Analyzing My Instagram

I made this video of myself where I analyze my Instagram feed and ask myself the questions: Why am I posting this? How do I want people to perceive me? How do I accomplish the image I’m trying to portray on social media? Is my social media accurate with what’s going on in my real life? I analyzed my Instagram and came up with 5 things about me that I try to reflect online. I’ve realized that I really want people to know that 1. I’m a writer, 2. I have a blog, 3. I’m obsessed with J.Cole, 4. I’m from the Bay Area, and 5. I’m a body positive advocate and a feminist. I’ve provided screenshots from my actual Instagram profile to be completely open and truthful, but to also show what specific pictures and posts I’m talking about.

I thought it was important to dissect social media in particular because it’s such a big part of our lives. I personally think that people try so hard to uphold a certain image online, and at times, it can be very detrimental to ourselves and others. We tend to compare our lives to those around us, and if all we see are curated, happy, “I’m livin’ my best life,” photos all the time, it can leave some viewers feeling like they need to measure up to something unachievable. It’s like a competition of “Who has the better life?” It’s more common to see happy pictures and moments posted up on the ‘gram, rather than in-depth self-reflecting posts. I’ve written a couple stories on social media and the effects it has on people and how they view themselves. And I’ve found that social media tends to make people feel worse about themselves- whether that be their appearance, their self-esteem, their jobs, their life decisions, or their life in general. Social media is so readily available to view, but this also opens the door for constant criticism and comparing. People are so fixed on broadcasting certain aspects of their lives, but you will never really know the entirety of someone’s life through social media. You’ll just know what they want you to know, what they choose to show you. Like I said in my video, it’s like playing mind games with your followers. It’s not like we’re doing anything malicious, but it’s still trying to persuade your audience to view you in a certain way.

When I was analyzing my Instagram and asking myself these questions as to why I posted them, and what image I’m trying to project, I had my moment. One of those self-reflecting moments where you’re sitting there trying to make sense of everything, and all of a sudden the stars align and everything makes sense and you hit enlightenment. Just kidding, it wasn’t that deep. But I really had a moment of clarity, where I’m like, “ohhhhh…. Ok, so that’s what I’m trying to show, because X, Y, Z.” I think that’s what’s really important. The why behind what we post. What’s the motive? What is it accomplishing? Is the explanation as to why I post things detrimental, or a toxic way of thinking? I believe self-reflecting this way can help someone see their real motives. When I was recording myself talking about why I post things, I felt a little embarrassed to give my “why.” Only because we’re so used to uploading things with a witty or meaningful caption, but never the reason behind posting.

You’ll only know what they want you to know, is what I’m leaving with after this video. Even if someone documents their everyday life regularly, you’ll never really know someone’s truth just by their social media accounts. I was scrolling through my profile and chuckled in my brain a little. Yeah, y’all know I’m a writer, I broadcast it all over and post up my work consistently. But did you know that I’m actually very insecure about posting my work? Did you know that I sometimes wonder if I should even post it up because I have that doubt of, “who will even care?” Yeah, I have a blog. But did you know that I only made it because a class required me to? And did you know that I wanted to make a blog before that but never had the courage to do it? Did you know I kept the blog a secret- aside from those in my class- for about 6 months because I wasn’t confident enough to publicize it? Yeah, J.Cole is my favorite artist of all time… Actually, there’s no revelation for this point, haha. I fuck with J.Cole and I don’t care if you get annoyed of my J.Cole posts J . Yeah, I’m from the Bay Area and proud! But did you know that I constantly beat myself up over the fact that I probably have to live and settle down somewhere else because of how ridiculously expensive it is here? Did you know that I see the neighborhoods that I grew up in changing, and that it makes me really sad? Yeah, I identify as a body positive advocate and feminist. But did you know that I still have those days where I struggle to accept my body? Were you aware that I am so passionate about this topic that I cried in front of my whole class when pitching a body positive podcast idea to a well-known podcaster? Probably not. And that’s my point.

There is so much more to you that your audience will never know. You are the only person that can figure out your why. I’m putting this out there in hopes that someone views it and it changes them, or impacts them in a positive way. I hope that if anyone decides to analyze their own social media, and they realize they’re posting for toxic behaviors, that they reflect on it and find peace within themselves.

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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.”

Cheering Them On

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Abdallah first met Gabriella on the SFSU cheer team. At first, Abdallah was interested in someone else who encouraged him to join the team. However, things kicked off for Abdallah and Gabriella 2 months later where they went to a cheerleading competition in LA and had to share a bed. On the car ride home, they sat next to each other and talked the whole way through. When they got back to San Francisco Abdallah asked if he could take her on an official date. The rest is pretty much history.

Abdallah is Filipino and Egyptian, so his father is strongly against him dating Gabriella because their religion. But Gabriella’s family is accepting of Abdallah. Her mom adores him.It was hard for Gabriella because she at least wanted his father to meet her first and then make judgement from there, but he is against the whole relationship.

While living at home, Abdallah was tired of having to be home by a certain time because of his parents’ strict rules. He told his father face to face that he was dating Gabriella, and his dad was not having it.
“So we were both taking about moving out, but not with one another,” Abdallah said. “By now we’ve been dating for a year or more. We both had our own group of people we were going to move in with but both our plans just started to fall out. Before we knew it we were the only 2 people and ended up moving in together.”

Telling his parents was not easy. His dad was furious that he was moving out, and on top of that with the girlfriend that did not share the same religion as them. His dad refused to talk to him or a few weeks, and Abdallah didn’t want to talk to him either because his dad wasn’t calm.

It has been a few months since he has moved out and his relationship with his dad has gotten better. His dad wants him to move back home, but Abdallah is on the fence because he wants to save money if he were to move back home, but the couple both feel like it would be a step back from all the progress they accomplished already.

Abdallah and Gabriella are both totally in love with each other. So whatever happens with the living situation, they are confident they will make it work.

When I asked Abdallah what he would do if his parents never accepts the relationship and are not supportive in the future if they want to get married he said, “If I want to marry her, I’m gonna marry her.”

Sac State

“We both worked at sprouts doing crap jobs while in school,” Laurelyn said when I asked  how her and Christian met.”Then we both quit…we started dating after being friends for a little. Christian really wanted to be a cop and get his bachelors but school stressed him out hella hard. I don’t want to sound like I’m giving myself too much credit but I am a super good student and I feel like it rubbed off on him. But mostly he just hella wanted to be a cop so he pushed through. And now we are going to Sac!”

Christian and Laurelyn have been together for almost 3 years. They first started dating when Laurelyn was 18 and Christian was 22. Since they’ve been together, both have been pushing themselves to transfer out of the Petaluma community college and into a 4 year college.

Finally that time has come. Fall 2016 Christian and Laurelyn will be moving to Sacramento to attend Sac State together. They’re excited to get a place together.

“Christian really wanted to go to sac for their criminal justice program and I’m just hitching along since I didn’t really care where I went,” Laurelyn said. “We’ve been dating for almost three years so I’m definitely ready to move out and have our own space. It’s definitely going to be weird though and it’s a big step. We will probably get in more fights…but in a good way of that makes sense. My parents are totally cool with it. They love Christian. Probably the only thing they aren’t thrilled with is that I’m tagging along and not going to one of the better colleges for my major. But honestly I don’t care I don’t want to do long distance period.”

Laurelyn’s parents love Christian but like she said, they aren’t thrilled that she didn’t pick a school based on her major but more so that she didn’t have to be away from Christian. His parents on the other hand would prefer that he be with Laurelyn. They are thrilled that he has made it to a 4 year college and has Laurelyn there for support. Christian’s family adores Laurelyn, she gets along with all his cousins and his aunts and uncles love her. She has really been his saving grace.

Laurelyn’s biggest fear is the grocery list. Christian has an appetite of about 3 grown men and will down any meal with no remorse. She joked (or maybe she’s serious) that they would have separate grocery lists and she would label which food is hers in the fridge. Other than that, They’re so excited to start this new chapter in their lives.

Christian took a while to pick a major and follow through with it, while balancing out school, work, and a social life. So now finally transferring to a 4 year college, he is ready to move out of the house. And he’s even happier that his roommate will be someone he loves and who has helped push him.

So what’s next after they graduate? Laurelyn said her parents are already asking Christian when they’re going to get married. Lol stay tuned for a possible part 2 blog post on these 2 lovers!

Mr. & Mrs. Cruz

Amberly and JT met and started dating when they were 16. The first time JT met Amberly he told his friend, “I’m gonna marry her.” Through many bumps in the road, they managed to stay together because their love for each other was stronger than the outside drama that was going on around them.

On their 8 year anniversary, JT popped the question, and in 2012, they officially became Mr. and Mrs. Cruz.

They waited a little over a year after getting married to start trying for a baby. On Thanksgiving 2014 they announced to their families that they were expecting.

Devastating news hit Amberly and JT when the doctor informed them that their baby girl was developing a mass in her lungs. At that point Amberly was still pregnant and blaming herself. She was thinking it was because of her that the baby had a mass in her lungs, she thought maybe it was something she ate or her trip to the Philippines that caused it.

Aly was born June 2015, and February 2016 she got the surgery regarding the mass in her lungs. She is happy, healthy, and always smiling.

“It was amazing to see how the roles changed between us,” Amberly said. “We’ve been together for almost 13 years and I was always the “strong one”… Like I’d know what to do or say in a situation and usually be the one to keep JT at ease. But when I found out Aly had a mass in her lungs and will need surgery, I was a mess! I was (and still am) constantly worrying/ paranoid. JT was my rock throughout everything. He listened to me, consoled me, and even handled the paperwork for her surgery, usually I handle everything but it was too much for me.”

Having a baby brought the couple closer together, and when life tested them, they stood by each other and consoled one another. The birth of their daughter has brought so much joy to their lives.

“It was really comforting to see the change in JT,” Amberly said. “Usually he’s quiet and I have to be the one to ALWAYS be strong. It was nice to let my emotions flow and have my husband be my rock throughout everything. As corny as it sounds, we are a team and I’m really lucky to have such a strong support system.”

The Photograph

**Nancy, I know you said to focus on people that I don’t know, but I promise I will do that AFTER this post… this is a story I HAVE to tell.**

My dad’s mom died over 50 years ago in the Philippines while giving birth to her 8th child. Unfortunately my grandma and aunt both passed away. My grandpa was left with 7 kids, 2 of which were under the age of 7.

Decades passed and my grandpa was alone. He is now 92 years old, going on 93 this July. A little over 10 years ago he remarried. For so long he was alone and single, longing for companionship.

My family, aunts & uncles, & their kids that are free, go to my grandpa and step-grandma’s house every other Sunday. It’s a great way for the family to remain close and for my grandpa to see his kids, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

One Sunday my aunt brought old pictures. She showed me and my cousins our grandmother, who none of us ever got to meet. My aunt was saying how she thinks she looks so much like her mother and how her other 2 sisters also share some features. There are only a couple of photos I’ve seen of my grandma, so my first thought was to take a picture of the photo.

My grandpa wasn’t really paying attention, he’s 92, so he’s always just chillin’ minding his business. My sisters and I like to show our grandpa pictures on our phone of him from previous events or ones we take right in front of him. He thinks it’s so cool how technology has advanced and still can’t believe that we can take pictures of him on our phones. Every time we show him his picture he starts laughing surprised like “that’s me!”

Anyways, I took out my phone and pulled up the picture of my grandma. I showed it to him and his reaction made me happy and sad all at the same time. Seeing her picture made him eagerly grab my phone out of my hand.

Staring at her picture he said to me in Tagalog, “Where’d you get this? Do you know who this is? It’s grandma.”

Other than when he complains about his back hurting, my grandpa is usually just chill and observant at get togethers. So when he reacted so surprised to see the picture, it touched my heart, because I could only imagine all the memories that photo brought back.

I think that’s a whole other level of love. To lose someone so tragically, and to be alone for so long, to get remarried, but to be so excited to see an old photo made me really happy. I can only imagine what he felt when he saw that picture, but I know that’s exactly how I would want someone to look at an old photograph of me. 20141109_190624

The photo above is the exact photo I showed my grandpa.

Never Have I Ever…

It’s funny how the people you meet in life can lead you to the person you marry. This was true for my “Tita Lola” Rhonda Zulueta. She is on the left in the photo above. Rhonda is my dad’s cousin, so technically she’s my aunt, but we have that kind of relationship where we can basically joke around like cousins. Hence her name “Tita Lola,” which means “Auntie Grandma” in Tagalog. ( I wish I could insert 10 laughing emojis right here)

Rhonda and Jackie were friends for 4 years before they decided to pursue a relationship with each other. Jackie is actually Rhonda’s ex girlfriend’s cousin! Crazy! It all started when Rhonda was going to go to New Orleans with friends. She needed “practice” with drinking because she didn’t want her friends and sister to think she was weak. She drove to Stockton and played “Never Have I Ever” with Jackie, where she revealed her feelings for her.

After that incident, Jackie didn’t respond to Rhonda’s texts for 2 days! But only to find out that she wasn’t ignoring Tita Lola, but was hungover from the game. They decided to date a while after that.

“I knew she was the one when I asked her to be my girlfriend and when I saw how she interacted with Damian (her nephew),” Rhonda said. “My mom and sister liked her too. They never liked anyone else. She was always the one I ran to and I could trust.”

They lived together and dated for 4 years before they got married.  The day after Christmas Rhonda decided to propose. She left the ring box in the car and asked Jackie to get her lunchbox and meter out. Jackie was so fixed on finding the meter that she didn’t even notice the box!

“I had to grab it and show her the ring,” Rhonda said. “It took her a minute to realize what was happening.”

I remember when Rhonda messaged me on Facebook asking for my address so she could send us an invitation to her’s and Jackie’s wedding. I was so happy and low key honored that we were getting invited. We come from a huge family, my great grandparents had 10 children and those children had on average 7 children each. So inviting everyone in the family would be like having a guest list of 1 million.

It’s crazy how everything turned out. A failed relationship ended up giving Rhonda a wife. I’m so happy that Rhonda has found someone who makes her so happy. Rhonda is so selfless and family oriented, so it makes me glad to know that both their families approve and love them together.