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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I Ghosted My Old Self For 5 Months In An Effort To Reevaluate My Life

My life fell apart faster than a drunk dude approaching a Jenga stack.

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BREAKING (not fake) NEWS: It's true, you have to hit your lowest before hitting your highest.

I want to share my lowest with you, and I'm almost ashamed to say it had nothing to do with the loss of both of my parents. I like to think I handled that like a warrior.

Turns out I didn't, and the hurt I've been burying from that hit me all at once, the same moment my life fell apart faster than a drunk dude approaching a Jenga stack.

My life flipped upside down overnight back in August. I had my heart broken shattered, lost two very important friendships that I thought were with me until the end, lost my 9-5 job, my health took a hit stronger than a boulder, and I was absolutely lost. For the first time, ever, I let go of the reigns on my own life. I had no idea how to handle myself, how to make anyone around me happy, how to get out of bed or how to even begin the process of trying to process what the f*ck just happened. I was terrified.

Coming from the girl who never encountered a dilemma she couldn't fix instantaneously, on her own, with no emotional burden. I was checked out from making my life better. So I didn't try. I didn't even think about thinking about trying.

The only relatively understandable way I could think to deal with anything was to not deal with anything. And that's exactly what I did. And it was f*cking amazing.

I went into hiding for a week, then went on a week getaway with my family, regained that feeling of being loved unconditionally, and realized that's all I need. They are all I need. Friends? Nah. Family. Only. Always.

On that vacation, I got a call from the school district that they wanted me in for an interview the day I come home. It was for a position that entailed every single class, combined, that I took in my college career. It was a career that I had just gotten my degree for three months before.

I came home and saw my doctor and got a health plan in order. I was immediately thrown into the month-long hiring process for work. I made it a point to make sunset every single night, alone, to make sure I was mentally caught up and in-check at the same exact speed that my life was turning. I was not about to lose my control again. Not ever.

Since August, I have spent more time with family than ever. I've read over 10 new books, I've discovered so much new music, I went on some of my best, the worst and funniest first dates, I made true, loyal friends that cause me zero stress while completely drowning me in overwhelming amounts of love and support, I got back into yoga, and I started that job and damn near fell more in love with it than I ever was for the guy I lost over the summer.

But most importantly, I changed my mindset. I promised myself to not say a single sentence that has a negative tone to it. I promised myself to think three times before engaging in any type of personal conversation. I promised myself to wake up in a good mood every damn day because I'm alive and that is the only factor I should need to be happy.

Take it from a girl who knew her words were weapons and used them frequently before deciding to turn every aspect of her life into positivity — even in the midst of losing one of my closest family members. I have been told multiple times, by people so dear to me that I'm "glowing." You know what I said back? F*ck yes I am, and I deserve to.

I am so happy with myself and it has nothing to do with the things around me. It's so much deeper than that, and I'm beaming with pride. Of myself. For myself.

I want to leave you with these thoughts that those people who have hurt me, left me, and loved me through these last couple of months have taught me

Growth is sometimes a lonely process.
Some things go too deep to ever be forgotten.
You need to give yourself the permission to be happy right now.
You outgrow people you thought you couldn't live without, and you're not the one to blame for that. You're growing.
Sometimes it takes your break down to reach your breakthrough.

Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

My god, it's so f*cking good.

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It's Not Easy To Keep The New You Around All Year, But It Is Possible, Fight For The Life You Want

Keep yourself in check with these tips.

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There's no better time to set goals for yourself than for the new year! However, many people have the same goals of going to the gym more or working on saving money and often don't follow through with them after the first month or two. To help keep your goals to better improve yourself, I thought I'd share some tips that help keep me in check, and can hopefully help you, too!

1. Share your goals!

If no one knows your plans, it can be easy to just forget about them or use that as an excuse to give up. However, if you tell a few of your close friends, they can hold you accountable and check in with you to make sure you're following through.

2. Evaluate who you hang out with

You want to make sure the people you're sharing your goals with are going to hold you accountable and support you. It is also important to look around and make sure everyone in your life is leaving a positive mark. Negativity will just bring you down and won't help you achieve any goals.

3. Invest

You don't need to be a pro or even know much about investing to do so, but you'd be surprised how setting a little money aside makes a difference in the long run. Many accounts even allow you to set it up so it automatically takes money from your account.

4. Help others to help yourself feel better

Many people don't realize volunteering is as simple as helping out an organization that supports something you believe in for even just an hour or two a week. You might be surprised how humbling volunteering can be and it will make you appreciative for what you have. It is also good to help make the community you live in a better place.

5. Change how you get fit

It is very common to want to get in shape and healthier for the new year, but doing it the right way is most important to make sure you can stick with your goal. Rather than rushing into things and trying to go to the gym every day of the week and not eat any processed foods, start small. Start by going to the gym once or twice a week. Start by eliminating one unhealthy meal a day. Habits don't form overnight. Changing your health takes time and realizing that is the first step.

6. Find ways to reduce stress

This may sound irrelevant, but stress can often be used as an excuse for us to not do something. While you can't completely eliminate stress, finding ways to reduce it can help you stay motivated to stick with your goals! Little ways to start this can be by finding time to meditate once a week or taking more time for yourself.

7. Pick a place to travel!

While this is not easy and possible for everyone, even finding a cheap weekend getaway is a great way to give yourself a break and evaluate how you have been doing in the year.

8. Spend less time on your phone

This is another thing where you can start small by maybe choosing to not go on your phone immediately when you wake up!

9. Become more knowledgeable with what is happening in the world

You can learn so much just by reading the news, and you never know the types of conversations you could end up having with people. This just helps keep you well rounded and a part of society. It can also help you determine whether or not your goals are attainable depending on what is going on in the world, especially with investing!

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