Posted in Inspiration

Matter

What does it mean for something to matter?

Matter is anything that has mass takes up space; so for something to truly matter to someone is an item that takes up considerable thought and pulls a weight on one’s mind. Additionally, matter cannot be created nor destroyed.

Personally, I believe that there are only three facets of matter that are of the utmost importance for one to survive both physically and emotionally: themselves, the people they consider family, and their morals. Everything else is optional and arbitrary for they are not there to stay.

I understand this observation seems obtuse and twisted in its own way, but there is a reason why I have to say this.

On a day where you failed a test you thought you nailed, where a boyfriend/girlfriend broke up with you, when your SAT scores didn’t turn out the way you wanted them to, remember that these moments are not representative to your survival nor your long term health. They don’t hold weight in your mind forever, therefore, they do not matter.

Kept this short and sweet because it just had to be said… at 10pm on a Sunday.

We live in an unjust and mountainous field of systems. These systems keep us alive and on our feet but they are apt to a multitude of difficulties. It seems legitimately impossible and quite frankly pointless to restrain the urge to beat yourself up over something that holds no water for the future. Get back on the horse, get help if you need it, but never back down from a fight.

Seems childish to think of it this way, right? I dare you to try it for two weeks. See how many arrows are thrown at you and count the times you tell yourself “it does not matter.” Because by definition, it does not.

Posted in Inspiration

The World Craves Literature

I have to admit, it’s been a struggle to push myself to this blank page on Word Press for the past couple of weeks. Remote learning has drained all there is out of me and replaced my eyeballs with glitchy cameras thanks to the blue glare. I’ve been so exhausted that I developed a stye in my left eye and ended up purchasing blue light glasses to manage the headaches. I was having trouble getting myself to this site to write about something that resonated with me because in all honesty, I hadn’t been seeing much that’s worth expanding and analyzing. It’s a new raucous every day in the news, more racist Karens in the media, and an alarming spread of evil that has now plagued everyone’s decisions this November.

Anyway, enough negativity; there is actually a point to this seemingly extraneous personal information. I realized that I couldn’t find meaning in my surroundings because I wasn’t looking close enough. I had developed a relapsing case of boredom and lack of motivation and failed to see the creativity that had been right in front of my internet-diseased eyes this whole time: literature.

The week before school started, I had decided to embark on a miniature reading project that required me to re-read my favorite freshman year book series and trilogies (don’t worry… I’m writing a review on those later). These books were, of course, under my current reading level, but not long after I read the first couple of chapters did I see the value of demonstrating this activity. I read further into not the story of my characters, but the act of re-evaluation. I have participated in AP English since the beginning of my freshman year of high school, but my reading skills have not always been at their current level. However, I’d rather call “reading skills” something different… how about hunting perspective? I mean, isn’t what the majority of reading is all about? To experience someone’s story through a different lens each time and interpreting the various lessons that the author wants to teach? I didn’t truly come to this realization until a couple of weeks ago when my favorite new english teacher had us read and analyze four short stories.

These short stories were specifically meant to confuse us as an audience, but they were also meant to help us see the value in questioning what’s directly in the text; that’s too easy. Re-reading my freshman-favorite books from an older, more mature version of myself allowed my mind to breathe in the text and exhale a new perspective on characters, lessons, and themes.

Well, why is this useful? Interpreting, analyzing, and studying various stories is merely the equivalent to recognizing that the world is not black and white. There will never be one right answer to a question, no single trait to define someone, no one lens to capture a moment. If you put in the effort, there is always another path to go down.

The world needs literature because life on paper is the only means of having people understand this idea and apply it to life outside the paper. We understand metaphors because we don’t want to recognize that we are living what horror the author is describing, but we have to own up to reality. Perspective hunting is the only way to truly make a dent in the impact we want to have. I’m advocating for a more just society in which we see reality the way we read literature: wholeheartedly and thoroughly. I see this as a way to make it easier for humanity to not just recognize the crises but also understand how to approach them.

Do right by the future and read, interpret, and re-read.

Posted in Inspiration

Watch and Be.

I had the rare privilege of listening to Dr. Phillip Zimbardo, a world renowned psychologist, discuss world morality and evil and how to combat it. Known for his Stanford Prison Experiment, Dr. Zimbardo was interested to see if he could turn “good” people into “bad” people by manipulating an environment to represent a prison. Eventually, it was shut down due to its unethical practices. However, it is forever infamous for establishing a revolution in APA guidelines to make controlled environmental studies healthier for participants.

Years later, Dr. Zimbardo committed himself to turn his research around during the world’s pivot from equality. Inspired by his research and the kindness of his community, he began what he called “The Heroic Imagination Project.”

Contrary from his previous experiment, the non profit’s focus was to turn ordinary people into “good” people, or rather, something of a hero.

He discussed the project’s necessity in these testing times and explained that the goal is to simply spread strength amongst our young adults. Sound familiar?

The project consists of specific lessons and modules to help people understand the psychology of decision making, good vs evil, strong vs. week, etc. This way, before people even begin to be active in their communities, they’ll understand the why behind behavior rather than going in blind. This method drastically reduces the potential violent risks that can occur due to anger and disagreement; when two groups understand each other, finding a viable solution becomes less of an impossibility.

I wish I had more time with Dr. Zimbardo, for I would have told him I fervently admire his methodology to not only provide lessons in psychology, but proactively creating change. He teaches with the intent to inspire and writes for the hope of change.

That is the type of news I wish to see on my feed. Ironically enough, psychology teaches us that humans are persuaded through visual cues and observational learning. When we present informational positivity such as that, it not only lifts our spirits, but encourages that same response on our own end. Similar to coronavirus, when inspiration hits one of us, it hits us all.

Later that week, I experienced the one and only Hamilton for the second time in my life. Of course, this experience was virtual but all the same, I was emotionally conflicted. Hamilton takes us on an intense and personal journey of the life of Alexander Hamilton and Eliza Schuyler as they migrate through the discovery of the streets and systems that make up our country today. Lin Manuel-Miranda also elaborates on the deeper meaning of history and I cannot quite understand what it is yet. All the same, he initiated a historical and original piece of art that took us on an emotional rollercoaster through the mistakes of history and humanity themselves to express a deeper root.

Why am I telling you all this? For one thing, I want my audience to understand all of the possible ways to create change through a pen and paper. However, I also want to spread the good, all I see is the bad nowadays which contributes to the anger and unrest. I want to start to see a real change out there and even if I only a reach a couple of people a day, at least I’ll know that I planted those thoughts and they’ll find their way out of my audience’s head eventually and be out there for other people to absorb and act upon eventually.

Be the change you want to see in the future because for all we know, we may be in for the long haul. Just because you’re not in a classroom, or at work, or in a laboratory doesn’t mean your duty to the country is finished. Finish what George Washington started, what Martin Luther Kind Jr. started, what your parents started, your mentor, anyone! Possibilities are endless when you determine where to start.

All it takes is a pen, paper, and a voice.

Posted in Inspiration

The Art of Social Change

I’ve been having a weird “Peter Pan” outlook lately.

The concept of growing up scares the skin off of me, and not for the reasons you’d think. The story of Peter Pan embarks on the desire to have no responsibilities and remain dependent on one’s surroundings forever. For that reason, Peter gives up on the Lost Boys and even Wendy because they have to go back to England, which represents reality, rather than stay in Neverland with Peter, representing a world without worry.

It’s accurate to say that neither one of those outcomes is expected anytime soon.

I don’t fear responsibility and leadership, in fact, I crave it; however, I am concerned to face society as an adult because I fear there will be no liberty nor unity nor stability left for me to experience.

I am concerned for the mess that the current president is leaving for incoming generations to clean up, which we are more than capable of doing, despite the unjustness of it.

Indeed, I am also fearful of the silence that we may be required to practice – this is the “liberty” aspect that I was speaking of earlier- it is a chilling notion to witness your country become prone to the dictatorship and oppression that now plagues the white house.

Regardless of my fears, I write to promote creativity and art during these testing times. So why don’t I provide some incentive? I have watched beautiful African dances on the roads, beautiful graffiti that now imbues on the walls of streets, articles and films that depict a poetry and truth to the movement that runs throughout the country and will continue to run throughout the decade.

Look at all of the incredible stories we have created: global contribution to counter an injustice, social encouragement for diversity, cultural education, and so much more. These stories emerged not from the uproar in the streets that we watch in the news, but from the culture in diverse communities that we must fight to preserve.

The books may deem this year a chaotic and disorderly time, and yes, it was and still is. However, what emerged from the violence will be an improved and just world where the citizens we promised in our constitution to protect feel protected. The fight will never be over until we see the change that should have been made three hundred years ago.

And how do we implement it?

Not with guns, nor tweets, nor instagram, but with a pen, some paper, and a voice.

Posted in History Nerds Only, Inspiration, Thoughts

A Societal Logic

There are two sides to every war. Each believe that they are building a better world and creating an improved future. It’s funny, each side refuses to alter their perspective and attempt to understand the behavior behind their opponent’s decisions – isn’t this what married couples do every day?

I’ve never experienced the technical “total war” phenomenon that generations in the Civil War and Red Scare lived through, but it certainly does feel like all of our surveillance and resources are violently circling Trump vs. the People war.

We started a movement. Many thought it would “blow over” within a week and yet we are still roaming the streets in every U.S state including 49 other countries, fighting for our neighbors. They undermine the power the People have, they undermine the rigor, the ability, and worst of all, they undermine our young. I cannot tell you how much I stress this idea: our GenZer’s will not just better the future, but reform society.

The Oppression will never blow over, the Oppressors will pay for their crimes, and the Oppressed will show us our true strength.

However, I don’t want to talk too much about the conflict, but rather the factors enabling its escalation.

The silent.

It is not my intention to sound radical, but throughout history, it was the silence and failure to act that kept us from our potential. The age group consisting of eighteen to twenty-six year olds in the US didn’t place their vote in the 2016 election, resulting in a child’s inauguration for president. Additionally, the original constitution included nothing about slaves and their place in society because of the founding father’s failure to incorporate any means of resolution.

As a whole, silence can be far more consequential than the opposing side’s actions sometimes, and it’s not difficult to understand why. How would you feel if people around you had means and capabilities to stop something horrible from happening to you and chose not to? Truly, it’s no different than high school bullying. The bystanders are just as responsible as the bullies because they watched and allowed. This phenomenon is not new in American History; look at the first two world wars. I say first two because if we keep at the rate we’re going, we’ll be lucky if our future generations know the word “peace” in their vocabulary.

I came about this concept while reading Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale in a chapter describing a billeted Nazi in the protagonist’s house. Throughout the novel, the author creates a progressing conscience in Nazi Captain Beck as the war exacerbates. The readers finally understand that Beck was against the actions of Germany but was required to follow orders and conform with his country. During a climactic chapter of the book, Captain Beck was killed by our protagonist, Vianne, because of the consequences threatened to him and his family to find a fallen pilot hidden by Vianne’s sister in the house they both resided in. What we see here is not just the bystander concept but also the societal logic that traveled throughout the narrative. The way I interpreted this chapter is that if one practices silence, the blood is on their hands as well.

My goal is not to place blame nor allow guilt, but to assess the narrative logic that bleeds into humanity today. To put it in the simplest terms: if you are not with us, you are against us. If you do nothing to fix it, you are making it easier for the opposition to imbue chaos and danger onto this democracy. Maybe you don’t care about that, some people don’t, so why don’t I give you a little more incentive:

Writers, directors, artists, photographers, or any creative leader establishes this phenomenon in which the silent are always punished because of their failure to speak up against injustice. Always.

With that, I will ask you this: Do you really think that everything is eventually going to be okay? Do you truly believe that after a few months, everything is going to go back to normal? What happens then, we just wait for another man to die? Another woman? Another inept, thoughtless goon for president? One day, you will become more than just a “watcher” if we allow the system to go unchanged.

Be a force of nature, stand up for not just yourself, but for your neighbors, your family, you children, and their children.

Your instagram aesthetic can wait; it doesn’t make you “uncool” to publicly stand with justice.

Thanks for reading.

Posted in Inspiration

He Couldn’t Breathe, and it’s Our Fault

I am sorry.

I’m sorry because I have contributed to this decades long silence that led to hundreds of deaths in the black community. I believed and supported a cause that I wasn’t doing enough for and because of that blindness, we are now at militant war with our so-called “leadership.”

Over the past couple of years, we have been in what I call, a Cold Civil war: where non-combat fighting and propaganda measures occupy the States and are used against our own brothers and sisters. Like Nazi Germany, the tyrannical side of this war has been oppressing and tormenting the other because of a certain skin color they possess. Even if you haven’t participated in this act of evil, you are almost as bad as the oppressors themselves because of your bystander tendencies. We have all been watching a war and blew it off because our privilege filtered out everything that didn’t have to do with travel plans, new clothes, or boy problems.

I’m ashamed to admit that a viral video of a man being asphyxiated is what it took for me to use my privilege for protecting natural rights when I should have begun from my very first US History class.

We built the nation on a foundation of democracy to protect ourselves from the very tyrant that currently sits on a throne of blood. Blood from the many protestors who sought only their god given rights for themselves, their families, and their children. Blood from young black men and women who’d done no wrong and were victims of a poorly managed justice system. Blood even from the law officers being beaten by opportunists during the protests.

Pity on those of us who were witnesses to these unspeakable horrors and stood by while an evil crept into the country. If the country woke up sooner, maybe the lives now lost would be fighting with us today.

Nevertheless, I have learned not to dwell on the past which is why I am proud to be a part of a generation that recognizes this dilemma and fights for a new future, even if it means defying their families’ beliefs as well. Like all teenagers in the past, we are learning from the mistakes of our leaders, government officials, adults, and even our parents; the only difference is the extremity of the experience. In other words, Generation Z has the power to find a better way. As we slowly watch our nation walk down the steps of power, our country’s teenagers continue to hold it together with their voices. The truth is, the chaos running amuck right now is not only to demand justice, but to teach us young adults. It’s our nation’s Founding Fathers asking us to be the beacon of hope for the future.

That said, I would never endorse violence, but can you imagine being oppressed for hundreds of years to the point where you are afraid of going for a jog in public? Don’t say you understand because you don’t and never will. We are living in desperate times where we need true leadership to mend the justice system and protect the rights of our black community.

I don’t want to see another name on an instagram story. I don’t want to see any more statistics. The fact of the matter is: if you can do it, vote. Vote the tyrant out.

We are living through a long and hefty chapter of a history book. Now let me ask you something: when our future students finish the chapter on 2020, do you want them to be proud of where they reside, or ashamed of their nation’s past?

Put an end to this war.

Vote.

Posted in Inspiration

Humanity’s Ubiquitous Language

I woke up today feeling excessively anxious about my AP English exam today. On top of that anxiety, I did not get a sufficient amount of sleep which only added to the stress of taking a high level exam. So, like a typical teenager, I went on instagram to try calm my nerves.

The usual, of course. Food pics… news… birthday posts… obnoxious memes… obnoxious people…

Anyway, I was scrolling for about five minutes until I came across my friend Malena’s spam account informing us that she had started a blog. Malena (Millie for short) is one of my best friends’ (Lily) best friend from California whom I met a little less than a year ago when she came to visit Austin. We quickly bonded a little later that year when she came to visit for a Thanksgiving party at Lily’s house. I checked Millie’s snapchat after I saw her post and she tagged me saying that I inspired her to start her own blog as a means of staying in touch and getting creative!

Y’all. When I tell you my heart jumped…

This is the exact response I was trying to evoke out of my audience! I want everyone to realize that art is so much more than a class you can take in school to earn credit. There is so much truth in creativity and Millie recognized it and made it a reality! How can you truly understand the world if you don’t even try to acknowledge the means that created it? I understand the difficulty in finding the nuances in art, I truly do, but art is what improves the world, it is also – as Millie put it – a way to stay connected through a large space. No matter where you go, art will always be humanity’s ubiquitous language.

Coincidentally, my AP Exam was about the critical role that art plays in society. Moreover, it was a writing prompt asking us to analyze the rhetorical strategies that John F. Kennedy used to convey the importance of art in society through a speech he gave at Amherst College. Kennedy wrote about how artists often reveal the truth in their work because they viewed the world as grounds of constant improvement. He discusses the role that art plays in nourishing our culture and our minds through grace and beauty which he believes is the way to better our nation.

You know what, he was absolutely right.

Artists see the world as one giant ball of potential and their goal is to create as much originality as possible to fill that potential. Take Thomas Paine, for example. In his pamphlet, “Common Sense,” he wrote about how it was necessary that the U.S had to break away from its (at the time) abusive mother country, England. Even though this wasn’t the groundbreaking push that sparked the American Revolution, Paine’s Enlightenment ideals recognized the true potential that the thirteen colonies had and the impossibility of fulfillment if they were to serve England throughout the passage of time.

Without art, maybe we wouldn’t have gained our independence and recognized our natural rights.

Keeping it short and sweet, I have included a couple of unique photos to spark some of that motivation I know you all have.

I believe in all of you. We have more than enough capabilities to change the world and sometimes that latent power emerges through an art form whether it’s writing, painting, singing, photographing, or maybe a new form of art that you invent!!

I believe that there is a song in all of us, we just have to find the right way to sing it.

Posted in Inspiration

We. Are. Needed.

So I was re-reading my recent posts and noticed a bit of a depressing theme to it… Rather than discussing the good in the midst of chaos, I looked down upon it and used criticism to settle my anger. I was struggling to find my hope for the last couple of days and attempted to write, but the words were less than positive.

However, last night, I watched former president Barack Obama’s commencement speech to the class of 2020 and I finally remembered the reason why I started this blog. As Obama pointed out, these last couple of years have been rough on us – the specter of climate change, reports of school shootings, political unrest, racial and gender inequalities – and just as the light at the end of the tunnel was finally glaring on us, science had to take its turn. It seems as if the universe has given us not one, but multiple signs that we are failing; however, I began looking at it from a different perspective after I listened to Obama’s speech. What if this virus is a push factor contributing to the greater good of our younger generations? Amongst all of the uncertainty, I’ve seen kids donating food to hospitals, delivering groceries to our country’s senior citizens, sewing masks to donate to local hospitals, and volunteering virtually at multiple non profits! I didn’t realize it before, but there has been tremendous growth in our country’s teenagers as we continue in this unsteady process. Now, I know that positivity can be a dangerous thing to have in times like these, but it does have it’s beneficial moments. In my experience, when we see or hear good, we get inspired to do good (I’ll tell you my psychological theory supporting that at a later date:)).

Moreover, I think that this virus has showed us that the world is far from perfect and crises like this are inevitable – which means that the experience we have with it now can only benefit us. It has also showed me that not only patience with our fellow leaders is a given, but collaboration as well. Obama talks about the struggles we will inevitably face as adults and that we need to be the generation that can modify the way we handle it. We have seen the damage our political disagreements can do to people which means that we have a leg up in how to avoid those consequences.

However, that’s a lot of pressure! We’re still in high school and everyone is expecting US to change the world? The majority of us can’t even solve minute math worksheets without a calculator! Anyway, my point is: the world expects us to do good, but the future needs us to do good. In my eyes, that’s not pressure, that’s a necessity. I know that I have had momentary losses of faith in my generation recently, but from what I’ve seen in the last couple of days, I’ve had a change in heart. Not everything I see on social media can be generalized and not every GenZ kid is selfish. I believe that we can continue to teach and get better with experience, as always, but I do have full confidence that through collaboration, patience, and responsibility, our generation can not only be a beacon of hope for the future, but an inspiration in history.

Congratulations to the Class of 2020, you are incredible and I can’t wait to see the things you create!

Posted in Inspiration

Due Diligence

So I “attended” a webinar hosted by my college counselors last night and found out some of the good news that came out of this pandemic. Most of the schools that I’m applying at are now test optional, acceptance rates are most likely going to grow in the more selective schools, and colleges are going to be more understanding throughout the year.

It would seem like everything is going to work out okay, I mean, what could go wrong when my grades are going from low A’s to high A’s and I have way more time to prepare for my SAT’s?

That said, Mrs. G, one of my counselors, informed us that colleges are now going to be looking for “due diligence.” I know that she was referring to more college research and communication but I wanted to generalize it a bit more. Even though the junior class seems to be given this “get out of jail free card,” that doesn’t take away the fact that there aren’t thousands of people dying and millions more suffering. Due diligence is important right now not just to demonstrate our hardworking leadership to colleges, but to show them that we are taking advantage of these home hours to do our part to the community.

In other words, taking the time to do virtual volunteer projects; there are tons of sites out there that are made for this sort of experience. I know we can’t help those who are sick but the least we can do for the millions out of commission is get the rest of the world ready for their return. I know that virtual volunteer work isn’t the same as the physical work we could do, but it is something, and a million somethings can eventually turn into a solution.

In my case, I decided to apply for an ambassador position on the Butterfly Team who works with PACT to spread sex trafficking awareness through the arts. I got the position and now I’m working with social media outreach, and the best part is, all of the meetings were already on zoom because of the uneven location distribution in Austin. We get a lot done in our online meetings but still have to work to communicate via email and groupme’s. It’s a great opportunity to do my due diligence to my local community and continue doing something that I love: creative outlets! It’s been an amazing experience knowing that I can help the community from home and support my local theatre groups as well.

I recommend that you do the same. If not for the community, for yourself. Helping out in the world is good on the mind and soul, especially in these times when our mental and emotional health is tested. I know that we are all feeling this anxiety one way or another (because if you’re not, that’s incredible, please go see a psychologist so they can do research on you), and we want this to be over just as much as the next person, but the truth of the matter is that this isn’t going away any time soon. So as long as we have the time to practice due diligence in a new way, take advantage of these virtual opportunities. I promise they will make you feel refreshed and released and if they don’t, well you can email me I told you so.

If you look up, “virtual volunteer opportunities for teens,” there are tons of sites that won’t take up too much of your time and allow you to work on some pretty cook stuff. Also, we are always looking for new Butterfly Ambassadors so if you’re interested, let me know and I will send you the link!

Thanks for reading. Now go do your due diligence!!

Posted in Inspiration

How I Got Started

I know that coronavirus has had us all glued to our devices and hindered our ability to be productive these days. The weird thing is, I’m not having as much an issue with my devices as I am with feelings of boredom and lack of accomplishment. I’m a busy person and I like it that way because busy people get things done!

However, since I can’t even converse with my friends nor go outside anymore, I’ve been feeling less fulfilled lately. IT SUCKS!! I know this sounds weird, but I miss getting to school at 7:45 in the morning to get a head start on my school day, I miss my SAT sessions and piano lessons being back to back, I miss volunteering at the Church on Sundays and then planning a prom the very next day, I miss my two and half hour acting conservatory lessons at Zach Theatre. There are many more activities that I manage to fit into my schedule but I don’t want to bore you with those right now. My point is, no one expected quarantine to affect us in the way that it has. Everything in our lives was basically cancelled until further notice. I’m a people person! I thrive around people and what’s the one thing that I can’t go near? People.

Now that there are many free hours in the day, there is more time for thoughts to make their way into our anxieties. This has been very common ever since social distancing measures were required, and teenagers especially, are being affected. Well, I decided that I was done letting my boredom and lackadaisical attitudes get the best of me, so I created this blog to let my creativity lead the way.

I know, I know, it sounds corny, but is it really? Getting thoughts down in a productive and positive way can only spark motivation in the creative process, especially if there’s an audience. I have numerous interests that I want to explore as I grow up but I know that I can only truly pursue one thing. I’m hoping that writing about each one of them can shed some light on my true calling. I’m also hoping to share some of my experiences in quarantine, as well as maybe advice to my fellow generation, and share a few stories. I mean, I have all the time in the world to get creative so I might as well just get to work!

However, this isn’t just for me, I invite you guys to send me your stories as well! Who knows, you may find your passion in writing or cure your boredom through creativity. After all, this is creativity TONIC!! I created this website to cure boredom/stress/lack of productivity attitudes you may feel. I want to help spread positivity and spirit through any stories and thoughts that you or I may have. I want to help people see the good in the world right now, which is what art is truly about.

To be honest, let your pen fly free here! This is a virtual, safe space where you can truly write anything, it can be a question that you have or a simple thought. I challenge you to see the more in the world. I know that sounds a little grammatically funky but it is true. Think outside the box and see what your exotic mind comes up with.

After all, Einstein never accomplished anything by believing that THIS was all the world had to offer!

Thanks so much for joining me on this journey, let’s get started!