Three years ago if you had told me that I would end up at a small all-girl’s college I would’ve laughed in your face until I could no longer breathe. However, it looks like now I would owe you a giant apology. I will admit that once upon a time even the thought of attending an all-girl’s school made me scrunch up my face in disgust. But the worst part is, I couldn’t even tell you why. It wasn’t that I was “obsessed” with boys because believe me, that wasn’t the case. I was worried I wouldn’t meet anybody I could connect with. People told me that not having male opinions in the classroom would negatively impact me when I had a job and didn’t know how to deal with men. Frankly, I think I was just terrified of change. I grew up going to urban, diverse public schools. I had always been surrounded by a wide variety of people and didn’t know what it was like to live in any other setting. I told myself that going off to college was going to be hard enough, and that I should stick with what I was used to. I am so glad I did not listen to that seventeen-year-old version of myself. If I had, I would not be the person that I am today. I would lack the self-confidence I carry with me everywhere and I wouldn’t have any idea how to speak up for myself. I am now proudly attending Simmons College, a small liberal arts women’s college in Boston, and I can say with full confidence that it has flipped my world around in the best way possible:
I learned to bond with other women, rather than compete with them:
I went through a large part of my life where I constantly compared myself to other girls around me, and saw fellow females as competitors. It wasn’t until I got to college that I figured out how much I can learn and share with other women if I just stopped constantly judging my peers. I have met some of the greatest people here, some of which are people I never would have even approached in the past. I’ve learned that by sharing experiences with other women, I not only make new friends, but also broaden my view on the world. People have some pretty amazing stories if you are just willing to listen. My school firmly believes in letting people be themselves. From my very first day freshman year, I was told to embrace my strengths (and weaknesses) and focus on what makes me unique. I am in one of the most accepting environments I have ever been in, and I couldn’t be more thankful. We build each other up rather than letting ourselves be torn down by social standards.
It has allowed me to develop a voice:
I don’t just mean that I have more opinions; I mean that I don’t feel shy about sharing those opinions. I no longer feel like my voice doesn’t matter. I don’t worry about what people will think of me if I speak my mind. Like many a student, there are many topics I feel passionate about these days — and I love being able to share my opinions and discuss them with my fellow classmates. I love that even if someone disagrees with me or vice versa, we can simply agree to disagree and leave it at that. In a simple sense, there was a point in my educational career (basically all through high school) where I would go out of my way to make sure I wasn’t called on during class. The idea of raising my hand and sharing my thoughts in front of the class made me sick inside. It’s hard to tell if it’s the intimate discussion-based classroom style or the people I’m surrounded by, but now it’s hard for me not to speak up in class. (Please note: this would not be the case if I ever had to take a math class again. Some things never change and I’ve accepted that). I love letting my voice be heard and hearing the voices of others. This world would be so boring if everyone had the same opinion on everything. I mean, what would we argue about? How would we learn from others? Finding my voice helped me discover who I am. It helped me realize that I don’t want to be someone who simply sits back and watches her life go by.
I’ve learned to focus on inner beauty, rather than outer beauty:
I was always concerned with my appearance. Whether it was what I was wearing or physical features, the insecurity was always there. This isn’t to say that I would get dressed up everyday, but I was always worried about whether or not other people liked the way I looked. It was a sad and twisted mindset that I developed largely due to societal factors. I wanted to fit in. I wanted to be like everyone I saw on TV or in magazines. The last person I wanted to be was myself. Now, the only person I want to be is myself. I no longer feel the need to put on a face full of makeup on my way to class. I know that I am here to learn and engage myself with some of the brightest and motivated people I have ever met. I know that people like me for me and if they don’t, it’s their loss. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not super proud of the times I’ve shown up to class in a full on sweat suit because I overslept. We’ve all done it and it’s one of the many reasons why I am going to greatly miss college when it’s over. My women’s-centered education has taught me to discover what people have to offer on the inside before looking at what’s on the outside.
Though hesitant to embark on at first, I am so grateful and lucky to be on an educational path that is centered around women. It has greatly opened my eyes and I’m not even halfway done. My school has taught me to appreciate other women for who they truly are, and that hiding your true personality to please someone else is never the way to go. I am still very young, but if there is anything I’ve learned so far it’s this: being a woman in this world is hard. Girls should be standing up for one another rather than tearing each other apart. If we don’t stick together, then we are entirely on our own. Stay strong ladies.