“Note To Self”

I look at the picture that is posted above and I feel a little sad. I was in 3rd grade in that picture, and if I could tell 3rd grade me anything, I’d tell her sorry. I’d tell her not to give into what the media has pounded into her brain, the unrealistic expectations that we were all brought up on. I’d tell her that you don’t have to be a certain body type to be beautiful, to embrace the body she was given instead of shaming it. And most importantly I’d tell her she deserves to truly love herself, regardless what society projects.

For all my life I’ve struggled with body image issues. I would look at myself in the mirror and find all the things that I thought was wrong about me. From my stomach, to my arms, to the stretchmarks on my thighs, nothing was off limits. I remember watching the Tyra Banks show in the 4th grade, where she stood in front of her whole studio audience in a bathing suit she was recently shot in, where news outlets bashed her for her “imperfect” body. I remember watching Tyra choke up as she finished her speech, and I too started to get emotional.

“If I had lower self-esteem, I would probably be starving myself right now,” Banks said. “But that’s exactly what is happening to other women all over this country… To all of you that have something nasty to say about me, or other women that are built like me, women that sometimes or all the time look like this, women whose names you know, women whose name you don’t, women who have been picked on, women whose husbands put them down, women at work, or girls in school, I have one thing to say to you… KISS MY FAT ASS!”

I was young, but Tyra’s speech hit home. I’ve been insecure all my life. When people talk about weight or appearance, I cringe and hope that the attention isn’t put on me. I have a tough exterior, but the one thing that can bring me to instant (angry) tears, is when someone thinks it is okay to comment about my weight or appearance. That has always rubbed me the wrong way. Growing up I would get : “You gained weight,” “You’re getting bigger,” “You should watch what you eat,” “You would look so good if you were smaller!”… alright, dawg, you don’t think that out of all people I would know if I gained weight? And even if I wasn’t aware, I feel like it is never anyone’s place to casually bring it up.

Reyna Rochin, body builder and personal trainer, felt the pressure of the media and those around her growing up as well. She’s 100% badass, and has a huge heart. She uses her Instagram account to show her workout progress and to also share personal stories. She confessed her insecurities and personal stories on a couple of Instagram posts promoting self-love. Rochin has a ton of tattoos on her upper body and explains why.

“When I was 15, I HATED my upper body,” Rochin said on an Instagram post. “My wide shoulders and back were not what the other popular girls around me had and I was told by several boys that ‘you look like a man from behind.’ My tattoos are there because I love art and the aesthetics of tattoos but if I’m going to be honest, they are also a testament of new found self-love. My arms, shoulders, and chest used to be parts of me I loathed. And, as cheesy as it sounds, it wasn’t until taking lifting seriously did I realize that my broad shoulders could hold a 200 lb front squat no problem, or my strong chest could allow a 150 lb bench press to fly up easily.”

Rafaella Pereira also used working out to deal with her insecurities. She’s a wife, and a mother to a beautiful girl. Her Instagram feed is filled with personal stories of her struggles with body image issues. Growing up, she was told that she was fat, ugly, and dark. And for a big portion of her life, Pereira believed it.

“I would look in the mirror at times and scream, ‘you’re ugly, fat, and you will never be happy,’” said Rafaella Pereira. “I used to blame God for my lack of self-love and lack of motivation to be better.”

But Pereira has used the negativity as fuel to better herself. Her greatest accomplishment, but surely not last, was running a marathon that she would wake up every day at 5 am for. She hopes one day to publicly speak and help others.

As an older woman who is finally trying to come to terms with loving herself, accepting her body, and trying to unlearn all the things that were/ are detrimental to my peace of mind, I see and intake media differently. Up until recently I would look at pictures on Instagram of models, and I would think, “I wish I looked like that…” But ever since Ashley Graham started to break the mold in the model industry, I started looking at media realistically. There are people that edit their photos to try to uphold a “beautiful” image, they airbrush things that they don’t want you to see. But the thing is… IT’S NOT REAL. It’s all a lie. Stretchmarks, cellulite, rolls, IT’S NORMAL. EVERYONE HAS THEM. IT’S REAL.

That’s why I believe all these fashion shows are a joke. For the simple fact that not all body types are being represented. Not everyone is 5’10 or taller, under 110 lbs, with a size 0 waist. And if you are, then cool! I’m not trying to put anyone down for not being like me. However, representation is everything. Young girls and boys are growing up seeing the lack of diversity, and it encourages them to strive to be something they are not. Sometimes not even genetically possible.

Towards the end of 2016 it hit me that I basically spent my whole life hating my body. I look back to the photo above and around that age I had wrote in my diary “I’m gonna go on a diet.” I had an epiphany, and realized instead of being miserable and hating myself, I should love myself and be the person I wish I could look up to growing up. I’ve had too many instances in the fitting room when I just wanted to leave, even cried a couple of times. I’ve always been the bigger girl, and I’ve always tried to compare myself to others. I’ve vowed to try to stay body positive, even though I have my days when I feel the opposite. It’s awesome that there are people like Ashley Graham that promote self-love and accepting your curves and body type, but still also promotes the importance of a healthy lifestyle and working out.  You can be built bigger and still be healthy, but there will always be people and the media telling you that it is not okay. But it is okay. And I wish I could’ve told 3rd grade me that. It’s a long road to unlearning all the horrible things I would think about myself, but it’s so much more worth it than staying in a state of self-loathing and self-hate.

Advertisements

Not My President 

Today my friend and I attended the Women’s March in Oakland, CA. I thought it was important to go because of all the craziness that surrounded this election. 
While on BART, seeing crowds of people with signs entering the trains warmed my heart. Many brought their children, some that were old enough to walk, and some in strollers. It was a family friendly event and I was happy to be apart of it. 

I’m not one to go ham on anyone when it comes to politics. I’m usually like “believe what you want to believe, and I’ll believe what I want to believe.” BUT, this election made me realize so much that I was SOOO blinded to. 

I’m from the Bay Area, basically a diverse and accepting bubble that I was fortunate enough to be born and raised in. When the results came in on election night I was dumbfounded. “HOW?!?!” Was all I was thinking. It was a slap in the face. Here I am thinking everyone is accepting of each other whether it be race, sex, sexual orientation, etc, yet here I was looking at all these states turn red. 

After I came to the realization that he won, I had to stay off social media for a while. I do it to myself all the time, I end up going on a hash tag that I know is going to lead me to a thread of tweets or photos of those who I disagree with. It gets me worked up and my blood starts to boil as I read through people who support this man that can publicly bash certain groups of people and STILL BE ELECTED PRESIDENT! Then on instagram I would see videos or stories of people fearing for thier safety, and it really made my heart ache. 

Nobody should ever feel like they are not protected or safe. I don’t care who you are, even if you’re my family, I do not understand nor respect that man at all. I refuse to call him my president. 

As a woman of color, I marched for what I believed in. The government has no place to restrict a woman’s right to her own body. If you’re pro-life, good for you. HOWEVER, IT IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS NOR PLACE TO TRY TO TELL SOMEONE ELSE WHAT THEY CAN AND CAN’T DO REGARDING THIER HEALTH AND BODY. 

If you know me, you know I’m passionate about Planned Parenthood. It provides young adults and families with not only birth control, but check ups, pap smears, STD tests, screenings, and so much more that benefits the community. It gives families and young adults access that they wouldn’t otherwise have. It also gives the gift of CHOICE. The choice to choose when you have children, the choice to make a smarter decision and protect yourself, or the choice to terminate a pregnancy. Nobody should ever have to travel to another state to terminate a pregnancy they don’t want. And that’s what he’s aiming for. 

That is not my president. Someone who belittles women and minorities will never be my president. I marched with pride even though I know that the odds are against me. I’m a colored woman living under a racist and sexist “president.” To those who believe that we’re being sore losers, you are wrong. We just want a president that represents all of his/her people, that gives everyone equal choices, that respects ALL. And he’s clearly not that. 

Seeing all the love and support at the Women’s March gave me hope. I saw people of all races, ages, and orientation marching in peace and unity. It was truly a beautiful experience. 

Back To School- At My Own Pace

It’s getting so close to the first day of school for me at San Francisco State, so I’m starting to overthink everything from the past, the present, and what I want in the future.

If you would’ve told me 3 years ago when it was my first semester at Skyline College, fresh out of high school, that I would be transferring to SF State for Journalism 3 years later, I probably wouldn’t believe you. Back then my goal was to get out of community college in 2 years, and anything beyond 2 years would be embarrassing. Of course it didn’t happen that way. I went to Skyline College with literally no idea of what I wanted to major in. I went in  clueless on what I wanted to do with my life. I realized that I really enjoy being around little babies, so I started taking Early Childhood Education (ECE) classes. The classes were so interesting to me and it was a pleasure being in them. Learning about how children’s minds develop overtime and how different stages in their life and what happens then could impact them drastically was totally up my alley, I loved learning about children. So I got my first job as a baby sitter at a gym….. that’s open to all ages……. from 6 months to 11 years old…… AAAANNNNNNDDDD long story short, Early Childhood Education is no longer my major. Haha, I’m actually really happy that I realized earlier than later. I love my job but it made me realize that I CAN’T do this for a career because it takes a lot of patience, a characteristic I lack. I would hate to have graduated with a degree I loved, then go out and get a job and  realize “this is not for me…”

So I was grateful. I only spent my first year at community college studying child development, so I still had some time to get it together. But I also remember panicking.

“Half of my goal time is over,” I thought to myself, “I have 1 more year to get it together.”

I was back to square one and as clueless as ever. I thought I had it all planned out, and then I was lost again. I watch a lot of TV, and shows like Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (SVU) and Forensic Files had me stuck on the idea of being a detective in solving murders or other crimes. After all, I’m basically the Queen at finding information (stalking people on social media). So the start of my second year I took the intro class to Criminal Justice. The class really opened my eyes. The teacher was a retired police officer for the district my high school was in. He was a great teacher and explained concepts really well. I learned so much about the system and our rights. He also made me realize that the system is very black or white. There is no gray area in the criminal justice system, it’s either one way or the other. And that means sometimes justice is not served under certain circumstances under the law. The teacher would give different scenarios on how the law can be flawed, and then again I came to the conclusion, “this is not for me…” I have too much heart and sympathize with people too much, not to mention a weak stomach, this was definitely not the field for me.

Here I was again… UNDECIDED. How can I transfer if it’s necessary to declare a major? I thought back to when I was a kid. Usually people say make a career out of what you loved to do when you were younger. Ever since I was about 5 years old my dream was to fall in love, get married, and have babies. Yeah, no. Love ain’t gon’ pay the bills, and a baby at this age would do the exact opposite to my wallet. I thought harder. My sisters and I were always those kids during summer break to be cooped up in the house on weekdays because both my parents had work. So I would write my own books. Each summer I would start writing different books, but never seemed to finish them. I would think of different story plots and kind of just write until the story didn’t even make sense anymore. But that was me. That’s what I enjoyed to do. Writing stories.

I met up with a counselor and changed my major for the 3rd time to Cinema. After some great thought I decided to switch to Journalism just because I feel like it will give me more opportunities. So finally after 3 years and many major changes later, I’ve finally transferred to San Francisco State University. It took me a while, and I honestly felt stuck for a long time, like the wheels were never gonna start turning for me. But I’m happy I finally got to this point.

My last semester at Skyline I kept saying that I was “so done,” that I’ve lost all motivation to go to school. Not that I was actually going to drop out or anything, but I was so drained and just wanted the semester to be over. But now that summer is almost to an end, I’ve tried to gain my motivation back. And it’s not easy. I’m not gonna sit here and act like I’m so determined and motivated for this fall semester. I’m stressed, scared, and I already know these next 2-3 years are going to be challenging. Yes, 2-3 years, I honestly doubt I’m going to graduate in 2 years because then I would have to take 15 units each semester, and I don’t want to completely drain myself. I’m a firm believer of “treat yo self,” and I need a social life, a job so I can actually have money to do stuff, and I need to trust myself when I know what I can handle and know what is too much.

My older sister is smart without even trying, always basically got straight A’s in everything, my little sister is smart and works for it, and then there’s me. Don’t get me wrong, I transferred from Skyline to SF State with a 3.15 GPA, but that was by me not reading any of the books and “YOLO-ing” almost every final and test. So I barely tried and got A’s and B’s with the occasional C. My point is not to sound cocky, but that I can only imagine how my grades would be if I actually did try, if I put effort in reading the material, and not waiting until 3 am to write my papers. It’s ironic, I’m always on the Dean’s List, but I’m probably the laziest student you will ever meet. I will do all the assignments, don’t get me wrong, but I’ll wait until it’s 1-3 am to write papers that are worth so much of my grade, to the point where I’m basically begging myself for sleep. It’s a habit I’m going to try to stop starting this fall at SFSU. This is my last push, and I wanna go out with a bang.

My little sister is 2 years younger than me, and it seems she already has her school goals on track. She knows what she wants to do and she’s on top of her classes. It made me really bitter to realize that there is a pretty big chance we will graduate the same year. “How embarrassing,” I would think to myself, “I’m 2 years older and I don’t have it together.”

But I realized that I shouldn’t be bitter or low key jealous that she is on track. I’m actually proud that she is, because I was all over the place at her age with school. All that matters to me now is that I get a degree. Time doesn’t really phase me anymore. I was embarrassed that I took 3 years at community college, and was starting to feel down when I realistically realized that 2 years at SFSU would wreck me, but I’m so focused on finishing that I don’t realize how far I’ve come. At the end of it all, as long as I graduate, I’m happy.  I’m going at my own pace and should be proud of the accomplishments that I’ve already made. I don’t care how long it’ll take me, it’ll just make graduation day so much more sweeter.

With that being said, I’m low key ready for the many meltdowns that will be coming my way.

 

Helping The Family

Maya and Julian met in middle school. In fact, Maya was Julian’s playful bully. She would make fun of him because he had a thick accent because he had just moved to San Francisco from the Philippines.

They ended up going to the same high school, Lowell High, and kind of stopped talking. Until freshman year at a homecoming dance, Julian attempted to dance with Maya. She felt awkward and to this day still doesn’t know why she felt the need to tell him he couldn’t dance. Embarrassed, Julian avoided her at school from then on- even at the bus stop!

Around junior year in high school the two started to talk again and Maya had asked Julian 1 year in advance to be a rose in her debut. He accepted, and Maya swears that’s when he first started to have a crush on her.

Senior year prom season came around and the first person Maya thought to bring was Julian. She felt comfortable around him since they had a long history together. They’ve been together ever since.

It was not always easy though. They are both Filipino, and had to keep their relationship a secret for a while since some Filipino parents are very strict on dating. But Julian’s dad suffered some complications and Maya drove him to the hospital.

“I first met Tito Dante when he was admitted to the hospital, at the time they all knew me as Julian’s friend, and I drove them late nights to the hospital as well, since Julian couldn’t drive,” Maya said. “Julian always reminds me that he’s appreciative since I was there when it was hard for his family. He also helped me when my dad had a stroke too. We really grew together by helping each other and our families.”

Now both families know that they a re officially  a couple, even though it was never formally said to Julian’s family. It’s sort of a taboo topic that they just don’t bring up but still acknowledge that she is his significant other.
“Both of our families always remind us that finishing college is important,” Maya said. “It’s the Filipino culture lol: no boyfriend/girlfriend until you finish school. But for Julian and I, I feel like we got together for a reason, It’s cliche I know, but seriously I wouldn’t be able to do/ get through the things I did or accomplish the things I did without him. And I know the same thing applies to him.”

The Forbidden Couple

Ryan and Kelly are taking a big step and deciding to move in together. This is a big step for the couple, but they aren’t getting the support they wish they had.

Ryan is Indian and his family does not approve of him dating Kelly at all let alone move in with her. They want Ryan to end up with and marry an Indian girl. For this reason they do not want to meet Kelly at all.

“I think they don’t want to meet her because at first they thought it wasn’t going to last and now they just play it off like the relationship doesn’t exist,” Ryan said. “Moving in is rough because my dad helps pay rent but we thought at some point he’d stop if we made this jump. So I was looking at ways to make more money so we’d be ok to live with each other.”

When Ryan told his parents about the move, his father was really upset. A big fight broke out between the two because his  dad was not open to the conversation of Ryan moving in with Kelly.

Since Ryan’s dad helps him pay a portion of his rent, Ryan is planning to pick up a second job to just in case his dad decides to cut him off. His mom ended  up talking to the dad and now he is fine with helping out with the rent but Ryan doesn’t want to rely on his dad and then suddenly have him go back on his word.

“I didn’t talk to him for a couple weeks but he called me the other day,” Ryan said, “But I’m still not as comfortable around him as I used to be.”

When I asked how Kelly felt that they didn’t approve of their relationship, he said that at first Kelly was bummed out that they didn’t want to meet her. But now that time has passed it’s more of a frustrated “why don’t they want to meet me.”

Things might be starting to turn around because when i asked about if his mom was beginning to change her mind he said, “Yeah she’s open to meeting her and even though she isn’t too convincing about it, she says she’s ok with us moving in.”

Hopefully with time Ryan’s mom can accept the relationship and convince his dad to accept it too.

 

 

All For You

Lee Ann graduated from SFSU with a Bachelors degree in Child Development in 2015. She has the most patients with children and has the biggest heart. All her former co workers could only tell me good things about her. She’s that kind of girl that nobody can ever speak ill about even if you tried. She has a heart of gold and a passion for learning.

She is now a pre school teacher and is working on getting her credentials. She is so relieved that all her hard work has paid off, saying that once you receive that diploma, everything you had to do to get to that point will be worth it. I congratulated her on all of her accomplishments and asked how her love life is and if there is someone special in her life.

Lee Ann told me that she didn’t have the normal “high school experience” like dating, going to parties, or being young and careless because she lost her father to ASL, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. 

“Losing my Dad really made me driven,” Lee Ann said. “I wanted to succeed for him. So I threw myself into school. And because of that I tried balancing work and school. It was also how I coped with grief. I somewhat pushed aside any kind of “social life”. The busier I was, the less I had to think. Education has always been so important to me. I’ve had a love for learning. The more I learned, the more experienced I felt. It gave me a sense of accomplishment.”

Education became Lee Ann’s main focus. It was her form of coping with the grief of losing her father. She told me how growing up she wasn’t involved in any sports or other activities. When I asked her why she told me that her father traveled a lot for work, but he would always come back home on the weekends. Her mom didn’t want to enroll Lee Ann in weekend activities because the weekend was a time for the family to be all together. She said she is happy that that’s how it was.

“The other reason I did that was so that I could focus on me,” Lee Ann said. “I was so unsure of myself and lacked confidence. If I wasn’t confident in myself how could I be supportive in a relationship? But now that school is done and I’ve reflected and grown a little bit of that confidence. There is one aspect that’s missing. I look forward to the future and being there for someone. I can’t wait to be a Mom and watch someone grow. Teach them and watch the world through their eyes.”

Now Lee Ann has accomplished what she wanted to do and now has a career. Next she will fulfill her next dream: to fall in love and start a family.

“I made room for this love, how foolish me,” -Wale

Here on LoveYourzStory, I don’t only feature people’s love stories with happy endings. Life isn’t always a breeze where you find the love of your life on the first try. There is always going to be heart break and stories that people would rather not tell.

Luckily, Ulysses was open to sharing. He has been cheated on in 3 relationships and just can’t seem to catch on to the lies. Unfortunately, these experiences has molded him to not care about females anymore because he fears he will just get hurt.

One thing that bothers him is giving his loyalty and trust to someone who will just betray him in the end. So he doesn’t even give anyone the benefit of the doubt because he doesn’t want to waste his time.

“When I date a girl I give them all my time my energy and effort and dedication so that each time I get cheated on it just kills me,” Ulysses said. “And after a few I just can’t give anyone that much of my time because I am scared to get screwed over again… I feel if I’m going to be in a relationship they deserve all my time and love but that’s hard to do now when I’m being screwed over multiple times.”

To avoid getting hurt, Ulysses just hooks up with random girls and kicks them to the curb in the morning. He is okay with this type of living for now because he got out of a relationship over a year ago, so he’s just enjoying the single life.

Until the right girl comes along who deserves his time and loyalty, Ulysses is chillin’ and living up the bachelor’s life. And there isn’t anything wrong with that. Different situations make people switch up. He could be wallowing in his sadness, but instead he chooses to live his life. He’s not looking for anyone to complete him or fix him, he’s just doing Ulysses.