The New Normal

I can’t believe I’m doing this. My whole life, I’ve naturally been a private person. Now, the very thing that I’ve been the most private about, I’m now sharing with the world. I was born with something known as neurofibroma, which gave me a tumor that made my face asymmetrical. As crazy as this may sound, I never really thought I looked different because my mom raised me as if I was one of “normal” kids. It wasn’t until I got older and I would go into public places that people would stare at me from the moment I walked in until the time I left. I mean people stared at me as if I was a celebrity, only I’m not one.

Did it make me feel uncomfortable, yes; but I learned to not let it get to me. For a long time, I thought beauty was what a person looked like on the outside, but as I got older, I learned that it was who the person was on the inside and the way you treated others. Cliché, but sometimes the most cliché quotes hold the most powerful meanings.

I spent so many years covering my face and allowing my scars to define who I was. Maybe at times, I felt insecure because for someone who looked like me, I allowed society to make me think I was “supposed” to feel insecure. Yet in reality, I felt stronger than I looked and more beautiful than what I was actually told. This statistic that Dove Beauty presented was right: “69% of women don’t see their lives reflected on the screen, me being one of them.” My greatest dream is to one day be a talk show host. I hope to one day inspire people to embrace and own who they are. Live your truth. Since there isn’t anyone who looks like me on daytime television, I’m ready to change that. I’m ready to break this glass ceiling on what society has defined as beauty. Society has such a vague definition about what beauty actually is.

They believe that beauty is being skinny, having curves in the right places, and donning symmetrical faces. Women turn to the media and magazines to see what we should look like, and many of us are willing to do whatever it takes to meet a look that is unrealistic. At first, it might be hard to accept yourself as you are, but when you condition your mind to think positively, it becomes a habit within your daily routine. This is a major reason I chose to one day be in television. I want other girls to see their lives reflected on the screen. Again, cliché I know, but this has been such a huge hot topic in my life. So, for anyone that feel insecure about anything just know there’s thousands of other people who can relate somehow to your story. Don’t be afraid to share something that could inspire someone else to keep going.

The vision that I have for myself is so much bigger than other people’s opinions. You are not your scars, and you are not who society labeled you as. You know yourself better than anyone, so you be the one to tell the world who you are and don’t apologize for it. Turn your fears into strength and your doubts into confidence. It’s time that the world get ready for the new “normal” whether they’re ready for it or not. To me, beauty is loving yourself without the validation of others, accepting yourself as you are, and being unapologetic for it. There’s nothing like doing the very thing that people told you, you couldn’t do. I just graduated college (December 15, 2017) with a degree in mass communication and I’m so excited for this next chapter in my life. So, for anyone that feels like there’s not a place for you in this world, there is and don’t let ANYONE tell you who you are!

Closing Chapter 2017

2017, how would I describe you? Where do I even begin? If you’re about to indulge in this article then I ask you to bear with me as I will probably be all over the place, because that’s the type of year 2017 was for me. However, I’ll be sure to keep this short. First thing first, congratulations for surviving yet another year of college, not only surviving but graduating! You did it, you did the thing that you once thought was impossible. Let this be a huge sign for you that anything is possible and who knows in the next few years you might meet Justin Bieber. By the way when that happens it is a must that you come back to update this article with that story.

Okay, let’s begin, as this year come to a close I thought it would be a great idea for you to stroll down memory lane. I’ll start with the good stuff, as I mentioned earlier you finally graduated college! Yes, it took you a year longer but hey you were able to finish what you started. You certainly doubted yourself a lot this year, but every time you doubted your abilities to do something, somehow you came through and achieved it. Also, you made a lot of new friends this year and they’re pretty cool, of course not as cool as you but hey they’ll do. You also bought the cutest puppy he was Brussels griffon and Maltese mix and you named him Walter. However, you returned him after a day, because he cried all night and it was more responsibility than you thought. On this day, you learned that you’re not ready for a pet or kids.
DJ Khaled also tweeted you back after tweeting him on how much you loved his book. Lisa Ling one of your favorite journalists also replied to you on Instagram and gave you some advice on becoming a journalist yourself…that was pretty cool.

Of course, with all the positive stuff there were a few hiccups. In February, you had a surgery that kept you out of school close to six weeks, friendships ended, nevertheless everything worked out. You challenged yourself in ways that now looking back I’m shocked that you survived…good job! I mean, how in the world did you survive this grad class, being the only undergrad was a little intimidating at first, but everyone was so nice and welcoming so shout out to the COMM 501 research methods class. Let’s see, what else, oh yeah remember that ulcer that you had on your uvula (the dangly ball thing at the back of everyone’s throat) yeah that was painful! However, you got a new doctor that look just like Matthew McConaughey, curly hair like Screech from Save By the Bell, and his eye color was similar to Ellen DeGeneres. Anyways, you also contributed articles to TAMUT’s online digital newspaper. That newswriting course taught me a lot and I think my writing is slowly but surely getting better considering you’ve always thought of yourself as weak writer.

Okay, I said I would keep this short so I’ll end it here. In conclusion, the thing I learned most from this year was to live in the present moment and take things day by day. I learned to not doubt myself so much. Some friendships will eventually fade and lastly, you’ve become a bit wiser too. Keep up the good work and continue to challenge yourself in 2018, I think you’ll be amazed at what you can do when giving up isn’t an option.

The Keys

If you’re looking for a good motivational read then this book is for you. The Keys by DJ Khaled is a self-help that offer five major keys to being successful. Khaled breaks down how he overcame hardships and turned his passion into a career. Most people spend most of their life searching for what it is they were meant to do in this lifetime. How is one supposed to know what their purpose is? When you find it how is one supposed to achieve it? One of the things I enjoyed about this book is that Khaled show us what to do when you run into certain road blocks.

“Patience really is a talent. Sometimes when you see your vision so clearly, it’s challenging not to just want to rush the next win. I always say timing is everything, meaning as in, there’s a right time for everything, so patience is important. My patience has been tested at every step of the way to see the level of success I’ve seen, and I know in my heart that really big wins take years.” –Dj Khaled

One of the five major keys that Khaled mentions is Stay Away from “they,” who is “they” you might ask, let me explain. “They” is just a simple word for negative people or the haters, if you want to accomplish anything in life getting away from negative Nancy is a start. Like Steve Harvey says, “Stop telling your dreams to small minded people.” Khaled says, “as long as you stay away from “they” you will prosper,” sounds simple enough, right? There will be people in life that will tell you that thing that set your soul on fire is impossible or you’re not capable or worthy of certain things…don’t listen to “they.”

“They want to put you in to a box or put limits on you, so make sure your vision is so huge that it destroys the box and those limits.” (page 71)

There’s a section in which Khaled mentions the importance of being yourself and that section my friend touched my soul. Sometimes it can be hard to be the “black sheep” especially when you are living in a world where people are hesitant about accepting anyone not following the social norm. However, the thing you have to remember is that you are unique and no one can do the things the way you do it.

“Being yourself is power. In some ways, of all the major keys, it’s the most important key. But it’s the hardest to master. It’s the one you have to keep working at as life goes on, and it’s the one that leads to the others. Ignoring who you are will eat at you. When you live life by what other people want from you, you aren’t really living.” (Page 21)

I highly recommend this book to anyone that feel stuck or need that little bit of a boost to keep you going. The four other major keys he talks about:

Secure the Bag
• Respect the Code
• Believe in the Hustle
• Win, Win, Win no Matter What

Within each of these major keys he offers other life lessons that are beneficial to a person’s life. There’s a possibility that you’re scratching your head trying to figure out what these major keys mean…well I guess you’re just going to have to read the book to find out

Fun Fact: DJ Khaled’s first and last name is Khaled…so yes, his name is Khaled Khaled.

Adios to the College Life

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” –Nelson Mandela

That quote that you see above is one of my favorite quotes of all time, because in the beginning of a new chapter in life from afar it does seem impossible…until it’s done. For me, graduating college is that thing that seemed too far-fetched.

Next week, December 15, 2017, the day I will walk across stage to receive my college degree in mass communication, with a minor in sociology. I can’t help but to think how bittersweet that moment will be. As I take a trip down memory lane of my college experience there’s a lot of mistakes that I made that sometimes I wish I could take back but never the less memories that will last a lifetime. After graduating high school, I knew right away that college was the next stop for me, coming in I had so many goals and expectations for myself that eventually diminished as time went on. Since I did so well academically in high school I just knew college wouldn’t be that big of a challenge for me and boy was I wrong. I thought I would graduate in three years, nope more like five, pass every class, yeah right, I ended failing one and had to retake it. Yet, in the end everything ended up working out despite the countless detours and let me tell you that there were many.

Right now, I feel like Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) from the movie The Graduate, (thanks to Dr. Morton for that class assignment and it ended up being one of my all-time favorite movies we’ve watched this semester). In the movie after graduating from college Ben was very unsure of what he wanted to do with his life. That my friend is what I am feeling now, very anxious, scared, nervous, excited, and unsure about what is to come for me post-graduation. Will I eventually go to grad school, will I get hired to work for a television network, or will I even be successful in general? One piece of advice that I would give any college freshman or someone still in school is to enjoy it and live in the present moment and take everything day by day. Time management is a big one, because most students get caught up in trying to have a social life that they forget that getting a degree is the most important thing.

I’ve learned that people expire, I don’t mean that in a negative or degrading way, but what I’m saying is some friendships fade. The people I met in college have become my close friends, while certain childhood friends are starting to become strangers. Prior to coming to Texas A&M University- Texarkana very few people understood this outlandish dream I had of wanting to one day work in television. Very few understood my plans of wanting to major in mass communication, but that changed when I came to TAMUT and met people in the MCOMM program. Maybe their dreams aren’t to work in television but the endless conversations that was had about all things communication were thrilling. I think when you get to college whether you share a common major or not everyone is here to make a difference in their lives.

In the end, all the plans you’ve sketched out in some random notebook may not work out that way…that’s okay! That friendship that you thought would last forever might fade…that’s okay! That guy that you thought was “the one” …isn’t…that’s definitely okay! If you feel like you’re a failure…you’re not! Questioning whether or not you’ll be successful…you will! (I probably need to take my advice on that one) The thing I want you to understand is that everything you’re worried about is nonsense. Live in the present moment. Stop dwelling on the past and don’t live in the future. So, cheers to closing yet another chapter in your life and congratulations on completing such a huge milestone. This right here is confirmation that you my friend will be OKAY!!

Need a Good Book?

Starting in 2015, I got back into reading and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. My favorite genre of books to read are motivational/self-help books, because I’m always in the mood for good energy. I also enjoy memoirs/autobiographies, because reading about how someone else overcame hardships remind me that it’s possible for me to. So, I decided to share some of my favorite books for those that enjoy reading or want to start reading.

1. Year of YesShonda Rhimes
This book is one I’m sure I’ll read for a second time and I benefited from it tremendously. For years Rhimes turned down any and everything that was outside of her comfort zone as most of us do. Until one day her sister Deloris whispered six simple words, “you never say yes to anything.” At that moment Rhimes decided to challenge herself for one year to say YES to everything that scared her. With this challenge, she learned so much about herself and the things that scared her ended up producing her biggest accomplishments. Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone, because that is when you are really living.

2. Write It Down, Make It Happen- Henriette Anne Klauser
This was actually the first book that sparked my obsession with motivational books and the one that I picked up in 2015 when I wanted to get back into reading. This book Klauser discusses how simply writing down your dreams is the first step into making them a reality. There are many stories in this book of how everyday people wrote down their goals and saw things transform into reality right before their eyes. Klauser stressed that by writing down your goals and being clear about them makes you more motivated to want to do them.

3. Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success- Steve Harvey
I don’t even know where to begin about this book. Mr. Harvey, he helps you to find what your calling is. Once you discover that purpose he mentions how to make your passion your career. There’s a few times when Harvey talks about his personal life and how difficult it was to come from nothing to making a huge name for himself. Success don’t come easy, but as long as you work hard, don’t give up, and believe in yourself anything and I mean anything is possible.

4. Jump- Steve Harvey
Yes, I’m mentioning another Steve Harvey book, because when it comes to motivating people he’s perfect. One day after a taping of Family Feud, a game show in which Steve Harvey host he had an encouraging message to the audience. Well, without knowing someone filmed it and uploaded it to the internet and before you know it the video went viral. That video is what prompted him to write this book. This book talks about how nothing extraordinary can come staying in your comfort zone. All the real magic and joy is on the other side. In order to really maximize your full potential and your purpose you have to take that leap of faith and JUMP. He says that when you first jump from that cliff your parachute isn’t going to open right away. In fact, you’re going to get bruised up, scraped by the rocks but eventually your parachute will open, but you can’t be afraid to take that risk. I highly recommend this book for anyone that has been day dreaming about a goal and need that extra push to get started.

5. Life is not an Accident- Jay Williams
Talk about depressing this amazing memoir inspired me in a way that I can never fully put into words. This three-time Duke All-American player and number two pick in the NBA draft ended his career due to a motorcycle accident. Jay Williams the former player for the Chicago Bulls thought he was invincible until one day that came to an end. This book shows how he hit rock bottom and was still able to rise above and change his life around. I think this book also teach a person to always stay humble no matter how much fame or money you have, because there’s always something in life that will remind you being a good person is key.

Dear College Student

I’m writing this article for those entering college for the first time, the current students trying to make it to the finish line, or those making the decision to go back. If someone had a time machine I would probably go back and redo a few things. I asked a few of my college friends to contribute their advice for students so you can hopefully make better decisions than I did. Some of the advice might be common sense to some but you’ll be surprised at the type of decisions us college students make when “having fun” become your number one priority.

“Get out of your comfort zone! Push yourself to new limits.” -Brenda Awuah, Senior

“Go to college they said, it’ll be fun they said,” while college certainly had its fun times, from experience, I can certainly say I was not prepared for the not so fun moments. Had I known certain things I probably would’ve skipped some of the bad decisions I made as a college student. Yes, there were times I felt like pulling out every strand of hair on my head, dropping out of school, and thinking maybe college isn’t for me. College was a struggle but I’ve made some life long memories and friendships that have been impactful.

“Don’t Procrastinate” Teddy Henderson, Senior

Nelson Mandela once said, “it always seems impossible until it’s done.” This quote resonates with me so much because college was that thing that I once thought was impossible. As graduation is quickly approaching I can’t help but to think, “how did this happen to me?” I’m a first-generation college student and I must say this has been an interesting adventure. There was a lot of trial and error and figuring things out for myself. However, I’m so thankful for being able to attend a university with some of the most friendly and helpful staff members.

“Always make flash cards when studying for tests.” -Elizabeth Godinez, Junior

College will definitely be the place that you might make some mistakes, it’s okay. You might lose some friends, but I promise you’ll gain some new awesome ones. There will be times when you feel like it’s too hard and you’re going to feel the urge to want to give up…don’t! Get involved with the campus activities…something I wish I would’ve done.

“You need to know your limits, know your deadlines, and know that it’s perfectly alright to be different. Be sure not to over extend yourself and make sure you don’t leave everything to the last minute. Things pop up and emergencies happen, but don’t let waiting to the last minute be your normal. Most importantly, it’s alright to be different; that’s what makes you, you. Own it and have fun.” –Alex Jenkins, Senior

“Don’t get caught up in doing everything right. Despite the cliché no-one is perfect and, in the end, you’ll end up doing more harm than good if you don’t allow yourself wiggle room”
–Allison Hall, Junior

“There is no such thing as a normal bedtime in college.”Tatyana Johnigan, Sophomore

“You should challenge yourself, step out of your comfort zone and get involved on campus.”
–Andrea Corbell, Senior

In conclusion, this is the time that you should really enjoy yourself. Don’t be so concerned of what others think of you. You’ll quickly learn that people aren’t thinking about you as much as you think and that we are all here for one thing…a DEGREE! I’ve met some of the most amazing people here especially within the mass communication program in which I’m grateful for. College will be some of the best times of your life but it will also be a time in which you’ll learn a few life lessons.

Final Exam Week Tips

Final exam week is the week that every college student and maybe some professors dread. From a student’s perspective, I can tell you exactly how each of us are feeling. Most of us feel like pulling out our hair and we procrastinate like crazy…don’t do either of those. The semester is almost over, you made it this far so keep going! Pulling all-nighters is the norm, study groups are endless, and overloading on caffeine is the only way to survive. However, this time finals week will be different for you, right?

Here are a few tips that will hopefully help ease a few of those anxieties during “death week.”

Tip 1: Organize what finals you have:
First thing first, write down what finals you have coming up and the days in which you have them. Time management is everything during finals week, so by writing down your tests this will allow you to see what class you might have to devote more time to.

Tip 2: Get into a Nice Study Space:
When studying for a test it is important that you’re in a place that you can focus. Get rid of all things that can distract you, turn off your cell phone and television. This varies from person to person but for me personally, it helps to study in a clean space and organized space. Make sure that the lightning isn’t to dim and the space is quiet or at least have soft music playing in the background.

Tip 3: Go to Class:
I know this sounds like common sense, but you’ll be surprised of the number of students that begin to skip class closer to the end of the semester. Going to class can give you more insight on what could be on the final.

Tip 4: Pretend you are teaching the material to someone else:
When studying old notes and other materials for finals pretend as though you are teaching it to someone else. By doing this you’re more likely to remember what you studied.

Tip 5: Get plenty of sleep & eat healthy:
I know pulling all-nighters are the norm the week of finals, but getting plenty of sleep is the key to things sticking. An adequate amount of sleep can help a person be more productive while studying for finals. I know overloading on lots of caffeine and sugar is what a lot of students thrive off of but it’s bad if you’re trying to stay focus. I recommend eating lots of protein, fruits, and veggies. Personally, love eating a banana and drinking a Naked drink made with all natural fruits for breakfast. DRINK LOTS OF WATER!!!!

Tip 6: Organize a study group:
Most students benefit from study groups. Anything that you might’ve not understood during lecture your classmates might be able to elaborate on a variety of topics.

Tip 7: See the Counselor:
I know this may sound crazy or even embarrassing for some, but sometimes talking to someone about what it is you’re feeling can ease a lot of stress. Thousands if not millions of students suffer from test anxieties and in result they do poorly on tests. When the mind is at peace and free from worries you’re able to focus better. So, one quick visit to the school counselors’ office could help you do better on your finals. Also, this service is FREE of charge!

Hopefully these tips will help, don’t overthink the material and don’t second guess yourself during the examination. GOOD LUCK!