Nostalgia: The End of Another Year

I am already an introspective person. I spend a lot of time thinking. Sometimes I can get caught up in my own head.

It’s a good way to check in with myself. It wasn’t until I came home from school that I had people around me who told me that I always seem to be in a constant state of stress. Whether it be tied to academics, social life, work, or finding a balance between them all, it’s been easy to let myself become overwhelmed.

But aside from that point, I think being introspective leads to a sense of nostalgia whenever the end of another year comes around. It’s another milestone, another step, towards the end of my college career and a reminder that I’m darting towards some sort of unsure future for myself.

Nostalgia is defined as a wistful longing for some sort of past memory or moment associated with a sense of happiness. It can be tied to really anything in the past whether that be a person, a place, or a thing. But the key point is that it’s usually unattainble or irrevocable — because it’s in the past.

Sometimes it can be harmful when you break out of the scope of that nostalgia and get caught up on the moments, or things, that used to be tied to happiness. Maybe now those things evoke feelings of regret or sadness at the memory of their loss. It’s easy to get tangled in a web of ‘what-ifs’ with the past and conjure up all sorts of scenarios out of touch with what is already a reality.

I think I spend a lot of time looking back out of a fear of that uncertain future I mentioned earlier. And I don’t think this mindset, this pattern, is all that uncommon. I think a lot of people struggle with it to some degree.

The way you can turn this into a healthy reflection is tweaking how you frame the past. It’s good to look back on yourself and your decisions and your experiences because it allows you to learn and grow — from them and within yourself.

But that only comes as a result of knowing you’re growing up and out of the past, instead of letting it hold you back and lingering things you can’t change. You should instead focus on reminiscing with a sense of appreciation for those moments.

I know I’m writing about this subject on a large scale, and maybe in words that are a little dramatic. But if you can identify these feelings within yourself, it makes you that much more of a person for being able to build a sense of self-awareness and trying to change how you frame your mindset in regard to the past, and subsequently the present. You don’t want to miss out on what’s right in front of you, and that’s something I have to remind myself sometimes ◡̈

Hello, Sequoia.

A Weekend in Sequoia National Park

Earlier this month, my friend Brian sent me a text.

“Hey, my friend Nick and I are thinking about going to Sequoia. Want to come?”

Immediately, I said yes.

video on my youtube channel

We were in the park for less than a full day, but it gave me a moment to forget about school and work and my responsibilities. I just enjoyed being present.

We stayed in a small town outside of the park called Tulare, which was about a two hour drive from Sequoia National Park. On Saturday morning, we woke up at 6am, grabbed a quick bite to eat, and hit the road.

Because it was the first day of National Park Week, we got free entrance into the park. Normally it costs around $30 for the day, but we were able to drive right in.

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view from the road to the top of sequoia national park

We slowly got further into the mountains. When we first crossed the entrance to the park, there were blooming flowers and looming trees, and the soft cast of sunlight from above tipped the temperature into a pleasant warmth. A family of deer greeted us, and the cars steadily slowed to allow them to pass across the road.

We took a winding path up and through the mountains and as time passed, the terrain suddenly began to change. There were less flowers, and the trees began to get wider and taller. The temperature gradually dropped, and soon we could see the sequoias.

Our first stop: Moro Rock.

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hiking to the top of moro rock
photo credit: brian wu

We climbed up a set of stairs built into the rock formation, and eventually reached the top. The drop from the top of the rock was 10,000 feet, and it was steep. But the view was breathtaking. We could see where we were driving up the mountain just an hour or two prior.

The trail to the bottom of the rock took us about 40 minutes to reach, and it was a concrete path that normally allowed cars to drive on it during the warmer months. It was a relatively easy hike but with a great reward.

Afterwards, we decided to grab some lunch and head onto our next hike.

The night before when planning our day, the boys had decided to be ambitious and take on a bigger hike. We were planning to take Wolverton trail to one of the lakes in the park. It was a total of four miles.

What we didn’t anticipate was the entire trail being covered in snow. Our only indication we were on the right path were the trail markers on the trees. Paired with our lack of proper attire and shoes, it was difficult. And then once we hear thunder, we knew we weren’t going to make it to the lake.

We still had fun, and it was mind-blowing that we were able to go from the sunshine to the snow in such a short amount of time. Soon after this hike, we headed back to SLO and left the park.

But I think we all left with a sense of having accomplished something we didn’t know we could pull off, having decided to take this trip on a last-minute’s notice. I left wanting to come back and fully explore the park. We had barely scratched the surface. There was much more to see, and that doesn’t count the whole other park, King’s Canyon, that lies adjacent to Sequoia.

Ever since I came to the realization that my second year of college is quickly coming to an end, I’ve actively tried to embrace the mentality that I will never get this time back. I want to pursue what makes me feel happy and healthy and just good, and that means shifting my focus away from simply going through the motions of my day-to-day routine. It means going out of my way to be intentional about how I choose to spend my time.

When I look back I want to have moments and experiences where I remember making spontaneous decisions to go on trips across the state, or go out with friends, or even just little things like taking the time to watch the sun go down before I have to go back to studying. Those memories are the ones that truly matter in the end, and I’ve come to understand that those are the ones I want to be intentionally pursuing. I highly recommend checking out Sequoia if you’ve never been before!

Two Days and Forty Six Awards

My second year of college: a crazy, challenging, fun, busy ride. I went into fall quarter with a heavier schedule, taking on two new jobs and wanting to make the most of my time at Cal Poly after settling in during my first year.

Most notably, I joined the social media team at Mustang News. Anyone that knows me knows how much I love my team, which is painstakingly clear by the number of times I’ve posted — or more like spammed — Instagram stories about the work we’ve been doing. I’ve been able to form meaningful friendships and work with students I would have never otherwise encountered on campus.

I’ve also learned a lot. Integrating social media strategy into an organization, creating visual content with Adobe software, and working with a diverse group of students have all built up my skill sets as both a leader and as someone interested in content marketing as a career.

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the staff of mustang media group at acp/cmbam

This past weekend, I joined 51 other students from Mustang Media Group at the ACP/CMBAM Midwinter National College Journalism Convention. Students from college publications all over the country met in La Jolla at the Hyatt Regency. We were able to attend speaker sessions, workshops, and network with a number of industry professionals. Several students from our organization spoke at the conference, including my manager, Lauren, who led a session about storytelling through social media.

But the most exciting part of the conference was on Saturday when the awards were being announced. Mustang Media Group won 26 state-wide awards, with social taking home two from the California College Media Awards (CCMA) banquet. Later in the night at the CMBAM awards banquet, Mustang Media Group was recognized as the second-best Media Company of the Year in the nation and my manager was recognized for Best Audience Engagement Strategy. In total, we took home 46 media awards.

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mustang news social team at acp/cmbam

Everyone on staff was incredibly excited, and I could not be more proud to be part of such an amazing organization. I’ve only been part of the team for less than two quarters, but I know that my involvement will be continuing in the future. I’ve truly seen the value in dedicating myself to an organization and a team, and I look forward to the rest of my work with the social media team at Mustang News.

The inspiration to write

tidbits & little thoughts

Where does my inspiration to write come from? It’s difficult to explain. It’s like when I take a moment to step back and look inside myself and the type of person that I am and what makes me tick, it makes me consider how other people feel and function in their everyday lives, whether they’re aware of it or not. How you operate — subconsciously and consciouly — ultimately shapes the perspective that carries you throughout day-to-day actions. What and how I write, at the core, is based on that idea. Because how can you make observations and statements about life and the people around you unless you have some sort of self-awareness?

📖 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

I bought this book almost a year ago when I came home for spring break. I picked it up as an impulsive buy and finished reading it in a manner of weeks, taking it in bits and pieces when I had free time.

When I finished it, I initially felt unsatisfied. It seemed like there could be more to the story, and I didn’t quite understand the message of the ending. But many months and experiences later, I think I understand it. It’s interesting how your own life experience shapes your interpretations of other peoples’ stories.

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon tells the story of Christopher John Francis Boone, a 15-year old boy who suffers with a condition unspecified in the book, describing himself as a “mathematician with behavioral difficulties.” A whiz at math and science, Christopher carries himself throughout his day-to-day life in a very logical manner. He isn’t concerned with fitting into the box of everyone else’s expectations; he wants to pursue his curiosities in his own ways, living by a series of patterns and rules which is demonstrated by this quote from the beginning of the book:

I do not tell lies. Mother used to say that this was because I was a good person. But it is not because I am a good person. It is because I can’t tell lies.”

The story starts with the discovery of his neighbor’s dead dog, which leads him to start an investigation in order to find out who committed the crime. The book is written from his perspective, with the chapters labeled with successive prime numbers and detailing his thoughts as he discovers who hurt the dog.

But the story is so much more than his investigation. Christopher is constantly misunderstood by everyone in his life — even his own father, although he tries to practice patience with him. While Christopher is considered quite the genius, the complexity of human emotion is difficult for him to grasp. Oftentimes, other people around him interpret his misunderstandings as insensitive. While he can be frustrating, he explains the world in a way that seems to make perfect sense. Any conflicts he faces in his life are regarded as problems to be solved in ways that are just as intense and powerful as with any other literary character.

But his own emotions become confusing and difficult to handle upon learning about the truth of his mother, who died from a heart attack two years earlier. As someone who already struggles to cope with and understand the world, Christopher’s skills are put to the test. The innate characteristics of human nature — emotions, lies, and intrigue — affect Christopher in a way that is different from anyone else. He regards these human flaws as disruptive to the carefully constructed order of the world. But his experience demonstrates that at our foundation, every person is built on the same emotions even if we articulate and understand them differently.

Like all of the books I’ve discussed on my blog, this one is a must-read. It uses a method of unconventional, but brilliant, storytelling. Not too dense, but not too short. I would reccomend this book to anyone who’s looking to dive into a read that’s a mix of mystery and humor, but still tells a story that is both touching and eye-opening.

A Look Back at Fall Quarter

This past quarter has been full of new experiences, new people, and new challenges. Whether it be taking on new leadership positions, spending time with friends, or just getting to know SLO a little better, I have had a lot of great experiences these past three months. With finals week coming to an end, I thought sharing some of my highlights from this quarter would be a good way to reflect.

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mustang news team that covered the elections last month

1. WORKING FOR MUSTANG NEWS

earning “superstar of the week” for my work with the social media team

Since the beginning of the year I have been a Social Media Editor with Mustang News, Cal Poly’s student-run newspaper. I work on a team with four other members and have specialized in sports this past quarter, creating social-native content for our social media platforms in order to drive traffic to the website.

My position with the newspaper has been one of the greatest learning experiences for me since coming to college with the support of my manager, Lauren, as well as the other girls on our team. I have gained an immense amount of knowledge about posting on social media, creating content with programs like Premiere and Illustrator, and simply what it means to work on a team that makes an impact on its local community.

2. HIKING WITH FRIENDS

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reaching the top of cerro san luis (madonna mountain)

When someone asks what there is to do in San Luis Obispo, the usual answer is hiking.

While SLO is a bit of a sleepy town, what I love about it is there are limitless options if you want to spend some time outdoors. Last year, I took advantage of all the free time I had and was able to see a lot of what the town has to offer. From elevated views of the town at spots like Perfumo Canyon and Terrace Hill to hidden gems like Oso Flaco Lake, I have been fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of some of SLO’s best views.

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sunrise hike in architecture graveyard

Unfortunately, this quarter I have been spending a lot of time caught up in work and school. Taking days off to get outdoors has been a rare occurrence, but the couple of times I was able to get out with friends were highlights of this quarter.

Early on in the quarter, a friend and I spontaneously decided to wake up early and explore Architecture Graveyard to catch a view of the sunrise. It was underwhelming at first, but as the sun started to peek above the hills, we got so excited and ran to get a better view. It was one of the few times this quarter I felt carefree and relaxed, sitting at the top of a small hill behind campus and enjoying the warmth of the sun.

Last week, a couple of friends and I decided to hike to the top of Cerro San Luis, more commonly known as Madonna Mountain. For the month of December, the county puts up a tree made up of string lights at the summit. The view was amazing and I was happy to spend some time with friends. It really gave me a newfound appreciation for SLO.

3. CONCERTS AT FREMONT THEATER

If you’re a Cal Poly student, you’re probably familiar with Fremont Theater. It’s a movie theater, which becomes dreadfully obvious when you’re trying to enjoy the music and end up bumping into a seat behind you, but it’s the main venue in SLO for concerts. I was able to see a couple of artists there this quarter.

patrick, syd, and steve

My favorite concert was seeing the alternative R&B band called The Internet on Halloween.

They just released a new album called Hive Mind and came to SLO for their latest tour. Everyone at the concert was very relaxed, and it was obvious people were there simply to enjoy the music. It was a different from the usual energetic environment from other concerts I had been to in the past, but it allowed me to really enjoy the music.

I am a huge fan of Syd, the lead vocalist, and the way she was able to connect with the audience was amazing.

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alpha kappa psi – pi rho at our annual friendsgiving event

4. CONTINUING WITH ALPHA KAPPA PSI

I’ve shared some of my experiences with AKPsi in the past, but it has been a huge part of my college experience this past fall. I have made a lot of amazing friends through the fraternity and have been able to find comfort in being part of a group on campus I thoroughly enjoy.

I have gained a lot from my time with the Alpha Sigma pledge class and simply being a member of the fraternity. I’ve learned what it means to take advantage of my time as a student at Cal Poly and how to take steps towards figuring out what kind of professional aspirations I want to pursue in the future.

I helped with running the social media platforms last spring, and continued my role into this year with the start of our fall recruitment. I also recently ran for a position to be on the board for the fraternity and will be transitioning into the Vice President of Communications position soon. I am excited about the future of the fraternity and everyone I will be working with this coming year.

5. COFFEE SHOPS!!

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a rainy, early morning breakfast

Anyone that knows me personally is probably aware of how much time (and money) I spend at coffee shops around town. If SLO has anything, it’s good coffee.

My recent obsession with lattes combined with an eagerness to grasp any opportunity to get off campus has resulted in a lot of trips to coffee shops.

Last year during spring quarter I only had class two days a week. I spent a lot of time taking the bus to spots off-campus and exploring downtown. I have tried most of the coffee shops in the area, from the diner-themed Lucy’s Coffee Co. to the small neighborhood Linnaea’s Cafe.

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studying at kreuzberg with friends

But my favorite coffee shop of all-time is Kreuzberg California, a hangout spot in downtown SLO. It’s an open space with a lot of comfy places to sit. Their coffee is good and they have a full menu of food. They’re open until 10PM most days and even have concerts on some nights.

From study sessions, meetings, and alone-time, I have found that I prefer to be in coffee shops rather than in spots at Cal Poly. It is always nice to be in a different environment and change up my regular routine of making circles on-campus. Which honestly isn’t great for my wallet. But I love it.

These are just a couple of highlights from this year so far. I am so excited for what’s to come in the next two quarters. I hope you will continue to follow my blog and come with me as I navigate the rest of my second year of college!! 🙂

The Time I (Almost) Became a Child Actress

It was midnight. The faded, worn-out tiger stuffed animal that I had been clutching for five hours was forgotten on the floor of a now empty classroom, once filled with dozens of children, a production crew, and equipment. It was just a prop, but one that was the defining piece of my role on the set of Entourage at the age of seven.

Season 4, Episode 7: “The Day Fuckers.” In this particular scene, the classroom was supposed to be a backdrop for Jeremy Piven, who would burst into the room greeted by the mess caused by dozens of unruly children. I was surprised by the amount of work and attention to detail that was dedicated to shooting a single scene of a TV show. Each and every element was important in creating organized chaos. Bright lights in every window to create the illusion of daylight, cameras positioned at different angles, and crew members scattered across the set. I was supposed to be chasing my brother who was running across the room, throwing the tiger stuffed animal at his back. It seemed like a simple task at first. But then I did it for five hours straight.

This was one of my only jobs during my time dabbling in the entertainment industry as a child. A year prior, I had been discovered in a mall when a woman with an aggressiveness, masked by a fervid smile, handed me a flier and requested to speak to my parents. In my parents’ eyes, it was a unique opportunity to explore a potential career as an actress. My immediate distaste at the idea of acting was evident the next day as I shoved the flier at the bottom of our trash can. But after some back-and-forth with my parents, I found myself in front of a camera two hours later, reciting the lines to a Reese’s Pieces commercial. 

From there, I worked with my management to book a couple of odd jobs. I had head shots taken and a website set up, and started taking acting classes. My mom would drive me to Los Angeles on Wednesdays, toting me in the back of our minivan as I worked on my homework. My management was located on the same lot where shows like Wizards of Waverly Place and Suite Life on Deck were filmed. I remember running into David Henrie and David Deluise on my way to the office one day, completely starstruck after having just spent the weekend on my couch watching the show.

Besides Entourage, I booked a job with the show Heroes. Season 2, Episode 1: “Four Months Later.” In the scene, Hiro, played by Masi Oka, was trying to convince Kensei, played by David Anders, to save a village that was burned down. As extras, we were supposed to be villagers, and spent the day walking in a huge circle around the actors to create the illusion of a long line of people walking behind them. I vividly remember loving my experience in hair and wardrobe, getting dark makeup smeared across my face and my hair thrown into a messy ponytail. As a kid, I loved sitting in the trailer, staring into the mirror and watching the quick transformation into a different person.

I booked these jobs around 2007. I was only seven years old. Sometimes these experiences feel like so long ago that I forget to appreciate them, but it’s surreal to watch the episodes and catch glimpses of myself as a kid. While I *don’t* think acting is for me anymore, it will always be something to look back on.