Dear Younger Self,

What do you think your life would be like had it come with a step-by-step handbook? Would you follow every direction, or would you say, “I don’t need this, I’ll just wing it?” In a few short years or months, you will be a college graduate. Being young is fun but it’s unfortunate that these are the prime years of making mistakes and learning a series of life lessons. I often find myself wishing I could go back in time to tell my younger self a few things about how to deal with this thing called life and what to do when you’re faced with adversity. Right now, you’re in high school and for some reason there were times when you cared too much about what others thought of you. Why? Now at 23 years old there are some things that I would like to go back and tell your young high school soul.

Here are the top ten things I wish I could go back and tell the younger self.

1.) Accept Yourself as You Are: Not everyone is going to like you and that’s okay. Your opinion of yourself is the only thing that matters. Don’t waste your time caring about what other people think of you. Their opinions have nothing to do with you but more of how they see themselves. If you’re happy with yourself that’s all that matters…period!

2.) Life Is a Journey: You’ll learn more about this in college after failing a class and having to retake it and spending an extra year at your university. There will be many road blocks and detours. You may not have the same friends forever. However, you have to understand that you must let go of the things and people who no longer serve a purpose in your life in order to make room for the things and people who actually matter. Life moves at a rapid pace, so don’t get stuck in one place. Move with it. Trust me, it will be worth it.

3.) Stay Curious & Take Risks: This world is huge and there are over seven billion people in it. Don’t wait for other people to do things with you, take a shot at traveling alone. Do not stay in your comfort zone, all the opportunities are on the other side. Stop playing it safe and learn to be a risk taker. That’s where all the magic is.

4.) Forget the Social Norms: Live life the way you want! Stop being the person everyone else want you to be. People will disapprove of your tattoos & piercings. That’s okay, it’s your life. Don’t miss out on your purpose because you’re too busy living for everyone else instead of yourself. Again, if you’re happy with yourself that’s all that matters…period!

5.) Be Grateful: No you may not have had the perfect life, but you are alive and healthy. Don’t dwell on the past and don’t worry about the future. Everything will work itself out when the time is right. At the end of the day, “You are happy,” because you are equipped with everything you need to be successful, but you have to be the one to tap into that potential and use it.

6.) Stop Being a ‘Know It All’: Sometimes you can be pretty stubborn, but don’t worry you get that from your mother even though she’ll probably deny it, because she’s stubborn and that’s what stubborn people do. The truth is you don’t know everything, even if you think you do…you don’t! Write down every piece of good advice people give you and incorporate it in your life. Always be a student at life because there’s always something to be learned.

7.) You Are Not Alone: Sometimes in life it’s normal to think you’re the only person going through something, but you’re not. We’re all connected in some way and someone is waiting to be inspired by your story.

8.) Luck & Coincidences aren’t real: Maybe in a sense of winning the lottery, but I once heard Oprah say. “I don’t believe in luck, that ‘luck’ is when preparation meets opportunity,” I’m starting to believe this. There’s no such thing I think as being over prepared. If you put 100% into everything you do and do it well when opportunities present itself it’s only natural for good things to happen.

9.) Surround Yourself with Good People: This one can be tough! Often times we allow the amount years we’ve known a person to determine whether or not we should stick around. Whether it’s a friend you’ve known your whole life or just met in college, if they’re not being good to you let them go. Find people who will support you and your “bizarre” dreams. Stand up for yourself and be assertive. Remember you are the person that teach people how to treat you.

10.) Know That Everything Happens for a Reason: Although it’s hard to believe this, it is the absolute truth. Every obstacle that is placed before you are there to prepare you for what is to come. In order to get where you want to be it is absolutely necessary for you to experience failures. Please for the love of Justin Bieber have a lot of PATIENCE, everything happens in due time.

Now I would like to hear from you, don’t forget to comment below a piece of advice you would give to your younger self if you had the chance.

Nowhere But Up!

It is hard to believe that there are seven billion people in this world yet somehow, we are all connected in some way. I can’t fully explain this connection, but obstacles are placed before us in which some people overcome, share their stories, then someone, somewhere, somehow is able to personally relate because they too experienced a very similar situation. There are some things in life that many of us will never endure and it’s easy to judge a person when their social norm is different from ours. It is during these times that we should get to know them.

Monday, September 25, 2017, I had the opportunity to have a sit-down interview with one of the residents at the Randy Sams’ Outreach Shelter in downtown Texarkana, TX. Tommy Aubrey, 40, is one of those residents. Growing up Mr. Tommy was the oldest of three and suffered from dyslexia along with a speech impediment. As a child, he imagined that one-day he would grow up to go into the Marines he was fascinated with law enforcement, and forensics was something that interest him most, but challenges were forced upon him and life takes him on a detour. He settled back in Texarkana, AR after moving away from Oklahoma, he quickly explains that the reason it’s been hard the last two years is because he had a hard time asking for help when he needed it most. “If I can’t get it on my own, it was meant for me not to have it,” Aubrey says.

He went on to describe what the first night was like for him being homeless, he says “It was hard, because I have a lot of pride issues and I believe in myself so much that sometimes you try to hide things until you get it together, I didn’t want anyone to know I was homeless.” Mentally he felt hopeless, but quickly understood what it felt like to sit and sleep on the sidewalks. Aubrey says, “It made me understand, and gave me an idea of what those people were going through. It’s kind of hard to understand a homeless person unless you are put in that situation.” Despite everything he went through he has no regrets, he went on to describe them as “growing pains” he says that “this experience allowed me to understand where I can survive at and let me know where I am weak. The weak part is I can’t do everything on my own.” He was quick to make light of the situation by telling me how he would’ve never known what it was like to camp out had he not been homeless sleeping in the woods.

I couldn’t help but to wonder, ‘how is Mr. Tommy able to remain so positive and hopeful that everything will one day work out?’ He responded, “I believe in the self.” Both his grandmother and mother taught him to not feel sorry for himself, to stand tall in the midst of any storm and he has done just that! Mr. Tommy emphasized on being a risk taker, trusting the decisions you make for yourself, and not being afraid to go with the unknown. I learned that not everything is going to be easy in life but as he said, “I believe everyone has to go through something in order to know where they are going.” Now being 40 years old he has experienced enough of life to know that the things he cared about when he was younger just don’t matter anymore. He has truly inspired me in a way that will always leave this lasting impact on my life. That day, he taught me that everything truly does happen for a reason even if we don’t understand the reasoning at that moment. I’ve always wondered and questions the obstacles of my life, why was I of all people handed certain stumbling blocks while others seem to have it a lot easier than myself?

Mr. Tommy taught me that as “bad” as your life may seem, there’s someone dealing with a struggle that you may not ever endure in a lifetime. I learned that we all go through tough situations but you must learn that struggles are necessary in order to get to where you are going. Society should be less judgmental of people who have less than them and that life don’t have favorites, that at any given moment the life you have now can be taken away and you could be in the position that you said you would never be in. So, the next time you see a homeless person let me tell you now, they are humans and they have feelings.

Follow Fear (How Ellen’s Fear Made Her Millions)

If you could do anything in the world without failure, what would it be? Would you become an astronaut, a cardiologist, or a talk show host? What is keeping you from following your dreams? Comedian, successful television personality, and a household name, Ellen DeGeneres has done the “impossible” and is a prime example on why facing your fear is a good thing. Although everything may look effortless as she enters her 15th season of The Ellen Show, making a name for herself was a struggle.

A yogi by the name of Sadhguru once said, “Fear is simply because you are not living life, you are living in your mind. That means your fear is always about that which does not exist. If your fear is about the non-existent, your fear is a hundred percent imaginary.” Before DeGeneres was a big time talk show host she starred in a sitcom called Ellen from 1994 to 1998. In 1997, she did something courageous she stopped hiding her true identity and by coming out and saying she was gay on national television. Mind you, this was during a time when people did not discuss sexuality, gay marriage was far from being legal, and there were a few openly gay actors.

DeGeneres says, “I didn’t do this because I was fearless, I did it in spite of the fact that I was scared to death…it made me really proud of myself and made me realize I wasn’t as weak and pathetic as I thought.”

Can you imagine what it’s like to be judged by millions simply because you don’t want to live a lie? Many people admire Ellen for her honesty because in life you will always be faced with things that scare you, but it is up to you on how you choose to let “fear” affect you. Ellen lost her career for three years, lost all her money, and had to start all over. There may be a time in life when most of us will hit rock bottom. You will either let your “failure” consume you, or take that opportunity to start over and get back on your feet.

As Ellen once said, “The bad things are our biggest teachers.”

After being inspired by Johnny Carson, Ellen herself wanted to attempt her own talk show but once again was fearful because her thought was, “Who is going to watch a gay woman in the middle of the day?” Now 15 years later the show is doing more than okay!

The path to success is not a straight line and if you truly want to live your purpose and maximize your full potential you must live without fear. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, take risks, and be unapologetic for your personality. Nothing happens over night, I once heard Oprah say, “l don’t believe in luck, ‘luck’ is when preparation meets opportunity.”

No matter how “bizarre” your dreams may seem, it’s possible, remember in 1997, people thought Ellen would never be able to show her face in Hollywood again.

Are Cellphones Dangerous?

Sharda James

There are billions of people all over the world who use cell phones; they use them for many different reasons, some may use them for calling, or sending text messages, while other people might use them to log onto various forms of social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, in order to see what people have been up to. Typically, there are two types of people when speaking about cellphones. There are the types of people who believe that cell phones are very dangerous because they waste time and money can sometimes lead to some sort of addiction, and they are dangerous to the human body. In today’s society, there is a large number of people, especially teenagers, who spend hours talking/texting, which some people believe to be a complete waste of time.

Those same people also believe that cell phones are a danger to everyone, because they tend to weaken family ties, and don’t allow for families to be “close” with one another, since everything is done electronically. There is also an existential amount of research all over the internet that talks about how bad cell phones can be for your health. They can cause different types of cancer, and many other health defects in people, especially when your phone is left beside you as you sleep. Although there is more information out there about how and why cell phones are dangerous, myself and many other people disagree with that information. We believe that cell phones are in fact the opposite of dangerous, and instead they are quite helpful and are great technological tools.

Cell phones are useful in many different situations, but especially when you are out and about, and some sort of accident occurs. Your phone is always right there, and easily accessible to call the police, or whom ever you may need to reach, in a way they allow you to feel more secure, regardless of the situation that you are in.

Almost everyone today has smart phones which allow you to look up tons of different information with a touch of a button that is definitely a big perk, especially in the sense that most phones now come with GPS Navigation. You no longer need to use big paper maps, instead you have a map of the world that you can carry around with you, wherever you go. Overall, I feel as though cell phones are not dangerous in any sense at all. The pros of having cell phones, very heavily outweigh the cons. Like many other things, they have the ability to be dangerous, depending on how you use them. As long as you use the phones in a smart and responsible manner, they can be one of the most useful tools on the planet.

Lights, Camera, Action

Sharda James

My ultimate dream career is broadcasting; specifically, I would love to be a daytime television talk show host. It’s crazy to think this is my dream career, because this hasn’t always been my passion. Somehow, I always found myself watching them and pretending to be to a host interviewing my favorite celebrities in my head.

I love everything about celebrity gossip and pop culture. Someone I really admire is Wendy Williams. She originally started in radio, then, eventually it was on to having her own talk show, “The Wendy Williams show.” Wendy Williams also went to college and was a communications major. I love how opinionated she is and never apologizes for how she feels. The best piece of advice I’ve heard her say about trying to figure out your craft, is that starting in radio is good practice. On the radio you’re talking non-stop for approximately four hours as opposed to television where most shows are about an hour. Since radio isn’t visual it really gives you a chance to paint the imagery for whatever story you’re portraying to your audience. It wasn’t always easy for Wendy. Considering she was so opinionated, a lot of people thought she would never be successful in this field of work. One thing I’ve definitely taken away from her is to “Live Your Truth”, meaning to own your flaws and always be yourself, because people gravitate to authenticity. Getting into entertainment isn’t the easiest thing. There are so many obstacles that you have to overcome, and you need to know how to take criticism whether good or bad.

Oprah Winfrey would definitely have to be a huge inspiration. She was actually one of the first hosts I ever started watching. One of the things I really admire about her is the fact that she isn’t afraid to ask the obvious questions and to get personal. She isn’t afraid to be vulnerable. I love how comfortable she is able to make her guests feel. That is probably the reason they feel more than comfortable talking to her. Other than focusing on celebrity gossip, I would also like to interview legendary people and have those extremely personal interviews.

Something that I admire about both of them is the fact that they remained themselves.  Taking risks isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes the biggest thing that you were afraid of is the very thing that will produce your biggest accomplishment. I’ve learned to not listen to what people have to say about you. If you have a dream go after it. However to accomplish your goals you first need to make a decision, what is it that you want out of life? The second thing is to have a positive mindset. Your thoughts become things spoken into existence. There’s a reason why your parents have told you your whole life that “you can do anything you set your mind to,” because the mind is the most powerful tool we have as humans. The third thing is to believe in yourself, because if you don’t who will? The last but certainly not the least you have to put in the work. You can’t sit around praying or wishing for things to magically happen if you’re not doing anything to deserve it. We have the same 24 hours in a day as some of the biggest celebrities, but it’s your choice of what you decide to do with them. When it’s all said and done, I hope to be able to one-day live in California or New York as a successful daytime talk show host. However, at the end of the day I hope to make a difference in television.

Posted in A&M