Embracing Curls and Curves

Embracing Curls and Curves

I am a proud mixed baby. My mom is Italian, Irish, English, and Danish. My father is Dominican – a mixture of the native Taino, Spaniards, and Africans. I have the tightest ringlet curls, the curviest hips, and the weirdest olive skin tone. I love these things about myself now, but that wasn’t always the case.

To be honest, I hated my curly hair for the longest time. I didn’t like how poofy it was. I didn’t like that whenever I wore it curly, people would pet me like I was an animal in a petting zoo, with a sign on my forehead saying “open for business”. I hated the upkeep that comes with curls, and believe me, it’s a lot. For the life of me, I just wanted sleek straight hair. If my hair was ever down, it was straight. I refused to accept my curly hair and did everything I possibly could to hide it.

I started the journey of self love by first knowing self hate. For the longest time, I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin, both physically and mentally. I hate everything about myself. From how wide my hips were, to how curly my hair was, to the color of my eyes, to the fat on my body. I dreaded the mirror and I would avoid it at all costs.

It started when I was young, as I think it does for most girls. You just see what’s on TV and in the media and the toys we played with, you wanted to look like them. I wanted to be skinny with sleek straight hair, clear skin, and the perfect tan. I wanted bright blue eyes and not the color of poop brown. The last thing I wanted was to be me.

When middle school came, I feel like it only got worse. I questioned every move I made and every decision I made. I tried my best to find what I was comfortable in, but it wasn’t anything. I hated shopping. I always ended up crying in the fitting room because nothing fit. I remember the day I went from a size 3 to a size 5 in jeans and I cried all night. All my friends were a size 1 and I was here, fat at a size 5. I know now that it was my hips but I didn’t know that then. Throughout middle school, I was really struggling with my depression which made loving myself so much harder, but it made hating myself so much easier. I wore pants all the time and long shirts to cover scars and scabs due to self harm. I would sweat profusely before I even thought about taking off my jackets.

When high school started, I was fresh on my own. I had just gotten out of the only serious relationship with a boy that I had ever had and I was so lost in my identity, it wasn’t even funny. At that point in my life, I was really struggling with the fact that my biological father didn’t want me. I didn’t know what was wrong with me or what I did wrong to make him not want me. In my eyes, I wasn’t good enough and that tore me to shreds. Being so disconnected from my biological father, caused me to not know half of my family. I was not only disconnected from half of my genes, but an entire culture. I struggled a lot with that. I didn’t know what it meant to be Latina. But since the day I knew what race was, that’s what I identified as. Rightfully so, I’m predominately Dominican so it only makes sense that that is what I identify as. Freshman year was also the year I started to lose a lot of the tan/brown color I had always had as a kid, and turned more olive-ish, making more people think I’m white, making me more frustrated. At a time where I was struggling with my ethnicity, I knew I wasn’t white but I didn’t know what it meant to be Dominican because I wasn’t raised around the culture. Even though I was identifying as Latina – and still do – I wasn’t embracing the Latina in me.  My hair went from in a tight, tight ballet bun to sleek straight down. I refused to wear my hair curly because I hated it so much.

Because I was so lost in myself as a person, I was drawn to a girl that seemed to know who she was. Someone who carried herself with so much confidence and poise. I wanted that. So we became friends. Like me, she’s gay. Freshman year, unlike me, she was out and proud. She had a serious relationship with a girl and wasn’t afraid to be who she was. I, on the other hand, was struggling so hard to accept myself for who I was. A biracial gay young woman. I was so uncomfortable with every inch of my body and who I was. I remember nasty rumors going around the school about me when I had liked a girl for the first time. The boy I had just gotten out of a relationship with contacted me and asked me about them and yelled at me about it. He went on about how much it hurt him to hear that I liked a girl. At that point, I really retracted into myself and questioned even pursuing this girl. He made me so much more insecure in myself, in a way only he had the power to do. From about seventh grade to this point, I had identified as bisexual. It was my way of slowly accepting myself but not fully. It took me a long time to really accept myself for who I am, in terms of my sexuality. By the end of freshman year, I was just as lost, if not more than I started. I was trying to figure out what it meant to be an ethnic young woman and what it meant to be a gay teen and how those met and meshed to make me. I felt so unlucky. Of course I get to deal with all the hard stuff.

By the time sophomore year started, I was okay with being gay, I was out to my direct family and my close friends. That was good enough for me for the time being. After that point, I didn’t have many problems with being gay. However, I was still hating my body, my hair, myself and I was still struggling with my father not wanting me. As the year passed by, I made a new friend to go with my best friend from freshman year. It was the 3 of us against the world, I was the happiest to have such great friends. But I had spoken too soon. My first friend, from freshman year, and I had a falling out. In all fairness, we were incredibly toxic to each other and we deserved more in friends than we were giving each other. My new friend, though, I loved. We had so much in common. We saw the world in the same way, we were each others support. She really encouraged me to find who I was and love that person, whomever she was. She was the person I called when I needed someone to talk to. If anyone knew sophomore Veronica the best, it is probably her. Then I met a girl and fell in love. This girl made me feel like the only girl in the world and like I was the most important person in her life. I felt like I could do anything. I had so much more confidence, I was so much happier. I was starting to “love” myself because she loved me. Then my friend and the girl I was head over heels for got closer and my girlfriend fell for her. My heart was torn out of my chest and I was so lost. All the confidence I had was because someone else loved me. I lost the girl that I loved, I lost my best friend that I honestly thought was going to be in my life for a long time, and once again, I lost myself. After that I put up my walls. I built them high, thick, and indestructible. Nobody was going to break me again because I wouldn’t ever let anyone close enough. I was so tired of getting hurt, I never gave anyone a chance.

My life as I knew it fell apart about this time last year – end of February, beginning of March. I lost the people closest to me and just became such a loner. I didn’t have any friends, I ate lunch in the library by myself. I became this zombie of numbness. I was depressed, I was alone, and I didn’t know what to do. I spent the last 2 months of my sophomore year alone.

My 16th birthday was horrible. I had this great day planned, this great party and I invited all my friends weeks before hand and made sure everyone got their invitations and 3 of my friends came to my actual party. The rest was just family and I was just sad. I was so excited to have all the people I loved together and in one place and a day that was just about me and the majority of the day, I just wanted to go to my room and be alone. I felt like the people that didn’t come, didn’t have time for me, like I they didn’t care about me enough to show up. Looking back now, that wasn’t the case, but in that moment, that’s what it felt like. I felt like I didn’t matter to those people and it really sucked.

By the end of sophomore year, I was drained. I was a mess of sadness and loneliness and I was lost all over again, struggling now more than ever. I had pushed so many people away and reverted into my own shell, disconnecting myself from everyone. I just gave up on my relationships with my friends and hid out in my room most nights. Thinking about it now, I think that’s where my love of TV and movies comes from. At a time when I was lost and alone, I would watch a bunch of shows and everything would just fade to the background.

The one thing that really got me through the end of sophomore year was the fact that my family was taking our first ever vacation together to the west coast state of California. I was so excited. I had been dying to go to California for the longest time and it was happening. I couldn’t believe it. About a week or 2 before we left for California, I decided that I was just going to focus on me. I was going to kind of disconnect from the people at home and just be in my own element in the state that I had been dying to see.

This is where my journey to self love really begins. In California, I felt so at home, so in my element. I was mesmerized by the state and the beauty and the adventure. I was so happy that there was a 0 percent chance of me running into anyone I knew. I was free to be myself and be happy. While in California, I really just focused on me and took care of myself and did a lot of soul searching, in the sense that I found what I want to do for a chunk of my life, I danced in Los Angeles in one of the most iconic studios and my heart was just so happy. I was loving the touristy things like the Chinese Mann Theatre, Hollywood Boulevard, Rodeo Drive, the Hollywood sign, everything. I loved the atmosphere and the fact that we almost hit Luke Kleintank with our car, still one of the highlights of my trip as he is one of my favorite actors.

Coming back to Colorado after 10 days in California was like coming down off the best rollercoaster that you just want to keep riding. It sucked, but at the same time, it allowed me to find myself and love myself the way I did in California. And with the head start I had in California, coming home and falling in love with who I am, was so much easier. While in California, I more fell in love with who I was as a person and what I have to offer and less with my body. My goal when coming home was to really embrace my curls, my curves, and as I put it earlier, my weird olive skin tone.

After coming home, I came across a Tumblr post written by Amandla Stenberg. She was asked a question about cultural appropriation but it was her response that really got me. She said, “I’m 16 years old and just asserting my own identity – which because of my race, I’ve struggled with since I was 5. I always attempted to make myself appear more white and rejected my culture.” As I have really started to embrace my curls and curves, I’ve thought about this quote a lot. I relate so much to it because throughout my journey of self love/hate, I did exactly this. I refused to accept my curly hair and wore it sleek straight whenever I wore in down. Until I read this response, I didn’t know that I attempted to make myself appear more white, but I did.

Which brings us to today. After this long journey of obstacles and struggling to find myself, I finally did. I found who I am, I am loving who I am and these days, I’m working on loving my body. I am working on learning what it means to be a young biracial gay woman and what I can bring to this world. I am learning that my curls are so fun and cute, my curves are so beautiful and that my skin tone is still a pain in the butt. I am learning about my heritage and what it really means to be Dominican. I am learning how to present myself to people who aren’t going to like me solely because I was born the way I am. A good friend told me though, “You do not exist in this world to validate other people.” And I don’t.

I exist in this world to be me. To unapologetically live my life and be my true self while doing it. I will not compromise who I am or what I believe for someone else. I am who I am, take it or leave it. I’m embracing my curls and my curves, you have to too.

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To The Love of My Life

To The Love of My Life

I wonder about you often. I wonder if I have already met you, if I will meet you soon, or if you’ll come when I least expect it. I wonder if you are with someone now and what she is like. I wonder if you’re thinking about me and our future life together. I wonder what your name is, where you grew up, what your family is like. I wonder if you like dogs or cats more, if you like TV as much as I do, and if you want an everlasting, epic love, like I do.

It’s Valentine’s Day and today is a day where I can’t help but wonder about you. I just want to know what your childhood was like. Do you have siblings? Do you not have siblings? How many kids do you want? Do you want kids at all? Disney or Nickelodeon? Nathan or Lucas? Chipotle or Qdoba? Chocolate or vanilla? Clicker or remote? All of these, very pressing questions.

I just want you to know these things. As I’ve grown and loved and cherished many people, I have learned and I am still learning how to love, but this is what I know to be true…

1. I’m one stubborn cookie

I’m not a walk in the park. I will fight with you, I will annoy you, I will make you want to pull your hair out. I am confusing and hard and frustrating. I am stubborn and hardheaded and very firm in my opinions. But I promise, I’m worth it. I love hard, I love deeply, and I love with all of me. I promise that I will love you hardly, deeply, and with all of me.

2. I promise to never give up on us

I promise to never walk away from us. I will always fight. I will fight for you, for us. I won’t let you go to bed upset, I will talk with you until we can’t possibly talk anymore, I will apologize for yelling because it’ll happen. I promise to never give up. I love you, I’m in this.

3. I’m your person

I will be the first one to scream when you accomplish your goals, I’ll be the one cheering the loudest for you in whatever you do, I will be the one to hold your hand when things don’t go your way. I will be your safe haven, your confidant, your cuddles after a bad day. I will never stop encouraging you to follow your dreams, I will dream your biggest dreams with you and cry of happiness when you achieve them. I will always be proud of you. I will hold you while you fall apart and I will make you tea, hot chocolate, cake, or whatever you want to help ease the pain. I will always be your shoulder to cry on, your someone to lean on, your Meredith to your Derek.

4. I will always spoil you

You deserve flowers sent to work, dinner made when you get home, massages at any time. I promise to never stop treating you like the queen that you are. I will always be proud to have you by my side, I will always take you out, I will always show you off. I promise that you will never doubt my love for you.

5. I will always love you

I will never not love you. I will love you through the highs, the lows, the in-between, and the sucks. I will stand by your side through the worst storms and the brightest days. I will hold your hand when you need it, I will give you space, I will hug you more than you’d like, I will kiss you every day. I will be your best friend. I will be your worst enemy. I will always come home. I will always fight for you, with you. I will never let you go to bed unhappy. I will cook for you. I will take you out. I will shower you with gifts, flowers, chocolate, whatever you like. But I will always be here to pick up the pieces, to help you put everything back together, to walk through life with you. I will be your travel companion, your personal comedian, your therapist. I will love you with all of me. I will cheer the loudest, laugh the hardest, and cry the most. I will never give up on you. I will grow with you. I will hold onto you so damn tight. I will always love you. Until the day that I die, I will always love you.

 

 

A Letter To My Best Friend

A Letter To My Best Friend

Dear Best Friend,

You have been there for me since the day I was born. You have loved me, taken care of me, guided me, and made me into the young woman I am today. Since the day I was born you have cheered me on, been my number one fan, and held my hand every step of the way. You are my rock, my inspiration, my motivation, my best friend, my confidant, my shoulder to cry on, my person to lean on, my biggest supporter, my hand to hold, but most of all and most importantly, you’ve been my mom.

I wish I could fully put into words the love I feel for you but I can’t. No amount of words will ever be enough. My grip on you is so tight, leaving next year is the scariest thing in the world, and I’m not sure that I’m ever going to be ready to say “See you later”. I haven’t ever spent more than a month without you and to think that soon I’ll be 1,000 miles away is so scary. You are the first person I call when anything happens in my life, exciting, sad, weird, scary, you name it, I tell you. I’m sure you’ll be annoyed with the million texts, 30 phone calls, and 15 FaceTime calls I’m going to try to have with you every day. You’re probably going to have to block me for a few days.

I don’t know who I would be if I didn’t have you. You are the most hardworking, caring, giving, woman I know. I take it for granted. I can’t thank you enough for making me fried eggs, getting my ice cream, doing my laundry when I don’t want to, rubbing every inch of my body after a long week of dance, taking care of me when I’m sick – no matter how annoying my whining is. I can’t thank you enough for the hard work and dedication you give me. I don’t deserve it most days, but it never stops.

When I grow up I want to be in the Air Force. I want to be a teacher. I want to change the lives of children. I want to instill something in someone. I want to mean something. I want to be someone. But most of all, I want to be like you. If I become half the woman you are today, I would be one lucky girl. My kids would – hopefully – have a wonderful mother because if I’m half the mom you are, I’m set for life.

Thank you for being both parents sometimes, for being my loudest cheerleader, for never stopping the flow of support and love. I will never get over the light in your eyes when I do something to make you proud. I hope that as I grow, that light never goes away.

Thank you for never giving up on me. For understanding that somedays, I can’t get out of bed. For loving me unconditionally while I learn to do the same. For giving me advice through all my relationships. For letting me vent when you have work to do. For never getting tired of my hugs and my stupid jokes. For the kisses and the holding hands, for the nights I can’t do anything anymore. Thank you for being by my side, for spoiling me, for being my best friend.

I hope I make you proud. That’s all I could ever want.

I love you to the mood and back mom nicole.

You’re the greatest in the world.

 

With all the love in my body,

You’re favorite child

High School Is a Privilege

High School Is a Privilege

In America, high school is a privilege. The youth of today are required by law to attend school until the age of 16. Once you turn 16, you have the choice to continue school, or to drop out. If you talk to most kids in America, they probably don’t want to go to school because they’re tired, they want to hang out with their friends, they don’t see a point, or they’ll give you some other bs excuse.

In today’s world, it is $216 to send one child to high school in a third world country. $216.

Right now, in my school, it’s Random Week. Everyday this week at lunch, there is some sort of thing you can watch or participate in. Monday, you could salsa dance with one of our teachers from Venezuela. Tuesday, our phenomenal jazz band played a little show. Wednesday, 4 teachers lip sync battled. Thursday, you pull a random country from a tub and locate it. Friday, we have a photo booth and a quote wall. While all these fun activities are going on, you can buy a blue sticker for $1. You are supposed to give the sticker/s you buy to different people and tell them “You’ve been blued!”. Basically, it means you’re supposed to go buy a sticker and “blue” someone else. All the money that we raise, goes to sending kids in third world countries to high school.

The reality of it is, we take secondary education for granted. We don’t have a choice in going to school, we have to. But there are kids all around the world who’s one goal is to go to high school, to get a higher education. Many of those kids, don’t get to reach that goal. How baffling is that?

Lets break it down a little further.

According to Global Citizen, there are 10 barriers to education around the world. Lack of funding, having an unqualified teacher or no teacher at all, no classroom, lack of materials, exclusion of children with disabilities, being the wrong gender, living in a country at war/conflict or at risk of war/conflict, distance from home to school, hunger and poor nutrition, and overall expense in general are the top 10 reasons why kids can’t go to school. Yet in my high school alone, we have 4-5 computer labs, all with either Macs, PCs, or Mac Minis. This year my school provided every student, teacher, and most administrators with their own iPad minis. We have multiple sets of Chromebooks, all with no less than 20 in each cart. And there are still children in this world who don’t know if they’re going to make it past second or third grade.

“what if the cure for cancer is trapped inside the mind of someone who can’t afford an education?”

That’s a quote that has always stuck in my mind. I can’t even begin to think about what that would be like. There are THOUSANDS of children in this world who don’t get to receive the education I have right now and yet there are kids that we have to drag to school. There are kids that are more concerned with drugs and partying than getting their high school diploma. There are so many kids in this world that want to be in school. Kids in this world that have one goal. Just one. They want a higher education, and the fact that this isn’t more talked about and it isn’t something that a lot of people care about, is appalling to me.

High school in modern day America, in first world countries, is a privilege.

If you want to learn more about how to help kids go to school, visit globalcitizen.org.

Dealing With Depression

Dealing With Depression

Depression is a mean monster. It comes and goes in waves like you’d never imagine. One day you’re on cloud 9, happy as can be and the next, you’re plunging down a black hole of self doubt and sadness.

I know this monster all too well.

There’s such a stigma that comes with being 16 and depressed, one most people don’t even know is there. At this age, everyone expects you to be flying off the handles, insanely hormonal, and emotional, so being 16 and having this monster of a mental illness, is hard when everyone dismisses you as a melodramatic teenager. In ways, it forces you to hide it, to refuse getting help, and it destroys your life in ways you wouldn’t believe.

I, personally, have been fighting with depression since the ripe age of 12 years old. So many people tell me that I am kidding myself if I think I was depressed at that age, but it happened, and it’s a real thing. I am now 16 and it has not changed, my depression has not gone away, and it will continue to be a battle I will have to fight and fight again to win. I’m slowly but surely learning that in some of the toughest ways.

The hardest thing about being depressed, is how it manifests itself in your life. It comes in all different shapes, sizes, forms, and people. In my experience, throughout the last 4 years, my depression comes in waves. I will one day, quite literally, be on cloud nine, laughing, smiling, a happy camper, and the next, I don’t want to get out of bed, I don’t want to talk to anyone, and I just want to be left alone. And when it hits, it hits hard. Depression has no sympathy. This monster wants you all to themselves and they’ll do anything to make it happen.

It sucks, so much.

As I grow into the young woman I am today, it becomes harder to fight it. My depression manifests in so many different ways and it puts so much distance between me and the ones I care about. I find it hard to get out of bed, to care about school, extracurriculars, and my various other obligations. I don’t want to talk to anyone, I don’t want to see anyone. I would much rather lay in bed and sleep. Some days, it physically hurts to peel myself away from my bed.

Dealing with depression isn’t easy, it’s one of the biggest challenges I face, it’s huge factor into the person I am, and it’s something a lot of 16 year olds struggle with – believe it or not. Depression is the monster under the bed that a night light won’t make go away. It makes the bad days worse, and the worse days treacherous.

I deal with it by writing, talking to my friends and family, seeing a therapist, and working through my issues. I’m no where near done dealing with this. In fact, it’s something that I am going to struggle with for, probably, the rest of my life.

Every day is a fight. Not just a fight with depression, but a fight with myself. I fight for my life, my happiness, my health.

If you or someone you know if struggling with depression, talk to someone. There are so many people in the world that are willing to help. Remember that you are not alone. My email is always open if you need someone to talk to, but I am not a professional. Talk to someone you trust and get the help you need. It’s going to be okay.

New Year, New Me

New Year, New Me

As cliche as it sounds, I really want to change a lot this year and while everyone says that it doesn’t have to be a new year for you to change, I think it’s kind of symbolic, in a way.

2015 was one of the hardest years of my life, and one of the best. I lost a lot of people, made a lot of new friends, met incredible people, learned so much about myself, but most importantly, I found who I am and fell in love with myself. That is far and away my biggest accomplishment and something I am so very proud of. Not to say that I don’t still struggle, because I do, but in different ways.

I have been really wanting to make this blog for a really long time and I don’t know why, but today was the day. I don’t know if it’s the symbolism of the new year, the fact that I have been dying to do it, or all of the above. I just woke up this morning and I had a new found motivation to do something I’d been telling myself I’d do for a long time.

I’m not sure what I want this blog to be, or where it is going to go. I just want to use it to document my year, my life, my thoughts, my struggles, and my achievements, and there will be plenty of them all.

A little about me, if you don’t know enough already, I’m Veronica. I’m 16 years old and a junior in high school. I love anything crafty and artistic, I very much like my alone time, and I probably watch too much Netflix for my own good. I like to color and sing and dance like an idiot. I have learned to embrace my goofiness, my quirks, and the fact that I will always be a Disney kid at heart.

This is my life, my blog, my story.

Welcome to roni writes!