the spine to
–Women of colour-Rupi Kaur
the spine to
–Women of colour-Rupi Kaur
It’s Gen here! Hope you are all doing well in the blogosphere. I decided to write a blog post about my experiences as an undergrad and graduation. Given that my words are not always clear, I wanted to see if I could describe the feeling I felt not so long ago.
Some of you may know that I graduated 2 weeks ago and some may not. I now understand when people say that “time flies” because these past 4 years flew in lightning speed. I can say that I took advantage of all the opportunities with my university and what I so proudly call my home. I was able to have 4 jobs, studied in D.C., had an internship at Justice, and was a chancellor honors student for 4 years! Through this course of my undergraduate career, I met people that have changed my life in the best way possible. I thought coming from high school I was knowledgeable and mature, but coming to college was a different story…
I am a first-generation, Mexican-American, and a bilingual student. I am the first one in my family to graduate from a university. As the oldest of 10, there is a sense of responsibility and determination because my hard work is reflected among my whole family. My values have always been family and my faith. In college, I was truly tested by external pressures, but I never once did anything I regretted or was unsure of. I left home feeling excited, but some of the days I called my mother crying asking “if it will be better?” She would respond va haber sacrificios que tendrás que tomar. Estás aquí por una razón. Sigue adelante. To translate she said in life there will be sacrifices and you are here for a reason. Keep moving forward. Those words have stayed with me for the past 4 years to keep moving forward even through the challenges that life gives you. Normally, I am quite extroverted and take the initiative to start a conversation with the potential stranger, but I didn’t that very first semester. Here comes the sob story during my first-semester I attended classes and would head straight to my residence hall. I would eat in my room and would hardly socialize. My time consisted sleep, studying, reading for classes, and eating. I knew many felt the way I had been feeling and after my 2nd semester I was determined to be involved. I was going through stage of culture shock and I finally realized that being isolated wasn’t helping me grow or feel connected to my school.
No one ever prepares you for the unforeseen circumstances such as loss. I lost one of my close friends. He and I connected with some hall-mates in the residence halls in my first year. My roommate and I had an open door policy where we would leave the door open and people could come into our room and hang out. Most of the students back in 2013 did that; I have no idea if they still do it today. He knocked on the door and just introduced himself. He had a tendency to have his shirt off and my friend and I had commented about it. All 3 of us started a conversation in the hallway another friend we had meet in the dorms also joined in. An hour passed, and we were still talking by the doorway the two gentleman had not come into our room until my roommate invited them in. That night we stayed up talking until 4 a.m. Even though it was 4 years ago, I still remember a lot of that night. We then made it a tradition on Fridays to have game night in one of the lounges. He taught me a lesson that I still have trouble following “to not take life too seriously and to smile more often.” I guess he noticed my stressed nights, bags under my eyes, and hesitating whether I should study more or grab a bite to eat with the group. Most of the invitations were yes because I wanted friends who accepted me the way I was all sheltered and naive and thats what they did. Accepted me for who I am and not trying to change who I was becoming.
These people came into my life when I needed them the most. I came to college to gain an education and to become a well-rounded person, but what I gained went far beyond my expectations. In November 2014, we lost HIM I remember that day vividly well. I don’t really like to talk about it because I want to remember him as that happy, goofy, game loving amigo. I know he touched a lot of people in the year and a half he was there. The grief was cyclical and it came with stages. I felt selfish trying to concentrate on my studies and knowing that he would never be able to study for a midterm, hug his mom, or marry his fiancé ever again. I fell in a state of not caring and it became harder for me to study or read for classes. I was thinking of taking a break, but I knew that Evan would not have wanted that. Yes, his name was Evan. He was a dreamer talked about becoming a veterinarian, marrying his girlfriend, and having children. He loved children and had a younger brother; he was not only pursuing education for his future, but also to help his little brother.
Those late night talks we all had were silly, but also deep and meaningful. We got to know each other as friends and I finally had a little family to call my own in a place that I had seen foreign my first semester.
I decided to continue my undergraduate journey this was not only for me, but also for my friend because he would never be able to cross the stage and even though it brings chills to this day I was able to move on with time. He will always remain in my heart and somehow I felt that he gave us something. To me– SPIRIT. A spirit to seize the day and be grateful of every encompassing moment. I only wish that we had taken pictures because he wasn’t one that liked that at all.
I wish I could write everything that I experienced these past 4 years, but a 3 page blog post would turn into a full book. I am published, so who knows I might dabble in writing something in the future :).
I learned so much about myself like I have said in the beginning of the blog post. I think some advice that I would give past me would be to enjoy every moment even if its studying or taking that difficult game theory class. Enjoy every moment because our future is uncertain. Step out of your comfort zone because that is how you grow by making mistakes and learning from those failures. Be willing to be okay with being uncomfortable certain situations may not always be sparkly and that’s okay. Maintain a positive outlook and try to be open minded. The most difficult advice to follow has been to accept failure. A wise person once told me that we fail a lot more than we succeed. What I interpret from this is our failures shape who we become and allows us to grow strong if we are willing to climb that rock, wall, or tree. Know your values and who you are. This could be difficult because college at times challenges this notion, but at the end of the day remind yourself WHY you are here and the goals you want to accomplish.
I planned my future, but unexpected things have occurred and know I am in the process of self-discovery. Even though I am creating my own path I am leaving a trail so I do not get lost. I hope I ignite that passion and to keep my spirit high even with the upcoming challenges I will inevitably face.
The feeling was like nothing I ever experienced or truly imagined. I still couldn’t fathom that I was going to be a soon to be graduate. Everyone was asking me in the past week “how I was feeling?” My answer “nothing.” In reality, I was pleading that time would just stop and wishing for a teleport machine, so that I could look back at the moments that have meant so much to me. Graduation meant more to me because I was finally going to be able to graduate from the same school all 4 years. This was something I was unable to do in high school. Merced had become home, a safe haven– my overall stability.
As I was putting my cap and gown, it became very real that I would never be an undergraduate student again. Each stole symbolized what I ended up contributing to my school. As I was zipping my gown, all I could recollect were the memories that my university symbolized. My cap was not decorated it was an empty canvas filled with possibility sort of a parallel to the mindset I had as a first-year. That morning I woke up with a smile and my heart began to race. My close friends who have become sisters and who I feel blessed to have met we all got ready together. We wore cake faced makeup and did our hair which most of the time is unbrushed and messy. I remember eating 2 donuts because I was not willing to be in a 3 hour ceremony with only water in my stomach. I do-nut wanted that to happen. That morning I didn’t know what to expect. All I saw was a sea of blue in every corner. Every student that I saw sported a different facial expression and I was curious to know what they were thinking.
We started walking with my class I couldn’t help, but smile and look forward. I was ascending to adulthood not the real world because I believe that the real world is college. I sat next to my best friends and we could not be happier. We were all feeling different emotions and we tried our best to understand each other. As my name was being called, I heard cheers and applause I couldn’t help, but just put my hands up and smile. On stage, everything sort of stood still as if someone paused this moment for me to recollect every movement and instant in the future. I am a public person and I shared everything through Instagram and Snapchat the power of technology is pretty mind boggling.
This has been an amazing experience and I feel grateful to have gone through this journey that many aren’t able to pursue because they reach the top of a ceiling. I hope to give back to all those young people who may not have the resources to pursue what they desperately want. Even though, I have finished my undergrad learning never stops. I feel confident in the woman I have become and will live my life the way I want to live it.
To all the people who are graduating it’s okay to not know where you are going. Everything happens for a reason. Watch USC’s Commencement Speech with Will Ferrell if I have not convinced you.
Thank you for reading!
“if YOU were born
with a weakness to fall
YOU were born with a
strength to RISE.”
“the only love i need is
the one i have for myself
and it is STRONG enough to
heal everything that breaks
me. so i do not need a lover,
what i need is a friend.
someone who understands me
and someone who is not afraid
of the chaos my world brings.”
“Give the ones you love
wings to fly
roots to come back
and reasons to
no books have
~Rupi Kaur Milk and Honey
CONGRATULATIONS! You have finished your last fall semester of your college career. Never again will you be able to experience Fall 2017 and will only be able to recollect with distant memories and kept photographs. So much happens in a semester, a ticking clock ready to RING or that may be your alarm waking you up for your final. So open your eyes and start your day!
These past 4 years you have gone through breakups, heartaches, many anxiety attacks, accomplishments, had many opportunities, and coped with a loss of friends and years. You have made your university, a home, a place where you can feel safe and be YOU. I hope that you have that and if you don’t, know that the people that you may have interacted with might have given you an impact you might have not even realized it. People know that you are a senior because of the bags under your eyes and your resistance to use the cool people vernacular. You have been coined the term mom of your group, grandfather or grandmother because of your sleeping schedules. All nighters are no longer something that you can sustain and even if you try, you end up passing out by 3 a.m.
You have realized how precious time can be and how lucky you are to be here. You have seen students come and go. Passing by thousands ever to wonder if they are feeling how you are feeling lost, scared, and alone. You wave at the person who you always see, but have never stopped and asked for their name.
With each challenge, you have overcome so much and have become even stronger. You didn’t allow that D on your paper to discourage you or allow people bring you down. You made impactful connections and realized who was a friend and who was an acquaintance. You were your most vulnerable self as a first-year/freshman hoping that a group would notice you and invite you to eat. Instead of going back to your residence hall with your lunch telling yourself “it’s going to be okay.” You called your mom sobbing that you miss your family and you want to go home. Never realizing that this was your home and all you needed was time. Time to figure out who you are. Time to adapt. Time to learn.
You grew as a person. Became the best version you could possibly be. Your confidence grew with every passing semester flabbergasted by the challenges you overcame. You felt proud of what you have accomplished. You realized that dreams could become a reality and created a focus of what you wanted.
Now that your time is up or at least soon to be, look back at the memories you have created. Talk to that person you always see in passing. Print the photos stored in your photo gallery and hang them up. Hang post it notes about wisdom can be quotes from your mom, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and even quotes you have said. If you aren’t a wisdom kind of quote hanging person hang anything that will make you smile and energize you for the day. Tell the people that you love that you love them. Sometimes they need to hear that, especially your parents. Talk to your professors about your aspirations and learn about their history. Trust me, they have gone through similar things maybe even more than us since they have a PhD. Smile and count your blessings because there are some students who didn’t make it for various reasons.
The ALARM has RUNG time to get up tell yourself “I got this!” I wish you all the luck on your finals, projects, and papers.
Remember you got Spring of 2017 to figure things out.
I leave you with this..
Time is free. But it is priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can NEVER get it back.
This is a short response to Mr. Tim Gunn’s article from the Washington Post. I encourage you to read it.
I love fashion, nonetheless there are somethings noted by Mr. Tim Gunn that I would like to express. First, the amount of choices for women with bigger sizes are limited. To give you some context, New York Fashion Week is a a time of the season where designers showcase their top designs and also some would argue its a form of expression. Such as one going to a museum and seeing paintings many go to these shows to see the artistic creativity of the designers. While I absolutely agree that fashion is a form of art there is something that I DON’T agree with and that it’s mostly the tall, thin, models who walk down the runway. The designers fail to represent the average women; now someone would say “but what is average?” My answer would be that the average women is a collection of different body sizes, colors, and heights. Designers fail to show the diversity of women. Modeling agencies/fashion industry ends up using the same type of model for different shows. When you see videos or photos of these models in these clothes women don’t neccesarily fit into that mold. In addition, it leaves women wondering if they will ever fit into that? It’s discouraging to see the limited number of choices plus size women have and Mr. Gunn does an excellent job of giving examples of these. His whole article is about the fashion industry having to change in order for plus size women to have more of these high fashion choices.
I am petite and I have struggled with sizes with the clothes that I wear. It may not be because the clothes are too tight, but simply because my body is not proportionate to my height. As a 5’1 lady, I have a bigger bust than most girls; my thighs are dancer or gymnast not all MUSCLE by the way, but pretty thick. Yes, I have struggles when it comes to fashion sizes because clearly 0 at my age does not exist. Did they not consider someone with a size 0 to have a bottom? Nonetheless, there is a difference even with struggles that I have. I always manage to find clothes that fit and there are many choices. If a Small top doesn’t fit then I move to the next size up a Medium top. Even if I do have to occasionally roll my pants they ultimately fit. Unfortunately, with plus size women they don’t have those options they have to go to stores that make their kind of clothes. Why can’t Chanel, Marc Jacobs, Burberry make clothes that would fit them and instead focus on the size 0-6 model than the realistic size 12 individual?
I believe and Mr. Gunn believes that this fashion concept must change and there needs to be a collective effort among all designers and the fashion industry to create a variety of sizes within high fashion. Fashion is an expression for many it’s an art form not only to the designer who designs the pieces, but to the person wearing them. I can be the one to attest to that when I wear some designer I feel good. Studies show that when you wear something that makes you feel good like a new pair of Cèline shades or a Burberry peacoat you feel more confident and happy.
Many of these ideals are deep rooted within tradition. I say tradition, but the image of thin models circulated around the 90’s. Models have constantly been changing. Clearly 20 years of tradition can be changed if all designers and modeling agencies change the outlook of what they see beauty to be, but that is a whole different topic. Mr. Gunn in his article states about designers using children because there body has not fully developed yet. Isn’t that just ludicrous? When the designer is actually selling the clothes not to children, but to developed women who have thighs or a bust or both. There have been some designers such as, Marc Jacobs who has made some type of effort, but it isn’t enough.
Did you know that in the early 1900’s it was considered bad to be thin and if bones were showing that meant you were “sick?” Most women back then were voluptuous and proud. They did not starve themselves not because they wanted to fit into a certain size, but because they did not have enough for food. Yes, it was a different time and of course there were many problems. In regards to fashion, the range of sizes and the image of the model were reflective to society. Today, that is not the issue most models are not reflective to the population. Thus creating a paradox within the fashion industry. There are things that designers can do to be more inclusive this idealized image will only reinforce the eating disorders. Young girls will see these girls in a magazine and will wish to be them. It’s scary to know how much power fashion and advertising has on exploring the inner psyche. Sizes 16 and up are not displayed and we see it weird when we see a plus sized mannequin on display instead of a thin one. Hopefully, fashion can change its perspective towards a healthy and more inclusive one.