The One Where Christina Gushes Her Feelings.

I’m going to graduate school!

A lot of my friends already know this, but I felt like I should share the news again.

Look.

It’s been three years since I knew I wanted this for myself, but I kept pushing it off because I felt I just wasn’t ready.  So, this is a big, big, huge deal for me.

The grad application process (and my many, many subsequent rejections) has been a unique experience–one that has been financially costly, emotionally debilitating, and strangely humbling.  I spent many nights writing, editing, and re-editing (did I mention editing?) my personal statements, talking to faculty and graduate students at different programs, and doing a lot of research on schools.  It got to the point where I was getting pretty unrealistically attached to particular programs.  My overactive imagination had me thinking of how amazing it would be go to a certain school, meet new friends and have cool & intellectual conversations.  And so, when I was getting rejection after rejection, it was tough.  Like, questioning my entire life trajectory, sort of tough.

But, surprisingly (at least to me), I’ve made it through and am ready (hopefully) to make some sort of mark on the world around me & impact at least a little part of it for the better.  I’m tremendously excited about the research that faculty in the department are doing, and it’s really nice to know that I’ll get to be a part of it, while also doing my own research and producing knowledge–not just consuming knowledge like I consume Taco Bell in my bed at night.

Okay.  So, now that I covered me being excited and whatnot, here’s where the gushing and mushy stuff starts.  You’ve been warned.

I know how lucky I am.  I recognize how serendipitous it all is.  And I don’t take it for granted.  Whenever something sort of big in my life happens, I try to reflect, be thankful, and extend my gratitude for my loved ones to an e-abyss of sorts (aka my blog).  It’s the closest thing I have to prayer.

I am so unbelievably grateful for the people and the places that have made me the person I am today.  I couldn’t have found my place and come to love myself the way I do if it weren’t for the friends, mentors, and family I have that keep me grounded.  That sense of love for myself and my community is what gave me the courage to pursue Sociology to study activism and social movements in the U.S…especially during a time when public education is under attack and there’s actually no job security in studying what I want to study since the tr*** administration doesn’t seem particularly fond of academic disciplines that question systems of capitalism and white supremacy, but that’s a different blog post for a different time.

ANYWHO, although I am incredibly nervous and almost overwhelmingly daunted by moving across the country, leaving my home, and starting a Ph.D. program, I am super happy…like ALL CAPS LOCKS TO EMULATE MY SCREAMING INSIDES happy.  And the people in my life have motivated me, given me confidence, and encouraged me to believe in myself.

If I listed out every person who gave me hope and believed in me even when I questioned a lot of my skills & aspirations, this post would go on for days.  Even me realizing that as I’m typing makes me want to smash my keyboard in delight.  From my parents who dealt with me flip-flap-flopping through different dream careers (fashion designer, stylist, business owner, literallyanythingexceptapharmacist) and still supported me when I got straight up D’s and F’s because they “knew I was smarter than that”, to my roommates who became my closest friends, I’ve been given a lot of wonderful people in my life.  Knowing that makes it so much harder for me to leave.  But, I’m certain I’ll move on to the next chapter with them in mind, motivating me to be just as kind and loving to others as they have all been to me.

Aside from actual people, I’m also exceedingly thankful to the place I have called home since my momma and poppa made me.

California, you have been so good to me.  You’ve taught me how to straddle waves, how to climb proverbial and literal mountains, how to fall, how to close my eyes without closing myself off.  You gave my grandparents refuge, let them dream, gave them hope, cradled their family in your valleys.  I don’t know what my life would be or what their life would be if we called anywhere else our home.  I don’t dwell on it much, but when I do, I know it would be different.  You gave me a safe place to grow, not without struggle, but your stretch of land saved me.  I will always know you as “home”, even if miles separate us.

Even though I’m leaving, I’m happily confident (or confidently happy?) to know that the friendships I’ve cultivated over years are strong enough to overcome geographic distance and that the love I have for my community, my friends, and my family knows no bounds.  I might be hundreds of miles away, but I know I’ll still get a call from my mom telling me to keep warm and be careful of snow.  I know I can count on my best friends to send me memes on Instagram to keep me in the pop culture loop.  And while I don’t think it would be feasible (or healthy), I know I could get plenty of people to Fed-Ex me some boba and Chinese food if I needed.  That kind of support is what I’ll miss and what I’ll be searching for wherever life takes me.

So thank you to whomever is out there, whether it’s a deity or the universe or something else entirely, I am so grateful.  I hope I can retain this feeling of gratitude when I’m stressed out beyond belief in approximately 5 months.

And the gushing is done.

xoxo,
Christina

Who Do You Want To Be? : On the Future of Children’s Futures

I am twenty three.  23.  That is two whole decades and then some.

When I was ten, I thought twenty was lightyears away; that to get there, time and space would move so quickly that I’d wake up and one day my life would just be laid out for me.

I remember we would have to tell adults what we would want to be when we grew up.  It was and still is my least favorite question. Hell, I didn’t even know what I would be doing during recess…how was ten year old me supposed to know what I wanted to do as a viable career?

At the time, I didn’t know why I disliked the idea of thinking about my future so much.  But, looking back, I know.  For children, and even for adults, there is no wiggle room and definitely no such thing as a gap year.  Your future as a grown up meant a job title.  Lawyer.  Doctor. Teacher. Defined roles and no time for a discussion of you as a fully functioning little human.

I am doing my damnedest to reverse that thought process.

Maybe because when we teach children occupations as aspirations instead of qualities or convictions, we will inevitably become adults that focus on structure, on job titles, on climbing the ladder.

Children are grown enough to take stock of what we ask of them.  They’re smart enough to realize what others value and what they don’t.   So what if we gave them real opportunities to show us who they are now and who they could be down the line?  They may not know what they want to do for a living, but we can teach them how to live.

And sure, maybe “compassionate” or “inquisitive” isn’t exactly a great selling point in asking for a pay raise.  But what if it was?  And what if those things weren’t just words we used to make us feel better when the world deals us all a shitty hand?  What if we put true value in qualities that make up beautiful, loving humans?  What if instead of asking “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, we started asking children “Who do you want to be? And how are you going to get there?”

I am going to try and do this with the young ones in my life, and I encourage you to do the same.  What are some other questions we could be asking children in our lives?  Share what you do to help validate our children and encourage their growth!

 

Because There Can Never Be Too Many Self-Reflections

It’s been a while, my friends.  I have neglected this blog, much as I have neglected caring for myself.

Maybe it’s a reflection of my priorities–myself always falling last on the laundry list of things I need to get done.  Because somehow, “self-care” is not something that appealing when I’m writing my to-do list.  It’s not enough syllables to sound important to me.

And now, 2015 is essentially half over.  Already.  And as astonishing as that is to me, it also isn’t surprising at all.  What is surprising is how much I have accomplished, and yet how little I feel like I have progressed (and how much I still make excuses for my lack of perseverance and direction in both my research interests & my “personal projects”).

When I graduated almost exactly one year ago, I was sure that I would make the most of my “last summer of freedom”.  I thought I’d find myself.  I thought something would find me.  I really don’t know what I talked myself into believing, but I really and truly thought that my life would somehow dramatically shift into adulthood and that things would just happen for me.  I also thought I’d stop making run-on sentences a regular occurrence in my writing.

As it turns out, none of that happened.

What I learned instead is that adulthood and post-graduate life is hard.  I even wrote a blog post about it. You’d think that would be enough to teach me.  But alas, dear friends.  I inherited my father’s wit, but not his foresight. (Shout out to my pops if you’re reading this.  Love you, babs…and as a sidenote, I have never called my father “babs” before, but I think he’d find it endearing.)

When people tell you that working life is hard, they are not joking.  It is equal parts exhausting and liberating and confusing.  Colleges should make How To Survive Being In A Full-Time or More-Than-Full-Time-If-You’re-In-Non-Profits Job 101 course a pre-requisite for graduation.  But that would be a whole lot of paperwork to enforce, so instead, we’re stuck learning life the hard way–by actually living it.

And it is not that I thought working full-time would be easy or smooth-sailing 100% of the time.  But I did not know how tired you can get.  And how easy it is to get derailed and not put the effort into caring about yourself and your aspirations because you’re just too tired all the damn time.  Because working an 8-5 job is not like the three different clubs and organizations you used to juggle like a pro.  You can’t do a job and fifty million side projects without getting burnt out.  You just can’t. And I think that when I realized that (and am still realizing that), it hurts for someone like me.  Because I am a somebody who gets excitement and a unique sense of euphoria and doing multiple things at once successfully.  Having to put projects that I am passionate about to the wayside gives me a really visceral reaction.  It is a very real, raw kind of hurt that I can’t really explain except that it feels like you’re breaking up with the person you thought you loved, but didn’t really because you’re thirteen years old and not Justin Bieber, so you don’t actually know what love is.  And again, there’s that run-on sentence.

Really though.  I think that when I realized how exhausting it is to try and accomplish everything all at once and be everything to everyone, you’re kind of left with nothing for yourself.

I’m slowly figuring out what really matters to me and how I can use my skills and interests to provide real, impactful change.  It’s hard, but so worth it.  I know that I would rather spend five years building something I’ve done the research on and I know won’t be detrimental to target communities than get my hands on everything I have a remote interest in.  I’ve done that and seen others do it before and I know how bad it can be for those you’re trying to help–including yourself.

And I know that one day, I will be a professor that cares and be so many things for so many people. (I’ll also get the damn chile pepper on RateMyProfessor… y’all know what I’m talking about.)  But until then, I am understanding that I can’t beat myself up over not being at a certain place or having accolades that I know others my age may have.

And maybe this summer I’ll finally experience the magical summer that Disney Channel always produces movies about, minus the musical numbers.  Maybe I will finish writing my book(s) or explore a new place by myself.  And I’ll surround myself with people who care and do good things and make me laugh.   I’ll stop striving for perfection and start embracing uncertainty.  And I will finally know what it means to care about yourself–that being selfish in this context is one of the most selfless things you can do.