Another One Down

So pumped to say that today I’m going home for the winter break and am DONE with this fall semester!

Let me tell you, what a whirlwind it has been. One I wasn’t expecting. But now as I look back at how quickly it has flown by, I can say I’m grateful that it happened…but far more grateful it’s over.

Yes, I’m a senior graduating in three years. Yes, I took 18 credits’ worth of classes. Yes, I wanted to get involved in new ways and beef up my resume with a final hoo-rah.

You’d think all of these things would have hinted at me that maybe I was going to be stressed. I’ve had heavier course loads in past years, and handling the Canadian grading system last year felt like preparation enough.

Boy, was I wrong. Which I think a lot of factors came into play in making this semester one of the most challenging I’ve ever faced.

You don’t think there’ll be much of difference or added pressure just saying you’re a senior, but there certainly is. Not only are you making sure all ducks are in a row to graduate on time, but that looming question mark of what happens after the diploma is always there. Waiting. Luckily I’ve figured out the last part, but there still feels like hurdles to jump over to even see an end.

My living situation hasn’t been…ideal, and a solid half of the semester I was literally in a constant state of tension and anxiety that I’ve never felt before, at least to that degree. It’s still there, too, but somewhat better. Couple that with newly surfacing problems with my digestion and random killer headaches, and my health has been fighting back, big time.

My ambitions to make an impact on my campus through various roles have taken the backseat to simply going to class and taking care of myself. Sure, I would’ve loved to be more active in building up a club and spreading awareness about causes I admire, but at the end of the day, if I’m already running on a half tank, there won’t be much left for anything else.

When there are so many different influences trying to pin you down, squirming and helpless, it’s easy to just throw in the towel and let it all ovetake you. Even if you aren’t trying to, all the stress can sneak up on you and all at once smack you in the face.

I started the year already uneasy about where I stood and what to expect of my last months, so I wasn’t ready to carry an even heavier burden. So many days were hard to just get out of bed. I still have notifications on certain apps I haven’t touched in weeks because it feels like too much. I already discussed my complete breakdown over all the assignments and projects I had to complete within a three-week span.

So now I’m feeling a weird sense of relief and emptiness. I used so much will power and energy to get through, especially when my “getting through” is still doing my best in everything I do. I guess now I can just focus on recharging, writing the thesis project I’ve been putting off, and allowing myself to just breathe.

Hey, we survived! We made it through! Look at us go! If you’re in a difficult phase of life right now, hold on. Keep moving forward. It will seem impossible until you look back and see that you indeed made it.

And I still can’t believe my next semester will be my last as an undergrad. That has yet to sink in, probably because I feel like an 8th grader compared to other college seniors here. I’m almost completely done with this stage of life, a terrifying and exciting thought. Who knows what each day might bring?

I also hope over this month and beyond to devote some time to this site as well. I’ve been bouncing around the idea (as I have for awhile now) to take this blog into its own domain, perhaps venture into making more and different content. Let me know what you think in a comment or message. Either way, expect some more words from yours truly.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

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Day 16: Learning #GIG2017

Growth Mindsets
Adopting a growth mindset is a serious game-changer when it comes to appreciating learning and all it encompasses.

Every day, you learn something new. Regardless of your age or occupation or any other distinguishing factor, we all have the beautiful opportunity to enter each day with a fresh set of eyes, ready to expand our minds for whatever may come.

I’m grateful that I am not stagnant. To think of my mind stopped learning at a certain point, especially a point in the past when I was certainly less wise and experienced, what a dreadful time that would be! Or to think of never learning from an experience, good or bad, just stuck in the same place over and over again.

Learning, at least for young people, tends to have a negative connotation attached to it. We think of classrooms, stressful tests, homework, and a formal educational system that tries to address students in a one-size-fits-all way that obviously doesn’t fit for everyone.

So with that bitter taste in our mouths, we might see anything that is listed as “educational” and cringe. How dreadful and boring that book or video probably is. But what I’m most grateful for when it comes to learning is the freedom it gives me to explore what piques my curiosity. I can seek out the ideas that interest me and just dive head-first into the subject.

I’m also grateful for learning things I may not have chosen for myself or what I might find impractical in the moment. What will I ever need long-form math for? Or random philosophers alive hundreds of years ago? Heck, even an opinion that is completely contrary to your worldview?

These questionable topics are, in the moment, not the most fun or stimulating. But with the right mindset, anything can and should turn into a learning opportunity. Ask yourself, what can I gain from this class or moment? It appears unnecessary right now, but what role could this serve beyond this point? Most likely, what seems tedious right now might be teaching you another lesson that is not listed on the curriculum.

I’m grateful to approach each day with an open mind, accepting of every new idea that might cross my path. In almost every capacity but especially in politics, we tend to close up our views, build up walls (pun intended) and shield ourselves from opposing ideas as if they’re poison. But we have the gift to let down our guard, put aside our preconceived notions, and just listen to one another.

Or even learning about history, but only seeing the majority’s side of things without acknowledging the immense diversity present and the many groups who may offer new insights into “old news.” In that way, I’m grateful I can, in any situation, become a student. I’m grateful for my ability to listen to others, retain information, comprehend that information, and adjust my current mindset to include those new ideas. The brain, always remolding itself with new wrinkles of growth.

I’m grateful for the opportunities outside the classroom to learn. And really, that can be any time, anywhere. Maybe it’s talking to new people I might not have ran into otherwise. Exposing myself to content I wouldn’t have chosen for myself but was just curious. Especially with all the ways we can communicate with one another, near and far, our chances to learn multiply tenfold. Let’s take advantage of that, using that gift of technology to encourage anyone to speak their truth, to denounce false information when it arises, and allowing for engaging dialogue without the emotions that often surface in sensitive areas.

Yes, I’m grateful that I have my beliefs and I can proudly stand up for those, but I’m grateful for when I’m not defending myself and simply allowing all voices the equal chance to express themselves. Learning isn’t about choosing the loudest person and only listening to them, but instead, learning is observing and listening. It’s thinking critically and asking questions when things don’t add up.

So yes, I think this appreciation for learning takes a back burner very often when conversing with others about hot-button topics or otherwise. We look for short and sweet answers. We jump to conclusions. We form opposing sides to illustrate things. But that’s often barely a smidgen of every detail present, the tip of the iceberg.

If we have the gift to slow down and really allow ourselves to soak in others’ ideas and at the very least empathize with their position, let’s utilize that gift more often. It makes sense for a classroom, but even more so when we get out into the world and start talking. As the saying goes, we’ve been given two ears and one mouth for a reason. We should be grounded in what we stand for, yes, but we should also be well-rounded in what we understand. And if we’re unfamiliar with something, we’re blessed enough to have endless resources at our fingertips to learn more.

How do you take each day to learn something new? If you don’t already, watch a TED Talk or research a new topic you’re interested in, just for the sake of learning.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

Happy Violent Colonization Day!

Columbus Day: Protesters call Christopher Columbus a ...
The International Business Times is one of many outlets that have reported on protests against Christopher Columbus and this day. But who are the people protesting, and why aren’t we all?

You’d be lucky to find that proclamation in your calendar commemorating this day.

Not until recent years has there been controversy and backlash about this particular date. I haven’t been old enough to have an opinion outside of what was taught in history class. That history, by the way, mostly focused on the man that is Christopher Columbus, commissioned to sail the ocean blue in 14-hundred-92.

Despite my school and state’s significant Native American minority, we never once covered that point in history from their perspective. We maybe mentioned the names of tribes in the continental U.S., and that was about it. A white man’s history was the only history, and there was no reason to think otherwise.

I think now especially, as more people begin to speak up and gain greater awareness regarding one of our most marginalized populations, there’s a drive to celebrate the moments and people in history truly worth remembering.

There are only two federal holidays devoted strictly to one person: Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Columbus Day. Knowing that, it practically means that both men are of equal importance to the American people. Two legacies that both deserve recognition.

However, they seem like polar opposites. One represents equality and hope, the other conquest and greed. Instead of standing up for the oppressed, giving a voice to a voiceless, Columbus brought a mentality with him that led to genocide and the start of a long history of seeing fellow human beings as “less than,” as “subhuman.” His discovery also planted the seeds that grew into the transatlantic slave trade.

That’s why so many activist groups and entire cities and states are opting out of Columbus Day and adopting Native American or Indigenous Peoples Day. We have entire months for other cultures and traditions, so the least we can do is a day, choosing to highlight what needs to be said and known about all Americans, no matter their skin color or country of origin.

Besides the fact today is what it is, I also thought of mentioning this today after hearing some of the news coverage from last week’s Las Vegas mass shooting. I do plan on discussing different aspects in light of this event, but one in particular is how the news has been classifying the violence, saying it’s “the worst massacre in American history.” And that is a flat-out lie, not that Trump would start tweeting to call that “fake news.”

Yes, Las Vegas and all home-grown terrorism (yes, this is terrorism. An act that evokes terror is terrorism) is devastating, but using that phrasing minimizes past tragedy and outright overlooks it altogether. The Wounded Knee massacre of 1890 far surpassed the 59 lost last week: roughly 250-300 men, women, and children died in a single day. That right there is a tragedy in of itself. One life is no less valuable than the next.

Our words, our actions, and our worldviews matter. How we respect others and their diversity is a reflection upon ourselves. Standing against Columbus Day and the history it represents should automatically be seen as a valiant act of justice and consideration. From Columbus Day, Thanksgiving, and the entire push to Westernize Native Americans, I think they deserve our support, and this is a way to show it. They are another thread in America’s tapestry that have the same rights and freedoms as we do. If the reverse were to be the case, that we have day set aside for a minority leader violently uprooting Caucasian lives and killing off major populations, how would we react?

Not only was Columbus not the first person to discover the Americas (the vikings and Polynesians beat him to it), but he was on his exploration for Europe to essentially ensure that the land was inhabited by “nonentities.” Columbus also didn’t popularize the idea that the earth was round. The educated Europeans of Columbus’s day widely acknowledged that the earth was not flat, contrary to reports.

It just makes sense to make a universal decision, rather than sporadic states and cities transitioning away from this tradition, to rethink Columbus Day. Either remove the day altogether, or denote the day for Indigenous Peoples. Along with this, we need more Native American representation in our education. We need a multicultural perspective on the history we are teaching to upcoming generations so they prevent the truth of history repeating itself. Our population only continues to become more diverse, playing host to a growing number of ethnicities, but our education needs to catch up accordingly.

Let us not forget the past few months of outrage over removing Confederate statues and flags from public views, most of which were created in mass production in the 20th century after the adoption of the Jim Crow laws and beginnings of the civil rights movement. The statues were built ultimately with a clear message in mind: white supremacy.

We seem to evolve so rapidly in some areas, but in areas that stain American history, we lag behind. We cannot afford to do this much longer without accepting the negative consequences. Why not be on the progressive side of history? The one acknowledging the value of everyone? The one seeking a future recognizing the past’s flaws and working toward a more just, equal society?

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie