Tuesday, November 18, 2014


     Six months ago from this very date, I made the most difficult decision in my entire life. When I walked out of the cafe with a tear-stained face and made my way through the mall to go to a dreadful 8 hour shift at my summer retail job, I thought about how much my life would change.
     To this day, the worst part was losing my best friend; and I realized this shortly after I started my shift. I cried on and off for the entirety of my time at work, and I did not care how bad I looked. It sounds juvenile, I know, but I cried the hardest in the back room when I realized that there was nobody for me to text and vent to while on my break.
     This same feeling continued to hit me every single day for about three weeks. After being in contact with the same person every day for more than three years, it was difficult to be near my cell phone or peruse through social media. It was even difficult to leave my house; So I would go to work and then go back home. I was not miserable, especially because I knew that I had done the right thing, but there was a giant gaping hole in my life that stung; and I was the one who put it there.
     For starters, I discreetly changed my relationship status on Facebook (something I vow never to post again), I took down the photos that I had of us, scattered around my room and I hid them in the bottom of a drawer, and I also put away the little gifts that I had and the things that reminded me of something that I thought would last forever.
     I did not burn the photos or delete them from my social media accounts; I did not throw away the gifts or letters; I did not ever use hateful words, even after I realized that we could never truly "still be friends." I realized that those three years were really very formative for me. I do not regret them in the slightest, even though things did not work out the way that I had planned. I keep the material things and the memories because they are a part of who I am and where I have come from.We had just outgrown each other, and it was time to move on.
     After moping and having to remind myself that I had done the right thing,every single day for a few months, I began to feel empowerment and growth. I had gotten back into some of the things that I had loved to do like writing, hiking, and drawing. I took some time to go traveling and escape from my hometown which is full of memories. I went dancing at a five story club in Madrid. I was outspoken and outgoing. I went on long runs. I flirted with strangers in Spanish. I began to feel more and more myself; more than I ever had in many, long months.
     Although I cannot remember where I first heard the word "excelsior," it has become a mantra for me in these past few months. It means "ever upward," and for me it signifies that even though I was at my lowest for a bit, I was able to rise up from that. Now, I feel as if I am climbing ever upward and that, even though there may still be things in my way, I will be able to surpass them and succeed in becoming my best self.
     I am on that upwards track and I love the feeling. I began my senior year of college as independent, uplifted, and strong as ever. I have grown so much from my experiences and I would not be the same had I not lived through them. I am happy, right where I am, and I only plan on accelerating upwards.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The trials and tribulations of a college senior:

     As I have stated in a previous blog post, whoever told me that my senior year of university would be my easiest yet was a liar, and I resent him or her for getting my hopes up. Anyways, as my last first-semester comes to a close, and finals draw nearer and nearer, I cannot help but to freak out at the stark realization that I still do not know what I am doing after graduation.
     Luckily, I am not alone.
     Actually, I only know of a handful of people who are either really on top of their game or incredibly lucky, who know exactly where they will be working or studying after we get handed our diplomas. Honestly, I am kind of jealous of them... and I wonder how they are even human...

      If you are in my same situation, I am sure you can relate to this list of what makes your last year of college the most difficult yet: 
  1. Senior year is a whole lotta work- Even if you are not taking a full schedule, there are still a million places to be and a million things to be working on.
  2. You are on your own- In high school, I had a guidance counselor that helped me sort out where I wanted to study for undergrad. Although she did not hold my hand during the process, she was always open to me stopping by to ask questions, and she seemed to know me well enough to let me know of programs and schools that would be a proper fit for me. In college, professors and advisers are too busy to actually help you that much. I know that my adviser wants to help me with my future plans and that she wants to see me grow, but she also teaches 100+ other students and leaves campus at 5pm most days. 
  3. Insecurity- YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT ANYTHING ANYMORE... I do not even know what I will be eating for dinner for the next week, let alone where I will be or what I will be doing in six short months. I just pray that I will be happy and have something to eat for dinner by then.
  4. So many questions- Throwback to senior year of high school when every family member/friend would ask you what you are doing after graduation and you literally just have to answer "not sure" and stuff your face with Tostitos, to stop this conversation from happening for the seventh time in one afternoon.
  5. Something has to suffer- The very beginning of this semester was mass chaos for me, and I realized that I just had too much on my plate. Although I did not want to drop anything, I ended up having to give up on a fellowship scholarship and project that I really wanted to work on. It was the only thing that was not necessary for me to spend my time on. Hopefully I will be able to take this back up in the near future.
  6. ALL OF MY MONEY IS GONE- Okay, the GRE is like $200; Grad school applications can cost from $45 to $75; Business attire is usually expensive; textbooks are expensive; gas is pricy; groceries are a weekly expense; I could go on for days about all the money I no longer have... let's move on...
  7. Being a student leader is stressful (But still totally worth it)- Senior year makes you a big shot on campus: you are experienced, you know your campus and the student population really well, and you now have the passion and power to accomplish the visions you have for your club or organization. Personally, I spend just as much time on my executive board positions as I do on work for my other classes. It is all about balance.
  8. All of my senior projects/capstones are due in the same week-You will not sleep for a full week and even though you look like death, nobody will take pity on your soul or give you an extension.
  9. Senioritis is incurable- That lack of motivation and early onset of procrastination that you felt at the end of junior year? Yeah, it only gets worse. 
  10. This is your last year of undergrad EVER- Saying goodbye to your friends and university is always at the back of your mind at the end of every great night. No matter what happens, there is always a little reminder that this formative part of your life is coming to an end. Every time someone raises their glass or soda-pop can to toast to your graduating class, you know that it just hit them.
     Underclassmen, ye be warned.
     Do not get me wrong, senior year is still pretty great; It just is not the breeze that I was told it would be, which is okay. I know that I have grown as a person throughout these past few months, since so much responsibility, power, and stress have been poured out onto me. I also feel a lot of support from friends and family and an overwhelming sensation that, even though I still do not know what I am doing with my life, things are going to work out and that I will be okay. I just have to work through the applications and projects while continuing to enjoy myself with all the best people.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Ethical Options for the Holidays

Although we have not even made it to Thanksgiving yet, since we have gotten past Halloween, retailers and companies now have the right to advertise for Christmas and winter holidays. I have always been moderately terrible at picking out gifts for friends/significant others/members of my family. I always second-guess what I get for them... even though I really know that it is the thought that counts.

     Anyways, I am hoping to do something a bit different this year:
I would like to either make the gifts that I get people or buy them from ethical companies. I would also like to make the point of educating the people who receive these gifts as to why they can be considered ethical.

      Recently, I have begun to think a lot about being a conscious and ethical consumer. Most of the time, we walk into the mall and find a $22 shirt, and all we know about it is the price and that it was made in Bangladesh. We know nothing about the people who made the blouse or how they were treated, if the blouse was made in a sweatshop (most likely), where the raw materials came from and if they were harvested/collected in an ethical manner.

     I have found it to be incredibly difficult to be a completely ethical consumer in the modern world. It takes a lot of effort to find out the ethical policies of brands and companies, and barely any companies can truly guarantee if their employees around the world are treated correctly. Also, the companies that stress how ethical their products are usually seem out of my price range.

     It seems to be a trade off: Either buy ethical products and break the bank, or continue to be a mindless consumer and not take into consideration the work that has gone into that pair of leggings you are buying.

Here are a few starter ideas for this up-coming holiday season that hopefully won't break the bank:
  1.  Fair trade coffee/chocolate- This can be found in most grocery stores
  2. WEWood watches- These wooden watches look great and are Eco-friendly. The wood is chemical free, biodegradable, and very unique.
  3. LUSH Cosmetics- These products smell heavenly, and the company works towards several different causes, as can be seen on their Ethical Campaigns page
  4. Smartwool socks- If you have never owned a pair of Smartwool socks, then you have not lived. These are like the royalty of all wool socks. Also, the Merino sheep whose wool is used are treated well and so are the wool growers and cleaners.
  5. Zara, Gap, and H&M- Each of these brands have a pretty good track record in regards to ethical production. I was able to frequent Zara while living in Madrid, and it was a dream.
  6. Ten Thousand Villages-  I grew up visiting these stores across the country and what I find never fails to impress me. Explore some handmade gifts here 
  7. Oxfam - This organization offers tons of fair trade gifts, from ornaments to home goods.
  8. Heifer International- This organization donates an animal to a family in need. You can donate in the name of a friend or family member and help improve the lives of people around the world. For more information, click here
  9. Patagonia- This company (sometimes called "Pata-gucci," by some of my friends) prides itself on being a "responsible company," as it takes environmental issues and workplace conditions into consideration.
  10. Hit up the thrift shop- Lightly used clothes, books, and home decor at low low low prices- never underestimate the power of your local thrift shop.
     These are just a few examples of ethical options for gifts for the holiday season. Perhaps these may help you to not only think of the friends and family members you are giving the gifts to, but also the people who helped make those gifts.

     Do you know of any other ethical brands or products that would make great gifts? Feel free to leave a comment below.