I Am Woman

To me, womanhood is embracing your strength, defying gender and social norms, shattering the class ceiling until nothing is left. As a gender, womanhood has been challenged since the earliest stories of creation and as a modern-day woman, I feel that it is my duty to further embrace these aspects of womanhood to inspire myself, others around me, and future generations of strong, badass women.

Websters Dictionary’s website has many definitions of the word “empower, and one of them is the verb to empower, explaining it as “to promote the self-actualization or influence of [something]” and uses its example as how the women’s march is inspiring and empowering to women. The word “empower” is being adopted into the culture of feminism and equality between all regardless of gender, gender identity, skin color, social standing, etc. “Empower” has become a very common word in my vocabulary lately and it has become a positive necessity in my life that touches everything I do. Everything I study for, every conversation, blog post, thought, has come from this place of empowerment that was once so deep inside me that I didn’t know it was there. Now, my empowerment has begun to grow and flourish within me and has taught me that I need to help other people grow.

I am currently taking one of the best classes I have ever taken in college called “Women in the World” and every day it inspires me to be a better woman and helps me to understand what it means to be female. I am very empowered by my gender and sexuality and I believe that it has given me a power and confidence in life. It gives me something to identify with and gives me a further understanding with the women around me. As women, we have been subject to the stories that our ancestors have been privy to which, when taken seriously, have been an integral part in shaping society’s standards of who women are to be in relation to themselves, other women, and men. The main one is the book of Genesis in the Bible. After the fall of man, the Bible states that Eve was to go from being in equal union to Adam to being beneath him and would have to follow his way instead of her own. I remember in grade school (which was a private catholic school) when the girls and boys would get into arguments with each other because of the whole Adam and Eve story. The boys would say that because Eve sinned first and convinced Adam to eat the fruit that girls are clearly inferior to boys. These gender barriors were present in us as young children and has fed a society where, although women are making amazing strides in the workforce, in sports, in the beauty community, and so many other places, we as an entire gender are still seen as inferior to men.

Inferior to men? FUCK THAT! Feminism is not about one gender being greater than the other. It is about each gender lifting the other up in all aspects of life. It’s about men not feeling emasculated if a woman is in a higher position than him. It’s about women supporting men who may take on responsibilities that were once considered too feminine.

I asked some of the people closest to me about what it means to them to be a woman and here’s some of their responses:

“Powerful yet flexible”

“Never letting others stop you from being who you are on the inside”

“Supporting other women, being proud of who you are. Women are real life superHERos!”

“Having the ability to nurture, love, adapt, support, cry, rage, calm and grow. We are a jumble of emotions and its our best attribute.”

 

My favorite quote comes from my beautiful mother: “I think empowerment means not sitting back and letting life happen to you, but tackling challenges head-on. I think it is also being unafraid to chase your dreams and do what you need to do in order to achieve those dreams, even if those dreams challenge society’s expectations and notions of womanhood. Keep doing what you are doing!” This is a woman who inspires me every day. I am never afraid to talk to her about anything and I know she has my back no matter what I do. My mom never followed what society expected of her. She did what felt right to her. Coming from a “traditional” family, her parents pushed her to get married right after high school but she wanted more out of life. She traveled, got a job, met my dad, and began her life her way. She worked while my sister and I were young and then decided to be a stay at home mom because she felt that it was best for her family. Then when I was 7, she went to college and finally got a degree she’d been wanting for so long. She worked her ass off with two small children, pets, a husband, and so many responsibilities to become an english teacher and inspire and mold the minds of the future. Sometimes I forget how much my mom has done to make her life the way she wants it and to also help my sister and I live up to our fullest potential and that selflessness is something I can only hope to come close to paying back.

To come to a conclusion to my rambling, being a woman is finding your path in your own way. It’s fighting to make a change fot the future that’s good for all. It’s finding your inner strength to accept and love yourself so that others can do the same. Being a woman means to empower. Take your strengths to empower yourself, those around you, and those you have yet to meet.

Suck the Marrow Out of Life

“I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of
life” from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden

If you are a fan of the Dead Poets Society, you know that Mr. Keating and his students strove to break the embrace of conformity in order to take life and get all they could out of it. We are in 2019, a new year. It is an opportunity to turn towards optimism for you and your fellow-man. I am currently taking a class called “Women in the World” and we have been discussing women’s place in the world and how women have shaped history and society. In the beginning of the semester, we had an open-class discussion about what it’s like to be a woman in the world today and it was one of the most empowering conversations I have ever had. I felt so connected to everyone in the class, even the people I don’t even know. It makes me feel so strong and confident knowing that there are other strong, smart, and determined women in my life who value being a woman and want to continue to fight for equality amongst all humand despite gender, race, sexuality, social status, etc. This class has made me realize that I have the power to forge a path for myself and future generations as a woman who wants to strive for respect and partnership between men and women.

Lately, I have been having a lot of thoughts and conversations about life after college and how it is my job to make opportunities for myself and get the most I can out of life. One of the best things I can do for myself is to make things happen for myself. If you aren’t going out to get jobs and pursue your passions, then what are you doing? Are you waiting for the phone to ring and just assume that people will randomly happen upon you? That’s not realistic. To quote Hannah Montana, “Life’s what you make it, so let’s make it rock.” You are in charge of the life you lead and it is up to you to bring it to its fullest potential. You are the CEO of your life and no CEO has ever been successful without putting everything out on the line and taking a chance on what makes them happy. Whether you are in theatre, film, dance, nursing, communication, finance, etc., it is up to you to put everything out there and take a chance on yourself.

Watch Dead Poet’s Society and let the words of this wonderful film fuel your inspiration. Fill yourself with self-love and appreciation that will propel you forward. Find your passions in life and achieve greatness.

Growing Through Trauma

It was a few days before my 16th birthday. I was in the kitchen doing homework when I heard my dog barking outside. This was usual for her because she’s see other animals, people, or hear noises that would set off her curiosity. But this day, her bark sounded desperate, full of fear, so I went outside to investigate. I went to the back deck and I saw him, a man I didn’t know, a stranger in my back yard. Next thing I know, he’s coming at me and tried to put his hands around my neck. I run into my house and go to close the door but he starts pushing against the other side and I’m in tights, so I start sliding backward, unable to keep the door fully closed. All I know is that I’m terrified and don’t have a weapon on me so I begin to scream for my dad, who works from home and thank God he was home that day. The man starts to push harder against the door when my dad storms into the room and chases him out of our yard. He ran to a neighbor across the street who was able to catch him and he and my dad kept him still until the police arrived. My mom came home to find me in tears. I couldn’t process what had happened. Then it hit me. We couldn’t find our dog. She was 6 years old and so small. She was usually so eager to greet my mom when she got home from work but she wasn’t there. We began screaming her name, running around the front and back yard and eventually the neighborhood searching for her but she was nowhere to be found. Eventually I looked behind the shed in our back yard and saw a small patch of white fur buried in a pile of leaves. I gently called for my sweet little Bella and she emerged from her hiding place. She slowly came towards me and I gathered her in my arms and rushed her inside. There was no physical harm to her and my mom and I showered her with love and treats for the rest of the night. The next thing I know, the man is taken away and I was left with the memories of what had happened. I was surprised that the police hadn’t come to my door to speak to me. Later that night, a police officer came to our door to explain that the man had been extremely high on acid and was hospitalized for it. I never knew what came of him.

This memory haunted me heavily for the next year. I refused to do my homework alone in the kitchen, I always made sure the door was locked, even when everyone was home, and I started to fear that he would come back. I went to therapy but nothing would stop my fears. The next year, I went to a neighbor’s New Year’s Eve party and a friend of the neighbor casually mentioned to me that another friend of hers was out to dinner with the mother of the guy who attacked me and didn’t understand why I was having issues grasping this. It hit me hard because I now had a name to put on him. I knew that he lived in the neighborhood next to mine. I knew that he was so close at all times and I was now more terrified than ever. I felt so betrayed that so many people I thought I was close to, people who were best friends with my mom, knew who this guy was and didn’t think to tell me. I went into a mental breakdown and ran home from the party in a complete panic. I don’t remember making it to 2015 because I was too busy rocking myself to sleep. I searched the internet for this guy but I couldn’t find him anywhere. I then found his mom’s Facebook and his face was everywhere. I was becoming more and more haunted by this man and it was becoming my own personal hell where I was the only person affected by what had happened. I remembered that my therapist said I should send him a letter to try to gain closure but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I then, sent his mother a message on facebook professing my forgiveness for her son for what had happened because I hoped that there would be a reconciliation to bring me closure. She never responded. I never had my closure. And despite saying I forgave him, I knew it wasn’t true.

Fast forward 6 years and I still think about him. When I’m out alone, I get scared that he’s following me into the grocery store or is going to break into my house at school to hurt me. My mom recently brought him up and all of these emotions started flooding back to me. I didn’t handle it responsibly so I sought solace in a bottle of wine and some hard ciders. I started to panic so I did something my drunken state thought would be a good idea: I wrote to the guy’s mother again. She never responded.

It’s been six years since the incident happened in the middle of November 2013 and although I’m usually alright, I still have triggers that bring this up for me. Sometimes it’s people in TV or film, sometimes it’s overhearing people talking about hard drugs. It can be anything, really. Just because something happened a long time ago, doesn’t mean that you won’t have triggers to bring it up to you again. It’s hard being strong when your family is constantly telling you that they never have to worry about you because you always have it together. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. All I can do at this point is try to grow from what I have learned from this. It’s become aparent that I do my best growth in this situation by myself. I have never had comfort from anyone regarding this. It’s a private journey that I must bear and it’s so hard sometimes. I have grown in my knowledge of keeping my defenses up and I am much more wary of people. It has definitely affected my trust, but I feel that anyone in this situation would have the same thing happen to them.

To the man who did this to me, I know you will never read this but here are my words to you. You made a mistake. Your anger and frustration from your parent’s divorce pushed you towards hard drugs and you seriously hurt a teenage girl. It’s been 6 years and she still has times where she struggles to cope. I want to forgive you but in the meantime, I can’t. So it’s with a strong and sound heart and mind that I say, FUCK YOU.

Looming Anxious Thoughts – My Senior Project

There are often times where I feel a small pang of anxiety looming over me because of thoughts of what I can’t control. For me, this is mainly the thought of everything that I have yet to do or the future that awaits me beyond college. One of the biggest things on my mind is this big senior project I have going on. It’s called Act 3 (technically it’s Integrating Experience) and for this class, the senior theatre majors must form a company put on an entire children’s show. This includes picking the show, electing people to positions, designing the show’s lights, sound, costumes, sets, and props, casting the show, and putting everything on its feet. I am the production manager for our show, which is called The Princess King. It is a charming tale about defying expectations and stereotypes regarding gender and status.

I have a big job, making sure that everythings stays organized, and it’s the first time I’ve had an opportunity to do this. To make matters worse, the faculty usually expects students to learn from their predecessors so I’ll have to rely on people who don’t even go to school any more to help me with odd questions… Or I’ll have to figure them out for my own. I am interested in production management as another career path but this role is of not the typical production manager so it is unfortunately not teaching me much in terms of what I should expect should I hope to take on more responsibilities in this type of role in a professional setting.  It scares me knowing that I’m not confident in how I should do my job and I worry I’ll let people down. All I want in the world is to help put on a show that we will all be proud of and be a leader that my class can rely on and trust throughout the entire process. I want to be confident and I think to get me there, I must make a list of everything I can expect so that I don’t get overwhelmed when things come up. Making lists is a good way for me to get my anxiety together and I hope that will help with this.

I have an incredible support system within my senior class and outside and I know that I will have help. I just need to trust myself.

Feeling Lost

It’s easy to feel like you have no idea what you’re doing, like you’re lost in your own life. There have been times when I look at myself in the mirror and don’t even recognize myself and it’s times like this when I feel so small and scared. It’s times like now where my future is pretty vague and I have no idea where I’m going. This is a major factor that fuels my anxiety. It’s times when I feel like this where I feel the most doubt and fear in life and I don’t really know where to turn next. I wish that I didn’t have these feelings but this is a part of life- to question the next step. If we didn’t feel lost from time to time, we wouldn’t find our next path. Sometimes we need to dig deep in our hearts and minds to discover what we are meant to do next. I often forget to do this and assume that I’m headed toward a dark place. I often struggle to see the light at the end of the tunnel because I’m scared of what will be on the other side. But that’s the beauty of life. We are never privy to the knowledge of what is yet to come. It is something that we must discover with each passing moment of each day. It is okay to question your next step, but you must trust that you will find your way. It’s like the verse in Amazing Grace, “I once was lost, but now am found. Was blind but now I see.” Don’t let yourself be blind to your future. Embrace it with confidence. This is an easy sentiment to write into a blog post and isn’t as easy to follow through with in life. I need to trust that I will find a way into a bright future despite feeling lost at the moment.

If anyone has any suggestions for bringing yourself out of dark thoughts, I’d love to hear about them.

Gaining Weight in College

When you go to college, something everyone talks to you about is the dreaded “Freshman Fifteen”. This alludes to the fact that most people, if not everyone, gains a little weight in college. This is a major fact for me as I have gained close to 40 pounds in the last three years. In high school, I was extremely often. I was a part of my school’s dance team which had me practicing 4 hours a week in addition to games, dance classes at a studio for 4 hours a week, and I acted in plays, keeping me on my feet a few hours every week. Once I got to college, a mix between my more sedentary lifestyle, eating unhealthy food (because it’s cheaper), and alcohol took its toll on my body. Below are pictures of me at prom and me at the PSF gala last summer. It’s me but the look of my body is completely different.

 

Gaining weight in college is totally normal, but you shouldn’t let it get you down. Most colleges have exercising facilities on campus that you have full access to. Take advantage before these are no longer at your disposal. One of the most annoying things about grocery shopping on a college budget is the fact that the healthier food is so much more expensive than the less healthy options. It’s easy to fall into habits of going for the cheaper options because you can afford it. When you’re at the dining hall, focus on the types of food you are getting. Go for healthier options more often so you know you are getting quality food in your system.

A great resource that I have been using since highschool is an app called My Fitness Pal. This is an app that allows you to track how much you need to eat in a day in order to lose some weight. You also track your exercise and water intake. It’s great because you customize it to your needs and lifestyle. If you have a more active lifestyle, the app will encourage you to eat more throughout your day. If you have a very sedentary lifestyle, the app will encourage you to eat less but still in a very healthy and reasonable way.  Throughout the day, you keep a diary of your food, water, and exercise and it gives you an idea of how you are progressing from week to week. When you load a food item or beverage, if it has a bar code, you can scan it into the app and it will give you all of the nutritional facts that are on the lable. You can also search all the food you eat in a day and it will give you several options to show you the calories and other nutritional facts. Below are a few pictures to give you an idea of what the app looks like.

I highly recommend checking this app out if you want to become healthier but don’t know where to start. It does a lot of the work for you and is a good motivator to keep up healthy habits since you must physically enter the food and exercise throughout your day.

Part of what I want to do this year is improve my health so I can become a kidney donor for my dad. This is overwhelming for me because I want to succeed but I get so self-conscious when I work out because I fear that people will judge the overweight girl at the gym. Luckily, my parents own an elliptical and I can work out at home but it isn’t healthy for me to assume that people will think poorly of me for wanting to exercise. I can’t let my fear of what other people will think of me get in the way of me pushing myself. If i truly want to get in better shape, the person I need to worry about is me. Fitness is a lifestyle that takes dedication and a strong will to keep it up. This is something that I will definitely struggle with moving on, but that’s okay.

Healthy Habits For 2019

Now that we are in 2019, I want to start working in healthier habits into my daily life for my physical and mental health, and finances. Now that I have decided that these three staples are what I need to work on, I want to start going through realistic goals/activities that I can slowly implement into my lifestyle. If i say that I must do a complete 180 on my current lifestyle, I would never keep up with it. I’m not a perfect person and I will definitely slip up from time to time. But by thinking of small things that take a fraction of a second to consider doing, I am one step closer to becoming a healthier and more content person.

Some of the things listed below, I already do, but it’s good to remind myself of the healthy habits I need to continue doing especially while I have resources at college that I won’t have once I graduate.

Physical Health

  • Park farther away from buildings at school, stores, etc. so I walk a little extra every day
  • Go for a walk when I get too stressed (this will help with the mental category as well!)
  • Think twice before I snack when I get bored
  • Try to pick a healthy alternative to unhealthy food
  • Cook for myself more often
  • Go to the gym at school and walk/cycle while reading for class (we love multitasking here at the blog)
  • Stretch in the AM and PM

Mental Health

  • Meditation
  • Journaling
  • Keep a gratitude log (bullet journal)
  • Monitor how negative I am toward others
  • When overwhelmed, write out a schedule of what you need to get done and how long you think it will take you to accomplish it
  • Try on a bunch of outfits and appreciate how good I look in them
  • Gush over how cute your pets are

Finances

  • Evaluate if I really need to buy something
  • Put in extra hours for workstudy
  • Go out to eat less
  • Keep a spending log (bullet journal)

Anxiety

Anxiety is something that I have been struggling a lot with lately. I used to be super calm when I was younger but as soon as I started the second semester of my sophomore year of college, the feelings and intense emotions began to hit me hard and I began to struggle to recognize who I was. I would constantly repress my feelings out of fear of people thinking I was overreacting to things and I wanted everything to seem like it was okay But deep down, my mind and my thoughts began to eat me alive and I was struggling to cope. I would often lay awake at night rocking back and forth and struggling to breathe and I had no idea why this was happening. I was always crying and sweating and I felt like I was falling apart. Most of the time, there was no obvious trigger to bring these attacks on and that was the scariest part. I never wanted people to think that I wasn’t okay. A huge part of this was because my family constantly told me they never worried about me because I always had it together and I felt I had to live up to those expectations and thus began my spiral into self-pity and fear that slowly took over my life.

Things got worse as I entered my sophomore year. School got harder and I worked with a Director on a show who really tested me and he really added to the psychological damage I was already putting on myself. I felt like I was constantly failing and I took it really hard. I was sad and angry all the time and this director made me believe it was because I was incompetent when in reality, he was the one manipulating me in a very unhealthy way. Despite my friends telling me that I was doing a good job, I found that impossible to believe. Because of this experience, I started taking things more personally and it started to negatively affect my relationships with friends, family, and co-workers and I was ashamed of myself. My mind was attacking itself and I had no idea what to do and because I still felt that I shouldn’t tell anyone, I continued to keep my feelings bottled up.

This then caused problems with my relationship. My boyfriend and I were at a point in our relationship where we always knew if something was wrong with the other and when he would ask me what was wrong, I would lie and say everything was fine. He then got upset because he felt that I was refusing to open up to him and that I wasn’t being honest with him. And he was right. I was so scared of admitting that I wasn’t perfect and bubbly that I wasn’t opening up to the person who has always been my biggest supporter in my mental health journey. Two years later, I have made strides and have been able to speak to him freely about the demons that haunt my psyche. I still struggle to completely open up to him because, let’s face it, I’m a senior in college who is an anxious mess. My junior year was a pretty steady wave of being okay and being an anxious mess but I assumed I would have to live with it. I wanted to take meds for my anxiety but I was too scared to ask for them. I was worried that they would change who I was.

This summer, I went to my doctor and I started to take anti-anxiety meds. I am currently taking a 75mg dose of Zoloft and it has really changed my life. I went from not sleeping because I was scared of waking up to having a more normal routine. I feel happier and I can’t remember the last time I had crippling anxiety. It’s been a little over 6 months and I’m so happy with how this has changed me. I still have anxiety from time to time but that’s because I’m human.

If you struggle with anxiety, find the best way for you to have an outlet. I have found that talking to my boyfriend, journaling, taking long walks, cooking, and knitting have been FANTASTIC ways for me to calm my mind and come back to my preferred reality. These aren’t the solutions for everyone but these are the ones that bring me the most peace of mind. Mental health is not something to be taken lightly. Love yourself and respect your feelings. Find a way to help yourself in a healthy way.