Even though it may be hard to believe, today is indeed the last day of 2013. Tonight the world will be welcoming a new year in the form of 2014, which they hope will be only better than the last 365 days of their lives. Personally, I have little to no complaints about how my last year went. Yes, there were some reals lows throughout the past 12 months and there is no doubt that there were many moments that I broke down in tears, was overwhelmed by stress, and burst out in anger. However, these moments were greatly outnumbered by the accomplishments, the beauty, and the blessings that I experienced in 2013. I graduated college, I dedicated more time to what’s important to me, I got some quality time with the real me, I created priceless memories, and I cherished every minute of it. I realized that in the past it was hard for me to enjoy the present, pick out the positive in each situation, and focus on my own goals, but 2013 was different. I feel like I grew so much as an individual and I can’t help but think that 2014 is only going to be a continuation of that positive growth for me. I enjoyed every second of 2013, but I honestly can’t wait to see what 2014 has to offer. As the chapter of this year ends, I am welcoming the start of a new year with welcome arms. Thanks for everything 2013, but now it’s time to give 2014 a chance to outdo you!
For my New Year’s resolution, I want to maintain a positive mentality, fighting off any negativity that can hinder my progress, while I also want to keep my life moving forward. I don’t want to remain stagnant or stall out. I don’t want to be content with anything. I want to keep progressing without hesitating and without wanting to look back. I want my optimism and my forward movement to maintain my personal happiness and increase my success, while also rubbing off onto those around me.I hope you all can look forward to the new year with a positive mindset, remembering that forward movement is the key to success. You can only fight darkness with light, so always make sure to keep the light within yourself to assure that nothing will stop you from reaching your goals. 2014 can be your year, if you believe it and work hard to make it so. All in all, I want to wish you all a very Happy New Year! End 2013 on a positive note, so that 2014 will start off on a positive one as well!
There is so much talk about beauty. What is it? What makes us beautiful? How do you measure it? The list goes on. You can analyze it as much as you want, but it’s true when they say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It is completely subjective and, most times, it doesn’t even have to do with what that beautiful thing looks like. Instead, it’s more about what feelings are sparked by it. Love, happiness, warmth, fond memories, and optimism. Maybe something beautiful reminds you of someone you love or perhaps it brings you hope for a better future. Either way, beauty is all about what you’re feeling that makes something beautiful. However, I do believe that one thing that goes hand in hand with beauty is progress, forward movement, evolution.
We all strive for happiness. We all have goals and getting closer to that end result is simply beautiful. Think about it. A girl maturing into a young woman is a sign of her progression in life and it is celebrated as a beautiful time in her life, whether she has a sweet sixteen or even a quinceañero. A graduation is a beautiful ceremony and it also symbolizes a student finishing their education and moving on to the next step in their lives. Pregnant women have a beautiful “glow” to them because there is a being growing within them. In nature, a flower blooming is progress in their existence and to us it is what makes Spring so special. Sunrises and sunsets show how we go from one day to the next, but the different colors in the sky are considered some of the most beautiful scenes in nature. Progress is beautiful.
When you’re writing a paper or doing a project for school, don’t you just stare at it once you’re done, admiring your finished work. It might be just a stack of paper, but it’s beautiful to you because it’s done. That step is done and you’ve progressed to what’s next. When you get promoted at your job, you might get a certificate, an award, or even a ceremony. People take pictures, you smile, and you feel proud. It’s a beautiful moment. If you’re trying to get healthy, you feel better when you get closer to your goal. Reaching your goals, getting closer to what you want, moving forward in life is a good feeling. Progressing is a good feeling. It’s beautiful and that’s one thing that is universal.
Everyone has to deal with external factors in their life. There are some things that we can’t foresee or control at all. However, I think that we always have a choice. The way we react to these uncontrollable variables in our life is where our free will comes into play. For example, people get sick. It’s never planned and most times sickness has the worst possible timing, but it’s usually something that you just have to deal with until it’s gone. You have to readjust your life until you’re healthy again, but you still have a choice. In this case, you can choose to take medicine, still go to work, email your homework to your professor, lay in bed for the rest of the day, and the list goes on of how you can adapt to being sick. They always vary, but you still have a choice. When you’re thrown a curve ball, you can choose to catch it, dodge it, or get hit by it. If you’re focused enough, catching a good pitch and dodging a bad one will be no problem. You’ll be able to weigh your options and make a quick decision just in time. But, if you let yourself get caught up in the world around you, I can almost guarantee that you’re gonna get hit hard.
But I will say, no matter which way your life goes, you have to take responsibility for your situation. Own up to the fact that you had a choice and you picked wrong. It happens. Hindsight is twenty twenty, but, unfortunately for everyone, we live in the moment and can’t see hindsight as our life is unfolding. We all make mistakes and there will be plenty of times where we make poor choices individually, but, if you don’t accept that you didn’t make the best decision, then how do you accept to move forward in the right direction? The worst thing a person can do is blame their situation on another person because, at the end of the day, you always have a choice. Even if you’re born into a situation, you can always find a better way and I can say that from experience. No one is a victim of their surroundings, but a victim of their reaction to their surroundings.
Rather than trying to place blame, try to evaluate your options so that you can pick the best one. You always have a choice, but it’s up to you to be smart about what you choose to do. If you don’t like your current situation, make better choices. Make sure everything you do works towards what you want and that what you want is what you need. Just own up to your situation and your decisions. It’s your life, so you can’t blame someone else for living it for you.
This week marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech, which he delivered in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. It was a pivotal moment in the Civil Rights Movement that called for equality, unity, and acceptance. Since then, times have certainly changed and I think we can all agree when I say that our civil rights situation in America has greatly improved. Segregation is gone and we’re seeing more interracial families everyday. However, the Civil Rights Movement shouldn’t stop at that and we certainly shouldn’t look back at MLK’s speech with the thought that our work is done. The truth is there is still plenty of room for improvement and it is up to our generation to maintain that momentum and hunger for progress.
Unfortunately, discrimination is still around, but, now, it is just less visible. The worst part though is that prejudice isn’t one sided. I think everyone makes presumptions about the people they encounter based on stereotypes, personal beliefs, and what they see in front of them, often clouding what is truly presented to them. Many times we have already made up our minds about a person before they even have the chance to convince us otherwise. It’s in our nature. It’s normal, but it can be changed. It is up to us to stop looking through a bias lens and instead make a conscious decision to give others an opportunity to show us who they are. It’s not right for anyone to assume who someone is without hearing them first. If anything is going to get better, we have to start with how we see the world and how we react to it. We can’t feed into the negativity we complain about. Instead, we have to at least stop it from stemming from within ourselves.
Today, our issues of civil rights don’t solely revolve around if a person is black or white. Now, individuals are being categorized as illegal aliens rather than people. Couples are being shamed, ostracized, and denied because of who they love. All while a person’s complexion is still a measure of their significance in society. In 2013, it’s beautiful to see a light skinned little girl with bouncy curly hair walking down the street with her white mom and black father. I love the fact that I was able to go to school with my black, Hispanic, Asian, white, and mixed friends. But I also want to see my cousin marry the love of his life without people being shocked that he has a husband. I don’t want my students to feel like they can’t go to school because their parents immigrated here for a better life. I’m tired of still feeling uncomfortable for being the only Hispanic in a room.
The problem is not gone. We haven’t finished what so many set out to do half a century ago. Yes, we have taken huge strides since Dr. King delivered his speech in 1963, but we have to continue marching forward to make his dream and the dream of so many others a complete reality.
Change is natural. We as individuals have to evolve, so don’t expect a person to be the same individual they were five years ago. It’s unrealistic and would actually be quite worrisome, if a person lived their entire life with no growth in character. People will always be different no matter how small the change is. Now, I’m definitely not saying that people should become unrecognizable throughout the years, but I am suggesting that growth should be evident as time passes because, after all, that’s what living is all about. Of course, there are parts of a person that can withstand the events of life and remain almost completely in tact. This can be anything from a person’s humor or good heart all the way to their favorite food or home. These kinds of things can be so engrained in the individual that they will always be true to them. They are consistent throughout a person’s lifespan. However, other traits are more malleable and subject to change. As a person meets new people, lives through new experiences, and learns new things, they grow, evolve, and, hopefully, progress. They absorb this newfound knowledge, reforming parts of themselves to adapt to the new era of their lives. They change in order to make sense of where they are in life, in the world, and in themselves.
Change is a part of growth and, although negative change is possible, positive change is the goal. As a person, you always want to aim for better. You want to make sure that your live with an upward trend, not hitting your peak too early. On that note, keep in mind that a change can be just as positive or negative as you want it to be. If you understand the ways that something negative can better you and your life, then it may not have been such a bad thing to begin with. It all depends on how you choose to react to your evolution. The important part is accepting it and embracing it until the change is positive. Also, don’t be so concerned with what others might think of your changes. Yes, it is important to not be abrasive and careless toward the significant people in our lives and you never want to try to devalue others, but people who knew you way back when must realize that change is inevitable, while people who are just meeting you won’t even be able to tell the difference, so their opinions shouldn’t affect you in the first place. As long as the changes made are positive and true to your character, then nothing else matters. No one can tell you what your style is and no one can tell you what you’ve experienced either. Change is a part of life and everyone must accept that. You just have to make sure that this change is natural and beneficial to your life.
Richard Blanco made history even before he read his poem by becoming not only the youngest inaugural poet, but also the first Latino and openly gay figure to be an inaugural poet. This is an incredible accomplishment for him personally, as well as, for our country as a whole. What he represents alone shows the strides of progress that our nation is making. On top of that, Blanco was able to deliver an honest, heartfelt poem that defined the American experience, emphasizing just how universal it is. Hopefully, Richard Blanco was heard by everyone who was watching the inauguration and it would be nice to see the progress he represents continue in the future. Here is the 2013 inaugural poet Richard Blanco.
In Puerto Rico, we have a saying that says “pa’ tras ni pa’ coger impulso,” which roughly translates to “don’t go back, not even for momentum.” This is a saying often used when someone is going though a hard time in their life and they need some motivation to push through their troubles. It literally refers to the idea that when a person is preparing for a long jump they have a tendency to take a few steps back so you can gain momentum to make the leap. However, the saying advises you to simply jump and to not take any steps back.
In life, you should never stop and you should never move backwards, but you should always keep moving forward. Once you stop progressing forward, you slow yourself down and it will be even harder for you to continue moving in life. Imagine how hard it would be if you took a few steps back on top of all that. You would have to at least make it back to where you started and then some to make the lost time worth it. When you’re living your life, you always want to look ahead. The past is the past. You’ve been there done that and going back won’t get you anywhere new. Simply put, the saying says that if you take those few steps back, you’re not helping yourself out. You are only digging yourself deeper and making it harder to progress, instead just push forward no matter what. So, when you’re looking for the will to keep moving, just think to yourself that all you need to do is jump. If you’ve been gaining momentum this whole time, then you should have no worries. Just never ever take those few steps back amidst all of the progress you’ve already made.