Visibility

One of my greatest fears is unfulfilled potential. I am never sure if I’m doing all that I can to be successful, and even my perception of success is sometimes uncertain. As a writer, I hope to publish professionally someday, and benefit from the joy that my passion in writing provides. But recently I’ve been feeling unmotivated and completely unsure of what career path I want to take.

Being a literary fanatic, I’m subscribed to various news sites and writer’s magazines (including Writer’s Digest, Press 53, Fierce Reads, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times). Honestly speaking though, I usually delete all my email notifications from these sites and never find the time to actually read the articles I’ve subscribed to. However, an interesting caption caught my eye the other day as I was going through my inbox. It was a notification from Writer’s Digest with this week’s edition of Monday Motivation. The caption read: How I Stopped Sabotaging My Goals. I didn’t know what it would be about, but it immediately spiked my interest.

Turns out, it was an article written by author Andrea Jarrell about her early aspirations as a writer and how she came to publish after years of neglecting her passion for writing. Now, I’m aware that I’m not part of the “50+ year-olds who still want to publish” demographic, but I can’t say enough how close to home that article hit.

When Jarrell admitted that “[she] had been blessed with a bit of talent…[and] had been treading water in that same little puddle of talent all [her] life, and when teachers or bosses or circumstances indicated [her] ambitions would take a lot more than innate talent [she] found some other path where the people would praise [her] and say ‘good job,'” I could not relate to that feeling more closely. She also states that her “fear of rejection, fear of failure, [and] fear of being told [she] didn’t have talent” was what led her to stray away from writing.

For anyone really (but especially writers), the fear of rejection and always having to work harder is completely valid. Often times, it’s hard for me to overcome these emotions because (1) I’m scared that despite all the people who say I’m a good writer, there will come a time when somebody makes me realize that I’m not the writer I thought I was and (2) that people may not even be willing to hear my story. I have so many friends and peers who share their work with me and ask for my opinion or feedback. I willingly do it because they are my friends and also because I enjoy the satisfaction of fixing other people’s errors; but it’s been a long time since I asked someone else to return the favor. Most of my acquaintances don’t have the same knack for editing and revising that I do, but more often than not the reason I keep my writing private is because I fear that one person will actually give me solid criticism.

In a way, I also fear that people will judge who I am based off my ability to write and my style of writing. There are several instances where I have refused to share my writing with a guy because I think he will think my writing is too cheesy because the main character is a female. Other times I will shield my friends from my work because I think my humor is too dark or because my concepts might be offensive.

Upon reading Jarrell’s article, I’ve realized that I shouldn’t let these fears serve as obstacles. There is a segment of Jarrell’s piece that really resonates with where I’m at now in my writing career, and I’d like to share it:

Writing books is all I ever wanted to do. Yet, for many years, I wore my writing dream like a costume—acting the part but never really committing to the work. Throughout my childhood, teens and 20s, I might have looked like someone working for her dream: sending earnest poems to teen magazines and entering contests, majoring in the right subjects, founding student publications, and working in New York City publishing jobs.

Sometimes a glimmer of the dream would start to come true: winning the Rotary Creative Writing Contest in junior high, getting into selective writing workshops, getting my first byline in a national magazine. But instead of these little wins driving me towards my dream, they often caused me to back away and to talk about the dream more than to go after it.

After reading this, I can’t believe I’ve been holding back. Now, more than ever, I want to (and need to) put my work out in the world. I know its premature to actually consider publishing my work with an agent or whatever, but there is no time better than the present for self publication. If anything, I hope this decision pushes me one step further in my writing career, and maybe even towards goals I never even dreamt of.

Regardless, I started this website with one intention: to share my stories. And that, I will.

If you would like to make a recommendation for my first creative piece to be shared, please email/comment. One of the categories will do.

Grounded

“When adversity strikes, that’s when you have to be the most calm. Take a step back, stay strong, stay grounded and press on.” – LL Cool J

In times like these, the word ‘grounded’ describes one that is in a state of balance or sensibility. It is the state in which we are currently trying to achieve. But as my English Lit prof would say, there is always a double-meaning to a word. In this instance, I could say that I am absolutely not grounded, but also very much grounded.

In regards to my personal life, I am not whatsoever grounded. Everything is in a state of chaos and confusion; 50% of the time I don’t even know what I’m supposed to be doing. I have seven classes to work for and zero motivation to do any work. I eat roughly around five meals a day and wake up the next morning feeling depressed about how I look. It’s a constant cycle of distress, and this my friends, is not being grounded.

Although my parents would in fact argue the exact opposite—I am completely grounded. So grounded, in fact, that this post is probably the only contact I’ll have with the outside world for the next few days. If you haven’t caught on, I am pathetic enough and poor enough to still be under the authority of my parents, who believe it is part of their mission to instill upon me the utmost punishment deemed acceptable by modern society.

So yes, I am in fact very grounded and not grounded at all. Har har. But I’m not really in the position to complain because…well…you know. Plus, I didn’t come on here to complain, and nor do I want to. As established before, we are talking about the double-meaning of being grounded. What does it mean to be grounded, and how can you achieve this?

Well, for starters, quit watching Netflix and TikTok until 3am because you need a sleep schedule. Getting a good five hours of sleep is good enough, right? Well, I mean we’ve all told ourselves this lie. Doctors and medical personnel say that the average human should get at least 7 hours of sleep. Can I truthfully abide to this myself? No. What’s the solution? Well, I’d say that the best way to fulfill your restorative needs is to get the amount of sleep you feel best at, and during the hours that have you waking up at the most productive time possible.

Productivity is honestly not something I struggle with too often. I wake up early, get things done, and then spend the rest of my time doing nothing of importance. It’s okay if you go to bed at 3am and wake up at noon. Whatever works for you. The key is making sure it works. Because it must or there will be little to no stability in your life.

The next step in achieving groundedness is thinking things through. Now this is a rule that I as a writer live by. Every text, every word, every action is purposeful and thought out. I’m not saying I don’t say stupid things or make mistakes, but thinking things through helps me reflect on what I could and should be doing. If you know your purpose, then you can more easily perform.

Lastly, separate yourself from the toxications of life and be a little selfish. Yes, it is completely okay to be selfish. I’m not saying go outside without a mask and risk other people’s lives, but I am saying that you should stop to consider yourself. If you do this too often, take a moment to account for others and then continue. This advice is for those like me, who often underestimate themselves and put others first.

As much as I hate to admit it, I’m kind of suck-up. I respond to my friends’ questions over text before doing my own assignments, and I always say what I think others want to hear. This isn’t a healthy component of being grounded. Being grounded includes being aware of oneself, and acknowledging your own needs.

When there’s no one else to put your needs first, you need to be the one held accountable for your life. It’s not selfish to want some of the happiness you’re giving others.

And with that we’ve reached the end of this post. Sorry if it was too cheesy, but I find that these blogs are more of a destresser for me than they may be for you. Just my way of accomplishing step 3 I guess ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

It Never Really Began

While there is no doubt that everyone has spent the last few weeks learning to adapt to work and school life at home, this pandemic has certainly had its impact on the sports world. From student athletes to Olympic trainees, people all over the world are grieving the cancellation of their sport’s season, as well as the postponement of many popular sporting events, such as the Olympics.

Of course, these measures were necessary in preserving the safety of everyone. However, with the new stay at home order, many are finding it hard to deal with the suspension of their favorite sports. I myself was saddened to hear of the abrupt cancellation of my lacrosse and soccer season. Not only had my soccer team been preparing for two major showcase tournaments, my school’s lacrosse team had also been hyped for the start of spring sports. Both, unfortunately, came to an untimely end.

For many, sports is a time for bonding with teammates, an outlet from stress and schoolwork, and an opportunity to get into the best shape of your life. Some athletes, like those training for the Olympics, train for years in anticipation of a single event. Not to mention the millions of fans who follow and support their favorite teams by attending their games. Frankly, I’m still finding it hard to believe that sporting events like the Wimbledon, MLB, and NCAA March Madness have been cancelled.

The only comfort that comes with unprecedented situations like these is knowing that others share my sentiments.

Anne Cwik, a sophomore and member of her high school’s junior varsity lacrosse team relates, “what I miss most about playing lacrosse is my close bond with my teammates and the whole program in general.”

And while I’m fortunate enough to have spent the majority of my off-season practicing with my teammates, others barely got the chance to play their first few pre-season matches with their teammates.

“I’m sad we never got to play our first league game…I was really looking forward to playing our rivals and getting to spend the last few months with the girls. I can’t believe my first experience on varsity never really started,” expresses one senior.

In fact, many high school students have waited the entire year to represent their school in the sport they feel most passionate about. Spring sports like softball/baseball, swimming, golf, lacrosse, and track/field were just underway.

“I wanted to dedicate my full year to lacrosse and not do any other sports,” says Owen Rooney, a freshman on University High School’s lacrosse team. “This backfired because I was only able to play part of our preseason before COVID-19 cancelled my season.”

Others like Owen took the same approach to their sport. No one would have predicted this outcome to their much anticipated season.

“I miss being able to jump into the pool and swim to my heart’s content,” says Nicole Wang, a member of the AquaZot swim club and athlete on her high school’s swim team. “Swim was a really big destresser for me, and it allowed me to focus on something other than my school work.”

This is true of many people. The camaraderie and friendly competition that comes with playing a sport is the reason why many people choose to participate.

“I miss the push that I got from my peers and coaches. With everyone training together, I had a lot of motivation and guidance,” says Hrishi Shaw, a high school track and field athlete. “Right now, I’m trying to research and keep myself motivated…it’s definitely not as fun to be without the sort of community I had backing me up before.”

Another student athlete and swimmer for Irvine Novaquatics, Peter Xu, relates that “without swim practices, I can’t see my teammates, some of which are my best friends.”

There is no shortage of disappointment towards the cancellation of our favorite sports. However, the best we can do at times like these is learn to adapt and continue to go about our daily lives—at home, of course.

With the absence of my lacrosse practices/games, after school soccer practices, and weightlifting sessions, I’ve found myself with a lot of extra time and far too little space. Some things I’ve been doing to temporarily offset the sedentary lifestyle I’ve now adopted include: home workouts, frequent breaks, and healthy eating.

Well okay maybe not that last one.

But I do try to stay as active as I can with all the snacks I’ve been consuming. While there’s no possible way to fill the hole that spending time with my teams left, I’ve found that there are other forms of exercise that I enjoy too. For instance, pilates and indoor HIIT workouts have become a part of my daily routine, and I’m not angry at the opportunity to work on my abs. Full field sprints have become laps around my neighborhood; if I feel up to it, I pass against the wall in my backyard.

Morgan Alverson, a member of the OC Surf soccer club and athlete on El Toro High School’s track team says, “my coach is sending out workouts and ball skills for us to work on…it has made me a lot less busy and I can do things according to my own time.”

And while many people forget that playing a sport is often a matter of self drive and motivation, most serious athletes must continue to train hard even when their sport isn’t in session. With the closure of public parks, gyms, and fields, many of us have to get creative.

Ashleigh, a freshman athlete, misses her team, but says that she is learning to adapt to the current circumstances. “It has made me workout in different ways…I have to facetime friends instead of in real life,” she says.

I don’t usually facetime people, but I’m starting to think I should. Minor adjustments like these are what keep athletes sane sometimes, and for many team sport athletes, social interaction plays a major role in motivation.

One thing that has kept me connected to my friends and teammates is Zoom. Every Thursday my lacrosse coach holds a live session where we go over past game footage or just talk. Even though we’re not really together, it’s comforting to see how my friends are faring, and the consistent fitness check-ins keep me accountable.

So for all the athletes out there, I urge you to continue working out and stay invested in your sport. Because when all this is over, I think the parks are going to be quite crowded.

Mulligan

We often hear the saying ‘write with a purpose.’ Now, I usually don’t write two posts in a day, but after rereading (and refreshing) my last post several times, I’ve come to the realization that my first post did not accomplish what I set out to do. And I apologize for that—for possibly boring you twice today. But bear with me for a moment. When I originally typed up my first post—and created this blog—I did it with the intention of accomplishing something. What, you ask? Well, a few things to say the least. The objective of my initial post was to (1) introduce myself and assert a sense of familiarity with my readers so that some might even decide to subscribe, and (2) fulfil my personal need to share my thoughts and occupy some of my time for sanity’s sake. I’m afraid that post did not satisfy either of those goals. Because looking back, I realize that I tried to generalize my habits in such a way that made me seem relatable to as many people as possible. Despite my better judgement, I talked about my life in quarantine. To myself I say, well no duh they can relate to that, everyone’s in quarantine! And I bet that you sure as heck don’t want to be reminded of it. So here’s what I really set out to do:

I wanted to share my thoughts and experiences in a way that others could relate to and also maybe (just maybe) release some of the weight on my mind. Sure, trying to get a website up and figure out how to format everything occupied some time, but for what? From my last post, I mention school and teammates. So you can assume that I’m a student and that well…I play sports? That really doesn’t tell you anything about me. I could be in college. I could be in middle school. I could be a sixth-grader for all you know. At this point, I’m just another stranger on the internet possibly fishing for the popularity that my sad self can’t get in real life. So let me tell you about myself, and maybe (just maybe) accomplish what I set out to do.

I’m not going to tell you how old I am, or where I live, or my social security number, but I am going to tell you this: I am a strong, opinionated individual who believes strongly in equal rights and that perseverance and self improvement can provide someone with the means to success. So when I found out a few days ago that I would not be going to the school of my choice after all the hard work I went through to apply, I was devastated. Angry. Very angry, in fact. For the days that followed, I was either angry or depressed. For every minute that I was not basking in self-hatred and frustration towards others, I was hopelessly balling my eyes out. At this point you might have decided that I’m just another one of those self-absorbed, lazy snobs who thinks they get whatever they want. Well you’re wrong. You don’t know me. You don’t know the full story yet, so let me give you the details.

Nearly two years ago, 2018, I applied to a prestigious arts school with the intention of entering their writing conservatory. I was accepted. I wasn’t really sure I wanted to follow that path though. Most of my friends would be going to a different school, and I would lose all the connections I had going into that year. But then I was presented with this dilemma: my parents felt it would be good for me to go to yet a different school. Not the school most of my friends were going to. Definitely not the arts school. They wanted to send me to a relatively new school; thirty minutes from our home (meaning I would have to get up even earlier each day to attend), and only two of my other friends would be going. Suddenly things were so much more confusing. All I knew was that I definitely did not want to go that school. Somewhere along the way, I developed the idea that this school was for dummies—for all the losers that wouldn’t succeed at the other schools. When I saw all of my friends heading to the school with a reputation for being hard, the friends heading to the arts school whose acceptance my parents declined, and the even the friends who were accepted into private schools, I looked at myself and saw one thing: a loser. I constantly thought, my parents must think I’m a total loser for sending me to this school. And for some reason (maybe my bad attitude), the universe decided that I would be the one student who got lost on orientation day, the one person whose schedule got totally flopped, and the one person whose name wasn’t on the list for clubs. That year (this year really), I was pushed down to the lowest tier soccer team even though I played club outside of school. Even though I went out of my way to help the other players (who had barely played soccer before) on the team, I wasn’t elected team captain. Even though I was part of the top orchestra at my last school, I became a second violin in the beginner level orchestra at this school. Now this may seem self-centered, and I’ll admit it is, but going into the year, I prided myself in being the best version of myself, and thought I was superior because I liked challenges. I wanted to go to the harder school because I wanted to prove that I could face those challenges academically. I wanted to go to the arts school because I wanted to prove that my writing was actually good—that it wasn’t just good inside my head. So yes, we backtracked a bit there, but I’ll tell you how this is relevant to the whole story.

Last year, 2019, I began the process of reapplying for the arts school. By now I was certain that that was where I wanted to go, and that there, I’d be able to accomplish my dreams of becoming a successful writer. Again, I made it through to the second round of auditions, but there was this: the school had nearly reached maximum enrollment, so to solve the threat of applicant overflow, the school decided that this year, all second round applicants would be put through a random lottery. As you can probably guess…NO, THE DAMN COMPUTER DID NOT CHOSE ME. And I know you’re probably like ‘so why the heck are you so sad over this?’ Well, there’s this. To me, getting accepted to that school again was my only ticket out of…well…whatever it is that I’m in now. And I’m angry. Angry at mostly my parents for declining my acceptance the first time. Angry at myself for somehow not being able to be re-accepted; for not being more certain of my path the first time around. Angry at my peers, who see nothing wrong with the school I currently attend. Should also say that I’m angry at that heartless piece of machinery that decided my fate, although whenever I think about this, I realize yet again that my acceptance would not have been decided by a machine had I accepted the invitation when I got it.

So here we are folks. Back to the purpose of why I’m writing this. I could say once again, that I wrote this so that someone out there, who relates to my situation just as closely—or has even faced rejection on some level—knows they’re not alone. But that’s not the whole truth. No. I wrote this mostly for myself. Yes, I hope this means something to someone other than myself too, but I’ve just now figured out that all the anger I’ve felt this entire year has had a need to be documented this whole time. Because, truly I believe, the first step in coming to terms with one’s anger, is acknowledging its origin and being able to look at, re-read, and re-determine exactly what it is I’m angry at. Because only then can I print it out, tear it up, and move on with my life.

And finally, I can look in the mirror and see this: I’m not a loser, just a work in progress.

Thank you for listening to my Ted Talk. But in all seriousness, I hope that you’ve read every word on this post and absorbed the full extent of this message because it’s purpose is there. I made sure of that.

Best Wishes,

Writer at Random

Quarantine: A Day in the Life

I know you’re bored of quarantine, and probably don’t want to hear about another person’s boring day, but hear me out. I recently “came back” from spring leave, and am now returning to hours of online courses and Emergency Distance Learning agendas. Around 6 hours of schoolwork a day, unlimited breaks and snacks, and an unstructured schedule? I mean, half of us wanted that. The other half of us well…we’re still adjusting. I have always loved school, but now more than ever, I miss the fellowship of my peers and the camaraderie that comes with going to a public school. I mean, no one ever saw that coming when the governor decided to suspend all schools. Nevertheless, there’s always something we can learn from unprecedented situations, and I think it’s this: no matter how many challenges are thrown at us, the human race was made to survive and adapt—even in quarantine! So despite the seemingly endless hours of boredom and confusion, I think we are all secretly intrigued to be a part of something so impactful to the world and humanity. I know you’ve at least realized that what’s occurring now will probably be in history books decades into the future. Students in 2100 are going to be reading and researching and writing reports on COVID-19. And hey, maybe this post will someday be a primary source used by teachers and professors to analyze the effects and hardships of 2020. But seriously, for those of us not actually suffering from coronavirus, I think this pandemic has had a greater effect on my psyche than anything else. Yes, we all seem to be running out of toilet paper and hand sanitizer and chocolate chip cookies everyday, but do know what being in the same house with the same people for the past four weeks has done to me?! Pre-quarantine, I went from seeing my family maybe 35 hours a week to now seeing them at every meal and literally every time I leave the sanctuary of my room. Of course there’s nothing wrong with family, but just saying I used to fight with my brother every time we saw each other (you can imagine how much we fight now). And aside from the long hours spent cooped up in my room in front of a screen, I miss doing sprints. Okay, I’m weird. Already established. But no soccer player can say they don’t miss stretching and rolling out with their teammates after coach made the whole team run full field suicides. And I swear I would swallow down every complaint my teammates and I made when we were standing on the bleachers in pouring rain if it meant we could play another game. Odd how COVID-19 suddenly makes me 100% more grateful about taking the high school fitness test, and how I really don’t hate that annoying kid in period 5 as much as I thought I did. Oh well.

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed this, or least can relate to it. Because I’m bored and I know you are too, I hope you’ll stay tuned. Maybe check out some of the other tabs if you’re tired of watching TikToks and playing Animal Crossing.

Until then,

Writer at Random