Why I Am Grateful For Being Raised In Oklahoma

Why I Am Grateful For Being Raised In Oklahoma

"It's always good to remember where you come from and celebrate it" -Anthony Burgess
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We’ve all heard of the play Oklahoma. The majority of us, whether from Oklahoma or not, can recite the lyrics from the play and recognize the tunes within seconds of their exposure.

Arguably, the play Oklahoma is one of the most popular things to emerge about the state. The OKC Thunder is probably the most popular thing to emerge out of the state and Carrie Underwood is currently the most popular person to be born in the state. But, the most popular thing about the state as a whole should be the people you find living within it.

Growing up in Oklahoma was a unique experience. Depending on where you live, you find yourself exposed to city life, suburban life and country life in a matter of a 20-minute drive. It’s not all rolling hills and farm animals; it’s a place filled with generosity, hospitality and some of the best home-grown meals you will ever taste.

Oklahoma is a state known for its odd shape and western vibes but really it’s much more. The people you meet in Oklahoma will treat you the same as their own neighbors no matter where you come from. My decision to leave was not made lightly.

Oklahoma will always be my home and will always own a piece of my heart no matter where I end up. It’s unlike any other place that I have been to. The people are unlike any others I have come to know. The love for community is stronger than any I have witnessed elsewhere.

Oklahoma has its flaws, as all places do, but it’s a one-of-a-kind state that is often overlooked. Whether from the country, the suburbs or the downtown area, the people all have one thing in common: their kind hearts. If you ever need to restore your hope in humanity, take a quick trip to Oklahoma and I promise you will leave with a replenished heart.

Cover Image Credit: Abrie Richison

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It Took Me 4 Years And $100K To Realize Why Poor Kids Like Me Don’t Go To College

But now that I know, I can't get it out of my mind.

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I grew up poor.

There, I said it. It's out in the open now—I don't come from a family that has a bunch of money. In fact, my family doesn't have much money at all. My single mother works in fast food and does a DAMN good job trying to support herself and the rest of us. A lot of the food my family gets comes from food pantries. We have received government assistance before. I grew up poor, but I haven't let that define me.

Especially when it came to going to college.

I didn't want to let my economic background hold me back from my potential. I wanted to be the first person on both sides of my family to receive my college degree. I wanted to get a better paying job and moving up in socioeconomic status so I don't have to be the "poor" girl with the "poor" family all my life. I'm not really ashamed of coming from a poor family, but I also don't want to be poor my entire life.

For a majority of my college career, I wondered why there weren't many poor students around me at college. I go to a public university, and it's just the same price as any other state school really. Coming from a lower income home, I did receive a lot of assistance, and without it, there's no way in hell I could be here. I know that many other lower-income students can get this same assistance, which really made me wonder why there was such a lack of other poor kids around me.

I mean, everyone posts videos from their nice, upper-middle-class homes on Snapchat over holiday breaks while I go back home to the trailer park.

Everyone can call mom or dad and ask for money when things get rough while I pay for 100% of the things I own because my mother simply cannot afford it.

Everyone walks around in their name-brand clothes while I'm rocking Walmart knockoffs. It's not something I thought about for a couple years in college, but once I noticed it, I couldn't think of anything else.

It took me nearly all four years of college to realize why there's such a lack of poor students at my average, public university. Poor students are set up for failure in college. It's almost designed to be a survival of the fittest when it comes to us lower-income students, and those of us who are deemed the fittest and do make it to graduation day are typically stuck with a lot of debt that we don't have the financial intelligence or support to even think about paying off.

Poor students are in the minority in college, and when you're in a minority anywhere, surviving can be difficult. When it costs $100 just for a 5-digit code to do your homework, it can be hard to stay in school. When the cost of living on campus is $10,000 or rent for an apartment is nearly $500 a month, it can be hard to stay in school. When you don't have a car because you can't save up the money for one and your parents can't help you, it can be hard to stay in school. When you're forced to get a minimum wage, on-campus job that limits your to twenty hours a week, it can be hard to stay in school. When all of your friends don't understand why you can't go out to eat or to the bar every weekend, it can be hard to stay in school. All of these reasons add up to the main reason why poor kids don't go to college—the odds are stacked against us.

I never had shame in my socioeconomic status until I went to college. In my hometown, I wasn't much less than the norm. Now, my home life is drastically different than that of all of my friends. I know that this is something that is never going to change because when I enter the workforce in less than a year, I'll be going in as the first member of my family with a college degree. People will treat me differently when I tell them this, even if I don't want them to. People will treat me differently when they ask where my parents work and I tell them McDonald's. It's an unfortunate reality that I cannot control.

It took me nearly all four years to realize why poor kids don't go to college, but now that I know, I can't get it off my mind.

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20 Things I've Done In 20 Years, No More, No Less

I can finally legally drink, so let's celebrate that first.

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And just like that, my 20th year of life is over. It seems like since I was about 16, this is all I have been getting ready for, finally being the age where there was nothing I was too young for besides running for president and getting the senior discount at Denny's. Over my years of life, I have done so many things that have enriched my life, and I would love to share some of those things with whoever reads this (hi mom!).

Stood in the Same Room that Judy Garland Recorded Somewhere Over the Rainbow in 

For as long as I remember, The Wizard of Oz has been my favorite movie. It is a classic that people young and old will forever love. This summer on a trip to Sony Pictures Studios, I went to the Barbra Streisand recording studios and as I was standing there admiring this room, the tour guide looked at the spot next to where I was standing and said that was where Judy had recorded the greatest song off a soundtrack of all time. To say I was floored is an understatement and now every time I hear it I am brought to tears remembering how special standing in that room was.

Attended VidCon in Anaheim Three Different Times 

Growing up, YouTube was something I always found comfort in and all I wanted since hearing about it's creation was to attended VidCon. The summer of 2015 my dream came true and that was the first of three summers I got to soak in the incredible energy of VidCon. Anaheim itself is a dream and has become a home away from home top me. I swear nothing is more comforting to me then sitting in the Hilton lobby, hanging out with people I only see once a year. And on top of loving the location, I get to spend a few days surrounded by people I watch online and a lot of them know me from previous years and it's always just like a big reunion that I never want to miss.

Visited Sin City Four Times 

A lot of people assume that Las Vegas is strictly an adult's playground and that anyone under 21 should just not bother going, and thank god I didn't listen! Over my time visiting Vegas, I have found comfort in things that would normally give me anxiety like crowds and flashing lights everywhere, but here they just remind me that I'm in my home away from home.

Living with my two best friends 

Over the last two years, two of my best friends have lived with me and as much as it has been crazy, it has been such an important thing to me. Having two people constantly around me that I love and that love me especially through awful things I was was going through was so necessary.

Camping out for Concerts 

The longest I have ever waited for a concert was probably about 21 hours for a Troye Sivan show back in 2016 and let me tell you, as much as it was worth every single hour, it was the most uncomfortable and cold I have ever been. Camping for a concert is so much more than sleeping on the side of a street it's also making friends and memories in line you're going to always remember.

Becoming an Activist For Change 

I have had strong political opinions for years but this year in particular, I have gotten so involved online and off in what is going on in this world. Back in March, I attended the "March for our Lives" event in Seattle and that is a day that changed my life truly. I have never been so inspired and angry and ready to change the world. I have learned more this year than ever before that standing for something is always better than staying silent and I am so glad I have found this passion for politics and for making sure this is a world I would be proud to bring a child into.

Going to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Hollywood 

For my entire life, Harry Potter has been very present and has always been something that has meant a great deal to me. The series taught me so much about friendship and bravery and sacrifice and I am forever indebted to J.K Rowling. Back in February of 2017, I went to the park for the first time and was absolutely in awe and felt so at home in a place i'd never been and that is the beauty of the Wizarding world, just as J.K Rowling said "it will always be there to welcome you home".

Volunteering at WeDay for Four Years 

Five years ago, this unbelievable event called WeDay was introduced to me through social media and I can honestly say this event has changed my life. This event is one that tickets can't be bought for kids have to earn them by doing local and global acts of change, and it is the most positive beautiful room to be in. I have volunteered for four years and every year there is a moment listening to the speakers and performers or looking around at the kids that i end up in tears because I am so in awe of everyone in the room.

Coming out as Bisexual 

On national coming out day in 2016, I publicly came out to everyone who is friends with me on Facebook and had already come out to my internet friends on Twitter. A lot of things helped me make this huge decision but most influential was a Youtuber named Connor Franta, and he helped me so much with advice and just by being unapologetically himself. I've listened to all of the comments "You're confused" "You just haven't met the right guy" and my favorite "bisexuality doesn't exist" and have finally gotten to a place where that doesn't bother me and that is the thing I am most proud of in my life.

Gone on Road trips with friends 

This has quickly become my favorite thing specifically road tripping to Portland. There is something about being in the car with my favorite people and screaming the words to songs we love or just talking that makes me feel so at ease. Over the last year, I have taken ample road trips to Portland with different groups of people and I didn't think I would appreciate being in the car that much, but I just really do.

Snuck into an Amazon Party 

Earlier this year me and my friend heard that Lorde was performing at the employees only Amazon party, so naturally as non Amazon employees, we decided we had to go. We got to the venue and tried everything to get in, including me almost hooking up with a guy to get inside and still we were outside with about 30 minutes before she started. We then came up with a plan, and fast forward about 40 minutes later and I am second row dancing with my best friend to Lorde's set. The party was a complete blast as we ate the best food I've ever had and drank and danced. I never wanted to leave and it was truly the most grown up I've ever felt.

Won more radio contests than I thought possible

Seattle radio has become such a huge part of my life that I almost spend more time at the station than I do anywhere else in the city, and I honestly wouldn't have it any other way. For years I would enter everything and never win anything and then my luck changed and I started winning things from small radio performances and meet and greets. These meet and greets for me and three friends gave us the opportunity to spend time with Nick Jonas and Demi Lovato to private soundcheck parties with my favorite artists. Going to these radio events has given me this wonderful opportunity to meet everyone who works in radio here in Seattle, and I couldn't love the group more they are all such wonderful people.

Meeting Dwayne Johnson 

This is the memory that is easily the most surreal and something I still bring up daily even though it happened a year ago. Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson has been my favorite person on this planet since I was three years old, and I would run around in an oversized rock WWE shirt and ask if anyone could "smell what the Rock is cooking". Flash forward to my 20th birthday, I ventured up to Vancouver on a bus with my best friend to try and meet Dwayne on the set of his film "Skyscraper" and after 12 hours of waiting, we were told that he would not be meeting anyone. Obviously, I was crushed but I didn't leave and after about another half hour someone came up the few of us that were left and brought us over to a little-secluded area and said we would be doing one group photo with Dwayne and then he needed to leave and immediately, I was back in the giddy state I had been in all day. When he finally came out to greet us, he was everything I had ever imagined! He was tall and muscular, and had the brightest smile- I was automatically in tears. As soon as he saw me crying, he came over to me, met me and hugged me and let me cry. He talked to me before taking the group photo and that was all I had ever wanted. Always meet your heroes.

Visiting the real life Halloweentown 

You can agree with me or not, but Halloweentown is the best Halloween movie of all time (I am sorry Hocus Pocus, I still love you). A few years ago, I found out that this movie was filmed in St Helen's Oregon which is about four hours from me, and every October they have a celebration called "Spirit Of Halloweentown", and I knew I needed to go. All of the years I have gone, cast members have been there and the big pumpkin has been in the center of town. I have never felt like I am being transported into my favorite movie until I am there, and I can't wait to go back next month.

Finally Attending A Comic-Con 

Back in March of 2017, I attended my very first Comic-Con in Seattle and I can easily say this was one of the craziest experiences of my life. There were two people on the line-up I was really excited to see, the first being Robert Englund who plays Freddy in "A Nightmare On Elm Street" and he is the creepiest/coolest dude and I am so glad I got to sit front row to his interview and watch a horror movie legend. The next person was my reason for attending the convention and that was Tom Felton who plays Draco in "Harry Potter" and the moment I saw him I broke down in tears and had to catch my breath before meeting him, which was incredible and made my comic-con perfect.

Attending a taping of my favorite TV show 

Back in 2017, I on a whim got me and my friend and her mom tickets to go see a taping of "Baby Daddy" which at the time was my favorite show on television and it ended up being the last taping ever of the show which was an added emotional element. The taping lasted about six-seven hours and was full of uncontrollable laughter and tears and listening to Jean sing to the twins and doing the cupid shuffle with my favorite cast it was truly a dream. After the taping everyone including the cast and crew were in hysterical tears as it was the season finale and the show hadn't been renewed, but we made the best of it and we all hugged and met the cast. It was a day in Hollywood that I'll never forget.

Walked through Warner Brothers Studios 

Being a huge movie buff, a goal for me was always to go to Warner Brothers Studios and this past summer I made my dream a reality. There is this feeling you get walking where every Hollywood great has walked that is unlike any other feeling. As we passed the sets of "Shameless" and "Friends", I began to recognize my surroundings as the small town of Rosewood Pennsylvania from my favorite TV show "Pretty Little Liars". Pretty Little Liars was such a popular show and highly requested on the tour that they have still not completely washed away Rosewood despite the show ending a few years ago. The whole experience was something I will never forget and pushed me even further to want to work in the crazy business that is called show business.

Saw my Favorite Artist Twice Live 

Taylor Swift has been my favorite artist since I was in Elementary school and on the "Red Tour" and "Reputation Tour" I have been lucky enough to see her. This past May, Taylor graced Century link stadium in Seattle with her presence and I was lucky enough to have floor seats and got to be front row for her B-stage performance and it was a moment I will never forget. He stage presence is something that is unparalleled by anyone else I have ever seen live and I would highly recommend seeing her to anyone.

I was in a magazine!

People Magazine decided to publish an article about when I met the Rock and luckily one of my mom's friends brought her a copy and now it is safely in my room. The article is about Dwayne being a fans best friend and the picture is of me hugging him and it's such a cool thing that I am so glad happened.

I finally got a job..and then another!

I have been so scared of getting a job since I was 16 and this year finally decided to stop being afraid of failing at said job and just go for it and I was hired at Staff Pro in Seattle and started a dream job of getting to work with artists and their fans at events. I quit that job in July and was hired at Kohl's the same month and am now so happy with the group of people I work with and with the progress I am making!

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