Here’s To The Best Summer Of My Life: A Reflection

So, as most of you know, I just wrapped up my editorial internship at Rhode Island Monthly, and it’s been a dream come true.

Rhode Island Monthly is the premier publication in Rhode Island, and I’m forever grateful to have been a part of it for nearly four months. It’s almost weird not going into Providence every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Some of the highlights include:

  1.  Best of RI Party

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I wrote an entire blog post about my experience here.

2.  Interviewing Maria del Carmen Mercado

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via Rhode Island Monthly

Maria del Carmen Mercado is an RI fashion designer. She taught me so much in this one interview. For example, why post on social media every day when you can just post something and say “hey, this is what I’ve been working on,” or something inspiring. Read the entire article here.

3.  Trying out a (free) fitness class

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Photo by me

To read the full article, click here.

4.  Branching out of my comfort zone and writing my own fashion blog!

At RIM, I was blessed with the opportunity to create my own “fashion plate” on the site. One of the (many) things I did was go out and take photos of young women in PVD to compile a Fashion-Forward: Street Style in PVD post. This was definitely one way of branching out of my comfort zone.

5.  Throwing the first pitch at a PawSox game

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I know, I have bad form, but my aim was okay! This came as a surprise for all three of us, interns. It started with a picture, then we were told to get into a single-file line onto the field and we were each given a ball. None of us knew what we were doing! When we were told to throw the balls to the catcher, Fernando, we just went with the flow and, yes, someone got a picture of us throwing the FIRST PITCH! We then had to get all of the RI Monthly employees to sign our balls. Did the PawSox win? No, but we all won a HUGE highlight of our summer internships.

6.  Meeting fashion icon, Iris Apfel

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Yes, this is Iris Apfel still killing the fashion game at ninety-six-years-old! I met her at RIB & RHEIN in Newport. For the full article, click here.

I definitely found fashion to be my “niche” this past summer and will continue to write about it wherever the wind takes me! Rhode Island may not be the fashion capital of America, but it certainly is the “Creative Capital.”

Thank you, Rhode Island Monthly, for the best summer of my life ☺♥

Next stop, an Editorial Fellowship at College Fashionista, my junior year at RWU, and SENIOR SEMINAR/THESIS!

xoxo,

April

 

 

 

An Abridged Guide On What To Do If You Just Simply Don’t Know What To Do

Two years ago, I left a well-known online publication and started this blog. I wanted to be a social worker or an educator. Before that, I aspired to be a doctor. When I was in high school, I thought I was going to be an Ivy League student with hopes of becoming a lawyer with a chemistry background. In middle school, I thought I was going to be a fashion designer.

My point?

My point is we all had a “plan,” but these “plans” change and people change. After watching a HelloKaty video about screwing up, it had me thinking of something a little more off-topic, but still relevant: who were you before the universe broke your heart? In other words, who were you before society changed you? Who was I before I was bullied for being different? Who was I before I actually started to conform to who people wanted me to be? Who was I when I simply did not give a sh*t?

That person was an elementary schooler who lived in her own little world of pink, Miley Cyrus, Limited Too, and writing make-believe news articles about celebrities. My ultimate goal was to become… guess what… an author. My fifth-grade teacher even wrote in my yearbook, “maybe I’ll be reading a book written by you in the future.” I can’t believe I forgot all about that until I wrote to her in December 2016, thanking her for having such a positive impact on me. That dream stuck with me in middle school, and that’s when I was introduced to my passion for literature. At the time, instead of letting petty middle school bullies get to me, I geared my attention towards devouring novel after novel. Then came seventh grade, and that free spirit within me died. But that’s a whole other story.

Moreover, I recently rekindled that aficionado and began reading the works of Jane Austen, Toni Morrison, Ernest Hemingway, Margaret Atwood, and Shakespeare. I’ve even begun to use reading as a coping mechanism for my mental illness(es) — to escape reality. Nowadays, people immediately rely on social media as an “alternate universe,” and a virtual world, at that. I remember, before learning how to read, I played with educational computer programs. I guess that’s how this generation was brought up, computer games before a real education. I found myself in a Dunkin Donuts this afternoon, contemplating the sociology of these Generations Y and Z. Anyway, I’m getting pretty off-topic!

When we get older, we stop playing with Barbie dolls, sleeping with a nightlight, etc. Our childish dreams of making the biggest, cheesiest pizza in the world or being a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle come to a halt. Especially in high school, we start to think more about our futures in depth. We think we want whatever will make us a millionaire by the time we’re thirty. In my case, I didn’t realize what I actually wanted to do with my life until my second year of college! And it’s all because I set unrealistic expectations for myself back in high school. It’s almost scary that I’m coming to this conclusion as I write this. But, as my literary icon, Jane Austen once said:

“We all have a better guide in ourselves… than any other person can be.”

Elle Woods didn’t know she wanted to be a partner in a law firm until she actually went to Harvard Law, and J.K. Rowling didn’t publish her first book until she was 31!  J.K. Rowling was rejected by, not one, but 12 different publishers until someone would publish the beloved series, Harry Potter. In kindergarten, I was a strong believer in the character of Harry Potter, and after learning more about J.K. Rowling’s life (her clinical depression, abusive marriage, etc.) it occurred to me, as a future author, that I have to believe in not only my characters but in myself. Now, returning as an avid reader, I want to learn more about these characters I encounter and what their roles are in their respective societies. I want to be able to relate to these characters in one way or another. That’s just the thing about literature: fiction gives us a second chance that life denies us.

I wrote a blog post called Personas last semester, and I automatically thought about characters I had to play on stage, my fictional pieces, and my poetry. Art has a way of letting you escape your reality and become somebody else.

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What you don’t know is that I wrote all this a year ago! But it still rings true today. I submitted my short stories to literary magazines and, alas, they were declined. But I’m going to keep doing what J.K. Rowling did and keep trying. As P!nk said, “you gotta get up and try, try, try.”

I’m currently reading The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, and I have yet to add some commentary on that. Also, I highly recommend listening to the podcast, “Coffee Talk,” by Kalyn Nicholson.  She literally gets inside your head and is totally relatable! She and “Great Women in Business” are also on Spotify.

Like everyone else getting ready to graduate (for me it’s December 2019), I am actually still piecing together life after college. All I know is that I plan on venturing out of New England. I’m that type of girl that always has to have a steady, ready plan to go and conquer. As you saw in my last post, I discussed, briefly, what I’m doing after my internship (besides going back to school).

You know what? I’m going to give you some tips:

1.)  For some people, this isn’t always possible, but listen to me when I say HAVE A PLAN A, B, C, etc. This I learned from my mom. It’s pretty simple, have backups.

2.)  Take action immediately. If you’re looking for that summer job, start looking early.

3.)  Develop mentorships. These mentors could be the ones writing your recommendations. Plus, you will learn a lot from them.

4.)  Journal, journal, journal, but don’t complain too much while writing. I’ve learned that when you’re purging your negative thoughts, especially those from your past, all you’re doing is reliving them.

5.)  Give yourself a pep-talk. AFFIRMATIONS, PEOPLE!

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6.)  Listen to those podcasts I mentioned.

That is all. Go forth and prosper.

 

 

A Year In The Books | The Rest Is Still Unwritten

It took two years, but I am finally a junior in college. Woo! That’s right, I just finished up the last semester of my (second) sophomore year. I can honestly say I have no regrets after this incredible year. I don’t regret choosing Creative Writing. I don’t regret the friendships I’ve made. I don’t regret choosing Literary Publishing over Critical Writing. These are just a few. But one thing’s also true: I don’t regret transferring.

A year ago, I would’ve never thought I’d be where I am today, and I have so many people to thank for that; supporting me, guiding me in the right direction, and giving me that constant reassurance that everything will be okay. I didn’t think a “bright future” existed for me after what I’ve gone through last year. But I’ve come out the end of the tunnel a better person who knows what she’s doing and fighting for what she deserves.

I also came out of the tunnel a more confident person (though I’m not confident that I passed my Marketing final!) I began going to the gym again and even got a personal trainer! This has definitely been a semester of figuring out who I really am and bettering myself; I know, how cliche does that sound? But I promise you that I have.

In just two weeks, I’ll be starting a little mini chapter-within-a-chapter in my life as I embark on my internship and my second job. I feel like I really am living the Carrie Bradshaw lifestyle.

Picture this: Me walking down the streets of Providence while I narrate to myself, “Before there was sex, before there was the city, there was just me, April, from Bristol, RI.” 

Watching these seniors at RWU getting ready for the graduation really has me eager to graduate. In December 2019, if not May 2020, I’ll be the one wearing my decorated cap and donning my black gown with that gold and blue hood and that white collar.

I’ve never really thought of how blessed I am until now as I sit on my white leather couch topped off with pink pillows. I can’t wait to see what this summer will bring for me before I start senior seminar/thesis in the fall!

Some of my top moments this semester:

1.)  Choosing poetry as my focus for senior thesis/sem.

2.)  Taking a poetry class

3.)  Scoring an internship for the summer

4.)  Writing about fashion/recipes for Hawks’ Herald

5.)  Being a part of a Literary Publishing course and learning how to copy-edit

Be sure to follow me on my summer journey! ☺

xoxo, April

Finding Your Place | Transferring | Look At Me Now

I quoted this in another blog post, and I’m going to quote it again:

“Sometimes to chase after your future, you have to stop running and plant yourself in one place. Take a stand and fight for what you want. And know that even after the darkest of nights, the dawn will come. And you will find a place where you don’t have to hide. A place to call home.” — Carrie Bradshaw, The Carrie Diaries

This past year was a time for reflection and starting a new, and honestly, I have zero regrets. I remember almost two years ago, my family packed up our stuff in Medfield, Massachusetts and moved to Bristol, Rhode Island. I wish I had a better attitude about it, at the time. But it wound up becoming an adventure. Who knew that a year later from that I’d be switching schools, too? Transferring was something that was on my mind for a really long time. And according to my great philosopher, HelloKaty’s YouTube video, “If you’re not happy somewhere, or with someone, get out.” She also touches upon the complex and surely complicated process of transferring. To back up her argument, transferring someplace else is one of the most courageous things you can do. It is not a cowardly act. Everyone has their opinion, but I was certainly not happy. Being on the phone crying in the corner of the library is not healthy, whatsoever. And yes, it happened frequently. I knew that I would become a “double transfer” (as I switched high schools, too), but I knew in my gut and my heart that this was the right move for me.

For those of you who know me personally, you’d know that I switched my majors a billion times. Now, I can finally say, I’m 1,000,000x more confident in my choice at RWU. One thing that’s true about anything is that it takes time for anything to grow and find out who you are. It just took me a few more trials and errors than anyone else.

Listen, why am I telling you this? I was recently inspired by my poetry professor whom I talked to yesterday about poetry, and we both agreed that poetry would be my focus for next year, as I’ll be a junior writing my thesis and taking a senior seminar. This is not a “go to RWU!” ad, but I’m just saying the Creative Writing professors really influenced my choice to come and to take a shot at higher level classes and dip my toes into a few things. I’m now taking a Literary Publishing course, and I’m absolutely loving it. RWU students also reintroduced me to fashion: my second love (writing being the first). I’m slowly heading back into my Audrey Hepburn phase by taking a chance with vintage clothing, as seen here:

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I love playing with neutrals, as they are really in this season. I decided to put a little “spring” (and heel) in my step by appropriating my mom’s lace-up kitten heels — no, really, talk about vintage! Florals are definitely in this season, as well. And any printed pant with a v-neck sweater? Totes vintage and adorbs!

In short, I’m grateful to my parents for deciding to leave Massachusetts. If it weren’t for that, I wouldn’t be interning at Rhode Island Monthly this summer!!! That’s right, I will be an Editorial Intern at the premiere publication in Rhode Island! ☺

Moreover, wherever one door closes, another door opens to a new opportunity (or more). I’m one step closer to becoming a published journalist and poetry author. My professor said my voice is really strong and authentic. I was right when I said I had dreams too big for that small town in Massachusetts, and Massachusetts at large. Sure, Rhode Island is not that much bigger, but I’m following and achieving my dreams more than I ever thought possible.

This is me, and this is exactly where I’m supposed to be. (Yes, I just semi-quoted that song from Camp Rock).

Personas

Persona: (n). the aspect of someone’s character that is presented to or perceived by others; a role or character adopted by an author or an actor; “person” — (Spanish translation); or, in poetry, the mask that the speaker wears.

These are four definitions of the word “persona.” I’ve never thought about this word until we went over it in my Form in Poetry class. We then reached into depth about how this word applies to our everyday lives. A person can put up a front and mask their emotions. That way they are pretending everything is okay. I then start to think: what kind of persona am I showing in my poems? My blog posts? On Instagram? I once had to write a sort of erotic poem for that class, and in my poem, I made a point to say, “I’m a virgin talking about sex, how does that sound to you?” That’s one example of putting on a “mask.”

Artists tend to put on a “mask” at all times. When Demi Lovato was on Disney Channel, no one knew she was hiding an eating disorder and addiction. The same thing with Miley Cyrus — she started out on Hannah Montana as an eleven-year-old playing a fifteen-year-old, struggling with anxiety and body dysmorphia in the process. As for some of the more complex artists like, say, Lady Gaga? The world may never know why she dresses up in ridiculous costumes. Or is she just being herself? She is who she said she is at the 2011 VMAs: theatre.

And that’s just the thing: we become our passions. It’s similar to the way method actors become and understand their characters. When I write short stories, I become and embody the main character(s) to try and get inside their heads. That is called “character development.” Or, when I wrote a poem dedicated to Henry David Thoreau, I had to crawl inside the head of a transcendentalist in order to create a cohesive, thoughtful ode to him.

As functionaries in society, we’re forced to hide what we don’t want our peers to know. I’m reminded of Elsa from Frozen: “conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know” when she finally unmasked her power to freeze anything in her path and finally said (I know, we’re aaaalllll sick of hearing these three overhyped words) “let it go.”

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As much as I’ve grown to be sick of that movie, it proves a point. How many of you remember those dark days we like to call… middle school? And this is where I’m going to be flat out honest with y’all. In seventh grade, I went from not giving a you-know-what, to caring incessantly about my appearances. It was all because of this stigma from the town I grew up in: conformity and to be “socially accepted.” Funny, I just wrote a poem about my old town and how transferring high schools and eventually colleges gave me my own voice — my own identity. When we put on these “masks,” we’re essentially locking away our own voices from these outside sources who are too stubborn to take them into consideration.

But when I think about Louise Glück’s “Wild Iris,” and she puts on the persona of a wild iris trying to push through the dirt, it’s almost a source of empathy for the poor being. Let this, alone, be an analogy: we are all wild irises, emerging through earth’s thick skin trying to survive. We have instances which we may be “reborn” and discover ourselves again. At the end of the day, we are still writing our poems in first-person — so somewhere in the midst of all that, our voices and identities are still being conveyed in our poems of life. Our words may be used in the future to be studied, and who knows? Maybe a little-redheaded girl looking at poetry for the first time will wish she knew that source of wisdom.

Self-Reliance Being Put To Use: A Semester In Review

I have at least eight drafts that I want to write, but, unfortunately, they’re not the right ones. I just finished my first semester at RWU, and so much is going through my mind: a sense of accomplishment, a sense of fulfillment, and a sense of gratitude. Transferring was something I thought long and hard about, and I have had some instances of regret. But all in all, I think I made the right choice.

While I was making the decision to transfer, I was also going through a mental breakdown that, as you all know, landed me in the hospital. I still wanted to go back to school so I could get my bachelor’s and lead a somewhat normal life. Even my psychiatrist and therapist said to me, “you’re going back to school after all that!? Wow!”

There were a lot of reasons why I decided to transfer. But while I was looking at schools in Rhode Island, I realized I wanted a program that was writing-oriented. When I looked at RWU, I saw they had a creative writing program. I knew I wanted a seaside education, too, with access to everything. So, I thought that RWU was perfect for me.

Here are my top ten highlights from this semester:

1.)  Being appointed Features Editor of the Hawks’ Herald

2.)  Being a Writing Tutor

3.)  Going to Dallas

4.)  Writing two of the best short stories I’ll probably ever write

5.)  Writing countless articles

6.)  Joining Writers’ Anonymous

…………… and I’m sure there will be more to actually make it a “top ten.” I have more tricks up my sleeve to make Spring 2018 an even better semester!

I took my last final today. It was for Early American Literature: Pre-Columbus. As I was doing some last-minute cramming in the library, I looked to my left and saw Mount Hope Bridge (another perk). Throughout the course, we studied romantics and transcendentalists like my literary husband, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau was a student of Emerson’s. Emerson, if you’ve ever taken American Literature in high school, wrote Self-Reliance. Self-Reliance is basically about being a non-conformist and forming your own opinions. Thoreau took this to heart and thought he would give this a try. He had his own garden in a tiny house by the water. I realized before writing this post that I am basically living that phenomenon at RWU and at home. It’s nice to write knowing you’re by the water.

Conformity is slow suicide. If there’s one thing I learned is to find your niche. And I’ll leave it at that. I’m still trying to relearn who I am, but I think I’m getting there.

 

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Happy Holidays! #stayfierce ♥

My Own ‘Silver Lining’s Playbook’

“All your dreams can come true if you have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney

So it’s been, what? A month since I posted? Well, sorr-ay for living my best life! I just started at my new school, and it’s been treating me wonderfully thus far. I’m going to start off by announcing that I am the new Features Editor for my school newspaper! My dream of being an editor is slowly coming true. Being an editor has taught me so much: 1) how to manage my time 2) how to be more creative 3) people skills 4) how to use InDesign (which I’ll probably use in the future) and 5) how to be relentless (in a good way). My section is already thriving with features like “club of the week,” “biweekly series: commuter issues,” and — coming soon — “Bristol businesses and RWU students.” Another thing: I’ve really gotten into American Literature and fashion. Fashion is something I’ve always been into, but there was a time when I considered fashion as a potential career.

I’m just going to keep this short and to-the-point. This is where I say I’ve found my “silver lining.” In my own version of Silver Lining’s Playbook, a girl dealing with mental illness discovers her dream/passion: editing. When I was in the hospital, one of my fellow inpatients told me I should become an editor, and that’s when I said, “he’s right.” I was a writing tutor at my previous college, and I reprised that role at my new school. I realized how much more knowledge and appreciation I’ve gained for the English language. I’ve come through the dark clouds into the bright light that silver linings represent, and while silver linings are not without their challenges, I drew strength from that silver lining to meet those challenges. I wish you all Godspeed in finding all of your silver linings — let me know when you do!

xoxo April

Never Settle | Getting Out Of Your Own Way And Upsetting The Balance

“We know what we deserve. We’re not stupid, but we accept something to not upset the balance.” – Unknown

My whole life my goal was to be “different” and to upset this so-called balance. Even when I was a little high school fashionista, my goal to get into the fashion industry was to start out in retail. So, when I was 16 and 17 years old, I applied to stores like Forever 21 only to find out that they accepted applications from prospects 18 and older. At the time, people my age were babysitting or working at grocery stores. I- I was already learning about marketing research (thanks to my mother). Yes, I was ambitious then — insanely ambitious, maybe a little too ambitious when applying for colleges, however.

Moreover, now a newly-minted 21-year-old, I’m looking for more than just a job. I’m looking for an internship with a book publisher. Plus, my mom signed us both up to go to a marketing event. Who knows what will come out of that? We’ll see within a week or so. I just need something that’s a) worth my time and b) will make me happy. I need something that I’ll look forward to when I wake up in the morning — something that will make my heart sing.

“No amount of security is worth the suffering of a mediocre life chained to a routine that has killed your dreams” – Maya Mendoza

In other words, never settle for anything that’s going to get in the way of what you really want. It’s like I learned when I was in the hospital: “Get Out Of Your Own Way.” In all honesty, I felt like my life in New Hampshire was so limited of opportunity. There is no doubt that I experimented with different career paths, from healthcare to writing to social work then back to writing. I always came back to writing. Now that I’ll be in Rhode Island full-time, this is my chance to be a more complete version of myself.

 

This Is The Part Of Me | An Honest Post To End The Year

Talk about ending your 2016 with a bang!  After what could have been a heinous year, I’ve come out the other end stronger and more in comfortable with who I really am. That, my friend, is what I call strength. Surprising — since I never thought I possessed strength — until now. This year took a massive toll on my physical and mental health. But my identity is doing much better, thank you very much!

Let’s flashback to when I was a kid and “set the scene.” When I was a young girl, I was shy, and that’s still kind of true now. But, there was no doubt that I was creative — very creative. So, when I finally learned how to use Microsoft Word, I took advantage of it and started writing my own stories. My elementary school teachers even noticed my affinity for writing. I started dozens of stories, and ultimately only finished four (three of them written in the 4th grade):  a Halloween story, a Canadian immigrant story, and a fictional piece titled “Charlotte.” The fourth story was a memoir about finding my way through the second semester of my freshman year and entering my sophomore year in college.

Over the past year I began letting that little girl shine through, but I also let her down in some ways. I started writing again after a long hiatus, during which I had stopped believing in my work. But, once in college, it wasn’t long before I became Editor-in-Chief of the Saint Anselm chapter of the Odyssey Online, and started working and writing for the Communications and Marketing Office.

Life wasn’t all peaches and cream (I don’t even like peaches) just because I returned to writing. I was in two completely wrong majors this past year. I moved from my hometown of 20 years in Massachusetts, to Rhode Island. On top of all that, my depression resurfaced and I began practicing the abominable art of self-doubt, and started feeling “lesser-than.”

This past semester was rougher than the last, especially in October – a month that has never been kind to me. Following a bad break-up, I took two weeks off from school to focus on myself. After that, I not only bounced back from what I went through, but realized I’d been living a lackluster life and it was time to fix it. My creative, ambitious self came back. So, I started my blog, looked into studying abroad, applied to participate in Road For Hope, went on a Rural Immersions trip, and started the Women’s Collective on campus.

In spite of this, lingering self-doubt still triggered thoughts of transferring to another school — a lot. But I started to realize I’ve begun to carve out my niche and establish a name for myself at Saint Anselm. I feel like I’m making my mark. If I transfer I won’t get hugs from my best friend/roommate, I’ll miss heart-to-hearts with my adviser, and I’ll lose the opportunity to learn from the best English professors on any college campus.

At my low point, I had so much that I wanted to do but was too afraid to pursue, and I was afraid that I wouldn’t do myself or my goals justice. My depression and my anxiety tried to break me. But, by the end of 2016, I’d made the Dean’s List — twice!

So, here I am at the close of 2016. I’m listening to my younger self and silencing the negative voices in my head.

Light has always been a motif in my life, no matter what the situation. In 2016 I found this quote in my favorite YouTuber’s Snapchat story, and adopted it for myself:  “I stopped looking for the light at the end of the tunnel and lit that bitch up myself.”

Of course, I still have my moments. Don’t we all? But I can finally say I’m pretty much on Cloud 9 and things are getting better every day.

What can you expect from me in 2017? More blog posts, of course, as well as me rocking it out as an English major, and seeing my work in PRINT. I’ve discovered how much I love being published. One thing’s for sure, in the words of Katy Perry:  “This [writing] is the part of me that you’re never gonna ever take away from me.”

There’s a lot of things you can’t take away from me. My mom had me create a list of qualities that define me (i.e. what I love about myself); and, no, this does not make me self-absorbed. I’ve just gotten started, but I highly recommend it to everyone — and it’s no time to be modest. Here’s what I’ve listed so far, and I’ll bet you share some of the same qualities — so, give yourself credit:

1.) Courageous

2.) Resilient

3.) Love of learning

4.) Passionate about service

5.) Ambitious

6.) Someone who likes to bring out the best in others

What are yours? What’s your truth? What’s your passion? Will you live it in 2017? I challenge you to make your own list of what people can’t take away from YOU.