Confessions From A Former 'American Idol' Contestant

Confessions From A Former 'American Idol' Contestant

The great, the good, the bad, and the ugly
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My dream had always been to be on "American Idol" and become a successful singer and actor. I used to line up water jugs in the garage to make an outline for a stage while my neighborhood friends and I took turns being judges and contestants. Doodling exceeded the boundaries of shapes and flowers and became five pieces of paper with twenty faces hand drawn on each side, each having a number and playing a contestant in my own fantasy "American Idol" competition on paper. One school night out of the entire year would always be dedicated to staying up late just to see which Idol hopeful would take the crown followed by celebration.

It wasn't until I experienced being a semi-finalist on the show and achieving my childhood goal that I realized many things were as what they seemed yet, simultaneously, not.

1. The Great: Pursuing My Dreams

My memories of auditioning still warm my heart. Before I made the first move, I had been treated in Miami Children's Hospital for anorexia; I was about twenty pounds underweight and on the verge of collapsing. About three weeks following my discharge, my family and I took a flight to New Orleans where we all were embracing the energy of this amazing experience. My older sister at the time had a fractured foot so she signed up to audition just to help get me to the front of the line, and that is something I am forever grateful for. Being the stereotypical Jewish mother she is, my mom would constantly give me honey packets she stole from the breakfast buffets at the hotel to ensure my throat is nice and smooth. Late nights became endless nights with my Dad as he would stay up the extra hour to help me pick out the best song I could sing while my siblings were my backbone of support.

2. The Good: Exposing My Traumas

Once final taping had commenced, I had producers come to my house in Florida and follow me around school to build a story that could capture America. When they asked me about myself, the first thing that came to my mind was to share about my abusive upbringing in an environment of pariahs as classmates. This was good, but also neutral because looking back, I know I could have shared something much less sugar-coated that would get an even deeper message across. All the degrading names that I had been called were translated into family-friendly insults like "dork" and "geek"; the deeper truth would have been too much for anyone to digest. I did not triumph and overcome my past because I was and still am to this date insecure about many things. However, even the slightest bit of a sugar-coated story had inspired many people so that, to me, is good enough.

3. The Bad: Devious Contestants

As the process progressed and Hollywood week came around, I got to know almost all of my fellow contestants on many levels. I recall becoming infatuated with a guy whose name I won't mention, and he quickly became the predator preying on my weakness for him. Ultimately, he was all I thought about and the only one I wanted to impress and gain approval from. As soon as that became obvious, he played with my head and I nearly psyched myself out of my own dream at the hands of manipulation. It was my Dad who actually snapped me out of it with a dosage of his brutal honesty, and thankfully, I moved forward.

Yet, it was not even that one isolated incident in which my naivety overpowered my intelligence. Another fellow contestant and a friend at the time had asked me why I am gay, and then after told me I don't have to be gay, and what she was implying was a popular sentiment in our group. Barring her ignorance, the biggest turn off had been seeing fellow contestants forget where they had come from. All of a sudden, the waitress who messed up an order for dinner had become the servant for the same contestant who had been in her shoes not even half a year before being on the show.

4. The Ugly: A Rude Awakening

Although the subtitle will make my point seem like the ugly is a bad thing, there is beauty to it as well. My rude awakening was realizing that being on a television show was not enough to help me achieve my ultimate goal of becoming an artist and an actor. As a child, you want to be a part of a legendary singing competition with the ultimate goal of becoming a successful artist. After having been on Idol, making it to the top 24, and then, once again, coming back down to Earth, I had realized that it was a beautiful yet bitter facade. The beauty was and is in the experience that I had been beyond blessed with. Bitterness lays in the fact that what I perceived as a child was a distorted version of reality just as the tooth fairy is a myth and Santa does not exist. These beliefs help you stay motivated for the end game, and that motivation will take you further than anything in life.

Cover Image Credit: Brett Loewenstern

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What Your Hogwarts House Says About You

Get yourself sorted and find out where you belong in the world of witchcraft and wizardry.
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Sorting at Hogwarts is a big deal. Being sorted into a house is essentially being placed into a family while you are away from home learning about witchcraft and wizardry. Your house is made up of the people you will live with, go to classes with, play Quidditch with and everything in between. You basically spend 24/7 with them. Your Hogwarts house is your home away from home.

When you get sorted into a house, it is based on your personality traits. The people in your house are typically like-minded people who display the same characteristics as you.

When you’re a first year at Hogwarts, the minute you set foot in the castle you are swept into the Great Hall to have the ancient Sorting Hat placed on your head. This Sorting Hat decides which “family” you’ll be spending your seven years with.

For some, it is very obvious which house they will be in, due to certain personality traits they possess. For others, they may exemplify traits that fit a multitude of houses and are uncertain where they may end up.

To find out where you belong, you can take the official "Harry Potter" Sorting Hat quiz at Pottermore.com. For all you muggles out there, these are the characteristics that the houses possess and what your house says about you:

Gryffindor: The house of the brave, loyal, courageous, adventurous, daring and chivalrous. Those who stand up for others are typically Gryffindors. Brave-hearted is the most well-known Gryffindor characteristic, and Gryffindors are also known for having a lot of nerve.

Gryffindors are people who hold a multitude of qualities alongside the ones listed, making them a very well-rounded house. People who are Gryffindors are often people who could fit nicely into another house but choose to tell the sorting hat they want Gryffindor (there's that bravery). "Do what is right" is the motto Gryffindors go by.

Being a Gryffindor means that you're probably the adventurous and courageous friend, and you are usually known for doing what is right.

Ravenclaw: The house is known for their wisdom, intelligence, creativity, cleverness and knowledge. Those who value brains over brawn can be found here. Ravenclaws often tend to be quite quirky as well. "Do what is wise" is the motto they strive to follow.

Though Ravenclaws can be know-it-alls sometimes, they most likely do know what the wisest decision is.

If you are known for being the quirky friend, the smartest in the group or just great at making wise decisions, you're definitely a Ravenclaw.

Hufflepuff: This house values hard work, dedication, fair play, patience, and loyalty. Hufflepuff’s are known for being just and true. "Do what is nice" is their motto.

Hufflepuff is known as the “nice house” and believes strongly in sparing peoples feelings and being kind. This is not to say that Hufflepuffs aren't smart or courageous. Hufflepuffs just enjoy making others happy and tend to be more patient towards people.

If you ever find that you are too nice for your own good and cannot bear to hurt someone’s feelings, congratulations, you are a Hufflepuff.

Slytherin: This is the house of the cunning, prideful, resourceful, ambitious, intelligent, and determined. Slytherin's love to be in charge and crave leadership. "Do what is necessary" is the motto of this house.

Slytherin is a fairly well-rounded house, similar to the other houses. They are loyal to those that are loyal to them just as Gryffindors are and are intelligent as Ravenclaws.

Slytherin house as a whole is not evil, despite how many dark wizards come out of this house. That is merely based on the choices of those wizards (so if your friend is a Slytherin, don’t judge, it doesn’t mean they are mean people). Slytherins do, however, have a tendency to be arrogant or prideful. This is most likely due to the fact that everyone in Slytherin is exceedingly proud to be there.

What Hogwarts house you’re in says a lot about the person you are, the traits you possess and how you may act in some situations. But in the end, your house is really just your home that is always there for you. Always.


Cover Image Credit: Warner Bros Pictures

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Things To Do When You're So Bored All You Want To Do Is Cry

Do something artsy

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Everyone has times when they have nothing to do and boredom strikes way too hard. From experience, I have found some top things to do when you literally have nothing else to do!

1. Clean

Not super fun, but will keep you busy.

2. Netflix

Find a new show to binge watch. Watched them all? Rewatch something you haven't seen in a while!

3. Shopping

Retail therapy can always keep you busy.

4. Make a home cooked meal

Spend some time in the kitchen and make something yummy! Even invite some friends.

5. Visit friends/ family

Pop in on some people you care about that you haven't seen in a while!

6. Write

Writing is something we all do and is a great way to express ourselves!

7. Exercise

Hit the gym or go for walk, do something to keep you nice and fit.

8. Volunteer

Go to an animal shelter, food bank, museums, or anywhere in your area that needs help.

9. Look for a job

If you're bored, maybe getting a part time job will keep you a little occupied. Plus it's extra money in your pocket.

10. Draw/ do something artsy

Even if you think you're a bad artist, drawing is something fun to do! You'll get better in time.

11. Join an Odyssey Team!

Writing articles through the Odyssey is an amazing experience and can always keep you busy!

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