College, journey, love, personal

Journey’s End: The End

“Ever since I was a child I have had this instinctive urge for expansion and growth. To me, the function and duty of a quality human being is the sincere and honest development of one’s potential.” – Bruce Lee


So the grand experiment is finally over. Next week I start my celebrations starting with the Management Club Banquet. The weeks following will be a College of Business banquet, an International Studies banquet and then graduation. As far as my College journey is concerned, this is crossing the finish line. It’s making sure my grades are sufficient, my assignments are done, and my debts are paid. So the question is, “how do I want this to end”? Writing every week is not an easy feat when you’re only one person and as much as I love writing, I think a proper break is in order.

The goal was to express my vulnerabilities and for the most part I accomplished that. To be honest, this was more of a personal assignment than anything else. To challenge myself one last time, to see if I could apply my strategies and use it to help rewrite my script. I’ve put up so many walls over the years, so this has helped some with easing my burden.

To tell a story… I’ve spent my entire College Career learning to weave stories, all in an effort to feel heard. This series in a sense has been a way for me to reconnect with my past self, that which I have spent a lifetime trying to bury. A farewell to the chaos, the crippling fear, and the darkness… Before this, my story was a jumbled mess. I have spent the last few years talking about my successes rather than failures, so it feels good to simply put it all on paper. Not in my journal but rather on the world stage…

Of course, this does not mean that I have simply wished away all that has happened. All I’ve done is face my demons. Of course there is one demon I didn’t talk about and as much as I wish I could talk about it now, I can’t. That’s a story for another day, perhaps another lifetime. For, as much as I tell, and as much as people would love to believe they know me, very few actually do. I wear many masks.

Sometimes I wonder if I’ve worn a mask for to long… I’ve always been great at molding myself yet I’ve become unrecognizable. Who I once was I can barely remember… The more I change, the more I begin to shape my memories. What was once rotten is now ripe. And I have to wonder, where does it end? I love who I am yet that is the question. Who am I? As I’ve said, I see many doors. And I’m finally ready to pick one. With the end of College comes an end of an era. A degree is my Golden Ticket…

It is time to finally hit reset. I have no commitments, no obligations. I am finally free. If I choose Germany, so be it. If I choose Seattle, great. If I end up as Farmer Mike, hunky dory. Either way, I will finally be free. If I don’t like my job, I can quit. If I want to settle down, I’ll find a girl. My past will always follow me but now it will not define me. When I speak of the past, I can speak with confidence that it is not my future. For the first time in what feels like ages, I am finally happy. Truly happy. While I’m terrified and anxious, I’m also excited for what the future holds. I beat the odds. I didn’t become some statistic and fade away. I learned to love and to live. My present is now finally a gift. It’s no longer “let’s make it to tomorrow”, it’s “what can I do today”? Do you know what it’s like to smile after watching anger and sorrow erode your soul? It’s amazing. This has been a year of growth and while I thought I couldn’t top last year as “greatest year of my life”, I think I have. I am beyond grateful…

The End…

Thanks for joining me on this journey. It has meant a great deal just to express my last term of college on the world stage. I not only accepted my past through this series but have also embraced my future. More so, I was finally able to talk about my present. My College bucket list… One last bang before I turn the page to the next chapter. My time at College is at an end but with the death of an era comes the ushering in of a new one. My last item on my bucket list is to go to a little coffee shop I’ve walked past for the last 4 years… I’ve wanted to go in for the longest time but I’ve been waiting for the right moment… And I had always hoped I wouldn’t go alone.. Time is best spent with the company of others… And I’m glad I’ve spent the majority of my time in college in great company… My friends, my mentors… I love them all. I cut out the poisonous relationships in my life and saved the ones I could… I have few regrets… And a lot to smile about. So with that, cheers to the future!

College, journey, reflection

Journey’s End week 6: I set a course for winds of fortune…

“What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson


Before I jump in, I’d just like to thank everyone for your support over the years. This site has finally hit 50 followers. A while back I made a plan should I ever hit 50 followers, I would work towards expanding my blog in a more meaningful way. This site is officially a .com now and advertisements are gone so it should make for a more enjoyable experience. I’m looking to put together a team over the next year or so and keep the momentum going. Thanks for joining me on this journey! So, without further ado, let’s get started…


When I was a child, I was asked a very simple question, “what do you want to be when you grow up”? I would always reply, “Successful”. When we’re children, we’re taught to dream big, to go forth and tackle our dreams head on. If only that were a reality we could hold onto for the entirety of our lives… Instead the world tells us what we can and can’t do and our environments begin to mold us… Those who learn to master their own destiny often realize too late.

He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past. This simple idea of being able to rewrite history… And in this context, your own… Is extremely powerful. We write our own stories. The world cannot hurt he who is master of himself. When you learn to weave words, you can simply rewrite your story. Life is a process to be broken down. A series of patterns, data-points to make sense of. As it has always been, we create the narrative. If it sounds pleasing to the ear, then it is pleasing to the ear. Reality is both subjective and objective. We create the story and we can choose to ignore certain laws of nature that remain constant (or we can embrace them). If two people perceive the same reality, then who is to say that is any less real than the objective reality we must all abide by. Is the glass half empty or half full? It depends. If we pour the glass halfway, then it is half full. If we pour the glass full and drink half, then it is half empty. The glass can be both. It’s how you define the terms.

Coffee with My Little

As I mentioned last week, I have multiple spots around campus where I go when I need peace. Many think I’m an extrovert yet I’m actually an ambivert. Or as I like to call it, my introverted friends will say I’m an extrovert while my extroverted friends will say I’m an introvert. As such, I actually prefer to spend most of my time alone. I’ve been taking walks around campus, sitting on my bench as the wind blows through my hair on a warm Spring day. Or I’m in the library, where I’ve claimed a comfy chair as my designated napping spot. My favorite spot? Is a coffee shop on campus that has a balcony overlooking our quad. I like to sit outside, sipping on coffee, and simply watch the hustle and bustle down below. I create stories for those I don’t know and for those I do, I see who they’re with and wonder where they’re going. It’s fun being an observer, as you can watch the world end and begin anew all in the course of a morning. What I love most about this spot is it’s a nice reminder that the world is bigger than we are and that we have a part to play. So I decided for the last time to take my little for coffee. We always go to Dutch Bros so it was only fitting that we end with somewhere that has personal meaning to who I am.

In a sense, this was my goodbye. I used to get coffee with my Little every week. I pulled out a notebook the first time we met and wrote down his interests, who he was, and who he wanted to be. I was with him every step of the way. I watched him go from someone trying to find his way in the world to who he is now, where he no longer needs the advice his Big once gave…

My most cherished moment was when he was in his first interview with the fraternity and was asked, “if you saw yourself in a leadership role, what would it be”? And he said, “I’d like to be the Service Chair”. “Why?” they asked. He replied, “because the current Service Chair is someone I admire and look up to”.

To be honest, I’ve been beating around the bush a lot lately. Soon I’ll have my banquets with the organizations that have been my “tribe” for the last 3 years. Every time I start to think of the impact these organizations have had on my life, I begin to get choked up. I’ll change the subject quickly and avoid breaking down. I’m not one to show my emotions. I’ve spent years perfecting my techniques and methods. Everyone I love could leave me tomorrow and I’d still keep moving forward. I’ve become, in a sense, unbreakable. Every hardship that has ever graciously bestowed its presence on me has only served to make me stronger. A lifetime of betrayal has made the weak, strong.

Family

When I came to college I had the dirt to my name. What was once promised was never meant to be. At this point in time my friends were beginning to disassociate themselves with me. When I needed friends the most, they all more or less abandoned me. And truth be told, I was always the outsider, the David looking to conquer Goliath. And when you’re lonely, it is much harder to make friends. The mornings where you keep on going and don’t even know why… Or the years of counseling because you had no one else to talk to… To avoid mirrors because you hated what you saw when you looked in one… Yea, it’s not pretty. Or tell someone “I’m fine” because it’s easier than saying you’re dead on the inside. Yup, that was my first two years of college… But then I stumbled my way from engineering to business… And I asked my adviser back in 2014, “What do I need to do to be successful”? And she gave me a list… And… I felt like crying. I thought, “how will I ever be able to do all this”? And then I took a deep breath and said, “let’s focus on one thing at a time”. And then I joined management club…

This was my first taste of finding my tribe. Back at a time when I didn’t trust anyone… I went to every meeting, every event, and copied everything my mentors did. I had two mentors in management club, both long gone by now… If only they could know how much of a difference they made in my life… But as I said before, I get too choked up whenever I think about it, so I avoid the conversation… But I will say this; they were like big sisters to me…

Then came AKPsi, the business fraternity… Back when I was a nobody they helped make me a somebody… We have 5 core values: Service, Integrity, Knowledge, Unity, and Brotherhood. These values gave me guidance and direction when I had none. AKPsi, gave me something to believe in… And how do you repay that? When your brothers make you feel as though you’re part of something bigger, that you belong… To take your hand and lift you up when you’re down. That’s family. Not who you’re born with but rather who you choose to be with, to spend your time with… And I love my brothers because they are my friends. When I’m old, these are the people I will keep in touch with.

And my roommates… To have friends to go home to, to hang out with… To listen, to understand… You can’t replace that. So many things had to go right to create the man who stands before you today… And if I could go back and change my college experience, even one moment, I wouldn’t. I don’t know if things happen for a reason but as far as I’m concerned, I’m happy they happened the way they did. I miss the nerf gun fights, the board game nights, weekly get together with the ladies (yes we had a guys house and a girls house), the hiking, all of it. Now my roommates are scattered across the country… Looking back, I can be grateful for the little moments that added up… It gives me something to smile about.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my last mentor/friend. Yet I’ll keep this mysterious. Goodbyes are never easy and I’m saving his goodbye for when I stand tall in my cap and gown.

The Old Man and the Library

To end, I’d like to tell a story. As mentioned earlier, I have my napping spot in the library. Every student should have a napping spot, it brings a tear to my eye when I hear that a student doesn’t. I’ve tried other napping spots throughout the years, but it’s not the same… I always have come back to this one spot… 5 years, this spot has personally seen my journey from beginning to end. Whenever I’d have a break, I’d go here. I’d read, listen to music, listen to podcasts, etc. It was great. Over time I’d always notice a man sitting at a table. Freshman year… Sophomore year… Junior year… Senior year… And never once did I ask, “what’s his story”? Until this year. This is a man who has seen me come in and sit down at the exact same spot for the last 5 years… Is he a professor? A researcher? A community member? I couldn’t tell you. Yet just like me, he has his spot. What’s his story? Should I know? Should I care? Perhaps before the term is over I’ll ask him. Or perhaps not. I’ve built his narrative and I have to wonder if he’s done the same for me… What would he say about “the kid and the library”? Would he say anything?


Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed this post and feel free to share, comment, and like! Next week is an open book but I’ll most likely take time to talk about my college bucket list and what’s next.

Advice, College, Mental Health

Journey’s End Week 5: Silence Like A Cancer Grows…

“We are afraid to care too much, for fear that the other person does not care at all.” – Eleanor Roosevelt


It’s already week 5. I am halfway through my last term… Hard to believe. And what an amazing 5 weeks it has been. College retirement is great. I’m still just as busy as ever but I’m finally doing what I enjoy. It took 5 years but here I am. The little differences have added up. Every small moment aimed towards a bigger goal. The question I’ve had to ask myself a lot lately, is, “Why”? I’m someone who should’ve never succeeded and as I would’ve put it as a Freshman, I was “Cursed”. How can one man change so much in 5 years? The person people used to roll their eyes at whenever he opened his mouth is no more. Now I talk and people listen.

A question I’ve been struggling with as of late is “Nature vs. Nurture”. As much as I’ve tried to create my own identity and blaze my own trail, I have to wonder how much control I truly have. You cannot escape your past, no matter how hard you try. It will follow you. Yet you can rewrite your story. If you ask anyone about who I am, they’ll paint a fairy tale. Great childhood, great parents, and always ambitious. This may be true. Yet this is not what I’ve told people. I simply give people a framework, an outline. In a sense, I manipulate others perception of who I am. We all do this. Every post on Facebook is not of you crying but rather you with friends, having fun. Yet this is not reality, people know this. And we still feel inadequate as we compare ourselves to others.  Everyone struggles.

Today I walked through the plaza on my way to class and in the grass there were over a thousand backpacks. Each represented a student who committed suicide each year.  Reality is not pretty. I may act as a comforting voice; I only hope some will listen. It has always been my goal to treat everyone with respect. All too often I see people judge and make fun of those who need love the most. Even the best of us can be cruel.

A Term of Perspective

Last week I went and listened to a Holocaust survivor speak. As a child I loved watching the history channel back when it was history and not “history in the making”. Back then the Holocaust was a concept, something that we read about in history class. And this fall I was in Germany. Even then, I avoided the concentration camps. I chose to visit the memorials… Reality is not pretty. To actually hear a survivor was a sobering experience… I can’t begin to imagine the horror she went through and the tragedy she faced. She told her story with such grace. She didn’t have an answer for how she survived but at the end she made a point to say that she lived a happy life. She said the past was in the past and that it was best not to dwell. The human spirit is strong and those who choose love over hate give hope for a better tomorrow.

And I finished my week with a comedy show… To say I had an interesting week is an understatement. I couldn’t stop laughing at the show. The event was hosted by the Iranian student association and the comedian was Iranian-American. I don’t think I’ve ever heard more airport jokes in my entire life. And then the show became political… And you know what? It was great! It turns out Donald Trump is comedic gold, who knew? The big theme was diversity as the world tries to divide itself. Hate is a choice. People choose to hate one another, to label. I say it is easier to love. Reality is not pretty. If the world beats you down, remember to laugh and smile.

Speaking of Diversity, I went to a college of science event titled “Diversity in Science”. All too often I have found people choose ignorance to validate their own reality. As a businessman, why would I ever go listen to a scientist? It’s all about perspective. If I had a penny for every time my roommate said a business major joke, I might almost be able to pay off my student loans (probably not). Instead of collaboration, we divide. Even within our own colleges. Finance, BIS, you name it. They’re different, we deserve more, etc. If we want the world to change, we have to be that change. Seek first to understand, then be understood.

The week prior? I met the attorney General of Oregon and listened to College Republicans and Democrats debate. Especially now, especially in the US, we can’t talk politics but need to! But people won’t listen! So to go to a setting where, while I didn’t agree with the other side on all points, I could at least hear what they had to say… It was fantastic!

On Love

So last week I talked about love. It was a fun topic and something I don’t talk about often. I talked a lot about being observant and most important, loving yourself. What I neglected to mention was loving others. Love is a prize…

I used to hate myself. Every day I would look in the mirror and berate myself. And then one day I realized that I couldn’t keep living this way. So I tried smiling. And then saying something positive. And now… I can barely remember who I used to be. What I have is what I wrote in my journal. What was once reality is now but a distant memory. But most importantly, I found others to love me. I’ve met the most amazing people in college and I didn’t even realize it at the time! And I was lifted up. It’s OK to be vulnerable no matter how much you hurt. And as far as finding true love? I wouldn’t worry about it. Everyone is obsessed with “the one” yet there will be multiple one’s in your life. If you spend your life chasing, you’ll never catch. Enjoy the moment. Love is meant to be fun. It’s hard to control. If you want the secret to make it last, i’ll tell you. A proper relationship is when two independent individuals come together to become interdependent. Do not lose who you are in a relationship; rather build something new with whoever you choose to love. Move forward, learn from one another and make each-other stronger. Even if it feels like you’ll never find love, please do this; allow yourself to love.

A Message…

As my time at college comes  to a close, I have so many questions and so few answers. For how much I know, there’s always more to learn. Those who claim they know everything are fools. Everyone has a story and everyone should have the opportunity to dream big. Many live their lives in fear and instead of stepping forward, they step back. They push people away and they try to make it on their own. Don’t. If you have nobody, you will always have yourself. Life is a gift, so don’t waste it. And it is never, never, too late to change.


Thanks for reading! Come back next week as I talk about my secret spots on campus and “the man with the white hair”. Feel free to comment, reach out, and share!

Advice, College, Musing

Journey’s End: A Journey worth a thousand words

“When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt


When we reach the end of our journey and look back, what do we see? Are we kept up at night tossing and turning, mulling over what could’ve been? Or do we remember what was, as adventures turn to memories? Do we ask ourselves if we’ve lived true to ourselves or do we envy that which we do not have? When we dream do we dream of distant mountains or do we dream of valleys far below? When we wake, do we wish we were dreaming? When we look in the mirror, do we see our shattered reflection or do we see ourselves as if for the first time?


Once upon a dream

Yesterday after class I decided to go for a walk. I’ve been walking a lot lately. This time it was back to the beginning, where college began for me; McNary dorms. It’s been years since I’ve made my way over to that side of campus and a part of me misses it. The sheer simplicity of Freshman year, when nobody expected anything of me. I went to class, ate, and spent a lot of time in my room. I didn’t have many friends but the friends I did have, we’d meet up, play poker, watch walking dead every Sunday night; it was fun. A lot of my time  was spent just trying to find my way in the world. I was quiet, awkward and not at all confident. My solace was playing video games. Video games told stories and were the only thing I truly felt I was good at. I liked reading but always felt self-conscious as throughout elementary and middle school I was always forced to read books that didn’t interest me. Classes bored me and as such I always fell behind. When it came to classes, I was always living in someone else’s shadow. My parents always hounded my brother for getting poor grades so I always felt the need to try extra, extra hard. The irony is, that because I tried so hard, I became my own worst enemy. Had I just been focused on myself, I could’ve easily been one of the best students, the one who gets “most likely to succeed” in the year book. Instead I tried to imitate my brother and live in his shadow, always reaching, but never achieving. The best part? My parents took a softer approach for me. They simply said, “do your best” which I interpreted as “We don’t care”…

So come college, this trend continued, except with one key difference, I didn’t have my brother to compare myself to. My brother spent a year at Southern Oregon, a few terms at PCC, and then he dropped out. I was on my own. It wasn’t Jack did this or Jack did that. It was Mike and only Mike. I always thought my brother should’ve been the one to graduate, that I wasn’t worth it. Then I started becoming worth it.

The College of Business

I knew I couldn’t survive in Engineering. I knew my field had to be either psychology or business. I started out as an engineer because I thought that’s what I ought to do, not what I was meant to do. Perhaps in another life, under different circumstances… But I don’t think people realize how volatile I was when I first got to college. Yes I’ve always been sweet, but what is sweet can also be bitter. Emotional stability is something I’ve struggled with for the longest time. When there’s poison in the heart, there’s poison in the heart. Very few have seen me lose my composure and  fewer have seen me loose my temper. This used to be my every day. Few realize what it’s like to be on the brink of insanity until they’re there. To be wrapped in a blanket of your delusions until you’ve warped reality so far that it begins to snap. To teeter on the edge of meltdowns and having nowhere to go as the walls close in. So people ask why I chose management and I ask, “what choice did I have”? Managers are professional relationship builders. They understand the needs of people and work towards common goals. Managers not only manage others, they manage themselves.

When people think business, they often think there is a separation between personal and professional. What they fail to realize is it’s often a beautiful blend. I’d go to class, learn, and then apply. I kept an open mind and I was just happy to be learning as much as I could while I was able. Bacc Core, pre-business, I loved it all. Since day one I have loved being a management major. And perhaps this is because it was my first taste of control, what it felt like to have some semblance of balance and stability. And the more I learned, the more I became. And while it started with classes, it has gone well beyond that point. I’ve read over a dozen business related books. “7 habits for highly effective people” became my bible. I lived by that book. It taught me what I should be and gave me the road-map to get there.  “How to win friends and influence people” became the icing on the cake, teaching technique rather than guiding.

A House of Engineers

For two years I had perhaps the greatest roommates and some of my best friends. I found a group of individuals more awkward than myself at the time, so I fit right in. Engineers play video games and I played video games, so it was a good fit. Better, they were Computer Science majors, who make Civil Engineers seem like excellent communicators. Jokes aside (although I never heard the end of business major jokes) if there’s a group of individuals that have been there to shape my future, it’s these guys. Engineers, for better or worse, are blunt. If you do something that does not make logical sense, like show emotion for example, they will call you out on this fallacy. So many questions… “Why are you angry?”, “Why are you sad”? Or statements… Mostly, “that’s stupid” or “That makes no sense”… It was wonderful. They were there for the majority of my transformation. Day by day, step by step… Sometimes I like to ponder who I’d be if I never met these fine individuals and I can honestly say I don’t think I’d be the same. They met me back when I thought I was a monster, that if I told people who I really was, they’d turn their back on me and run. And yet they didn’t. When I finally did reach my tipping point, they were there to support rather than shun. And that shattered my delusion…

A Fitting End

That’s it for this week. I’ll expand more on these ideas in the coming weeks, as I work towards telling my personal story. This week was more a taste and I have plenty more stories to share. Next week will be a tale of love, as I talk about my thoughts on relationships from an analytical and anecdotal perspective. Get excited and thanks for reading!


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