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!

Memoirs of a Geisha

During the semester, I did not have as much time to read as I would have liked. I reread one of my favorite stories, Memoirs of a Geisha, recently and was reminded of why I enjoy this book.

The story is told from first person point-of-view from an older geisha. She begins the story when is a just a young girl in Japan during the Depression. Chiyo Sakamoto is a poor girl from a fishing village, but captures the attention of a man for her unusual eyes, which are a blue-gray color. She and her sister are taken from their home and Chiyo is sold to an okiya (house where geisha live) in a prominent area of Kyoto. The story is based on background information provided by retired geisha, Mineko Iwasaki, but Chiyo’s character is fictional. Without giving too much away, she becomes a maid before she begins her journey to being a geisha. Chiyo is in awe of the beauty of the geishas and the respect they are given, but the path is very difficult.

I enjoyed the novel because it read at a leisurely pace without being slow. In the beginning of the story, Chiyo is just a child. The narrative highlights her curiosities at that age and her emotions as she is taken from her home. It also reflects her maturity as she gets older and encounters different experiences. Reading the story made me feel like I was following Chiyo through her life. A good book will pull in its readers until they feel every emotion and that was my experience with this one. When there were moments of heartbreak, it hurt me to read of her tears and devastation. The story was very detailed, but well-balanced with dialogue. Many different characters are introduced throughout the story, but it was not confusing because there was a clear distinction between them. Each character had a strong impact on Chiyo and I could feel that through their descriptions.

Prior to reading this book, I had heard of geishas and only knew what they looked like. I did not know what they did, but there was a negative association between geishas and prostitutes. Geishas are traditional Japanese entertainers. They entertain men through song, dance, conversation and serve tea as hostesses. Young girls spent years training and perfecting their skills that would make them successful geishas. They went to schools that taught dance, musical instruments, and other skills. It was important for them to be successful because they were expected to repay their okiyas back for the money spent on their food, lodging, kimono, and other tools needed.

There is a great deal of effort and time that is required for being a geisha and not every woman can do this successfully. It is also important to note that some people would confuse geishas with prostitutes. The difference is that geisha’s wear their sash tied in the back, but the prostitutes tied theirs in the front. There are still some geishas practicing in Japan, but they are mostly in the company of the higher social class.

This book is controversial because Iwasaki sued Arthur Golden after the book’s release. According to her, he was supposed to keep her identity a secret and revealed parts of her life that were supposed to remain personal. She felt that he did not accurately portray her life and shamed the geisha profession. Iwasaki published her own book in 2002 titled, Geisha: A Life, to tell her story in her own words.

Whether the story is completely true or not, it is still a very good story that I can always come back to when I want something to read. This is also an award-winning movie.

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.

My Source of Positivity

I used to be a pessimistic person. I only focused on the negative aspects of my life and what I didn’t have to the point that I did not think about how fortunate I was. I had poor self-image and would constantly compare myself to others. I thought I was not beautiful and assumed others thought the same. I thought I was not intelligent, and assumed others thought I was stupid. I projected my own negative opinions about myself onto other people and felt like everyone thought the worst of me.

I was afraid to be myself. I did not want my peers to think I was weird or make fun of me and kept some of my interests and opinions to myself. Instead of speaking up for myself when people teased me, I would laugh and pretend my feelings had not been hurt because I did not want them to think I couldn’t take a joke. I did not want to stick out and wanted to blend in with everyone else. I was hiding parts of myself to fit the mold others had set out for me. My desire to fulfill their exceptions was stronger than my desire to fulfill my own. However, my expectations for myself were inaccurate because I based them on comparisons to other people. I thought if one person in class could get a perfect score on an incredibly difficult test, that I could, too. I would push myself to be better until I was completely exhausted. These expectations were not realistic because I was not taking my own individual abilities into account. I had imagined an identity for myself and was struggling to fit.

Like a shoe that is too small, no amount of pushing or squeezing will make it fit. I had to wear the identity that was meant for me, but I had to find it first. My outlook on life was changed naturally with age. I’m no longer a 15-16 year-old girl, but a 21 year-old woman. After having to worry about more serious matters, I don’t have the time, energy, or patience to think about other’s opinions as much and try to make the best of each day. A change in surroundings also positively impacted my outlook. I moved to a warmer climate and met new people. I was able to have a fresh start.

When I first moved here, I did not know anyone other than my family and spent a lot of time alone. This didn’t bother me at first because I actually like to have time to myself. I had the chance to reflect and spend time exploring my own interests. While we were moving into our house, I unpacked a box of books and notebooks and found my old diaries. I sat down and read over the entries going as far back as the first grade when my mom gave me my first diary. I noticed the common entries where I expressed my difficulties repressing my desires and interests to fit in. After flipping through the pages, I realized that I had to make a conscious effort to step out of my shell and embrace myself.

People ask me how I can always look on the bright side in tough situations and I just shrug my shoulders. After spending years of my life trying to be perfect, I finally let go. I learned to laugh at my mistakes and speak up for myself when necessary. There is no doubt in my mind that my experiences up until this point have deeply impacted my outlook on life, but I have a difficulty finding the words to express this journey. With a smile, I say, “This is just who I am.”

A Bittersweet Holiday

During Thanksgiving break, I had to work. This is not new to me because I’ve been working in retail for 6 years and these jobs require you to be available during the holidays. However, this did not stop me from feeling a little sad at the thought of not being able to spend quality time with my family during this special time of year. For the first time in my life, we went to another family member’s house for Thanksgiving. I had always wanted to be around more family for Thanksgiving and usually did not get the chance to because they were too far away or because everyone was spending the holiday differently. It was nice to go to someone else’s house and enjoy being with my family. Unfortunately, I had to leave less than an hour later to go to work.

I am a sentimental person who loves to create memories and be around my loved ones. It is already difficult to spend quality time with family when everyone is on a different schedule and has different responsibilities or lives too far away for you to stop by for a quick visit. It was bitter-sweet to have to leave almost right after I arrived just to be at work until the early hours of the morning. I realized that I took this time of year for granted when I was younger. It was always a given that I would be able to stay at home and even when I did, I went to my room to take a nap after overeating. I would read a book by myself or watch TV.

As the guests poured into the store, holding their maps and picking out Christmas gifts, I watched them with envy. I thought of how nice it must be to not have to work on Thanksgiving and be able to spend time with friends and family on the holidays. It made me think of how I rushed to be an adult when I was a child and did not realize what came with adulthood. I did not fully enjoy those moments that I cherish now and assumed they would always be there. I did not really think about having to sacrifice time with my family to fulfill responsibilities like work and school. This was something I had thought about, but I didn’t really feel it. It is strange to think that I did not have this realization until that moment when the store doors opened and I watched people walk in with smiles on their faces and heard the laughter and cheers around me. It was not until that moment that I felt a pang of sadness.

Thanksgiving is not the only time when I’ve had to work and miss out on time with my family. I constantly miss events on weekends or in the summer when I find out at the last minute or need to work and save money. As much as it really irritated me then, I felt that there would always be other events. Thanksgiving really reminded me that I need to make the most of the moments I have with friends and family and continue working hard toward a future when I can take time off during the holidays.


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!!