Nostalgia: Floral Leggings + Cozy Cardi

Cambridge, MA
college style, spring outfit, floral leggings
college style, spring outfit, floral leggings, jump shot
college style, spring outfit, floral leggings
college style, spring outfit, floral leggings
college style, spring outfit, floral leggings
Sweater, Yoins | Button-down, thrifted Ralph Lauren | Leggings, Burlington Coat Factory | Keds, eBay| Necklace, Love Nail Tree

For old times' sake, I squeezed a short swiming workout at the MIT gym into our packed two-day Boston trip schedule. 

My favorite city hadn't changed much in the nine months I'd been away. It felt funny to train again in the same gym where I'd completed important summer triathlon workouts. It felt funny to eat food again at the vegan cafes I hadn't stopped raving about. It felt funny to stroll along the same bustling sidewalks. It felt funny because so much had happened, but here I was again. 

I'll remember last summer fondly, for the weekend expeditions to Boston, for my resonant job as a indoor cycling instructor and RA at Explo. I'll remember it fondly especially in the months to come, because a while back, I decided not to return. I burned my ships, just as explorer Cortés did when he reached the Americas. With no means to return home, the necessity of success was all the more pressing. 

Like Cortés, I wanted to see what else was out there. I wanted to know if there was an opportunity that fit my interests even better, that could push me to grow even more. Despite completing countless internship applications since January, it's almost April and I still have no concrete plans for the summer. I have no time for regret, and no desire to wallow in pity. My ships are but wisps of smoke and ashes, and I have no choice but to press on. 

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Androgynous Finds: Zebra Print Button-Down + Maroon Skirt

Cardigan, thrifted F21 | Button-down, Burlington Coat Factory (men's section) | Skirt, China | Necklace, Love Nail Tree | Boots, Tommy Hilfiger

My heart pounded as I scanned the dining hall. Dishes full of the oh-so-appetizing bland vegan offerings balanced precariously in my arms, I gingerly began walking the direction of my first subject. 

Upon reaching her table, I motioned towards the empty seats. "Is it okay if I sit here?"

Much to my relief, she smiled. "Of course!"

Over the next few days, I found myself initiating more conversations with strangers, be it in my dining hall, or on the subways of Boston. As an extrovert who has no trouble making small talk, it was surprisingly nerve-wracking to plunge into my social psych experiment. 

For our norm violation paper, my partner and I chose to converse with strangers. After the early weeks of freshman year, I've noticed my classmates retreat to their small circle of friends, rarely sitting with more distant acquaintances, let alone strangers. Gone are the days when group boundaries had yet to appear, and reaching out to new faces was the norm. Luckily, this experiment was a good excuse reach out. 

I've spoken in Mandarin with a Chinese native on the Boston subway. I've met fellow students who are impressively well-rounded. I've talked music with a girl rocking a fierce red undercut. I've been inspired by the extensive travels of my college's film department coordinator.

Of my twelve subjects, not a single response was negative. Eleven people were happy to make small talk, one was neutral but polite. Of the subjects I was able to debrief, I asked the following questions: What was your initial reaction to my approach? Why do you think people often choose to keep to themselves?

Several people were surprised at first. Others thought nothing of it. Many found the conversation a pleasant experience and wished that people reached out more often. 

They hypothesized that people in general were afraid of being vulnerable. Of the possibility of rejection. Of appearing weird for breaking a social norm. Or, perhaps that they've internalized a previous negative experience interacting with strangers. 

But with the risk of rejection comes the possibility of connection. That's a chance I was happy to take, and will continue to be happy taking. 

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Artsy Endeavors + Life Updates: The Space In-between

Best way to start spring break: run away from all the work looming ahead
21.59 mi, 3 hr 30 min
Coffee mug, or camera lens?
 "Never fear shadows. They simply mean that there's a light shinging somewhere nearby" --Ruth E. Renkel
Catharsis is a pen and paper
$1.71 well spent
Beautiful setting for beautiful music
What I wish break actually looked like: lazy mornings in bed
 Treat yo self
 Good morning
 French library = coziest study spot

"Lily, you should sit closer to your boyfriend."

Engrossed in studying for my abstract algebra exam, I looked up. I was on one end of the couch, he had just plopped down on the other. Between us was my mess of old homework, practice problems, scratch paper, books, folders. 

I gave my not-so-subtle floormate a look.

Another friend of ours chimed in. "This is so much like an anime! They fall for each other, things are great, but then stuff gets between them...and then they have to fight to keep the flame alive, but ultimately, love wins."

We all burst into laughter. 

It was cheesy, but true: like the pile of schoolwork between us on the couch, academics had weasled their way between me and some of the finer aspects of life. In the past couple weeks, I've sacrificed time with friends for school, violin for school, workouts for school, blogging for school.

It's a delicate balance to maintain--prioritizing class is vital, and taking time to let go is so necessary. In the ephemeral week of spring break ahead, I plan to carve out some time just to live a little. Here's to more invigorating runs, more carefree nights dashing around ping-pong tables in unconventional 7-person matches, road trips with friends, finally getting around to shooting outfit photos (some of these photos date back to Decemeber--whoops!), and of course, plunging into work.

Here's to establishing an equilibrium of focus and lightheartedness in that space in-between.

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Endurance: Spring Outfit and Long Run Thoughts

colorful outfit college fashion
colorful outfit college fashion
colorful outfit college fashion
Dress, Forever 21 | Cardigan, thrifted Banana Republic | Button-down, Target | Boots, Tommy Hilfiger | Necklace, Love Nail Tree

On days like these, I feel as if I could go on forever.

The soft wind waltzes with the crinkly brown leaves still clinging to the branches of the trees. Beneath the mellow morning sun, I float along the bike path. I am running, but I barely notice. The fluttering leaves sing in soothing whispers, harmonizing with the rhythm of my breath., two,, two...

They have weathered much, the leaves. Despite harsh blizzards and tempestuous spring storms, they remain steadfastly attached to the sturdy, rooted bodies. The leaves are obstinate, tenacious, unrelenting.

One hour. Two hours. 

Fatigue makes its gradual, sly entrance. My breath becomes burdened, my legs protest adamantly, my mind feels weary. My thoughts no longer float freely--they are fixated on the pervasive discomfort. How much longer? When can I finally rest?

I remember the leaves. If they can cling so tightly despite their worn state, I, too, can continue to quench my hunger for distance.

The peaceful woods soon become the bustling small town near campus. I encounter a woman entering the community center. She smiles brightly, looks at the sky, and opens her arms wide. 

"It's beautiful."

I return a smile. "Yes, it's gorgeous out."

These little moments keep me going. The warm weather is a blessing. Despite the pain, being able to run is a blessing--I am all-too-familiar with the state of being injured, the persistent ache to lace up my shoes and float away. 

That spiritual pang cuts deeper than this physical suffering. I try to correct my careless form, I try to pick up the pace, I try to run happier. 

My watch finally reads three hours. I fumble for the stop button, swipe into my dorm, and labor up the stairs.

I barely have time to stretch before my first obligation of the day, let alone shower. I am stumbling around these responsibilities tossed at me from all spheres.

The run is now a week behind me, but several tests of endurance still await me. I long to catch up with you all once school allows me a respite.

In the meantime, I'll remember the leaves, and continue to tackle each task with long-run enthusiasm and determination.
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