"Hey, its life."

"Hey, its life."

When your life turns upside down and you're left alone to deal with it

Change in life is inevitable. Change hits us when we least expect it. Sometimes we are knowingly responsible for what will happen in our lives. For example, knowing that you are going to attend college after high school is a change that you know is going to happen. However, not all change is expected, and this sometimes can flip your whole world upside down.

My freshman year of college at Hofstra University was everything I had imagined and more. My roommate was one of my best friends, my residence hall floor mates all became my family, and I met some of the most amazing people in my classes. I was constantly surrounded by people. Every night all of us floor mates would gather in my room and we would talk, eat meals together, make jokes, listen to music, and just truly enjoy each other's company. There is nothing more beautiful than getting to know other people and realizing the depth and value they possess. We became the "6th floor family."

In class, I met people who shared similar career interests as me, and it was truly inspiring to be in a room of people who shared my goals. Study groups began to form, and soon we all became best friends. We had deep emotional conversations when we were frustrated by an upcoming test or when we were just simply doubting our choices to pursue the career path we had chosen. My 6th floor family and my classmates became a large part of my life. They saw me smile, laugh, cry, yell, succeed, fail, and for the first time in my life, I wasn't lonely. And for someone who has battled loneliness, this was like hitting the jack pot. However, not all good things last for as long as you hope.

By the end of my freshman year, my roommate transferred to another school, half of my 6th floor family were moving into new residence halls for the next year, and the other half had been here on a one year program and were going back to their home countries. Everything was changing, and I was not ready. Suddenly, it felt as though nothing could ever be the same for me and my whole world was falling apart. There were hugs, tears, and exchanged words of keeping in touch forever, but I knew it just wouldn't be that way. The friends I made in classes were now all going in different directions, and of course I would still hold on to my closest friends, but, like I said before, it just wasn't going to be the same.

I started my sophomore year of college with low expectations and a heavy heart. I moved into a new residence hall with a new roommate whom I didn't even know. She is one of the amazing people I have ever met, so that was one thing I had going for me. My new floor was quiet, filled with people I didn't know and the silence was almost unbearable. I was used to open doors and voices filling the hallways, and now all I heard was the sound of closing doors by people who did not even know my name. My classes were filled with people I didn't know, and the comfort of knowing people that I had from the year before was fading away before my eyes. I started having a lot more alone time and interacted less with other people. I felt lonely, and soon I began developing social anxiety. It felt as though I was living in an alternate universe and I did not have anyone to pull me out of the funk that I was trapped in. I used to think to myself, "How could my life change so much from one year to the next?"

The point is -- I was and still am struggling a great deal with this drastic change in my life. However, I have learned to cherish the people who have stayed in my life, and I have gained a more positive outlook on meeting new people. Maybe this painful change was needed to make way for another phase of my life where I meet new people and rebuild my life again. I have also come to terms with the fact that life is changing constantly and that it is vital to have the strength to accept the change in a positive way. Everything in life happens for a reason and sometimes the best things happen in the hardest ways. It is important to evaluate your own ability to combat hardships and grow in the face of those hardships. I think I am slowly entering a point in my life where I am beginning to let new people in, and I am excited for what the future holds, still keeping those people and memories close to my heart.

Life is a struggle, but one that is worth the fight.

Cover Image Credit: Wall Papers Charlie

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Thirteen Ways Of Looking At The Boston Marathon Bombing

The Boston Bombing from different perspectives.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Boston Marathon Bombing.


I

Her sneakers slapped the pavement

as the cheers drew closer and closer.

She took a left on Boylston,

her heart beating as fast as her feet.

The finish line was just in reach,

But then came an explosion-


II

He waited eagerly along the finish line,

tippy toes and all.

Waiting to see his dad run by.

The bombs went off before that though,

and the little boy never saw his father

finish the marathon.


III

He broke the ribbon,

claiming first place.

That joy was short lived,

for a little while later

Life as he knew it shattered into a million pieces.


IV

Another Marathon Monday,

another day of chaos.

Though this much chaos the officer did not expect,

until the bomb went off,

and all hell broke loose in Beantown.


V

For the tenth year in a row

she came to watch her best friend run.

For the last time

she watched while standing on two feet.

Before her friend made it to the finish,

her right leg was blown off.

All that was left was a bloody stump.


VI

They stood behind a table

handing cups of water to runners

as they raced by.

Soon, the fleet of runners abruptly ceased-

The marathon was stopped

because of a terrorist attack.


VII

She sat upon her daddy’s shoulders

like a bird at its perch,

waiting to see her mommy run by.

She excitedly waved to mommy,

and then boom-

She couldn’t find mommy,

who was somewhere in the crowd of people,

screaming, crying, confused.


VIII

He couldn’t do it.

He couldn’t help everybody.

Twenty two years on the force,

and nothing like this had ever happened before.

A terrorist attack in his beloved city.

It shook him to the core-


IX

She finished the marathon

with her best time yet.

Overjoyed, she set off towards the crowds

to look for her fiance.

Simultaneously, they reached out to embrace,

just as the backpack laying a few feet away

exploded with no warning.

Their lives would never be the same again.


X

Boylston Street was a sea of runners,

as it always was this day.

He would soon realize

today was not like every other Marathon Monday.

A lone wolf escaped the crowd of onlookers,

and then something exploded amidst the crowd.


XI

The call she would never forget.

There was a bombing at the finish line,

motives thought to be terrorism.

The screams of agony,

the blood, the limbs.

The shock, the confusion,

the lifeless body of a little boy.


XII

The news alert popped up on my mom’s phone;

A bomb exploded at the marathon.

We did not yet know

it was much more than a bomb.

Nobody in the mall did.

I never imagined it would happen here,

but isn’t that what everyone always thinks?


XIII

I didn’t want to do it.

Tamerlan left me no choice.

And now, I must pay.

Cover Image Credit: The New York Post

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Dear Convocation: What Are You?

Are you a pulpit, a political tool, or a public space of ideas?

If you're a student at Liberty University here in Lynchburg, Virginia, you know that Convocation is nothing short of incredible. It's a dizzying experience at first, being surrounded by 13,000+ peers and staff, joining in a communal worship service, and being able to hear speakers whose names may be passed around your dinner table during school breaks.

Every residential, on-campus student attends Convo three times a week. We sit in assigned sections. At Convocation, it is a humbling experience to recognize that you are not just a student, but part of a student body, part of the body of Christ.

But a growing part of that student body is now beginning to question not just who is speaking on a said day, or what was said, but what Convocation actually is.

According to Liberty's website, Convocation is not a chapel service, despite the 15-20 minute worship held before speakers rise to the podium. This distinction allows them to host any number of diverse speakers, as Convocation "allows people from all walks of life to compel, equip, and challenge our students to think clearly and with conviction."

Guests at Convo are chosen by “relevance,” and if the speaker happens to “possess a message that will contribute to pivotal cultural conversations that stretch both the hearts and minds of our students, faculty, and staff.”

In these past few years, however, it's not been hard to find students in the halls or at the gym or simply walking down University Boulevard and hear them dreading yet "another political Convo" and "another pastor selling a book," or squealing, "I can't believe so-in-so said that!"

That's not to say that these kinds of speakers are featured prevalently at our school—but they come often enough that we notice and make memes like the brilliant millennials we are. As far as political Convos go, it's no secret that our school president, Jerry Falwell Jr., supported and continues to support now-U.S. President Donald Trump.

But just how much of that support trickles into our Convocation remains to be seen, as right-wing commentators, journalists, and Trump Campaign affiliates have often been under the Convocation spotlight.

What pains me personally about Convo, however, is that last semester, (including those in panels and grouped speakers) only 22% of all Convocation speakers were women. Only 30% of female speakers spoke unaccompanied. While it is uncommon, and in many cases unheard of for women to speak with authority from a Christian pulpit, Convocation is clearly defined as separate from Chapel.

Considering that the majority of undergrads at Liberty are women, this poses a interesting question: If Convocation is not Chapel, then what is it, and do the same traditional criterion of the pulpit also apply to Convo?

An initial response may very well be, no, of course not; we've had speakers all the way from Social Democrat Bernie Sanders to Republican Ted Cruz and his presidential bid in 2015, from Christine Caine and her "Propel Women" initiative, to the Robertson family of the A&E reality show, Duck Dynasty.

However, if that truly were the case, then why do these numbers exist in 2017? Why is the ratio of female speakers to male speakers so unequal?

Dear Convocation, what are you?

This is not to say that male speakers are unable to teach, preach, or persuade female students at Liberty; rather, this is a matter of representation. Of the percentage aforementioned, only 33% of female speakers were of color, compared to an even more disappointing 23% of the male speakers.

In the world of #blacklivesmatter, #metoo, or #timesup, where does Convocation fit in?

If Convocation is not Chapel, if it is meant to enrich our college experience by exposing us to diverse and culturally relevant speakers in order for us "Champions for Christ" to better engage with the world around us…why are those beautiful and powerful and culturally-relevant discussions on fighting racism, domestic abuse, sexism, why are they so few and far between? The voices we hear matter.

Dear Convocation, are you a pulpit, a political tool, or a public space of ideas?

Let me know when you've figured it out. In the meantime, I'll go find my seat in section 101, and I am looking forward to what this new semester will bring.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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