The 9/11 Kindergarten Class Is All Grown Up

The 9/11 Kindergarten Class Is All Grown Up

Here's what it has felt like for some.
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I remember three things from September 11: being pulled out of kindergarten early, my father seeing smoke above Manhattan from where he worked on Northern Boulevard, and a lot of worry about my mother, who, at the time, was an American Airlines employee at JFK Airport.

Even still, the latter events I didn't quite comprehend until I was older. Being five-years-old during a major terrorist attack doesn't leave you with vivid details to recall, just a general smoggy, chaotic ambiance.

I think it's fair to say that despite my young age, I am able to recall scarce events from 9/11 given my geographic and social ties to the region affected. Most kids my age at the time probably didn't have much of a clue as to what was happening. Hearing stories from older adults, recalling exactly where they were when the tower fell, is still startling to me. I'm glad I was so young, so blissful and naïve.

But now, I feel anything but because the kindergarten class of 9/11 has grown up. We're now sophomores in college, finding ourselves on the brink of more terror, more tension and a lot of uncertainty. We've grown alongside the rise of information technology and the rise of ISIS. So sorry if we come off as “narcissistic," it's a lot to handle.

Being so young in 2001, I really could not relate to any of the fear that Americans were burdening -- the quiet hush that laid over the Big Apple, the shock and awe of new security measures. By the time this was the “new norm," it was the only norm I knew. My peers are used to being body checked into concert venues. They don't blink at the sight of metal detectors in high school lobbies. We can open our bags and dump our opened water bottles before we are told to.

In 2016, we are turning 19, 20 and 21. We have our own minds, our own goals, and perspectives. With all this independence, we have paid a price. The curtain has been drawn. We know what is going on in the world. You don't need to tell some of us twice. Guns, ISIS, suicide-bombers, quasi-massacres, plane scares – when has there been a day recently when this has not been heard?

When I heard my parents and their friends tell me about 9/11, where they were, how they felt, the days and weeks that were to follow, I could never imagine such a thing. Last week I was walking through Times Square, enjoying the pre-New Year's Eve festivities with a few friends. I'll turn 20 next month, I'm enjoying college break, I'm young and free and the whole world seems to be in front of me.

Yet, on a Manhattan street corner, bursting with tourists, trying to hold on to my friends as to not lose each other, it hit me. It could happen. Now. Why shouldn't it? There were threats made. It's New Year's Eve. This is a prime location that would result in massive victims. Who is stopping them?

I get hit with this wave every now and then -- in a movie theater, driving down the highway, walking across campus, checking in at the airport. I shouldn't have to feel like this, but like I've said, this is our new normal.

But to answer my own question as to who is stopping them, I believe there are people out there fighting the bad guys, as cliché as that sounds. And not just through war or arms, but through legislation and diplomacy. Your everyday heroes and do-gooders. Don't forget that these people make up most of our crazy, lovely world.

Cover Image Credit: k2radio.com

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It's Time To Thank Your First Roommate

Not the horror story kind of roommate, but the one that was truly awesome.
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Nostalgic feelings have recently caused me to reflect back on my freshman year of college. No other year of my life has been filled with more ups and downs, and highs and lows, than freshman year. Throughout all of the madness, one factor remained constant: my roommate. It is time to thank her for everything. These are only a few of the many reasons to do so, and this goes for roommates everywhere.

You have been through all the college "firsts" together.

If you think about it, your roommate was there through all of your first college experiences. The first day of orientation, wishing you luck on the first days of classes, the first night out, etc. That is something that can never be changed. You will always look back and think, "I remember my first day of college with ____."

You were even each other's first real college friend.

You were even each other's first real college friend.

Months before move-in day, you were already planning out what freshman year would be like. Whether you previously knew each other, met on Facebook, or arranged to meet in person before making any decisions, you made your first real college friend during that process.

SEE ALSO: 18 Signs You're A Little Too Comfortable With Your Best Friends

The transition from high school to college is not easy, but somehow you made it out on the other side.

It is no secret that transitioning from high school to college is difficult. No matter how excited you were to get away from home, reality hit at some point. Although some people are better at adjusting than others, at the times when you were not, your roommate was there to listen. You helped each other out, and made it through together.

Late night talks were never more real.

Remember the first week when we stayed up talking until 2:00 a.m. every night? Late night talks will never be more real than they were freshman year. There was so much to plan for, figure out, and hope for. Your roommate talked, listened, laughed, and cried right there with you until one of you stopped responding because sleep took over.

You saw each other at your absolute lowest.

It was difficult being away from home. It hurt watching relationships end and losing touch with your hometown friends. It was stressful trying to get in the swing of college level classes. Despite all of the above, your roommate saw, listened, and strengthened you.

...but you also saw each other during your highest highs.

After seeing each other during the lows, seeing each other during the highs was such a great feeling. Getting involved on campus, making new friends, and succeeding in classes are only a few of the many ways you have watched each other grow.

There was so much time to bond before the stresses of college would later take over.

Freshman year was not "easy," but looking back on it, it was more manageable than you thought at the time. College only gets busier the more the years go on, which means less free time. Freshman year you went to lunch, dinner, the gym, class, events, and everything else possible together. You had the chance to be each other's go-to before it got tough.

No matter what, you always bounced back to being inseparable.

Phases of not talking or seeing each other because of business and stress would come and go. Even though you physically grew apart, you did not grow apart as friends. When one of you was in a funk, as soon as it was over, you bounced right back. You and your freshman roommate were inseparable.

The "remember that one time, freshman year..." stories never end.

Looking back on freshman year together is one of my favorite times. There are so many stories you have made, which at the time seemed so small, that bring the biggest laughs today. You will always have those stories to share together.

SEE ALSO: 15 Things You Say To Your Roommates Before Going Out

The unspoken rule that no matter how far apart you grow, you are always there for each other.

It is sad to look back and realize everything that has changed since your freshman year days. You started college with a clean slate, and all you really had was each other. Even though you went separate ways, there is an unspoken rule that you are still always there for each other.

Your old dorm room is now filled with two freshmen trying to make it through their first year. They will never know all the memories that you made in that room, and how it used to be your home. You can only hope that they will have the relationship you had together to reflect on in the years to come.


Cover Image Credit: Katie Ward

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Dance Marathon Helped Me Understand What It Is That I Stand For

What do you stand for?

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The weekend of March 1, 2019, I stood for over 20 hours for the kids. Yep, I am not lying.

Dance Marathon at FSU is a 40-hour event split into two shifts of 20 hours. My freshman year, I earned sit times throughout the marathon, which I was incredibly thankful for, but this year was something totally different. I was on the internal team this year, which means, I worked behind the scenes of Dance Marathon since September. Since I was on the internal team, I did not get the opportunity to get the set times that I did the year prior. I was worried about this because I was not sure if I would be able to do it.

Spoiler Alert! I did it.

There were many times during the marathon where I thought that I could not stand much longer, but then some thoughts came into my mind. Who was I standing for? I was standing for the kids who had to get their leg amputated because they had osteosarcoma and could no longer stand on both legs. I was standing for the kids who are bound to their hospital beds right at this very moment because they are not strong enough to walk on their own. I was standing for the children who needed me to help them win their fight.

This is what kept me standing. This motivated me so much that I did not complain once because I knew who I was doing it for, and I was not going to let them down.

There were multiple people who kept complaining. Every word out of their mouth was about how their feet hurt, or how they were so tired. A large part of me wanted to turn to them and tell them, "Do you know how tired Grayson was when he had to have his many rounds of chemotherapy when he was just one-year-old?" I did not say that to them because I realized something. I knew what and who I was standing for, but maybe they didn't. My goal this year is to help all of those people understand WHY they are doing it.

20 hours on your feet may seem like a long time, but to watch $2,210,165.21 go up at the end, nothing compares.

Like the musical group Fun. once sang, "What do I stand? What do I stand for?" To that, I say, "I stand for the kids."


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