The Outcast Learns Acceptance

For as long as I can remember, I have felt like an outcast. Like people did not understand me. People resented me for reasons I do not know. Whether it was family, friends, outsiders I barely knew. People have always felt the need to label me or tell me why I was not good enough. I have felt like I was fed exed into this family. Being half Hispanic and half white, things never felt like they connected. My mom is from Puerto Rico and that side of the family speaks fluent Spanish. I grew up listening to Spanish music, eating Spanish food, and being around my relatives who were of an olive complexion and here I am, a little white girl with pig tails who felt like she did not belong.

My mom would tell me stories about how people in the family would say I was too white. I would have uncles and aunts who commented and cousins too. I tried so very hard to fit in, but what was the reason? Family is supposed to accept you and love you, right?

My dad’s side of the family is white, hence my name. I juggled trying to connect these two parts of myself because I am constantly greeted with doubt, hate, and uncertainty. “How can you be hispanic with that last name?” I had extended family members in Puerto Rico even ask me why my mother married a white man. Most of my relatives have dated or married into a Hispanic family; not my mom. She chose my dad. They were a blind date set up by friends of theirs; they met at a Halloween party. My mom tells me stories about how my dad was not her type. When she first saw him, she said he was short and showed up late which she did not like because my mom is a very punctual person. She said she was attracted to his personality and how he included my brother with lots of activities like going to the movies, etc. My brother and I come from two different fathers. Hence, another reason I feel like an outcast. We both have different names that are on two different ends of the spectrum. He has a fully Hispanic name and looks like my mom. Here I am, white girl with a completely white name. People would comment and whisper things like, “Is that even your brother? You must have been adopted. You guys can’t be related.” This would make me so angry. I did not care if he had a different skin tone, different name, different father. HE was MY brother and that was that.

My mom’s side of the family speaks fluent Spanish. My dad’s side does not. The relatives on my father’s side mostly married another Caucasian person. There was always a disconnect between my mother’s side of the family and my father’s side. It felt like an all out war and I did not understand the cause. I felt like I was standing in a field, while both sides of the family stood at each end waiting to attack. I stood there trying to decide which side I wanted to fit into most. I wanted so badly for both sides to come together.

We would get together at family parties and what not. But it never felt right. I had relatives on my mother’s side look down on my father because they saw him as this white man that my mother should not have married. My grandma did not choose sides. She did not resent my father or me. She welcomed us in with open arms.

My brother would often make hurtful comments. He never claimed me as his sister. He always made me feel rejected because of the father I come from. The pain from this has been unbearable. I have aches in places I never even knew existed. People in this family have looked down upon me because of the man I call my dad.

I have had people cut me out of their lives, resent me, talk badly about me, and not even give me a chance to form my own identity because I always lived in his spotlight. People assumed I was the same make as him, they wrote me off like I was nothing and I did not even have a chance to prove I was different. When I was a kid, I always felt like I was treated differently and I always wondered why.

I remember one Christmas party at my aunt’s house and I was 9 years old. While everyone exchanged gifts, my cousins received the best gifts any kid could ask for. I received a card. Kids love gifts during Christmas and here I am at 9 years old wondering why I was not included. I felt the tears start to form in my eyes. But even at 9 years old, I did not like to cry in front of others. My dad would tell me that was a sign of weakness. My mom saw I was upset and took me outside. I was always on the backburner. Always the after thought. My mom embraced me in a hug and said, “It’s okay mama. You will understand when you’re older. I can’t explain why people act the way they do. You have to be strong.” I wanted so badly to be strong, but how strong could I have been at 9 years old?

There has always been a disconnect with both sides of the family, struggling to connect both sides of my nationality, and trying to juggle the day to day pain of me feeling like I do not belong.

“Oh you’re just a little white girl, what do you know? You have a white father, you aren’t Hispanic. Why did your mother marry a white man? She could have done better.” These comments have been sketched into my memory and I want so badly to forget.

This really hits close to home because I have always felt marginalized. There were certain family members who welcomed me in with open arms and made me feel included, like I was not crazy for thinking that I was an outsider. I just wanted people to accept me. Not look at my skin complexion, or my last name, or the fact that I am half white. I always wanted to belong. To something. To a group. To a family.

I guess this is why I am so big on family. When I have my own children, I will never allow them to feel less than or like they are not good enough. It should not matter the color of your skin, or how ethnic your name may be, or what family you belong to, or how many friends you have. You should be accepted for you and no one should make you feel inferior without your consent.

I have battled hating myself for who I am and where I come from. I have hated my name. I have wanted to feel more Hispanic. I felt this need to rid myself of my white name to feel more Hispanic. To prove to this family that I do belong. I have wanted to climb out of this skin. I have tried to claw my way out. To breathe. To feel something.

I am a person. I am a human being. Because I do not share the same skin complexion as you or the same last name, I am very much a part of this family. I have struggled with accepting who I am and the family I was born into. My thoughts matter and my voice matters. What I have to say matters and I want to say these things because this has been boiling to the surface for almost 24 years of my life. So I sit here in my kitchen, with the sunlight seeping through the dining room window, and I write. And man does it feel good to tell this story. As I release these thoughts I feel a sense of healing. A sense of acceptance. A sense of grieving. A sense of finally realizing what truly matters. As the saying goes, you cannot choose your family and you cannot control the actions of others. You can choose how you respond to these actions and whether you want it to have power over you.

I choose to be strong. I choose to be me. I choose to be whole entirely on my own without the approval or validation of anyone. I stand tall because I can. I accept myself because I can. I no longer wish to allow these people who never gave a damn about me anyway to have power over me. They have no right to say these things. I have found comfort in the arms of friends who have become my family. God has given me these obstacles to learn how to love myself. To have hope. To stand tall. To make my voice heard. He has given me this talent to write so I can tell my story and hopefully inspire someone else to share their story.

All these years of wanting to fit in and you know what I learned through it all? I choose to be the outcast. I choose to be different. You do not like me? You do not accept me as your blood so be it. Life goes on. It has been an all out war trying to accept every aspect of who I am. You think I will allow others to make me feel less than when I already struggle with acceptance?

You never claimed me as your blood then, do not claim me when you see the success I will create.

“You Were Meant To Do This.”

“The saddest thing in life is wasted talent and the choices that you make will spare your life forever.”

~ A Bronx Tale


I was 4 years old when my father brought me to my first Tae Kwon Do class. I come from a family of athletes. My dad played football during his young years, my brother played as well and baseball too. He even tried martial arts, but he quit. Certain family members of mine also competed in martial arts. It was inevitable for me to join some sort of sport. I would play catch in the front yard with my dad or practice football plays when I got a bit older. I was never part of a team, until I started martial arts.

My dad would hold my hand everywhere we went. Crossing the street and on the sidewalks too. I would always say, “Oww Daddy, you’re squeezing my hand too tight.” We lived not too far away from the school. My dad drove the Camry and parked on one of the side streets.

We got out of the car. He asked, “What do we do when we are crossing the street?”

“We look both ways,” I said.

We checked twice each way and walked across the busy street to the school. The school had a burgundy colored awning and clear double doors. My dad opened the door and told me to go in. Being that I had watched my dad train in both Jiu-Jitsu and Tae Kwon Do, he always told me, it was a sign of respect to bow when you enter a Dojang (school).

Without even realizing, I bowed as soon as my dad opened the doors. I was immediately drawn to the big crowd on the red mat. Everyone wore white uniforms and I was fascinated by the high kicks and the sparring I had observed. Everything was almost like a blur, I tried to focus on one person at a time. I enjoyed the sound the gi’s (uniforms) had made when the students would throw a punch or kick. The instructor at the front of the room, who would soon become one of the most influential people in my life, would give commands and students would immediately respond with an action. I loved it all.

I sat on the bench on the side of the mat with the rest of the families watching. My dad sat there in awe too and he would explain what each movement meant and how to execute it. My 4 year old self was overwhelmed with the need to get on the mat. I wanted to be one of those people with the fancy technique.

When class was over, my dad introduced me to the instructor who told me to come back and try a class. I would join the children’s class on Saturday morning. I was a little too young to begin, but there was an exception made for me because he knew my father. The starting age for children was typically 5 years old. They had trained together back in the day. He told my dad to have me wear comfortable clothing.

I came back to the school that Saturday morning. My mother joined my father and me. We ate some breakfast, in this case, oatmeal because my mom wanted me to grow strong and she said oatmeal would help with that.

We arrived. I bowed. I took my shoes and socks off and got on the mat for the first time. It was like I was meant for this. The time I had watched my dad train definitely played a role in how I interacted with the class that Saturday morning. My dad had showed me how to throw a punch and how to curl your toes back when doing a front kick. I absolutely loved the freedom I felt when doing these techniques. I felt like a super-hero.

That was it. The beginning of my martial arts career. I went back every Saturday after that and I finally had a uniform of my very own.


My dad used to say, “You are talented without even giving your 100% effort. Imagine you gave 110%.”

I would get angry when he said this. But, he was motivating me to do and be an even better martial artist. Of course children want to hear the approval or validation from their parents. My dad was different. Instead of telling me what I did right, he would tell me all the things I did wrong and how to improve. He definitely had a different strategy, but I would not undo anything that has happened so far. His parenting and training techniques have also applied to other areas in my life. I always do my best, but I always strive for more. I want to be the best.

My dad always says, “Do not waste your talent. You were meant to do this.”

I would not be the person I am today without my dad taking me to my very first class.

Fragile

I sat by his bedside as he clung to life by a thread.

His hands were cold and wrinkled.

His breaths were sporadic and long when he inhaled.

The silence in between gasps is what frightened me most. I looked over each time to make sure he was still alive for a moment more.

The tubes and machines connected to him were overwhelming.

I sat there in the chair which messed up my back from hours of being still.

I held his fragile hand in mine.

I would rub my thumb over his to let him know I was there.

I wanted so badly for him to squeeze my hand.

The hospital floor always reeked of a gut-wrenching lemon smell.

I would stare at the black screech marks on the white tiles until the nurse would come in for her hourly checkups.

She would check the IV, ensure the machines were reading properly, and told me for the 100th time that if I needed something, she would be right out front.

I knew she was doing her job, but I did not want to hear it anymore.

Sometimes I sat in silence and other times I left the tv on in the background for some noise distraction.

I barely ate, slept, or left the room to join the outside world.

Damaged

The roof on the house was broken.

When it rained, it would seep through the ceiling in the dining room. Her mother would have to place buckets on the floor to stop puddles from forming.

It was a bone chilling cold that would find it’s way into the apartment. The weather outside always represented the mood of the house, cloudy and depressing.

The daughter often wore piles of clothing to keep warm or she would make herself a cup of tea. The parents fought constantly.

The daughter would let the heat from the tea wash over her, warming every limb in her body. She would close her eyes and wish she was anywhere but there.

She would try to focus her attention on the dripping noise of the water seeping through the ceiling.

So much water would come through that it would cause a bubble to form. It was like the water was trying to make its way through to them.

Now that she’s older, she thinks back to that leaky roof. It was a representation of everything wrong in her life.

The broken roof was a symbol of the broken household she lived in. The water bubble in the ceiling, with all the cracks of paint chipping off, represented her emotions.

Something was coming to the surface and she did not quite know what it was when she was just a kid.

As an adult, she looks back and realizes that the thing that was bubbling to the surface was her anger. Her depression. Her need to escape that house.

Stages Of Grief

I try to mutter something. Anything. I try to find the right words. I open my mouth and nothing comes out.

The best I can come up with is, “I’m sorry.”


First, I was in denial. I could not accept the fact that you were actually gone. I did not cry. My body would not allow me because it did not feel real. It felt like I would be seeing you again. Everyone around me was crying, eyes swollen from the excessive hours of sitting there because they had accepted what was happening. I did not. Mom stood tall and was brave. I felt like a coward. I hated myself for not feeling anything. I wondered why my body would not allow me to feel something, not one thing. I remember seeing my brother cry like he never has before. I never saw him cry, but this, this hit him hard. We left the funeral home and still nothing. Not one tear was shed until I made it home. Then it started to sink in. You were really gone. For real this time.

The next stage was anger. I was angry. All the time. I felt crappy, consumed by my guilt and shame. I was ashamed of how I treated you. Up until your last moments, I did not understand the stage of pain you were in. How your moments were limited. You would not be here with us much longer. I was selfish. Consumed by my own priorities. How naive I was during my teenage years. I did not yet understand the importance of cherishing each moment because I would not know which would be my last. I am angry at the world, angry with myself mostly. Why do all the good people need to be taken from us? You were a light within this darkness and we needed more of you. I have felt this rage inside of me, coming out to play every now and again. I would suppress it until I could no longer do it. My anger would come out in bursts. I would yell at my loved ones over minor spats like leaving dishes in the sink, or the house being a mess. The only thing that has been a mess is me.

You traveled from hospital to hospital. When you were in the last one, I knew this would be the final stop on the train for you. Your body was brittle, fragile, thin. It was like each hospital took more from you and your body grew thinner. Your bones consumed your skin. You were you, but not at the same time. Your body was there, but your mind was not. You could hear us and you would make motions with your hands to let us know you could hear us. The air conditioning in the room was always turned up high and that annoyed me. I remember hearing the AC turn on and off, feeling the bursts of air hit my face. I would ask myself when was the last time they cleaned the vent? The air reeked of dirt, instead of circulating air, we were greeted with dust. This mixed with the overbearing smell of Clorox was too much to handle.

My denial mixed with bargaining, the next stage. But, really all the stages have been sewn together for me. I thought it was a bad dream. Like you would wake up miraculously recovered. I did not take your illness serious because once again, I was just a naive teenager. I thought we had more time. This was my biggest mistake. Time is something we do not have enough of.

The depression hit me like a truck at a time I did not expect it to. All those years of not being able to feel anything as much as I wanted to. I suppressed my feelings and let them out as anger. I guess I struggled with learning how to process my emotions. It was as though my body, mind, and heart were at war.


I had moved out of the house when I was 22, searching for more in my life. I felt like my city held too much baggage and brought me a sadness I could not explain. As much as I would miss my family, I felt like they were broken for a while and no one wanted to accept that truth. I had to find myself out there in the world and decide how I wanted to carry out my days.

I was in another state, living in an apartment, setting the tone for how I wanted to live, but I still felt incredibly alone. It was in these moments I missed you most. I moved away from family to be on my own, but to my surprise, being by myself somewhere new did not offer me what I thought it would. Loneliness became my best friend. It consumed me entirely. It would join me at the dinner table, when I drove to work, when I sat with friends. It did not matter how many people surrounded me in the crowd, I still felt this ache in my chest, this constant sting of anxiety.

The last stage: acceptance. I do not think I have completed this stage yet. I am still learning, still evolving. I have accepted that you are gone. But, I do not think I have accepted myself. My mistakes and my actions. How I treated you. The words I said. The things I did. Will I ever reach acceptance? Will I find a way to forgive myself for how I wronged you? These questions haunt me.

Mom always says, “She has already forgiven you, so you need to forgive yourself. It will help you find peace.”

Your suffering was tragic. We could not witness how sick you had grown. All those years of taking care of others, and during your last moments, you still ensured your family felt safe and loved. I wish I could hold your hand one more time or embrace you in a hug.

As much as I crave your presence here on Earth with me, wherever you are, I hope you are smiling down on me. I hope you have found somewhere to call home. I dream of you being somewhere warm, drinking your morning cup of coffee, eating your favorite meal, and being welcomed in with open arms by the other angels.

I will see you again. But for now, I will do everything in my power to accept my wrongs, and try to become a better daughter, sister, friend, and lover. I want to spread the kindness and light you did throughout your entire life.

I hope to make you proud of me.

Time Is Fleeting


“Abuelita, soy yo, Corey.” [Grandma, it’s me.]

I felt a strong sting of pain in my chest when my grandmother did not remember who I was.

Her eyes were full of confusion as she pushed me away.


My grandmother, my abuelita, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at the age of seventy seven.

The woman who raised me for the entirety of my childhood while both of my parents worked, was taken from us too suddenly. She was here physically, but the illness worsened quickly and she had difficulties remembering any of us.

I did not know it then, but I wish I knew then what I know now. I wish I had a time machine to go back in time and live those moments once again. As an immature teenager, I took time for granted because I thought I had more of it. I hold that guilt with me everyday and it weighs me down like a pile of bricks.


The little apartment in the South Bronx on 146th Street and St. Anns, I remember like the back of my hand. My grandmother lived on the 4th floor at the very end of the long corridor with the green tiled floor which had the overwhelming smell of Clorox after they were cleaned, and the pasty white walls that looked like they went on forever. The halls always smelled of cigarettes, the sound of children playing would echo through the corridor, and the elderly couples would play their salsa music as they cooked. The aroma of arroz con gandules [rice with peas] would overtake your senses, but in a good way.

The elevator in the building was painted a neon orange color, which stood out from the rest of the mundane colored walls. Sometimes my mom and I would end up waiting 20 minutes or so for it to pick us up on the ground floor. I would bring my book-bag full of books to read and coloring books. I have always been an avid reader. Abuelita would always have crossword puzzles to do when I would got tired of reading. My mom would drop me off around 6am and before she would leave, she would say, “You better not give grandma a hard time, and make sure you do your homework. She is going to give me a report when I come back. If you misbehave, no ice cream after dinner.” I would give Mommy a nod and run immediately into the living room.

You had to walk through 3 different doors to reach the end of the corridor. My grandma was the last door on your right hand side and lived right next door to this wonderful Puerto Rican family, who always looked out for my grandmother especially when she became really sick. I used to have play dates with the family’s grandchildren. My grandmother always kept me in sight, as she was a worrier and watched me like a hawk. The girls and I would play hide and seek or with our barbie dolls.

The living room was decent sized, the floors were square white tiles, which were always freezing cold whenever my cousin Kimberly and I would sit there as grandma brushed our hair. The sofa was black and white, covered with a plastic lining to avoid it from getting dirty. The television was situated by the door across from the sofa. On the wall to the left of the sofa was this oval shaped, gold mirror my grandmother had hung up for years. By the window behind the sofa, my grandmother kept all of her plants. She had a green thumb and loved to care for them. She would water them every morning at the same time. To the right of the sofa was a dresser that held family photos and many of her elephant decorations she loved to collect. This is why most of my family members today keep some resemblance of an elephant whether its a key-chain, a stuffed animal, elephant salt and pepper shakers, a dining set with elephants printed on them, or a tattoo on our bodies.

To the right of the living room was the dining room table. The kitchen was pretty small. The microwave, stove, and fridge were lined up side by side on the same wall. My grandma kept her coffee pot, microwave, and toaster on the counter top, with her little jar she would keep sugar in. The hallway consisted of the closet which held jackets and coats, towels, shower curtains, and miscellaneous household items. The first door on your left was my uncle’s bedroom which fit a bed, a TV, a dresser, and had a small window in the corner. If you continued walking straight, the bathroom was the smallest part of the house. The toilet fit in one corner, you had the sink, the cabinet above the sink, and the shower. The last section of the apartment was my grandmother’s room where I spent most of my time. I slept in there with my grandma when we would have sleep overs. I would spend hours in there watching Cyber-chase during the early morning hours, once my homework was finished of course, and once it hit noon, my grandma and I would sit and watch The Price Is Right, while drinking our cafe with toast. I was not allowed to drink coffee until I was in about middle school, so most of the time grandma would make me some farina for breakfast.

Once The Price Is Right ended, we would both take a walk to the corner store, the ‘bodega,’ [corner store.] We would lock the door, walk down the corridor, and wait the 15 minutes for the elevator to arrive. When we entered, Abuela would tell me to be careful not to touch the walls or the buttons because residents would often urinate in there. It would take about 5-10 minutes to reach the ground floor, depending on if we stopped at other floors to pick up more people. When we finally reached the ground floor, Abuela would check her mailbox and we would begin our afternoon activities. I was not allowed to walk anywhere without holding her hand. Our walk was always filled with neighbors greeting my grandmother and wishing her well. We walked about 2 blocks before we reached the supermarket. The school children would usually be outside eating the ices they had just bought. The elderly men would stand outside and speak to each other about their days. I would usually push the blue cart for Abuelita because I enjoyed doing it. I felt like a grown-up doing my grocery shopping. She would go immediately over to the lotto counter to play her numbers and I was tall enough to see all the candy. I would peer through the glass and ask Abuela if she could buy me a lollipop or a milky-way, which was my favorite. She would always tell me I needed to take care of my beautiful teeth and in order to prevent cavities, we would limit the amount of candy I could eat. She would buy me one piece of candy and we would proceed to do our food shopping.


When we returned to the apartment, we would put away groceries and Abuelita would begin cooking lunch or early dinner. I absolutely adored when she made my favorite, arroz con salchichas [rice with sausages] and to drink, we would either have pineapple soda or mango juice, which was Abuela’s favorite. We would sit to eat and Abuela always served everyone else first. She would ensure we had our drinks, napkins, and utensils. She would eat standing up, but she always waited until the pot was half empty so she could take the burnt portion of the rice. After we ate, she would sit with me in front of the TV, brush my hair, and make braids to contain my long curly locks. We would spend the rest of the afternoon watching novelas until my mom came to pick me up. If Abuela gave a good report, I would be rewarded with ice cream as Mommy had promised.


When she was first diagnosed with this illness, the doctors told us she would have lucid moments where she would remember us. But it was hard to tell when the switch would flip and she would leave us again.

I felt at home wherever she was. The confines of that apartment are embedded in my memory. There was a certain stillness I felt when I was with my grandma. I always felt safe and loved. When she was taken from us, I lost that sense of home and sense of purpose. I have struggled with overcoming my guilt of not spending more time with her, but I know she has forgiven me. Whenever I need a little pick me up, I feel her here with me. I feel her presence. And when I’m feeling so lost, like I cannot find my way through the wreckage, she leads me to the light once more.

Time is fleeting. I know you are in a better place now watching over us, my sweet guardian angel.

Te amo. . . [I love you]

this photo is my own.
Charleston, South Carolina.

‘whenever I feel like I have lost all sense of direction, you send me a sign that all will be okay and you are here with me, always. my forever angel.’

Breakdowns Lead To Breakthroughs


There comes a point when life can get overwhelming. You feel as though you cannot catch a break and everything is weighing down on your shoulders. You want to give up. You want to give in. You feel like no matter how hard you try, things do not go as planned. We can plan things to the T, but life will happen the way it is meant to. Being a young adult in her early 20’s, life is tough. We are trying to find ourselves at this age, form and shape our identities despite what we are told by society and previous generations.


I am a planner. I like to organize and have plans A, B, and C ready to go if my first option falls through. I like the idea of knowing what it is going to happen next. It is nerve wracking when I feel like things are slipping through my fingers and I cannot control the outcome. This is something I have struggled with for quite a long time. But I am working on it. When something does not happen the way I planned it, I become overwhelmed with anxiety and feel worthless. My mom tells me that I can have courage to change things within my control and have wisdom to know when I cannot.


We are all human. We all need a break sometimes. If you are the type that is hard wired to constantly stay busy and put others needs before your own, all power to you. But you need a break too. My mom is the type to do this and she often forgets to take care of herself. You cannot help others if you are not helping YOU. Like the saying goes, “You cannot pour from an empty cup.” Self-care is crucial.


I think there is a certain beauty in failure. Allowing ourselves to feel, grieve, be angry, scream, or whatever we need to do to feel better. We cannot get better until we acknowledge what is happening and choose to face the issue head on. Sometimes it’s easy to run away. If you choose to stay and deal with the problem, this will make you stronger. Each downfall leads to a breakthrough. Each failure and disappointment can lead to something much better than we even expected.


This may sound cliche, but there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. It may be dark now, but you can make it out of whatever it is you’re feeling. Life may be tough, but we are not given anything we cannot handle. We can ask for help and surround ourselves with people who want to see us strive for more and become successful.


There is so much beauty around us that we all fail to see. Like how the sun shines brightly through your window in the early mornings, lighting up your room through your peach colored curtains. How that first sip of coffee courses through your veins warming up your entire body. How your animals greet you when you come home from a long day. Like how good it feels to be hugged. Like how reading our favorite book or watching our favorite movie for the 100th time still feels like watching it for the first time. How sleeping in on the weekends feels like the greatest gift. How the seasons always bring a sense of new beginning. How the leaves change colors in the Fall. Being able to drive on the parkway with your windows rolled down and music blasting. How during the winter season, everything becomes a winter wonderland. Watching flowers bloom and start fresh in the Spring. They get to start over again too. Being able to breathe fresh air, being alive, being healthy, and being with family and loved ones. Most of these blessings we take for granted.


Life is so very short, so let’s cherish everything and everyone that we have in our life.


this photo is my own.
taken in Central Park, New York City.

Behind The Scenes Of Living In NYC


I was born and raised in New York City. I never understood everyone’s fascination with wanting to come to the big apple. Maybe if you grew up in a small rural town in the middle of nowhere, then I could understand why. I went to college here. As badly as I wanted to go away, I stood behind as most of my friends left for schools out of state. You fall into the same routines daily and everything becomes mundane. Taking the train into the city, dealing with the crowds, the taxis zooming through each street, cars honking, people shoving you, garbage everywhere, the mixed aroma of peanuts and urine on the streets. Almost every street corner has someone selling tickets to what they consider to be, “the best comedy show in the city.” Tourists get sucked in every time. If you were born in this city, 9 times out of 10 you know how to navigate these kinds of situations. It is difficult to cross streets sometimes when you have tourists taking photos in the most inconvenient spots. You also have models being photographed in the middle of traffic which is quite dangerous.


You pay ridiculously expensive prices for food you can make at home. One thing I can say is this, you will not find pizza like ours. We also have really good Italian food and BAGELS. Now that I moved out of state, these are the things I miss most, FOOD. People will wait hours on line to get kale smoothies that cost about $12.50 for a small bottle. Never understood why people insist on paying $15 for a salad you can make yourself. You can never find a Starbucks that is empty. You almost always have to make a reservation if you want to have a fancy dinner downtown or else you will wait hours. Food carts on the street are popular with tourists, but little do they know that some of these vendors do not wash their hands, then they touch your food. Be mindful of this. Madison Avenue is known for having the high end stores like Gucci and Prada. Door men stand by the door ready to escort customers inside, who are willing to pay 5k on a purse that is made out of vinyl, just to say its Prada. People are not well mannered and do not know how to say, excuse me, or thank you, or sorry. It is like $5 for one minute if you choose to ride in those carts tourists always manage to get persuaded into. Traffic is ridiculous. If you are a pure bred New Yorker, you are smart enough to not drive into the city. During Christmas time, people spend loads of money to say they ice skated in Rockefeller Center, where they are wearing disgusting and unsanitary ice skates on their feet, that thousands of people have worn before them.


If you are an animal lover and do not like to see homeless animals, do not go to Times Square. You see many dogs living on the streets with their owners. I have lived in NY my whole life and this makes me so emotional every time I see it. Times Square is the heart of the city I would say. Upcoming dancers put on a show for tourists where they do jumps and flips and much more. You see many Nannies strolling through the streets with the 5 kids they get paid to babysit. Middle aged mothers on their morning or afternoon jogs. Men in suits rushing to catch the train. You have upcoming musicians on different street corners playing their instruments with their equipment bag or a cup by their side where people can throw money.


I can understand wanting to be a part of a big city, where no one knows your name, and you rarely see the same person twice. Making a name for yourself here is extremely nerve wracking and anxiety filled. Countless people come here to pursue their careers as musicians, actors/actresses, writers, and much more. This way of life is not for everyone. People are aggressive, it is fast paced, and often overwhelming. You cannot be naive and you have to always have your guard up. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.


I grew up here so it’s different for someone who has never experienced NYC. Although it is not my cup of tea, I am grateful for what I have learned while living here and for the friends I have made. I have had the opportunity to travel and with that said, I have experienced other areas and ways of living. Being that I come from a fast paced, always-on-the-go mentality, it is difficult for me to adjust to a lifestyle where everything is slower paced. I have a love-hate relationship with the city, but I do not regret where I came from.


this photo is my own.
Lexington Avenue, Hunter College, NYC.

Rise


spring brings new beginnings

you learn to bloom again

despite being stepped on and mistreated

you rise


each time we stand tall, we come back stronger

do not fear the change of the seasons

something may be in store for us that we did not even expect

this photo is my own.
Central Park, NYC.

Resilience

~ for anyone needing a little pick me up

when we are in the moment

feeling everything so very deeply

being consumed by this sadness and our thoughts that will not shut off

completely hopeless feeling like we cannot take one more step forward

this is when we need to fight like we’ve never fought before

as hard as it may be, take your time

time heals all wounds

let yourself feel, but always try and keep fighting

as cliche as this may sound, it is the truth

as much as it may hurt right now, that pain will end

your heart is still beating

you are resilient

you will overcome this and find something so much more

just hold on a little longer

this I promise you

this photo is not my own.

~ if you have made it this far, you can make it through this