Hey, you

Yeah, you! I’m talking to you. The fact that you’re reading this is awesome. And I mean that in the original meaning of the word – inspiring awe, not just something really cool. You’re my target audience. I always say that I write for myself, but the reason that I write on a blog instead of a journal is because I hope that in writing myself, I will somehow be able to touch another human’s life in some way. Even if it’s a slight nudge that doesn’t really affect you, I’ve altered the course of your life in some way.

I don’t know you and we could have very little in common, but that’s the magic of a blog! Writing through an electronic platform allows me to connect with you, whoever you are. That inspires awe for me. If you’ve read any of my old posts, you know that I believe that art, be it writing or painting or photography or music, gives us the power to show off how similar and different we are at the same time. It lets us display ourselves and connect with others in ways we never even could begin to think of before. It lets us inspire others to do the same and find themselves in their own art.

I hope that this inspires you just a little bit. That maybe this will make you want to write a blog post of your own or a poem or take a cool picture or write a song and just draw a cool stick figure dude in your notebook. Because if I could have that impact on someone, if I could be indirectly responsible for the creation of something that’s never existed before in the history of time and space, well, that’s awe-inspiring.

What do I want to do?

I think the reason that college is really tough for me at times is because I want to have clear priorities and completely dedicate myself to one thing or another. The only problem is that there are too many things that I want to do. In a given day, I’m worrying about school, writing, photography, singing, spirituality, friendships and many more things that I can’t even think of right now. I keep reading articles about self-help in hopes that will give me the answers to all of my questions, but there’s not a single article that will save me, but the underlying message in all of them is to focus one specific thing if you want to get good at it.

The thing is, I can’t drop all of these things. Each things is fairly important, and I don’t want to let it go. I might try to do a timelog this week to see where all of my time goes and really get a better idea of what I can do to improve my general use of time. All I know is that I feel the best when I get a lot done, but when I feel shitty it’s because I can’t get a lot done and that same feeling keeps me from getting things done. It’s a vicious cycle.

I can get through this.

Equilibrium

Over the past few weeks, I’ve felt like I’ve moved to an overall better place mentally. My resting state has less anxiety, less sadness and less frustration. In all honesty, I don’t think I’ve been this good in a long time.

Despite this, I know that this isn’t the best state I can be. My emotions are still incredibly volatile. In the span of a few hours, I can go from feeling like I’m on the top of the world, sauntering along to the drumbeats of a joyous Jack Johnson to feeling anxious and hiding under my covers listening to Drake. Of course, the best part of my new state is that this happens less than before, but I just wish I could minimize it further.

In discussion yesterday with my religious group, we got onto the topic of how it may be better to find an equilibrium, and instead of getting too attached to the highs and lows, to focus on an equilibrium of the two and try to stay balanced. That way, it won’t hurt when we fall as much. I’m torn by this concept.

On one hand, this level of equilibrium in my emotions sounds like it would help me to leave myself and become more associated with a higher power as I detach myself from the world. On the other hand, detachment has always been one of the concepts of spirituality that I’ve struggled with. I’ve been a huge advocate of melancholy and sadness in the past because I fell in love with it and the depth and vibrancy of the emotions, especially when they helped me to connect with art. I don’t know if I can completely abandon that part of me that loves to feel so strongly. If we are meant to detach ourselves from everything, why do strong emotions feel so right? Why does sobbing in my bed over breakup feel so real compared to emotionlessness in the face of a small loss?

Friendships?

I’m two weeks into my second semester of college. Normally that would mean I’ve had 10 days of class, but I’ve had more like 8.5, because of MLK day + a snow-induced half day. Aw yeah, that means that after 12pm yesterday, I had the freedom to play an unfulfilling game of Cards of Humanity before napping for 2 hours. The snow didn’t really start until the evening, but Georgia’s previous failures with handling inclement weather has made them extra cautious. I’m not complaining. The night of snow was awesome, with a snowball fight between any and every student outside.

What I really want to talk about in this post is friendship. Last night was one of the most fun nights here at Tech, and the thing is that I wasn’t hanging out with my usual group who I spent nearly weekend and meal with. Instead, I was with a group of people I had talked to only a few times in my life. They were all nice and it was just a great time. The reason this is so disconcerting to me is the fact that I spent most of last semester trying to join and be included in this one friend group. However, the more time that I spend with them, the more I realize I don’t feel like I belong. Beyond that basic feeling, I don’t even know if I feel like that these people are my friends. There are a few of people I’ve met in school that I completely trust to have my back, but I don’t feel like that exists with any of the group. Everyone seems to have their own person to talk to within the group and everyone seems to talk shit about other people int he group. It’s all so dramatic and unnecessary. Maybe I’m not the type of person who can deal with chilling in a group.

I’m just trying to figure it out man.

Create Something Every Day

For the past few days, I’ve been involved in one of the least entertaining activities in the world, one that never seems to end and consumes your very existence, bringing inconvenience to every facet of your life. Yup, I’m talking about moving. I’m definitely not being melodramatic when I say that moving from an apartment into a new house is one of the most frustrating things to ever happen to me.

In reality, this isn’t that big of a deal, but it has caused me to become extremely restless. It’s not because of the inconvenience of manual labor or sleeping on the floor or having to eat ice cream with a fork since all the spoons are at the house and not the apartment. All of those things are fine and can easily be overcome. What’s been irking me about the whole thing is my difficulty in creating anything. I’ve failed to complete several blog posts due to my brain not working properly, I’ve been unable to continue learning how to draw due tot the lack of tables, I’ve been unable to make my small Flask have any functionality due to my incompetence and, worst of all, I’ve been unable to wear any clothes that weren’t sweatpants and a sweatshirt due to having to move things.

My mind is so used to doing anything productive that going several days without doing anything that really uses my brain has left me feeling terrible about myself. Sure, moving boxes and carrying heavy stuff is productive in a way, but it fails to satisfy me in any way. Because of the mental unrest, I’ve been feeling terrible about myself and just have struggled to stay positive in the recent days. I had never realized how much creating things, be it CS homework or blog posts, has such a positive impact on my life and the lack of it can have such a negative impact. When I read this article about the health benefits of art, it all made sense.

As the year comes to a close, I’ve decided that one of my New Year’s Resolutions is to try to create something every day. I don’t mean I need to write a 500 word blog post or draw an amazing portrait or design something really cool. No, that’s nearly impossible. At the very least, I want to be make anything that leaves a unique impact on the world, however small. This could be a small drawing of a potato on the side of my homework if I’m feeling lame or an awesome photo or even just a bombass photo.

I needed to write this post in order to create something after all of these days. Now, it also serves to keep me accountable in terms of what I want to do in the future. It’s a New Year’s Resolution, so therefore the odds are already against me, but even the intention to create more is better than what I’m doing right now.

Peace, Love, Ukulele

This past Friday night, I had the unique opportunity to see the ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro. As I was walking back from class at the end of the day, I saw that the arts center was selling $10 tickets to see him and decided to go, just for the hell of it.

After 2 hours of watching him jam out, I was speechless. It’s hard to explain what made the concert so special. Individual parts stick out to me, like Jake’s near-constant goofy grin whenever he was playing something that he knew sounded awesome, or when he would headbang to his music as his hands flew back and forth along his strings.

His composition was incredible, especially his ability to capture emotions of what each piece was inspired by. One piece stuck out to me in particular, leaving me on the brink of tears. It was called “Ichigo Ichie,” which is an Japanese idiom referring to the idea that every single time we meet someone, that individual moment is something that will only occur once-in-a-lifetime and thus must be treasured. The piece somehow captures the beauty of each moment we spend with each other. It was difficult to keep myself from tearing up – the emotions were as visible on his face as they were audible in the music.

I was awestruck by every piece, as the tiny four-stringed instrument from Hawai’i filled the air with beautiful vibrations. After ending with a tribute to the recent loss of life with Schubert’s Ave Maria, I had the opportunity meet Jake. My legs were shaking while waiting in the line to get a picture and an autograph. I had loved his music for years and had always felt like I knew him through his music. In the meeting that was less than a minute, I was touched. He didn’t get my name, but I had never met someone so genuine and felt like someone cared for me in such a short time. He truly lived the idea of ichi-go ichi-e.

Beyond his music and just the incredible genuineness he showed in a fleeting moment, Jake Shimabukuro’s entire journey is unique. As someone who fell in love with the ukulele at age 4, Jake never let go of his passion for the instrument, instead allowing it to become his livelihood.

Before Jake, the ukulele was rarely considered a serious instrument. Many just thought of it as a “toy guitar” or a gimmicky beach-style instrument at best. Jake was unaffected, releasing albums and just doing his best to make his best stuff. Eventually he got a big break when a video of him playing went viral.

Jake’s dedication to his craft is inspirational. Nothing in his life stops him from following his love of the ukulele, not even the fact that there had never been a successful touring ukulele player. Each and everyone of us could learn something from him. Each and everyone of us should try to love as Jake does.

The Best Night

Last night may have been the best night of my life. There’s exactly one reason for that, and that is the Georgia Tech Homecoming Football Game. Everyone in the school knew that FSU was favored. This was a team that hasn’t lost a regular season game since 2012 and is ranked 9th. We were a team that had just come off a 5 game losing streak and were just looking awful.

Because it was a homecoming game, the atmosphere was unreal. The amount of energy in the stadium was almost overwhelming, even at the very beginning. It was a white out game, and the sea of white with the synchronized movements of white pom-poms seemed unreal. The red FSU fans were blemishes in the stands, complete with their one terrible chant that they seemed to do everything. Our crowd seemed more powerful than ever before (with our multiple chants, including this one). Through the course of the game, we caused at least 4 false starts and a forced timeout.

Our team also performed much better than usual, having success through the middle and still running the option when possible. The game was consistently close, with FSU in the lead for most of the game. With a few minutes left, we managed to tie the game, leaving them with the ball with less than a minute to play. Somehow, they managed to drive down to the field and they had 6 seconds left on the clock to kick a field goal with the best kicker in college football.

Miraculously, we managed to block the kick. I began to celebrate then. Even more miraculously, we managed to pick up the blocked kick and run half the length of the field for a touchdown as time expired. It was a few seconds before the entire student section (myself included) rushed the field and screamed for hours with a sense of community that I’ve never felt before. What a time to be alive.

It was amazing.

Sheer joy as the entire student section filled the field.

Sheer joy as the entire student section filled the field.

The most beautiful scoreboard.

The most beautiful scoreboard.

Done but not Done.

It’s been nearly a week since I finished my daily writing goal of 100 days that wasn’t really daily and you can look at all of those posts to see what it was all about. In the last couple of days, I’ve been contemplating what to do next. I want to continue writing with a level of regularity, but I doubt I can sustain daily writing in the same form that I was doing with #the100DayProject.

Beyond the difficulty of sustainability, writing daily doesn’t net the best content consistently. Recently, I’ve been trying to comb through everything I wrote through the course of the project and see what some of my best work was. Unfortunately, I found myself thinking that a lot of the work could’ve been significantly better. The time constraint often made me finish a post for the sake of finishing it, leading to less than high quality content. More time would have undoubtedly improved my writing and netted articles that I would be proud of, rather than just saying that it happened. Of course, it’s not like I didn’t write anything that I actually liked. I know for a fact that Chicago Thursday was one of the best pieces of storytelling that I’ve written. However, I just wish that I had written more than just a handful of quality pieces among a sea of mediocrity.

Of course, this is an expectation that isn’t really founded, but I think can be remedied as I improve. My current photography strategy can be compared to my writing strategy from the project. I would write a mass quantity of posts, but they weren’t necessarily good. The removal of the editing step led to the lack of consistent quality among the posts. Of course, if I edited my writing as much I edited my photos, I would be left with maybe 4 to 5 posts from the entire project, after hours upon hours of work.

Just like my photo strategy though, my writing strategy could go for a change. Since I won’t be bound by any difficult self-imposed writing deadline of a day, I will be able to put in a lot more effort into each post, hopefully increasing the quality of each while using a similar level of energy that my previous writing strategy did.

In order to improve the quality, I thought about what went into my best pieces. The main ones that I considered were Chicago Thursday, Why I Love Clothes, Kendrick as Joyce, and “Death in Dignity.”

They were pretty much all over 400 words. This doesn’t seem like a lot, but when a lot of my posts (especially the bad ones) were defined as finished as soon as I hit 270, it’s fairly important. Despite the fact that the length generally led to a better piece, I don’t want to push myself to write when I don’t want to. With those high quality posts, I never paid attention to the word count until I felt like I was finished and found myself astounded by how much I had written so quickly. Certain topics made it easier for me to do this, like music or clothes or experiences, but I hope to be able to learn how to get into that flow regardless of the topic. I know that with enough research, I can gain an immense interest into nearly any topic, so that may become a part of my writing process.

The future of this blog holds longer form pieces that may be reposted to Medium. I own several Moleskine notebooks that may be bequeathed some of the more personal, reflective type of content that was found here before. As I move on to the next chapter of my life, I know reflecting on my life will be vital for my success and believe that it’s a lot easier for me to re-read a notebook than it is my own blog. The malleability of blogs make me likely to start editing it rather than really focusing on the content. The ink in notebook can’t be changed.

Day 100: Done.

I can’t believe it. This is it. After 100 days, I’ve written 100 posts on this blog. This isn’t exactly how Elle Luna or I envisioned it, but that’s okay. Things never turn out the way that they’re expected to. What matters is the fact that I’ve written a hell of a lot of content in the last hundred days. When I began this project, I was bored on a Saturday night and decided to write my first post and synthesize my personal beliefs with a pretty book I read. The next week, I found myself with a ton of homework and was considering giving up, less than a week after I had started.

That action would’ve been super typical of me. I was really used to starting things and giving up on them soon after. However, by giving myself the lax rules of being able to catch up if I missed a day was extremely important. I’ve continued to use that rule a lot, especially today with these 8 posts, but the rule has helped me to stick to this project more than anything else. If I ever felt like I failed for not writing one day, I doubt I would’ve come near to Day 10, let alone 100. It’s been incredible writing so much and seeing my posts get likes and my blog get follows from strangers. It serves as a great ego boost to receive likes, because I know at least one person has read what I’ve said. I want to say thank you to everyone that liked or followed or commented or reblogged any of my posts just because of how much it means to me.

I don’t know what the next steps are for my writing “career” but I do think this was an important part of it. I know I want to continue writing in any way possible, be it in my blog, or pieces on Medium, or maybe for my collegiate newspaper if possible. Whatever path I take, I want to become a better writer and continue to get better. I’m going to keep writing as much as possible and start reading as much as possible to do so. Writing may not be my intended career path, but it continues to be one of the most important things to me.

For now, I’m just happy to be done.

Day 99: The Future of this Blog

After this project, I really have no idea what I will do with this blog, or if I want to really keep using it. By housing this project, this blog has more of my writing than any other single resource that I have. Google Docs may come close, with every single draft of every single college essay I turned in or threw away, but this is still larger. I don’t want to get rid of this blog, but I wonder if I can really follow this project with anything worthwhile, writing-wise. In the tech industry, it is common convention for developers or engineers or just anyone to have a personal website with a blog. However, I don’t think I would want to use this one simply because I can’t change the domain name in an economical way, and would prefer to have something consistent.

Maybe I’ll convert it into a photoblog, like my friend Sahaana did with her namesake wordpress site. Another option is to continue to use the site as a place for my rough drafts of my posts to other sites. I did that for my analysis of “Death with Dignity” (final here). I do want to continue to write consistently, like a couple posts a week if possible. That would make it easier for me to write longer form pieces where I can really dig down into a topic. I skipped out on a few days of writing when I was working on my piece on millennials, so it would rock to have flexibility to do more things like that.

The nice thing about writing final drafts on a different platform like Medium is being able to have the piece as a part of a linked community that is made up of people who are in the industry that I’m looking into. By being able to write for them, I might be able to build some cool connections and maybe land some sort of writing gig. Who knows what I’ll do with this blog and with medium? I’ll just see what happens.