Journey(ing) to the past

Journey(ing) to the past

The past and future are two of the scariest places in the world. The past is unchangeable and the future is unpredictable. Every choice we make determines the next step into the future.

Over 10 years ago I moved from the little town of Salem, NH, to Ithaca, NY, when I was 13. From eighth to eleventh grade I visited Salem almost every other weekend in order see my father. When I entered my senior year I stopped going as often; I think I went once a month, if that. Once I entered college in the fall of 2012, the first time I went back was the summer of 2015. Now in 2017 I’ve been back to Salem twice in less than five months.

The first time was an impromptu visit for my family’s 4th of July party and then from Nov. 22 to 26, my family and I celebrated Thanksgiving and my grandparent’s 50th wedding anniversary celebration in the 603. It was a great four days in my least favorite place in the world.

I never thought it would become a place I’d hate going to. My whole family, immediate and extended, are there and that’s what continues to bring me back but it’s not my first choice as a vacation destination.

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On a whim, I decided to drive around town to see if either schools I attended were open that Saturday of our holiday weekend. To my surprise, the middle school was.

I contemplated going in, my chest trembling as I starred at the unchanged brick facade. I popped in my headphones, took a deep breath in and made my way through the metal doors. The entire time I walked around the halls where my sixth and seventh teams were, I was listening to “Waving through a Window” from the hit-musical “Dear Evan Hansen” on repeat. I’ve loved that song since the soundtrack to the show was released but it never resonated with me until I walked around Woodbury Middle School 10 years later.

On the outside, always looking in
Will I ever be more than I’ve always been?

SixthGradeWing

Even though I am a changed person, a better person than who I was at 13 years old, I retracted to the person I was, instead of the person I have become, as I walked those halls.

I saw the lockers I had in sixth and seventh grade with vivid images of where my peers stood gathered around each day, where I was pushed, shoved and ridiculed on a daily basis, the (new) parking lot where I was blamed for defending myself from a bully and later became suspended from school.

I walked through the cafeteria and sat at the exact table in front of the vending machines where a group of boys yelled and flipped me off for no reason every single day those two years, the place where I got gum thrown in my hair before first period one morning, the library where I had to work with my worst enemy to be made in my entire life, that same library where I threw a Twinkie in a boy’s face after the same group of boys made fat noises at me at the end of a school day. I remember which classrooms I was sexually harassed in and the names of the boys who did it even when I said, “No.”

I remember so distinctly standing emotionless outside the counselor’s office where I told two people I couldn’t forgive them for bullying me after a teacher gave a report about the bullying happening to me each day.

I even remember crying at my computer screen over the Myspace profile someone made of me with a picture from environmental camp in seventh grade with a blue background with little Twinkies embedded where I read everyone’s true opinions of me.

When you’re falling in a forest and there’s nobody around
Do you ever really crash, or even make a sound?

NoBullySign

10 years later I remember the names of all who tormented me, who made me feel like I was nothing and those who witnessed what was happening but decided to say nothing. I didn’t want to be saved, I wanted the burning hell that encompassed me on a daily basis to die. I wanted someone to listen. I needed someone to believe me.

10 years later I knew I had to go back to my roots to fully understand the growth and accomplishments I have made since moving to Ithaca and finally talk about what happened to me growing up.

Because thank God, I have changed. I got out of the town that made me feel like I was a something instead of a somebody, an easy target to the people I grew up with. I left the town, the people and the school administration that was inevitably going to make me fail. I am so incredibly happy I became a new person the minute I stepped onto Ithaca soil.

I’ve learned to slam on the brake
Before I even turn the key
Before I make the mistake
Before I lead with the worst of me.

WelcomeSign

I developed proper social skills and made friends, I had teachers willing to help me in my classes, I wasn’t being bullied anymore, I fell absolutely in love with (musical) theatre, I graduated high school with high honors, I became a leader in college, I found my voice and I graduated college with two bachelor’s degrees. If I didn’t leave I wouldn’t have experienced all that I have and met those who built me back up from the black ashes of the people who tore me down.

I might always be the fat girl who didn’t have any friends growing up in Salem, NH. I might always have the connotation of being an immature bitch, the naive girl who had no where to sit during lunch, the girl who was shamed for trying to be someone, the girl everyone threw to the side like a piece of garbage. Maybe that will always be the image for those who knew me 10 years ago.

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But here are words I hope you read, from the woman who you can know now, 10 years later:

We’ve all changed. I am certainly not the same person I was back in the day and I hope you aren’t, too. I hope you’re well and I hope our paths cross again in our lives. I hope we can talk, catch up on our life endeavors.

Anyways, thank you. Truly. Thank you for making me realize what pure happiness feels like after knowing what complete humiliation entails. Thank you for breaking me down just to be brought back up by those who only wanted to see me succeed. Thank you for teaching me about character and good judgement for those who pass by in my life. Thank you for showing me what it means to be a friend, kindness and understanding. Thank you for showing me that, “Even if you’ve always been that barely-in-the-background kind of [girl], you still matter.

Thank you for making me the confident, takes no BS, compassionate, empathetic and badass woman I am today. Without you, I would have never gained the courage to leave, stay in Ithaca, “step out of the sun” and experience the beautiful second chance at life I was meant to live.

And yes, I forgive you. I forgive you for whatever you did, no matter how shitty it was. I tell you this in print and I would say it verbally. But please know I can’t forget what happened, I will be remember that part of my narrative vividly for as long as I live. You might not have meant it then or you might have thought it was cool because everyone else was doing it but those words and actions stick, even 10 years later.

I was without data for 29 days and here’s what happened

I was without data for 29 days and here’s what happened

Like the headline? I’ve seen many articles where the writer goes, “I’ve done this and here’s what happened,” on “Buzzfeed” or “Bustle.” Without ever realizing it, I had a situation of my own that would fit this kind of headline.

And I am here to talk about that experience.

So I was without data for 30 days. I know, the idea of a millennial without their phone having internet or connection to the whole world in the palm of their hands, literally, is a huge travesty.

Okay, I’d be lying if I told you that having no data was easy.

I just moved back to Fredonia in May for the summer and was without internet for almost four whole days. Time was going extra slow those days. I procrastinated too long and didn’t make an appointment to have people set up my internet and box. My data was going to come back onto my and my moms’ new cycle that Thursday.  I get back my allotted amount of data t

Online, Internet, Icon, Tree, Leaves, Symbols, Www, Web

hat Thursdays and not even in 24 hours did I blow through 2 GB of data.

I am one of those people. I called my mom and she nearly had a heart attack over the news.

“Zoe Dimitra Kiriazis, how the *bleep* does one go through 2 GB of data in not even a day? Kim and I don’t even go through out one gig. a month!” she said. By the sounds of it, she was impressed, clearly not angry.

“1 day down, 29 more to go. I can do it!” I said.

“What’s a month without data because you know, the only way you can get connected to the world are the limited places in town that have Wi-Fi available,” I thought.

 

The first week or so were rough. I’m not going to lie. As millennials we’ve grown with the growth, privileges and modifications that have been made in the technology industry.  I remember in elementary school when kids started getting a Razor phone; you were the cool one if you got one of the colored ones.

This was also the start of knowing how to spell words based on numbers. Although a helpful skill to have, the next advancement in phone technology came about.

Then everyone would be getting the enV and env2 which included a T8-keyboard for an easier texting experience as well as the “flipped open keyboard selfie at the bathroom mirror” trend occurred.

Image result for cell phones

Then the iPhone started making its grand appearance and presence; it was then when cell phones became the next big trend and hit.

 

I didn’t have a phone until I got to high school and I didn’t get my first smart phone until I graduated high school. Every one of my friends had a smartphone of some sort, connected to the internet and Facebook like it was no big deal. At the time I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything. If it was something of dire importance, I would check when I got home.

Well, I’m afraid I don’t have that same mindset now. I have to be connected with internet to keep up with what is going on in the world, who’s posted on Instagram and to keep filter of any emails that come through. Maybe it’s the curious bud within me or maybe it’s because I’m working to become a better journalist? I’m not too sure.

And while we’re being honest with each other, I check my phone way too much; sometimes I’ll even check it when I am talking to friends deliberately.

 

It’s out of habit, my foolish need to be on my phone when this rectangle is only 5.94 x 2.86 x 0.30 in.. I don’t understand how something so small and powerful can take over someone so innocently.

Having no data to escape to, I’ve found my conversations were more meaning some. I had more to say than when I didn’t have Facebook to check every 10 seconds, when I didn’t have to play against my opponents in Yahtzee or my horoscope to check randomly. When a conversation was at an awkward pause or standstill, I didn’t have my phone to default to. I had to figure out what to say next on the fly without the deliberate pause texting or private messaging naturally brings.

Adventure, Connection, Forest, Freedom

All of this made me realize the bigger picture which is that we, as individuals, need to stop being so heavily reliant on our mobile devices. We miss moments when we are always on our phones, sucked into the dark hole social media can potentially drown us in and we don’t know how to communicate effectively when there is small screen in front of us.

We’re afraid to make phone calls because we don’t know what to say. We’re afraid of in-person interactions because we don’t know how to handle ourselves.

This is why I want to study communications because we have these tendencies that stem from something else which, in this case, is the protection of our phones from the rest of the world. Connections can’t form if we are hiding behind a small screen.

I’ve been working on not being on my phone as a case of protection. I’ve been using my words to truthfully talk to my friends and family. It’s a process to unlearn what you’ve grown up with but I want to detach myself just a little bit from my phone in order to fully appreciate all of life around me. We miss so much of what is happening now because we are so focused on something else.

I will always love my social media but I am realizing there is more to life than the statuses we post, the 140-character tweets, the likes on Instagram and who’s seen the latest YouTube video.

Tree, Social, Media, Structure, Networking

Being without data for 30 days was a lot to manage but it got easier as time went on. I can’t promise that I will have data remaining by the end of the cycle but I know it will last longer than 24 hours. And I will make sure I don’t use it when I don’t need to use it.

There’s a whole world to see but only some of us get to experience it when we’re not preoccupied with the uneventful.