Stop “should-ing” yourself because everything happens for a reason

This is my last hoorah for classes in my senior year as I officially end classes tomorrow (Tuesday — Wednesday for some.) It’s so bittersweet to end classes, nonetheless my undergraduate career this way, especially during a pandemic when you can’t see everybody in person. As you look at the title of this post, it’s true: things do happen for a reason. And in COVID’s case, it started out with a bat. I spent many hours, many days, crying for a reason, and it was simply because I felt trapped in this situation. But we all do in some way or another. This isn’t me being selfish. However, this doesn’t compare to three years ago, when I made the right move for myself: to transfer colleges.

When I found myself transferring to RWU, I found myself “should-ing.” What I mean by that, is that I found myself saying to my mom on accepted students day, “I should’ve applied here for undergraduate in the first place.” I also found myself saying, “I should’ve taken a gap year between high school and college.” Neither of those is true, so I needed to stop saying “I should’ve done this, this, and that.” But who knew that two years in a row, I’d be nominated to speak at Accepted Students Day? I sure didn’t, at the time because I was so miserable. However, that was just the universe preparing me for the best that was yet to come.

The day before an [virtual] awards ceremony, my mom told me that despite my trials and errors throughout my college career and the things I’ve been through, the good and the bad, I wouldn’t be where I am today without all these things. None of these things would have led me to RWU, my best friend, my boyfriend, and my overall happiness. Something can feel like a bad situation to a full 100%, but there many different percentages of how you can handle a situation. In the end, things don’t seem to be too terrible! You will feel a lot of feelings — anger and resentment with a mix of ecstasy, and your “messenger nerves” will have you twirling like a circus girl around your living room. These ostensibly “terrible moments” are actually the universe’s way of saying, “I’m preparing you; the best is yet to come.” Who knows? The “best” can completely blindside you. But a common phrase other than “everything happens for a reason,” that I use is “there’s always sunshine beyond the rain.” Seeds have been planted before the [month of] April rain and look! May flowers!

In short, you’re not stuck nor trapped. You’re just in the groove of blossoming. 🌱

xoxo,

April 💕

 

 

Burn and Over-Salt Your Peanut Butter Cookies and Eat Them, Too! | Accept Failure

You’re probably looking at the title like, “umm, what? Has April lost her mind already? Three days into the semester?” HAHAHA no. 1) headlines are supposed to capture people in and 2) this actually happened to me on Christmas Eve.

Learning to accept failure is growth. With that being said, I’m going to start off with a different story.

It was my senior year of high school and people were just starting to get college acceptances. The night of the National Honor Society Induction, however, was when the tidal wave of emails from [insert school here] was being sent out while we were sitting and eating our chicken and broccoli ziti. By the end of the ceremony, I had opened up my email in sheer curiosity if I got any emails. I did — from one of my top choices. I couldn’t wait to get home to open the email, but my stubborn butt didn’t want to wait. So, I opened it on my phone, and although there was a slight glitch in the email, I could still make out the words, “We regret to inform you…” There were nine of those in total throughout the next few weeks.

If I had chosen to do anything differently, I would have taken a gap year. In fear of being looked down upon and judged, I didn’t. Another factor that went into my decision is that I would have thought I failed. The fact of the matter is I failed more biology tests and chemistry tests in my first semester of college. But life is not about the “what ifs.” It’s about “what could you do to benefit from your current situation?” In other words, what can be better? For some, it means drastic changes, like myself; I transferred, we all know that (and I got into my top choice transfer). I not only edit documents but I also edit life. When you edit a paper, for instance, you make it better. You may have failed at completing a successful rough draft, but it doesn’t matter because it’s a rough draft. It’s just like how any day is another day. Will that rough draft matter by the time you graduate? No. In fact, in college, rough drafts aren’t even graded. Critiqued? Yes. Edited? For sure. I’m not saying transferring is failing because it’s not. It’s an opportunity to be more content in life. Just like how having your paper edited is an opportunity for a good grade when you hand in your final draft!

I remember when I was applying to colleges, and the prompt I answered was, “what’s one failure you experienced and how did you overcome it?” So I answered with this:

What a great weekend. We’d explored galleries, toured vineyards, and at 8:15 a.m. Mom and I laughed and joked as we strolled to our car with coffees in hand, ready for the long ride home from the Cape.

Fifteen minutes earlier we’d said good-bye and thanks to friends for their hospitality, packed the car and driven straight to Starbucks in a nearby Stop&Shop; fifteen minutes later we’d be marooned with no idea when we’d finally see home.

At the car, Mom slid her key into the ignition and turned it. Instead of hearing the engine turn over, we heard five cheery “dings” … and silence. Ten tries later, Mom began banging her head on the steering wheel, and I realized that we were stranded. Modern day Robinson Crusoes, shipwrecked at Stop&Shop. Not a sand dune or ocean wave in sight. At least we wouldn’t starve.

But, with a dead battery, we might roast. We couldn’t open the power windows and the temperature in the car was climbing fast. After what seemed like an hour — but was only about two minutes — of silence, Mom finally said, “Please open your door and get some air in here.”

“Maybe we should call a cab,” I suggested.

“No.”

“Should we start walking?”

Silence.

“What if we open the hood and take a look?”

“You’re kidding, right?”

My mind raced for solutions, but each idea was rejected. We finally called my dad to come get us. He was eighty miles away, recuperating from knee surgery, and is terrible with directions. Help would take some time to arrive.

I love a good adventure, but it was getting hard to see our situation as exhilarating. As we waited for Dad to arrive I could either listen to Mom come up with new swear words to growl at the car, join in, or find a way to turn things around.

I rummaged through the backseat and pulled out Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories. Not the best choice in reading material, under the circumstances. Sitting back against the cushioned upholstery of my seat, I swung my feet up on the sun-warmed dashboard, and was soon engrossed in the book. As I continued to read, my contentment soured. This was life imitating art. In the next seat, Mom had given up creative cursing for a magazine, oblivious to how much we resembled characters in O’Connor’s story about serial murder.

Our weekend getaway ended with the two of us marooned and defenseless in a faraway outpost, awaiting a dubious cavalry to ride to the rescue. I had stayed alert for passing psychopaths. Not the most upbeat scenario, but “upbeat” is in the eye of the beholder.  This was an adventure.

Growing up in a small town, I occasionally crave adventure. But I’ve learned that adventure is where you find it. Going to college will be an adventure – without the serial killer, of course. I’ll face challenges – big and small – that I’ll need to meet on my own. I may even find myself stranded somewhere again. There’ll be new members of the cavalry: professors at the top of their fields, friends from many places, RAs, and others. But staying alert, being resourceful, knowing when to ask for help, and maintaining a positive attitude will be just as important as it was back in that parking lot.

When Dad finally arrived, he found us both safe, sound and a little sweaty. “Sorry it took so long,” he said as we unloaded our things. “You must be really bored.”

“Bored? Are you kidding?” I was incredulous. “There was no time to be bored!”

From the corner of my eye I could see his puzzled expression and almost began to explain, then thought better of it. Not everyone is the adventurous type.

So, if you think you’re “washed up” or “not growing,” just imagine where you were 1-5 years ago. And if you feel lost, just remember J.K. Rowling, Tina Fey, or Oprah Winfrey at 23-years-old.

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2019: The Year of (actually) Following Resolutions, Graduation, Purple, Lions, and ME

Happy New Year, everyone! It’s hard to believe that one of the best years of my life has gone by so fast. I’m not going to do one of those cheesy “year in review” things (mostly because I did that on my Instagram story — LOL.) However, this year, like the last one, has a lot to offer me — everything from a thesis due in May to graduation in December. Then we start all over again in 2020 with graduate school!

For those of you who don’t know, I am extremely superstitious in terms of colors. I have been oddly attracted to the color purple recently. I also strongly believe in signs and tarot readings. I have additionally been attracted to the lavender rose-quartz crystal. With that being said, I am taking matters into my own hands and pioneering a MAGAZINE called the Bold Lips and Coffee Talk.

My thing about New Years Resolutions is they can have meaning if you’re willing to put in the work to make them come true. Some of mine include the following:

  1. Graduate with the highest honors (if not Magna Cum Laude)
  2. Make my vision of the Rose-quartz Lens come to life
  3. Get a job in writing/editing, or take part in a residency this summer

These are just some, but my list is certainly not limited. But one thing is for sure, is that I may not have a ton of support, but in the end, I have the support of myself because I have the abilities, power, and potential to make my dreams come true.

There isn’t really much to say here except KEEP CREATING. Be as fierce as a lion, and never stop going after what you want in 2019. This is your year as much as it is mine.

An Abridged Guide On What To Do If You Just Simply Don’t Know What To Do

Two years ago, I left a well-known online publication and started this blog. I wanted to be a social worker or an educator. Before that, I aspired to be a doctor. When I was in high school, I thought I was going to be an Ivy League student with hopes of becoming a lawyer with a chemistry background. In middle school, I thought I was going to be a fashion designer.

My point?

My point is we all had a “plan,” but these “plans” change and people change. After watching a HelloKaty video about screwing up, it had me thinking of something a little more off-topic, but still relevant: who were you before the universe broke your heart? In other words, who were you before society changed you? Who was I before I was bullied for being different? Who was I before I actually started to conform to who people wanted me to be? Who was I when I simply did not give a sh*t?

That person was an elementary schooler who lived in her own little world of pink, Miley Cyrus, Limited Too, and writing make-believe news articles about celebrities. My ultimate goal was to become… guess what… an author. My fifth-grade teacher even wrote in my yearbook, “maybe I’ll be reading a book written by you in the future.” I can’t believe I forgot all about that until I wrote to her in December 2016, thanking her for having such a positive impact on me. That dream stuck with me in middle school, and that’s when I was introduced to my passion for literature. At the time, instead of letting petty middle school bullies get to me, I geared my attention towards devouring novel after novel. Then came seventh grade, and that free spirit within me died. But that’s a whole other story.

Moreover, I recently rekindled that aficionado and began reading the works of Jane Austen, Toni Morrison, Ernest Hemingway, Margaret Atwood, and Shakespeare. I’ve even begun to use reading as a coping mechanism for my mental illness(es) — to escape reality. Nowadays, people immediately rely on social media as an “alternate universe,” and a virtual world, at that. I remember, before learning how to read, I played with educational computer programs. I guess that’s how this generation was brought up, computer games before a real education. I found myself in a Dunkin Donuts this afternoon, contemplating the sociology of these Generations Y and Z. Anyway, I’m getting pretty off-topic!

When we get older, we stop playing with Barbie dolls, sleeping with a nightlight, etc. Our childish dreams of making the biggest, cheesiest pizza in the world or being a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle come to a halt. Especially in high school, we start to think more about our futures in depth. We think we want whatever will make us a millionaire by the time we’re thirty. In my case, I didn’t realize what I actually wanted to do with my life until my second year of college! And it’s all because I set unrealistic expectations for myself back in high school. It’s almost scary that I’m coming to this conclusion as I write this. But, as my literary icon, Jane Austen once said:

“We all have a better guide in ourselves… than any other person can be.”

Elle Woods didn’t know she wanted to be a partner in a law firm until she actually went to Harvard Law, and J.K. Rowling didn’t publish her first book until she was 31!  J.K. Rowling was rejected by, not one, but 12 different publishers until someone would publish the beloved series, Harry Potter. In kindergarten, I was a strong believer in the character of Harry Potter, and after learning more about J.K. Rowling’s life (her clinical depression, abusive marriage, etc.) it occurred to me, as a future author, that I have to believe in not only my characters but in myself. Now, returning as an avid reader, I want to learn more about these characters I encounter and what their roles are in their respective societies. I want to be able to relate to these characters in one way or another. That’s just the thing about literature: fiction gives us a second chance that life denies us.

I wrote a blog post called Personas last semester, and I automatically thought about characters I had to play on stage, my fictional pieces, and my poetry. Art has a way of letting you escape your reality and become somebody else.

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What you don’t know is that I wrote all this a year ago! But it still rings true today. I submitted my short stories to literary magazines and, alas, they were declined. But I’m going to keep doing what J.K. Rowling did and keep trying. As P!nk said, “you gotta get up and try, try, try.”

I’m currently reading The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, and I have yet to add some commentary on that. Also, I highly recommend listening to the podcast, “Coffee Talk,” by Kalyn Nicholson.  She literally gets inside your head and is totally relatable! She and “Great Women in Business” are also on Spotify.

Like everyone else getting ready to graduate (for me it’s December 2019), I am actually still piecing together life after college. All I know is that I plan on venturing out of New England. I’m that type of girl that always has to have a steady, ready plan to go and conquer. As you saw in my last post, I discussed, briefly, what I’m doing after my internship (besides going back to school).

You know what? I’m going to give you some tips:

1.)  For some people, this isn’t always possible, but listen to me when I say HAVE A PLAN A, B, C, etc. This I learned from my mom. It’s pretty simple, have backups.

2.)  Take action immediately. If you’re looking for that summer job, start looking early.

3.)  Develop mentorships. These mentors could be the ones writing your recommendations. Plus, you will learn a lot from them.

4.)  Journal, journal, journal, but don’t complain too much while writing. I’ve learned that when you’re purging your negative thoughts, especially those from your past, all you’re doing is reliving them.

5.)  Give yourself a pep-talk. AFFIRMATIONS, PEOPLE!

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6.)  Listen to those podcasts I mentioned.

That is all. Go forth and prosper.