Archive for the ‘onValues’ Category

Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Get Disney+ (Or Any New Streaming)

Sunday, November 10th, 2019

Who here can’t get enough of streaming films and tv shows? Who here is a Netflix binger? Who here routinely swipe aside the textbook to get your diet of streaming movies and TV?

Many of you are excited about the arrival of Disney+. Some of you are Star Wars fans looking forward to The Mandalorian, the first live-action Star Wars show. Or some are cinephiles who want to access a treasure trove of old Disney classics. Or you’re a Marvel lover who wants some more superheroes.

As a student, navigating your streaming pleasures is an exercise in budgeting as well as viewing discipline.

Here are the questions you should ask yourself:

If you can’t afford another streaming service, are you ready to sacrifice another streaming? 

Society is streaming-saturated! So, unfortunately, I have to consolidate what I want to watch. Some students may have more than one streaming service to catch original shows that can’t be found on TV. I want to watch my Handmaid’s Tale? I get Hulu. I want to watch my Marvel shows like Daredevil or Jessica Jones? Netflix. I want Game of Thrones? HBO! I want The Expanse? Amazon Video.

Depending on what streaming you have, it could be a great discipline to get go of at least one streaming service if you are using them sparingly. For example, if I only use my Hulu once or twice a month, that’s a sign I shouldn’t be subscribing and my money should go elsewhere.

Are you gonna commit to viewing?

So you paid for your streaming and you’re telling yourself “I’m gonna watch EVERYTHING.” Are you really?

Some of your schedules may be really funky. As a freelancer, it’s hard for me to predict my break periods. It’s hard for me to see if I have a window of hours where I could get a movie or episode down.

And just as people procrastinate with their studies, it’s also possible to procrastinate on planned pleasures.

Are you gonna keep that binging in check?

Hate to whip out the obvious, but addiction to streaming is unhealthy. Yes, schedule time to make the best use of your streaming service, but mind your habits. Dr. Michael J Breus warns that binge-watching will ruin your sleep. Research shows that being overloaded with programming–stories, action, images–will stimulate your brain activity. If you have been watching this show for five hours, pinch yourself and stop. Bring your eyes to the books or the outdoors.

Happy streaming! Happy viewing!

By Caroline Cao


Carol is a queer Vietnamese-Houstonian Earthling surviving under the fickle weather of New York. When she’s not seeing a Broadway production, she’s buried in her nonfiction MFA homework like Hermione Granger and her Hogwarts studies. When not angsting over her first poetry manuscript or a pilot screenplay about space samurais, Carol is cooking her own Chinese food instead of buying take-outs and dreaming of winning Hamilton lotto tickets. She chronicles the quirks of New York living and writing, runs writing and scripting services, and lends her voice to Birth Movies DeathThe Mary SueFilm School Rejectsand The Script Lab. She’s also lurking in the shadows waiting for you to follow her on Twitter, Tumblr, or Instagram.

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourage them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing and services.  

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.

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What To Do For Low Cost Entertainment Around NYC

Tuesday, October 15th, 2019

You know what’s the best break from your studies? Watching something cool! Or maybe something that makes you tear up. It’s not hard to entertain yourself in the Big Apple. Look around you, there is entertainment all around you.

If your pockets are low, check out these free or low-cost forms of entertainment or respite from your studying.

See Galleries

The mere act of drinking in sites and art is a relaxing form of entertainment. There are some free exhibitions you can find in NYC.

Walk the Park

As the studies say, access to trees reduces depression. So you might want to find your nearest NYC park and drink the fresh air. The famous Central Park is an ideal walkthrough.

Walking the Brooklyn Botanic Garden has an $8 discount for students.

Your Nearest Library

Yeah, books, magazine, comics are entertainment! Do not take for granted the power of a library card, which can bring you a bunch of NYC benefits. Find the Brooklyn Public Library or your New York Public Library.

Street Performers

People dance and play on the streets or subways of New York City. If you stop to watch on the streets or bother to look up from your subway seat, do spare a dollar for them.

The most fruitful site of entertainment can be found around Time Square. Follow the big crowd of people surrounding street dancers.

Streaming (And not just Netflix)

Yeah, I guess sometimes you just gotta stay at home and watch your Russian Doll, The Good Place, or Raising Dion. 

It’s just recommended you don’t spiral into binge-watching entire series in one sitting. Try to proportion your streaming consumption by studying in between episodes.

Also, you got a student email? Use it! A student email can allow you to access classic films on Kanopy streaming.

By Caroline Cao


Carol is a queer Vietnamese-Houstonian Earthling surviving under the fickle weather of New York. When she’s not seeing a Broadway production, she’s buried in her nonfiction MFA homework like Hermione Granger and her Hogwarts studies. When not angsting over her first poetry manuscript or a pilot screenplay about space samurais, Carol is cooking her own Chinese food instead of buying take-outs and dreaming of winning Hamilton lotto tickets. She chronicles the quirks of New York living and writing, runs writing and scripting services, and lends her voice to Birth Movies DeathThe Mary SueFilm School Rejectsand The Script Lab. She’s also lurking in the shadows waiting for you to follow her on Twitter, Tumblr, or Instagram.

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourage them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing and services.  

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.

 

 

 

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You are Important Too

Thursday, August 15th, 2019

You Are Important Too

I have come a long way in the past year. I have healed, learned, and I have knocked down most of my insecurities. Since my “non-relationship” ended a little over a year ago, I have taken every step to become the person I really want to be. I love myself for who I am and I am finally okay with being single. For the longest time, all I wanted was a boyfriend; someone to love me the way my friends’ boyfriends loved them. I questioned why I was one of very few of my friends who had never been in a serious relationship. I convinced myself that there was something wrong with me and I began to overthink every situation. Any connection I had with someone, I would become so excited and in the end, I would try and force something that wasn’t there. Along with going for the wrong guys, the fact that I was always looking for someone is what would ultimately ruin any situation I would get into. I have a pattern of letting guys lead me on even though I was aware of multiple red flags. I was just happy to get attention from someone because it reassured me that there wasn’t anything wrong with me. After continuously accepting the attention from people I shouldn’t have, I began to feel unwanted. Even though I knew guys wanted me, I believed that they wanted me for the wrong reasons and I would be self destructive with every connection. I pushed people away without realizing it. 

About a month after fully cutting ties with the guy from sophomore year, I began casually seeing someone. It was refreshing and exciting. He seemed excited about me and I for sure was excited about him. We talked every moment we could. And for once, I wasn’t initiating it. I felt like he wanted to see me as much as I wanted to see him. Being around him would automatically put me in a better mood. The way he treated me was such a drastic change from my past and I believe that is why I felt so strongly so fast. That was the issue, we moved way too fast. We had no idea what was actually going on but all we knew as that we enjoyed each other’s company. As time went on, he stopped calling and texting me as much as he normally would. He stopped trying to see me as often. It was clear that he just wasn’t interested in pursuing me anymore. After basically ghosting me, I decided to text him and end whatever we had. He responded by telling me that he was just too busy and had to focus on his career; again, that is 100% an understandable excuse, but there were so many different ways to handle the situation that would have caused less pain. From the beginning, he was not clear about what his intentions were; but neither was I. In the end, it just was not the right timing for either of us and it didn’t work out. He was focusing on his career and himself and I’ve realized that I didn’t love myself the way I do now. I wanted it to work so badly that I ignored the signs again. I find myself still caring about him because that is just who I am. Once I care about someone, I never stop. But I am finally at a point in my life where I am okay with being alone and I have realized that if it is meant to be then maybe one day it will work out, but that does not mean that I am going to wait around for him. I am happy where I am in life and if someone else comes along, I will not hold back. 

Fast forwarding to right now, I am so content. I started focusing on bettering my health, I began taking dance classes again — which is the one thing that can change my mood in a second — and I realized that there is nothing wrong with who I am. I am who I am and I’m confident about that. This past year, I studied abroad and learned that there is so much more to experience. I have so many years left to find someone who loves me for me and right now it’s okay to be single. Since learning to love myself, I have learned to casually date. I’ve met so many new people this summer and have been pursued by a few. Being asked on dates has been shocking to me. My generation is definitely not known for getting into relationships but going on a few dates this summer has shown me that there are genuine people out there. I just have to be open to letting new people in. Again, this is not what I am focusing on but it has helped me get to a good place. 

Don’t let people who aren’t ready for you get under your skin. It is not worth the time thinking about someone who doesn’t think about you. Think about yourself; make sure you are happy with who you are and when you are ready, put yourself out there. For all you know, you could meet someone out of the blue who could potentially surprise you. Love yourself, endlessly. 


By Hannah Sternberg

Hannah is a rising Senior at James Madison University majoring in the School of Media Arts and Design with a concentration of Broadcast Journalism. She works for her schools weekly newscast called Breeze TV as a reporter in training and this year will become a full time reporter. Her dream is to become a reporter but she also enjoys the entertainment production industry. One of her favorite things to do to relieve stress is dancing. 

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourage them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing and services.  

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.

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I’ll Be Back

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019

I don’t pretend to have myself or the world figured out. There are still many aspects of my life I am unsure about; I have always identified as bisexual but I recently realized I might only be attracted to girls, sometimes I get an overwhelming urge to call my mother and just ask her to put all of this behind us so she can hold me again, and I occasionally wonder if I should even be putting time and energy into journalism when creative writing is my true passion… but that is the beauty of life. I don’t think we ever really figure it all out. It’s impossible to know and understand everything. But I do think it’s important to continue to grow, because that is something we will always have room for.

One of the most important skills I developed this last year was self-awareness. For a while, I lied to myself about many things; I lied to the people I love too. I was scared of the truthterrified of what it implied. As a result of the multiple life altering experiences I’ve gone through this year, I realized that I have to be honest with myself and others if I ever want to be my truest self. The truth is scary, but it’s almost always worth it. For the majority of my life I had this overwhelming desire to please everyone and not be an inconvenience. I believed this stemmed from years of living in other people’s houses and always feeling like a burden in a home that was not my own. I didn’t feel comfortable taking up spacelet alone explaining how I was feeling. So for a long time, I let others take advantage of me. In an old journal entry of mine, I wrote:

 

they take and they use and they break and i let them. i let them because i have convinced myself that if i allow them to take enough pieces of me, they will eventually fill my missing parts with their own. they never do.

 

I love to give. That is a piece of myself that will never change, but I’ve learned that I can’t give to the point where I stretch myself too thin, like a bed sheet too small for a mattress, desperately clinging on to the corners, hoping to fill the holes with over kindness. I can’t talk to every single guy that comes up to me on the street asking for my number and make it seem like I’m interested just because I’m too scared to hurt their feelings by rejecting them. I can’t listen vehemently to my friends when they point out my flaws that affect them, but never point out their own that affect me. I can’t get in these non-relationships anymore when I know they don’t work for me. And I can’t let people think it’s okay to be with me and be with others at the same time. I need to be honest about what I want, because what I want is just as valid as the desires of others. 

I think a lot of us devote our lives to othersleaving no time nor space for ourselves. Growing up, we are never taught to think of ourselves as a person. We would never tell others that they are not good enough, not smart enough, not attractive enough, but we whisper those hurtful words into the mirror. And we carve out time into our day to hang out with others, but we don’t do the same for ourselves. Why don’t we view ourselves as highly as we view others? Why do we bend over backwards doing everything for everyone, but struggle doing things for ourselves? We are definitely deserving of it. It is not selfish to take care of one’s self. By being loving and giving toward ourselves, our hearts open wider for others. 

In society and many cultures, mental health is not something that is taken seriously. Therapy is viewed negatively and is only supposed to be utilized by those with severe mental illnesses. They treat it as if it should be kept a secret when we are suffering. None of this is true though. Society has shaped an atmosphere in which it is taboo to talk about our suffering and our trauma. But I believe if we open ourselves up and create safe spaces to have these conversations, we will learn that many people have had similar experiences. So many people struggle on a daily basis with anxiety and depression. So many people grew up poor and abused by their parents and have been sexually assaulted. I created a perzine last semester that showcased the majority of my trauma. I utilized poetry and letters that I’ve written as far back as when I was in middle school. Creating the perzine was both a cathartic and painful experience. Sharing it in front of my class was terrifying. But the three people that came up to me separately afterward and told me they experienced similar trauma growing up made it all worth it. They knew that they were no longer alone. I was no longer alone.

We have to open ourselves up to be vulnerable more often. It is not strong to bottle up emotions so that you never cry, that is weak. It is also hazardous to your mental health and the people around you that you’ll subsequently take that out on. I think real strength and bravery is found in vulnerability. It can be terrifying to share how we’re actually feeling. The fear of judgement is overwhelming sometimes. But it’s worth it. When you realize that you are enough and your own feelings are just as valid as anyone else’s, nothing else matters. Others opinions can’t bother you when you love yourself entirely. Once you find your own validation, no one can take that away from you. 

Another beautiful process that aids in returning to one’s truest self is returning to one’s culture. Being Latina played such a large role in shaping who I was when I was younger. It is a part of that naked and bare version of myselfmy honest self. It is also a reason I face adversity, but accepting and loving my culture combined with the immense pride I feel for it makes it all worth it. Now, I would never want to be anyone or from anywhere else. I love myselfwholeheartedly. And I love Puerto Rico and Cubadeeply. 

My eyes opened to the reality of the world far too young. But honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. As a close family member once told me, as morbid as it sounds, there was beauty to be found in that chaos. While going through the storm, it almost feels too difficult to live. But sometimes, I think you have to see just how dark life can get before you truly want to live. I never want to go back to that dark place, so everyday I strive to share light. The world is fucked up, but if I can leave an impact on just one person’s life, it all feels worth it. 

I think we often chase younger versions of ourselves. I long to be a small child again, with my two front teeth simultaneously missing, clinging onto my father’s legsbefore the pain. When my mom and dad were still together, when my sister lived with us and my brother was in diapers. When we lived in the stunning yellow house my father helped build in Puerto Rico. I look back at the very few pictures of the five us and my heart aches. I yearn for those times still. But I know they are over now. The days of waking up to the smell of Papi’s food and salsa blasting through his speakers have dissipated. The realist in me wants to say that all that remains of him are the bones in his grave. But the poet, and the dreamer in me says that I am left, and so is my brother. He and I resurrect our father. We keep his memory alive by being our truthful selves.

~~~

I once had a dream that continues to haunt me in the most beautiful way. I was walking through the forest. I couldn’t tell where I was or why I was there, but I knew that I had to keep walking. I knew I was moving toward something. It was almost as if I was being pulled. I walked for what felt like hours in the dream world, but I never grew weary. Suddenly, the trees cleared and I felt like my breath had been knocked out of me. 

I had made it. There was a lake that went out as far as the eye could see; it went out so far that it wrapped itself in the sky. And the sky, it was unreal. It was full of the most vibrant shades of pink I had ever seen in my entire life. The water reflected the sky. Everything was pink in the most beautiful way. I felt warm. Tears began to roll down my cheeks. How could this much beauty exist? I had also figured out it was a dream at that point, but I never wanted it to end. I didn’t want my eyes to open. I didn’t want to leave the pink.

A hand grabbed mine. I looked down and I could see every hair and vein. I could see the scars on his wrist I spent my childhood tracingtrying to heal. I could see my father’s gold watch. My eyes met his. Papi. He wiped my tears with his free hand. 

“I don’t want to go back Papi.” I grabbed his hand on my face and held it there.

“It’s going to be okay Chispy. You’ll be back. Until then, make me proud.”

 

I hope this makes him proud. 

———————

By Jaelynn Grace Ortiz

Jaelynn is a rising sophomore at NYU majoring in Journalism and Social and Cultural Analysis with a focus in Latino studies and is minoring in Creative Writing. The list of her hobbies is almost as drawn out as her majors are. She writes poetry, essays and stories, she dances, mentors high schoolers in the Bronx and often plans environmental events in NYU Residence Halls. She has a poem published in the introspective study Inside My World by the Live Poets Society. Despite vehemently condemning social media, she ironically has instagram which you could follow her on. 

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourage them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing and services.  

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.

 

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Existing in Two Spheres

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019

Maintaining a connection with one’s culture whilst living in America is an arduous task. It is easy to lose touch when we are surrounded by whiteness and racism, but it is crucial that we continue to embrace ourselves fully despite the adversity we will face.

I conducted interviews with three Latinx students at NYU, two who are first generation. They are currently taking Spanish classes because they don’t speak the language well enough to fulfill the requirement. While they each have had different experiences, they all shared that as their ability to speak the language increased, so did the level of connection they felt to their family and their culture. One of the students described this as an “empowering process.” I don’t believe that people need to be able to speak their native languages in order to be close to their culture, but I think having the ability to is helpful. As a result of increased language skills, there is an increase in connection to people within the family that only or primarily speak that language.

I know this is true for many cultures, but especially for Latinx culture, it is frowned upon to be incapable of speaking the language. We are called gringas and gringos by our own families which is confusing considering the fact that they are the ones who were unsuccessful at teaching us the languagea point that one of my interviewees made. He is Puerto Rican and said that whenever he visits the island he “always felt out of place. Like an outsider because [he] couldn’t speak the language of [his] culture.” We already experience various forms of oppression and marginalization, we can’t do the same to our own people. That same student explained that because of the color of his skin, he is targeted by others, especially the police. He shared stories of how on several occasions he has been subjected to “random bag checks” on the train; he takes the same route to school every single day. My heart broke hearing his story. This is the reality of many of our lived experiences.

It is so difficult to exist in both spheres. My first semester of college I wrote a short story titled Too Spanish for White People, Too White for Spanish People. My understanding of what being Spanish means and who that represents has changed since then, but the point remains. Many of us feel we are not enough for our families, but too much for America. We struggle to find our niche. I have been fighting my way back to my culture, but I think that as a people, we need to be more accepting of each other.

It’s also an arduous task to relearn the language, especially in a classroom setting. Two of the interviewees pointed out that the Spanish we learn in class is quite different from the Spanish spoken at home. We are taught the “proper” way, meanwhile many of our families speak in Spanglish or with slang they don’t teach in a textbook. Even if we take the classes in school, we still stick out because it is easy to tell we learned it from the book. For many, it begins to feel like we’re trying to win a stuffed animal from one of those rigged claw machines we’re playing a game we can’t win.  This is why we need to be more supportive of each other. Reclaiming our language and culture is an empowering process and we must aid others in it.

The three students I interviewed still don’t speak Spanish perfectly, but they all said that even the minor improvements in their ability to speak it have increased their levels of confidence and happiness. A Puerto Rican and Dominican student said she “feel[s] more connected talking to [her] mom because she loves to hear [her] try.” Having support while learning the language often means the difference between success and failure. When our family and friends support us speaking Spanish and tell us how to fix our mistakes instead of laughing or ridiculing us, it creates a safe space to practice and ultimately better our skills.

But of course there’s more to being Latinx than just our language; we have our music, our dances, our food, our myths. I grew up listening to salsa, bachata and merengue and being spun around by my father as he taught me the dances. I ate arroz con gandules y tostones with mayoketchup and I had Café Cubano afterwards. I was scared of the dark because I thought the Coco was going to get me and I believed that saying sana sana colita de rana si no sanas hoy, sanarás mañana would heal any wound. I had this stripped away from me in secondary school, but through family, friends and education I am taking it back.

College often exposes us to more than we have ever seen. Two of the interviewees explained how through this exposure, they learned more about other cultures as well as their own. None of them knew the difference between identifying as Latinx and Hispanic until I told them; I didn’t even know until this last year. An Ecuadorian and Puerto Rican interviewee described this learning process as both touching and joyful. I think it’s been empowering. 

Once I arrived at college, I realized how colonized our history truly is. I went to El Museo Del Barrio during the second semester as a trip with our mentees from the World Changers Program. I stood in front of a lithographic print titled Felicidades – El Museo Del Barrio by Dominigo Garcia. The Statue of Liberty’s face stared right back at me with a Puerto Rican flag wrapped around its head. I smiled and thought how powerful. Then I read the blurb next to it and it shook me to my core. In 1977, thirty Puerto Rican nationalists protested at the Statue for the freedom of four militant nationalists. They actually draped the Puerto Rican flag on the Statue of Liberty’s head. How did we never learn about this? We learned about Christopher Columbus for years in a row and put on plays celebrating him in school, but we didn’t learn about this? Los Desaparecidos was another collection in the museum that told the story of the lost onesthe thousands of people who were kidnapped, tortured, killed and “vanished” in Latin America from the 1950s to the 1980s. I was able to visualize the torment they experienced… that I had never once learned about. I realized the intensity of the vast history that has been untold on that dayour history that has been stripped away from us. I vowed then to avidly learn as much as I could about our people and our history and to share our stories. 

 

 

Finding my way back to my culture has been a powerful process. I and two other interviewees have experienced increased levels of confidence. I stand up for myself now, and I love my culture. I love my skin and our history. I love my language and our food. I love and accept everything that makes us different. The Ecuadorian and Puerto Rican student expressed this passion for his culture as well. He said:

I love everything about myself unconditionally. Having pride in what I am is something I will never feel ashamed of, no matter how many people are against it. I will admit that it is disappointing and discouraging to know that there are people in this world who choose to hate and make others uncomfortable by shaming their culture. The one thing that gets me through is the constant reminder to myself that love has to win in all forms because I refuse to believe that the hatred that floods the American systems will be dominant.

We instead must flood American systems with acceptance, love, and knowledge. And we must begin to share these with ourselves. I don’t have a physical home, but I have found one now in my culture.

————————————-

By Jaelynn Grace Ortiz

Jaelynn is a rising sophomore at NYU majoring in Journalism and Social and Cultural Analysis with a focus in Latino studies and is minoring in Creative Writing. The list of her hobbies is almost as drawn out as her majors are. She writes poetry, essays and stories, she dances, mentors high schoolers in the Bronx and often plans environmental events in NYU Residence Halls. She has a poem published in the introspective study Inside My World by the Live Poets Society. Despite vehemently condemning social media, she ironically has instagram which you could follow her on. 

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourage them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing and services.  

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.

 

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Papi’s Acceptance

Wednesday, July 24th, 2019

This last year I avidly took strides to stop internalizing the microaggressions I have experienced throughout my life. I can’t control what others say and do, but I can control how I react. Instead of letting the words hurt me, I let them fuel me. By the end of my freshman year, I developed a profound passion and pride for my culture that even when I lived in Puerto Rico, I did not feel. 

I realized the beauty to be found in culture the summer before my freshman year began when I started the six week preparatory program for HEOP. I was surrounded by people who took pride in where they came from and they made sure everyone knew. They proudly blasted their music and wore their flags. They ate their food and talked in their languages and they didn’t care what others thought. It was beautiful; they were a melting pot. That was when my mindset began to evolve. I did not actually want to be like my peers in high school. My culture made me different, yes, but it also made me unique. We all came from varying backgrounds in HEOP, but we complemented each other. 

I took the next step of accepting my culture again when the academic year began. I decided to take Spanish classes to relearn my language. I placed into the third level and I took the class seriously. I went to office hours and started writing some of my daily journal entries in Spanish as well, despite the numerous grammatical errors. While my mother and I were still speaking, I began calling her each day to practice speaking in Spanish. I also started practicing with the workers in the dining halls since many are Hispanic or Latinx. With all the practice, the errors lessened. The workers treated me as equals. I felt like I was making my dad proud. 

My friends also began speaking to me in Spanish, but I felt most prideful when I could speak to their parents. The most crucial part of reclaiming my cultural identity was relearning my language. After that, everything else followed smoothly. I started dancing bachata and salsa with my friends at parties. Vivid memories of my father spinning me across the room while we danced to Aguanile always flashed through my mind. I also started watching Keysha cook classic Puerto Rican dishes so that I could do the same in the fall when I move into a residence hall with a kitchen. No one will ever match up to my father’s cooking, but she got pretty close.

The Puerto Rican Day Parade was a pivotal moment for me during this process. My beautiful younger cousin Dareylis accompanied me. I wore a strapless black dress with tropical red flowers on it. My hair was in two braids under a red bandana with my baby hairs smoothed down and I wore bright red lipstick. My skin was tan and for once, I loved it. I felt at home in my own body. The people near us during the parade spoke to us in Spanish. Marc Anthony blasted through the speakers and I sang along to every word. Every so often, someone with a microphone passing by on a float would yell yo soy boricua and we would shout back ‘pa que tú lo sepa! It didn’t matter what anyone said anymore after that day because the feeling I had during that moment is one that will never escape me again: pride.

The most crucial change facilitated by this process was that I no longer kept my voice low in public when I spoke in Spanish like I used to when I was younger. A lady had quieted me for many years when she yelled at my father and I to go back to where we came from in our local supermarket. I didn’t realize that that was a thing that people actually say. What she failed to realize though is that this, America, is where I come from. I was born here, I have just as much of a right to live and prosper here as anyone else. At the end of the day, we have no right to this land; it was stolen. We were nearly all immigrants at one point, whether it was us or our parents or our ancestors. You could tell us all to go back to where we came from but then the same people yelling those slurs would be gone too. While it’s no ones job to be a historian and explain their culture and history to others, I believe we must attempt to combat ignorance with knowledge. That woman was clearly unhappy and unfulfilled in her own life, but I can’t help but wonder how that interaction might have gone differently if we responded with love and intelligence instead of anger and ignorance.

 

~~~~~~

 

Father’s Day is always a difficult day for me. Especially before, because I had already felt so disconnected from my father and our culture. I sometimes wondered if he had ever even existed or if my vivid imagination dreamt him up. That’s the thing about dreams though, you always wake up.

Without me even needing to ask, Keysha offered to drive all the way to Newburgh to pick up my little brother so we could be together for that weekend like we had always been. His hardened shell to the world only cracks for me, my sister, and my mother, but Keysha has love to share for everyone even when they don’t outwardly reciprocate. It didn’t matter that she hadn’t seen him either for many years, she wanted to help him as much as she had helped me. We all went to Six Flags together on the first day of the weekend to keep our minds off of the solemn significance of the day. My brother began to feel sick so I stayed off the rides with him and we played the smaller carnival games. At the end of the day, Keysha, my brother, Dareylis and her boyfriend, and I all crammed into a hot photobooth. We did not fit, but we pushed in anyway. We made silly faces as we sweat in the cramped box and carnival music drifted in through the curtains. I carry that photo booth picture in my wallet with me everywhere I go.

The next day we went to Yonkers and visited the cemetery that both my father and his mother are buried in. Rain drizzled down as I walked up first and placed my hand on my father’s headstone. I kneeled into the muddy ground. ROCKY F ORTIZ. BELOVED FATHER, SON, BROTHER, AND FRIEND. DEC 14, 1966 – MAY 4, 2014. It’s funny, I never really thought of him as others saw him. SON, BROTHER, AND FRIEND. In my eyes, he was always just my dad. He was mine. I wondered if he viewed me the same. The sound of soft whimpering pierced my ears. It had been there the entire time, but it were as if my television had been on mute for years and I finally turned up the volume. I could finally hear them. I could finally see them. Each of us were crying, but it was a mutual mourning— a comforting mourning. I’m not a religious person and I don’t know what I really believe in, but I always pray when I visit. I always speak to him. 

Te amo papi. I’m sorry that we weren’t on good terms when you died. I hope you’ve forgiven me. I have forgiven you. I am trying desperately to keep your memory alive. Every day I think about how proud you would be of me if you were here today. But a part of me believes that you already are right now. That you see me prospering and are telling everyone up there about it. Roberto Clemente and Uncle Freddie and Abuela. I don’t know what up there is. I don’t know if I believe it actually exists. But I believe you hear me and that’s what matters. I am doing my best, for you, for Shoopy. I want to continue to make you proud, I just need you to continue giving me the strength. Your motto was “never give up.” And up until your last breath, you never did. I intend to do the same. Te amo.

I kiss the headstone, then walk back to the car.

The air around us was somber as we returned to Keysha’s house. We walked in one by one. I pulled up my laptop and we all squeezed onto the couch. I have home videos saved on it of us back in Puerto Rico with my dad. They had originally been tapes that I had converted to DVDs, downloaded to my mom’s computer that had a dvd player, and then emailed to myself so I could download them onto my Mac.

 

 

My dad is the recorder. He records the house he helped build from the ground up on his father’s land. He records me and Dareylis dancing around in an attempt to get his attention. A chicken runs around our ankles. He records Keysha standing in the garage while her step-dad cleans our car. He records my baby brother running around in a diaper. At one point, my adorable sister takes the camera. Me, Dareylis, and Keysha stand with my father. We hug his tall legs and smile, as if a picture is being taken. I take a mental one. The years of feeling rejected and rejecting my culture dissipate. None of them matter anymore. Because in this moment, I am transported to Puerto Rico. I am hugging my father’s legs with my tiny arms and a cheesy grin is plastered on my face despite my two front teeth simultaneously missing. I am surrounded by my family. I am surrounded by love. All of the slurs, the invalidating comments, the fetishizing, the whitewashing, become nothing more than dreamlike memories that can’t hurt me anymore. They float away. My dad accepts me. Keysha accepts me. I accept myself.


By Jaelynn Grace Ortiz

Jaelynn is a rising sophomore at NYU majoring in Journalism and Social and Cultural Analysis with a focus in Latino studies and is minoring in Creative Writing. The list of her hobbies is almost as drawn out as her majors are. She writes poetry, essays and stories, she dances, mentors high schoolers in the Bronx and often plans environmental events in NYU Residence Halls. She has a poem published in the introspective study Inside My World by the Live Poets Society. Despite vehemently condemning social media, she ironically has instagram which you could follow her on. 

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourage them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing and services.  

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.

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Keysha

Wednesday, July 17th, 2019

It never occurred to me how wrong my definition and standards of family were until last year, when I began spending time with my cousin Keysha from my dad’s side of the family. She continues to redefine what the word love means to me and how it is meant to be shown. 

Keysha lived across the road from us in Puerto Rico. After we left, I didn’t see her again until my father’s funeral. After that, I didn’t see her for another few years until I moved into the city for college. It was the end of September, and they were having a surprise sixteenth birthday party for her younger sister, Dareylis. She invited me despite the years of not seeing nor speaking to each other. My mother never cared much for my father’s family and made her distaste for them well known when I was younger, so I figured maintaining a relationship with them was more trouble than it would be worth. But once I got to the city for college, something in me changed. I realized that my overwhelming fear of codependency had caused me to try too hard to handle life on my own. I was so used to not having family around that even when they offered to be there, I stayed away for fear of abandonment. I also realized that I missed my father dearly. In high school I didn’t talk much about himI tried to not even think about him. But my heart yearned for him, and Keysha and her family were the closest pieces left, so I went to the party. 

I saw my grandfather for the first time since I was five years old that day. He immediately recognized me despite his age and sight. He cried. Mi nieta! Mi nieta! Hija de me hijo que se murió. His body was shaking. I realized then that I wasn’t the only one still mourning my father. I wasn’t alone in my pain. I hugged my grandfather and we cried together. After we both calmed down, he told me stories of his life in Puerto Rico with my dad. I felt like I had uncovered the most valuable treasure in the darkest part of the sea that I had been searching for my entire life. At one point while he was telling a story, I stopped him and asked if he was cold. His whole body was still shaking. He smiled. Estoy temblando porque eres tan hermosa. He was shaking because he thought I was so beautiful. He resumed and told me that now he lives with my aunt in Queens and she cares for him, but that soon she’s taking him back to Puerto Rico. He’s sick and old and he doesn’t want to die here. The thought of losing him again after just reconnecting bore a hole in my heart, but I realized that I was lucky to even be seeing him in that momentto hear untold stories of my father’s youth. He kept saying that he saw my father in me and that I had been my father’s world. It was overwhelming to hear so much talk of him after years of avoiding even thinking about my father, but I realized I was also longing to have him back in my world; my family from Puerto Rico was my way of rebuilding that bridge. 

After that party, Keysha began texting me to make plans nearly every week: bowling, barbecues, movie marathons. And I went, every single time. She had a way of always making me feel welcome in her home. I had never felt fully welcome anywhere before. Her mom is my dad’s sister and I deeply love her and her other daughters as well, but it is Keysha who continues to show me what it means to love. When Keysha loves someone, she devotes pieces of herself to them. She has done this for me and I have continuously wittnessed her do it for others. One of her best qualities is her selflessness, and I think that is one of the reasons she is so wonderful at sharing love.

I have never once felt like a burden to her, which is how much of my family made me feel when I was youngerwhether intentional or not. Every time I sleep over, she makes a simple breakfast: French toast with Nutella, powdered sugar and maple syrup, scrambled eggs, and toast. She also always makes coffee, and to this day I don’t know what it is, her but her warm, sweet coffee remains the best cup I have ever had. As time progressed, her signature breakfast became something I longed for when my heart grew weary. I first realized Keysha was becoming home for me when throughout the year I would have arguments with my mother. In those moments of vulnerability and instability, I felt homesickfor Keysha. I wanted to wake up on her unusually comfortable leather futon in her house that is so dark with the curtains closed, that despite typically being an early riser, I sleep until eleven in the morning. I wanted to eat the breakfast while we binge watched a show on her comfy couch and Mya, her husky, sat at our feet hoping we drop a piece of scrambled eggs. I wanted to be with her. She makes me feel safe. 

Keysha would drive me all the way back to my dorm when I came to visit her in the Bronx, which is a little over an hour drive from Greenwich Village. I told her I could take the train, but she insisted. One of those times, she told me her and her boyfriend had picked up a few things for me the other day. When I arrived back at my dorm and unpacked the bag, I cried. She had been so nonchalant about it, but in reality she must had spent at least $100 on getting essentials for me.

The bag was filled with items that I desperately needed but could hardly afford to spend my own money on: paper towels, deodorant, soap, shampoo, conditioner, a pencil case, pens and pencils, laundry detergent, fabric softener, and more. She had also bought me a brand new coffee pot and grounded coffee beans for me, along with giving me her perfectly working speakers she claimed she didn’t use anymore. Keysha just went out one day, thought of me, and got all of this stuff that I really needed. And she didn’t make a big deal out of it, at all. She didn’t praise herself for the act of kindness; she has never thrown it back in my face. She just did it, for me. And it’s not the actual things she bought me that made me so emotional. It was just the fact that she had went about it so eloquently. She knew I needed help, but she didn’t make me ask. 

Keysha has continued to demonstrate this level of thoughtfulness. She texts me every week just to see how I’m doing. A text is such a basic act, but I often go months without speaking to close family members. She never forgets about me. And whenever she drops me off, she always gets out the car to come around and hug me and tell me she loves me. She’ll randomly text me questions like which color do you prefer red pink or blue? and what kind of coffee do you like? and then I go to her house and she has a coffee pot and a phone case for me.

All of these things she does seem so small, so basic; but I am not otherwise used to them. I am not used to family members doing things simply out of the kindness of their hearts. It’s bizarre: a family member who genuinely cares about me, who goes out of her way to help me and show me that she’s always thinking about me. This summer I wasn’t sure if I was going to have a place to live. I knew my mother was moving to Florida, and I obviously wasn’t going to move there, because she’s living with her boyfriend. One day, I opened up to Keysha about my past and all of the pain I have endured. She immediately started planning for me to spend the summer with her. They would buy me a bed and put a curtain up in her room so I could have my own space. A few friends had offered me a place to stay, but Keysha was the first person I felt fully comfortable enough to stay with. I love my friends, deeply, but I know firsthand that people change once you live with them. I luckily got a job as an RA at an NYU residence hall over the summer so I didn’t end up needing a place to stay, but Keysha still made me a copy of her key so that whenever I experience that homesickness I can head over, no questions asked.

Since Keysha, my relationship with other family members and others in general has improved. I am trying to follow her in her path. I want to practice that selflessness that seems to be second nature for her. She has had her own pain through life but she controlled how it shaped her and is currently one of the strongest people I know. Everyday she restores my faith in family and love while bringing me closer to my father and my culture. 


By Jaelynn Grace Ortiz

Jaelynn is a rising sophomore at NYU majoring in Journalism and Social and Cultural Analysis with a focus in Latino studies and is minoring in Creative Writing. The list of her hobbies is almost as drawn out as her majors are. She writes poetry, essays and stories, she dances, mentors high schoolers in the Bronx and often plans environmental events in NYU Residence Halls. She has a poem published in the introspective study Inside My World by the Live Poets Society. Despite vehemently condemning social media, she ironically has instagram which you could follow her on. 

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourage them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing and services.  

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.

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Gringa

Thursday, July 11th, 2019

My life began when I lived in Puerto Rico. I was born in New York, but I was so young when we moved to PR that any prior memories no longer linger in my mind. I had a lot of firsts there; I had my first day of school, lost my first tooth, and owned my first dog. I thought life everywhere would be as slow and peaceful as it was in PR. I was not prepared for what the States had in store for me.

My father was the proudest Puerto Rican anyone had ever met. Even living in New York, he took me to every Puerto Rican Day parade. He would also often pull me off of the couch, despite my refusal, while Marc Anthony blared through his beloved speakers. He would twirl me around to the music and the rhythm that he felt in his soul until a smile broke out on my face and I gave in. My father would also cook every classic Puerto Rican dish for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Arroz con gandules y tostones, chuletas y arroz con habichuelas y chorizo (sometimes my dad would let us have the sliced chorizo cold if we were good, I liked it better that way) and the famous pernil he made every year for Christmas. He would slow cook it in the oven from 5am until it was close to dinner time, then he would turn the oven off and let it sit. I wish I had paid more attention to how he made food because he was truly so passionate about it; and to this day, I have never met anyone nor gone to any restaurant that cooks Hispanic food as well as my father did. I shouldn’t have taken for granted the food he poured his soul into after working his back-breaking job in the beating sun. I wish I savored it more. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When my father died, so did my relationship with my culture. My mother stopped speaking Spanish at home. Pasta became the staple dishit was quick and easy to make. She hated cooking and would let it be known several times a week. I started high school a few months after he passed and was placed in honors classes where the majority of my peers were wealthy and white. Consequently, my friends were all pretty much white. I knew that I was Puerto Rican and Cuban, but they made it so that I didn’t really want to be. 

I became embarrassed of who I was. I would rather take sketchy cabs home than get a ride from a friend because once a friend’s father said he felt scared to drop me off at the low income housing building I had been living in since I was 12. Comments like that began changing how I viewed myself. A guy I had a crush on told me he only likes white girls. He was behind my mother and I in line at the supermarket one day and witnessed my mother’s debit card get declined. Every time I got a haircut, I was told how THICK my hair was and how no one in their life had ever dealt with hair as THICK as mine. I started straightening it every week. My friends were all obsessed with tanning but I could never understand why. I was obsessed with being as light as they were. I wanted to look like the girls on TV I grew up watching and I wanted to be the girl that guy wanted. I even looked into getting a nose job because I wanted one of those cute pixie noses that sort of curve upwards at the end. I didn’t feel comfortable existing in my own skin.

I didn’t want to be the little girl that white teenagers yelled SPIC! at as they drove by in their Jeep and muscle tees on. I didn’t want to be the girl that guys fetishized. I’ve never been with a Spanish girl before. I so badly wanted to be someone else that I didn’t even stop my friends when they tried to whitewash me themselves. Once while at my “best friend’s” house for dinner, her parents asked where I’m from. Just from here, I said. No, where are you from ethnically? her father asked. I gave them the answer they were longing for. But she’s like, basically white, my “best friend” responded. I laughed along. I shouldn’t have. 

The thing is, I never realized how much I had internalized those microaggressions until I got to college. I was in a program of minorities but could no longer speak my native tongue. I had struggled just as they had and faced similar oppression but I saw something missing between myself and them. I realize now what it was. They had their culture to call a home. While they experienced similar slurs and forms of oppression, they could still go home and eat their food, speak their language and dance their dances. They loved their culture so they fought back when people said those things. I was taught not to love mine, so I played mum. 

 

My friends in the program saw how disconnected I was. They could smell the whitewashing I had experienced and made sure I was aware of it; they repeatedly called me white girl or gringa. They didn’t understand how hurt it made me feel and how invalidating it was. Calling me a white girl erased my upbringing. It erased my father whose skin was darker than half of theirs. It erased the culture he brought me up with. It erased the person I was in Puerto Rico. But it also made me realize that I was contributing to this erasure myself. I wanted to be exactly what they were calling me at one point and that had left stains on me that I had yet to clean. If I wanted them to stop, if I wanted to feel at home in my skin again, I needed to reclaim my cultural identity. 

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By Jaelynn Grace Ortiz

Jaelynn is a rising sophomore at NYU majoring in Journalism and Social and Cultural Analysis with a focus in Latino studies and is minoring in Creative Writing. The list of her hobbies is almost as drawn out as her majors are. She writes poetry, essays and stories, she dances, mentors high schoolers in the Bronx and often plans environmental events in NYU Residence Halls. She has a poem published in the introspective study Inside My World by the Live Poets Society. Despite vehemently condemning social media, she ironically has instagram which you could follow her on. 

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourage them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing and services.  

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015.

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Love as an Action

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019

I don’t think a lot of us understand what love really is. We have these idealized concepts of what it means from Disney movies and television series that romanticize it and spread all the wrong messages. I recently read All About Love by bell hooks and it truly informed my understanding of love and what it means. hooks proposes we treat love as a verb, rather than a noun.

When we change our definition of love from a feeling to an action, it debunks the majority of these stories we grew up watching and listening to. It makes us understand that while our dysfunctional families did care about us, that does not mean they were loving. Love and pain do not coexist. It is not loving to beat your kids or call them terrible names. Redemption can be found, but as that infamous saying goes: actions speak louder than words. We can claim to love people, but it is in our actions that we are loving. 

To be loving to others, we have to be loving toward ourselves. We spend much of our lives dreaming of receiving this romanticized notion of love from others, but we fail to realize that we are fully capable of giving this sort of love to ourselves. Once we learn to do this, any other form of love we receive will pile onto the love we are already getting. No one can make you feel unloved when you already love yourself. hooks wrote that self-love is an action we take for our own spiritual growth and that once this process of self-love has begun, it makes it possible to extend ourselves to others (hooks 54). We have to take measures to ensure that we are avidly growing and being mindful each day. Living consciously, as hooks put it, is another fundamental step. She claimed that we have to “engage in critical reflection about the world we live in and know most intimately” (hooks 56). In doing so, we become more aware of our surroundings and the role we play in them. The best thing we can do for others is to be loving toward ourselves because it will subsequently enable us to be more loving toward them. 

hooks briefly brings up the concept of cathexis. Cathexis is defined in the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary as the concentration of mental energy on one particular person, idea, or object (especially to an unhealthy degree). She explains that sometimes, we think we have found ourselves in love but we are really just experiencing cathexis. I don’t know if that is what that boy and I had. If we look at our not-relationship from the lense of love as a verb, then maybe we were not actually in love. The not-relationship was and still is really important to me and it made me feel more than I have ever had, but I think the best parts of it were the parts that happened after it ended. I am loving toward that boy now, and he is the same with me. It took us a while to mend our friendship after we exploded but we are finally in a good place— in which I actually let him read an early draft of the second chapter that I wrote about him. He told me that I did not discuss his own flaws enough. We had the most honest conversation in the entirety of our friendship that day. We both took accountability for our flaws and admitted that we still have much more growing to do. But we had begun the first part: taking responsibility. 

Taking responsibility for our actions and how they affect the people we are loving toward is one of the most crucial aspects of living consciously and loving. hooks claims that, “taking responsibility means that in the face of barriers we still have the capacity to invent our lives to shape our destinies in ways that maximize our wellbeing” (hooks 57). When we accept accountability, it changes our reactions and our feelings. We cannot control the events that happen to us; we can only control how we react. 

One of my favorite quotes from the book is, “[w]hat we allow the mark of our suffering to become is in our own hands” (hooks 209). A lot of us have damage, but we cannot let that rule our lives. We have to practice self-assertiveness. Without it, we perpetuate the cycle of abuse by letting it continue in different forms. If we don’t treat ourselves with respect, why should anyone else? I started standing up for myself these last few months; I started with my mother. It obviously did not have the best ending, but I am not being taken advantage of anymore. I am not having daily reminders of my trauma and swallowing it down just so that she can live with herself. Her boyfriend has haunted my dreams for many nights in the past few years. Last night, he visited them again, but this time I was different. I stood up to him. I called him out for everything he had done in front of an audience, but I did not care who heard. All I needed was for myself to be heard. I don’t know if the dreams will continue. If I am being realistic, they probably will. But I stood up to him last night and now I feel a little more free. 

I know that I have to forgive my mother. It is not healthy to carry that pain and resentment within me. Now, when I say forgive, I mean let go of all of this. I mean to attempt to understand where she is coming from and to finally accept all that has happened. I do not mean to let her back into my life. I yearn for my mother most nights, but I need to continue to respect myself and my pain— which she does not. Until she does, we cannot be in each other’s lives again. This is another truth I must learn to accept. hooks proposed that, “to know compassion fully is to engage in a process of forgiveness and recognition that enables us to release all the baggage we carry. It serves as a barrier to healing” (hooks 217). Releasing my baggage is a difficult task for me. At one point, it was all I had. I thought it defined me. I have to let these toxic ideas go. I have to continue working toward that compassion so that I myself may be free. 

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Jaelynn is a rising sophomore at NYU majoring in Journalism and Social and Cultural Analysis with a focus in Latino studies and is minoring in Creative Writing. The list of her hobbies is almost as drawn out as her majors are. She writes poetry, essays and stories, she dances, mentors high schoolers in the Bronx and often plans environmental events in NYU Residence Halls. She has a poem published in the introspective study Inside My World by the Live Poets Society. Despite vehemently condemning social media, she ironically has instagram which you could follow her on. 

For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC,  from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourage them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing and services.  

At the Campus Clipper, not only do we help our interns learn new skills, make money, and create wonderful e-books, we give them a platform to teach others. Check our website for more student savings and watch our YouTube video showing off some of New York City’s finest students during the Welcome Week of 2015

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Chapter 1 – Growing Up Lonely

Friday, June 28th, 2019

I was a weird kid growing up. I don’t mean sit in the corner and pick my nose weird, but I did spend a lot of time alone. Too much time alone.

Whenever kids asked me to play, they would reach for their Hot Wheels, dinosaurs, and dolls. Out of the three dolls were the absolute worst. I remember girls would dress them up, give them names, and even come up with background stories. Like, this is Amber, she’s a model for Limited Too, and she’s dating Chad. I always thought that was so stupid. Why am I pretending an inanimate object is real? It wasn’t until Toy Story that I started to second guess myself, but that’s beside the point. I preferred coloring or having DMCs, also known as deep, meaningful conversations. I was a child but oddly, I behaved like a grownup.

It was difficult fitting in with my age group, and on the off chance I met someone I got along with, it would be impossible to see them outside of school. Both of my parents worked full time, so they didn’t have the opportunity to drive me around to a friend’s house or to the mall. I was at home watching television or talking to my nanny most of the time. She was probably the only person who really knew me back then.

When my little brother Anthony was born in 2005, things changed. I had a built-in best friend. He was the cutest, chubbiest baby, and I was obsessed with holding him. My parents love to remind me that when the doctor announced it was a boy, I threw a tantrum.

I screamed, “Why? I don’t want a brother! Give me a little sister.”

The doctor had to calm me down before I alarmed any patients.

He explained, “A little sister will steal your clothes, wear your make-up, and annoy you a lot more than a little brother. Trust me.”

Well, the doctor was right. My brother was definitely annoying, but he was nothing compared to some little girls I knew. For some reason, little girls love to “do” your hair. At least, my brother never turned mine into a bird’s nest. Instead, we invented games, like the sock game, where we both start off wearing a pair of socks, and the first one to take off the other person’s socks wins. I believe I beat him every match, but I know he’d fight me on that. Over time, my brother became one of my closest friends.

Fast forward several years to middle school, and I still hadn’t found my niche. I would hang out with this group of girls because we had the same classes, and they lived one bike ride away. Nonetheless, there was constant drama within our friend group.

“She doesn’t like me? Well, f*** her. I don’t like her either.”

Even though we enjoyed talking about school and boys together, all the gossip and negativity weighed me down. I swore to myself that in high school I would escape the drama and focus on my grades. It was a dream of mine to get into a good college and make my parents proud. When they emigrated to the United States from Brazil, my mom had her high school diploma but my dad had barely finished middle school. Neither of them spoke English, and they worked day and night to give me and my brother the life we live now. Inspired by them, I said I would be the first of our family to go to a university, and that’s exactly what happened. I spent all my high school years stressing over SATs/ACTs, Advanced Placement exams, and essays. During the college application season, I wouldn’t have anyone to guide me through the process. I would have to wander through unknown territory on my own, so I began preparing early.

Because I was busy studying all the time, I missed out on many high school experiences: parties, relationships, and random, late nights with friends. I cried of loneliness and fear of missing out (FOMO) hundreds of times. At night, I would lie awake uncontrollably sobbing into my pillow so my parents couldn’t hear me. I felt alone, unloved, and unhappy. Obviously, that wasn’t the case. I had a wonderful, supportive family that cared for me, but I also had the habit of catastrophizing. In future chapters, I will talk about how I dealt with these issues.

I regret not having as much fun in high school, but the hard work eventually paid off! I was accepted to New York University (NYU), which was a huge accomplishment at my high school. Most people commit to our popular state school, Rutgers University, or a community college. The handful of students who attended a prestigious university or left the state were applauded. Never did I expect to be one of them.

I was about to embark on a life-altering journey.

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Thayz Queiroz is a junior at the NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study. Her concentration is a mixture of psychology and sociology with a focus on human behavior and why people commit crimes. She plans to attend law school upon graduation and looks forward to what the future holds. Completely unrelated, her book “Miss Independent is Taken” is about the transition from being single to starting a relationship. In her book, she shares her personal struggles with confidence, school, and love. Thayz has faced many obstacles, some discouraging and others inspiring, the past three years of college. By the end of her book, she reveals the lessons she’s learned in hopes that it will help other young adults.

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