All posts by claudiadast

Love In The Time Of COVID

Pandemic or not, dating isn’t easy. 

Movies and shows have made single-and-ready-to-mingle seem like an endless bout of fun, happy times, and funny stories to share over drinks with friends. The reality is it can be really disappointing, draining, and feel like mini breakups at times. 

You have to put yourself out there, give time to people who may or may not be worth it, guess what their intentions are, all the while you do the usual “dance” with each other. You’ve also got a whole host of dating behaviors (as well as the ever growing terminology to describe them): ghosting, zombie-ing, breadcrumbing, benching, haunting, catfishing, gaslighting, roaching, orbiting. It’s dizzying, really.

After a while, it can feel like a drag reciting your spiel over and over. It makes me think of those who work in theater and have to put on the same show every night. Even though they’re probably sick of regurgitating the same lines, they strive to put on a good show because they know it’s a different audience every time. A new set of eyes. A clean slate. 

That’s what we have to remember in dating – the audience is different each time and is unaware of your last performance. Fortunately, in dating, the lines don’t have to remain exactly the same either. We can come up with new ways of sharing things about ourselves, refine our story-telling ability, and play around with the energy we give off. Call it your own little experiment of human dynamics.

The pandemic has added a lot more nuance to this whole dating experience, though.

On top of the usual nerves, now you’ve got people who are recovering from loss, coming out of relationships, or who are in a transition phase in their life. With more jobs being shifted to a remote lifestyle, you can bet people are going to be more nomadic or in the middle of moving. 

During these unruly times, dating apps have been the most viable option of meeting people, which adds an extra layer of complication. This whole fast food dating culture already has our attention spans trending toward being minimal. Now, with pandemic fatigue at play, this translates into an even narrower window of time to spark one’s interest, otherwise BAM, it’s onto the next person. 

Maybe our intuition within the first few exchanges is correct and helps us find the right person more quickly to some extent. While having access to a wider pool of people is certainly convenient, I fear this whole what’s next? mentality is bringing us to a place of not giving enough attention to the few good catches that pop up. With all the “noise” you get on these apps, every time there’s a “hit”, you’ll constantly think someone better is still out there, and never really dive as deeply into said hit. Hence, the knee-jerk reaction people have to endlessly swipe. This endless abundance of options and the paradox of choice is a general issue with modern times, but that’s a topic of discussion for another day.

One silver lining with dating during the pandemic is that it has forced us to be more creative with date ideas. As we repeatedly see surges in cases, certain options and venues become less safe, which forces us to think outside of the box and expand our definitions of what a date can be. You can go stargazing, have a picnic on a cliff that overlooks the ocean, go to the zoo, go to outdoor Classical music concerts, go on a hike, do an online Escape Room, or visit spots that are meaningful to you. Even a walk through a scenic park can suffice for a first date and is probably less awkward than staring at each other across a dinner table for 2 hours anyway.

Life has been rough the last year and a half and I think a lot of us are still healing or processing all of this change. Let’s be kinder to one another. Let’s minimize the games and be upfront with what we want. Let’s be more mindful of each other’s time and feelings.

The One Thing We’re All Looking For

During our short time on this Earth, whether it’s making a deal in business, giving a commencement speech, or choosing a lifelong partner, I believe connection is at the crux of everything we do.

One of our most fundamental instincts as humans is the desire to connect with others. We’re social creatures after all and we developed language for a reason.

And I’m not just talking about connecting with people in a romantic context. 

I started a new job recently and whether it’s the fact that we’ve been stuck behind Zoom screens for the last year or that I’ve had to start over so many times in life, I felt this instant desire to connect with someone quickly. 

I didn’t hesitate in reaching out to immediate teammates and was interested in getting to know them. The whole onboarding process can feel pretty detached when done remotely, but I found that the more I connected with teammates, the more at ease I felt. Suddenly, things didn’t feel so detached anymore.

It’s amazing how quickly things change as soon as you make a connection with someone.

Showing a genuine interest in others is not something that comes easily, though. People can tell when you truly want to know them and that in turn makes them more curious about you. 

You see, many of us talk, but not all of us are heard. 

We all have a story to tell, something that has transformed us, thickened our skin, made us question our beliefs, and pushes us to move forward every single day. The thing is we tend to prioritize getting our own stories across and in the process crush the other person’s attempt at doing the same. 

This brings to mind Stephen Covey’s quote: Seek first to understand, then to be understood. When we pave the way for someone to tell their story, uninterrupted and with our full attention, not only do we start to forge that connection, but also they’ll be much more willing to reciprocate that interest in hearing ours.

A lot of us save building a connection for certain moments or people in our lives, but who’s to say we can’t do this more often? 

You’d think something as simple as browsing a store wouldn’t leave much room for a connection, right? Usually, the drill is: you go in, feel pressured to look around thoroughly, and then leave quickly. But in these socially-deprived times, think again.

Having walked into a clothing store one weekend, ironically, the first thing I noticed was a beautiful gold arched floor mirror. I asked one of the salespeople where it was from, accompanied by a nervous laugh in anticipation of her surprise. This got me talking about my upcoming move and consequent hyper-awareness of furniture and decor. The salesperson then asked where I’m moving to and showed a genuine interest in hearing my story. 

When I finished my spiel, she started making suggestions about where to buy furniture and enthusiastically talked about a hobby she’d made out of just periodically refreshing Craigslist until interesting items would pop up (some of which are free, apparently). Realizing this wasn’t the usual type of conversation that transpired in a clothing store brought a smile to my face. 

Ultimately, I left that store not having purchased anything, but I still left with a sense of fulfillment because I had a pleasant and genuine exchange with someone. During this pandemic, you can just tell people are more interested than usual in talking to others, and I immediately picked up on that vibe from the salespeople in that store, which in turn made me more willing to go beyond the usual small talk. 

What better time to take advantage of this need for people to connect?

With that being said, here’s my challenge to you: 

  1. Make it a point to let others tell you their story, whether it’s before or after you tell yours. 
  2. Practice going a step further in establishing a connection with someone (however fleeting it may be) in everyday situations, such as when you’re getting your coffee, when you go for a haircut, or if someone comes over to do maintenance work in your home.

Even tackling just one of those two points will vastly improve your interactions with others and propagate the benefits to other aspects of your life.

Picking The Perfect Gift

With the holidays coming up, I thought it would be relevant to discuss picking the perfect gift for someone. 

Some of you may not care about putting thought into a gift and instead will opt for the usual gift card, tie, perfume, or a bundle of cash. 

That’s fair.

But I am here to argue that gift-giving doesn’t have to be like a chore, and on the contrary, should be enjoyable…at least when it concerns your closer friends and family. 

There’s nothing wrong with the list of gifts above per se, it’s just that we can all afford to be a little more creative in our selection.

I don’t know about you, but I usually can’t wait to see the look on the recipient’s face when I give them their gift. This is because I’ve usually put thought into the process and know that they’ll like it.

When scouting for a gift, often people will focus on what they would like to receive, and just assume that the recipient would like it too. Or they think that because they’re a certain gender (let’s go with ladies for this example), they’d automatically love perfume. Try to tailor your gift more to the individual

You may not understand why your friend likes Mint In Box items so much, especially since the point of them is to stay in their original package, but it doesn’t matter. You know they’d like it deep down, and they’re the ones who have to enjoy the gift, not you!

Here’s a list of tips on picking the perfect gift for that special person:

1.    Think back to past hints

Was there ever a time when you were out with this person and something caught their eye? Like an item in a window shop or a scarf around someone’s neck as they passed by? Try to rack your brain for moments like this and if you succeed, that’s bonus points because your recipient will be extra thankful that you remembered!

2.    Collect some data

Think of it as your own little investigation. If you want to go the extra mile, ask their closest friends and family what they think your recipient would desire. Perhaps they just lost their favorite sweater, or their curling iron recently broke. That’s where you step in and offer them a replacement!

3.    Keep a running list of what people like

Something I’ve been doing lately is keeping a list of those closest to me and just randomly jotting down items I think they’d like and their current obsessions. That way, when the time eventually comes for you to give them a gift, you’ll already have this list of pre-meditated options. 

4.    Don’t have to spend money

A common misconception and often deterrent for people is that they have to spend a lot of money to give someone a quality gift. Money doesn’t always dictate quality. What’s more valuable is how much thought you’ve put into the gift. You honestly don’t even have to spend money if you really don’t want to. Instead, you can create something for the person. 

One of the most valuable gifts I’ve ever gotten is a montage video from my brother for my college graduation. This video montage consisted of hours’ worth of work in finding and converting old family videos of me to a compatible file format, as well as reaching out to my friends for video and written messages, all consolidated into a 10 minute video. This meant ten times more to me than if he had gone and bought me an expensive jacket. In fact, that video is priceless. The point is you can easily create sentimental things for people, like videos, scrapbooks, pieces of art, etc. Not only will it cost little to nothing, but it will also be much more precious. 

5.     When all else fails…

If you’ve really thought things through and still can’t come up with a decent gift, there’s still hope: gag gifts. These are often silly, non-functional gifts that symbolize some kind of inside joke between the two of you. This kind of gift again shows thoughtfulness and that you’ve tailored the gift to the person. For instance, I had a running inside joke with my college friends about a metaphorical “nerd jar”, where instead of being penalized every time you swear, it’s every time you say something super nerdy. Therefore, a potential gag gift I could give one of these friends is a jar full of pieces of paper containing nerdy quotes from them. You get the picture.

Above all, the key is to be creative and thoughtful in the process. Don’t go for the obvious gift or the gift everyone else is probably planning to give them. The more thought you put into the gift, the more the recipient will appreciate it, and trust me, they can tell.

Let Me Tell You About This Dream…

Before I dive into the weird dream I had the other night, I just wanted to give a disclaimer: I’m known for having bizarre dreams (my friends have heard some real doozies). So don’t be surprised if I make a “dream” post every once in a while. 

Let’s face it, most people’s dreams are weird and there are various theories as to what dreams even are.

Personally, I tend to think of dreams as the product of a metaphorical slot machine – each time we dream, our brains pull down that lever and spit out a random combination of our memories or thoughts. 

Say you dream of slipping on a banana while Demogorgons are chasing after you and all the while your college friends are standing still watching this happen on the sidelines. In my reductionist analogy, the slot machine would’ve spit out: banana (because you ate a banana right before bed), Stranger Things (because you watched an episode the previous night), and college (because you were reminiscing over your college days) in order to concoct that dream.  

But then you have those dreams that seem to come completely out of left field and for that reason alone are scary. Maybe they stem from some deeper thought or fear you currently have in your life. You know the type — these are the dreams that rock you to your core and you can’t believe they weren’t real when you finally wake up. 

Enter my strange dream. 


My immediate family and I were sitting outside on a sunny afternoon in an open grassy area. Other families and kids ran amok around us while we continued with our activity (I think it was a picnic?). 

I instantly noticed how gigantic the sun appeared in the sky, almost as if someone could catapult you straight over to it from Earth. Somehow, despite how close it was, none of us were melting.

When I paid closer attention to the sun, I watched incredulously as something started to envelope it. I remember it being a layer of yellow in a much dimmer shade than the sun itself and my dream self somehow knew what this meant: the sun was burning out. 

That’s when I realized the world was ending.

Before any of us could even process our own deaths, my family and I wound up on what felt like another planet. No one else was there but us, not even a host to greet us and explain where the hell we were. 

I took note of the black and grey atmosphere around us. For whatever reason, everything was in monochrome and dead quiet. The ground was black, and the blackness of outer space was staring us in the face everywhere we looked. Whatever planet we were on had no atmosphere, that’s for sure.

As we started to walk around, we found ourselves in an open area encompassed by several different gateways. Above each of these gateways was a purple luminescent sign in cursive writing, explaining what the gate represented. 

One of them said “Rebirth”, another said “Reincarnate”.  

It was then that I finally understood what this strange place was. It was a “staging area” where you determine how to proceed in the afterlife. 

I remember feeling so overwhelmed in this moment of the dream. On the one hand, I finally got the answers to all those burning questions of what happens when you die and whether the notion of having “past lives” and reincarnation even exist. On the other hand, we all had a major choice on our hands.

If we walked through the “Rebirth” gateway, we got to be born again as a human being. If we walked through the “Reincarnate” gateway, we returned to life as another species. 

The other gateways must not have been great options, because these are the only two I remember and that I debated between in the actual dream.

Somehow, without many words being exchanged, the rest of my family seemed to agree on walking through the “Rebirth” gateway. Naturally, I started to follow after them, but then paused.

“But none of us will remember each other…,” I said, quietly.

No one said anything, and with one last breath, I walked through the gateway with them. My eyes welled up with tears as I grasped that these were my final moments with my family. 

I grabbed their hands as we proceeded down a pitch black corridor. Some kind of mist sprayed at us from both sides and we suddenly found ourselves on a spinning mechanism. As it started to spin faster and faster, none of us were able to hold on to each other’s hands anymore. 

When the spinning stopped, we all ended up in an enclosed room with lights on. Most of the walls were made up of mirrors and the ground was a dark green carpet material, the kind you’d see in a workout room.

This is the part of the dream that got completely random. 

As we walked further into the room, there were uniforms laid out for us – a blue gi and black bottoms. 

I would’ve loved to understand how Jiu Jitsu ties into the whole afterlife plan, but unfortunately, that’s when I woke up.

10 Things That Have Become Totally Normal During Quarantine

In a tense time when our differences have often been used to pit us against each other (thanks to a certain orange person), it’s important to remember that we all have something in common: surviving COVID and all its life-altering byproducts. 

It’s crazy to think that everyone in the world is connected by this experience. 

We’ve all suffered from having a more sedentary lifestyle, from not doing certain activities that once brought us joy, from not seeing friends, from feeling less motivated at work, and from scrambling to fill our pantries with “emergency” food after waiting in Disneyland-length lines. 

But being the amazing creatures we are, we have shown a strong ability to adapt. 

Here are 10 things that have become the norm as a result of this adaptation:

1. Going several days without entering the outside world
In the beginning of quarantine, we all went through that period of time when we didn’t dare set foot outside. Now, after 6 months, it feels completely normal going a day or two without going out for a walk. For those of you who live alone, this also means going days without speaking to someone or hearing the sound of your own voice. For the love of God, please regularly call your friends or family and grease up the ol’ voice box.

2. Spending all your time in loungewear
Let’s face it…we’ve all been doing the whole business-on-the-top-casual-on-the-bottom thing. Honestly, putting on anything but leggings or sweatpants feels strange now. Those rare occasions when you have a doctor’s appointment or are heading out to meet someone feel exceptional because it means you have to “dress up”. I personally enjoy those few opportunities to put on an actual outfit, even if I’m just going to Trader Joe’s.

3. Food becomes the focal point of your day
Maybe you’ve been experimenting with new recipes or maybe you DoorDash every day. Regardless, you have to map out what you’ll eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Back when we were physically going onsite, we hardly had to put this much thought into our meals, especially since lunch could often be bought or covered at work.

4. Surge in online shopping
There was literally a week where myself and those I live with were each getting daily packages; every day was like Christmas. Even now, when a package arrives for someone else, we each still get that vicarious thrill from them opening it. Hey, you gotta do what makes you happy during a time like this!

5. Picking up old or new hobbies
With so much time at home to yourself, you can’t help but re-discover hobbies you once had, or better yet, learning new ones. Not only is this one of the best ways to stay sane, but it also is a unique opportunity to put your focus into a passion project or bettering other dimensions of your life. Not a great cook? Use this as a chance to dabble in different recipes and test things out on your roommates.

6. Finding masks in the most random places
Over time, masks have started accumulating like candy in a car. You find one in your pocket, in between the seats in your car, in your purse, inside another mask…you get the picture. It’s funny to think that back in the beginning of this quarantine period, masks were practically inaccessible. Now they’re everywhere we look.

7. Zoom is a huge part of your life
If anyone’s having a blast, it’s the folks at Zoom (if I didn’t know better, I’d say they were behind this whole thing). We can all relate to the following common things people have said on Zoom calls:

“Can you all see my screen?”
“Gary, your mic is still on…”
“Can everyone go on mute?”
“Sorry, folks, I have to jump to another call”
“Apologies, I was having connection issues”
“Sorry, you got cut off, can you repeat that?”
“So today, I wanted to talk ab- *interrupted by children screaming in the background*”
“Next slide, please”
“Sorry guys, I’m having audio issues and need to restart my Zoom”

Maybe when COVID blows over, we can all gather around a campfire and share our bizarre Zoom stories with one another…

8. Time has become weird
Each day in quarantine feels like a week. Given that we’re not being exposed to as much stimuli, the days themselves feel slower and can take all kinds of twists and turns. Yet, somehow, you look back and realize almost two entire seasons have gone by…

9. You experience a rollercoaster of emotions
Every day, it feels like you go through a range of emotions. One hour, you’re feeling motivated for work, the next, you’re stressed out and anxious about when life will return to normal (especially when you come across yet another piece of apocalyptic news). You can tell that people have generally been more “on edge”. You walk into a grocery store and it’s as though the slightest thing will set anyone off. Just be mindful of others’ emotions and know that they’re having just as rough a time as you are.

10. Appreciating the little things
If there’s one thing quarantine has taught us, it’s to take joy in the smaller things in life and not take anything for granted. Who knew something as simple as going for a long walk outside or grabbing coffee from our usual spot would feel so refreshing? It’s those small doses of normalcy that make us feel good again. Train your mind to focus on the simple things that make you happy and you’ll get through this!

How You Should Approach Dating ~ A Fashion Analogy

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to make sense of the dating world again. 

As it often does, my mind drifted toward analogies, which I find to be a massively underrated way of explaining things in life, by the way. 

Bear with me on this lengthy analogy for a moment.

In the Fashion world, there are a vast number of designer bags. You’ve got everything on the spectrum from $100 Coach bags to $5000 Chanel bags. 

Back in the day, the “lower end” designers like Michael Kors and Coach used to have a bigger market. However, somewhere along the way, they started to become too accessible. 

I remember there was a point in the past where I saw everyone donning Coach bags. This hurt the brand and lowered its value in the eyes of consumers. Of course, this is not to say that Coach doesn’t make high quality bags, it’s just that as the supply grew, the demand shrunk. 

On the other hand, look at Chanel. Classic styles like the Lambskin Square Mini Flap Bag have only increased in value and demand over time. 

I remember when I first laid eyes on this particular style, I fell in love with it. It’s classy, timeless, high quality, and well….not everyone has one. I frantically searched the Internet for where I could get my hands on one, only to find that it was not readily available anywhere. 

After extensive research and visits to the actual stores, I realized that my only way to obtain one was by means of joining a waitlist, and I was not about to wait 1-2 years for this… 

In the end, after a lot of contemplating, saving, and frustration, I took the calculated risk of buying a brand new one on eBay — my first ever designer bag purchase. 

I will never forget that rewarding feeling of not only earning something valuable by my own means, but also obtaining something that was so rare

So what’s my point with all of this bag talk? 

In the dating world, we need to make sure we don’t make ourselves too accessible. In the same way that a girl would often go crazy for a Chanel bag over a Coach bag, a potential partner would be much more interested in someone who is perceived to be high-value and not readily available. 

This is not to be confused with playing games and pretending to be hard-to-get. This is about conveying your standards, setting yourself apart from all the other eligible people out there, and giving more time to those who have earned it. 

Go out there and live your best life, pursue your passion projects and side hobbies, spend time reconnecting with old friends or family.

While you spend time on yourself and live that fabulous life you’ve always wanted, you will emanate that value and naturally be harder to get anyway (since you’ll be busy doing all those fabulous things with your time).

Buying Something Under The Influence

Remember the good old days when you walked into a store and bought something that caught your eye?

Maybe you walked in and saw a compelling outfit on a mannequin. Maybe you sifted through the racks until you found something that felt like “you”. The point is, you picked something out because you liked it. 

There was no precedent, no agenda.

In the age of Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest, what have you, buying something because you happened to find it and like it is becoming increasingly rare. 

I seldom walk into a store anymore or browse online shopping sites “just because”. I usually have an agenda. I’ll see a pair of loose-fit Agolde jeans circulating Instagram, decide I like the style, and proceed to hunt it down across the different online shops. Somehow, that repeated exposure convinces me that I “need” those same jeans too.

Even more crazy is that I constantly find myself lusting after the exact clothes I see worn by my favorite Instagram or YouTube fashion bloggers. I’ll spend hours, sometimes days, trying to find the exact piece they have like a detective, which in itself has become a hobby for me. 

Oftentimes, the piece I’m looking for is sold out or from last year.

That doesn’t stop me.

I then resort to looking on all the secondhand clothing apps — Poshmark, eBay, Depop, Mercari, and thredUp.

Only then, when I’ve exhausted all those platforms, do I truly stop my search, which truthfully fills me with a great sense of defeat. 

Realizing this pattern of weird behavior, I started to question why we enjoy wearing the same clothes as others. I even started to feel a sense of guilt or shame for wanting to do that instead of picking out items that I see and that I like.

I bounced these troubled thoughts off of my friend, who wisely said back that there’s no need to feel guilty. Back in the day, before the influx of social media, people would still see things on the store mannequins, in magazines, on people on the street and want the same item. The only difference now is those mannequins are E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E. 

Now, on the rare occasions when I do buy something I haven’t seen on anyone else and purely because I like it (thank you, personalized online ads), it feels like such an accomplishment, which is sad, because it goes to show how often my purchases are “tainted with influence”.

Sometimes, Life Is Like A Movie

Ever wake up and feel like you’re in a bad movie?

Over the last few years, that feeling has only grown for me.

It all started when Trump became president.

The morning after was one of the worst days ever. I had never felt such a sense of defeat and hopelessness as I had on that ominous day. It was like being in the part of a movie where the bad guys win, only this bad guy wasn’t going anywhere for at least 4 years…

That’s the thing with movies. They usually only last up to 2 hours, and by the end, the “bad guys” have been subdued and the “good guys” are back in business. At most, you leave the movie with a sense of catharsis. 

That’s what makes it scary when life feels like a movie — you don’t have the pleasure of knowing when things will get back to normal, or even if they will. You miss out on that immediate relief you feel when the movie wraps the ending up in a Tiffany box with a pretty bow on top, otherwise known as the denouement.

Once the shock of Trump’s win dwindled, my next dose of doomsday came from our climate crisis. 

There were days I literally just stopped and thought: What are we all doing? How is that girl just casually posting so many instagram stories? Why are people traveling? Why should I bother buying anything I like when I may not be around long enough to use it? Why are we planning our future? Why bother having kids? Why don’t others seem as concerned? What’s. The. Point. 

And just when you think you’re beginning to get a grip on one piece of bad news, another, more immediately-threatening one is added to the pile.

Enter COVID-19.

If our world were a Jenga structure, the coronavirus is merely someone moving one of the blocks by a smidge; one slight action and the whole thing collapses.

In a matter of a week, our world turned upside down and we entered uncharted territory. We went from having the freedom to shop, dine out, travel, go to work, go to school, see friends or family, attend events, and go to the gym to being complete homebodies. 

You’d think certain generations would thrive under these circumstances, namely the Millennials and Gen Z-ers, who grew up with technology as their main source of entertainment, but from the looks of it, I’d say it’s the opposite. 

Take away our option to go out, and suddenly, that’s all we wish to do.

I’m not going to lie, once I started seeing fewer people on the streets, the increasing number of cases, the anxiety-ridden anchors on CNN, and people panic-buying at grocery stores like it was the apocalypse, scenes from I Am Legend started flashing before my eyes, which didn’t help me feel like less of an actress in a movie. 

Movie analogies aside, it’s clear that the virus has had a toll on practically every aspect of life, but in some ways, it might be exactly what we needed. 

Although in an unfortunate way, this pandemic has served as a barometer for how we’re doing as a society and species. It has exposed what desperately needs to be changed — our healthcare system, our politics, our perception of which jobs are valuable, our treatment of others, and our evermore divided population. 

Let this experience humble us and remind us of what is important at the end of the day: family, friends, food, water, and shelter. 

May we never take these things for granted again.

Don’t Be Afraid To Dribble The Ball

When I was in elementary school, I played basketball in my spare time. 

Let me rephrase that – I tried to play basketball.

A few years prior, I had broken my teeth in the pool and from then on became overly cautious about everything. In basketball, this translated into me running up and down the court well, but whenever I caught the ball, I was so afraid of breaking my teeth again, that I quickly passed it on to someone else like a hot potato.

I was nothing like James Harden. 

And what did this brilliant strategy get me, you may ask? Only a single basket during one of my weekend games in all the months I played…and it was a foul shot.

Now, over a decade later, I’m realizing that this same approach I had to basketball back then has become a metaphor for how I’ve approached other things in my life.

Let’s take conversing for example. 

When I converse with those I’m not super close to, I have this tendency to want the conversation to be over quickly because I’m nervous. Instead of dribbling the ball a little by talking, I quickly pass it by nodding my head a lot and not contributing more to the conversation. 

Maybe you do this kind of thing in other parts of your life. For whatever reason, you’re too afraid to have the spotlight on you for a little bit, so you quickly direct it to someone else. 

I remember in 3rd grade, I passed up on the opportunity to be the lead in our school drama production of Firebirds. I was the first approached for this role and by my favorite teacher, no less. As sassy and outspoken as I was back then, I still said no to this opportunity to be The Firebird, and opted instead for being a whistling tree in the background. 

Yes, a freaking tree.

For my reserved friends out there, I’m here to say: dribble the ball, let your voice be heard, be the Firebird instead of a tree in a vast forest of other non-actors (no offense).

The next time you fear certain actions remember this: those fears will pale in comparison to the regret you’ll feel when you look back one day and see all the opportunities you missed.

Post-Election Vibes

The day after the 2016 Presidential Election was a day I’ll never forget.

Before the results came out the night of, I knew it was already over. Seeing the red spread across the United States like wildfire didn’t leave much room for hope.

I slapped my laptop shut, not wanting to go through the pain of seeing him win. I had seen enough.

Like the 2.8 million other defeated souls, I somehow forced myself to fall asleep that night, hoping I would wake up the next morning and it would all have just been a horrible, horrible dream. 

The first thing I did when I woke up was go to Google and check the election results, hoping that by some miracle Trump had lost. My heart sank when I officially saw him as the winner, something that a year ago I had never even dreamed of seeing. Hell, I was still waiting for Ashton Kutcher to come out and say we’d all been Punk’d.

I lay in bed for a long time before I found the will to get up and face the music. It was going to be a long day.

When I finally set foot outside on the way to campus, the atmosphere was unlike anything I’d experienced. The overcast skies and strong winds painted an ominous picture. Hardly anyone walked in the streets, and the few that did kept a straight face, their reactions unfaltering, as if nothing had happened.

But once I got to campus, I could tell people were each coping with the results in their own way. Some opted for ignoring the subject completely, some sought comfort in being alone and drowning out all the noise, and others felt better venting about it.

All in all, the whole day just felt so surreal, like you’re suddenly a character amid the rising action of a novel or movie.

You know in Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince when Dumbledore dies and Voldemort rises to power? Remember how dark the successive movies were under his reign? Much like the termination of Obama’s presidency and the rise of Trump, Light had fallen, while Darkness took the lead.

That movie-like feeling of defeat, like the “bad guys” had won, was something I didn’t think I’d witness in real life, at least not at this scale.

But even in times of darkness, there’s still light, even if it’s only a flickering flame.

We always have each other. While the implications of this election are driving a wedge between certain populations, the rest of us can stay strong together. We can seek solace in our strength in numbers and the power of our voices.

All we can do now is wait and hope that America under his presidency won’t be as dark as the forecast on post-election day.