Tears Dry On Their Own

Being a teenager is all about letting your emotions flow freely. As teens, and especially being a guy, it's a one of those things that are drilled into you that as a "man" you should never cry. Well, at this point, I can wholeheartedly say, I gives none when it comes to how people "should" act. I am my own person, and like the ridiculousness known as Southpark's "Cartman" says "I do what I want." Get ready for some timeless advice on dealing with racism, and joining a larger community on campus. Retreats, fraternities, and lots of emotion all around. All I know is tears dry on their own.

The whole waking up early thing is for sure not for me, especially after a late bed time of 3:30am. 7:45am comes around Saturday morning so Jandro and I struggle to speed pack for our one night ALANA sponsored trip, as Jackie waited for us. A short walk to the student center, and a lightning fast, like Flash Gordon speedy quick b-fast, and we're on the bus to the hotel. I'm sitting with Jandro, and he's telling me about his wildly dramatic night full of betrayal, passion, and fun and it's totally sounds like a classic Lifetime Movie plotline. We make it to the Essex, one of Vermont's premier resorts which also happens to be a spa and culinary experience center. We started the "Recognize" portion of the retreat by choosing places where we'd been confronted with racism or microaggression and telling our stories in small groups. It was just awesome to be able to share some of horrible things that have been said and done to all of us. Some people also shared in the larger group, and as terrible as it is, it was good to know that other people shared similar experiences with me. At one point we all wrote down racial epithets, stereotypes, slurs, and put downs for each of the minorities and created a collage of all the hurtful terms that people of all colors use to oppress. It was mind blowing and shocking some of things that were written, but such a true representation of reality. We walked around them all observing and choosing one that really hit home with us. Afterwards we  used Malcom X  to simulate the steps in discovering your racial identity. Like emulating dominant culture qualities, rejecting, reflecting, and coming to peace with yourself in all aspects. Everyone is in a different place in their journey, and it's up to us to respect that. Facilitators KKD and Sherwood taught us the three ways to respond to racial incidents, blocking, deflecting, and disarming. We took stories, like my brother's (being asked if our car was stolen, and if our dad was a rapper if he paid for it in a grocery store parking lot by a random guy) and acted them out, assessing the best response for each one. My group was absolutely ridiculous, it was too funny and too much fun. That's something I'll definitely be using in hard times to come. Dinner was intense with some classic chicken Parmesan. I spent the majority of the time connecting with Dan, who happens to be an RA in my building. Such a down to Earth, and genuine person and we discussed future plans. it was deeply moving. The program ended for the day with a bonfire and burning the epithets that hit home most for us. Mine was the stereotype "No money/welfare" and I talked about how being privileged financially doesn't make you stuck up, spoiled, or ungrateful. We let the votive paper burn, and made some s'mores. Way too much fun. A great weight was lifted and tears dry on their own.

Changing into swim garb is always a funny experience. Anthony and I head to our suite to switch into our trunks and I'm telling you the dude looked ridiculous like Uncle Tito from "Rocket Power" if he was a sketched out trench coat wearing hooligan. It was outside into the brisk cold to straight book it over to the gym to pretend work on our fitness Fergie-Ferg style for like 10 minutes. Into the changing room and straight to the outdoor hot tub. That thing was like a vat of boiling hotness, and I totes felt like I was legit being boiled alive. I'm pretty sure I lost a lotta skin in that thing. Like what is, a classic Real World hot tub scene, or what. It was into the pool, with everyone else like Lam, Ming, Jay, Ryan, Anthony, Jandro, Pia, aDeanna where even though it was heated it felt colder as heck. I'm talking about like jumping in a frozen lake cold, probs should have done the pool first. Back to the hot tub for round two and legit bonding time with Lam, Ming, and Jay in that melting pot, literally. We get out of there and straight book it to the locker room where I go to change, and I'm pretty sure step in some urine, thanks little kid before me, you might be the worst. It's up to the hotel room to change into, of course, some more plaid and back downstairs to hang out with the group. Ming, Lam, Jay and I scavenge for some snackage with Nature Valley bars, and greek yogurt before resorting to playing ages 2+ Cars 2 card games, where you know I was hardcore demolished. I learn to shuffle cards the fast way, and we just reflect on what we've been learning. Time to dip out and it's back to my room where Jandro, Anthony, and Ryan are watching "Get Him to the Greek" which might have been one of their weirdest movies ever, like WTE is Diddy doing there. We order pizza, and deliver straight to our room. It's ridiculous, none of us go to bed until 2:45 am, and you know that completely messed us up. No tears were lost today, but chlorine water for sure does dry on its own.

Sunday was a powerful day for sure. It all started with my roommate for the night, Anthony, blasting the wildness that is "Beat It Up" (as in sex song on loud) and us getting ready for the day. I was sporting my "the Youthful Life: Goes College" t-shirt, just doing some self promoting, and I carried my bags downstairs to breakfast. Apparently, this is not the Tipton from the "Suite Life of Zack" and Cody and there's no such thing as actual bell boys or doormen like in "Jessie." It's a big ole plate of scrambled eggs for me with orange juice on the side, and I converse with Ryan, Ming, Anthony, Jay, and one of the wise facilitators, Sherwood. It's a good time just to discuss some of the common misconceptions like using the word "white" or "Caucasian" and our crazy class schedules. From there it was down to the ballroom where things got more than real. Two of the facilitators, Bev, and Monique, started the "Replenish" segment of the program and brought up the power of reading. They read passages from Barack Obama's book with chemical scarring by changing skin color, Toni Morrison with a young girl yearning for blue eyes, and a third selection where a little girl would not speak, ever. We all started giving our reactions to the stories and that's where it all came out. People just broke down, crying, and letting the weight fall from their shoulders. You all know I'm an emotional person and am empathetic cryer (as in, if someone cries, I'm very likely to cry with them because it's like I'm experience their pain vicariously) and so I was just sitting their sobbing away. People shared their stories of how they could relate to these children and how all the incidents that have gone on have been internalized and have stayed with us all. The most hurtful of it all is when parents and family members unconsciously take part in the oppression. One of the most painful words that kept coming up was the word "ugly" and it's just astonishing that people can truly call other people because of the color of their skin. It doesn't surprise me because it's happened to me on multiple occasions, and even if people don't truly mean, you take it that way and really does hurt. The staring, the people who move away from you when you're walking, and the people treat you like you have some kind of disease. It was overwhelming for all of us, and the tears were flowing freely and it seemed like a major chip was lifted off a lot of people's shoulders. It was such a therapeutic session that we totally ran over the time. From there we listed activities where we could relax and get back to ourselves, you know I'm all about the random dancing, the movies/TV, bumping my favorite music, and just talking to people that understand what I'm going through. We used humor with stereotypes from YouTube videos and wrote letters to ourselves, which I'm sure will come just when we needed them most. We took some silly group pictures, and wrote little notes to everyone, and all of a sudden it was a quick lunchtime, and we were on the bus heading back to campus. The tears, they dried on their own.

We got back to the ALANA student center and it was hugs all around. Those of us who lives on athletic campus and beyond strolled together before parting ways and soon I was back in the comfort of my own room. Let met tell you, I was a total mess, half asleep and completely lethargic, but I did get some homework done. Krabby Patty made his fabled return from his acapella (like the Warblers on Glee) retreat and roommates were reunited at last. Even came and I went to meet my friend, Baldwin, who happens to be in the fraternity Phi Mu Delta: Nu Gamma on campus in the business building, but we totally missed each other so I took the time to sit in the library and read some chemistry and listen to the classic jams on the I-Pod. 7pm came and that meant another humor filled UVMtv meeting. The best group of kids around, and the inside jokes just go flying. From there I raced back to my room to change and get ready for the fraternity's pinning ceremony - oh, I probs should have mentioned that I accepted their bid. I get there and only recognize a few faces, but I recite the oath and obtain my new member pin, and shake hands with all the lads. It was really happening, I was joining a fraternity. The official chapter meeting starts and boy was it a lot to take in like cramming for a Greek test on steroids. Meeting ends, and I meet with our New Member educator, the Britishmen, Campbell you's for sure one of my favorite brothers for his quirky personality. It's back to the Heights, where I've had more than a busy day. No tears shed here, but a long journey's about to begin.

Being a teenager is all about being in touch with who you are on the inside and out. People usually only get a glimpse from you from the outside but it's important that you showcase all sides of yourself. It's like modelling, you can't always just show your best side, you've got to show all of them. Figure out who you are, and understand that that's one of the most important things about you life, and be free with yourself. Cry all you would like, and express yourself however possible, but know that tears dry on their own.

My blog post question for the day is ... when was the last time you cried and why? Well you know I cried hardcore at that retreat, but before maybe two weeks ago when my dad told me he loved me over the phone when I really needed to hear it.


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