5 Things University Taught Me


oday, your University graduate is finally taking some time to go down memory lane and reflect on some of the hardest and most exciting times from these past four years. My college experience felt like a long road, compared to high school. I chose the community college path before fulfilling my dream of university life, which didn't meet the hype of my expectations as I envisioned. And that brought me to finish my Bachelor's degree online at California Baptist University. Every step has strengthened me in so many ways, I'll never regret the decisions that were made along the way.

I have talked a lot about my college experience on the blog, but they only reflect the mindset and lifestyle of my freshman and sophomore years. So, below are the most significant life lessons university taught me, which just happens to have taken place during my upperclassman years.

1. Criticism is the foundation of growth // Typing out that sentence gives me the chills. Mostly, because criticism is what I fear most. It was a lesson that tested me in my journalism course at Vanguard. The class size was no more than eight, but every few weeks when our articles were due, we would gather around in a large circle and share our documents with everyone on google docs to make comments in one space. These comments were given verbally, face-to-face, so hiding behind our laptop screens weren't an option. Whenever it became my turn for my article to be edited, I just wanted to crawl under the table. Talk about an immediate way to make my stomach drop, especially around writers that I admired and wish I could imitate in my own writing.

I believe, that in high school we are so encouraged to just tackle assignments that we walk away receiving too many 'gold stars' just for the sake of completion. Please, do not let me fool you into believing that I would enjoy less 'gold stars' but at times I entered certain courses with the mindset of "I've always been an A student for my essays." This, in turn, would completely shatter my spirit and enthusiasm if I ever received anything less.

So, it was during these moments, hearing from my classmates about how my article needed to be improved or even praised, I gained an appreciation for criticism. It has made me a stronger writer. After all, I am not choosing to pay such a high tuition rate to hear how amazing my writing is by my professors.

2. You are more capable than you realize // I absolutely loved being in college, because it brought out my extremely motivated side. I enjoyed the hustle of assignments, proving myself to new professors, brainstorming with classmates, and ultimately staying on track with my goals to graduate. But, at times, it wasn't always that simple. I had so many highs and lows, mentally and physically. I worked so hard to succeed, that I faced so much conflict like never before, but I stood my ground. My list could go on and on with moments that I spent too much time worrying about, but at the end of the day, I did it. Through the mess and through the joys, I did it. Girl, give yourself more credit next time.

3. Self-care for me does not involve Netflix // Most valuable piece of information I discovered about myself in college, is that Netflix is not self-care. Rather, it is an escape mechanism that leads to more problems than needed. Self-care is not about giving in to guilty pleasures. It is replenishing parts of myself that become drained at the end of the week. Here is what I do now; practice inward gratitude by keeping a journal, write poetry, treat myself to a mani/pedi, stay on top of my skincare routine, honor the boundaries that I put in place for those around me, say yes to more experiences, and take a bath. 

4. Dorm life wasn't everything, and that is okay // My first and only year living in the dorms taught me that I didn't need my own space to learn true independence. Deep down, I knew this all along. I let the ideals of a college experience could my ability to know who I truly am. Despite all the ups and downs of living in the dorms, it was needed to show me that, perhaps, true independence is realizing that it will only blossom when we are staying true to ourselves. Even though all the pressure, I had to overcome, I've finally accepted that the dorm life didn't have to be my holy grail when it came to my overall college experience.

5. Writing or analyzing poetry inspires me // Thanks to my British Poetry course, I now find so much joy in not only understanding the realm of poetry but actually writing it myself. I love it so much that I just decided to share a few on the blog now, so be sure to look out for future little poems that represent my heart at all times.

Butterfly Fly Away | Heart&Pen


Patterns of rhythm or a life of perfection are what I long to keep 
I have been this way all my life 
I use to believe it was a virtue to strive for excellence 
but now I see you come along 
the sky so blue 
catching the wind as it comes through 
a pure vision of transformation 
able to come and go whenever you please
all while my mind stays consumed
with the opinions and expectations that surround me 
so I look to you 
the one who flutters with such freedom 
perhaps one day I too will master the ability to 
stretch out my wings so boldly like you do 

- Jenna Leigh Condon 

The Heart Of It | Perfectionism


erfectionism is a funny thing. Desperately do we seek such an unobtainable personality trait, and then fall apart wondering if it is because we aren't doing enough. A performer through and through am I, but many times do I find myself trapped in a perfectionist mindset. Why? Because I do not want others to see me as weak. I would rather drop due to exhaustion rather than defeat, so I keep going to produce. Productivity can come in many forms, just as long as they are perfect enough to meet a standard. We all have that one area in our life that must appear perfect (or for some, all areas). Personally, I see this shine through with my longing to obtain perfect grades, beautifully captured photographs, an organized calendar, and goals to tackle. I believed (and sometimes still do) that these things would make me feel strong. They would bring me power. I would appear capable.

Isn't that the definition of perfectionism?...the ability to appear put together in order for others to believe that we are more capable than originally perceived. That, however, is my take on this concept. Well, I am tired of proving myself. I shouldn't have to achieve anything on a scale of perfection in order for it to count.

To kick off my summer in May after I graduated, I spent a few days away at The Mission Inn Hotel with my mom to finally feel free of deadlines and anxiety. For the first time since I began blogging back in 2012, I left my DSLR camera at home. I didn't want to be bothered with finding the perfect lighting or worry if it'll fit in my bag. Every corner of that hotel deserved to have its photograph taken, and I often wished I brought my camera along. After all, an iPhone can only do so much. But, it was during these moments that I learned to be more present.

To be present is a new discovery for me. It means leaving behind all that I care about; chasing after all, that appears and feels the most perfect I can make it. Resting in any capacity takes great contentment, which is the opposite of perfectionism. Reading by the pool felt more calming than ever before. Why? Because I realized how much my body use to had to function in order to be a high-capacity type of person. I never let my mind rest or my shoulders drop. Instead, I filled my body with tension and thoughts that turned into anxiety. Being present is more about caring about the simple things; bare face of makeup, tea in a childhood mug, or taking the time to journal.

Perfectionism has us believe that "if I look perfect if I work perfectly if I act perfect and do everything perfectly" it will exempt us from the feelings we hide from; judgment or shame. After all, isn't that why I feel a need to display such perfectionism? If my life looks put together than I can escape all disappoint or opinions from others, and instead only feed off of their praise. I cannot be naive and believe that this type of mindset could ever be cured, but there are ways I am going to stop falling into the trap.

Trying to keep up this image only creates exhaustion, fear, and keeping people at arm's length. Being perfect is just not real. I've found that my intention was to be able to "fit in" but in the end, it only makes me less relatable to the world around me. No one is able to have a connection that is built on trust and compassion if perfectionism is the foundation. We must allow for some cracks to bleed through if we ever wish to make an impact on someone's life, or simply our own. I challenge you (and myself) to stop being so busy trying to be perfect, but more present.

Summer Day Trip To Balboa Park In San Diego


his post is long overdue, as these photos are a few weeks old now. But, this was such a special day for my best friend and I. Being a Cali girl my whole life I had to venture into Balboa Park, and it did not disappoint. From the buildings, gardens, and art in every nook and cranny, this space is a true treasure in San Diego. We were able to have free entrance access to a few museums, which is something I would love to do more of in the future. Emily treated me to a beautiful lunch at Prado Restaurant and thankfully their lemonade spritzer cooled us down from that 95-degree heat.

On a completely separate note, I have to admit that I feel out of practice writing on the blog. I suppose that is because ever since college I all focused on was typing out my feelings. Regardless, this space is to hold special memories and thoughts. I believe these photos capture that perfectly. I have SO much to update, but for now, these photographs will have to do the talking for me. 

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