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Thriving with a side of Coffee

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style”   -Maya Angelou

I’m currently sitting in Bass Library, an underground library on Cross Campus, while I race against deadlines, midterms, and the occasional problem set.  Racing is what I’ve been doing my entire life, what we all do.  We race against time; we race towards the finish line, whatever that may be.  Every week, I race past my daily french class, calculus problem sets, and my weekly biology quizzes.  I even manage to race past my freshman seminar, The Art of Watercolor.  I don’t mean to count the days (hours) until the weekend; it just happens. Like Maya Angelou, I often have to remind myself to not merely survive, but to thrive.

My activities are varied. I recently was offered a position as a Peace Coach in the Teaching Peace Initiative. GPI is a nonprofit that works with high schoolers across the country to promote tolerance, open-mindedness, and compassion.  As a Peace Coach, I will work directly with smaller teen groups to help improve their surrounding communities on topics such as race, religion, and sexuality. On the other hand, I am also on Yale’s Club Tennis team. We have a Battle of the Sections tournament this weekend in Delaware! I’m still figuring out what other extracurriculars I’d like to be a part of… (Chi Alpha, Greek Life, Yale Democrats, Yale Daily News, a Law firm internship, shadowing an Orthopedic Surgeon, etc) These activities are all things I am passionate about.

Compassion is defined as concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.  It’s not hard to wake up in the “Yale Bubble”. This bubble is trademarked as being oblivious to the happenings and changes outside of Yale.  Even when your window looks out onto the New Haven Green (like mine does..) where a large homeless population lives, people inside the Yale Bubble see only a patch of green. People like me forget to look harder.

Anyone who knows me can vouch for my absolute love of strong, black coffee. This is the kind of coffee dining halls shy away from, so occasionally, I go to Blue State/Starbucks for a quick fix.  I usually bring a problem set to work on… One day said problem set became drenched in my hot cup of coffee! I first thought about the unnecessary coffee waste.  I sat for a solid minute wishing I could reverse time.  However, the time race is constant, so I did what only sleep-deprived college kids would do: I laughed.

Maya Angelou was right when she said thriving is better than surviving. In order to thrive, I think people have to find a passion bigger than themselves. They have to race hard but also remember that not everything is a mile marker. Not every suffering and misfortune should be raced past. Sometimes, we have to stop and see past the Green. Who knows what we’ll see?

-Mo

*I took the above photo at a coffee shop in London.

*Disclaimer: the above drink is a cappuccino

 

 

 

 

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Welch C22

“Not sure if this is a Southern staple or…”

It’s been a whirlwind.

Honestly, the things that have kept me the most grounded amidst this world of shopping periods (ask me later) and Woads (don’t ask) have been the one’s in which I always took for granted.  The brief moments of silence in the middle of the hustle and bustle of New Haven are welcoming.  The country music that played this past Saturday for the New Haven Road Race was calming.  My phone calls home assuring me I am in the right place..  Really, it is starting to feel like home.  (Minus the gnats and pickup trucks)

I was placed in Welch C22 with 5 other girls.  We all share a bathroom and a living area that we are gradually adding to for a more “visually pleasing atmosphere”.  We are all very different with varied nationalities, interests, and experiences, but somehow, it works.  We talk politics, religion, and ideology into the wee hours of the night while also discussing our favorite cartoons and funny childhood memories.  I’ve come to the realization how strikingly similar people are in general.  We all want to be understood, whether that means our backgrounds, our aspirations, or our humor; we want desperately to really know others and in turn have others truelly know us.

When I was little, I was taught that a person’s actions spoke louder than their words.  Not sure if this is a Southern staple or a common piece of advice..   I hope my next 4 years here will exemplify this saying.  I’m not sure what I want to do quite yet, but I am positive I will find out during my time at Yale.

Au revoir,

Mo

Sidenote: Some clubs I am interested in are Club Tennis, various investment finance groups, Engineers without Borders, writing for a student publication, Greek life, NACC, and outreach programs in New Haven. These are just a few and subject to change!

^I share a room with my roommate Samantha: my go-to for anything theater, techie, or southern related! The above picture is of my freshmen counselor group (FROCO)

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The Real Competition

The truth behind triathlons and life’s greatest competition.

400 meter swim.  13.5 mile bike.  3.1 mile run. The Lake Blackshear Triathlon.

I remember as a kid watching my marathon-running mom race past our house on her road bike amidst other hard core adrenaline seekers.  I often thought how strange it was that “grownups” chose competition over companionship.  That was before I realized what a big part competition would play in my own life.

I have always been competitive.  Sports, grades, clubs, you name it, and I’ve competed in it.  My family often laughs at my drive.  I do too.  I’ve always attributed this ambition to my mom.  From an early age, I watched her push herself and my younger sister and I in academics, relationships, and athletics to be better.  Not better than our peers per say, but better than our past selves.  “Shoot for a better grade next time.  You’re just building up to a better 5k time.  Try again for that All-State chorus you didn’t make last year.”  These encouragements were scattered throughout my childhood.  Be the best you you can be.”

Always and without fail, show up and do your best.  It didn’t take long for this to morph into show up and be the best.  Be the best student, be the best tennis player, be the best all around person. But the problem with this mindset is that there is always someone better.  This was a hard lesson to stomach.  After a few last place finishes in some Atlanta tennis tournaments, a cut from All State Chorus, and a lack luster SAT score, I could not help but face the obvious.  I was not the best, not even close. 

But I could be better.

I could try out for All State Chorus again with more preparation.  I could spend more time on the tennis courts.  I could actually study for the SAT.  I could be better than my past self.  All it took was that mindset to achieve more.  Achieve my dream college. My ideal tennis skill. My aspirations and no one else’s. It turns out, I only had to do better than I did last time.

[Flash forward to this past Saturday.] 

I completed the Lake Blackshear Triathlon.  I competed along with marathon runners, adrenaline seekers, and novice beginners.  I competed the way in which my mom competes. I competed the best way I know how to compete. I competed against myself.  I did the best I could do.  I now know why “grownups” are drawn to competition over companionship in certain activities.  It is not to beat every other person involved.  It is solely to beat themselves. To be better than they were last time. To prove to themselves that they can grow in their own careers, as triathletes, and even, as people.

^ The picture above was taken with one of my oldest and dearest friends, Emily Mercer, after our speeches at graduation.  She taught me so much when it came to friendly competition and being the best me I could be.  I hope I find friends at Yale who are as even-tempered and genuine as her.  -Mo

 

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Face to Face with Change

Whether it’s a new school, new location, new job, or new circumstance, maybe just maybe, we all tread lighter, speak softer, and think harder when face to face with change

Last.  Last as in final.  How do I know this is my last?  Truth is,  I don’t.

I try to block out the “lasts”.

I know change is coming, and I can’t help but think of all the lasts.  The last time I visit my two Aunts.  The last time I sleep in my own room.  The last time I drive past my old high school.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not nostalgic for days past, but I do miss days yet to come.  In other words, I miss seeing my sister’s face when she turns 16 and gets her driver’s license.  I miss cheering at Georgia Tech football games (my parents’ alma mater) during the 2017 season.  I miss pecan trees and cotton fields that bloom in the Fall. I miss everything that hasn’t happened yet.  And that’s okay.

Nobody said I had to be 100% ready.  70% is passing by most people’s standards.  Most people go their whole life passing.  This is not my ideal mantra, but maybe I could be 95% ready for college… Maybe just maybe, it is okay to feel unprepared, scared, and less than 100.  Maybe just maybe, everyone struggles with these emotions.  Whether it’s a new school, new location, new job, or new circumstance, maybe just maybe, we all tread lighter, speak softer, and think harder when face to face with change.

It’s okay.

It’s okay to strive for 100 and fall short.  It’s okay to admit your limitations and be at 95%.  The problems come when just passing becomes the goal.  Passing is not the same as excelling.  Excelling is striving for perfect college readiness, and yet still you (I) ending up in the 90s.  Excelling is entering a new job with determination and yet respecting new coworkers.  Excelling is moving to a new location and yet keeping in touch with old friends.  Excelling is accepting change while remembering where you’ve been.

I can still call my sister on her (our) birthday.  I can still remain a Yellow Jacket fan while cheering on the Yale bulldogs.  I can even still visit my old stomping grounds during Thanksgiving break.

Truth is, my lasts are not final.  They are giving way to my firsts.  My first dorm room.  My first home visit.  My first college class. My first call home.

^ The above picture is where I wrote this blog.  I am currently visiting my Aunt in St. Augustine FL, and she happens to have the coolest beach patio.  This is my last time visiting before I leave for Yale, but I am already looking forward to my first time visiting as a college student!   -Mo

 

 

 

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How Yale is like Hogwarts

Yale is like Harry Potter’s wizard school. Click to read more about my “sorting hat” experience.

Similar to Hogwarts with it’s 4 different houses (Ravenclaw, Slytherin, Hufflepuff, and Gryffindor), all of Yale’s incoming freshman are sorted into 14 residential houses.  These houses are where Yale students sleep, eat, and play for all 4 years!  This summer I was sorted into Davenport.

Davenport offers everything from an in house gym and basketball court to its own pottery and book binding studios.. talk about variety!  I’m most excited about , being interested in American History ,  Davenport being the home of 2 past presidents: George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush.

While the Hogwart’s sorting hat did dwell on which house to place Harry Potter, most of the time, the sorting hat had a clear idea which house was the best fit for incoming wizards.  This is where the metaphorical difference lies.  Yale’s sorting process is totally random (exempting legacy students of course:)).  Students are randomly assigned houses to ensure the same diversity Yale offers campus wide onto each residential campus.

*I took the above picture during Bulldog Saturday (orientation).  This is Phelp’s Gate. My guide said it was tradition for all freshman to walk in Phelp’s Gate upon first arrival and walk out as seniors after Graduation.  -Mo