Grafitti of colorful hearts


I realized I was gay in middle/high school, but didn’t have the vocabulary or experience to define it. It wasn’t until my junior or senior year of college that I came out. Overall the journey has been incredible. I feel very fortunate that I live in a city where I can express myself openly and authentically. I’m surrounded by people who support and encourage that.

It wasn’t always like that, though. J* was the first woman I seriously dated after coming out. I had joined Her and Tinder when I first came out, because it was a way to kind of explore at a distance. I could match and talk with people without feeling overwhelmed or intimidated by approaching them in real life. I had met up with a few people, but it never really went past a few dates. After graduating college and moving back home, I downloaded OkCupid. J was my first and only OkCupid date up until that point. When we met I still had self-doubt and nervousness around my inexperience. To add onto that, I was living with my family in my hometown, so my dating life was nonexistent. She made me feel validated and safe — I felt that, as I was getting to know her, I was getting to know myself too. We spent a lot of time together in the beginning. Our personalities were similar, we had good chemistry, and she had a studio apartment, which made it easier. I was falling in love for the first time, and someone was falling in love with me! Before that it was hard to imagine that I was even capable of feeling this way. Looking back, I don’t think I would have done anything differently.

I was blindsided by the breakup. She never mentioned that she was unhappy, or that she wasn’t feeling as invested in the relationship. One night she just said she wasn’t physically attracted to me and she wanted to break up. Her reasons didn’t make sense and rather than talk about it, it felt like she’d made a decision without even talking to me.

Looking back, though, there were definitely signs that she wasn’t the person for me. I felt very self-conscious around her. She liked to tease me, but sometimes it was hard to see the line between playful banter and just downright being mean. I didn’t feel like I was myself and I didn’t feel like I could be myself. A lot of my effort wasn’t matched. While the circumstances of the breakup sucked, in hindsight it needed to happen. I think I was so caught up in it being my first serious relationship, and having that person I could always turn to. It was hard to look back after the fact and realize that I was unhappy, and that I wasn’t myself. But this realization is the main reason why I moved on.

For the first time in my life, I’m out, single, and out of my mom’s house. I feel more secure in myself and my identity than ever before. I have a lot to offer, and I know what I want — and, more importantly, what I deserve. I’m dating and looking forward to meeting new people again. I’m making more plans with friends, going out more, and just making myself open to new experiences. I even have a new album coming out this week!

Despite my heartbreak with J, I’m glad it happened because I learned so much about what I want and need in love. I definitely still have a lot to learn, but I’m at the best possible place with myself right now, and I can’t wait to see where that takes me.

Find Kaitlin’s music on Spotify, and follow the band on Twitter for updates!

*Name changed to protect privacy.

Young woman looking out to the ocean


The second summer when I was leaving my hometown for college in London, my grandfather, drove me to the airport. He’s quite a character and has a very unique way of speaking, but as we were walking out of the door with my suitcase he tells me to “stay away from fancy troubles.” This piece of advice really struck me.

My grandpa is a very simple man. I know when he says fancy, he doesn’t mean luxurious. He means anything unnecessary. He was telling me to stay away from anything that could take me down the wrong path or anything that would cause trouble.

But, living in London and traveling across Europe, I knew I needed just the right amount of trouble. Being abroad brought out my most unique self and dared me to explore what the world holds. I studied graphic design in college and created a magazine for my final school project which forced me to do some solo traveling and talk to people I otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity to speak to.

It was ultimately in my travels that as a graphic designer I was inspired to see my designs come to life and eventually create sunglasses that truly embody the sense of possibility that we all desire. I had no particular goal to design sunglasses. It was random really. A lot of my designs were inspired from travels — whether it was looking at buildings or taking the Eurostar train from Paris to London and looking out the window. One day I was just doodling shades on Illustrator and practicing my skills when I had the urge for them to come to life.

Within 5 weeks, I made it to Italy and visited some factories. It happened very quickly. I finalized some of my designs at two factories in the North and South of Italy. Production took a very long time, but when I actually got the glasses they were very good quality and I got many compliments on the unique designs.

It made me realize that I wanted others to experience this product and the feeling to embrace their own “fancy troubles.” There’s something incredibly rewarding about seeing your designs in a real-life setting. Removed from your computer screen and actually utilized by real people in real life. Taking my sketches and turning them into a tangible, wearable accessory has been exciting and almost surreal, especially when other people wear them.

At first, the fear of the unknown was consuming. I was 22 at the time and I didn’t know what I was doing. I felt the pressure that I needed to be taken seriously. I was worried that my love and excitement for designing would vanish along with moving back to the States. With starting anything, there are always setbacks. There would be days when I would reach out to influencers and I hear nothing or a negative response. It was the faith in my designs and the inspiration that has kept me going.

It is scary to go into something new with no guarantee that someone will follow your story. For those who are drawn to Fancy Troubles and captivated by the designs and message, I want them to feel confident and ready to take on the world, whatever their path may be.

I believe that the spirit of embarking on adventure and the thrill of excitement is what your 20s are about. The Fancy Troubles wearer doesn’t fit into one box, but the common factor they do share is the love and openness for new experiences — to see the world with not fear, but excitement and bravery through the lenses of stylish sunglasses of course!

Check out Fancy Troubles’ pop-up shop in Nolita from July 17-21 😎 Don’t miss out on exclusive giveaways and the chance to purchase your own pair of shades!


When life gives you lemons…. In New York, in our first decade of adulthood, life rarely goes easy on us. Between career setbacks, surprise breakups, and money issues, sometimes the only certain thing is…failure.

When it all tumbles down, the only way forward is to get back up again and again, stronger and wiser each time. Being able to learn and adapt — to thrive in spite of hardship — is your greatest strength in this tumultuous city and the greatest gift your 20s self can give to the future you.

So raise your glass of lemonade, because we’re sure you’ve already squeezed some out of your past failures, and cheers with us.

Up and at ‘em,
Your 20s to be team


“Fake News Writer is a YouTube series about a recent college grad, Ethan, who moves to LA in the hopes of being a screenwriter — but the only job he can find is writing Pro-Trump conservative propaganda for a fake news website. I wrote this series based on my own experience moving to LA after graduating in screenwriting. One day as I was searching on Indeed, I found a posting for a political news writer where you needed to write with whatever biases the company gave you.”
Eric, 26, on navigating reality as an aspiring screenwriter.

“When I graduated three years ago, I think I just didn’t know what kind of roles I really wanted as my first steps. It was definitely a hard summer… throughout college, I always made sure that I was working very hard to be at the top no matter what I was doing, whether it was in student activities or at an internship. To be hit with endless rejections throughout summer right after graduation was just a huge reality check”
Carolynn, 24, on her post-grad career setbacks and comebacks.


  • You’re ready for a summer getaway but your bank account isn’t budging? Here are six affordable ways you can escape from the subway humidity for a weekend. 
  • Career changes are stressful, but it’s never too early — or late —to think about disrupting your current flow. Check out the HBR podcast on ways to take your next big leap. 
  • While adapting to thrive, it’s important to not lose sight of your core values. This TED Talk helps us understand the why behind our actions.
  • What’s the hottest spot to be — and Instagram — this summer? Find it on FOMOFeed! While you’re at it, follow us on Instagram to stay in the loop. 


We all need to get away sometimes, but planning a whole trip out of the city takes some work! Have a quick summer getaway at Governors Island and enjoy the perfect mix of greenery and city views. The ferry is just $3!


For this round, our international students have asked: What’s your process for re-grouping after a setback?” 

Our favorite piece of advice was from Nick, who said, 

After a setback, I carve out some time to process. When our plans go awry we can feel a range of emotions, and I think there is deep learning and potential if we can fully feel our feelings and be inquisitive about why this particular plan that didn’t work out is so important to us. Without this step, the feelings can linger and fester and we may experience the same setback again and again.

I start by regulating my breath with a breathing app that tells me when to breathe in and out. This gives me a state of strategic calm to observe what happened, why it was important, and how I can move forward with greater clarity and purpose.

Setbacks can be frustrating because they are turbulent, but that can be a blessing — it can shake us up and make sure we are being intentional about our lives. Beautiful questions emerge from setbacks: why do I care about this? What value does this trajectory bring to me or others? Was this path intrinsically motivated or am I doing this for someone else?

Got a burning question to ask? Need some advice? Ask, and we will answer!

Hit us up for questions, comments, or whatever strikes your fancy at

Person reading newspaper


Fake News Writer is a YouTube series about a recent college grad, Ethan, who moves to LA in the hopes of being a screenwriter — but the only job he can find is writing Pro-Trump conservative propaganda for a fake news website. Ethan has to hide his work from his extreme liberal roommate who hacks and publicly shames fake news writers.

I wrote this series based on my own experience moving to LA after graduating in screenwriting. While in school, they drill into your head that hardly any of us will actually make it as screenwriters. Or that we will be working as an assistant for years, just for the opportunity for someone to maybe read your script and maybe like it enough to give you a job. Or that won’t happen and it’ll just be a waste of years of your life. It was discouraging. When I graduated I started taking small copywriting jobs that I was able to get with my major. These would pay $5 for 4 hours of work. Then eventually I moved up the ladder and got paid $12 for 4 hours of work. It wasn’t a sustainable way to live.

Then, one day as I was searching on Indeed, I found a posting for a political news writer where you needed to write with whatever biases the company gave you. I thought I could do that. I grew up with both intelligent liberals and conservatives and thought I had the ability to channel both perspectives as needed.

During my job interview, my boss explained to me how he runs a pro-Trump conservative page and the readers are old, fragile people whose emotions I needed to cater to. It was a company that didn’t want to influence politics at all — they ran both liberal and conservation websites and were just profit-driven. They wanted me to study what people clicked on, and write more of that. And so, after I got hired, I would just read a bunch of conservative articles, rewrite them in my own words, and come up with click-driven headlines. I was ashamed of myself the whole time I was working there, but I really wanted to be financially independent. I didn’t want to be dependent on my parents. This job gave me the financial security to live in LA.

From the start, I realized I wanted to write a script from this experience. I thought it was very topical and I had a unique first-hand perspective on how it all worked. I originally began writing it as a movie as I was starting the job — yet I didn’t know what was going to happen next and what my character arc was going to be. Eventually, I realized I could turn the acts into 7-10 minute episodes to capture the character’s day-to-day happenings.

Most of the show was an accurate reality of my job. My boss was a cynical, monotone guy who was just about the business. I never met him in person and don’t think I even knew his real name. When I wrote this show my goal was to make fun of liberals and conservatives evenly; this two-sidedness is something I miss from television and I think it’s what made South Park so successful. In my comedy, I don’t mean to mock specific viewpoints. With liberals, I’m making fun of the overuse of shaming tactics and people who believe that any form of disagreement with them is racism, sexism, bigotry, etc. People feel they can’t express their opinions or even entertain opposing opinions without being shamed. So instead of having conversations, they look for content that agrees with their point of view, fake news writers capitalize on this, and we all get more divided. With conservatives, “With conservatives, I’m making fun of how easy-to-write and disingenuous a lot of their news sources are and the types of people who point out bias in the mainstream media but don’t notice the obvious bias on their own side.

I also wanted to explore the themes of a millennial trying to find their place in the world. Ethan’s journey in the series is about self-worth. For example, before he gets the job, he feels like he can’t talk to women, because he’s a loser who can’t get a job and relies on his parents. He thinks that by taking a job that makes him financially independent, he will be proud of himself and feel like he has value and this will give him confidence. However, when he gets his job writing fake news, this doesn’t work out because he’s so ashamed of what he does.

If you’re looking for some fun, dark humor, check out Fake News Writer on YouTube — they’ve just won the Webby Awards and will be coming out with a Season 2!

Desk with computer


When I graduated three years ago, I think I just didn’t know what kind of roles I really wanted as my first steps.

I’d come to college to study Communications and thought that I was going to work in PR even though I had no idea what that meant. I did an internship in the PR world and that’s when I realized I really couldn’t do PR. I’d also interned in network television and had felt like the TV industry was a little bit too slow-paced for me and more importantly, there just wasn’t the diversity I wanted to see in the industry I chose to work in. I wanted to go into tech — though I’d done internships in the industry, it was hard to break into. I was looking at anything from Sales Coordinator, Marketing Coordinator, to Recruiting Coordinator, and trying to cast a wide net.

It was definitely a hard summer for myself because throughout college, I always made sure that I was working very hard to be at the top no matter what I was doing, whether it was in student activities or at an internship. To be hit with endless rejections throughout summer right after graduation was just a huge reality check for myself, and it honestly forced me to start from square one and reevaluate what I really wanted to do.

Ironically, an opportunity came through NYU by August. An office was looking for marketing and social media help, and so… I don’t want to call it an act of desperation because I was really levelheaded going into it, but I needed to start making an income. I ended up accepting the role and I absolutely did not like my experience there. It was primarily due to a toxic work culture, not being as fast-paced as I wanted it to be, and not feeling challenged in my day-to-day responsibilities. I immediately felt like it wasn’t a good fit, but instead of quitting or not giving them a shot, I did decide to stick around for a whole year. I decided to look at the positives and think about the things that did make me happy in the role.

Despite my negative experiences over that year, I left feeling like I’d learned so much more about myself. I clearly know what I like and don’t like about my work environments and ultimately, it helped me as I interviewed at other places. Even though it was a marketing role, I did find little hidden gems here and there that would help me as I decided to pivot into recruiting.

I always wanted to stay in touch with my university in some capacity. My experience at NYU was incredible, and despite the student loans, to this day I am grateful for the opportunities I was afforded because of my education. That was one of the reasons why I had taken the role at NYU — because I was curious about higher education and wanted to see if that could be a career for myself. I love working with students and with universities.

As I was researching roles for myself, I realized that campus and university recruiting are roles that exist within the greater recruiting umbrella. I realized some of the largest tech companies I’d even interviewed right after graduation had university recruiting roles.

I used my work at NYU to get me to where I am today. I said that I was still responsible for interviewing and hiring interns for the office and that experience made me hungry for a formal recruiting environment.

Two weeks after I finished up at NYU, in August 2017, I started at my current company as a Recruiting Coordinator. In my second time interviewing for these tech companies, I was very laser focused on getting a recruiting coordinator role. That was the biggest difference between 2016 and 2017, that I actually had an idea of what I wanted and where I wanted to be. I interviewed at all the same places, if not more. Ultimately, I chose an opportunity in a mid-sized tech company that aligned best with my interests.

Recruiting coordinator is more of a general role. I wasn’t working directly with university or campus recruiting, but I felt that it was a great role for me to understand the ins and outs of recruiting in a coordinator and support capacity. I was in that role for 10-11 months. Before my one year at my current company, I was given the opportunity to interview for a new role, and I was promoted to University Recruiter.

I laid the groundwork early. Two weeks into my coordinator role, I already had an idea of where I ultimately wanted to be, which was on the campus team. And for context, while I was interviewing for recruiting coordinator roles, I was also interviewing for campus recruiting coordinator roles, because some tech companies will separate those organizations. Obviously, I just took the regular recruiting coordinator position, but during training, I already got coffee with the campus recruiting manager and told her that this was an area of interest to me. I let her know that even though I was so new, I was just so interested and eager to know more, and once I fully ramped up, I wanted to see if there were ways to support the team or assist with side projects here or there. I definitely sounded over eager at the time, because the manager told me to sort of chill and take a step back, and master my day-to-day responsibilities first. Then she told me to reach out after and see what I could do. So listened to her, and I mastered my role in a month — I really owned it, and I loved the position, and I enjoyed the team. I was able to show that I not only mastered the show that I had, but I was hungry for something more. I always made it clear not only to my manager, but to other leads as well, that I was ultimately interested in becoming a campus recruiter. I think that’s why I am where I am today.

Be loud is my best advice. In my internship period, at Zumper, I was working on a small team of 7. Up to working on a team of 7 for a company of thousands. Despite the drastic differences in company size, the most important thing I had to do was to not be afraid to speak up when appropriate, especially when it includes advocating, both for yourself and for other people. I think being loud is a really important thing and it’s helped me to be where I am today.


Big summer energy. Say it with us, because that’s the kind of summer we’re all aiming for. 

With the million fun things we want to RSVP to (al fresco brunches, rooftop parties), it’s the perfect time to think about what draws out your prime energy.

What is it you do to recharge yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually that allows you to be the best version of yourself? More importantly, what in your life is most deserving of your best self and prime energy? 

Your time and attention is limited, so don’t be afraid to be selfish this summer. 😉

Putting ourselves first,
Your 20s to be team 


“For six years, I’ve suffered from living with the confines of an anorexic and alcoholic mind. The spiritual program of recovery has helped me prioritize in loving myself. New York is an over-stimulating city, but I’m learning how to surrender to the thoughts of being a perfectionist or comparison. Being in service of love has grounded me and constantly reminds me to come back to my truest self.”
Lolly*, 22, on learning how to lean closer and closer to her authentic self.

“Last year, I found myself crying over missing out on the cherry blossoms at the Botanic Garden. By the time I found the opportunity to go, they weren’t blooming anymore. It seemed silly, but it wasn’t about the flowers — it was my whole relationship with New York City.”
Tina, 23, on the delights and anxieties of life in the Big Apple.


  • Working hard? Work smart instead. Here are five habits to help you get through your to-do lists faster, so you have more time and energy for rooftop season.
  • Adulting means taking good care of yourself — both mind and body. We know the drill for broken bones and colds, but how do you treat emotional trauma? One of our favorite Ted Talks teaches you how to practice “emotional first aid.”
  • Mental health is nuanced, complex, and so, so impactful to your life. We’ve got a handy graphic to evaluate your mental state through a holistic lens.
  • Feeling tired? To live — and thrive — in this city, you need every ounce of energy you can muster. Make sure you’re not giving your energy away. Here’s why you should be selfish with your time and mental space.


Need a de-stressor for your (axe)istential crisis? Or an (axe)cellent suggestion for your next friend group or work outing? Kick Axe, located in Brooklyn, is our go-to.


For this round, you’ve asked: “How do you maintain work-life balance?”

Our favorite piece of advice was from Grace, who said, 

I’m a freelancer, so I rarely know my full schedule and things pop up last minute all the time, which makes it hard to find a balance. But on the days when I know I have no projects, I make sure to fully dedicate the time to myself, catch up on laundry, and maybe sneak in a nice face mask.

The upside of being a freelancer is that I’m able to figure out which types of clients I enjoy working with. I’m actually working on not being as speedy to accept — to really evaluate if I want to accept a project and negotiate to my fullest, because when you dedicate your time at work to something, you want to make sure it’s something that can help you build for that next step. Knowing that makes it easier to focus and do your best.

I also keep in mind that work is just a part of life, not my whole life. It’s not my full identity and I always remind myself of that when I’m feeling down or stressed. It’s important to do and the mental separation lets me actually enjoy what I’m working for!

Got a burning question to ask? Need some advice? Ask, and we will answer!

Hit us up for questions, comments, or whatever strikes your fancy at

Person doing yoga on a mountain


For six years, I’ve suffered from living with the confines of an anorexic and alcoholic mind. What I learned most recently from my recovery through addiction is that it’s only through long time periods that we fall closer and closer to our most authentic self.

Since being 18, I’ve had many rock bottoms and many instances where I’ve bent over backwards to people please that it has broken me. When I graduated high school, I took a year off to devote to mental health and pursue an intensive yoga teacher training. Through this experience, I learned a lot about the sutras and the history of yoga. The main premise I took away is that the relationship to our yoga mats is a microcosm to our relationship to life. Our body stores all our trauma, emotion, fear and the inner manifests to our physical. For me, I was very flexible physically, especially in my back since I was a dancer growing up. But, it also reflected my constant need to bend over backwards to people please. I didn’t even know who I was anymore since I tried to feel validated and approved by pleasing others. I always tried to make people happy, which could come off to be inauthentic.

On the surface I seemed fine. I was going out, doing well in school, and had many friends. But, I was really struggling with alcoholism. I was having debilitating panic attacks, anxiety, and this turned into suicidality. Living just felt unbearable knowing I always had to please people. I just remember one night blacking out and waking up in a psych ward. I had nothing except being surrounded by four empty white walls. I was alone with myself for a week. My priorities were shifted to recognizing I’m worthy just because I’m alive. I don’t need any external forces to prove my worth. I’m worthy since I have a beating heart.

At my first recovery meeting, I met my sponsor who was seven years older than me and 5 years more somber. New York is such an over-stimulating city, but I’m learning how to surrender to the thoughts of being a perfectionist or comparison. Through my sobriety, gradually over time, the attachment to grades and perfection has lessened and my anxiety is slowly gone. As part of my daily practice, I regularly go to yoga and focus on meditation and prayer. I also make it a point to see my friends and build out concrete social time, whether it is to get a meal or just hang out. Building connections and creating a strong support system is important to my mental health. My relationships are my biggest priority and I’m constantly checking in with how can I practice more acts of kindness to the people I care about.

Being in service of love has grounded me and constantly reminds me to come back to my truest self. The other night I was feeling down after studying in the library for hours. I decided to go to a recovery meeting where I made such beautiful connections. I then went on a date with myself to a little Thai restaurant, wrote in my journal, and ordered Pad Thai. At one point, the waitress came over and told me she never saw someone with such radiant energy. To hear someone say that reminds me to continue accessing the inner light within, knowing all battles are worth it.

*Name changed to protect her privacy.

Person on a street corner underneath aboveground subway tracks


Last year, I found myself crying over missing out on the cherry blossoms at the Botanic Garden. By the time I found the opportunity to go, they weren’t blooming anymore. It seemed silly, but it wasn’t about the flowers — it was my whole relationship with New York City.

I had never been to New York until I moved here for college. Everything was so fresh and new and dazzling. I wanted to experience everything I couldn’t in my home country: world-famous attractions like the Met, smaller wonders like 24-hour dollar pizza, and absolutely everything in between. The idea of nonstop entertainment was dizzying — at any moment, I could be doing something new, something exciting, something life-changing.

Which meant that every moment I didn’t do something life-changing felt like a waste.I started stressing out at my own downtime, whether or not I needed it. Taking a nap in between classes, scrolling through social media before bed, watching Netflix on weekends — all I could think was I could be doing something greater. When friends and family would visit, they’d make comments like, “It must be amazing to just be able to go to Central Park every day.” I’d feel so guilty for not taking advantage of that.

Today, I haven’t been to Central Park in probably two years, and I’ve accepted that that’s okay. I can’t live my life in New York as if I’m a tourist all the time. I have a full-time job to do, an apartment to clean, errands to run, just like anyone living anywhere else. I thought I was taking New York for granted by not running around checking off items on a bucket list — but really, I’m showing my love to this city every day by sticking around and building a life in it.

I still feel anxious sometimes, late on Sunday nights when I’ve spent most of the weekend at home. But I try to put that energy into something positive — instead of beating myself up over it, I plan something new for the next week. The cherry blossoms will be here next year, and so will I.


It’s finally spring, y’all!

Whether you’re doing some spring cleaning or day drinking (or both) we’re all embracing the changing season. In a city like New York, change is the only constant. We’re trendsetters living in a melting pot of influences. The one thing that never goes out of style is your sense of self, but even our identities are ever-evolving. Self-love and acknowledging that we’re all works-in-progress go hand in hand.

In this season of rebirth, let’s strip away the layers of winter and step into the new season with a renewed sense of who we are — and who we want to be.

WIP with you,
Your 20s to be team


“Storytelling was my escape, especially growing up in a harsh environment in Houston, Texas. I lost my father when I was 5 years old, but I wasn’t able to properly mourn for him until I was an adult and started writing and performing a one man autobiographical show in his honor. Through this journey, I realized I was no longer ashamed of my background and I could be unapologetically black and authentic. I was finally leading not with my best self, but my whole self. I hope now to add to the artists from diverse backgrounds who are painting new pictures.”
Robert, 25, on finding his identity through storytelling.

“Growing up in China, I never realized the importance of race and ethnicity. I had never categorized myself as Asian before the US, because it was so instinctual. It was a default. After starting college in NYC, I met a lot of hyphenate Asians who struggle to learn about where they come from. Representation matters so much because you don’t know who you are until you see someone who looks like you. You need a lighthouse to guide you to move forward.”
Kally, 20, on building a stage for representation.


  • Burnout: it’s a chronic millennial condition and presents differently for everyone. Here’s how to think about the experience through an intersectional lens.
  • Being a good ally means continuously educating yourself. Find out how to be a better ally in the workplace and beyond.  🤝
  • Impostor syndrome in NYC is a real thing — everyone seems like they have their shit together, but that’s not always true. We’ve found a few ways to combat it without feeling alone.
  • Food plays such an important role in identity since it can define culture. Here’s an awesome guide of delicious spots to eat in NYC that reflects our melting pot. 😋


In NYC, we all come from different backgrounds — race, ethnicity, religion, class, sex. This month, we’re exploring how to juggle our different identities.


For this round, you’ve asked: “How do you navigate a misunderstood identity?”

Our favorite piece of advice was from Afraz, who said,

Navigating a misunderstood identity, especially as minority within society, is oftentimes a process of engaging with conflicting thoughts and emotions. There is a part of you that feels empowered by and confident in your identity because of how integral it is to your existence and another part of you that is struggling to understand all the misinformation and negativity that is ultimately delegitimizing what you know to be true for yourself.

For me, I found myself addressing this internal conflict by:
1. Seeking support and guidance from a mentor, who has traveled down a similar path carrying the identity(ies) I held close;
2. Embracing my role as an educator and fully living out my truths.

Through every moment that you are your whole self, whether it is around coworkers and friends or in front of thousands, you are slowly and surely dismantling the systems that have sought to define you as “other.”

Got a burning question to ask? Need some advice? Ask, and we will answer!

Hit us up for questions, comments, or whatever strikes your fancy at

Young person behind leaves



I am open with everyone about being a born and raised Brazilian, but it’s not something that everyone realizes right away — me being white, having an anglicized nickname, and an almost perfect American accent definitely “disguise” me. It comes with both privilege and erasure. Sometimes I’m caught having to prove parts of my identity because they don’t fit within people’s expectations. It doesn’t always feel worth it to fully call out a microaggression like “Your English is so good!” when the person is otherwise well-meaning. But I’ve tried to be upfront about it and say something like, “Yeah, it is,” and let them figure out on their own that it’s an awkward thing to say.


As a as a first-generation Iranian-American female Shia Muslim, there are so many labels tied to my identity that are sometimes a burden to embrace, given the socio-political climate we live in today. Growing up, I sometimes felt like hiding parts of myself, fearful of the hatred that exists and the constant need to defend the different parts. Over time, I’ve learned that the labels don’t dictate who I am and I needed to destroy every stereotypical box I’ve been placed in. I’ve started to fully embrace who I am as a person by openly sharing every part of myself in the way I define it and not by others’ expectations and being mindful that we all come in different shapes and forms. It is the diversity of the human experience that enables us to understand who we are, how we live, and why we do what we do.


I’m a naturalized Chinese-American. I was born in China and moved to NYC when I was 7, so while I connect with many American-born Chinese Americans, my early years give me an expanded perspective and it’s something that makes me feel grateful to be a citizen of a country that values human rights (even though they are being currently assailed). Growing up, I either felt too Asian or not Asian enough, depending on which room I was in. Before and even during parts of college, I didn’t prioritize understanding my own culture very much but it’s now something I’m actively working on.