Memory

I was rooting through a lot of my old stuff the other day – the various articles of my childhood that inhabit the attic space attached to my room. My mom has perpetually made fun of me because of my squirrel-like habit of tunneling little tid bits away like that. for some reason I have never been quite as skilled as she is at grasping the concept of “spring cleaning.”She considers all these items that I end to hold onto as “trash” and “a waste of space.” And, in all honesty, to the naked eye, that is precisely what this Hodge-podge collection of miscellaneous items is.

But to me, each old trinket, photo, magazine and bookmark is a memory trigger. My quandary with the whole thing is that I fear that transience of memory. I know that it tends to be only a fleeting and volatile thing. We like to assume that our memories are accurate and that they will last as we do, but in reality they fade and are warped by our perceptions. Regardless, I treasure them. I keep all of these items for fear that I will lose the memories attached to them. And it is true, without these triggers, some of my fondest childhood memories may very well slip into oblivion. Maybe not everyone finds this as tragic as me, maybe I’m too nostalgic, maybe it’s because I sometimes fear the future, maybe it’s because I’m struggling to figure “me” out, that has yet to be decided.

An Argument

DSCN7594aI implore every college student to study abroad at least one time in their college career. I know it can be expensive, but there are tons of scholarship opportunities out there to make it possible. The summer after my first year at Carolina I was selected along with 24 other first years to travel abroad to Singapore, India and Brunei. It was the most incredible experience of my life and if I had to put my finger on the one thing that was the biggest catalyst for change in my college career, I would select this trip.

The trip was the most truly unforgettable experience of my life because not only did it motivate me to want to be involved internationally, but it provided me lifelong friends, friends whom I now call family. The trip showed me what I’m truly capable of. I honestly never believed that I would be selected for such a prestigious honor and even while on the trip I felt that I didn’t quite deserve it because the caliber of people I was surrounded with was so high. This trip motivated me to continue to push past my insecurities and fears and continue to challenge myself. It showed me that I am capable of achieving anything that I put my mind to. It opened my eyes to the plight of others less fortunate in foreign countries as well as the United States and revealed deep inequalities in our society that I had never really noticed before.

465Beyond all of these important things that the trip helped me to see, I think one of the most enduring and life changing parts of the trip were the relationships I built. At this point it doesn’t matter what I thought about anyone who went on the trip, who annoyed me, who I didn’t always get along with, or who I felt closest to. I feel like the bonds that were established over the 2 months abroad that summer are so strong that I will always have those people to support me and be there for me if I ever need anything. I often find myself referring to them as my SEAS family, because that’s what they are to me. Every single member of the incredible group of people who shared their summer with me is phenomenal. I could name at least one thing that I value and admire in every single one of them and honestly consider myself lucky to have met them. When I see what they are doing with their individual skills and talents on campus and in the wider sphere, they inspire and motivate me to do better. Once again, I cannot possibly fully express my gratitude for every single person who made this trip possible for me as well as my fellow participants. I am beyond thankful for having been given this opportunity.

These people remain a big part of my life and are the type of friends where if you haven’t seen them in a long time, you can pick back up where you started, and not feel like anything is missing.

A Few of My Favorite Things

Sometimes a picture is really worth a thousand words. As smart phones and other “smart’ devices become more prevalent, communication is moving to favor images over words. Why is this? Images are much more easily consumed than words. They are quicker and easier to look at as well as being more visually appealing. But they really do offer an perspective that sometimes words cannot. So, for this post I’ve decided to share a couple of my favorite photographs that I’ve taken over the years.

The Taj Mahal from my trip to India the summer after my first year at Carolina

The Taj Mahal from my trip to India the summer after my first year at Carolina

A close-up of the Singapore Flyer

A close-up of the Singapore Flyer

From a church in my favorite city, Charleston.

From a church in my favorite city, Charleston.

From a temple in Brunei

From a temple in Brunei

As a Mother…

I know I’ve written about a ton of other things between now and the last post I had about Happy Valley, the documentary, but I still think about it and there were so many things I still haven’t said about it.

One is, as a future mother I saw this film and could not help but wonder, as a mother, how do you protect your child from this type of thing? It is so challenging I feel because there are people out there who genuinely love and want to help and nurture/foster children’s growth, and then there are those who pretend to be those people in order to abuse children. Most abusers set themselves up in positions where they know that they will have access to children and especially in situations where they know that they will have authority over them.

I attended Bishop McGuiness Catholic High School in Kernersville, North Carolina for all four years prior to coming to Chapel Hill and right after I graduated, a scandal broke involving the priest that served as the priest for the high school in addition to several of the surrounding Catholic middle/elementary schools. The allegation against the priest – Father Kelleher – came from a victim he has sexually abused several years ago at another parish, but it was one of those times when one victim comes out of the woodwork, others begin to follow.

Given this experience and the experience of the film, how do you protect your child from this kind of danger? How can you decipher good from bad?

Also, it was said in the documentary that custody was transferred from Sanducky’s adopted son Matt from his biological mother to Sandusky and the film seemed to hint that this was a mistake on the part of the courts. As pretext, Matt lived in a house that he described as without running water and overrun with roaches and bugs. He inhabited the small space with his mother and many other family members and obviously lived in deep poverty, an aspect that Sandusky no doubt took full advantage of. In this case, I think that hindsight is 20/20. While looking back, we can see that Matt’s mother objected to Matt being in the Sandusky’s custody because he was known to “play mind tricks with Matt,” but at the time, how many mothers who can’t take care of their children would say something like this? In the court’s eyes, the Sanduskys gaining custody of Matt seemed infinitely  better than his current situation.

The Anatomy of a Hashtag

And by anatomy, I mean human anatomy. I was going through my laptop today and found some old notes on my laptop about some observations I had on spring break that I meant to write about.

There’s nothing like a week away from social media to really make you think about the contributions that it has on the way we communicate and organize our lives. In conjunction with technology, it plays a key role in how we interact with each other. Even without it, I found that the impact of different social media platforms crept into the daily vernacular on our cruise.

Inspired most likely by the following hilarious video that aired on Jimmy Fallon, featuring one of my favorite people, Justin Timberlake. If you haven’t watched it yet, check it out here, it’s hilariously funny.

While the hashtag originated on Twitter, it found it’s way onto Instagram and on Facebook. Although it isn’t as as popular on Facebook, it has proliferated on Instagram. The hand signal for hashtag is typically not used in seriousness but the girls that we shared our table with on the cruise did it all of the time #springbreak #bestever #omg #cruisin #nassau

While the example of the emojis shows how body language and real life in person communication has an impact on other forms of technological communication, this example shows how technology and social media has an opposite impact on our body language.

Just Dive In

I’m graduating soon. Like, really soon. Like, in a few weeks and it has gotten me quite nostalgic and thinking about all of the things that I have learned while in college and all of the ways that I’ve grown.

I have to say, the number one thing that I have learned especially this last semester is the importance of having the courage to put something out there, to put yourself out there and learn to put aside the filters and thoughts in your mind that cause you to worry about what other people think. I can’t say that this is a particularly easy thing to do and is definitely still something that I’m working on, but it is worth the effort. I don’t just mean from an interpersonal sense either.

For one of my class projects, I had to interview various people about their creative process – what hinders and fosters it and what challenges they face. I spoke with Nick Jones, a web interface designer at McKinney and his advice to me exemplifies what I’ve learned this semester: that in order to be creative (and to grow) you can’t be afraid of what you think other people will think. We need to think more like kindergarteners, who have been said to be some of the most creative people there are. Why is this? Because their imaginations have not been squashed by reality and not enough people have told them that what they have created is bad/stupid. It can be hard to let go of the doubts sometimes, but the best ideas come from having the courage to let go.

Intrinsically, I am a perfectionist. When I put an idea out there, it is always well thought out and what I have deemed perfect, or nearly there, in the very least, I consider it good enough to share with people. It scares me to put my thoughts and ideas out for judgement from other people right when they pop in my head, but this semester I have learned to fight this inclination and it has allowed to me to grow a lot professionally.

Traffic

ants-3Today I was sitting in rush hour traffic. It had been a very long day and all of the cars were just crawling by. I’m still not sure if there was an accident somewhere, or if the road was just congested with people headed home after-work. All I could think about sitting there in the same place, in the same situation with about 100 other people, all together, but strangely all in our own little spheres, were the little cars slowly moving around me. It made me think about the thousands and millions of people and lives and the little intricacies of it all. People getting on and off of the highway, all headed to their respective places. Cars moving around like a network, like a spider web drenched in water – drops glistening in the morning sun, spreading throughout a sinuous network. Or like little ants pouring out of a hill, on the slow daily march to and from work and home, the daily drum of activity. It is times like this when I am reminded how small I am. Sometimes I find it so easy to get wrapped up in the day to day hustle and bustle. Especially now as I am about to graduate, it is incredibly easy to get so wrapped up in the tiny bubble that is Chapel Hill and my own life that I forget how many billions of other people inhabit this planet. And then thinking about their lives, and their goals, and where they have been and all of their relationships. It intrigues me to think about.

Spider-web-with-morning-dewI think about the same thing driving through neighborhoods, with all of the houses laid out in front of you. Some more up-kept than others, although most looking “perfect,” but then what about the lives of those who live inside? Each house is like a little tiny ecosystem of its own.

So sometimes I’m sitting in a huge ecosystem, a bug machine with all of the little cogs moving together, not always aware of what the others are doing, like little worker ants scurrying home. But, then again, sometimes I’m sitting in traffic, listening to horns and angry that I’m not home and angry that everyone is in my way.

One Picture Says it All…

I was bored the other day and looking around on Instagram when I ran across someone who posted that your most commonly used emojis say a lot about you… What do mine say about me?

photo(3)

I’m not certain what these say about me. But I see that the kissy winky face makes the list, so maybe my Buzzfeed quiz from my previous post was correct! You will notice though that most of these are body-language indicative symbols. I don’t often use emojis unless they are symbolizing an emotion or facial expression (or dancing which I use all of the girls in the pink shirt for). That is, unless I am telling a story using emojis (which I occasionally do) and then all bets are off and my recently used folder looks a little crazy!

 

A Thousand Words?

So this post is a little divergent from the emoji topic that I have been writing on lately, but it still pertains to social interactions and communication, so I thought I would include it.

words1In addition to being a student, graduating senior, sorority member, Campus Recreation employee and McKinney intern, this semester I also had the pleasure of serving as the Design and Communications intern for UNC’s Department of Allied Health Sciences. For this internship, I do a variety of communications related activities. As part of my job, I conduct brief interviews of people who are part of the department – researcher, professors, students, etc. It sometimes get challenging for me because of my inexperience in the medical field and related careers, but I have learned a ton and met a bunch of fantastic (and brilliant) people along the way.

My process for writing an article is to first conduct an interview. Then, I type out every word of the interview and then condense that down and reword it into a concise article. After I did this today, it made me think about how many words that we speak during the day and what that would look like if we wrote down every word that we said. It intrigues me because sometimes I sit for hours and hours trying to formulate a paper, or even a simple blog post. It seems like the hardest task, but today after I transcribed a 13 minutes interview, I had written outA_picture_is_worth_a_thousand_words 2 pages single spaced. That is about 1,400 words. In the matter of only 15 minutes, about 1,400 words were exchanged between the woman I was interviewing and I. Meanwhile it takes me hours to write a good blog post that is less than half of that.

It made me think about how many words we exchange every day, versus how many we write or type. With the sometimes almost constant text communication that we conduct, we probably end up writing pages and pages worth of conversations every day. And what about a picture being worth a thousand words? More and more, it seems that visually driven forms of communication are taking over – Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat. The younger generations are using platforms like Snapchat to communicate more and more. So where will that leave written communication in 10 years? In 5?

The Last… Everything

So today was my very last day of undergraduate classes. Ever. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this whole graduating thing.

As seniors, during the times that we aren’t enjoying our last moments doing everything, we’re secretly freaking out. Or in the very least I am. People are constantly asking us what we want to do with our lives and what’s our plan anyways? And shouldn’t we have this all figured out already?

We have this conception that everyone out there who is an adult and successful in the world – these people who are asking us these questions – that they followed a linear path to success. For some reason, we think that they must have known we what do not know, what we are struggling to figure out. It is so easy for us to come up with defeatist statements, like we are never going to be happy/successful/get a job because we don’t know what we want now and what if we think we do but it’s wrong? And what if we mess up somewhere along the way? And what if we unintentionally lead ourselves into unhappiness or even worse, defeat?

But in reality, people don’t follow these linear paths. I know that a lot of people always say that “it will all work out in the end.” But I have trouble believing that sometimes.

Today, though, was different. I talked to a very successful researcher/professor and she began her career playing the bassoon in a professional orchestra. Her major when she graduated college was in music performance, and now she has her Master’s in Occupational Therapy and a PhD in Occupational Science. I could tell by the look in her eyes and the sound in her voice that she was ridiculously happy and passionate about this.

So my lesson for the day: Breathe. And as cheesy as it is – follow your heart. But not only that, have the courage to fail, have the courage to follow your interests and liberate yourself from the fear that you will fail and what others will think. I think this is the absolute hardest thing to do, but I’m convinced that if you do this, you will figure everything out. When I asked the woman I spoke with today where she hoped to be in 5 years, she said that she didn’t know; she let’s her research and her interests guide her. She said she has a rough plan, but nothing ever works out as she forsees it, so she stopped planning.