1.27.18 Two Weeks Felt Like Two Months

This is a diary entry type post. Any post with a date in front will be a diary entry, so a lot of this is just recapping my last two weeks in a lot of depth. It’s actually quite long, so I apologize for anyone who found this excessive. Enjoy… or don’t.

I am 90% healthy, and 10% a little dead inside. Kind of like in Pokemon so…  I have 10% of my HP left to regain. Sidenote: Snorlax is my favorite Pokemon, just in case anyone was wondering.

Man. Those first two weeks of school were insanity. It started off with a 6 hour work meeting the day before school actually started on a Sunday. That meeting was pretty draining if I’m being honest, but I got to meet one of my team’s assistants that got hired last semester. She is adorable. She is like a 18 year old version of myself, and it’s so fun to work with her. She is a fast learner, efficient, and just a ball of fun. We bonded immediately, and I have a volunteering opportunity with her next Saturday. We also do have 2 work meetings together between now and then, but this volunteering opportunity is one I haven’t done in about two years. I’m so excited to do some manual labor. I actually wanted to be an architect when I was younger because I thought I got to do the actual construction work, like brick laying, cutting tile, installing windows, etc. I was dumb I know, but I didn’t know better. The volunteering next week is at a place called Habitat for Humanity where we get to help with the construction of low cost, highly efficient homes for those who need it in the Stockton community.

If anyone from UOP is reading this and is interested in volunteering, you should totally join us! Link is below:

https://pacific.galaxydigital.com/aem/general/need/?doc_id=3678&need_id=320358

There are 400+ spots for tons of volunteering opportunities that yours truly has arranged for the entire semester, so if you need any volunteer hours or are interested in volunteer work check all those out at pacific.edu/reachout.

Haha omg. Even when I’m not working, I’m working. Lowkey just did a work promo right there. Work has been a big part of the insanity of the past two weeks. I’ll explain what I started with and what I have now. I had to adjust some things in order to make the responsibilities I have manageable, as well as possible for me to excel at.

So I’ll get started… I began the semester with 17 units of class, a paid job as a manager at a community center, and an unpaid research project manager position in a biology lab. This short list is deceiving because the implications of each are enormous. First of all, the 17 units of class included the second class in a physics with calculus series, one of the hardest biology classes with an infamous lab component, and three brand new engineering classes. Some of you may not know, but I entered college as a biology major. Very recently towards the end of last semester I had considered the idea of adding a bioengineering major, and then about a week into the beginning of my Spring 2018 semester I submitted the paper work to officially become a double major, specifically in biology and biomedical engineering. I did not switch majors due to the fact I was only a couple of classes away from acquiring a B.S. in Biological Sciences, and I really do love and appreciate everything biology. Also, my double major will look beautiful on a resume. Anyways, those 17 units were doable for someone who did not have a job for sure. However, for me that was not the case.

Then my manager position at a community center is another huge responsibility. The reason I get paid at a community center is because they facilitate hiring Pacific students to work there and manage the administrative side of all of their programs. They have a community tutoring program that works with Pacific students that go out and tutor at about 7 different elementary schools, an individual tutoring program that also works with Pacific students that tutor one on one for anyone that needs it, and a volunteering program that works with 5 different community partners to bring Pacific students into the community to make a significant contribution. They are a fantastic access point for such a wide variety of people in the Stockton community. I have learned through my paid work, my volunteering work, and just through talking to people that the people of Stockton are wonderful people. I die a little inside when others put a bad light on Stockton when they haven’t actually experienced it for themselves. Yes… it is dangerous to walk around in the dark in Stockton. But think about it… any city is like that. San Jose is just as scary in the dark, and it also has active gangs. That can be a post by itself, so I’ll move on.

This work I do at the community center is so rewarding, but this semester I am managing 13 volunteer leaders on my own. Last semester when I started this job, it was meant for two people, but my partner quit. So I was this first timer with a paid job almost completely lost on what to do, and I knew eventually I had to pick up on the work that my partner left behind. My team was kind of enough to delegate them to different people as we transitioned into a one person less team. I was still very lost on what was happening. It could be due to the fact that I didn’t originally apply for this job, but I just wanted some kind of paid job so I took it. For a while every time I came into work I thought, “So what am I supposed to be doing?”. It didn’t help that I also had a significant case of depression and anxiety acting up again.

I promise that that is not the case anymore. I have come a long way from that. Over the course of last semester, I grew to be a boss at my job. I not only learned how to do my job, but I managed to arrange at least 40 dates for opportunities of volunteering with community partners and volunteer leaders before leaving for winter break. That task was daunting to hear when we first talked about it prior the Fall 2017 semester ending. However, before I even left for winter break, people were already signing up for volunteering, and my team was ecstatic. However, for this semester that means a lot more logistics for my team to keep track. For me specifically this semester,  I have 13 volunteer leaders to manage and people at each community site we work with to contact. So about 18 people I have to keep a strong and steady line of communication with. There’s 2.5 hours of weekly meetings, 1 hour monthly meetings I have to lead for my volunteer leaders, 2 hour leadership team meetings every now and then, and 0.5-1 hour meetings thrown in here and there for various things and reasons. It’s pretty daunting when you think about it, but we did hire a couple of assistants this semester which is a blessing. Now I don’t have to manage the more minor tasks and maintenance items like I did last semester, and instead I focus on purely the people aspect of the volunteering opportunities. However, for the first two weeks the assistants we hired are getting their grips on the work that we do collectively as well as their specific jobs. I don’t want to dump too much on them. It kind of makes it tough on me because a bulk of the work in the first two weeks is setting up for the entire semester, which also just happens to be the two weeks that the assistants are still getting a hang of things. I spontaneously combusted into tears for 10 minutes twice in one week while I was at work. Once in front of the Assistant Director, and the second I did it alone but my supervisor who is also the Director found me a mess in the back. I was a little overwhelmed to say the least. Like I said these first two weeks have been a lot for me.

*Takes a deep breath*

My second “job”, or position I guess I should say, is as a research project manager in my professor’s research laboratory. I work with my first year general biology professor, Dr. Kirkwood Land, who actually was a big part of why I came to Pacific. He was so passionate about helping students learn general biology, and he truly is dedicated to the teaching process. He does not care if he comes off as too difficult or crazy. As long as the students learn and they learn well, he is doing his job and that is all that truly matters. I think that core value in both of us brought us together to do the work that we do now. Last semester, we had quite a rocky start in research. There were research members stepping into roles of leadership for the first time, including myself, and new members that were stepping into a new routine and set of responsibilities. The transition was less than smooth, but now that we have a better grip and overview of what everyone in lab is capable of, we have a plan. I know we can accomplish a ton this semester. There will be obstacles in the way, whether it be difficult people to work with or too many projects coming in. I think regardless with some organization and some systems in place we should do extraordinary things this semester. This position isn’t paid, but to be honest it really does feel like another job. However, I do thoroughly enjoy working with the people in my lab.

So yeah. Wow. It’s overwhelming thinking about what I originally had planned for the semester. My chest and heart have a visceral reaction that causes me actual stress. I don’t really get mentally stressed anymore to be honest. I am truly and fully confident that I can get all the things done. Mainly for the sake of my physical health, specifically my heart that may burst at any moment, I adjusted my schedule so the physical stress on my body doesn’t end up killing me this semester.

That is not even an exaggeration. I had such intense chest pains last week that I went to the wellness center that we have on campus. The doctor was listening to my predicament and confirmed I was still healthy, but he even said he was getting stressed listening to my schedule. Fortunately, there were no serious health problems to blame for my chest pains. I only needed to rest, which is something I am terribly forgetful about. Remembering that my capabilities as a human are limited due to the fact that I only have so much energy and time is something I am definitely still working on. I actually had some intense chest pains today, but I just took a second to drink water and take deep breaths. Let’s just hope I don’t faint on the Pacific pavement sometime this semester. If anyone finds me on the floor passed out, please help me.

*Taking many deep breaths with some intermittent coughing and sniffling*

But now… my schedule is extremely ideal. I replaced my Genetics class (hardest bio class with infamous lab component) with a GE (which I actually dropped because I really did not care about that class at all). I’m taking 14 units instead of 17 units, and 2 of those units are for my efforts in research anyways. My community center job should be slowing down, and I have assistants on my team that will be more familiar with the work we do and more trained to help lighten any load I have. My research project manager job will get more hectic due to the fact that the first two weeks have been a planning process, but starting tomorrow the ball will start rolling and pick up its pace pretty fast. So some things will let up, and some things will speed up. It’s all about balance, and I am confident that I can do this.

I have to admit that I do feel… a little crazy. I really did take on a crazy amount of responsibility this semester, but I am mentally stable and even excited. Actively taking care of my mental health for the prior 2 years was a long journey, but it was the best thing I could have done for myself. Seriously, I beg of you guys to prioritize your mental health. The reason that I failed at losing weight, doing well in classes, being happy in a relationship and more is because I didn’t have the beautiful and healthy self-love and mental stability I have now to fully live up to my potential. Now that I have more confidence than ever before, I feel almost invincible. Without my confidence, even overconfidence sometimes, I wouldn’t be able to do half the things I have accomplished and will accomplish in the very near future. But I can do all of those things, and there are so many exciting things about all the things I am involved with now.

I’m so excited for my engineering classes. You have no idea. This stuff makes so much more sense to me than biology classes. My favorite biology class was anatomy because it’s a little more tangible than all the other things we talk about in the biological world of thinking. However, for engineering everything is quite tangible, and it feels immensely more practical. When people started talking to me about engineering last semester, it got me thinking to when I was younger. Whenever I broke a mechanical pencil, I would never just throw it away. I would always at the very least attempt to pull it apart and figure out exactly what went wrong. Generally, the lead would always be broken or fragmented, and the piece would be too small for the spring to push far enough to push it out so that you could use the pencil properly. I really enjoyed fixing things and understanding them. Things or machines are way easier to grasp than people. People are ridiculously unpredictable and way more significantly impacted by emotion. As a manager, I deal with my program which is like my big machine, which has almost too many mechanical parts. However, after a semester or so I know all the parts pretty thoroughly now, so my metaphorical machine is ready to run and runs pretty damn smoothly if I do say so myself. If something goes wrong, most of the time I can figure out exactly why. So engineering is kind of my shit… I think. I just started, but I have good feelings about all my classes. A couple even feel a little too slow for me. There are some small issues, but my excitement makes them seem minuscule.

Speaking of my program, so my actual official title at the community center is the Voluntary Action Group Program Manager. I won’t get into what that means because it’s a lot to explain. Basically, we have so many volunteering opportunities available to Pacific students, and it’s crazy to think that I helped make that happen. Connecting the Pacific students to the Stockton community is a passion I have been developing due to the issue that a lot of people have a negative perspective and stigma towards Stockton. Working at the Center for Community Involvement has helped me grow immensely as a person, and this includes a passion for social justice. I would like the general population to know the wonderful people of Stockton that are constantly working hard to make it a better place, instead of having them judge it by what they’ve heard or seen through the media. It’s incredible the impact that people can have on the community if they take the time to get to know it. Students could easily become a part of this beautiful community if they truly got to know Stockton for what it is. Optimally, for the benefit of my community center, through volunteer work. I’m excited for how we can continually make Stockton a better place.

Lastly, my biology lab. I entered in as a mere research member. I was anxiety ridden and going through depression while I started, so I didn’t think I could last in this intense environment. However, now my research position has become a bigger monster than I thought it was ever going to be. The only reason I am making it a bigger responsibility than it has to be as an unpaid job is because I can’t do something halfway. Either I go big, or if I know I can’t do it I go home. Our lab was a hot mess last semester, but I’ve learned enough from my other job to know how to make things run more smoothly and not so much like a hot mess. I’ve implemented new systems and protocol already, and I’m excited for how much more efficient and less stressful lab will be this semester. We have a master plan, and plans almost turn me on. Organization, schedules, systems, plans… sexy.

I’m weird. I know.

But yeah. Craziest two weeks of my life to be honest. I pushed my body and brain to their limits, so I have adjusted things so that doesn’t happen on a regular basis (spontaneously combusting into tears & experiencing terrible and constant chest pain). This weekend, thankfully, I got to catch a break and go home to hang out with family. I got to see my dope little sisters. I don’t actually have little sisters, but my two younger female cousins grew up with me, and they at some point looked up to me so I feel like a big sister to them. I’m 20, Amber’s 17, and April’s 13. I remember Amber wrote me a card once,  and apparently she wrote about me when she was prompted to talk about someone she looked up to. My heart was so full, and I couldn’t believe it. That was when I was way younger too; I was extremely insecure then so I was surprised. I can write more about them later because I do love them so freakin’ much.

After hanging out with them and my parents, I’m back at school. Tomorrow begins the next two week cycle and hopefully it’s easier than the first cycle. There’s still a ton of stuff to do, but it feels more manageable now that I’ve gone through it once. I hope you guys can make it too. It’s really insane that next week begins February. How is that even possible? Gosh.

*Takes deep breaths and drinks some water because she’s always thirsty*

Well… good luck to you all. I truly believe if you set your mind to something, you can do it. Just believe in yourself and take care of yourself. Ask for support from your friends, your family, or even a professional. You need someone to keep you accountable for loving yourself because sometimes you’re going to have moments where you despise your best characteristics or you exaggerate your worst. Those moments will come, and you need people to tell those voices to shut up and remind you you’re amazing. Trust me, you really can’t be expected to truly succeed if your mind isn’t set up to believe so.

Good luck again… and also good luck to me because I have to go prep for a meeting now. See you all later 🙂

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