What I Wish I Had Known While Questioning My Sexuality

What I Wish I Had Known While Questioning My Sexuality

You are not alone in your personal discovery.

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Figuring out who you are can be a tricky process. It can seem daunting to identify with a new label and even scarier to express yourself in our judgemental society. These are some of the things I wish I had been told while discovering and exploring my sexuality.

1. Questioning your identity is a perfectly normal process.

Everybody goes through self discovery. In fact some may argue that self discovery is a life long process. Your sexuality is a part of who you are whether you are straight, gay, bisexual, or somewhere in between. Be kind to yourself and know that you are the only one who can truly define how you feel.

2. Figuring out who you are takes time.

Nobody understands their personal style overnight. Sexuality is no different. Maybe you love wearing dresses and lipstick or maybe dress shirts and bow ties are more your jam. Think back to a few years ago. Has your style evolved? Chances are it probably has. It's okay to take your time and experiment with different labels just like it's okay to update your style. Eventually, just like your style will most likely become more defined, your expression of sexuality and preferred labels will become more prominent as well.

3. If you don't want to label yourself that's okay.

How cool would it be to live in a society that doesn't put so much pressure on putting yourself in a box? Look, labels can be helpful and most are not created with bad intentions in mind, however sometimes when you're in the process of learning who you are labels can make things even more confusing. It's perfectly okay not to put a label on how you feel, especially if you are still figuring that out.

4. Find a support system.

Find people who will support you no matter how you feel. Not everyone will understand right away and unfortunately there may be some people who will never fully understand. BUT remember there will always be someone in your corner who is rooting for you. Find those people and make them your family.

5. Be kind to yourself.

I cannot emphasize this enough! Learn to love who you are. The more you can learn to love and accept who you are, the more others will appreciate your presence. Life can be pretty damn tough sometimes. Remember to give yourself breaks. You're only human. Be nice to you.

6. Forget about the word "phase".

Eventually and unfortunately you will most likely be faced with the oh-too-overused "are you sure this isn't just a phase?" question *deep sigh.* Maybe it's from your grandma, a best friend, or a parent. Whoever asks this probably won't understand the hurt and shame this can cause even if they don't mean to be hurtful. Keep you head up and remember that no matter how you feel, you deserve to be respected and validated. Even if your attraction to a particular gender doesn't last, that part of you still existed and deserves to be acknowledged. Feelings can change. You're allowed to evolve.

7. Stereotypes are not always true, but sometimes they are and that's okay too.

No matter what that BuzzFeed quiz tells you, playing softball and wearing flannels doesn't make you a lesbian. Your attraction makes you a lesbian. Sure there are some gay women who do seem to only wear Birkenstocks drive Subarus. I mean stereotypes exist for a reason! However don't let those define who you are.

8. Above all, live gratefully, lovingly, and unapologetically.

Be true to who you are. Be grateful for the people you have supporting you and love who you love. At the end of the day, you decide who you are and how you want to live your life. Live it the way that makes you happy.

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20 Things That Happen When A Jersey Person Leaves Jersey

Hoagies, pizza, and bagels will never be the same.
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Ah, the "armpit of America." Whether you traveled far for college, moved away, or even just went on vacation--you know these things to be true about leaving New Jersey. It turns out to be quite a unique state, and leaving will definitely take some lifestyle adjustment.

1. You discover an accent you swore you never had.

Suddenly, people start calling you out on your pronunciation of "cawfee," "wooter," "begel," and a lot more words you totally thought you were saying normal.

2. Pork Roll will never exist again.

Say goodbye to the beautiful luxury that is pork roll, egg, and cheese on a bagel. In fact, say goodbye to high-quality breakfast sandwiches completely.

3. Dealing with people who use Papa Johns, Pizza Hut, or Dominos as their go-to pizza.

It's weird learning that a lot of the country considers chain pizza to be good pizza. You're forever wishing you could expose them to a real, local, family-style, Italian-owned pizza shop. It's also a super hard adjustment to not have a pizza place on every single block anymore.

4. You probably encounter people that are genuinely friendly.

Sure Jersey contains its fair share of friendly people, but as a whole, it's a huge difference from somewhere like the South. People will honestly, genuinely smile and converse with strangers, and it takes some time to not find it sketchy.

5. People drive way slower and calmer.

You start to become embarrassed by the road rage that has been implanted in your soul. You'll get cut off, flipped off, and honked at way less. In fact, no one even honks, almost ever.

6. You realize that not everyone lives an hour from the shore.

Being able to wake up and text your friends for a quick beach trip on your day off is a thing of the past. No one should have to live this way.

7. You almost speak a different language.

The lingo and slang used in the Jersey area is... unique. It's totally normal until you leave, but then you find yourself receiving funny looks for your jargon and way fewer people relating to your humor. People don't say "jawn" in place of every noun.

8. Hoagies are never the same.

Or as others would say, "subs." There is nothing even close in comparison.

9. Needing Wawa more than life, and there's no one to relate.

When you complain to your friends about missing Wawa, they have no reaction. Their only response is to ask what it is, but there's no rightful explanation that can capture why it is so much better than just some convenient store.

10. You have to learn to pump gas. Eventually.

After a long period of avoidance and reluctance, I can now pump gas. The days of pulling up, rolling down your window, handing over your card and yelling "Fill it up regular please!" are over. When it's raining or cold, you miss this the most.

11. Your average pace of walking is suddenly very above-average.

Your friends will complain that you're walking too fast - when in reality - that was probably your slow-paced walk. Getting stuck behind painfully slow people is your utmost inconvenience.

12. You're asked about "Jersey Shore" way too often.

No, I don't know Snooki. No, our whole state and shore is not actually like that. We have 130 miles of some of the best beach towns in the country.

13. You can't casually mention NYC without people idealizing some magical, beautiful city.

Someone who has never been there has way too perfect an image of it. The place is quite average and dirty. Don't get me wrong, I love a good NYC day trip as much as the next person, but that's all it is to you... a day trip.

14. The lack of swearing is almost uncomfortable.

Jerseyans are known for their foul mouths, and going somewhere that isn't as aggressive as us is quite a culture adjustment.

15. No more jughandles.

No longer do you have to get in the far right lane to make a left turn.

16. You realize that other states are not nearly as extreme about their North/South division.

We literally consider them two different states. There are constant arguments and debates about it. The only thing that North and South Jersey can agree on is that a "Central Jersey" does not exist.

17. Most places also are not in a war over meat.

"Pork roll" or "taylor ham"... The most famous debate amongst North and South Jersey. It's quite a stupid argument, however, considering it is definitely pork roll.

18. You realize you were spoiled with fresh produce.

After all, it's called the "Garden State" for a reason. Your mouth may water just by thinking about some fresh Jersey corn.

19. You'll regret taking advantage of your proximity to everything.

Super short ride to the beach and a super short ride to Philly or NYC. Why was I ever bored?

20. Lastly, you realize how much pride you actually have in the "armpit of America," even if you claimed to dislike it before.

After all, there aren't many places with quite as much pride. You find yourself defending your state at all necessary moments, even if you never thought that would be the case.

Cover Image Credit: Travel Channel

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Arab-American Heritage Month Is Not A Well Known Celebration And I'm Pissed About It

I'm an Arab-American and didn't even know this was a thing... That's sad.

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The month of April is special for a lot of reasons but this one hits home for me. This is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the culture, history and amazing people who have helped bring something to this country. So many Arab-Americans have contributed a lot to society yet they don't get the recognition they deserve for it.

In today's society, the Arab community is always being looked down on and degraded. The lack of understanding from those around makes Arab-Americans feel like outsiders in a place they should be able to call home. The inaccurate images and stereotypes that inhabit the word "Arab" are sickening.

It's time to raise awareness. It's time to look beyond the media's portrayal. It's time to see a neighbor, a teacher, a doctor, a scientist, an artist, an athlete, a parent, a child, but most importantly, a human being, NOT a monster.

Arab-Americans encounter and fight racism every day. As a society, we should be better than that. We should want everyone in this country to feel wanted, needed and appreciated. Together, we should use this month as a time to shine light and celebrate the many Arab-Americans who have, and continue making this country great.

While you read this list of just a few famous Arab-Americans keep in mind how much they want this country to be amazing, just as much as anyone else does.

Dr. Michael DeBakey, invented the heart pump

Dr. Elias Corey, Nobel Prize winner for Chemistry in 1990 

Dr. Ahmed H. Zewail, Nobel Prize winner for Chemistry in 1999

Lucie Salhany, first woman to head a tv network 

Ralph Johns, an active participant in the civil rights movement and encouraged the famous Woolworth sit-in 

Ernest Hamwi, invented the ice cream cone

Pvt. Nathan Badeen, died fighting in the Revolutionary War

Leila Ahmed, the first women's studies professor at Harvard Divinity School 

We should recognize and celebrate these achievements. There are so many things you can learn when you step inside another culture instead of turning your back to it. This April, take time to indulge in the Arab-American heritage.

Instead of pushing away the things you don't understand, dive into diversity and expand your knowledge of the unknown. Together we can raise awareness. #IAmArabAmerican

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