The Year in Transition

“Will I be something?
Am I something?

And the answer comes:
I already am.
I always was.
And I still have time to be.”

— Anis Mojgani, “Here Am I”


Things can get a little crazy during graduation time...

Things can get a little crazy during graduation time…

I’ve been seeing a lot of news coverage of graduation commencement speeches.  Sandra Bullock surprised a senior class at a New Orleans high school with a short address and Charlie Day yelled at the Class of 2014 at Merrimack College.  They gave certain advice to graduates such as:

  • Bet on yourself
  • Don’t pick your nose in public
  • Make your own opportunities
  • Leave the house with a skip in your step
  • Don’t give a shit about what people think

Of course, seeing all of these commencement videos reminds me of my own graduation, which took place a year ago.

We didn’t have a super famous person come to our school.  I kind of remember that he was a pretty successful entrepreneur and that he talked about Hurricane Sandy.  But I don’t remember really what his advice to us was.

I do remember being scared and sad for a lot of weeks after graduation.  Scared that I was back at home to no job prospects or graduate school prospects.  Sad that I left the happy, comfortable home I made in San Diego with my friends.  Life had just become fifty times more confusing than it was before I got a diploma.

Despite all the wisdom and advice that people tried to pass on to me, I did not take chances or do something crazy.  I didn’t move across the country to start a new life.  I didn’t join the Peace Corp.  I played it safe.

My life is pretty simple as of now because of this.  I have two part-time jobs now, meaning that I make my own money and am able to slowly pay off my student loans.  I live in my childhood home.  I am surrounded by the love and support of my family and friends.  I live in a town that just declared a stage two drought condition and I live with two dogs.

I have career and life goals, but you don’t need to hear more about them.

I’ve realized that I can talk about my goals over and over again, but the thing that really matters is what I’m doing right now to make them happen.

When I graduated, I thought that I had to be doing something amazing right now, one year after graduating.  I actually know some people from my class who are doing the extraordinary.  Some of my classmates are in the Peace Corp and some have moved or plan to move far away from their homes to start a new career.  But I’m not them.

So what am I doing right now?  What am I going to do after I finish this blog post?  Will I keep marathon-ing television shows that I’ve watched before on Netflix?  Will I ever finish that story I’ve been working on?  Will I go take pictures of those purple trees that I saw yesterday?

Probably neither of these things.  I will probably put on my shoes, do my make-up, and go to work, where I will be picking up half-eaten string cheese from the ground and getting tear stains on my jeans.

While it’s not glamourous (I don’t think taking care of children will ever be anything close to it), I have the job for a reason, and until further notice, it’s what I’m doing now.  And I can’t really picture myself doing anything else at this moment.

It doesn’t really matter if what I’m doing right now is amazing or not.  Because there are a lot of amazing things ahead for me that I’m building towards.

And all I have to do is concentrate on what I’m doing now.



Letter to Self | Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

While attempting to get back in the yoga game last week, my focus became a little skewed.

While attempting to get back in the yoga game last week, my focus became a little skewed.

Sometimes, you can look at a picture of something hanging in a museum or see a person doing some sort of activity and say, “Pshhh, that’s easy, I can do that.”  That is what I was thinking last week as I scrolled through Tumblr and saw my fellow bloggers posting pictures of themselves doing some yoga moves.  

However, when you actually set out to do what you’re seeing someone else do, it’s not really the same.  

After skipping out on yoga for a couple of months, I was inspired to get back on the mat after following a couple of yoga blogs by doing a yoga challenge.  

Previously, my practice was a combination between yoga videos from Tara Stiles and a beginner’s sequence from B.K.S. Iyengar’s yoga bible, Light on Yoga.  I tried some old poses that I knew from these yoga series’ and new poses from the yoga challenge.

It was hard to do a simple triangle pose and other standing poses from the beginner’s series, and I couldn’t even dream of doing some of the arm balances from the yoga challenge.  It was difficult and disappointing.  

Part of my failure to do some of these easy poses was that I haven’t done yoga in awhile.  The other, larger part of the problem was that I was trying to do moves that were at an intermediate/advanced level that I just wasn’t ready for.   

I’ve always enjoyed challenging myself, but this challenge in particular was different.  Not because I couldn’t do the challenge, but because of the motivation behind me wanting to do try it out.  I wanted to prove to people that I could do certain poses.  I wanted to have cool pictures on my Tumblr and be bendy and graceful.  

I realized that I cannot have cool pictures and be bendy and graceful like other people.  I can only be me.   

Something that I’ve been constantly reminded of when I watch Pilates videos by Cassey Ho of Blogilates is that everyone is on their own fitness journey.  In the same way, I’m on my own yoga journey, I’m on my own relationship journey, I’m on my own career path, and so on.  

I don’t want to sound defeatist or sound like I’m limiting myself.  However, I can really only do what’s within my physical and mental limits – for the time being.  But I can always stretch those limits.  I can still go for those challenging yoga poses, but I have to remember that it won’t look like what other people are doing.  Yoga is about practice, not perfection.  My practice will never be perfect the first, second, or twentieth time.  I can also attempt a career in journalism and attempt other challenging life stuff, but I can never have a career like other writers or follow the same life path as another person.   

I can only ever be me.  So why beat myself up if I can’t be like someone else?    

Checklist for 2013

2014 is just around the corner! I feel as though September through November just came and went.  It is hard to believe that just a few months ago, I had just moved back home and had started my job hunt.

For the past few years at around this time of year, I have always had a clear objective for the next year: do well in school and maintain a balanced college life.  Right now, after the first “semester” of no school and no extracurricular activities for me, I have time to reflect on the past year and on certain goals that I haven’t achieved yet or want to achieve in 2014 (outside of crazy Christmas shopping and celebrations).

photo 2

The typical weekly schedule and checklist during my school days. Balanced? Ehh… Crazy? Of course.

As I think about everything that I’ve done this year, naturally, what comes up is what I haven’t done.  Specifically, I think about different items on my various reminder lists on my phone and different things I have been thinking of doing all year round but never got a chance to.

1. Open up an IRA (Individual Retirement Account)

For the past few months, I’ve been living on a new budget.  I’ve been saving half of my earning and then allocating the rest into different things I want to save up for – either spending money, food money, money for a trip I’m planning on taking… etc.  It’s been going well so far and I’ve been able to save up and stay within my budget.  Of course, the holidays are taking a toll on my savings, but I’ll just have to start saving hardcore when 2014 rolls around.  Along with saving up spending money and such, I’ve also been saving money to put into an IRA.  I’ve been debating which kind of IRA to do, even though I’m pretty sure I’m going to go with a Roth IRA and I have people who can help me decide.  But it’s something I’ve been procrastinating on and want to get done this week.

2. Schedule a doctor’s appointment

I had always had a doctor around (my dad) and I never got in the habit of getting a regular check-up because I never really needed one.  Being on my own in a sense in college made me realize that there are some things that I can’t really ask my dad about or want to (i.e. vaginal health, etc.) and that I should start getting regular check-ups.  I think in September I asked my dad who is a good doctor to go to and he gave me a name but I never called the office.  I probably won’t be able to go until January, but just getting it scheduled is all I want to do.

3. Finish my book

When I was in school, one of the things that I really wanted to do was read for pleasure.  Now that I’m done with it, I have read 2 books so far, The Starboard Sea by Amber Dermont and Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer.  I remember reading at a faster pace than 2 months per book when I was younger and of course, there were much less distractions like Netflix and Facebook to keep me from reading.  I am currently reading The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards and am making it a goal to finish it with these next 2 weeks left in 2013.

So there’s the list of goals I have for the rest of 2013! While these goals aren’t really life-changing, I feel like they’ll propel me into a healthier, more financially conscious, and well-read new year.

Asides from that, it always feels nice to check something off of your list.

Let me know if there’s anything you want to get done before 2013 is over and thanks for reading!

How Not to Settle into a Routine

For the past two months, I’ve been working and watching lots of television.

Everyday, I wake up at around 7am, exercise and eat breakfast, get ready for work and arrive at around 10am.  I work at Noozhawk until 2:15pm and get to my daycare job at 2:45pm.  Then I get home at around 6pm and eat dinner and watch whatever I’ve been watching on Netflix.  Usually I’ll talk to my boyfriend on the phone at around 10 and then be asleep by 2am at the latest.  I’ve also been trying to get my computer turned off by 10pm so I can sleep by 11pm and not be too tired to wake up early and exercise.

For me, having a routine and having things to do for money is what I wanted all summer.  But, lately, I’ve been missing the non-routine of being at college.  Ok, I had classes and had regular meetings – but there was always something different going on besides those things.

There are things I have to do – I have to work and I have to exercise and I have to spend time with my loved ones.

But, I’ve been thinking about integrating some of these things into my week to shake things up and to possibly be more productive outside of work:

  • Reading – I recently interviewed a writer, Tracy Shawn, who reminded me that reading fiction is one of the best ways to get out of your own mind.  I’ve been trying to read every night before bed, and I’ve already read more in the past few days than I have in a long time.
  • Catching up with friends –  Grabbing lunch with a friend not only gets me in touch with other people in the area, but it’s also fun.  And you have to have lunch sometime – why not have some good company while you’re at it?
  • Yoga – I used to do some online yoga routines with friends in my final months of college.  I finally am starting to get back into that groove by taking a class at a yoga studio, and hopefully it can lead into my own home practice.
  • Writing – I eventually want to go publish fiction stories and it’s been a long time since I’ve written anything.  I’m getting to that place where I’m wanting to revise some of my drafts, so I’ve been taking some time to read them.

It may just look like another list of things that I need to do, but I don’t see it that way.  I want to do these things because they are enjoyable and they will help me improve myself.  I could watch television for the four hours that I’m home or I could go through Tumblr posts or whatever – but there’s no real quantifiable outcome.

It’s ok to do nothing and sometimes, it’s needed.  But I’m starting to think that if I’m at least a little bit productive in my personal life, I’ll be able to feel less stuck in a rut.


Life Lessons at 22


I turned 22 last week.  My birthday passed by pretty uneventfully, which is unusual.  My mom usually asks me what I want to do for my birthday three weeks in advance – either a party or some trip or something.  This year, we kept things quiet.  And I’m glad for it.  It has given me time to spend with the people who are really closest to me and reflect on the past year.

I mean, last year was kind of a big year – I turned 21, went on big girl nights out, had my lasts at USD, graduated, and got some work for myself.   When I turned 21, I set out to have the perfect senior year.  I set out to have a job lined up when I got out of school, I wanted to participate in every possible thing that I could before I left school, and I wanted to get some good use out of my youth while I was with my friends (a.k.a. go to clubs and be crazy).

The past year was possibly the craziest year ever – balancing school, work, and going crazy was a lot harder than I thought.  I was angry and upset for a lot of that year because the balance was off.  All of my responsibilities were taking up all of my time, my boyfriend and I were trying the long-distance thing, my parents grew increasingly excited about my graduation as I grew increasingly more nervous and sad – it was all just too crazy.

I’ve been wanting to write about what I learned in the past year, and it’s really hard to come up with just one thing.  While life has settled down a little bit, the crazy isn’t completely gone from my life.  Schedules are similar, but problems are different.  I’m learning new things about myself every day.  I’m learning how to budget my earnings, I’m learning to play the guitar and sing at the same time.

I think the most important thing I’ve learned about myself in the past year is that I can be really hard on myself.  I wanted to do so much last year, but I ended up getting more crazy than I would have liked.  I know that I can achieve anything that I put my mind to and that I can get what I want – I just have to take it slow, be kind to myself, be disciplined, and remember that nothing comes easily.

As my life just begins, I want to remember these things.  There are a lot of goals I want to meet in the next year, in the next five years.  And looking ahead, I know it’s not going to be easy.  All I can do is take it one day at a time.

Hello Again

It’s been about a month since my last post and a lot has happened since then.

  1. I went on a NorCal trip with my family.
  2. I met up with friends in San Diego and got to hang out with my besties.
  3. I spent two weekends in a row with my bf.
  4. I started working at my old elementary school for the after school daycare program.
  5. My unpaid internship with Noozhawk turned into a paid internship.

Last week was my first week doing both my Noozhawk internship and my daycare job and it has been pretty hectic.

While I had hoped my time between graduation and eventual grad school would be a little more laid-back, this suits me fine.  It allows me to get into the groove of working during regular hours, and it is helping me understand what it means to have a budget.

I still have a lot of processing to do, but for now, it’s Sunday night.  It’s a Harry Potter weekend on ABC Family, I just ate dinner with my parents, and have all the ingredients ready to try out this recipe for double chocolate cheescake cookies.  I’ll let you know how they turn out.

Put it on Repeat – I Just Need to “Breathe”

For the past few weeks, I’ve been trying so hard to try to do something.  It makes me nervous to not be doing something structured in this post-grad phase of my life.   

I told my mom about these anxieties last week when we went for coffee. About how just sitting on the couch and doing nothing is stressful.  And how it makes me crazy that I am not making money when I have a lot of ground to cover in my loans.

It was hard to look at her as I said these things because I felt my eyes watering and I could see the concern on her face.  But she always has a way of calming me down.

“You don’t have to do anything,” she said.  “You should take this time to do some soul-searching.”

Even though I said I’d be glad to be done college with it and do nothing for a bit in the past, it’s been really hard to stop looking for stuff to do post-grad.  It’s been hard to not think about going back to school and it’s been hard to stop thinking in general about the future.

Since I talked to my mom about this, I’ve been obsessed with this song not only because it’s telling me to slow down, but it’s also telling me to do a little soul-searching.  What I do now isn’t an end-all-be-all.  If I watch television all day or if I get a job today, that doesn’t define what my future holds.  All I can do is take it a step at a time and see what comes next – for now, anyways.

Figuring Out a Direction

Since I graduated from college, I have been trying to figure out what my next move is.  Here’s what I have so far:

  1. Get a job (or two if you can)
  2. Keep writing – do an internship
  3. Pay off loans
  4. Grad school

Steps 1 to 3 are easy – I mean that in the most shallow sense.  The direction is clear and I know what  I need to do and that is to apply to any paying job and save, while getting real-life writing experience on the side.  I’ve procured some work in the fall, and am loving my internship with Noozhawk.

However, step four is giving me all kinds of trouble.

I have been seriously contemplating continuing my education beyond college since my junior year, when my parents convinced me that law school would be a good fit for me because of my good reading and writing skills.

Since I started taking Creative Writing at USD, I had thought about getting an MFA in Creative Writing and, more recently, I have contemplated an Master’s degree in Journalsim or Ethnic Studies (or something similar).

Whenever I pitch these latter options to my parents, they always direct me back to law school, and I am always defensive because I don’t particularly want to be a lawyer.

I know that you don’t have to go to law school and then become a lawyer, but isn’t that what you would usually do?   Wouldn’t the payoff of going to law school be to become a lawyer?  Isn’t it more fiscally responsible?  I’ve expressed the desire to become a journalist or publisher before – will law school get me there?  Will law school get me what I want, if I do not want to be a lawyer?

I keep wrestling with these questions and the answer I always get is always this: law school would give me the best chance to be whatever I wanted to be.  Not only would I learn about extremely important social and legal systems within our society, but I’d be able to become a better thinker and do-er.

I keep thinking that my parents and grandparents are excited about my consideration of law school because it makes me sound impressive, but the real reason is that it ensures a lifestyle of success for me.  It doesn’t really guarantee anything, but it is definitely more stable than a Masters in a humanities subject.

So, I guess the ultimate question is this: What am I looking for?  Do  I want stability?  Will law school help me have a future in which I am happy with my career?  I have some sort of idea of what the answer may be, but nothing concrete and nothing close to Step Four.

Can Your Personality Make or Break Your Career Choice?

Since I was a little kid, I’ve always thought myself to be extremely introverted.  I never really liked initiating conversations and awkward silences always came my way when talking with others.

So, in my adventures in journalism, it has been a challenge to talk to people and get a complete story.  I am currently interning for two companies, both of which have given me opportunities to write stories and go to different sites.  One of them is for a non-profit.  It’s not very structured and I have complete freedom to initiate something amazing.  I’ve had a couple of ideas – one to do a series of interviews for the volunteers at the non-profit.  But I haven’t started because whenever I’m on site, it never seems like a great time to interview people.  I’m too nervous to say, “Hey, I’m making this video, would you consider being interviewed right now?” So far, people do not normally react well to having a camera shoved in their face.

In this case,  I feel as though my part is out of place.  My thoughts are these when I’m onsite: I don’t really belong.  My job is to blend in and document the good times that others are having.  My presence cannot interrupt that good time.  So I can’t interrupt and ask questions.

If I am feeling this way, should I keep considering this career?  I have enjoyed writing and taking pictures and everything – it’s been great… except for the one snag.  I don’t enjoy the feeling of being out of place, but I love going to the events and learning new things.  There must be a way to rework this snag.

By Errol Elumir and Manda Whitney,

By Errol Elumir and Manda Whitney,

Last week as I was thinking about getting up my courage to ask people questions and do interviews, I saw this chart on Tumblr and rated myself.  I’m more of an introvert, with some extrovert mixed in.  I’ve always thought that as I grew up, I would become more extroverted.  The reality is that I can’t change who I am.  The chart won’t define me indefinitely, but it helps me understand how I think and how others think. It helps me see why I feel stuck in this silent rut.

I keep thinking that I just need to do it.  Just go up to people, introduce myself, ask for an interview, and just do it.  I imagine it and envision it for hours before, and then it all just crashes down.

For now, I’m learning.  I’m learning what to ask people and learning how I work with myself.  I don’t have to be perfect, but just be honest with those I am working with and keep coming up with ideas.  Then, I just need to do it.

Real Versus Fake: What Does it Take to be a “Real” Anything?


As I try to break into the field of writing, I have thought a lot about the tools and experience I would need to be a “real writer.”  Real writers seem to spend a lot of alone time.  Real writers have awesome cameras.

After seeing a call for submissions on a local magazine, I thought about writing a piece about Pacific Coast Highway – my boyfriend and I had driven down it the a few weeks ago on our way home from Santa Monica.  It’s beautiful and would be a great subject for writing because of its familiarity and beautiful scenery, but I couldn’t imagine the spread without some great pictures of the water and local tourist traps.

As I imagined myself driving down and taking some great pictures, I thought about the shots I could take, but for some reason, I felt limited by the camera I have.  It’s a Canon Powershot, a digital, point-and-shoot camera.  I received it as a gift from my parents on Christmas a few years ago after I expressed the desire for a camera.  They bought it specifically because it takes great close-up shots – I was really into taking pictures of flowers at the time.  It takes really crisp, clean shots and is a great little camera, except for a couple of things.  It’s a bit on the heavy side and I feel as though the lighting is off a lot of the time (which might or might not be a camera issue).

However, when I think of “real photographers,” I think of people with DSLR cameras who know about shutter speed and aperture and lighting and Photoshop stuff.  One of the things I thought I needed to be a journalist was a good camera and maybe more photography experience.  I have always wanted to take a photography class, so I looked into taking a class at city college during the summer so I could get my bearings.  I even shopped Craigslist ads for DSLR cameras.  In my mind, to be a real photographer, I had to get a camera with a real shutter.

I called someone who was selling a Canon Rebel and talked to him about potentially interning for his event photography business.  It seemed sketchy – I called him about a camera, he started asking invasive questions about why I wanted the camera, and then he was directing me to a website about his business.  I still wanted to do it anyways.  It meant doing “real photography” and becoming more than an amateur.

My mom was really worried – not just because it seemed like a total stranger was looking to take advantage of my naiveté, but also because it seemed like I was jumping at any chance with some desperation.

“Just take it easy,” she said.  “You have plenty of time to get where you want to be.  You don’t have to resort to Craigslist.”

And she was right.  In just the last two days, I’ve gotten the opportunity to take loads of pictures through my current internships.  And I’ve done just fine with the camera that I have.

In my last post, and even the one before that, I have talked about taking risks and slowing down. It’s clearly not easy for me.  I still have that vision, that goal, and I am hell-bent on achieving it.  I’m desperate, even.  I’m slowly learning that It’s not really about the tools that I have, but the experience that I am gaining.

So, I don’t need a new camera – it would be great to get one.  But, my parents bought my camera for me to take pictures with because they knew I had an interest in taking pictures and they thought I had an eye for it.  Just this alone gives me the opportunity to be a real photographer.  I’m not going to say that I am a real photographer – I don’t think I’m even close to it.  What I can do is take that belief that my parents had (and hopefully still have) in me and use it to add it into my life’s work.

I’ve got a lot under my belt – I just took some pictures at a fancy charity event, and I’ve got the support of my family and friends.  I don’t need to be a real journalist with a real camera and everything else.  It’s actually more simple than I ever imagined.  I just need to do my job with the tools that I have.