Lakewood Is My Hometown But Cleveland is My Home

Lakewood Is My Hometown, But Cleveland Is My Home

As it's said by many before: home is a feeling, not a place.

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I grew up in Lakewood, Ohio. My parents moved there after I was born. We spent the first six months living in a double, and then moved into a bungalow house of their own, which I have spent the last 22 years of my life living in. They were drawn to Lakewood because it was an up and coming city, with excellent school ratings, and as new parents, that was very important.

About two years later, my little sister was born. I've shared bits and pieces of her story with readers and how she was extremely medically fragile with a condition called Pfieffer's Syndrome. My parents did the best they could to help me have a "normal" childhood and upbringing, though I always felt I was a part of two separate worlds, which included my school life and home life. I couldn't really talk to my friends about what was happening at home because it was too hard to explain, and I felt they wouldn't understand.

Down the street was a girl who became my best friend, though we've now grown a part due to different attitudes, values, and priorities. Ironically, my first semester at Cleveland State University, was her last semester, and every study date I tried to set up with her was cancelled last minute or forgotten about.

Two of the other girls that belonged to this group my best friend had created, bought an apartment together on the edge of Lakewood and Cleveland. They threw a Halloween party, taking place my first semester at CSU, and didn't invite me. I was so hurt because they knew that was my favorite holiday and they called me their "best friend." That's not how you treat a best friend.

Elementary school was filled with nurses in and out of my house. Middle school was the year my sister passed away and my younger brother was only a few years old. I was so insecure and mainly kept to myself, until the best friend I had mentioned before invited me to sit with her and "the group" at lunch and I finally felt accepted.

High school brought its own set of serious issues. Freshman year of high school, I joined swim team because two members of the group wanted to join, and I was so self-conscious because of my body type. I started to develop serious mental health issues. The next three years were filled with mood swings and self-destructive behavior, and my mental illness was so severe I was home-schooled for junior and senior year. I was able to graduate with a diploma, thank goodness, but missed out on many of the "traditional" experiences so many other people hold close to their hearts.

I was just grateful to just be done with high school and start a new chapter in college. I went to community college, earned my associate degree, then transferred to Cleveland State University. In my last semester, I am now living on campus, and ironically, my two roommates and the rest of my floor are all freshman. I can't complain because we get along great. Since I have the convenience of being on campus 24/7, I've been the most involved in student life and my sorority.

With living on campus and getting involved, I've begun to feel closer to the city of Cleveland than ever, and have had the chance to be a part of so much more.

The friendships I've created are lasting, genuine, reciprocal, and real. I have nothing against Lakewood. It's where I grew up, but it is not my home. There's too much loss and heartache associated with that place for me to call it home. It's merely a place to me now though I do enjoy the hidden gems and the city of Lakewood, itself. The good memories and positive friendships I made in Lakewood are precious to me.

However, with that in mind, Cleveland is more my home now, more than Lakewood ever was. And that's because home is a feeling, not a place.

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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6 Ways To Save Money As A Broke College Student

Money saving tips so you can afford adult life while also paying for an expensive tuition.

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It is difficult to work, attend college, and make all your payments on rent, tuition, and bills, (not to mention finding a little money to spare on yourself). These are six ways to save that have helped me in this money stressful time and that you should use too in order to reduce the expenses of adulting.

1. Saving money on rent.

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Apartments are cheaper than houses because most include some of the bills in the rent cost. Make sure to check what amenities apartments offer such as free wi-fi, trash removal, or water included. When choosing roommates the more the better for cost. You should get at least one roommate because it is difficult to afford even a studio apartment living on your own. If you want pets you should choose a place that doesn't have pet rent because even if you have a large non-refundable pet fee it is cheaper in the long run then paying twenty a month per animal.

2. Saving money on bills.

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If you choose to live in an apartment complex, having an apartment on a higher floor will make your electric bill cheaper in the winter because heat rises. Even though your electric bill will be higher in the summer you can afford to work more because classes won't be in session. When purchasing light bulbs get ones that are energy efficient and use lights with batteries to help save on the electric bill. Also make sure to turn off all lights when you aren't in the room. You can save water by not running the faucet when you brush your teeth. Anyway you can think to conserve water and energy use that to your advantage.

3. Saving money on food.

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Your best friend is buying in bulk when you go to get groceries. I personally buy ten pound ground beef logs, cut them up, and place them in the freezer to use later. Everything is cheaper when you buy in bulk and you save time grocery shopping. If you don't know how to cook now is the time to learn because frozen and fast food eats up your money. You should also go to your local food bank if you are really struggling because everyone has to eat. Don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it! Going without food to pay your rent is not something anyone should have to do.

4. Saving money on furniture.

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You should buy used if at all possible when finding furniture for your apartment or house. Living in a college town has its perks because people are constantly moving you can find great deals at garage sales or on craigslist. For instance I got my couch for free, I just had to move it out of a graduating students apartment. You can also check out thrift stores and consignment shops in your town.

5. Saving money on entertainment.

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There are a lot of deals and discounts for college students so take advantage of that for entertainment.. For example movie theaters usually offer a student discount and if you go to a matinee showing, tickets are even cheaper. Find out when your local bar's happy hour is and use it. Also see what meal deals are offered by restaurants around you, such as 3 items for 10 or specials on Thursday nights. You can also use apps to find coupons, my personal favorite being pocket points because it rewards you for studying.

6. Saving money and side hustles.

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Put back money during the summer in order to have a backup fund for when things get crazy busy during the school year. Scope out banks and find out what interests they offer on savings accounts in order to increase the amount of money you have saved over the years. If you need extra money you can get paid for donating plasma and you can sometimes find research studies that will offer participants cash for things as simple as just an opinion. There are also baby sitting and pet sitting apps you can download to get one time gigs if you are low on funds for the month.

These are all great tips that I have been taught or have learned living as a broke college student. It isn't easy living life in the adult world and pursuing a degree at the same time. I hope these tips will help you save money and keep you out of hard times.

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