakness, it is viewed as wrong to admit to it.What a funny thing, because I am attracted to imperfection and weakness. What I truly desire to know about people is their rough spots and how they overcame them. We spend a lot of time with sandpaper when the whole world has rough edges. My initial response is to say to remove the masks! However, I am not naive enough to not understand that this is a natural human response; I think we will always hide parts of ourselves from the world.



Idealism vs. Practicality

This is a war I face everyday. It’s a tight war, it isn’t a battle where one side clearly has the upper hand. And I’m really stuck. Do I do what love? Or do I do what is practical? If only I was involved, the choice would be easy. But I am not the only one involved. There is money to worry about and time and the job market and a lot of other shit that makes my decision seem like either way I chose, it will be wrong.

One of the things I do when I don’t know something is I listen to other people, I see what they have experienced. I’ve listened to people say to follow the idealism route, the route that won’t make you rich but will make you happy. They tell you to live in the moment and love what you do. Then I hear the people that say, “You’re never going to love what you do, at least not all of the time.”

I know that I in no way have enough life experience to give anyone advice on this matter but I think the decision isn’t as two sided as I like to think it is. Practicality? Who is to tell me whether or not I’m living a practical life. To me, practicality is subjective. Maybe some people think it’s practical to go to college and earn a four-year degree and then immediately get married and have kids, all while having a stable and financially secure job. Although this seems pretty practical to me, it might not be everyone’s definition of practicality. Some people thrive on financial security and need that in their life while others accept the fact that they’re going to have to live on less while they pay for things like traveling and higher education. Idealism on the other hand, although subjective, can also be practical. I still think that’s possible! I’m not trying to be naive, I know everyday can’t be amazing because that would actually take away from your really good days but I do think that there is a way to made your version of ideal, practical. It might take some thinking, it’s not going to be a direct route or the same one that everyone takes.

I’m inspired by the people living a idealistic life and when I hear about them I begin to think it would be possible for me. When I hear about people who took on the world head on and found a purpose doing what they love , I realize it is possible. Find those people and listen to them. Find a role model let them help you.

Right now, I don’t have a plan anymore. I can’t tell you where I’ll be in ten years but that’s exciting. I’m learning so much and actually enjoying it. I actually have time to explore and learn and I am extremely grateful for this opportunity. Before I reached this conclusion though, I was scared. The unknown used to scare me but now I realize it is more scary to stay on a path I knew wasn’t for me.

So I think our new goal shouldn’t be deciding which one we should choose. We should have a goal to find a way to make our version of ideal practical and to do so we might even need to adjust our definition of practicality.