As my senior year comes to a close, I am almost forced to reflect on my college experience. I have grown tremendously in four years, and because this is my last blog post, I wanted to write a letter to myself as a young college freshman. Maybe this will be relatable. Maybe you will gain insights. Maybe this letter will spark similar memories. Perhaps, you will hate it. (I hope not) Whatever you take away from this post, I am going to write it anyway.
Dear freshman Makayla,
Your high school boyfriend is going to dump you.
Goodness, had we known that we could have saved ourselves some serious heartache. It is going to tear your heart out, and destroy your self-esteem. Here is my advice…please do not go looking for attention from other men. I know it’s hard. I know you just want to feel appreciated and validated. However, they cannot give you what you need. Girl, you need to build yourself up. Focus on you. Go to coffee with your friends. Go on walks. Cherish your alone time. Getting too drunk and hanging on boys at parties is not going to fix the hole he left. Love yourself first. Self-esteem was always a hard thing for us, but as a new independent adult, that is something we have to work on. You’re really awesome, and I promise you will figure it out eventually.
Stop selling yourself short.
(Senior Makayla is still working on this, so nobody is perfect.) You are talented and athletic. You are kind and you are smart. You are creative and you are friendly. These are important qualities, so focus on them. You have a great smile. Smile more often. Negative self-talk will get us nowhere.
“What would you like to do when you grow up, mija?’’ asked my mom. This is a question that am I sure most of us were asked at some point in our lives. As a young Latina woman, this question always lingered in the back of my mind. Because I had an idea where I wanted to go. I wanted to go to college and get into a career of my choice. Currently, I am in college and my career is still in the works. I knew that when I would tell adults that I wanted to become a movie director, even an actress, but first receive an education. They would support me, yet I knew that they probably thought I could never make it. Who would take a high school student seriously with those types of dreams? Little did they know. After my parents realized that I was actually being serious about going to college, that it was truly something I wanted to do, they supported me in every possible way. Now they are my biggest supporters.
Yet many families still have the mentality that women should take care of the house and the children while men go out and work to provide for them. Those type of expectations are especially put on Latina women. My family would always tell me that if I didn’t go to college, then I would be expected to find a man that could provide for me because I wouldn’t go far in life without a man next to my side. Or that I would get pregnant and regret it later on. This made me begin to create negative thoughts in my head–I wasn’t good enough. Or I’m not college material, I’m not capable of finishing college and finding my dream job. There were times where I got so upset, even when I did come to college. But, then I would remember stories about Sonia Sotomayor becoming the first Latina in the Supreme Court, or Gina Rodriguez winning a Golden Globe award for Best Actress in Jane the Virgin. Continue reading “Latina Women take the Lead!”→
This time last year, I was finishing my first Women’s and Gender Studies class and had learned so much about things I never knew about. I went into the class thinking I was fairly well-versed about the issues surrounding people within different intersections of identities and came out realizing how much I needed to learn. While I’ve always felt strongly about the things I believe in, I never wanted to go to demonstrations or start any sort of movement on campus for fear of stirring things up or making changes in places where I thought were not all that necessary.
After that first class, I studied feminist theory and started reading the news as often as possible. I was getting a more in-depth look at different aspects of feminism while reading in the news about unarmed African-Americans dying as a result of police brutality, about women being sexually assaulted on college campuses and being ignored, and about a presidential candidate who said women who have abortions should be punished. By the end of the Spring 2016 semester, I was fed up with the state of things in our country and decided I would take even small opportunities to do what I could to make a difference and positive changes in my community.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, feminism is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. While most people agree that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities, few identify as feminists. I’ve advocated for gender equality my whole life without realizing the entire time that I am truly a feminist at heart. Continue reading “Why am I a Feminist?”→
I took two internships at the women’s center this semester: one being a blog writer and the other is being a part of Body rEvolution. In a sense, this blog is the beginning of my own written body revolution. It helped me reinforce body positivity through writing while I was also doing presentations around campus with Body rEvolution.
Body positivity week is one of the many ways of personally connecting with the college community. Body rEvolution presented a slideshow about the topics we worked on all semester along with activities to encourage body positivity at Kappa Alpha Theta and at Palouse Prairie Charter School. By going out and talking with others, the body revolution, which is to help empower those around us to talk about the topics that are uncomfortable and create a safe and welcoming environment. It also helps me become more comfortable talking about some sensitive topics, but also having ways of handling and coping with them.
Looking back, this journey with the blog and Body rEvolution has been one of the best ways to leave college. The blog challenged me to get out of my comfort zone, to be honest and to talk about topics that I may of never considered. With Body rEvolution, I found my voice on topics that used to be too hard to talk about; I also was able to share it with others through presentations.
As this article shares, talking about body positivity for both men and women is not an easy task. By taking those steps to get involved in body positivity campaigns on campuses or even in the local community is important. Loving one’s body, even for myself, is not an overnight success, but it does get easier in time.
Being involved in these two internships helped me find out what I love about myself and how to encourage others to feel beautiful and handsome as they are.
Never forget that you’re all beautiful and handsome and to never stop smiling!
Before this semester, I had never given much thought to my particular beliefs on feminism. I knew that I considered myself an absolute believer in gender equality, and that was about all I knew. When I was presented with the opportunity to write for this blog, I was excited to learn more about what I believe and where it lies on the spectrum of others’ beliefs. And I definitely did.
The definition of feminism was always murky to me. I never interpreted the word as the man-hating, bra-burning extremism that is so often what it is mistakenly associated with. But I didn’t really ever equate myself to be a feminist before coming to college; mostly because I never thought too much about it.