On Unpredictability and Being Punched by My Five-Year-Old Sister

She is much less sweet than she looks in this photo, let me warn you.

Who knew that she would turn on me so quickly?

Sister and I stood by the front door, waiting for it to be time to go to school. I was around 9, and she was around 5. I can’t exactly remember why, but I’d decided to entertain myself by opening and closing the screen door. Sister was not amused, and she insisted that I stop. I ignored her and continued to open and close the door.

“Do that again, and I’ll punch you in the stomach.”

She’d issued an ultimatum, but I certainly didn’t take her seriously. Undeterred, I opened the door and wham. She wasn’t kidding. Sister drew back her tiny kindergarten arm and punched me square in the stomach. I doubled over, upset and shocked more than anything. Sister and I didn’t ever fight physically; we usually just sassed each other. I made a fuss and Parents rushed over to see what was the matter. I explained the situation, and Mom, who is usually a decisive parent, was lost for words.

I could see the wheels in her head turning. “She really shouldn’t have punched her sister, but at the same time, she did warn her…” Eventually, Mom and Dad both gave up trying to referee the situation. Neither of us were punished, but Mom told me to stop opening the door and told Sister she shouldn’t probably punch people anymore or issue threatening ultimatums.

This incident has remained salient in my mind because it’s been a huge joke among our family, but also because it is a poignant example of unpredictability. I can’t read the minds of my parents, but I’m guessing that by this point in our lives they probably had the parenting thing down, especially when it came to our bickering. They knew how to placate both of us and how to swiftly judge who had to say sorry to who. But this incident was something they had absolutely no idea how to make a judgment call on. Who was to blame? Obviously Sister shouldn’t have punched me, but at the same time, I had to have partial culpability for completely ignoring my sister’s warning. There is no way my parents could have predicted this absurd situation would happen.

As I’ve begun to apply for summer internships and look at jobs, I find myself scared of unpredictability. What if they ask me to do something I haven’t done or something crazy happens and I don’t know how to respond or I respond incorrectly? The fact is that, like in the case of the punching ultimatum, life is full of uncertainty. There will be times where you’ll react well, and times where you’ll react incorrectly. One time, while working as a receptionist for Mom’s business, I answered the phone and mistakenly gave a telemarketer Mom’s personal cellphone number. Years later, she still gets calls. Whoops. If that isn’t messing up, I don’t know what is.

Regardless, you can’t ever be completely prepared for what life throws your way. Whether it’s at your job or as a parent (I hear that one is particularly unpredictable), life is going to throw you things that you’ll have no idea in the slightest how to respond to. All we can hope for is that we will possess the wisdom to at least make a half-right decision. This summer, I’m hoping what I’ve learned here in college and in life will serve me well in a career. I’m also hoping no one will threaten to punch me in the stomach.

Inspired by the wordpress prompt “With or Without You.”

Some other excellent writings on the subject:
Drawing a line in the sand: Daily Prompt | alienorajt
Brandon’s Mentor And The Daily Prmpt | The Jittery Goat
Fighting Ultimatums | Ana Linden
Nicki Minaj and A Free Fall. | meg lago
Giving Ultimatums To Cats

Leaving A Legacy

Leaving a legacy.

This phrase makes me think of professional athletes, world-changing politicians, and Hollywood starts. Legacies have always sounded to me like something grandiose, wide-reaching, and inimitable. When I think of someone who’s left a legacy I imagine a new home-run record that will remain unbroken, a music career unparalleled, a state of notoriety and unbelievable achievement. Legacy has always seemed like a word reserved for the highest echelon of achievers.

As I begin to choose my career path and start my life here in the next few years, I’ve been giving some thought to how I’d like to be remembered. It makes for a good way to work backward and figure out what’s important in life. As a person who’s not only competitive but a little “Type A,” I assumed going into college that what would be important to me would be achievement. Move up the company, get the promotion, earn the notoriety. I of course valued other things, but achievement would be important to me, I believed.

But as I began to conduct this backward analysis of what I’d like my legacy to be, I found that all of the things which seemed in my mind to make up a legacy weren’t that important. At my funeral, I’d rather people be able to say that I affected them profoundly rather than that they’d just heard of me. I’d rather people to be able to tell stories of the depth of my impact, not the breadth. In other words, I realized that a legacy didn’t mean what I thought it meant.

This was reinforced through the death of my Great Grandmother this January. In her last few weeks with us, I spent a lot of time with her, and I got a true glimpse into what it means to leave a legacy. Grandma wasn’t world-famous and she hadn’t broken any sports records. What Grandma did was pass down her feisty spirit and admirable fortitude to all of the women in our family.

I’ll never forget one of my last conversations with Grandma. I told her that someday I hoped to be as sassy and strong as she was, and unable to speak, she wrote on a dry erase board “gene.” I looked at her with confusion, and asked her to write it again. She pointed at me, then pointed at herself, and rewrote “genes.” It’s in your genes, she meant to say.

I realized at that moment that I had come from a long line of amazingly strong women, and that the mental fortitude and spunk I had taken for granted as a family trait was Grandma’s legacy. It was the beautiful mark she was going to leave behind. She had raised strong women who had in turn been there during my life to influence me. She had made her mark on the world in indelible ink. Grandma had left a legacy worth admiring.

I’ve come to view legacy differently now. I realize that while it can be all of the big, flashy things, legacy can be found in the smaller things, too. Legacy can mean being an amazing parent or an unfailing best friend or a committed community service volunteer. Legacy can be comprised of abstracts such as awards, or it can be comprised of the anecdotes, encounters, and stories that people will share with each other at your funeral, as they share laughs and cry. Legacy is what you leave behind. Accolades are nice and achievements worth admiring, but at the end of the day I want to be remembered for the impact I made on those around me and on the world in which I lived. I want to be just like Grandma.


In memory of my Great Grandmother.


Inspired by the WordPress prompt “Don’t You Forget About Me.”


Here are some other bloggers’ takes on the prompt that I particularly enjoyed:

  1. Embrace the Suck | Exploratorius
  2. The family that sneezes together, stays together! | alienorajt
  3. Albert In Charge And The Daily Prompt | The Jittery Goat
  4. Daily Prompt: Don’t You Forget About Me | tnkerr-Writing Prompts and Practice
  5. So much yet so little | A picture is worth 1000 words

“Passion Comes on Little Cat Feet”

The absolute worst question you can ask a college student is “What are you doing after college?” Seems like an innocent enough question, after all, you’d think we’d know, considering that we have to be going to school for something. While it’s a valid question, it reminds us of how absolutely terrified we are about our futures.

We’re going to school for four years or maybe more to do something we have no idea if we’ll actually like. I’ve chosen a major from a list like you might choose a dish from a menu at a restaurant you’ve never visited. We’ve all done our research as best we can about what we might like to do, but at the end of the day, I don’t know what it’s like to work in marketing all day, every day. I can try and glean that from an internship, but I’ll never really know until I’ve spent four years studying and plenty of money on my education. Right now I’m interested in marketing, but will I be in five years? Ten years?

Like most college students, when I get asked this simple question, in the back of my mind I question my academic decisions. Have I found my passion and career? Will I know it when I do?

The issue of passion is what separates a life calling from a dead-end job. It’s the thing that leads people to throw away their careers, and it’s the lack of it that leads people to throw away their lives at a job they don’t love. Passion, I think, is what we’re really terrified about when we’re asked about our futures. Even if I don’t get a million-dollar job, I’ll find something. With a college degree, most likely I won’t go jobless. I think the fear isn’t in not finding a job, but in getting what we want and realizing it’s not what we want at all.

This isn’t unique to college students. For adults, the fear is the same, only there’s often a lot more on the line. Choosing a job which one is not passionate about may mean making a decision that can’t easily be changed because of obligations to earn money for family and to pay off debts.

This fear, while understandable, is keeping us from living. As a wise woman I knew once said, “Passion comes on little cat feet.” Finding one’s true passion in life is like stumbling upon a four-leaf clover on a meadow. You’re going to have to look through a lot of three-leaf clovers first.

So for college students and adults alike, your education will never be useless. Even if I graduate and realize I hate marketing and decide to go to law school or something, I’ll still have something interesting to say at cocktail parties. I’ll have a greater expanse of knowledge about the world and with the work put into gaining that knowledge I’ll have built my character in the process.

The same goes for jobs. Finding one’s calling means trying a lot of things that aren’t your calling. Having a job which you are not passionate about not only helps you narrow things down but can teach you skills you’ll need for your passion later. Maybe you realize you hate accounting and want to go into owning a bike shop instead. It will sure be helpful to know how all your bikes are valued when you’re looking at your taxes. (Business examples abound here; sorry I’m a business nerd.)

It is never too late in life to find your passion or to change passions should you find yourself passionate about something else. Every life experience you’ve had can only enrich what you bring to the table, regardless of whether your passion is career-related or you decide to pursue something different entirely.

So for those of you who are second-semester seniors and biology majors sitting in your Intro to Philosophy class going, “Oh no, what if I really like this….” There’s hope. The knowledge you gain is always valuable, whether intrinsically or extrinsically in what it taught you about being a learner. And for those of you who are already in the workforce, if you haven’t been listening, start. You might not have heard passion meowing at your door, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there.