Boca Raton: A Beautiful Bubble

Boca Raton: A Beautiful Bubble

Please utilize your privilege and apply it to the greater good.

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Boca Raton, commonly known as the town where everybody's grandparents live. Also noted as wealthy, beautiful, and full of beaches. What can be wrong with a town like this? Weather is pristine, communities are gated, and shopping is plentiful. The food is excellent, a prime location for a foodie. Well, all these "perks" are actually what I consider downfalls.

A short disclaimer, this is not to say that I am not appreciative of the place I get to call home. These advantages, plus many more, are the reasons that I have the opportunity to write on a platform such as this. This does not mean, though, that I view Boca Raton the same as many of my peers do.

Moving to Washington D.C has definitely made me much more appreciative of how easy it is to live in South Florida. Consistently getting to wear shorts and a tank top is certainly a privilege, as I am realizing as I approach my first true winter. Traffic is light, and the rush hours at home are nothing compared to urban Washington. However, D.C natives possess this appreciation for the aspects that are truly taken for granted in Boca.

People that are not from Boca, or moved from other areas, say that the town full of opportunities and beaches is also a bubble. Although I never truly understood, I did believe these spectators hoping there was something more for me outside of this town. Turns out, there is an entire world to be discovered. What a shock!

As nicknamed the southern version of Long Island, New York, diversity is not something that is plentiful in Boca. My surrounding peers were very similar to me, being white, Jewish, and smart. Including me, everyone expects that they will attend college, receive a job, and become successful in life. Coming into a university where I am one of the only people from Boca, I was hit in the face with diversity. I realized, at this moment, that there is so much more to life then beaches and gated communities.

Around me, at home, some sensitivity training would do a lot of people a lot of good. These bubbles that Boca residents reside in are true, many fail to realize that declaring acceptance and acting accepting are completely different. I, admittedly, was one of these people. I had always learned about diversity but did not receive the chance to truly experience it until I left Boca Raton.

Learning to live with roommates who come from various socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds really put me through my own version of sensitivity training. Becoming more conscious of how to particularly phrase ideas so that unintentional offense did not occur contained a steep learning curve, and how to transcend that to those back in Boca makes me feel like I am talking to a brick wall.

With music, it seems that everybody likes the exact same group of artists, with occasional variations. Hate to break it to you, but chances are a lot of those people were simply just putting on a show. Openly disliking the mainstream music definitely affected my social life, as I did not "fit in" as well as those around me because I had no trouble sharing that much of this mainstream music is derogatory and offensive. And truthfully, I just do not see the appeal.

Again, this is not to say that I am ungrateful for Boca because, without it, I would not be sitting here writing this article today. What I mean to say, to residents of Boca, is that it is important to step outside your comfort zone, and understand that there is a whole world outside that really could not care less about your country club memberships or which gated community you live in. Take a minute every once in a while, and go to an area that is outside this bubble, talk to people who look different than you, and take in the unconventional similarities that you previously would not have discovered. Also, take advantage of the beaches and Town Center Mall, as we do not realize how truly lucky we are.

Finally, to those who helped me realize that there is a whole world outside of Boca Raton, Florida, thank you. To my parents that motivated me (even when I did not want it), thank you for reminding me that this outside world is worth discovering. And to the friends who have been outside of the bubble before me (you know who you are), thank you for reminding me that these "downfalls" are only truly downfalls if I do not transcend the opportunities given to me and apply them to the greater good.

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To The Girl Who Hasn't Been Herself Lately

Your spark return, and you will shine like you were meant to.
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Life gets tough. Life gets too much to handle sometimes, and those times make you stronger. However, right now, it seems like you have lost yourself.

It’s difficult when you catch yourself not being you. When you do something or act a certain way and just wonder, “what did I do to deserve this? Why is this happening? When will it get better?” The way you’re feeling is not so much that you’re unhappy, you just feel weird.

Your day will come. I promise you. This is just a phase.

The day you realize how much you have grown from this point in time will be your reward. It is so hard to see now, and I feel your pain.

Your light will return to you. Your pure bliss moments, they are seeking you. Your laughter where your tummy aches is in your reach.

Our moods change far too often for us as humans to understand why, but the encounters you make every day have this effect on us.

You must remember the pure happiness you experienced before your first heartbreak, before the first friend became someone you thought they weren’t, before you lost your innocence. That was a time of true joy as you had not a care in the world for the things that would harm you. Better yet, you didn’t have the option to experience them because you were just a child.

The world can be an ugly place, and your attitude towards life can change every day. One thing is for certain: you did not lose who you are internally. We all put on a face for the world. For the people who we try to impress. For the life we want to live. For the things we want to achieve.

Your definitive personality is still in the works. Believe it or not, it always will be. Times like this change us for the better even though we can’t see it.

Your happiness will return. You will be a better, stronger version of you. In fact, you will be the best version of you yet.

Once this phase is over, you will be okay. This I promise you.

Cover Image Credit: Megan Sutton

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5 Ways My Mission Trip To Jamaica Changed The Way That I See The World

One love, one heart

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This past summer, I traveled to Kingston, Jamaica with 20 of the graduating seniors from my high school class, where we worked with the Mustard Seed Communities and visited different locations where they housed children and adults with special needs. This was truly a life-changing experience and I am so thankful I was able to go because I learned lots of different things about myself, as well as the world.

1.  I don't have it bad at all

Kate Tulenko

It's true that everyone goes through struggles in their everyday life. I found myself struggling a lot last year, but when I went to Jamaica, I learned that I do not have it bad at all. I have so many blessings in my life that I take for granted, and the kids in Jamaica really made that clear to me. Now, I see my life through a more positive lens and remember that anything bad happening to me really isn't as bad as it seems.

2.  It's so easy to love others, despite their flaws

Kate Tulenko

Lots of people in the world judge others based on their appearance or reputation. But in Jamaica, the caretakers and children loved each other despite their flaws. It was truly beautiful to see so much love in one place where there was no judgment or hatred at all.

3.  Singing makes everything better

Kate Tulenko

It's true! Whenever my friends and I would sing songs with the residents, no matter how their days were going, it would put the biggest smile on everyone's faces. There was not a frown in the room, which was amazing to see. Honestly, I still get these songs stuck in my head sometimes.

4.  A smile can change someone's day

This is Moses, he had such a big heart and we would always dance together

Kate Tulenko

Some of the residents we worked with were scared of us when we first saw them, but when we smiled at them, their wall immediately came down and they were suddenly so happy to see us and spend time with us. This is true back at home too—if you smile at anyone, it instantly changes their mood and makes them so much happier.

5.  Giving to others is more rewarding than giving to yourself

Kate Tulenko

When I was in Jamaica, I wore these bracelets and hair ties around my wrist when we visited one of the elementary schools at the Mustard seed. When we were playing with the little kids, they begged me to give them a bracelet or a hair tie. This was interesting to me, because I thought to myself, "What's so special about a string bracelet?" But when I gave it to the little girl, she was so happy and thankful for it that it made me feel wonderful to give it to her. This trip was truly life-changing and I would go back to Kingston, Jamaica to be with these little kiddos a million times over again.

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