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I am 21 years old, and I do not have a smartphone. While my peers have gone through countless phones, upgrading the moment Apple or Samsung releases a new model, I have only owned three phones. I’ve used my current phone, a Samsung Intensity III (a slide phone with a keyboard), for about two years.
Throughout high school and college, friends have asked me, “When are you going to upgrade your phone?” To be honest, I don’t know, and I don’t care. When I bought my current phone, I had the option to choose a smartphone and turned it down. At the Verizon store, I had hoped to find the same phone I’d already been using (I didn’t want to learn how to use a new one) when my dad mentioned that I could get a smartphone — but only if I paid for the data plan.
So, I’ll say it: I’m a college student. That phrase is usually synonymous with “I’m broke.” While that isn’t necessarily true, being a college student to me means that I’m at a stage in my life when I should start saving money. Eventually, I’ll go to grad school, pay rent, and shop for my own groceries. Saving now can really help later.
While phone shopping, I weighed the costs and benefits: Buying a smartphone meant that, on top of the usual texting and calling plan, I would have Wi-Fi and Internet access. Though that is well and good, I had a functional laptop I could use for the Internet. If I didn’t really need the Internet, was the price worth it? My data plan would have been about $30 a month — so about $360 a year. That’s a nice chunk of change to still have in my pocket. Prices may have changed since then, but for my family, our four-person phone plan costs more a month than our heating bill. I’d rather be warm than have data.
Money aside, I have more personal reasons for not upgrading. It drives me up the wall when I hang out with my friends and they spend most of that time texting, Snapchatting, playing games, or scrolling through Facebook and Instagram. If they have such harsh separation anxiety with their boyfriends and can’t say, “Hanging out with friends — I’ll talk to you later,” then their time is probably better spent with their boyfriends than with me. Do they text their friends that much while with their boyfriends? No. What happened to sisters before misters?
People joke about how a dozen people can sit together at a restaurant and all be on their phones, but that’s a real problem. I have suffered more than a few awkward lunch breaks at work, sitting at a table and holding my sandwich with two hands while my coworkers double-task — one hand picking at their fries as the other scrolls through social media. The silence is only broken when a frustrated employee joins the table with a new horror story.
The real horror story is the reaction people have to their phones. In Lucie Fink’s YouTube video “5 Days Without a Cell Phone,” several people say how they would feel if they didn’t have a phone. Most said they would physically fight another person. One girl actually said, “Why talk to people in real life when you can just talk to them on your phone?” What? Compared to Lucie’s positive outlook on losing her phone, those people’s comments seemed that much more profound. Similarly, I applauded Prince Ea’s video “Can We Auto-Correct Humanity?” He preached exactly what I think: People are so busy trying to connect to others virtually that they begin to lose their real relationships.
I don’t have a smartphone, because I don’t want to become another one of these media-crazed people. Not that I will never get a smartphone — when I graduate and find a job, I understand that I will need the constant Internet access to keep track of work matters. For now, while I still have the luxury of free time with friends over winter and spring breaks, I’m going to spend them actually talking to people face to face. A phone won’t define me — I will.
For the student who used to get straight A's in high school without even trying
In high school, I felt like I didn’t need to study to get good grades. But in reality, I tried so hard in high school. I never skipped class, I never took a zero on an assignment and I paid attention in class. So yeah, when it came test time, I barely needed to study.
This is why college is a slap in the face to a large amount of straight A-high-school students. In high school a person has complete structure and responsibility. Yes, college students have this too, but it is more lenient.
Below are my top 5 reasons why college is challenging for recent high school graduates:
College students have too much freedomPhoto by Manny Moreno on Unsplash
College students have freedom, which is a responsibility in itself.
In college, if you don’t feel like going to class — you can just skip. No one will call your mom. You won’t have to sit out of the soccer game you have after school (this was a rule at my high school – if you have an unexcused absence for school you cannot participate in sporting events that day).
College courses are harder
In college, the course work is harder, you don’t have a mandatory study hall period every day to do homework and study. You also have more free time to spend with your friends or to spend on your hobbies.
In high school, my schedule was so packed with extra circular activities, I didn’t have time for leisurely things like Netflix. Having more free time allows college students to procrastinate. Also, you want to hang out with your new dorm friends.
More homework in high school than in collegePhoto by Tim Gouw on Unsplash
If you think about it, you probably had a lot more homework in high school than you do in college. I know I did. In college, a professor does not want to grade hundreds of written assignments every day.
Most college homework is to read a unit for a possible pop-quiz, but let’s be honest. We are going to skim it even if we read it at all. Most of the course points in college are from midterm and final exams.
Phone is more of a distraction in college than high school
When you do go to a college class, no one cares if you sit there on your phone the whole time. In high school, I left my phone in my backpack during class, and didn’t even really think about it.
In a typical large college lecture you can see several people on their laptops watching Netflix during class. You can tell a lot of students are there only for attendance points. I’m guilty of zoning out during a boring lecture to play Candy Crush countless times.
Denial and procrastinationPhoto by Michael Discenza on Unsplash
Many of these straight-A-in-high-school students play it off as no big deal because, “I’m smart. I always get good grades. It will be fine.” But then it is finals week ...
College is all fun and games until you realize you have to learn a whole semester's worth of course work in a week.
A listicle that gives just a little insight into beloved things in Israel.
A is for Aroma
B is for Bamba
And you thought Cheese puffs were the best of the best, meet the snack champ.
C is for Challah
D is for Dead Sea
Everyone says they float. You see pictures of people floating. But trust me, you won't believe it until you're there, floating!!!
E is for Eilat
With it's boardwalk and boat rides, Eilat is a magical city in Israel unlike any other.
F is for Falafel
G is for Golan Heights
H is for Hebrew
Even if you go to Israel and can't speak a word of it, you'll pick up on a handful of common sayings and words while you're there. In just a few days you'll be saying "toda" (thank you) and "s'leecha" (excuse me) like you've been living there your whole life!
I is for IDF
The Israeli Defense Force. The army of soldiers that protects and serves Israel with love and dedication every day. Anywhere you go in Israel, you'll see soldiers. Not only are they strong and brave, but they are also kind and friendly. Israel's mandatory draft brings 18 year olds into the army for two to three years, depending on gender. These people are wise beyond their years, and just talking to them is an experience you'll never regret or forget.
J is for Jerusalem
K is for Kehillat-Kadoshah
Jewish Community, something that is filled with love and pride.
L is for Love
M is for Masada
N is for Negev Desert
Spend a night in the Beduin Tents in the Negev desert. Never in your life will you see a sky with more shooting stars or a more beautiful sunrise.
O is for Old City
In Jerusalem, Old City is the home of the holiest cites of the Jewish people.
P is for Pop Rock Chocolate
Q is for Quality
Everything, from the food to the people, the owners of shops in markets and tour guides, everything about the country is top notch!!
R is for Red Sea
Right between Israel and Jordan, the Red Sea is absolutely beautiful (and very fun to go snorkeling in!)
S is for Shuk
Machane Yehuda, Shuk HaCarmel, and so many more amazing markets with food, boutiques, jewelry shops and soo much more!
T is for Tzfat
Looking for an opal hamsa necklace? Bracelet? Earrings? This is your spot!
U is for Unleavened Bread
V is for Vivacious
Nowhere else in the world will you find a country with as much pep in their step as you will find in Israel.
W is for Western Wall
X is for eXcitement
Because what's more exciting than being in Israel?! The place of your people, this country is simply amazing.
Y is for Yad Vashem
There aren't words to explain what it's like walking through this museum. Unlike any other museum dedicated to the memorial and remembrance of the holocaust, this museum literally walks you through the horrors and suffering of those in the holocaust.
Z is for Zikaron
As in Yom Zikaron, Israeli Memorial Day. Parties and parades in the street, Israeli flags draped over balconies and shoulders, it's a celebration unlike any other.
You can tell an 18 year-old what it was like to be their age.
As I write this, I am 18 years-old. By the time this is published, I will be 19. Wow, crazy, right? This fact caused two thoughts two pop into my typically-empty noggin:
1) God, I am oooolllllddddd!!!!!
2) There's nothing cool about turning 19.
However, after some research, I found that I was wrong about one of those things. Yeah, you're officially a legal adult when you turn 18, and when you turn 20, it's like, "Hey, I'm in my 20s now, how 'bout that?" but turning 19 has its merits, too!!
Here are 19 SICK things that happen when you turn 19.
1) You can legally drink...in Canada!
While some places in Canada allow 18 year-olds to drink, the majority of the country cuts it off at 19. So if you want to go wild--legally and safely, of course--get your passport and go North.
2) You can drive and talk on the phone in Illinois.
3) You can smoke cigarettes in New Jersey.
You will get lung cancer, but at least it's legal.
4) You can legally gamble in Alabama and Nebraska.
You can win big bucks playing Blackjack and then blow the prize money on all of exciting things Alabama and Nebraska have to offer (sweet tea and corn as far as the eye can see).
5) You have one last year to use being a teenager as an excuse for everything.
You break your mom's favorite vase? Don't sweat it. You have this one last year to say, "So sowwy, I'm just a silly teen, I didn't mean to do it!". Works every time.
6) You are no longer 18.
One year older and wiser, that's gotta be true, right? Exciting stuff.
7) You can legally use magic outside of Hogwarts.
This one goes out to all my wizards and witches out there! Have fun and be safe.
8) You have one last year to enjoy your youth.
Once the twenties come around, you have to do crazy things like think about your future and all that. I mean, you could do that now, but wouldn't you rather just enjoy this last year of being considered a young'n by general society?
9) Your age uses the number nine.
Nine is a very cool and mysterious number. I mean, you turn it upside down and, woah, I thought I was looking at a nine, but it's really a six? Mind blown! The number nine is a nonstop party.
10) In Virginia, you can get your own health insurance plan.
This is all most of us have ever dreamed about: the thrilling day when we walk into Geico and say, "Bring out the talking gecko, I'm buying myself insurance today!"
11) You can have a 19th birthday party.
This will be your only chance to have a 19th birthday party for yourself; book those Chuck E Cheese reservations before it's too late!
12) You can nostalgically look back on the good ol' days when you were 18.
"Remember when I was a freshman in college at the beginning of the year when I was 18, and now I'm still a freshman in college but I'm 19? So crazy, am I right?"
13) You can be the oldest one in your high school without being the creepy old guy.
Were you held back? Missed too many classes for medical reasons and had to repeat a year? Now you're 19 and the oldest in your high school, but don't worry. You're still a teenager, so it's fine. Once you hit your 20s when still in high school, though, then you're the creepy old dude who just needs to go.
14) You can tell an 18 year-old what it was like to be their age.
"When I was your age, back in the good ol' days last week, kiddos actually went outside and spoke to each other! Sigh, you'll understand once you're 19, kid. I've seen things!"
15) You can assert dominance over anyone younger than you.
"I'm older, so I'm better!" is my go-to argument when confronting my younger brother, who is ironically smarter and more talented than me in almost every way. It's at least comforting to tell yourself, so give it a try.
16) You know that you have the ability to count to 19.
Yay, one number better than last year! You're a math genius!
17) When people ask you your age, if you say 19, you are now telling the truth.
When you were 18, did you tell someone you were 19, and then feel burdened by horrible guilt for your nasty little fib? Now when you say that you're 19, you'll mean it, and you will never be accused of being a liar, until you turn 20, when you will have to say that you are 20 years-old, not 19.
18) You have a higher chance of going first in certain board games.
The rules of some board games dictate that the oldest player goes first. Well lucky you, now you have a higher chance of going first in Monopoly or Jenga! or something, so it really doesn't get much better than that.
19) Not much has changed.
If you loved being 18, then congrats, 19 isn't really gonna be that much different. If you hate change, then this is a great year for you, because you will probably stay exactly the same both physically and emotionally. NOICE!
Wow, how fun was that?! As you can see, there are countless amazing reasons why 19 is such an awesome age. For anyone who is feeling bummed about being or turning 19, I hope that this article convinced you of age 19's greatness, and that you have a good time trying out some of the things on this list!
Where do I go from here?
Every day is a battle.
I feel like I'm slipping further and further away from my faith, my morals, and my values.
I've fallen into a trap and lately I just don't know if there's even a way to escape.
It's so hard living with depression. One day you feel decent and the slightest thing happens and it's like the world is crashing down around you and you're just sitting there watching it all happen.
I have triggers and to avoid them, is nearly impossible.
I wish I was stronger. I wish my mind wasn't weak and that I was more secure with myself.
I wish that God could give me purpose again.
It started May 22, 2015. The day of my grandmother's death. Up until that morning I had been going to bed every night saying a prayer to God to just perform some miracle on this beautiful and strong Christian woman to keep her around a little longer. I had wasted so many opportunities to open my heart to her. About my anger towards God for doing this to her.
She was my rock, my confidante, my best friend, vocal coach, therapist, and spiritual counselor. She always believed in me, and the things that I could accomplish despite any odds that may be placed against me.
Losing someone like that hurts deeply. It's like a light that was once inside of you is burnt out and you start to feel hopeless and unsure of yourself. When she was here I knew where I was going, I had a purpose and it was all because she was guiding me and instilling so much confidence in me as a person.
I spent many nights after her funeral waking up with anxiety attacks or no sleep at all because I couldn't stop crying or agonizingly missing her smell or her hugs.
Here I am over a year later and I do not feel closure or comfort or even a smidge of understanding.
I just feel numb.
I knew if she was here, she'd beat me for letting myself get so far deep into a state depression over her passing.
I find myself being more and more dependent on people. More and more afraid of loss and fearing that I'll never be truly loved and not because I don't have others in my life that love me unconditionally, but because I no longer have someone that I knew no matter what i might've done or said she would be there with her arms wide open.
I've let myself go in ways that I never imagined I would. I am ashamed and humiliated with myself because I never completed the healing process when I know that's something she wants of me.
I simply put it off because it was easier to ignore the pain than to overcome it.
Worst of all, I feel hopeless because no matter how many times I talk about it I simply hear the same thing over and over. "What would she want you to do?" "Would she want you to sit around and mope?"
Yeah duh, I know that, but it does not bring mean any closure. It does not make me feel better, it does not bring me any closer to healing.
It's just a constant ring of fire. I cry, I get angry, I get numb.
And I've been numb for way too long.
I want to make her proud but I know I'm only failing her.
Which as you guessed, spirals me into another depression.
Going into her house now, is like a metaphor for how I feel inside; empty.
I only pray that there will be a day I will feel okay and that not all will be lost when that happens.
1. Brittany Morgan, National Writer's Society
2. Radhi, SUNY Stony Brook
3. Kristen Haddox, Penn State University
4. Jennifer Kustanovich, SUNY Stony Brook
5. Clare Regelbrugge, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign