Category Archives: Advice

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Today marks the day in which our savior was born, it also marks a holiday where people spend money on gifts. Sometimes meaningful, other times, not so much.

Today, I spent the day with my family. We talked, and hung out. It was fun, and it reinforced my belief that family is important. Whether there are relationships that need to be mended, it is never too late to do it.

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How to Start?

One of obstacles I face when writing is figuring out where to start. Or better yet, how to start. Whether it’s a story, a blog, a reflection, or a poem, I always grapple for a perfect beginning. Half the time, I know the ending, I know what everything will lead to, and filling in the middle isn’t so hard when you have an end point. But trying to figure the starting point, well… it’s nearly impossible.

I’ve read on writers’ forums that a lot of people don’t start at the beginning. Some people work their way backwards, starting with the end goal in mind. One of my friends told me that starting her novel was the hardest part, and she had to return to the beginning after finishing it.

I don’t know if I can work like that. But something I realized is that writing a novel is hard, and finding a perfect beginning for it is even harder. What I’ve been doing is writing my tidbit of ideas, the scenes that I picture in my head, and filling in the blanks as I go along. I have a rough beginning, and a clear idea for the end, so I will just go back and tweak everything when I finish to make it perfect.

The starting point doesn’t have to be the beginning, it’s just the place where you begin.

Let’s Be Naive

“Careful, jaded
And always bracing for the fall
That’s no way to love” -Sam Tsui, “Naive” (Make It Up, 2013)

We learn and grow from our past experiences. We’re conditioned to stay away from things that hurt us, convinced that we should know better than to repeat the same “mistake”. But every time we avoid what scares us, it limits us from doing so much.

At one point in our lives, we will all be hurt by someone: a friend, a significant other, a family member, a colleague, or anyone with whom we come in contact. Does that mean we should harden ourselves for the next interaction or relationship? That’s what we do isn’t it? We take into account what’s hurt us before and we hold back from taking risks, or we enter with our guard up. Then, the next person we encounter has to pay for the previous person’s mistakes.

Every wound left behind heals, but we never rip off the band-aid even after it’s completely healed. We’re too afraid to be vulnerable and be put in the same position again. We think we have to be wiser, have the upperhand — we have to stay strong and not show any ounce of weakness. But isn’t that just as detrimental, approaching something with so much caution? And when the next encounter or relationship fails, we try and change again…

Every alteration we make to ourselves, our feelings and actions… we change ourselves. We grow further away from who we are, we look into the mirror and can barely recognize ourselves. What’s left is thick walls surrounding someone who is too scared to let them down… I don’t think that’s any way to live, it’s not fulfilling.

If we can learn to be naive, we can learn to be more carefree.

Another Year Passes

Yesterday, May 12th, I turned 21. I celebrated by catching up on sleep and watching Monsters Inc. My birthday didn’t feel special, it felt like any other day (except it was Mother’s Day, love you mom!). I spent some time yesterday reflecting on the past year, and came to the conclusion that I didn’t do as much as I hoped. Which made me think, what makes a year worthwhile?

Do you need to win an award? Do you need to start a family, new job, or even new school? Do you need to finish a novel, or build a webpage? What does a person need to do to make a year in his or her life feel accomplished?

I can list things that I have done and haven’t done this past year, but does that mean that my year wasn’t fulfilling? Maybe. I feel that it wasn’t lived to its potential, but that could just be me. Maybe I’m too hard on myself for not reaching the goals that I set out to complete, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t do anything.

I joined the G-Steppas (Geneseo’s Step Team), and now I’m the secretary for next year. I joined the Sociology Club, and became the Academic Affairs Committee representative. I started fleshing out my two in-progress novels. I completed the prerequisite directed study for my senior thesis, and have the ball rolling for that project. I am done with my English minor, and only three classes from finishing up my major. I accomplished a bit in my last year. But I still didn’t do as much as I wanted.

I didn’t finish some of my short stories. I didn’t utilize my webpage, or make it from scratch. I didn’t learn HTML as I hoped, no driver’s license, no finished novel, no internship. Does that mean my year as a 20-year-old was pointless? I don’t think so. I mean, I did yesterday, but not today.

I didn’t do as much as I planned, but that doesn’t mean that it makes me a failure. It doesn’t make me any less than a celebrity signing three contracts for movies, or releasing a new album. It doesn’t make me any less than the person that just graduated with a Ph. D or with a job offer after graduation. It doesn’t make me any less, because I get to go on my own pace. And maybe I wasn’t destined to do anything great at 20, maybe it’ll happen when I’m 21 or 91 if I live until then. I don’t know. But I’m not letting myself feel down about it.

You shouldn’t either. I know there are times when you start comparing yourself to other people and then you just dump on yourself, saying that you didn’t do enough, or that you’re not good enough, or that your year was wasted. But it’s not. Because you survived that year, and you have a new start right in front of you. Make the most of it, and think about the things you did do and remember that those things were part of that year too.

Another year passes, but that just makes you wiser and more motivated for the next one to come.

Fear of the Unknown

One of my friends is starting to become overwhelmed with the pressure of figuring out what she wants to do with her life. I spoke to her yesterday, and she told me she would be transferring colleges her last semester in order to pursue an undergraduate degree in nutrition, instead of her current major (psychology). However, her new decision is giving her anxiety and she’s been stressing out over whether or not it is the right decision, whether or not it is reasonable to extend her undergraduate education for at least another year when she could be done.

I tried to be a good friend and told her that if it is what she wants to do, she should go for it. That other people’s expectations or reactions to her delaying her graduation does not matter as long as she is content. Furthermore, I told her that people don’t expect her to know what she wants to do. We have our entire lives to figure that out. In fact, some of my professors didn’t know what they wanted to study or their career path until years into their previous career.

So my advice to any of you who may be having this same issue: it’s okay to be afraid of what you don’t know, it’s fine not to have a plan, and it is certainly not the end of the world if you haven’t decided what you want to do with your life.

I believe that at one point or another people will have that unshakable fear of the unknown–the future, and that’s absolutely normal.

So Distracted

http://chronicle.com/article/Youre-Distracted-This/138079/

This article really opened my eyes to how unfocused I am. In fact, I couldn’t read through this article without doing other things, like check my texts or Facebook messages.

We live in a world where technology is dominant, where social media and cellphones become the major form of linking us to others. Unfortunately, we lose control of how much we use these technologies without realizing it. This becomes disappointing because we’re missing out on the quality of life–of actual interactions and putting all our efforts into one place. I admit to being a multitasker, doing more than one thing at a time. However, when I review the quality of the work I do, often times, I am utterly disappointed.

I realize that the only time I can completely focus on something is when there is a deadline fast-approaching. In that last minute time crunch, I am able to concentrate solely on the task at hand because there is no time to actually do anything else. Usually, I find these times to be late at night, or some could say early morning, when everyone is asleep and no one is texting, or messaging, or emailing me. Where I know I can completely engage in the task at hand.

After reading the above article, I plan on designating two hours every day, as technology-free time. Time when I will commit to reading for my classes without checking my phone, or email, or Facebook, Twitter or any other sort of social media. I will be starting this regime April 1st, and onward for as long as possible. Maybe it’ll even allow me to lessen my technology consumption for longer periods of time, to really engage in life, and not just a screen.

Magnetic Poetry

I’ve spent over an hour with my housemate experimenting with magnetic poetry two nights in a row. Word of advice, don’t do it (at least, not when you should probably be sleeping)!

I don’t deny that it’s relaxing and fun; but when you have early morning classes the next day, it’s probably not good for you to sleep in the wee hours of that same morning.

I am generally an advocate of writing and expressing yourself through written form. Nevertheless, I recognize the detriment of spending too much time (time that should be invested in other things) on writing for leisure, especially if the words are scattered about on your refrigerator door.