A broken education system: Third Culture Kids

This is such a hard article to write, because it’s based on a topic that, through the years, has grown and transformed alongside me – and that’s education. First a little background on me, I was born in Skopje, Macedonia – and lived there up until the third grade my parents decided to move us all to Maryland, US.

First and second grade are a little bit of a blur. I was a year younger than my classmates, and when you’re young that tends to take a turn for the worst. I was very emotionally dependent on the adults around me, and basically spent the majority of my time crying and feeling insecure.

In the third grade, upon moving to the United States, I was placed in an (obviously) completely English-speaking school. Aside from cat, dog, red and blue, my English vocabulary was pretty much non-existent. As all little kids do, I began mimicking my classmates, and basically started speaking fluent English by week number three. Unfortunately, I had to deal with the inevitable – I had a vocabulary gap in my knowledge of the English language that my new friends around me have been filling for the last nine years. I spent the next four years (third through seventh grade) trying to fill my vocabulary gap, trying to make friends and maintain relationships (which I still didn’t know how to do because I was still extremely insecure), and attempting to learn how to study. Now, you may say “Learn how to study? Nobody has to make a conscious effort to do that, we all automatically learn when we’re young”. To be honest, that’s actually what I kept telling myself as I watched my grades plummet to the ground, unable to do much about it. I couldn’t understand why it was always me that was struggling, or why my friends completed their work with ease while I simply couldn’t. I think that while I strived to fill my vocabulary gap, I never truly learned how to learn. I loved reading for fun, but announce a test at the end of the week and I’ll just sit there because I didn’t even know how to start studying for it. This is the period of time that my love for music grew. Music felt like my only escape because I didn’t need to know how to experience it – I just did. I made it through those few years with mediocre grades at best. I’m talking B’s and C’s (but mostly C’s).

In the midst of the seventh grade, my family and I moved back to Macedonia. This was the start of the hardest period of my life, both academically but more importantly, mentally and emotionally. While speaking conversational Macedonian with my parents around the house for the past four years, I was never exposed to Macedonian literature or anything that would expand my vocabulary in any way. I now entered the middle of the seventh grade with the Macedonian vocabulary of a second grader. To make matters worse, I had forgotten the cyrillic alphabet, so I had to go through an adjustment period where I literally had to practice writing letters and words over and over in a journal. While that was happening at home, teachers handed me readings in subjects like physics, chemistry, history and geography that were way beyond my comprehension. I could feel my teachers being frustrated with me, I could see that my parents were at a loss of what to do, and on top of everything, I had to figure out a way to start all over again and make new friends. Lucky for me, as introverted as I am, I’m also friendly and outgoing. In the next few years I bounced between many friend circles and made friends that are still around to this day. I also poured my heart and soul into relationships that quickly evaporated, but that’s something that everybody goes through – regardless of their academic situation.

In the ninth grade I entered high school. When I say that this was the absolute darkest period of my life, you have to understand how far from an exaggeration that is. I was in a new pool of kids, I had no accent that separated me from my classmates,and I had an enormous vocabulary gap (along with a lot of trouble expressing myself because my thoughts were entirely in English). My teachers and professors couldn’t grasp my situation no matter how many times I tried to explain it. I didn’t look stupid, so I was immediately labeled as lazy. It’s hard enough to be in a situation where the intensity of everything is magnified by 100 times, but getting past the fact that your professors think that you’re lazy and uninterested was a battle that I almost lost. High school was the peak of my depression. I felt completely misunderstood and hopeless. My professors were anything but understanding, and my will to fight back stated thinning immensely. Needless to say, some professors were better than other, but some were an absolute nightmare.

(A little detour – I had a professor make me stand in front of my class as she asked me questions about the last chapter we had to read. Reading something in Macedonian, translating it into English to understand it, and then having to reiterate it back to someone in Macedonian, all while feeling absolutely intimidated, is a situation I don’t wish upon anybody. Needless to say I started bawling in front of everybody and left the classroom absolutely miserable and embarrassed. Not only did I hate my professors, but I was starting to hate myself. I kept thinking to myself, how could I be so stupid?)

By the middle of the tenth grade, I had 7 D’s and heavy clinical depression. I was on anti-depressants just trying to numb the misery and hopelessness. I also began to have suicidal thoughts, and my body started completely rejecting meat / protein. At this point my parents made the best decision that they could have made, and they took me out of public school. I transferred into a very small private school. When I say very small – I mean that there were a total of 9 people in my graduating class. Still, I walked in there carrying the burden of the last ten years of my education. The rest of the tenth and eleventh grade are a bit of blur. I was heavily medicated, but I was also willing to work with my professors. Again, not all of them were understanding, but the ones that really took the time to hear me out and really tried to understand me are the ones that helped me dig myself out of the hole that I felt buried neck-deep in. By the twelfth grade, and the end of high school, my grades started improving immensely. Sure, I wasn’t getting straight A’s, and yeah – math was absolutely never my thing, but in those two years I learned how to learn. I got to work on projects I was passionate about, I started weaning off of anti-depressants, and my social life was booming at this point.

This whole struggle really made me second-guess whether I wanted to go to college or not. Why put myself through hell for another four years if I didn’t have to? I had no idea what I wanted to study, and to be quite honest, I didn’t know if I was smart enough. After being put down for so many years, i found it very hard to gain the confidence to move forward. Knowing that there was no way I wanted to take part in the Macedonian educational system any longer, I applied to university in the US, and patiently waited to hear back. While my grades weren’t my strong side, I was always the queen of extracurriculars. I was part of a debate club, I sang in a band, I did freelance photography, I even think I did some acting classes. Seeing all of these components on my application must have been a good thing, because I ended up with an acceptance letter from St. Lawrence University. At that point, there was no doubt in my mind that I had to take this opportunity because otherwise I wouldn’t even make it through a year of university in Macedonia. I packed my bags and moved my life to the (very) small village of Canton, New York.

It would be a lie to say that college was a breeze, but one thing I can certainly say is that it was the most influential growing period for me. The school I started attending was a small school, with a  campus located in the middle of nowhere. I joined an a cappella group my first week there, and during that first year I learned how to schedule my time efficiently. I also made lifelong friends, and my grades, while not amazing – were alright. Maybe even above average at times. I found myself surrounded by the most amazing, understanding and inspiring professors. My progress strengthened throughout the next three years, and as I grew, I learned more about what I wanted to study, and what my interests were. In those three years I wrote papers so complex, that reading them back now, it’s hard to believe that I developed such complex ideas in my head. By my third year of college, my grades were high enough that I could enroll in a study abroad program. I chose London and went on to have a new, semester-long life experience. It was only at this point that I began feeling like I really could do anything if I really wanted to. I immersed myself in things I loved, such as reading dense political theory, and making lighthearted (and sometimes serious) videos and films. This was also the year I made the dean’s list for the first time (which means that I had a GPA higher than 3.6 out of 4.0). By my senior year of college, I found myself passionately reading and writing lengthy academic works on topics that truly resonated with me. I finished all of my requirements during the first half of my senior year (along with my final thesis), and I made the decision to move to Manhattan for the final semester of my college education. I landed an amazing internship at Christie’s auction house (I freaking worked in Rockefeller center), and then in May I went back up to St. Lawrence to graduate (with honors!). That’s me in the blue dress.

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I am immensely lucky to be sitting here confidently, with a college degree, a sense of self, and the knowledge and strength to fight for what matters. I decided to write this article in hopes that you, the reader, will be able to one day recognize that the kid that society labeled as “lazy”, could very well be the byproduct of a world that isn’t equipped to handle situations like mine, his or hers. It’s devastating knowing that many of my fellow “third culture kids*” will fall victim to this globally dysfunctional system, and will end up losing the battle against an educational system that is set up to fail them. If this article raises enough awareness to help just one person in a similar situation succeed, I will have made enough of a difference by writing it.

*Third culture kid is a term used to refer to children who were raised in a culture outside of their parents’ culture for a significant part of their development years

Sincerely,
PositivelyCurvy

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Naked depth: Urban Decay Naked Smoky

Let’s talk about the Urban Decay Naked Smoky palette. I snagged this palette in July, after soaking up all of the hype it created online. With my skin tone being neither warm nor cool, eyeshadow palettes are always such a toss up. If you know me, you know that the Naked 3 palette is my all time favorite, most used and most loved palette. The Naked Smoky on the other hand – took me quite a while to get comfortable with.

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Naked palettes will always be at the top of the game, simply because of the shadow consistency and the pigmentation – which are without a doubt the best. The Naked Smoky contains a lot of cooler shades, as well as a couple of really strong glitters. Day to day, I found myself reaching for my Naked 3 instead, justifying the fact that because the Naked Smoky is so much cooler and darker, I would use it for nights out (the joke here is that I barely go out so I barely used it). It really wasn’t until this week that I started to play with it more and discovered the two everyday shades that I somehow managed to overlook for the past couple of months.
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The two shades I am talking about are “combust” and “thirteen”. Shades like combust have never been my favorite. They’re too close to my skin tone and tend to make my eyes look muddy (or at least that’s what I thought). In the original Naked palette, I usually stayed away from the matte shadows because they were never as smooth as I wanted them to be.

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I don’t know what got into me, but I applied “thirteen” as my base and then started work “combust” into my crease. I swear, I have never been more amazed by a neutral eyeshadow look. “Combust” can be worked up to such a depth that it almost looks like I’ve applied a third shadow for dimension. This is now my go-to, everyday shadow look. You guys wanna know what the best part is? Since it’s so subtle and beautiful, you can rock it with just about any bold lip you want. What more could I ask for during chilly October?

And last but not least, this is what my current daily makeup consists of (I think a little video tutorial might be coming soon):
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  1. Kat Von D, Shade + Light palette (contour kit)
  2. Urban Decay, Naked Smoky (shadows)
  3. Bobbi Brown, Perfectly Defined Long-Wear Brow Pencil, Blonde
  4. Nars, Sheer Glow, Deauville (foundation)
  5. Nars, Deepthroat (blush)
  6. Rimmel, Kate, 08 (lipstick)
  7. Beauty Blender (applicator)
  8. Maybelline, Age Rewind (concealer)
  9. Urban Decay, Primer Potion (shadow base)
  10. Too Faced, Better Than Sex (mascara)

Tell me things! Are you all doing well? Are you loving or hating the Naked Smoky palette? Talk to me, damn it (just kidding, but it’d be awesome if you did).

Till next time,

Positively Curvy

Anxiety and Depression: Neither here nor there

Do I have a loaded post for you today. Oof.

Hello, hi! How are you? I hope you are doing well. I, myself, have been in a sort of “funk” lately. It’s not really fair to call it a “funk” because it kind of diminishes the seriousness of what’s going on. I was diagnosed with depression when I was twelve years old. I really can’t even fathom the fact that that was ten whole years ago. I was on anti-depressants for three years, and have officially been off of them for seven. I generally cope well with life, and thus, not many people around me know that I have suffered, or let alone that I continue to suffer from depression. Something I’ve written continuously about on this blog (maybe not written per se, but definitely scattered around) is the fact that I have also been battling fairly severe anxiety for the last six or seven months.

It would be ridiculous to claim that I know how anybody who’s going through a similar situation to me feels, so I’m going to talk to you about my experiences of dealing with depression and anxiety simultaneously. To put it shortly – it blows. I’m always stuck with a weird pressure in my chest, which feels anything but physical. A lump in my throat that I can never really get rid of. Everyday feels like an internal battle that’s even harder to fight than the day before. I want to be active and productive, but most days I can’t. For instance here how this morning went:

8:00am Wake up
9:30am Still in bed
10:15am Get up, make coffee, accidentally put too much Stevia in it, dump it out, back to bed
11:00am Fight myself on whether or not to get up and do something productive. I’ve resorted to going into coffee shops to do my work because otherwise there’s no way I’d be getting anything done. Guilt myself into getting up because otherwise I feel like a worthless human being.
11:20am – 12:00pm Get up, brush my teeth, start to apply make up on, get dressed, put shoes on.
12:05pm Lose all of the will I’ve amped up and sit down on my bed for “a minute”
12:10pm Kick shoes off and go wrap myself in my blankets, being careful to not get a lot of my make up on my white sheets.
12:35pm Feel so awful about not being able to push through, that I drag myself out of bed, put my shoes back on and leave the house before I have to change my mind once again. I walk to the cafe, thinking “Damn it, I should have stayed home”, but I keep going because I know that this is just another destructive internal dialogue.
1:08pm I’m here, and I’m so glad I am because otherwise I would have still been in bed, fighting the urge to cry (which happens fairly frequently).


And this, my friends, is the norm. My condition, mild as it is, is weighing me down immensely. It’s like doing a balancing act between constant anxiety, racing thoughts, racing heartbeat, all the works, and a field of nothingness, as far as the eye can see. I’m not always sad, but I am constantly battling whatever this is. I’ve found that getting into a TV show and binge-watching it gives me an escape of sorts. Sadly, it’s a fairly unhealthy escape.

Have any of you had any experience with mental illness? Let me know in the comments.

-PositivelyCurvy

Yoga: Making time for yourself

Hi friends!

I officially have my computer back, and will now be working hard to get back to a regular posting schedule. Not having a computer for a week and a half, along with not much else to do, left me with a lot of free time. I’ve always wanted to get into yoga, but haven’t had much luck when it comes to classes. The classes I’ve attended were all either too intense or too fast-paced, so I knew I wanted to find something that would work better for me. I stumbled upon the most amazing yoga YouTube channel, and I thought I would share it with you guys!

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The YouTube channel is called “Yoga with Adriene” and it has so many videos, that vary in both intensity and length. I’ve been sticking to the videos that are for absolute beginners, but there are quite a bit of videos for yoga aficionados as well! Adriene is very easy-going, positive, and relaxed – and this is something that has been pulling me back to her videos just about every day. Whether I can only afford to do 20 minutes in the morning, or if I can dedicate 40 minutes or even an hour – her videos have me covered.

If you’ve been tense, stressed, or even if you just want a few minutes of the day that you can dedicate to yourself – give the beginners video a shot. It might not be for you, but it also might be just the ritual that you’re missing from your busy (or not so busy in my case) day.

I will talk to you all very soon!

-PositivelyCurvy

Favorite fall / autumn lipsticks 

Hi friends! 

It’s my fifth day without a working computer, and to be honest – I’m starting to go a little crazy. Perhaps what I miss most is working on this blog. Sharing thoughts and photos with you all is one of my favorite things! 

This week I’m coming to you with a post from my phone, so the image quality is going to be a little shotty – but bear with me and I’ll be back at full force by next week. 

1. Mac Velvet Teddy 

This is such a classic. Wasn’t it like the Kylie Jenner lipstick or something? Not being up to date on such things, I actually picked this up randomly about a week ago. It’s completely matte and a kind of reddy-brown color. It’s pretty warm toned, but that’s what makes it so easy to wear. 

  
2. Rimmel Kate 08 

This is almost like a velvety, non-matte version of a Velvet Teddy. Also, it smells like bubble gum!! The color payoff is amazing, it’s comfortable to wear, stays on for a good couple of hours and is super affordable. This might be my most used lipstick this fall. 

  
3. Revlon Colorburst Matte Balm 225

When it comes to gloomy days, this darker lip color is such a treat. It glides on, leaves a minty tingle on your lips and most importantly doesn’t dry them out. Also can we talk about how affordable this is? Love love love! 

 
I realize that I’ve come a long way in the last few years – especially in terms of wearing bolder lip colors. 

What’s your favorite fall lipstick? Let me know in the comments! 

Till next time, 

PositivelyCurvy

Autumn: Things to appreciate

Rather than a structured post, today I’m coming to you with a ramble. I intended to write three posts a week, and this week’s accomplishments will be no different. But as always, life happens and I am now left with a shattered MacBook screen. There’s no real point in crying over it, so instead I made a list of things that I appreciate this time of year.
1. Big, comfy, cozy sweaters

2. Dark muted lipsticks (Rimmel Kate 107, Mac Velvet Teddy)

   

  3. Hot coffee in the morning, hot tea in the afternoon

   
4. The smell of sugar, apples, and cinnamon cooking in the oven

5. Coloring books 

  
6. The flicker of candles in my bedroom

7. Americana, folk, and music that wraps my soul in a big hug

8. Yoga and deep relaxation while it rains outside

9. Curling up with a good book

  
10. Hand-writing letters to good friends

11. The smell of frosty woods

12. Dipping ham&cheese toasties in vegetable cream soup

13. Having a good lonely cry

14. Cute texts to wake up to every morning

15. Moisturizing face masks

16. Lush baths

17. Hearty breakfast bowls (and instagramming them)

  
Till next time,

Positively Curvy

Room tour: Creating a calm space

Hello friends!

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, I recently moved to Brussels, Belgium. After years and years of living in cramped dorms, I was faced with the awesome opportunity to create and decorate a room for myself. Since I frequently write, it was really important for me to have a desk / office space in my room. The only other thing that I needed to ensure, is that I would create a space for myself that promoted calmness as well as inspiration and creativity.

So, welcome to my room! I hope you enjoy it, and I hope it inspires some of you.

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Let’s start off with the window / desk space. I got pretty much everything you see from Ikea (except for the Swell water bottle, which is my favorite thing ever). Gotta love Ikea.

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The next section I want to talk about is my bed area. I didn’t get much of a say in picking the actual bed (it was already in here), so aside from the fact that it’s a little bit small, I have managed to make it super cozy. The pillows again, are from Ikea. The blanket and the wall decor are all from Maison du Monde in Brussels. The cute slippers are from Primark, and my notebooks are from Madison Modern Market in Madison, Wisconsin.

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And last but not least, I have the middle section of my closet completely open, and I use it as a decorative / visual space.
Here you can see my St. Lawrence diploma, some books, notebooks, a coloring book, some light training weights, trashy magazines, and two storage boxes.

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I still have room to decorate more, so if there’s anything you think would fit in really well, please let me know in the comments! I hope you guys enjoyed this little tour.

Till next time,

-Positively Curvy

A little LUSH haul

Hello again friends!

This week I went to Lush and picked up a couple of products. I didn’t go in with the intention of picking up some seasonal products, but I couldn’t help myself. One thing that’s new for me, is that I finally have a bathtub. I know it sounds so strange, but I’ve spent the past 4 years living in dorms with showers, so a nice relaxing bath was absolutely always out of the question. Now that I’ve moved into this new apartment, I find myself filling up the tub once or twice a week, and it helps soothe my anxiety quite a bit. What it doesn’t help soothe, is my eczema – but I’m not about to start taking oatmeal baths. Although, I have found that Lush products are a lot easier on my skin, which makes sense because they’re 100% natural. Without rambling on too much, here’s what I got!

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1. Bar Humbug Bubble Bar
“It’s all humbug, I tell you. Humbug! If the Christmassy sights seem horrible as can be, cleansing tarragon mixed with relaxing fennel provide a welcome antidote.” – [Lush Website]
Apparently, this is a bubble bar for people that don’t like all the christmasy festivities, all of the time. And to be honest, while I enjoy Christmas – any social gathering drains me like nothing else. Although extremely outgoing, I’m an extreme introvert and would rather take a bath (or watch Netflix), than go out for a couple of drinks. This bubble bar is beautiful, purple, swirly, and covered in glitter. It has hints of licorice as well as Illipe butter in it, and while I’m not a huge licorice lover – this bubble bar smells absolutely amazing to me.

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2. Mask of Magnaminty
“Easily smoothed over the skin anywhere you like, this mask is made with peppermint oil to stimulate, marigold oil and chlorophyllin to treat the skin; evening primrose seeds and aduki beans to gently exfoliate as you remove it. There’s also mineral rich kaolin to nourish, antibacterial honey, and peppermint oil to stimulate the blood cells just under the surface of your skin to leave it looking bright and refreshed.” -[Lush Website]
This mask was the reason I got off my butt and headed to Lush in the first place. I have heard the most amazing things about the Mask of Magnaminty, and while I haven’t used it yet – the smell by itself was enough for me to fall in love with it. I mean, it smells like straight up mint chocolate chip ice cream. What’s not to love?

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*edit: I tried it and I loved it and here’s a selfie! 

  

3. Golden Wonder Bath Bomb
“Cognac and zesty lime oils start a party of mood-brightening scents whilst sweet orange oil refreshes the senses.” – [Lush Website]
The first thing I noticed about this bath bomb, aside from the fact that it’s HUGE, is that it rattles. Upon doing my research (aka watching youtube videos of the bath bomb dissolving) I found out that this bath bomb is very cleverly disguised to look simple. The inside is bright turquoise, and the rattling? Little silvers stars that float in the water. Not to mention that it smells absolutely amazing. I’m so excited to use it!

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4. Luxury Pud Bath Bomb
“Catch 40 winks on Christmas Eve with islands of sleepy foam and comforting lavender.” – [Lush Website]
This bath bomb is a walking contradiction. In the water, it is the most hectic explosion of colors, resulting in a bright magenta bath. But the scent? Lavender and pure relaxation. I guess you always need to balance out the two opposite ends of the spectrum!

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Let me know if you’ve tried any of these or if you have any must-try Lush recommendations! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

-PositivelyCurvy

Creativity & Calmness

Hi friends!

Today I’m coming to you with a blog post that’s a bit different from the usual, but it’s something that has really helped me in terms on mental health, and that’s painting. Now, don’t back away immediately with the thought “Nope, I’m not an artist, this isn’t going to happen”, because I am so so far from an artist myself. I actually suffer from anxiety (more severely as of recently) and I’m always on the lookout of things to do that will keep my mind from racing. Recently I’ve discovered an easy way to calm my thoughts, get away from electronics from a bit and generally spend some quality time with myself – and that’s through coloring books!
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I haven’t had a coloring book since I was very small, but it really is a no-brainer when it comes to being creative with minimal amounts of talent. Another gem I’ve re-discovered? Water colors. They’re so easy and clean and fun to work with, I’m obsessed.

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I haven’t dabbled in the world of coloring books too much, but the one that I immediately fell in love with is called “Fantastic Cities” by Steve McDonald, and if you’re a travel junkie like myself – you will absolutely love this.

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Do you have a favorite way to destress?

-PositivelyCurvy