Anxiety & Depression:Denial Due To Stigmas

Sometimes we find ourselves under water, drowning, gasping for air not knowing how to resurface. Suddenly superficial things like Meditation, become considered because we feel like we are in a medically induced coma with no way to escape. We feel we are in a mold trying to move but paralyzed, on the verge of having a panic attack. We want to be free but don’t know how.

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We ALL disassociate ourselves with mental health issues

Because Anxiety and Depression are considered mental health issues, and have stigmas associated with them, no one wants to identify with them. We don’t want to be considered part of a minority who is mentally unstable. But we don’t realize that everyone is susceptible to these mental issues, they are nothing to be ashamed of. When we think of people with mental health issues we get this image of people in an asylum, and yes maybe severe forms of these mental issues may get some people there, but it is nothing to feel ashamed of. We all are fighting inner battles and anxiety/depression are just, us succumbing when reaching climaxes in those long consecutive battles.

Non-Sufferers won’t understand

A person who’s never had depression or anxiety will not understand, they’ll tell you “Just be happy.” or “Just relax.”. But it isn’t that easy, both of these mental health issues are not self inflicted and beyond the power of the host to be rid of. When you have anxiety, it is an overwhelming feeling of desire for an event to pass or over analyzation of ones trauma. As humans we like to control things, but sometimes when the stakes are high and we feel imminent stress it becomes too much. With anxiety you feel like a ticking time bomb and there’s nothing you can do to stop yourself from detonating. Depression is even worse, as it stems from circumstances and anxiety is usually due to a temporary event. People tell people who are depressed to just be happy, but what they don’t see is that it’s also human nature to desire happiness. People want happiness, but it’s easier said than done. You don’t feel like you have that choice, it’s like a terminal illness that can’t be treated.

The Mind can either Make or Break you

The mind is a revolutionary tool, but utilized when not necessary, it is debilitating. Michael Bond says “When people are isolated from human contact, their mind can do some truly bizarre things.” Our minds essentially house all of of our dreams, fears, doubts,  and memories good and bad. People who are socially isolated are most prone to this, even just lying in bed. When you overthink all of those voices, they begin to run rampant, that’s when the mind becomes scary. Although we are humans and like to believe we control our emotions, they tend to control us. If it’s hard to control our emotions, you can imagine it’s even worse to control our minds. There’s both beauty and fault in nature, so even though we have minds that remember things second nature and that is amazing in most endeavors, a small portion of the time we wish we couldn’t. The power of now a book about spiritual growth taught me that even though we live in the present, our minds force us to view things through eyes of the past. Think about it, every choice you make is based on experiences in the past. Although this is good because it makes us less naive and more alert, it also makes sure that everything we’ve suffered stays with us. Even if we consciously try to make the decision to let go, subconsciously we still are latched.

 Engulfed in the things that Hurt us in the past

We don’t want to be hurt or filled with poisonous energy, we think our wounds are healed because they are physically gone, but beneath the surface the damage is nearly irrevocable. We always carry those things in our minds and anxiety and depression are manifestations that are just the most extreme cases. Because everyone is burdened by some internal struggle. The mind tends to let all of the hopes, fears, dreams, and doubts consume us mentally and thats when a person becomes impaired, they form a veil between themselves and the world, that damages their image of everything. They no longer see the beauty in nature or the reassuring feeling of a concerned person, darkness plagues all that they see. When you tell a person to just relax or be happy, your telling them to control their minds which even people who don’t have mental health issues, can’t do. If anti-depressants can’t do it, then how can they do it?, it goes much deeper than mental levels. It’s a spiritual disease and making an effort to overcome it, makes you open yourself up for cleansing. As I said before, no one wants to be depressed but they don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Trying to escape

Depression can be like quicksand though, and struggling can only make you fall deeper. You want to be happy but you just can’t. Sometimes getting through it opens you up to pursing happiness, and having survived it you feel awakened, as if the veil has lifted between the raw beauty that is the World, and self burden.

Discovering Self Love

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It was last year when I was a freshman that I learned some of the most essential lessons I would learn, probably even in my remaining two years. I was naive and eager to scope out the environment in my school and make some friends. The first months I had been part of this huge group that I later separated from, but being in the bigger group is what taught me the most.

Eager to socialize as most extroverts are, I assimilated into my schools environment and would hang out with my “clique” everyday. It was composed of some upperclassman and two of my closer friends that were in my grade. My belonging in that group stemmed from the fact that I just wanted to feel part of something and because we all shared a major in my school, vocal. What I know now that I didn’t know then, is that in my search for social validation and friends I chose the wrong crowd.

Sometimes in the midst of figuring out who we are, we associate with people and validate abuse we otherwise wouldn’t. You may be wondering, what made this crowd the wrong one?

It may not be unique to desiring a sense of belonging or naivety, it could just be ones lack of confidence, but you shouldn’t allow friends to degrade you or make you feel insecure. I would allow daily verbal abuse from my “friends”. We later split up due to indifferences between people in the group. But early on I came to this realization which also assisted in sparking my departure from the group.

Even if you don’t want to feel like an outcast, you shouldn’t sacrifice your self confidence being diminished. It doesn’t have to be on a large scale and it could be just “joking around” as my friends use to call it but no matter how subtle, if your friends know you aren’t fully confident they shouldn’t do it. The thing is the way people treat others reflect their internal stuggles more than anything else. After middle school I was still trying to grow my confidence and I didn’t really have the voice to defend myself to the point that I should have. The reason being that I partially believed those things since I was neither insecure or confident but somewhere in the middle.

People in high school and just adolescents during development tend to pretend to be things they aren’t because they don’t quite know yet. People degrade others because it gives them a feel of superiority needed in their misery. In order to feel content with themselves they have to degrade someone else. It’s a funny world because if we could see peoples intent behind actions, it would be a much more loving and understanding world. As peoples intent don’t usually coincide with their actions.

People have different ways of coping with pain, and the weak tend to do it by hurting others.

Although I was analyzing this and questioning my lack of defense for myself and unfortunate circumstances, I was grateful because being treated badly made me discover what I deserved and how I should be treated. It helped me discover myself by seeing the things I liked and didn’t. Being insulted all the time by my supposed friends made me aware that I deserved to be treated better and that I wasn’t going to accept it anymore.

In middle school I had gained a reputation for defending myself so no one would mess with me unless they wanted to get into a heated debate, but of course people still did. By high school I was tired of standing up for myself and was out of practice. People in middle school learned to leave me alone most of the time because they knew I wouldn’t shut up.

If you have friends who insult you daily in a way that makes you feel less about yourself, even if they say it is in a joking context which is always the defense, just drop them. Know your self worth enough that you don’t need to be treated horribly to understand that you deserve better. Sometimes not having any friends is the best way to go especially if you are not at a place where you are secure in every aspect of who you are, because you would be too vulnerable and people are too careless. We really only have friends because we all don’t want to feel socially awkward, no one wants to be the outcast. But your self worth should be prioritized above all. You should love yourself so much that your willing to let anybody who mistreats you take the nearest exit from your life.

For me it took mistreatment to realize how much I valued myself but it doesn’t have to be for anybody out there reading this.

This is a lesson that has unlimited value because it even extends to other relationships. A lot of people become attached to things that hurt them because those things made them happy at one point, so when they no longer can, people feel compelled to stay because they still have hope for that original happiness. In reality this is when you need to value your happiness the most. The most crucial time to prioritize your happiness is in a time when, if you don’t walk away you’ll just suffer on a greater scale longterm.

Sometimes we don’t want to, but we need to close chapters on people or things that although we have gained dependence on, have only began to cause more damage than benefit.

Walking away saves you the pain and suffering in the long run because when you walk away you command ownership to the direction of your life. So that only you decide to make your life what you want and not let it be threatened by anyone or anything. Things and people nowadays are too temporary, to be given so much authority over the orientation of your life.

Situations in life as I have said before are either blessings or lessons, and this situation was both because it began my journey of self love. It did this by teaching me to know my self worth and this in turn was a blessing. Had I not received the lesson I would have missed the blessing. It initiated my ever expanding journey of self love, being happy and unapologetic with every inch of myself.

America: A Nation Built On Hypocrisy

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It’s not just because I am a First Generation Dominican Immigrant , or because I don’t fit the European image of what society has deemed American, but hearing people say “speak English we’re in America.” boils my blood.

Why you wonder? Because America likes to market itself to the rest of the world as the “land of the free” where all cultures are welcomed and accepted. But this isn’t actually true, we don’t actually hold ourselves to this standard. Saying speak English we’re in America implies that the only culture accepted is the English American one. I am in America but that doesn’t obligate me to Americanize myself to the point of depleting every aspect of my ethnically rooted culture. Americans keeping customs/traditions from their ethnic culture alive is the exact reason the fabric of America is so beautifully sown with different colors. So many children of native speakers speak English instead of their ethnic cultures language as a result of Americanization.  The fact that there is a Muslim Ban highlights the complete and utter disregard of the foundations the constitution evidently layout. People should not be ostracized for religious beliefs, from a country that honors free religion in their constitution (First Amendment).

America was named the “melting pot in 1908 describing a fusion of nationalities, cultures and ethnicities.” America has always been marveled at by other countries for not having one relative image/ethnicity of an American, but having multiple due to it’s diversity. Citizens and Immigrants alike, both have contributed to the cultural diversity of our nation through keeping the traditions and aspects of their culture alive, such as language. By telling people to speak English, we diminish culture as if it hasn’t been damaged already with westernization in third world countries. It especially angers me because the people who cause Americanization aren’t those who rightfully own the land, “The question of who colonized the Americas, and when, has long been hotly debated. Traditionally, Native Americans are believed to have descended from northeast Asia, arriving over a land bridge between Siberia and Alaska some 12,000 years ago and then migrating across North and South America.” 

People who claim ownership of this land use patriotism as a catalyst through which to ostracize other groups from it. History repeats itself and it has shown that when countries face things, such as economic crises they begin to use migrated groups as scapegoats, when those groups are not actually entirely at fault. But I mean isn’t it logic? That one group can’t possibly be responsible for all the issues. Generalizations such as those are simply inaccurate being that everyone is different because we live in such a diverse world, and people most likely have different intentions despite identity.

We cannot label menaces by skin, class, sexual orientation, gender etc.

People use fear as a way to validate discrimination (a.k.a the 45th POTUS)  Patriotism doesn’t give you the right to discriminate. I mean really America land of the free and home of the brave can’t take responsibility for their own actions? It’s unrealistic and completely biased to say or assume that one group is responsible for all the issues, these generalizations harm the entire group when it is a small minority who realistically poses a threat.

Nature isn’t considered beautiful because of uniformity, because it isn’t uniform, it’s considered beautiful because everything is so unique and contrasting in comparison to each other, which together creates a captivating image. America is beautiful because of the array of ethnicity’s, religions etc.

America needs to start staying true to what they like the rest of the World to believe, but don’t actually deliver. There should not be one image/language of an American in society. We are all American just with different ethnic backgrounds. Citizenship should not be a pass to dismiss any other socially diverse group. No citizen is any more deserving of rights than a person who’s identity is socially threatened i.e: Muslim Americans, Colored Americans, Jewish Americans, American Women, LGBTQ+ Americans, Disabled Americans etc.

It might sound stupid for me to point out what is obviously true, but although to some of us the idea of equal rights are a given, others feel they can question other citizens rights due to their identities not conforming to norms.

There has been a rise in Anti-antisemitism, Islamophobia, LGBTQ+ hate crimes, and Misogyny since our President was elected which is why this idea must be highlighted. Things we thought we had long overcame are beginning to reappear which is really terrifying to think about. Fundamental rights of Women have also been revoked because certain citizens feel they can deem who is deserving of rights.

People have been starting to feel empowered to hate and deny rights to Americans who represent minorities in society, when throughout the history of this country we have came to the realization, that equal treatment for everyone should be a priority to honor.

 

 

Who Is Beautiful? The Misconception

I don’t like to write about common knowledge, that’s not my mission, what I am attempting to do, is inform people. For some of you reading this, these things might come as natural intuitive knowledge from seeing all the corruption in the world. A lot of us including myself are not really surprised when it comes to seeing tragedies on the news, because as depressing as the thought is we are used to that.

Societies Unrealistic Standard

We witness so much hatred in our lives, on social media, in person, between family, friends etc.

We all see this and know it’s not ok but we allow it to continue happening, why?

What initially sparked my creativity was seeing this post about Nike beginning to make clothes for plus sized people, and I thought wow what an inclusive and beautiful thing, but then of course not to my surprise I see in the other slides of that post, people commenting about how they should not be encouraging “lumps” to be happy with a lifestyle that includes sickness. I thought to myself how tired I am of hearing so much hatred and ignorant banter in this world. The reality is we may not know what Nike was actually trying to accomplish, but we can assume that it’s not sickness because fat or skinny or whatever, why would they do that? Even if they were encouraging being overweight what’s wrong with that? I hate even saying that word because it implies that certain people are above the stereotypically accepted body type. If Nike was actually doing this that would be amazing, the media is such a huge part of how people and youth most importantly base their beauty standards off of.

Nike doing this would present a huge milestone considering that it would be inclusive to all body types.

The Media told us what BEAUTY is

And for anyone who thinks I’m “encouraging sickness” and it’s disgusting like those people who commented on the post I referenced, what I’m encouraging goes way beyond that. I’m encouraging body inclusive standards that don’t discriminate, standards that make everyone love and feel better about themselves. Before anyone points out the obvious I know I won’t lie, I have shamed people for their bodies in the past but not over a social platform. We all have and even have done it to ourselves, we’ve internalized what we saw in beauty commercials and ads that told us that there is a size that we are supposed to be. But I for one want to put an end to this, beauty should not be a cut and dry image, because it has so many shapes, sizes, and colors. I am tired of seeing such beautiful people feel insecure because they don’t fit some societal standard. I’m not encouraging any sickness I’m simply telling people they shouldn’t shame people blatantly for not fitting the status quo, because the status quo is wrong. If you’ve seen fashion catalogues or fashion shows you know skinny tall girls are usually glorified, curvy/heavier Women are seen as unappealing. This even supersedes Women, all genders should feel comfortable with their bodies.

Whether aware of it or not, beauty catalogues/media have promoted self hate, when we should be promoting self love in every sense of the word.

Self Hatred is promoted in multiple forms

The humorous part of it all is that when I googled what is considered plus sized, I found out a size eight is considered “plus size” in Women’s modeling, but in reality size sixteen would be considered it outside of fashion catalogues. The fact that the internet has a definition for what is considered plus sized in itself is mind boggling. I also googled what size are most Women in America and got this, Today, the average American woman is 5’4″, has a waist size of 34-35 inches and weighs between 140-150 lbs, with a dress size of 12-14. Fifty years ago, the average woman was 5’3-4″ with a waist size of approximately 24-25″, she weighed about 120 lbs and wore a size 8.” Put in simple terms, the fashion industry is excluding most Women from the standard of beauty, which is detrimental to both Young Women and just Women in general. Most Women feel like they aren’t beautiful because they feel they need to strive for a beauty standard that most of them just don’t fit. This is detrimental to the fabric of our society because it goes beyond Women, people are ashamed because they aren’t beautiful according to the status quo. But as anyone who has social media would know, shaming goes on towards so many different groups of women but the media has oriented the idea of being skinny as being healthy, when that isn’t necessarily true in every case. A size eight is definitely not threatening to your health, even for Women who are above that may not show threatening side effects of that. 

UGLY has a broader spectrum than BEAUTIFUL

It’s not exactly ok if you have shamed someone for not fitting some sort of beauty standard, but it’s not your fault either, we’re doing what is subconsciously inserted to our brains. Most of the time we see things or hear them and don’t think much of them, but overtime those ads on the train about getting breast implants or about clear skin and plenty more, are detrimental. We start to associate all of those standards of beauty with how we view people, and then sometimes we judge them for it either to their faces or behind their backs. Even things like skin color, teeth, height, hair type, body type etc. With makeup we’ve seen so many trends come out because people are trying to imitate what is seen as beautiful. I support makeup one hundred percent, if wearing it makes a person feel beautiful than great, but filling in your lips or contouring are all things that tinker your natural beauty. They also reflect the features of Women seen in beauty catalogues. People feel the need to change themselves to conform to a standard of beauty, that they don’t fit naturally. It’s so much more than it seems because you judge yourself for all of these things when you look in the mirror. Social media has had tags such as #lightskingirlswinning, darkskingirlswinning, #skinnygirlswinning, #thickgirlswinning. It shouldn’t matter everyone should be winning because being you unapologetically is beautiful. Loving yourself is beautiful, all of these hashtags have made certain people feel ostracized from thinking they are beautiful. Media has given beauty such a Eurocentric standard,  when all colors, hair types, and body types should be celebrated.

Make a Change

We have to initiate the change ourselves because fashion catalogues will continue force feeding us conventional images of beauty. Try to fight the internalized automatic reactions your mind has, it will be hard because from birth this image has been planted in our brains. Empower people and make them feel good about themselves instead of telling them they don’t fit the standard. It won’t be easy at all as I’ve learned this myself, but just making a conscious effort will help. Even as men we need to stop telling certain Women or other Men that they need to change because they aren’t good enough.

We’ve all been Judged

But wait, I’m not finished because this sickening hatred goes much deeper than even one’s appearance, this world has gotten so bad that even one’s identity which they cannot control is critiqued by a standard. There has been a rise in hate crimes toward Jewish people , LGBT+, Immigrants etc. What I always ask myself is why people judge or make an effort to hate others? We’ve all been judged at some point in our life and even maybe currently we don’t fit the standard of conventional beauty, simply because it is unrealistic. If you know how it feels to be judged why would you want that for someone else? It goes way beyond that though, on a psychological level. According to google people judge because, “Judging others is a normal reaction, notes Psychology Today. This is because human beings have a natural instinct for survival, which makes them defensive and judgmental when they feel threatened. People also judge when they don’t understand the reason for the behavior of others.” But this doesn’t make it anymore justified, we have natural reactions that we suppress because they have been expressed to be culturally immoral. We don’t pass gas in public right? Because it’s seen as disgusting, So why would we think it’s ok to do something that we have the power to suppress? Unfortunately with 45, the President who empowers people to hate and feel they can do it blatantly, the problem is only getting graver. I didn’t even want to say this mans name because he is disgusting and acknowledging his existence makes me too cynical to go on. We have slowly been progressing over the course of when America first overcame racial discrimination, although we still feel the legacies today, this man literally embodies the hatred this country has barely overcame.

Attempt to Understand rather than Judge

To sum up this article next time you get the urge to judge someone, whether based on the conventional standard of beauty, or based on identity, think about what they go through and instead aim to empower. We all want to feel beautiful and we should all have the right too.

We will never move forward as a nation until we see each other as fellow humans, instead of acknowledging all the labels or differences that set us apart.

A Poem All Women Should Read:

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Internal Struggles: Hidden Behind A Smile

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Be the you that makes YOU happy! NOT everyone else

In my short time on this planet I’ve learned a lot about myself through my experiences and surroundings. In middle school although in some ways I was myself, in lots of other ways I was who everyone wanted me to be. My cousin asked me what I wanted to be and I said a singer and he laughed at me, he said everyone in the family plays sports and you want to be a singer. He may not have intended to hurt me or stamper on all of my dreams but that one comment made me rethink them. I decided after that to be more realistic, that maybe that was kind of optimistic of me to think I could be. I went around and told everyone I wanted to be a lawyer and they responded that, that was a fitting career for someone with my character. I am outspoken sometimes too much and in the wrong scenarios, very opinionated, strong-minded, articulate, newly confident, passionate about social reform, and I love debating. I justified their desires of my career choice because although I loved singing, ironically I felt inclined to choose law before everyone told me to “be realistic”, I knew that I had a passion for defending victims of discrimination. I desired to be a voice for so many that weren’t being heard. My mom saw this in me early on, I would learn about something in school or read about a minority group being discriminated against, and come home and rant to her about how wrong this was.

 

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A reflection distorted by people

During middle school I had a diffident disposition, I was bullied about how I looked and that destroyed my confidence. Although junior high was detrimental to me in some ways, it also helped me discover things about myself I otherwise may not have known. I debated for two years, was in two fall drama productions, and was in the choir for three years. I learned that I love to perform and that I am passionate about societal inequality. I wasn’t really happy even though I was doing the things I loved. I would often get teased about being in the performing arts instead of playing sports like the majority of the boys. I wasn’t able to see what I see now in hind sight, performing wasn’t masculine and people don’t like things they don’t understand, they wanted me to fill the gender role that society chose for me the moment I was born. I used humor as a way to disguise my anxiety, I became the comedian as a way to heal myself, for some I was “annoying and played too much.” I recognize now that because of not being who people wanted me to be, I became something else that I also wasn’t and still was not accepted. I was always laughing but no one saw my  internal struggles, and they didn’t know how detrimental their words could be in my vulnerable state.  Through this I learned that the only way to be happy is to live for yourself, by doing this you become free of burden and radiate an aura of happiness that attracts others. I knew that by making others laugh I could find solace in my suffering, and alleviate my vulnerability. Although I learned all of this about myself, my image of myself was still deeply scarred by the echoed insults I received from my peers, they became the lenses through which I saw only the flaws others gave me.

While I had gained knowledge about myself that would give me a competitive advantage for life, I also was at a disadvantage that could dissolve my potential for the rest of my life. I knew what I wanted to do but lost the confidence in whether I could do it.

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In order to GROW you need things to replenish you

Fortunately I was born to a loving family which always taught me that in order to be happy, you must love yourself above all things. They also gave me confidence when I felt insecure. They listened to me and saw beauty where others only saw imperfection, because of this loving family I was able to consciously block out any hate from my peers. I thought I was confident, but subconsciously I still saw something far from perfect when I looked in the mirror. I still walked down the street with my head hanging low, avoided large groups, and mentally questioned peoples belief in my capabilities. I told others I was confident but I really wasn’t, whenever anyone criticized me I deflected them by using their insecurities against them. I didn’t know that I was dodging hits that still touched open wounds, and left residual damage. I didn’t defend myself by saying that I didn’t care as a confident person would, but by making people feel how I felt. The craziest thing about it is that so many people are fighting inner battles like I did, but people on the outside remain completely oblivious.  I realize now that a truly confident person is untouchable when it comes to insults, secure people are unapologetic with every inch of who they are. If your are confident and people take shots at you, they all ricochet because you see beauty where that person see’s fault.

As a young adult I see things now like I didn’t see them before, I have a lot of little cousins and friends who I try to encourage. Sometimes you rain on people’s dreams even though you are unaware of it, simply commenting on someones weight or that they suck at something could destroy them for life.

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FAITH can SAVE you in times of most desperate NEED

I used to believe that happiness was this esoteric way of life that could not be possible, unless some life changing discovery was inhabited. Through faith I discovered that happiness is something that can only be found inside, no materialistic thing or person can make you happy if you don’t have it in yourself. Religion matters to me because I am a catholic, but I know there are plenty of people out there who are atheists, if you put positivity out there the law of attraction will bring it to you. As cliche as it sounds the way to change your life is by seeing the silver lining in every situation. When you see beauty in your struggle everything seems to be less unfortunate. Most of the time people ask themselves why a situation happens to them or give themselves pity as victims, what they neglect to see is that by asking that, you limit what you take from the situation. By giving yourself pity you make yourself a victim, instead of being grateful that you have been given an opportunity, to overcome a hurdle that will make you stronger for the future. Instead you must ask what did I learn from this situation and how will it help me down the road. Whenever I felt down my mom told me to pray and ask God to manifest in me, but to a person who doesn’t believe that translates to doing something that makes you happy or changing the type of energy that your putting out. When I prayed to God I looked at things differently and allowed that tranquility to manifest, where as being angry your mind is set on one possibility,  which is attracting more negativity.

Negativity allows the mind to see things that aren’t there, when your angry you may feel like people are conspiring against you when they aren’t, or you may assume that something happened when it didn’t. This fuels an ongoing cycle of negativity until you decide to get over it.

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Am I Confident/HAPPY today?

As any other human of course I have my down days but, for the most part I am happy besides the constant stress of keeping my academics up, but thats a different topic though. I wouldn’t say I am completely confident but I would say I’m getting better. With social media being such a large part of being in the youth, almost every kid has some sort of social media outlet. Unfortunately it’s easy to fall into the habit of comparing ourselves to others we may see on these sites. I have fallen into that habit myself and I actually took a short break due to this, I quickly got my accounts back after a month or so. The fact that we are so glued to our social media accounts just shows the influence that they have on us. Anyone can deny it but the truth is we all in some way or another compare ourselves to someone we follow on social media. This is damaging the idea of beauty because many young girls/boys may compare themselves to others who have spent hours on makeup or styling or editing the photos, where as people may think they naturally look that way. I myself am guilty of feeling like I’m not as attractive as someone who has more followers. This subconsciously damages your self-esteem because you start to connect these people that you follow with your mental image of beauty.

Many have one view of what beauty is but the reality is that beauty cannot be encompassed by one image, it comes in so many shapes and forms. I used to think that the amount of followers I had defined my beauty, but at some point during my social media break in the midst of overthinking things I came to a realization.

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How many followers you have doesn’t determine your beauty

Too many people’s beauty goes unrecognized and just because you aren’t favorable to one person doesn’t begin to include so many other people. Just because you aren’t the conventional image of beauty like a model in a fashion magazine, doesn’t mean you aren’t in some other way. The thing is many people on social media build this image of what they want people to think they are. We turn inspiration or aspiration for someone into being like them, people including myself have grown habits of adjusting their pages to look like people they find aesthetically pleasing. Although there is nothing wrong with “being artsy” or any other common page themes, changing your page to be like someone who you admire corrodes your intuitive desires. The problem isn’t detrimental until you are unhappy with your photos or style because you originally tinkered them to be like someone else’s. By being a generation that is so media oriented we have robbed ourselves of giving each other accurate impressions of who we are. Instead of meeting someone and getting the raw truth, as people would do in past generations, we meet through web pages and think we already know each other. Because we think we know people by their profiles, people don’t live up to be who they said they were, resulting in many disloyal relationships. I have Instagram today and although I don’t have a large following I am fine, because as everyone should know social media sites give beauty a superficial meaning. Truth be told many people that have lasting relationships, have them because of impressions they received in person.

People sometimes aren’t necessarily in love with the persons exterior, but with the personality that comes with it that can’t be entirely expressed through a screen.

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What CHANGED after junior high?

I would be lying if I said my increase in confidence didn’t have something to do with my “glo up”. I wasn’t confident during junior high and elementary school, I got teased all the time for having acne and my facial features. During high school I didn’t know whether people were just less mean or if I was actually just a handsome guy to people. I knew the answer because I still witnessed the same bullying I faced during middle school and reminisced to a darker time. I learned during middle school that people didn’t like who I was or who I pretended to be to please them, so in high school I was the me that made me happy because either way it would bother people. Throughout almost my whole academic career I was teased about my acne, people’s go to line was “how about you get some proactive.” Anyone knows the damper having a pimple can put on your confidence, and for a person who had none it was even worse. In high school those insecure bored people did the same thing, but instead I asked them why it bothered them if it didn’t bother me. What I knew now that I didn’t know before, was that no matter what people would always try to put you down so why not embrace your “flaws”. During junior high I would play sports not really because I loved it, but because people said it’s what I should be doing. People tried to tell me who to hang out with, what to do, even what type of music to listen to. High school I skipped all the trying to be likable or fitting to what people told me to be and I was much happier. People still constantly badger me about my choice to go to a performing arts school vs an athletic or regular school, but it doesn’t matter to me because I see now that what makes you happy should be priority above all. If you have dominican parents you know they always want their sons to play baseball and maybe even one day make it to the major leagues, but I grew out of that mold and decided that even if I disappoint my father I chose to do what makes me happy. Parent’s have a pre-conceived notion of what they want their child to be before they are even out of the womb,what they seem to forget is that what makes their child happy should make them happy. The parents who want their child to live out their dream scenario is seen way too much, and quite frankly what these parents must understand is that the universe already has a destiny for them.

Sometimes by making your child be what you want them to be, you block them from achieving higher glory in what they are meant to be.

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Why is this Important?!

So many people try to please others instead of being content with who they want to be. These people don’t understand especially in high school, most of these “friends” won’t even talk to you a decade from now. So there is no point in spending four years of your life pleasing them, because doing what’s not natural causes emotional trauma. Ha! not like we don’t have enough emotional problems during puberty. Not to mention most of our “friends” talk behind our backs, I’ve witnessed this in several people who try to mend themselves to be what people want them to. So people put up an act to be bashed by people either way, the only way to love life is to love yourself, and most importantly be yourself.

If you liked this blog you should listen

to Scars to your 

beautiful by Alessia

Cara, everyone

can gain from it.

The message really

get’s to the core of

what I tried to

convey in this blog

post.

The Bermuda Triangle A.K.A Harlem

harlem-037Why do we call it that?

One might wonder what it is I mean when I call Harlem The Bermuda Triangle. This is what my Aunt and Sister always called the neighborhood we grew up in, Harlem. They called our neighborhood this, because it is a place where many with poor guidance often lose themselves in a repetitive and convenient cycle.

Throughout my short time living here and even as a part of the youth, I was able to witness so many instances where potential was wasted due to lack of guidance and environment. Many of the residents may live out their whole lives without any astounding financial success, but it’s not due to the reasons outsiders may think. It has nothing to do with ability but all to do with the unequal distribution of resources.

Lack of home guidance paired with poor schools

It is logical but not justifiable, unlike wealthier neighborhoods usually inhabited by caucasian people, Harlem lacks higher education programs.

Kids who may already face problems at home such as single parent households, parents with drug/alcohol addictions, domestic violence, or incarceration have no escape. Family issues may not be unique to Harlem, but what makes it significant is the fact that this paired with education that lacks, in comparison to those that can be paid for by higher income households. The result is kids who turn to selling drugs illegally to make a living because they must sustain themselves in an easy and quick way.

Since schools lack resources in neighborhoods in poverty, Young Women lack guidance and may end up giving birth to children at young ages. These Young Women usually end up sustaining these children single handedly because the majority of young Men simply aren’t ready to take on the responsibilities. In short what is not being taught at home due to impending issues end up falling on schools, which don’t make up for lack of guidance.

People in Harlem become accustomed to a way of life that robs them of the very fruit god has blessed every soul with. I am testament to all of these claims myself, my Aunts and my Mom and many other Women, had children at very young ages and dealt with Young Men who wanted no part of raising the child. This causes a never ending cycle of children with emotional trauma that may affect their success as adults.

Despite this there are children who rise to the occasion and still succeed in Harlem, but only those who were either extraordinarily driven, or those who had guidance at home.

Police target Youth in Harlem with no basis

On top of all of this the Youth is harassed by police, not only my brother but I’m sure many others have been frisked by the police with no basis except that they “fit the description.” My Brother a college student at the time with no affiliation with drugs, frisked because of not only the color of his skin but because of the neighborhood we live in. I know this because I asked the officer repeatedly why my brother was being frisked, he could not reply because he had no answer that was feasible under the law. My cousin was pursued by an asian officer on several occasions until my Aunt finally stood up for him, she told the police “I’m more scared of the police than the perps-why don’t you guys follow whats written on your doors? Have some courtesy and respect.” They never pursued my cousin again who also had no affiliation with anything illegal. The officer knew what he had been doing was wrong and was targeting my cousin solely based off his race and the neighborhood in which we live.

An Image seen but not understood

Many people see communities with large amounts of colored residents and assume that these neighborhoods are just ghetto’s, places where people aren’t civilized or appropriate or educated, that they are filled with criminals. But this isn’t the truth, these people are misguided, don’t have the adequate education. This lack of education leads to people having poor decision making, and being targeted by police doesn’t benefit the situation. Many factors contribute to this pre-conceived image that people have in their heads, that doesn’t scratch even the tip of the iceberg of what really is. Before stigmatizing a whole community, understand the real forces at hand. When you have a toddler that does something wrong for the first time, can you really blame them? They don’t know any better, there are parallels between that child and misguided youth in Harlem. An educated person who knowingly commits a crime should be charged to the full extent of the law, but should a person who per say isn’t educated be charged for possession of drugs? Before you say yes, consider the fact that these kids may have issues at home and no guidance in school which may have assisted them in taking that path. The connection between color and incarceration is unacceptable.

Harlem Youth faces crueler punishment despite education gap

Most of Harlem’s residents are incarcerated for drug related crimes and sentenced more harshly according to the NAACP: About 14 million Whites and 2.6 million African Americans report using an illicit drug. Five times as many Whites are using drugs as African Americans, yet African Americans are sent to prison for drug offenses at 10 times the rate of Whites. African Americans represent 12% of the total population of drug users, but 38% of those arrested for drug offenses, and 59% of those in state prison for a drug offense. Inner city crime prompted by social and economic isolation. Crime/drug arrest rates: African Americans represent 12% of monthly drug users, but comprise 32% of persons arrested for drug possession“Get tough on crime” and “war on drugs” policies. Mandatory minimum sentencing, especially disparities in sentencing for crack and powder cocaine possession. Despite the education gap the statistics above, demonstrate that there is a structural issue that discriminates towards the colored residents of Harlem, although their caucasian counterparts who are tried easier for the same crimes may have higher education. Education obviously influences decision making but law enforcers remain oblivious to the the link. Finally after they are tried they have a permanent stain on their records that prevent social mobility, these parents raise children and the cycle repeats.