What Papa Taught Me

Everyone that lives eventually dies, and that is the way the world works. Some deaths are more tragic than others, which is unfortunate. But some deaths, while still extremely upsetting, are long anticipated, and observing the process allows you to grow as a person. This was my experience with my great-grandfather, Nelson Dembs.

I have had a great year so far, but certain emotions have been overwhelming me. I am at a point in my life where certain questions begin to form regarding who I am and what I desire, and not knowing the answers to these questions has been difficult for me recently. I have always been a very deep thinker, but my mind does not stop racing when certain thoughts come into my mind. Recently I have been attempting to cope with this overwhelming whirl of feelings, by minimizing the depth of my thoughts. By trying to go shallow. In my heart this felt wrong because I knew that my mind was capable of so much more than thinking petty thoughts. I spent many weeks on my phone and online for most of my days, worried about things like social media, Netflix, obsessing about things that really don’t matter, and never truly living in the moment. I was not unhappy; I was numb. I just did not want to feel anything. Maybe this was right for me at the time; maybe I just needed a break from always feeling things so deeply.

But when my Papa passed away, my whole perspective changed. I had a special relationship with my Papa, even though he lived in Florida. I always wished that I could be with him. It’s so strange, because even though I am still grieving over his death, I feel that now he can always be watching over me, and he can now guide me through my life more than ever. The distance between us was hard for me, but now I constantly feel his presence.

Talking with my family about all of the amazing qualities of my Papa, and putting my own thoughts regarding my Papa together in my eulogy, brought me to the realization that my Papa lived a meaningful, fulfilled life because of his morals and desire to live. My Papa changed the world, and he impacted the lives of many, many people. He didn’t do this by keeping himself distracted with self-doubt or fear of not being liked or obsessing about how he looked or what he ate. He chose to live in the moment. Because he chose to live this way he was able make difficult and life-changing decisions– for example–he decided to hitchhike from Rochester, New York, to here in Detroit to provide a better future, not just for himself, but for every one of of his family members. He wasn’t thinking about the “what-ifs”, he wasn’t thinking about what other people thought about his actions, he just did it, and this courageous move of my great-grandfather is why my family is here today, and why I have a good life today.

My Papa lived in the moment, and he did not dwell on the past or the future. He once told my mom and my uncle, “There is sunrise and sunset, and this, right here, is the sunshine.” He chose to live in the sunshine.

Now that my Papa is watching over me, I want to live the lessons he taught me. He taught me to be resillient, through all of the personal and financial battles he fought throughout the years. He taught me the importance of family, and how I should enjoy my time spent with them as much as possible. He taught me to think of the well-being of others as well as myself, and to live for today.

As I begin winter vacation, and head off to Israel, I have really been to trying to limit my time on Instagram and Snapchat. This is because I can be happy and have fun without having to publicize what I am doing everyday, and I also don’t have to spend time on my trip checking up on what other people are doing. I want to focus living in the present, and I want to truly enjoy my time with my family, and to figure out how I may be able to help others. This is how I want to live now—in honor of one of the greatest men I have ever known, my Papa Nelson.


Where Happiness Begins

How upsetting is it that so many people feel the need to change who they are to fit the expectation of others? I have talked about this a lot through various topics, but I’ve been wanting to talk about it straight up. First of all, there is so much more to life than how you look. If you really think about it, it truly doesn’t matter how you look, unless you only want people to like you for their opinion of how you look according to their eyes. But, do you really want that? Don’t you want people to like you for the amazing person you are, for your potential and capabilities, for your knowledge and wisdom, and for your humor and the joy you bring to others? Are you really okay with pushing aside your beautiful personality to act and look like what you think will impress others? It makes me extremely sad when I see people strive to be someone who they’re not, mostly because I have been in this situation many times before, and it is a painful one to be in. In this world, people are judged for how they look in pictures rather than the beauty of their souls. They are judged on how many likes they can get on a Instagram post rather than the amount of lives they have touched. We need to fight these habits, because if they continue, so many unique, beautiful people will experience pain daily. Beauty should not refer to what you look like, it should refer to how beautiful your mind is, and everyone’s mind contains so much beauty. Trust me, I am aware that this is much easier said than done, but learn to love you for your true self. Your true beauty comes from within, and your confidence should come from that. I am not saying that no one is physically beautiful, because everyone is, but it just shouldn’t matter as much as it does. Physical beauty shouldn’t be what we are focused on when meeting or judging a person. We are all beautiful, and we have so much to offer the world. I promise you, happiness begins when you learn to be yourself, so don’t throw away your beauty to try and be someone else. This world needs you, and no one else can fulfill the purpose that you are here to serve.