Dreamer

What’s the one thing you’d never do and why?

This prompt had me stuck for the longest. But to answer it plain and simple, the one thing I’d never do is give up on my dreams to be a published writer. It seems like a very reasonable thing to uphold, but as I navigate through my young adult life, I have come to realize that this is not the case. Not everything has a clear cut answer or obvious road to follow. However, what has always been important to me is being true to myself – even if my life choices don’t make any sense to anyone else.

When I came across this prompt, I discussed it with my partner back and forth for about 30 minutes. To him, this question was easy to answer. He started listing all the things he would never do, but it was more so things he’d never do in the literal sense. For example, I could easily say I would never do hard drugs, be a basketball player, spend $50,000 on a collectible item, I’d never kill anyone, and the list goes on. Those are definitely things I know I could never do, but I wanted to dig deeper. My partner laughed and was like, “oh what, you’re gonna say something like: I’ll never give up” ? We laughed briefly about how cliché that phrase is, but I paused in reflection. I sat on the prompt for over an hour, while he played his game on the phone with his friends in the kitchen. When he plays, I usually try to write some paragraphs on my upcoming blog post. However, he came back in almost 2 hours later, and I had my laptop open with basically nothing typed out except the prompt you see quoted at the top.

“You’re going to make fun of me but… I think I am gonna write about not giving up,” I said exhausted with the writer’s block I faced that night.

That phrase, “I’ll never give up,” is so broad. That’s part of the reason why we mocked the answer originally because it’s so cliché and opened ended. That phrase is so overplayed, and usually whoever is saying it is bullshitting, not being honest, and just saying it for fake motivation, to have people view them in a certain light, or I don’t know what. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that that statement is entirely true when it comes to my writing career. Don’t get it twisted – I give up on a lot of things – people, projects, some ways of thinking, etc. That’s why I was so hesitant to write about “not giving up.”

But when I narrowed it down to not giving up on my writing career, I knew that this is something I’m already living by in my every day life. Growing up, my parents never tried to push me into any field of their choice. They gave me the ultimate freedom to pick what I wanted to go to school for and find my passion on my own. I was taught that at the end of the day, I have to live with my choices, so I should pick the career I want. So since I never had that pressure from my parents, thinking of all the “what if’s” I could be when I grew up was forever changing. I definitely have the dreamer mentality.

Sometimes though, I will admit, I feel like my dreamer mentality can be a little naïve and too hopeful. But I feel like those feelings are present because I don’t know the end result yet – will I achieve what I want to do as a writer, or am I all talk? The post-grad blues hit me really hard in 2019 because I had no idea what route I wanted to take after graduation. I knew I wanted to write, but all the places I applied to just didn’t spark passion in me. I felt like I was settling. And getting rejection email after rejection email for jobs I wasn’t even crazy about was even more depressing. I felt so lost and confused, but 2020 really showed me what path I should take. I wasn’t ready to retire my passion projects and write under a company. And even though it didn’t make sense to others, my decision made sense to me. In the midst of a pandemic, I set my mind to a writing plan. And I refuse to give up on it. At this point in my life where I don’t have a family of my own, and I have the time to put myself and my dreams first, I’m going to do it.

One thing I will say – I’m for sure a procrastinator, but this is a writing promise I made to myself that I intend on keeping. The thing that I’ve noticed about myself and my habits is that I suffer from really motivated highs, to lazy uninspired lows. Because of this, I can lag on passion projects and the things I have in mind. Given that information, I don’t want to put pressure on myself to produce because it will take the fun, enjoyment, and therapeutic aspect away from writing. Instead, I have been more forgiving with myself, knowing that I have set goals, but keeping in mind that I will have better weeks than others. Keeping consistent motivation without getting burnt out is still something that I struggle with. But I’ve come to terms that my writing dream to be a published author is something that I am only doing entirely for myself. I’ve always said that in my lifetime, I will write a book and be published, and I know that is something I have to do for myself. That is my biggest life goal right now. Not even saying that I have to be a successful or well-known author, which would be nice, but my goal is to just produce from the heart. I don’t care if I sell 5 copies, I just want to prove to my damn self that I put my mind to something and did it, that I wasn’t all talk, and I wasn’t too scared to do follow through.

This kind of reminds me of my college days. I was motivated to graduate and get my degree, but I also took my time. I was still a full-time student, but I refused to take 5-6 classes at a 4 year college just to finish faster. I had my eyes on the prize, and knew I would get there, but did it on my time. Not lagging, but not drowning myself in responsibilities. And I see myself taking that same approach with my writing career. I know the end goal, I want it, I’ll get it, but on my time. I set goals for myself – like posting blog posts every Monday, but I know that if I want to get ahead, I need to start writing more. I’m giving myself time limits, but at the same time know that if I don’t get it done when I want to, it’s okay, because I know I will still make it happen.

The dreamer mentality is a huge reason why I idolize J.Cole so much. Hearing his story through his music, though our journeys and dreams are different, the passion and want is the same. I relate with his journey, especially feeling like you’re in the sidelines trying to get known and make a name for yourself, feeling like you have shit to say that’s worth listening to. I hope I never lose sight of my inner dreamer, and I continue to go for my writing goal for myself. “I’ll never give up,” is so cliché, but I know I’ll never give up on my dream to be a published author.

(Internal) Land of the Snakes

“Now who more thorough than me? I paint a picture of my pain for the world to see.” – J.Cole (Land of the Snakes)

I named this post “(Internal) Land of Snakes,” because the quote above is from J.Cole’s Land of the Snakes. And I realized that dark place where insecurities will take you is where all my snakes roam. My insecurities that hurt me, want to poison my mind, and will pop up when I least expect it.

A while back, I shared my weight gain journey and how I found peace within the body positive community. Body image and being confident has always been something I’ve struggled with. And I want to make myself clear: it is still something I struggle with. It took years to unlearn all the toxic ways of thinking when it came to body image, self-love, food, and my body dysmorphia. I am in such a better place, and I’ve learned how to pull myself out of that dark space when I find myself getting insecure. I’ve had to re-train my brain to not think so negatively about my own appearance and body. I try to avoid my internal dark place, my land of Snakes. The snakes being my own thoughts, insecurities, ego.

But of course, the path to self-love is a life long journey. I guess I can only speak for myself, but I doubt I’ll ever find 100% enlightenment where no outside or inside force can break me down. Don’t get me wrong, my growth and outlook on body image has improved tremendously. For the most part, I have the body positive mindset 80% of the time. But I do have my days. Since I’ve dropped that blog post about my weight gain journey and my body positive experience, a lot of people have reached out to me. I’m glad I could share my story and have people relate to it, feel inspired, and heal. I appreciate every single person that has reached out to me since then regarding this topic of self-love.

But like I said, I want to make myself clear: I still struggle. I definitely have my days. What’s different though, is how I maneuver my way out of going down that black hole. It made me happy to know that I was inspiring people to start/continue their journey to body positivity/ body acceptance. People would hit me up saying how brave I am, and how they wish they could be more like me. It was a nice feeling, but it also made me feel some type of way. I didn’t want people to think that I’m body positive all the time, because I’m not. I still get insecure. I still beat myself up over things. I still struggle. I didn’t want to be treated as a role model for being plus sized and proud 100% of the time, as if I’m enlightened and shielded from self body shaming. Because it’s not like that. The point of sharing my life and insecurities with the world is to reach someone – anyone – and know that it’s okay to struggle. It’s okay to go back and forth with your self-love somedays. So, I’ve decided to share this story…

I met Madison in 2016 at Skyline College when we were partnered up for a class assignment. It was my last semester before transfering to SF State. I was so excited. We were in an advanced journalism class. By “class” I literally mean “group” because there were literally 3 of us, myself and Madison included. We didn’t have enough people to make up an official “class,” so we were the 3 advanced journalism students that did something different from the rest of the class. The 3 M’s, Madison, Marinelle, and Martin. We struggled together, we complained together, we were confused together ( mostly Martin and I, Madison always knew what she was doing.) Anyways, it was through that class that I met a friend for life.

We met in January 2016, and by June 2016 she was moving cross country from the Bay Area to Boston, Massachusetts. This, though, was all part of her plan. She went to Skyline so she could transfer to Boston to get her Master’s in journalism. She regaled me with all of her stories. Moving from state to state, being from Idaho, hating the Bay Area (the disrespect to this Bay Area Native), and everything in between. She was 23 at the time, me just turning 21. “Damn, this girl has lived.” I would think to myself.

We got really close, even though it was all of what, 6 months? But she let me into her and her long-term boyfriend’s lives, and I let them into mine. They would have hangouts at their house and they would throw the best little parties. From charades, to cake, to crying while eating cake, to brunch, to hot cheetos, to someone dancing with fire, to the home owner passing out in the bathroom and possibly being concussed… we’ve had our fair share of awesome memories. So 3-ish years later, towards the second half of 2019, when she told me she was planning to propose to Bren, I was elated.

Madison asked Bren to marry her in September 2019. She let me in on all her details and plans, from how she was going to propose, to all the intricate ideas she had for wedding planning. They planned to have the wedding in January. They had just a little over 3 months to plan every detail of their special wedding day. I seriously don’t know how they did it, but they pulled off one of the best weddings I’ve ever been to. Moving along…

Towards the end of September, Madison sent me an Instagram photo. I opened it. They were pictures of her laptop screen. She was on a website for bridesmaid dresses, and all the options were velvet. She sent me pictures of the different styles of velvet maroon dresses.

“How beautiful would you look standing next to me in this color dress?!” Her colorful text said.

And that’s how she asked me to be her bridesmaid. She later asked in a more official way, but she couldn’t contain the secret any longer, especially since she knew it was hard for me to take time off of work. I was so excited, especially since I’ve never been a bridesmaid before. This trip was going to be one for the books – a wedding in Massachusetts during the winter, being a bridesmaid, and it’s a little mini vacation.

At the time, January felt so far away. Madison was letting all her bridesmaids pick our own style dress, color, length, etc. She left it completely up to us, with one request : it has to be velvet. I thought “no problem,” and didn’t really put too much pressure to find a dress. I knew she high-key wanted me in maroon, so I stuck with it. I lagged on getting the dress in hopes I would find something better, or wait for it to go on sale. The pressures of wanting to look good at the wedding were slowly creeping up on me, but I kept my insecurities at bay. That was a whole 3 ish 4 ish months from now, that’s future Marinelle’s problem.

I had my eyes on 2 dresses. I couldn’t seem to pick one. So, I waited. I was stalking these dresses religiously for weeks. Black Friday was just around the corner, so I figured I’d wait and get a good deal. So that’s exactly what I did.

“If they’re ridiculously on sale, I might even buy both to see how they both fit, ” I thought to myself.

Alas, Black Friday was upon us. I rushed to the website on my phone ASAP. My first choice dress – missing from the website completely. “No waaaayyyy, whatever,” at this point my heart is racing. I moved on to dress option #2. Large and X-Large, out of stock. I’m in panic mode. This whole time I thought finding a maroon velvet dress was a piece of cake, only to find out my options were limited. I waited until Cyber Monday. Nothing. Never restocked the second choice dress, and the first dress never came back. I panicked and bought a dress from Macy’s almost twice the price. I was running out of time, it was almost December. Having 1 velvet dress is better than no velvet dress, even if I wasn’t inlove with it. But, I would still be on the lookout for those 2 dresses.

Something in my gut (literally) was telling me this expensive dress was not going to be it. I dreaded getting it in the mail because I knew it was just going to make me feel like shit about my body. It finally arrived, and I eagerly put it on to prove myself right. Yooooo. This. Was. Not. It. My thighs were way too thick for the slit that went down the middle of the dress. To me, I looked foolish. This dress was not helping me in any way, didn’t flatter my body, hugged my gut to the point you could see my belly button, and barely zipped up. There was no saving this dress. It was a no for me, dawg.

If I wasn’t panicking before, I sure as hell was now. It was probably a week or 2 into December already, and I had nothing. As if the universe heard me, my second dress choice restocked in my size. Without thinking twice, I bought it. This had to be the one. I literally had no other choice. If I didn’t like this dress, I would be cutting it close ordering another right after. The dress arrived in the mail on Christmas Eve, right before my family and I were about to leave the house for our family gathering at my aunt’s. But I was too curious, I ripped the packaging open and held it out in front of me arm length. I held the dress by the straps, the velvet soft between my fingers. I haven’t wore velvet in a minute. It looked stretchy, and it definitely looked more comfortable than the Macy’s dress. I liked that there was no zipper, no buttons, nothing to restrict my breathing. It was stretchy, and made to hug my curves without suffocating me. I was relieved…. for the moment. I didn’t get to try it on because we had to go. I threw it on the livingroom couch, knowing that would be the first thing I tend to when we got back.

We got back home well after midnight. My family throws down for parties, so you already know I was fed when I came back home. We eat until it’s food colma. And then you make a little more room just to gorge yourself again. This is nothing new to Filipinos at parties. So this was probably the worst time to try on a form fitting velvet dress, right after Christmas Eve dinner.

Merry Christmas to me, I looked pregnant as fuck in this dress. Not even kidding, if I had put my hand over my bellybutton and turned to the side and took pictures, it would’ve looked like my maternity shoot. I was so sad. If I were to buy another dress I’d have to expedite it and pay extra, and that wouldn’t even guarantee me liking it. And truth be told, this dress and the one out of stock were my best bets. I had to just deal with it. I was a month out from the wedding.

“Maybe if I try it on tomorrow right when I wake up on an empty stomach, it’ll look better,” I thought.

Yeah, no. Still looked pregnant. I felt pretty bad about myself. I started getting nervous thinking about how I was going to stand up there and have everyone see me as the fat bridesmaid. I thought of how I’d keep my hair down as a distraction from my gut and arms. I felt fat, I felt unhappy, I felt like my appearance would get in the way of me enjoying myself at the wedding.

Had this been a couple years ago, I probably would’ve dwelled on this, and my solution would probably be unhealthy. It would probably consist of a crash diet, restrictions, and hating myself into losing a couple of pounds before the wedding. That was how the old me would’ve reacted. Me now, I knew I had to get over it. Being sad over my appearance wasn’t going to help me. It was either I act, or I do nothing. I decided to act on my insecurities, the healthy way.

I was on winter break at work for 2 weeks, so I hit the gym almost every day. I knew I couldn’t lose my gut in less than a month. It was impossible if I wanted to do it the right way. So instead, I ate healthier, but didn’t restrict myself. If I wanted hot cheetos, I was going to eat hot cheetos. I wasn’t going to rob my taste buds of things I like just for the sake of appearance. I figured if my gut is gonna hang out regardless, I might as well have a fat ass to match. So I squatted and did legs almost every single time I was at the gym.

I don’t know if there was an actual difference the month I was working out consistently, but there was a difference in my mood. I felt better, not only about myself but mentally and physically as well. I was still insecure about how I would look during the wedding, but the insecurities were quieter now. I literally just stopped every negative thought that came to mind mid thought. I realized bashing on myself has no purpose. It won’t fix anything, it won’t make me feel good in the end, it won’t do anything except make me feel like shit, so why entertain it?

Around this time, I found myself being more and more inspired by body positive advocates on social media. Their content spoke louder to me because I was going through it. This little hiccup reminded me of everything I stand for, and why I chose the body positive mindset and approach.

At one point, someone suggested maybe I should wear a girdle. I said this was the body I have and this is the body that Madison will get as a bridesmaid. That comment would’ve offended me once upon a time, but instead, it slapped some sense into me. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t knock anyone who wears girdles. Do you. Its just not my cup of tea. To me personally, if I’m promoting self-love and being real, I feel like a hypocrite wearing something that will alter my appearance.

I really had to give myself a pep-talk at one point and remind myself that beauty doesn’t define me. The size of my gut doesn’t matter. My arms will jiggle and that’s okay. But I refused to suck in my gut in pictures, I refused hide behind the bouquet of flowers all night, and I refused to keep my jacket on throughout the whole event because I was insecure about my body. Especially living in the Bay Area, I’m covered up pretty much 95% of the year, so when it’s time to wear dressy things and clothes that accentuates my body, I do feel insecure.

Weddings make everyone a little appearance crazy, even when it’s not even your wedding! We all want to look good, and wear things that flatter our body types. You can dress your body type as best as you can, but your body is your body. We put so much pressure on ourselves to look a certain way, and if the expectations are not met, you’re stuck there feeling depressed and ugly. But who benefits from that? Definitely not you. Sometimes you have to pull yourself out of that dark hole. Sometimes you need to be your own hype-woman.

Madison asked me what hairstyle I planned on getting since she hired hair and makeup people for the day of the wedding. I asked what she wanted since it was her wedding. At this point I was feeling back to my body posi self. She suggested hair up. If this had been a couple weeks prior, I probably would’ve said hair down no questions asked so I could hide behind it. But I thought an up-do was a great idea. I’ve never had my hair professionally done, and I’m rarely seen with my hair up. It’s about time I bust out of my comfort zone.

The day of the wedding went by smoothly. I did my own makeup because I don’t trust anyone with my eyebrows. But getting my hair done was so cool, I wish I had someone to do my hair every morning. When it was finally time to dress up, I put on my dress and wasn’t worried about my gut, or arms, or anything really. I was just so excited to be there and see one of my best friends marry her best friend. I didn’t hide behind the bouquet, I didn’t suck in my tummy for pictures, I didn’t post a certain way to look slimmer. And it felt so liberating to have no worries. I looked around at all the others in the bridal party and everyone looked stunning. Most of us were all strangers before meeting up in New York for Madison’s bachelorette party. Some we didn’t even meet until the rehearsal dinner. But everyone was genuinely supporting and hyping up one another. We all bonded over being a part of Madison and Bren’s bridal party, and I must say, it felt good to meet all the many friends who were there throughout the married couples lives.

If I had stressed over my insecurities the whole time, I wouldn’t have enjoyed myself the way I did. I would just be too concerned with being insecure and nitpicking at myself, when honestly, nobody even really cares. I’m glad I got to pull myself out of my own head right in time for the wedding. Because when the time came, I didn’t care about my stomach, my arms, the pimple on my cheek that has literally been on my face for over a month, I was too busy living in the moment and enjoying myself. And when we let insecurities get in the way of that, you miss out on a lot of life.

I just wanted to share this story because everyone has their moments. The body positive advocate still feels insecure from time to time, and that’s okay. It’s nice to share successes, but it’s also okay to share your setbacks. Madison shared her wedding album with all of us and I found this picture of me getting my hair done. I love how you can see my perfectly imperfect tummy in the picture. I stressed about my “booty-do (when your stomach sticks out more than your booty-do)” for the longest, and here she was making her appearance in this velvet dress. I love this picture. This is the real me, body relaxed, not posed at all, tummy hangin’ out.

The Execution

I shared my story about my post-grad depression journey, and to be honest, its all I can talk about.

If I’m hanging out with friends, it seems like the topic of the future always gets brought up, and one by one we go around and vent about what’s bothering us. That’s what I like about the people I surround myself with, we’re super open and can talk about hopes and dreams, those real life shitty moments, to Spongebob references, and all the above.

Sometimes I think about writing a series like “Sex and the City,” about me and my friends. But instead of documenting our sex lives and love interests, I’d name it, “Stress in the City,” because adulting… dis tew much 😭. It seems like we’re all just trying to chase a dream and make something of ourselves. Which is motivational and depressing all at the same time.

What a time to be alive. With all my friends, it seems like the one thing we can all agree on is the fact that this age is such a crucial point in our lives. We feel the outside pressures of the world telling us we need to have a job in our field, we need to make X amount of money a year, we need to have this this and that by this age… and it’s like….. well, fuck. You just don’t know where to start!

Just for the record, you shouldn’t compare your journey to someone else’s. You can compare if its healthy motivation, but if you’re using it to make yourself feel worse about the position you’re in, it’s just not going to help. There’s no need. We are constantly bombarded with a realm of all the “good” in our peers’ lives. You scroll through social media and you see your friend who just got engaged, who just graduated, who just landed that 6 figure job, who just bought a new car or house, who started that business…. but honestly, did you know what they had to go through to get to that point? You see the accomplishment, but not all the hardwork that had to be put in. There is so much more to what you see on the ‘gram.

I truly believe that what’s yours is yours, and that there’s a time for everything. With that said, I still stress about every little detail about my future. But, deep down, I know that my time will come for everything I plan to do. Or atleast I hope.

“YOU CAN DREAM BUT DON’T NEGLECT THE EXECUTION…” (J.Cole, “Change.”) That quote right there. You can dream all you want, but if you stand there idle, it’ll just remain a dream. The execution is where so many people give up before even trying. Me included! I struggle with that every day! Some days, I’m motivated and so pumped to make moves towards my dreams of becoming a successful writer. And other days, I’m lazy. I get overwhelmed. So I give up for the day. And sometimes, it turns into days. Until I overthink myself to death again and get a burst of motivation to start all over again. It’s a torturous cycle, honestly, when you want to do great things and have so many ideas and plans, all the while trying to juggle the things you’re dealing with now, like a fulltime job and trying to stack your money. The realization that there are not enough hours in the day, and even when you set aside time at the end of the day for passion projects you sit there and you’re like…. yo… I just want to sleep. But also realizing if you don’t do anything for a prolonged period of time, you’re going to make no progress with your dreams and goals…

Especially living in the fuckin’ Bay Area. We dream big because we have no choice, everything is so damn expensive. What drives me to make it and be successful is the thought that I have to keep up with San Francisco and the Bay Area pace, or the rich people who aren’t even from here will run me out of my city. That’s a whole blog post on it’s own though.

I recently went to a baby shower that seemed like a high school reunion. I caught up with a good friend who I was pretty close to in high school, but we lost touch throughout the years. He told me about how he struggled to find a job after graduation a year ago, and how it really tested his confidence in himself. But now he’s here, working for Google and doing his side passion projects, focused on trying to retire by age 35-40. We talked dreams. We talked passions. We talked realistically about the future, and what steps we each have to take to get to the right path. I revealed to him my book idea, something I rarely share with others. And if you know about my book idea, consider yourself special, and I know ya ass better keep that shit a secret so no one steals that book topic 💅🏽

“YOOOOOOOOO, I feel that shittttt, ughhh,” he told me.

“Right! It’s something that needs to be talked about in our community,” I said, relieved that he didn’t think my book idea was lame.

“You know what though, I know you’re gonna make it cuz you know your WHY. You got the passion and the why, start that shit now, bruh. Don’t worry about the process of publishing, worry about that when the book is done. But start writing that shit nowwwww. And you know what, if there’s any way I can help, if I myself will be in the book, or if you need me to ask around for people you can interview, just let me know.”

It was such a nice push of encouragement, when your peers are down with your vision. After that talk at the baby shower, I was mad motivated. What I’ve learned since I started writing is that some people will pretend to support you, but when it comes down to it, its really just all talk. But then there’s others that are so supportive, and will root for you and vouch for you and your work.

I’m an Aquarius, so I’m always in deep thought… one day I tweeted: “Whatever moves I choose to do NOW with my career will really determine what kind of life I live. That’s the most motivational/ terrifying thing honestlyyyyy.” I don’t use Twitter often, so I screenshot it and posted the tweet on my Instagram story. To my surprise, a few people reached out saying they feel it, but a friend’s reaction made my night.

He told me that seeing my tweet motivated him to start his music projects. He always wanted pursue his music career, but you know the drill, too shy to start, not consistently posting, holding it off because fear… He started writing his songs that night, and is actively writing and planning so he can bless us with his vocals.

You just never know who you’ll touch with your work. So here’s a public service announcement: SUPPORT YA FRIENDS. DON’T BE A FAKE SUPPORTER. MOTIVATE YOUR FRIENDS. BOUNCE IDEAS BACK AND FORTH OFF EACH OTHER. IF YOUR FRIEND HAS A BUSINESS, PROMOTE IT. BUY FROM IT. RECOMMEND IT WHENEVER YOU GET THE CHANCE. SUPPORT YOUR CREATIVE FRIENDS. IF THEY’RE WRITING, SINGING, DESIGNING, DRAWING, PAINTING, WRITING POEMS, MAKING THEIR OWN CLOTHES, ETC, SHARE THEIR CONTENT, LIKE IT, SEND IT TO YOUR OTHER FRIENDS.

AND ALSO: IF YOU’RE WAITING FOR SOME TYPE OF SIGN TO START YOUR PASSION PROJECT, HERE’S YOUR SIGN! START IT!

REMEMBER: “You can dream but don’t neglect the execution…” We’re all really just trying to make it here…

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.

“I guess I met you for a reason, only time can tell…” -J.Cole

I was always the type of person to believe that “everything happens for a reason.” What’s meant to be mine will always find its way to me, what was never meant for me would eventually find the next exit out of my life. I guess you can say I believe in fate.

You know those kind of stories girls tell of how they first met their partner? And it always seems like fate or that it was too good to be true? Chances are they’re adding a little spice to get you to envy their love story, or for all I know it could be 100% true… what I do know for sure is that my “how we met” story made me believe in fate a little more.

It was my 2nd semester at Skyline College. I found myself broke and bored. It was time to find a job. At the time, my major was Child Development. I have always been good with kids, you could call me the baby whisperer. I felt like all the jobs that were for child development needed prior experience or a least 12 units of ECE (Early Childhood Education) classes.

So then I started my search for work. I applied to maybe all the retail places at Serremonte Mall and Westlake Shopping Center. I got called in for interviews but never seemed to get the job. I would pass the first interview and was told that I would be meeting with someone higher up at a different set date. But I could never just get the job at the end of it all.

I was starting to feel really down in the dumps. What was wrong with me? People get first jobs all the time, why can’t I?! How can I have “experience” if you won’t hire me?!?! Frustrated is an understatement of how I felt. At that point I had gone through maybe 5 interviews. I thought finding a job would be easy… I started to give up.

I was maybe 2+ months deep in trying (not successfully) to find a job. I was sitting on the couch one school night when my friend, Cambria Cardona, called me. She said the gym was hiring for a daycare position and knew I was interested in a job working with kids.

I remember getting off the phone with her and thinking “It’s 7:30 pm… it’s dark, I’m tired, and me out of all people working at a gym? Yeah right!!!” Just the thought of me working at a gym made me want to laugh out loud. If retail places didn’t want to hire me, what more a gym where they’ll probably be looking for the most fit employees?

I was just about to act like Cam never called and continue to sit on the couch watching TV. But something in my head made me get up. I didn’t think I was going to get the job at all, but I went straight to the computer, printed out my resume, left in the same casual outfit I had went to school in, and found myself walking in the dark to go to the Daly City Bart station. “I’m not gonna get it, but I might as well try and say I didn’t get it,” was my train of thought.

I arrived at the gym. At the front desk a young man greeted me and took my resume. He made me fill out an application. I remembered that that afternoon in my ECE class I earned a certificate for knowing when to report child abuse because a guest speaker had spoken to my class. At the end of the class we had all received a certificate of completion. I took it out of my bag and said, “I don’t know if this will help…” He seemed to be impressed. He photocopied it, and I was on my way back home.

I didn’t expect to hear from them at all. Until a few days later on my way to school I had a missed call. When I called back, it was a personal trainer from the gym telling me that I got the job. “If you want it, it’s yours,” was her exact words to me. I was so surprised and excited, I got a job with no interview needed.

Fitting in at work wasn’t that hard. My co workers were as weird as me, and I couldn’t have asked for a chiller job. I took care of the kids while their parents worked out. It was a job I felt was fitting for me. I couldn’t picture myself in retail, or all the other jobs I was sad about not getting. This job was for me.

For a few months I would make small talk with this little girl’s mother, Jazzie Dela Cruz. Little by little we got closer and she asked if I could ask my manager if he needed another Kids Club employee. Long story short, I got her the job and she became my co worker. I thought nothing of it. Until everything else started to unfold.

When work was slow, me and my former co worker and good friend, Ulysses Pineda, would hang in the back office. It was one of those 2 sided mirrors, where we can see them but they can’t really see us. This guy and his friend walk up to the front desk and scanned themselves in, “that guy is cute in a weird way, that’s my MCM,” I told Ulysses. He made a witty joke and we continued with our conversation.

Winter Break was over. That marked almost 10 months of working at the gym. A co worker who I was very close to informed me that he was moving back to Idaho. I was so sad because we were like the night team crew. I was so salty to think of whoever was gonna replace him.

Until a few days later I walk into work and my “MCM” was wearing our gym’s uniform and filling out papers. I went to my co worker at the front desk, “Dude!!! That’s my MCM!!!!” My co worker laughed and said, “For real?! He’s gonna work here!”

Long story short, Jazzie played my fairy godmother and got me and my “MCM” together. It’s been over a year since all that has happened and I tell Christian, my MCE*, how it was fate that brought us together. He almost didn’t get the job because he was on a road trip when he was offered the job.

It’s trippy to think about. If I had gotten hired somewhere else, if Cam didn’t tell me about the job, if I didn’t make a sudden decision to turn in my resume that night, if I didn’t get hired, if I didn’t meet Jazzie, if Jazzie didn’t get hired, if Christian didn’t get hired, if one of these events were to not happen, I believe my life wouldn’t be the way it is now.

I believe that I was meant to meet Christian, and everyone I’ve met at the gym for that matter. I’m not saying that for sure 100% we’re gonna get married and ride off into the sunset on a white horse on the beach, but I really do believe we were meant to meet each other for a reason. It is up to us to find out that reason.