Paddle

I have always loved the water. The ocean, however, always seemed to intimidate me. This great force that held so many unknowns, took my breath away. Being from California, I had been to the beach many times. I always admired its intensity from afar, dipping my toes in if feeling adventurous. While in the Dominican Republic two years ago, I took the first step. I let the warm Caribbean waters swallow my anxieties. I swam in the ocean. I became more comfortable, but I was still afraid.

This spring break, I was blessed with another amazing opportunity. I went to Hawaii where I stepped even farther from the shore, as well as my comfort zone. I went snorkeling off the coast of Maui. Excited and nervous, I was restless in the water. When I finally got the hang of it, I caught a glimpse of the life undersea.

Never did I think I would go surfing. Even after having these other encounters with the ocean, I was still afraid. When the opportunity arose for me to go on a trip with my friend to Santa Cruz, I decided that it was time for me to face my fears and go for it. We booked lessons a few weeks out and before I knew it, I was putting on a wet suit for the first time. Not exactly knowing what I was getting myself into, I paddled out towards the waves.

My biggest fear throughout this experience was getting thrown around in the waves. As we approached the break, my heart began to race faster and faster. We watched a wave appear in the distance. Like any experienced surfer would do, our instructor was not going to let a good wave pass by. He grabbed my board and gave me a nudge. As back of my board was lifted by the water all I could hear was, “paddle. paddle. PADDLE.” My mind spun in circles. I don’t even remember standing up, all I know is I was thrown into the ocean and spit out. I grabbed my board and I paddled right back out. That first wave was the first of many that I wiped out on. The waves that I rode, however, made up for the ones that I missed. I’ve never experienced something so peaceful and powerful at the same time. I left the beach that day with a fire in my belly. I felt as if I was one with this mighty ocean. That feeling is addictive. I have longed to go back out since.

The thing that scared me the most happened on the first wave. It was no longer that big of a deal. I feel like that happens a lot with life. We get so caught up and scared of the inevitable. Our fear consumes our thoughts and often prohibits us from reaching our full potential. The greatest blessings happen when we consciously make the decision to just paddle. No matter what challenges we face, we have to decide whether we are going to let an opportunity pass by us, or will we make that decision to push our limits, face our fears and paddle. Maybe it won’t always be your wave. Maybe you will fall, get sucked in, and drink a little saltwater; but maybe you will stand up and ride a wave bigger and better than you could ever imagine.

Fear is a Thief

Recently I have been asking myself, what is holding me back? What is keeping me from living the life that I want to live, right now? The answer often consists of excuses like lack of money, time or resources. While those may be somewhat valid reasons, it honestly all stems back to fear. Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Fear of not being enough. Fear is a thief and if you’re not careful, it will take away everything extraordinary that life has to offer.

Think back to a turning point in your life. At that moment, you were most likely confused, terrified, hurt, or even lost. Nothing made sense. Now as you look back, you are able to see how that moment shaped who you are today. What scared the hell out of you then, is not so intimidating now. When life gave you no choice but to face your fear, you grew beyond the limits you set for yourself. So with that in mind, I have to ask: What if we were more intentional about facing our fears?

My whole life I have struggled with anxiety. It is something that I have to face every day of my life. I remember the night before the first day of school, every year. I would lay in my bed, wide awake. I would think about the next day and the millions of things that could possibly go wrong. I can tell you confidently that never once did any of it happen. As I have gotten older, I often catch myself doing the same thing. I waste my time worrying about things that will never happen, while I let real life pass me by. I cannot tell you how many times, I stood backstage, hoping my cue would never come, but it did. I would go onstage and I would have fun. If instead, I chose to run the other way I would have missed out on some of my favorite high school memories. The words I have left unsaid because I was afraid to let them leave my lips, haunt me. The times I have spent on the sidelines watching others have fun because I was too scared to participate, fill me with regret. I do not want to live a regret-filled life any longer.

Instead of asking “What could go wrong?”, I now ask “What can go right?”. With this mindset, the things that scare me the most, excite me even more. I know that by breaking free of the mental barriers that have chained me down for so long, I will grow into the woman that I have always dreamed of being. I am made for more than the comfortable, ordinary life that so many are stuck living. Of course, safety is always a factor, and I will never sacrifice that. However, fear is no longer an excuse that will hold me back.

I’m Done!

Wow.

Wednesday.

June 5th.

8 pm.

The moment I had waited months for finally arrived. Twelve years of public school, finished and I all I can say is “wow”. High school graduation may not seem like a big deal to some, but I can honestly say that for me, graduating was a pivotal moment in the journey that I am embarking on.

The whole night feels like a blur, but the emotions I felt continue to linger in my heart nearly a week later. I got to walk along side the people that have seen me through the many ups and downs of high school. We held hands as we looked up into a crowd of people who looked upon us with tear filled eyes and proud hearts. I took my seat, listened to speeches from students who had very different high school experiences than I did; however, for maybe the first time in four years, I did not feel so disconnected. Different experience led us together for one last moment before we part for good. In the blink of an eye, I was crossing the stage, moving my tassel and throwing my hat in the air.

I’m done.

I made it through high school.

I’m free.

As I stood on the field, excited to share this moment, I looked around for my family. Finally, I saw a familiar face. One of my managers spotted me and came over to congratulate me. Little did I know that I would turn around to see a sea of my coworkers running towards me. Their arms carried flowers, gifts and hugs. Overwhelmed with the love and support they continually bring into my life, tears filled my eyes for the first time that night.

Once my family found me, I got to share the same experience once again. I saw my older siblings and remembered the times I took pictures with them at their graduations. Then I looked at my little sister and felt immense excitement to one day take a photo with her at her high school graduation. I saw my parents and I thought about the nights my dad spent helping with projects and the time my mom gave up to volunteer in my classrooms, just to ensure that my teachers have the proper resources to best serve not only me, but my classmates as well.

My graduation festivities ended with a party, where I was once again overwhelmed with love from family and friends. It is very difficult to put into words how grateful I am for the experiences high school provided, but it is even more difficult for me to express how excited I am to see what doors will open next. With that being said, I want to thank the teachers that took the extra time to not only learn my name, but my goals, my dreams, my fears and my struggles. Thank you to my coworkers who have pushed me beyond the limits I set for myself. Thank you to my family, who knows me better than anyone else and still chooses to love me.

Finally, thank you to my best friend. You found me when I was lost. You loved me when I didn’t love myself. You stood by my side when it felt like everyone had disappeared. You’re my rock. My best friend. The John Lennon to my Paul McCartney. You’re my sister.

Thank you.

After High School

Hey there! It’s been some time since I have written and the reason for that is not exactly clear. It comes from a combination of many things, but the main culprit is time. It feels like it is flying by faster than I can wrap my mind around. I’m at the tail end of senior year and it feels like there are not enough hours in a day.

When I started this blog, I was overwhelmed at the thought of life after high school. Now, as it is staring me dead in the eyes, it no longer terrifies me. It actually excites me. I still do not have a plan, in fact I have less of a plan now than I did last year when I started all this. The only true thing that has changed since then has been my mindset. If I have learned anything in the past few months it is that life never goes according to plan. If you base your life upon a set plan you are going to be left disappointed. That is why I have decided to set goals rather than a plan.

Goals can be big or small and they do not always have a timestamp. This gives you the flexibility that is necessary when we live in a world that is unpredictable. We never know where each step is going to take us or how far we will go until we are forced to take the first one. So, to anyone who asks me the once looming question, “What is your plan after high school?”, my response is simple:

My plan is to achieve the goals that i have set for myself. My smaller goals are what will prepare me to achieve my major goal which is to teach abroad and travel the world. The first of these smaller goals is to enroll in a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course. This will give me the credits and classroom management skills necessary to teaching in a foreign place. While doing this I will also be working on my leadership skills at my work, giving me confidence and strength in a fast paced, competitive environment. I will be working on myself while learning to better enrich the lives of others.

I see this uncertainty in my life as a wide open door to the greatness that awaits me. By not having a ordinary plan, I have the opportunity to live a not so ordinary life.

Central Coast Trip – What it Taught Me

My life is nothing exciting. Most days I wake up late. Rush to get ready. Go to school. Come home. Some days I work and others I just watch Netflix or go to my friends house. I go to bed and I do the same thing over again. I’m in a constant state of repetition. With that, I become lazy, unmotivated and moody. It is not a part of me that I am proud of.

Recently, I went on a trip with my two best friends and I realized that I feel my best when I break this day to day routine. I have more energy and I am more pleasant to be around. We drove all down the central coast, spending hours of the day exploring new places. Every night was a different house with a new bed and something exciting around the corner. We were not too far from home, but we felt as if we were a world away. It was our first time travelling without an adult and one of the first times, I felt truly independent.

The whole point of this trip was to see colleges and the places that I may want to live after graduation. I hoped to come home with more clarity about my future and in fact I did. It was just not what I expected. I wanted to come home and suddenly know where I was going to live, how I could afford it and what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Instead, I was reminded of what it felt like to be myself and let go of the routine that holds me back. I was the me that I try so desperately to be all of the time.

Coming home has been an odd transition for me, even though I was only gone five days. Somehow I am expected to get back to a schedule. I have places to be and people to answer to. I’m tired of feeling like I am hostage to a clock. I want to do the things that make me happy now. I don’t want to sit here thinking about tomorrow. I want to spend each day full of hope. My life does not begin when I graduate in three months. My life started 18 years ago, so why has it taken me so long to realize that?

This trip led me to decide that no matter where life takes me, I will work everyday to be proactive in doing what makes me happy. No longer will I look toward tomorrow for answers. I will spend this time of transition and waiting to do things that make me happy. In doing so, I believe God will lead me to the incredible things he has planned for me. We are not given life to just throw it away waiting for something good to happen, so make each day you live meaningful and love without fear of tomorrow.

Enjoy this lil video I made of the trip!

“For you will still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not”

Cat Stevens

The Way Teachers Teach

I wrote a bit in past posts about school and senior year. For the most part, all I am saying is that it feels like a waste of time. This purely comes from the thought that “I can be learning so much more out in the real world.” For this reason, it is so hard for me to go back to school after a break or even just a weekend. When I am out of a classroom, I am working and living and doing “adult” things. I’m not constantly surrounded by other teenagers and people that I would not necessarily choose to spend my day with. I am learning on my own and I get a taste of true independence.

Now, I go on these rants about school and I do not in any way mean to make it sound like school is not important. That is not true. Education is one of the most valuable things the world has to offer. In fact, for years I have wanted to be a teacher. I am thankful that I live in a country where you can go to school no matter your race, religion or gender. I know very well that men and women have fought for that right for much longer than I have been alive. That is why I believe that we owe it to them and to ourselves to better the education system.

I have had a handful of teachers throughout my education thus far who are the reason I still have a sliver of hope. They all taught different subjects and they all had something different to teach me about life, money and the world. The one thing all of these teachers had in common was they cared! Those are the teachers that have make me want to teach too. Those classes are the ones that I have gotten the most out of.

I learned more having a one on one discussion about life and travel from my American Sign Language teacher than I did in a geography/culture class. I learned how to buy a car in eighth grade from my STEM teacher. I learned division using chocolate bars that my forth grade teacher bought for every student, with his own money. I was taught to love my country and to honor those who serve it from an English teacher. These little moments did not come from a textbook or curriculum, but they impacted my life the most.

I learn when my teachers leave their desks, sit down at my level and talk to me with the same respect that I am expected to give them. I learn best when a teacher takes their own time to show me how this will impact my life outside of a classroom. It does not matter if you have a PhD or a GED, the best way to teach a student is to care about them.

As I move from high school onto whatever may come next, I will look back on all that I have learned. Most of this will not be from a book. I will remember the moments where I felt important, where my teachers invested in my future because they believed in me. Once teachers start seeing their students as more than just another body in a desk and they begin seeing them as the future leaders of the world, students will begin to have the confidence to raise their hand, ask questions and learn! They will value their education and be thankful for those who made it possible!

Looking Ahead – 2019

As soon as the clock hit midnight, I suddenly became overwhelmed with a variety of emotions. I stood next to my best friend, who has been by my side for a majority of the good, bad and ugly of high school, and she looked at me with a “holy crap, this is our year” look in her eyes. I looked back at her and said, “This is the year it all happens”.

Growing up I was always told that I was the class of 2019. Back in 2006 when I was a kindergartner it felt like a lifetime away and in a sense it was. My whole life up until this year will have revolved around a school calendar. When people used to ask me about who I am, I would say “Well, I’m a good student”. My identity was based on this concept of being in a classroom where I am constantly graded and monitored because that is all I have known. That is why I think it is crazy that when I tell people I don’t want to go straight to college they are appalled. I have been trapped in the California School System for 13+ years. Why is it such a shock that I want to find myself outside of that? I need to learn through experiences rather than in a textbook for the first time in my life. In 2019 I will do that.

It will be a big year but it is not without thanks to this past year. 2018 was hard, but it forced me to grow beyond the limits that I set for myself. Last year I learned what it takes to be a good friend and I learned who mine are. I worked two days at a job that made me feel like the worst version of myself. That experience opened the door for me to get a job where I can thrive, where I feel loved, appreciated and cared for. I stood up for myself. I tried new things. I had doubts about my faith, but was constantly reminded of God’s love in times of pain. I fell and I got hurt. I spent days in my bedroom crying over a boy. Then I learned that my value and my self worth is not dependent on his (or anyone’s) opinion of me. I got out of bed and I did the best that I could. Some days sucked but those are the days that made the good ones even better. I am proud of who I became in 2018 and I look forward to continuing to grow.

I’ve never been one to set resolutions, but with this year being so momentous, I feel it is almost necessary. I’d rather think of them as goals. Some are bigger than others and some may seem very simple, but they will hold me accountable and inspire me to work hard everyday.

2019 Goals

  1. Graduate with all A’s: This should be fairly easy due to my easy work load but I need to stay motivated through this last semester.
  2. Move out: It doesn’t matter where to, as long as it is somewhere.
  3. Explore NorCal: I want to see more of the area I’ve lived in for my whole life before I move somewhere new.
  4. Save money: This means finally opening a separate savings account and not eating out everyday!!!
  5. Practice minimalism: Get rid of unnecessary clutter and only buy what I truly need.
  6. Travel abroad: Go to at least one new country.
  7. Take more road trips: Even if it is just a couple of hours away.
  8. Be healthier: The most iconic resolution, but I just want to feel better inside and out.
  9. Attend church regularly: Find a way around my work schedule.
  10. Write regularly: Gain a blog following

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

Eleanor Roosevelt