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  • Articles, GirlSpring.com, Mental Health, Stress

    What Having a Birthday on 9/11 is Like

    Photo of 9/11


    9/11 is a day that every American recognizes. From annual news specials on television to first-hand accounts read at school, there are constant reminders of that fateful day. I grew up as many other kids born in the early 2000s. We would learn about different tragedies happening to individuals that day, which contributed to a greater tragedy concerning all Americans. When people ask when my birthday is, they respond one of two ways: they act like it’s normal and try to keep a straight face without showing pity, or they face it head on and express their condolences as if I lost someone in the event. I always wait to see which reaction they give,  leading to a peek into their personality. At least it is a conversation starter.

    In first grade we had an assignment to go home and research something that happened on our birthday. Because I was a 7 year-old who was quite ignorant to the actual events of that day but just thought it was a “bad day.” I went home so excited to see if I could find something good that happened on my birthday. I asked my mom to help me, and she was clearly hesitant about the assignment. Nonetheless, she agreed to look into it with me. She expected to have to file through a lot of articles on 9/11, but she thought that surely we could find something positive. However, besides several celebrities being born that day, we found nothing. I started crying and asked why we couldn’t find anything, and she had no answers for me. 

    In fifth grade we went on a school field trip to Washington D.C. I was so excited to see the White House– all of the famous monuments and especially the Smithsonian. When we got to the Newseum, I was thrilled to see the display of a real newsdesk and other objects that were famously stored there. However, the visit darkened when we spent thirty minutes of the tour at the 9/11 exhibit. The walls were covered in the original headlines for the event from that day. There was also a piece of one of the towers placed in the middle standing several stories high. I started to get upset, and I told my mom. She asked the tour guide and teachers if we could go someplace else just so I wouldn’t have to endure it as long as the others did. She has never shielded me from it, but I already knew many of the details, and she thought she might as well save the day of wonder in D.C. if she could. She had shown me films, documentaries, and short films so I could be informed that it wasn’t a “bad day” for no reason.

    In seventh grade, we watched a livestream of people affected by 9/11 giving speeches in Washington D.C. I remember trying to hold the tears back as I finally broke down and ran to the bathroom. One of my friends in the grade above me came into the bathroom and asked if I was okay. She believed me when I said I had bad allergies, and I was left in peace even though I have never had seasonal allergies. It was on that day that I realized how unfortunate it was that I was crying on my birthday. I realized that I would probably cry on every birthday after that. I had cried before on my birthday for the same reason, but I never really thought about the fact that I would be dealing with this for the rest of my life. 

    I would like you to notice, yourself, on that day listening to stories on the radio or researching the news coverage. Then, I would like you to imagine that it was your birthday. I am deprived in a way that birthdays are meant to be–days that you can be completely narcissistic and have everything centered around you. However, I always feel an obligation to not make it about me. I feel an obligation to make it about anything but me. My birthday is a day when millions of people suffered the devastation caused by outside forces to our homeland. My birthday is a day when brothers lost sisters and sisters lost brothers. My birthday is an annual day of flag lowering and prayer throughout the nation. My birthday is a reminder of disaster, loss, and hopelessness. 

    I am not trying to throw a pity party through this article. Clearly, the actual events and stories that happened on that day were far worse than anything that has affected me. Everyone should know about what happened, why it happened, and how to prevent it from happening again. I am thankful, in a way, that it is my birthday because it grounds me in reality. It is an annual reminder that if we want this world to be a better place, it starts right here at home. It is tough, and I have taken off from school on my birthday at times to just get away from it. Luckily, my friends and family are incredibly sympathetic and try to make it as happy as it can be. I am writing this to explain my experience and acknowledge an annual phenomenon on that day besides the one we all know. If you ever meet anyone born on 9/11, all we want from you is a happy birthday wish and a smile. Any little moment of positivity on that day brightens our day to be brighter than the last. I aspire to make each birthday better than the last. I try to inject it with as much positivity as the laws of physics can bestow. I will, hopefully, be experiencing it for a long time, after all.

  • Articles, Bullying, Confidence, Environment, GirlSpring.com, Interview, Lifestyle, Local, Mental Health, Relationships, School, Sexual Health, Social, Stress, Tough Questions, Writing

    Deciding To Come Out

    coming out

    ( Author’s Note: This website is for women empowerment. Men and Women can be feminist, therefore there are some males in this article.
    bri xx )

    Coming Out

    Coming out and discovering your sexuality is a really touchy subject and not everyone is comfortable with talking about their experiences. Although, it is a sensitive subject I know people (especially those who aren’t out yet) like to hear other LGBTQ+ coming out stories. Everyone’s story, of course, will be different! Some were accepted while others maybe weren’t. I had an okay experience which made me very curious about what other LGBTQ+ peoples’ experiences were. This led me to interview a few people with different cultural backgrounds to see how their experience went. I asked them all the same four questions.

    Here are their responses:

    Hayden Robinson
    Current Age: N/A
    Age You Came Out: 15
    Gender: Male
    Sexuality: Gay

    When did you discover you were apart of the LGBTQ+ community?

    During middle school, it felt kind of awkward walking through the underwear aisles. He started to realize when he had a crush on rapper Flo Rida.

    When and Why did you decide to come out?

    It all was a bit of a process, the first person he told was already a part of the LGBTQ+ community. He told them over Instagram demos, but then told them to delete their conversation. Then in November, he told his sister. The next month, he told his mom, and the month after that, his father. Soon, he told his stepmother on Valentine’s Day. Eventually, he told his close friends, but he still wasn’t out to everyone which affected his mental health. So, one Friday afternoon, he made a Snapchat story saying he was gay.

    What were your responses from friends, family, teachers, etc?

    Most of them knew already. Sister thought it was awesome that they could talk about boys together. Mom took it hard and was scared. Dad was kind of quiet and didn’t ask many questions besides how long did he know he was a part of the LGBTQ+ community. Stepmom didn’t think it was a big deal.
    Friends were excited and pretty much already knew it.

    Looking back, are you happy with your decisions on coming out?

    He is very happy about it! He would not be where he is today if he hadn’t come out. His family and friends are also still very supportive.

    Linus
    Current Age: 16
    Age You Came Out: 14
    Gender: Female
    Sexuality: Queer / Doesn’t really like labels though.

    When did you discover you were apart of the LGBTQ+ community?

    Younger, people would say a lot of homophobic things and she would take up for the LGBTQ+ community, not really realizing she was just standing up for herself.

    When and Why did you decide to come out?

    It wasn’t really formal, she just kind of talked about a crush who was apart of the LGBTQ+ community.

    What were your responses from friends, family, teachers, etc?

    Overall, friends acted normally while one “friend” tried to fully push her out of the closet which resulted in her cutting them off.

    Looking back, are you happy with your decisions on coming out?

    She’s only out to friends, but is happy about making that decision. She plans on coming out to family when ready.

    Carter

    Current Age: 15 turning 16
    Age You Came Out At: 12
    Gender: Transgender Male
    Sexuality: Bisexual

    When did you discover you were apart of the LGBTQ+ community?

    The first time was when he was in a hospital and met people a part of that community. During that time, he was given a chest binder and a packer and decided to try it.

    When and Why did you decide to come out?

    He came out as bisexual when he was twelve around thanksgiving time. He came out as transgender at fourteen.

    What were your responses from friends, family, teachers, etc?

    Friends weren’t accepting at all and didn’t really understand it.
    Mom was giving him the talk when he came out as bisexual and was okay with it. Dad didn’t really care, but questioned if he was really sure he was bisexual. When coming out as transgender, his mom was confused and not accepting. She thought he was too young to make that decision. Four years later, Mom has accepted it but doesn’t want him to make rash decisions.
    Parents told teachers to call him a different name but didn’t tell them that he is transgender.

    Looking back, are you happy with your decisions on coming out?

    Yes and No, he’s still battling with a couple of different things. Wishes he hadn’t told friends, but glad he came out to his family otherwise he would still be confused about things.

    Jamiah
    Current Age: 16
    Age You Came Out At: 15
    Gender: Female
    Sexuality: Lesbian

    When did you discover you were apart of the LGBTQ+ community

    In seventh grade. The first year at a new school and decided that she wasn’t attracted to guys anymore.

    When and Why did you decide to come out?

    Made the decision to come out because she didn’t want to hide anymore and just wanted to be honest with herself.

    What were your responses from friends, family, teachers, etc?

    Mom and Brothers already knew and did not care nor treat her differently. Dad doesn’t know and is not gonna tell him because she feels he just won’t understand. Friends were really happy and weren’t really shocked.

    Looking back, are you happy with your decisions on coming out?

    Yes, Very Happy. She was just tired of hiding it and finally happy she can be open about her relationships.

    Talking with these individuals opened my eyes a lot.

    You always hear stories about people’s coming out experiences. Some are like a happy fairy tale ending. Some are not so happy and end with people taking their own lives. Not everyone is gonna be accepting of the LGBTQ+ community, but every individual has a right to express themselves and not be treated differently or less than anyone else in this world. Coming out is not the easiest to do so wait until you’re ready and are comfortable with sharing it to friends, family or anyone. Don’t let anyone force you to do anything you don’t want to do. If you are not comfortable with coming out, it’s perfectly fine, no pressure, but know that, even if it doesn’t feel like it, there are many people out there who love and support you.

    If you do come out and you start to experience verbal, physical, emotional abuse or any form of bullying, tell someone. Don’t let other people’s stupidity make you feel bad about being yourself. Hopefully, reading other people’s stories helped or educated you a little bit on how different everyone’s reactions and how it changed or didn’t change their lives.

    much love,
    bri xx

    Everyone deserves to feel comfortable being themself, gay, straight, bi, trans, whatever! Check out some tips on being comfortable in your own skin.

    If you are thinking about coming out but don’t know how to, or have more questions than you can count, look at the Human Right’s Campaign’s Coming Out Resource Guide.

  • GirlSpring.com, Stress

    Kick Stress to the Curb!

    Stress Management

    Kick Stress to the Curb

    & Kick Butt at Life!

    Students are exposed to a barrage of stressors during the college experience, from growing pains associated with adjusting to college to everyday factors like social pressures and work responsibilities.

    A 2016 poll conducted by the American College Health Association found that 34.4% of college students reported that stress had negatively impacted their academic performance over the past 12 months.

    Stress was the single most common inhibitor on academic performance reported by students, followed by depression, anxiety, and sleep difficulties.

    These increased stress levels come with some dire consequences.

    College students exposed to chronic stress can suffer from several long-term side effects, including developing insulin-dependent diabetes.

    Additionally, suicide rates amongst college-aged students are three times higher than they were in 1950, as described by the American College Health Association statistics published in Psychology Today.

    The number of college students who suffer from stress-related ailments appears to be on the rise.

    According to the National Center for Education Statistics, enrollment in degree-granting institutions increased by 11% from 1991–2001 and another 32% from 2001–2011. What’s more, survey data from the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors suggests that many large institutions have not attained pre-2008 recession budgets. The cards are stacked against counseling centers that have lower budgets and fewer resources that must help more students than in the past.

    Occasional stress is an unavoidable part of everyday life.

    Small amounts of stress can even have a positive effect, allowing us to push ourselves when we encounter a difficult task.

    However, high levels of stress over a prolonged period of time are linked to increased rates of depression, anxiety, cardiovascular disease, and other potentially life-threatening issues. This makes it all the more important to learn how to manage your stress before you suffer any adverse effects.

    The following guide will introduce you to potential stress risks, stress management techniques, and resources that are available to all college students.

    https://www.bestcolleges.com/resources/balancing-stress/

    https://www.bestcolleges.com/resources/student-healthcare-guide/

    For more information on this topic and more, visit BestColleges.com

  • Bullying, Home Life, Lifestyle, Mental Health, Stress

    Broken Glass: Short Story

    Jenna Prez raced home from school blood dripping down her face as the bruise on her forehead pulsates. She didn’t take much time throwing her bookbag down and running off to the bathroom the check the damage. She stares in the mirror not cleaning herself up but letting the blood drip from her mouth, and tears from her eyes. Why can’t the leave us alone, she thinks, can’t they mind their own business. Jenna goes to an all girl catholic high school where she met her first girlfriend, Regina Price. She had always known she was not attracted to boys, but until Regina, she wasn’t sure she was attracted to anyone. They had kept their relationship ‘on the down low’ for the past three months enjoying the secrecy of their teenage love. They would go on secret dates and hold hands pretending only to be best friends. There secret was well hidden until today when another girl, Janet Kinkle, saw Jenna kiss Regina on the cheek under the bleachers during gym. Jenna and Regina were unaware of Janet’s presence until they got back to the locker room where six of Janet’s friends were waiting on them. As soon as Jenna and Regina walked through the door, the other girls pummeled them to the floor scratch and punching them while yelling derogatory terms for lesbians. The coach, eventually, heard the commotion and broke up what was going to seem like a fight and not a clear attack on two innocent girls. Jenna and Regina were sent to the office for their misbehavior and were sentenced to three days of suspension while also having a call to home for what they had been hiding. The principal didn’t punish the other girls because she understood why they were enraged by this ‘immoral’ behavior. Jenna hears a loud knocking on the bathroom door, and she checks the time on her apple watch. Her mother was home from work. She builds up the courage she can and opens the door, and as soon as she meets her mother’s eyes, she is slammed into the door by her mother’s hand. Her mother slapped her across the face with tears in her eyes stating Jenna would never see Regina again, and she is disgusting. Her mother walks away, and Jenna shuts the door once again staring at herself in the mirror- not crying or speaking-only staring. She had no one in her life who fully accepted her but Regina, and now Regina was gone. Jenna was completely alone. Her breathing becomes heavy, and she slams her fist into the mirror breaking her reflection.

  • Articles, Health, School, Stress

    Self-Care Isn’t Selfish

    Self-Care Isn't Selfish

    Self Care ≠ Selfish

    Because being self-aware does not make you self absorbed

     

    I feel like I’m always enveloped in some sort of activity— finishing an assignment or project for school, cleaning my room and bathroom for the third time in a week, or spending time with my closest friends, doing anything from running errands to talking about our days.

    Recently, I’ve realized that there’s never a moment where I take a moment to breathe. A moment to relax, to clear my thoughts.

    Don’t do this. Make time for yourself, whenever it’s possible.

    After years of spreading myself too thin, I’ve finally recognized a crucial aspect about myself: I cope with stress and anxiety by keeping busy. Whenever I’m alone with my thoughts, I begin to think about all of the other, more productive things I could be doing at that moment. I feel guilty for taking a break.

    It’s difficult to define stress; it can present itself in a multitude of ways, ranging from napping to the inability to concentrate. However, once you’re able to detect when you’re stressed, much like I did, you can discover how to alleviate it. Is confronting your emotions easy? No. But is it worth it? Definitely.

    Self-care is not selfish. I have to repeat this mantra to myself every single day, and chances are, so do you. You’re allowed to be your own priority.

    One of my favorite anti-stress methods, and one that has helped me the most is journaling. Through writing my emotions, I have learned so much about myself, including how to identify my emotions and why I’m feeling that way.

    I’m not a fan of pushing my problems onto other people, so through journaling, I’ve found a way to express my thoughts and relieve myself of the pressure they put on me. After putting my feelings on paper, I typically engage myself in “me time.” This concept, something that leaves you feeling rejuvenated and refreshed, varies from person to person. It takes some trial and error to learn what works for you. Common methods are taking a bubble bath, applying a face mask, engaging in a type of exercise, or listening to your favorite music– as long as you’re doing something you love, you’ll come out the other end feeling better than before.

    As broad and cliché as it sounds, try to shut your brain off. Release the stress and worry of the day and be present in whatever you’re doing. We tend to become so wrapped up in our worries that we miss out on opportunities that can take the edge off, such as goofing around with friends or getting lost in the latest episode of New Girl.

    Stress is completely normal.

    So don’t be discouraged whenever that all-too-familiar feeling rolls around; above everything else, don’t burn yourself out by ignoring it. Recognize and accept what you’re feeling. Take a break to do something you love. Acknowledge that the feeling won’t last forever– you’ll wake up tomorrow, regardless of what happens day, to a fresh start.

  • College, Confidence, GirlSpring.com, Goals, Mental Health, Puberty, School, Stress, Tips, Tough Questions

    Uncertainty is Actually A Positive Thing

    Uncertainty is Actually A Positive Thing

    By Maggie Thompson

     

    Being uncertain is a feeling with which we are all familiar.

    A looming pressure to know exactly what we want in life is placed on us as early as middle school – if not before. This question of what we want our lives to be is actually ridiculous. How could one possibly know what they truly want if they have yet to decide what they do not?

    Uncertainty is how we learn.

    When we acknowledge our uncertainty, we open the door for more opportunities. This is because knowledge is not obtained without first admitting its absence.

    Experiences shape our beliefs – on everything.

    Hesitating to wear a certain color, deciding to study before a test, and avoiding certain types of people are all decisions made due to past experience. We believe the color yellow is not flattering for our skin tone because we read it in a magazine, we study before a test to avoid a failing grade, and we choose not to befriend dishonest people so that we don’t get hurt. Regardless of how big or small the belief – it is formed by past experience. However, some of these beliefs will alter as we learn and grow. This is a good thing. Being open to new challenges provides a chance for a new perspective.

    As a result, being uncertain is the best way to unlock change and growth.

    Do not be afraid to admit uncertainty or lack of knowledge, for this is how truth is uncovered – through exploration. So when you are feeling down about not knowing exactly which direction to go, accept that some of the steps you have taken thus far have been incorrect. Although this feeling is initially terrifying, it begins to dissolve as soon as you take the first step into the unknown. Because before you know it, you will find yourself happier and more engaged with life.