Passion In Writing

I’m Going To School For Business, But My Real Passion Is In Writing

Should we give people tough love, or encourage them to follow their dreams?

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I wake up at 6:30 A.M. I go to my classes from 8 AM-4:45 PM. I do my work in any time I have free. Then I head back to my room and switch on my laptop. But I don't sign on to Netflix or Hulu, instead I sign into my google docs. I click on my writing folder, turn on my Facetious Poet playlist, and let the inspiration flow.

I'm going to school for Business so that I can be an Actuary, but my real passion is in writing. I recently submitted some of my writing into the Button Poetry chapbook contest, and after I submitted it, I sat there feeling empty. What am I supposed to do now? Sure, I have homework, but all I want to do is write. I set aside this urgent emptiness, and begin to work on my tedious math homework.

Growing up, I always had certain beliefs sternly whispered into my ear. One of these would certainly stand out to me, and impact me for the rest of my life: "Don't make a career out of a hobby. Don't try to have a career in the arts, keep it as a side thing."

This seemed to be a resounding comment from everyone: teachers, friends, family. I heeded this, not seeing any flaw in the reasoning, and kept going down the STEM career path. But this is me now, telling you the truth of the matter.

I love math and science but have struggled with both at times. But writing? That always came naturally to me, and it was something that made me happy. But I have known too many people who pursued a career in the arts that now label themselves as a "sad, starving artist". I resolved to myself, and others around me, that that wouldn't be me. I would keep my passion on the side, only indulging myself in it when I was finished with what had to be done.

But now, as a (somewhat) independent college student, in a time of my life where I am able to really have my own opinions and decide what my fundamental beliefs are, I have realized that this is bull****.

This thinking is a clipping of the wings. It may not even be intentional, but it is definitely a societal standard created to deter you from standing out from the crowd. I'm not saying this in a conspiracy-theory way, but I definitely believe that people will try to hold you back, just so you won't be better than them, or rock the boat. Yes, I am still working to be an actuary, but I am also working really hard to try and become successful in my writing.

I know the people who say these things are doing it mainly out of concern. I have a loved one in my life who believes they'll make a career in rapping/making beats. I don't see this as a real feasible goal, but who am I to say that? Others might see my dream to be a successful writer in the same way, so how can I tell someone that their dream is like that? I think everyone needs tough love from time-to-time. But if you keep repeating the same discouraging phrases to someone, it becomes detrimental to the person's confidence.

I don't think there is really a right answer to this debacle between choosing a career in STEM or in the arts. But this is me, telling myself, and you, to choose your own path. Follow your dreams or don't, but don't try to stop others from chasing theirs. If you want a backup plan, that's fine. You can express concern for someone, but don't tell them they don't have the ability to succeed at something they love. We need to let go of this societal standard to be successful in a way that gives immediate satisfaction/immediate results. And if you doubt it, think about the great arts of the world. What would the world be like without Beethoven? Or Martin Luther King Jr.? Or Shakespeare? Or van Gogh? Our world would not be the way it is now, and who are we to decide that we know what will or won't impact our international culture?

Maybe it's time to let go of our expectations, and let people do what they want.

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Why Working With Special Populations Doesn't Make Me A Good Person

What you're missing from the bigger picture.
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"What do you do?" might be one of my least favorite questions. Let me tell you why.

I am currently a registered behavior technician at a wonderful program (MAP) nestled in the heart of North Carolina. Usually, when I tell someone what I do, their response is either an uncertain nod or a plain look of confusion. At that time, I break it down by saying, “Basically, I work with children who have autism."

Now, more times than not, the response I receive is along the lines of, “Wow, that's so amazing of you", or my personal favorite, “Good for you. I could NEVER do that."

I understand that working with special populations isn't for everyone, just like being a neurosurgeon isn't for everyone. But, working with special needs children doesn't make me a good person, a saint, or a hero. Every time someone tells you he/she is a teacher, do you gasp and express how much you could NOT be a teacher?

What about when you meet a pediatrician? These people work with children just like I do. I'm certain if you spent one day in my shoes you would see just how much you COULD do my job.

Maybe not all of the technical work, but after a day with these children, you would be humbled by how much you could learn from them.

After all, these children are just children. They want to be accepted just like every other child.

They want to be understood and to be part of a community just like the rest of us.

My job has given me the opportunity to get to know a handful of the more than 3.5 million Americans on the spectrum. I've gotten to know each of their personalities, their quirks, and what makes them unique. I can't help but imagine a world where everyone gets to know these individuals as I have.

A world where we accept all of those who might appear or act different from us and educate ourselves on these populations. A world where that education helps us see that they aren't so different from us after all.

Working with individuals with special needs doesn't make me a good person, because I do it for selfish reasons.

I work with them because I don't know what my life would be like without them. They have taught me so much and changed my life in so many ways. I get to play a small hand in these children's lives. I get to help them learn fundamental life skills you and I take for granted.

But, I also get to leave work every day having learned a lesson. These children have taught me to be a better version of myself and to appreciate even the smallest of things life has to offer. Each day they challenge me to laugh more, have more fun, and not take myself so seriously. They show me more love than I ever knew possible. Maybe it isn't with their words. Maybe it's with the smiles and giggles when we're singing their favorite song, or the way they look at me when they finally get something they have been working so hard to learn.

The hugs, the kisses, and the moments where our two worlds collide and we finally connect; these are the moments that remind me how much these children have to offer the rest of us. If only we would take the time to let them teach us, we would be more selfless, less judgmental, and have a greater appreciation for life.

April is National Autism Awareness Month.

My hope is that this month we work to spread awareness for Autism, as well as other special needs. We take this time to learn something new, to help educate others, and to stop looking at these individuals as though they need special people in their lives to help teach them and focus more on opening our minds to the things they can teach us.

Explore Odyssey's featured Autism Awareness content here.

Cover Image Credit: Katharine Smith

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4 Essentials You Need In The Elizabeth Holmes Starter Pack

Here are key artifacts that worked to conjure up such an individual.

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Elizabeth Holmes is one of the most infamous entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley. Her company, Theranos, which was once heralded as a groundbreaking health-care changer, deceived thousands of people, giving them false blood results and examinations.

What stunned people all over the globe, was Elizabeth herself. Her image, her demeanor, and her overall haunting presence became the center of several documentaries and past news articles. Here are 4 key artifacts that worked to conjure up such an individual.

1. Makeup 

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Ms. Holmes' beauty routine is quite consistent and easy-to-follow. For special occasions and public-speaking events, Elizabeth wears her signature black eyeliner, smeared all over the upper eyelid, and a muted red-colored shade of lipstick. Her eyebrows and face remain minimal, as the enhancement of Ms. Holmes' ice-blue eyes is the centerpiece of the look.

2. Black turtlenecks

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Several news outlets and documentaries make note of Elizabeth Holmes' obsession with Apple creator, Steve Jobs. In the midst of building her billion-dollar scheme, Holmes would adapt Job's characteristics and professional practices, such as live product launches and copying Apple's style of commercials. However, the most obvious form of imitation was Elizabeth wearing black turtlenecks every single workday.

3. Green juice

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Since Ms. Holmes worked long hours, she followed a diet that she believed would provide her energy and health. Theranos insiders reported that Elizabeth was never seen without her green juice, either in her hand or on her desk. At home, her personal chef would whip up a small dish of vegetables for dinner, giving the fraud a one-way ticket to malnutrition.

4. A deep baritone voice

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Of all the mysterious anecdotes written and said about the Silicon Valley scam, the most bewildering tale derives from Elizabeth Holmes' deep baritone voice. Luminaries who knew Elizabeth during her time at Stanford claimed that her speaking voice was high-pitched, typical of a young white female. As years passed, when Elizabeth was quickly gaining fame and momentum, her voice dropped a couple of octaves when she made public appearances. According to Theranos employees, when Elizabeth drank at company parties, her voice slipped back into the high-pitched tone.

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