What 9/11 Meant to Me

My best friend Jennifer Cane left school early on Sept. 11, 2001, and I didn’t understand why.

Two airplanes crashed into two buildings in New York City and a third plane flew straight into the Pentagon. But what was the Pentagon? And why was Jennifer’s dad there?

I remember how confused I felt by the concept of people from another country killing people in our country. I remember wondering if this could happen to me at any time, or to my parents at any time.

By lunch, half of my classmates were gone. These classmates had mothers and fathers in the military- not unusual, considering Camp Lejeune was a five-minute drive from school.

We were dismissed from school early that day. Although I was six years old and I can’t remember the day’s events in detail, the feeling I had is impossible to forget. All I knew for sure was that America wasn’t as safe as I thought it was.

I should clarify that Jennifer’s dad was unharmed. None of my close friends from school lost their parents due to the attacks, but no one was sure of anything until that evening.

I can confidently say September 11, 2001 was the day I realized there was evil in the world.

Happy Birthday From Me and My Instagram.

One of my best friends turned 21 yesterday. Exciting, right?? 

Even though I’m not 21, I constantly find myself celebrating the monumental birthday for my friends. Not only is it the age of legal drinking (honestly not that exciting to me, but most of my friends think it’s the most important thing in the world), but it’s also the age you officially feel like you’ve become an adult. Unless you’re trying to rent a car, the age of 21 is limitless as far as rules go. 

So back to my main point- I’m excited for anyone turning 21, which is why it’s all the more fabulous when the birthday girl is a best friend. With this particular friend, we’ll call her Lo, I went all out. I’m not the type to craft for friends, but I made a cute scrapbook page to go in her 21st birthday scrapbook. I also went and got her a gorgeous piece of jewelry from J.Crew, her favorite store, and it was definitely not cheap. I told Lo to get excited because I’m skipping my first sorority cocktail to come to her 21st birthday party in Raleigh, where she is pretty much my only friend. Oh, and not to mention- I have four midterms next week, so I’m giving up precious time to make sure she knows how important her birthday is to me.

Now here’s the kicker- despite all of this, I heard through the grapevine (aka a mutual friend) that Lo was mad last night because I didn’t post on Instagram in honor of her birthday. 

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

This news frustrated me. A lot. Just because we have social media outlets does not mean we need to make it a point to wish a friend happy birthday on every possible social network- especially when you called that friend, promised them a weekend together, made them a scrapbook page and bought them a gift. 

This especially troubled me because I know Lo isn’t the only person who thinks this way. I mentioned in my last blog post my concern about teens and preteens’ use of social media (emphasis on Instagram). It saddens me that we place so much emphasis on our social media presence- what is to gain from an Instagram post except popularity and views/likes? 

I constantly worry that social media is ruining the value of personal relationships. Unfortunately, it’s conflicts like this that confirm my fear is legitimate. 

5 Things That Happen When You Live In A Sorority House

Living in my sorority house has been a lot more of a pleasant experience than I thought it was going to be. I imagined there being tons of drama and attitude overloads. However, all 31 girls in the house get along shockingly well. There were, however, a few things I noticed within my first week of living at Zeta. 

1. Your closet becomes everyone’s closet. I’ve only been living in the house for three weeks, but at least six articles of clothing have been taken out of my closet, worn and returned in sub-par condition. Even though my friends and I constantly send out messages in the house group text about asking people to get permission, the secret borrowing continues. I’m considering a lock for the door, but I would probably lose the key. 

2. Your clean laundry will be thrown, in a pile, onto the floor if you leave it in the dryer any longer than 10 minutes after the cycle is over. Just last week, I had to turn on the dryer before heading off to class. I left my phone number on the dryer just in case the next girl needed to text me to see when I would be back to get my clothes out of the dryer. When I returned, my clothes were in a damp pile on the ground of the laundry room. I still haven’t figured out who the culprit is. 

3. You will try to do your homework in a group setting, aka the TV lounge, but you will actually end up wasting five hours listening to your sisters’ stories you don’t care about. At all. I just learned last week that no matter how hard I try, I will never be able to successfully study in the TV lounge at Zeta. I’m not sure how anyone does it, but I guess I’m cursed with the desire to constantly socialize with literally anyone. I have to get as far from the house as possible if I want to study- unfortunately, this means the library. 

4. You realize that your house somehow belongs to 130 girls, even if they don’t live there. There are always guests in the sorority house who don’t live in the sorority house. Unfortunately, these guests are normally members of the sorority, and therefore it’s not possible to kick them out. This means if it’s 1 a.m. on a Monday night and you have a test in your 8 a.m. chemistry class, and you hear five girls getting ready to go out across the hall, you have no option but to put in ear plugs or sleep through the noise. They aren’t going anywhere. 

5. You stay up too late. I’m an early bird. This does not combine well with my new habit of being a night owl. When I lived in an apartment last year, I was in bed by 10 p.m. at the latest- even on the weekends. Now, I somehow justify staying up past midnight because everyone around me is staying up even later. It’s like I said with the studying- if there are people around me talking, I HAVE to join in. Especially if it’s my friends who happen to be in my room. Must. Socialize. 

Saying goodbye to my home.

Let me start this post by clarifying one thing: I do not like Jacksonville. 

However, I grew up in Jacksonville, N.C., and aside from the three years I lived in Chapel Hill after I was born and the past three years I’ve been at UNC, it is the only place I’ve ever called home. 

Although I don’t leave Chapel Hill unless I’m traveling or have an obligation at home, I feel invested in where my parents live. I have been begging my parents to move back to Chapel Hill or Raleigh ever since I came to school, but they didn’t seem completely sold on the idea. I was beginning to think they didn’t want to move at all, but two weeks ago, my parents informed me that they bought a house in Beaufort, N.C., and they would be moving there permanently within the next two months. 

Naturally, I flipped- at first. But then I thought about all of the terrible things I have said about Jacksonville to my parents. 

“It’s boring.”

“There are too many marines.” 

“The restaurants all suck.”

“I’m going back to Chapel Hill.”

I quickly realized I had no reason to be mad about the move. In fact, it was selfish to even consider complaining about it because I never go home. I decided instead to be happy for my parents because they are moving into a community they will enjoy far more than they’re currently enjoying Jacksonville. My mom has talked nonstop about how in love with the house she is- she and my dad have always wanted to live on the water. Knowing that my parents are excited for the next step in their lives is hard, but it also makes me happy. I’m getting a little excited myself just thinking about calling Beaufort my home town. It’s peaceful and quaint, but also rich in history and culture. 

Sometimes saying goodbye to the familiar is hard because we don’t know any different. My house in Jacksonville is where I made my earliest memories, and it’s strange to imagine driving by and not seeing my three dogs running around in the front yard. But change is necessary, and change is good. 

 

 

I’m Glad I Grew Up Without Instagram.

“How many likes did your picture get?”

“Almost 250. What about yours?”

“Oh my God mine didn’t even get 200. Should I delete it?”

This is a real conversation I have witnessed (multiple times) between my 13 and 16-year-old cousins. Every time we go somewhere together, I know that my face will be put on some form of social media, and my cousins and their friends will spend approximately 90% of our time together staring at their iPhones. Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter have changed the way teenagers think- if 13 is even considered a teenager. 

I think about how different my high school and middle school experiences would have been if these social media outlets were as popular as they are now. Sure, we had Facebook and MySpace, but no one accessed those sites from their cell phones ever three minutes. Before college, if I wanted to get attention from someone, I had to reach out to them. Me and my friends would call each other regularly, or spend time together face to face. If we were together, our phones were the last thing we thought about. Pictures were the last thing we thought about. We lived in the moment- at least more so than teenagers do now. 

I worry that social media is changing the way young people validate themselves. It saddens me to watch a 13-year-old girl, gorgeous inside and out, spend over 20 minutes picking the most flattering filter on Instagram and checking her phone every minute to see who has liked her photo. Why is this a constant thought that goes through their heads? The destruction these self-focused social media outlets are doing to the mentality of teens is real. I hope they will grow out of their concerns about social media presence and learn the importance of social presence, but unfortunately having access to social media at such a young age might make this impossible. 

Traveling isn’t always what it takes to find yourself.

Wake up. Go to Pure Barre with my best friend Maddie. Get Starbucks. Go to work. Grab Med Deli for dinner. Walk home. Go to bed before 10 p.m. Repeat. 

This was my summer. In April, I decided to pass up a summer in London for a summer in Chapel Hill because I wanted to earn money instead of spending it (for once). In doing this, I thought I was giving up an experience that would change my life. My days and thoughts had become repetitive in Chapel Hill and I believed a summer in London would tear me from the rut I was in. 

As it turns out, staying in Chapel Hill was just what I needed to rediscover the things that make me excited about life. I know this is a broad statement- but I mean it as it is. One of my favorite things to do for most of my life was to run. About a year ago, I started to have problems with my knee and I haven’t been able to run at all since last September. I started going to the local Pure Barre studio as a way of getting a full body workout without bone impact. But it wasn’t until this summer when I went every day, not as a student, but as a member of the Chapel Hill community, that I started to make friends at the studio who weren’t in my sorority or history class, and this felt great. 

My best friend Maddie started coming with me to Pure Barre. As we made more friends at the studio, we began going to more community health events. We went to an outdoor yoga class in Durham one night and we did hot yoga with a group of yogis one morning. I began eating healthier- not because I was trying to lose weight, but because hanging out with healthy people changed my perspective on how I should treat my body. Where most college kids who stayed in Chapel Hill for summer school frequented the bars and fast food, Maddie and I frequented the Barre and Whole Foods. 

By staying in Chapel Hill this summer instead of going to London as an escape, I got a glimpse into what my life will be like if I keep doing things that make me happy and healthy. I love to travel and am not saying I will never study abroad. Sometimes, though, leaving your community isn’t the way to find meaning in your life. It’s often as simple as remembering what makes you feel happy and doing just that.