Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Inspiration

As this semester comes to a bittersweet close, I look back at my college years and feel like it could've been only a year that has passed. I've learned some good things and certainly some bad things; but one thing that I know that has come with the good and the bad: finding out who I am and what I can do for those less fortunate.

When I draw upon the kind of personality and conviction that I have as a person, it's hard to say that I can completely identify myself. I have slowly become a person that genuinely cares about changing the world around me...one step at a time. I tend to think of my ideas as wildfire. A fierce ember that ignites another stem to create a fast-moving flame. When I ask God what I am put on this earth for, I know it is to be that inspiration and help others succeed in their own lives through the ideas I have in mind.

Knowledge is power. However, knowledge also comes with great risk. In the greatest stories we see heroines acquiring the knowledge only after they've been down a beaten path. For example: Pandora's Box, Adam & Eve, Bluebeard, etc. So what's the moral of the story? There is a window of knowledge lying beyond the door. But first, an individual has to open that door. Until we decide to open our eyes, we will not see the world around us.

Being an American is a great thing, we are blessed beyond belief with freedom. However, we've also acquired guns, germs, and steel along the way... (you see what I did there?). To be frank, we live in our clouded bubble. The only real light we see is what comes from the tube sitting on the entertainment center in front of us. After being shaken by the stories of experiences from two of my dearest friends, I can put aside my own problems and really feel blessed for what I have.

I had never really spoken of war or the tours that my friends have endured in the military. But after listening to two of them speak about their own PTSD at a social gathering (okay, the bar), it really dawned on me what sheltered lives we have as Americans. First hand accounts from my friends gave me insight into what lives others lead outside of our country. The struggle that families face in Egypt, Iraq, and Afghanistan truly compares to nothing here in the U.S. Seeing families with unfortunate circumstances is what we really don't hear about or see on the national news. My friends spoke of seeing many families who struggle to put food on the table for their families, having no means of obtaining clean water, and witnessing a life that consists of poverty and famine.

These everyday things that we take for granted is what truly inspires me as an individual. We are not put on this earth to take anything for granted. Yet, there are millions of children in our own backyard who can't get to school because they are taking care of their own parents, finding places to sleep every night because they don't have a stable home, and/or being around a drug-using household. This is the sad reality of an urban lifestyle. My passion to change these lives and let kids know that they have opportunity and a means to change their lives in a positive manner is what keeps me going through the day.

I may have struggled in my own college education with finances, the burden of having to work a job, and pay my rent at the same time. However, none of my struggles will ever be comparable to what others must overcome every single day.

My inspiration is to keep kids in school, help them graduate from high school, get them to understand how to pay for college, but also to keep them focused on the life that they want to live. The future of our country lies in the hands of the kids who need an education to uplift them from their circumstance. This is my inspiration to the world. What's yours?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Graduation

As I count down the days until my graduation in May, it dawns on me how troublesome it has been to earn a degree in college. I've seen myself struggle with finances, altercations, and many challenges just to get the degree that  I need to find a job.

After applying to hundreds of jobs all within the past few months, it's become an even bigger challenge to find out what path God wants for me. All I can think about is the mental exhaustion that keeps me job hunting. Prior to January, I never understood how hard it would be to find a job straight out of college.

Choosing my degree was simple; I started to find out the area of interest and passion in which I wanted to give myself back to the world. My passion has always been for human rights, public policy, public relations, and community outreach. Yet, I know that if I had to obtain a Bachelor's degree all over again, I would've picked a different major. A major that would land me a stable job, a degree that would give me the ability to support myself and possibly support a family later on down the road. If I had to do it all over again without the financial burden, I would have chosen a degree in computer technology or an engineering degree that would land me a job fast. Yet, knowing the pay I'd be getting, I don't know if I would ever be happy. It isn't easy to be a person who is passionate about the field that they work in, but what's harder is choosing a field that has no opportunity to make money.

When it comes down to the liberal arts, many students are getting out of college and are forced to pursue a Master's and/or a P.H.D. due to the  demand of experience needed in the workplace. My issue is: how do I find a job that will sustain me until I can afford to go to graduate school? It seems inevitable that I'll ever find anything. I have all the credentials it takes to become a great leader in a business, but I have no experience. It seems that many college students these days are forced to be in service industry jobs just to keep up with their college debt. How did it end up becoming impossible for students like myself to graduate from college, yet not find a job? It's disheartening.

I have become extremely bitter when I hear about the economic situation that is overcoming our country. One, because I know it is affecting me. But two, because I know that hard-working students like myself are being forced to put themselves into more debt just to earn a Master's and P.H.D. to survive in a world that wants a degree and experience. It's like a catch-22; companies want experience from you, but they also want a degree. So how in the world do we gain experience if these places aren't willing to hire? The answer: internships. I slowly learned in my time in college that companies and sectors want students to gain experience through internships. The hard reality is this: many students are willing to do internships, but they are often unpaid. And for a student like me, who has had two jobs for most of my college career, there isn't any time left in my schedule to work an internship with no pay. My end result: I ended college with no internship experience. The pay that was offered was either non-existent or not enough to support my finances during college.

While I may be looking forward to graduating this May with a Bachelor of Arts in Government, I also have little hope that I'll find a decent paying job until I do pursue a Master's. With the economy steadily heading South, it has become more of an issue to find a job. Without ending this post on a bad note, I strive to leave a question posed to those that understand what I and other college students are going through: where exactly do students like myself start?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Women in power.

Lately it has been brought to my attention that there are women in power who abuse it. After having numerous conversations with friends, colleagues, college peers, and professors, it dawned on me that this stigma has become a reality for successful women.

In an authoritative position, a woman tends to be seen as more domineering than men. With respect to this theory, there exists a stereotype of what could be affecting many women in the world. The typical woman manager or supervisor with aggressive goals comes across to their lower-level counterparts as "demanding", "dictating", "tyrannical", "pushy". The list goes on and on... When compared to men, us women have developed our own kind of prejudice in the work place. So the real question here is: "are women choosing to be these types of bosses or are we simply just being placed in that stereotype?".

It's applicable to dwell on some recent experiences I've had with bosses. For the few, I've had to say that most of them have come across this way. Especially with regards to women being these bosses. I have yet to experience a woman supervisor who hasn't been overly aggressive.

In terms of my future goals, I'd like to believe that I'd hope to never possess any of these qualities as a woman in power; yet it doesn't help me break down the barrier that exists for women in successful positions. I hope to one day become an inspirational leader rather than a dominant, power-hungry one. So, how do I and other women such as myself work to break down these barriers?

Perhaps the only way to keep others from seeing us as controlling is to come across as empathetic. Empathy is a strong word. Yet it implies more than the eye can see. With empathy comes trust, dedication, motivation, and inspiration. I believe that the key to break these barriers is not only to utilize our own empathy (naturistic of women) but also to embrace it. Contrary to belief (especially in the world of politics), the essence of compromise, empathy, and nurturing is the only way that women can truly unite to change the world.

My advice: be who you are. To be a true leader and inspiration to others, you must deeply embrace your ability to ensure peace and stability. This can only be achieved through the willingness to listen closely, speak with integrity, and open your eyes to new ideas.

Mother May I?

I often contemplate the things I want to do in life. Occasionally, it's a decision about my next lunch spot. However, I mostly wonder what I want to do with the future that I hold in my hands. When I say that I hold my future in my hands, I mean it figuratively. I have the power to decide the fate of my own life, despite the traditional expectation that society has of me.

I may decide to be a writer, I would love to teach, I'm definitely capable of standing up for others' rights. But do I really have the ability to do what I want to do? My mother tells me so.

My mother also tells me: marry a man with blue eyes so that I can have children with blue eyes; to never marry a man with financial burden; I will be disowned should I ever get married without her consent and outside the Catholic Church; but she also tells me one more important thing, "Let Go and Let God". Now, I may only agree with half of these statements, but the power of individual choice keeps me entertained in my conversations with my her.

In my teenage years I hardly had a relationship with my mother. It was important to rebel against her, prove her wrong, keep her out of my business. Suddenly, as a future college graduate, I feel an intense need to be closer to her. As I spend my day trips with her (only at my convenience, I never seem to have the time) I suddenly realize the most important aspect of my mother's love for me. Prior to college, it never dawned on me what a beautiful woman she is. Seeing my mother care for myself and my siblings gives me the respect for her that I never thought I'd find. If anything, I constantly find myself wanting her acceptance and hoping that I have made her proud.

How would I make her proud? My first step is to hold back tears when I'm feeling weak. As told by mom: "you cry too much, a woman should be strong and never  let a man see a woman cry". However crude this may sound, it in no way leaves room for a weak mind. In addition, I can become an independent, "no bullshit" woman. Should I ever decide to be married, I'll always have my own kind of financial support. This means being able to make my own money, buy my own things, and never ask for a single penny. In my mind, I'm already halfway there.

I may not agree with every piece of advise she gives, but I know that I can only try my best to make her happy. Although I cannot promise that I won't have three future ex-husbands (the Vatican is shaking) I can promise to myself that as soon as I'm rich and empowered, I'll buy her that classy T-bird she's had her eye on.

So when I ask the question "Mother May I", I'll ask the question on different terms. Mother, may I become the woman you'd hope I would become? I sure hope so.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Mirrors are for reflections.

I ask every woman out there look to another woman and ignite the same question that they may ask of themselves. Who am I?

Look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself, "who am I?" Look deep into your own eyes and search for that question. The answer you find may be right under your nose. Or in this case, above your nose. Nonetheless, you are a woman.

So, who are you? Besides being a woman, you are the heart and soul of every family. You hold things together in the palm of your hand; whether it be a copy of your latest marketing project, a broom, a tissue that you hold for the tears of a friend, or the broken pieces of a shattered heart. It is you that holds things together.

Only a woman can mend her own heart, mend the hearts of others, and keep the hearts of many together, in a single place in time. When you look in the mirror, you may think of yourself as alone in the world with no where to turn and not a penny in your pocket. But you should also consider this: you look into the eyes of a generation of women who have fought for your rights. Your right to vote. Your right to work. Your right to be strong and hold two jobs. Your right to bear children, become a lawyer, doctor and create the life you want to live.

Love and strength don't discriminate. When all else fails, it is a woman who brings the two into the world. Creation itself looks not into the eyes of a man or woman and discriminates; it is the ears of a young child that hears only love in his/her mother's heartbeat.

So when you look at yourself in the mirror, what do you see? But more importantly, do you see the soul of a strong, inspiring woman? What brings hope and great leaders into the world is not only the presence of a man, but also the labor of love from a woman.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Objectification

Recently, I have been far more involved in a current class that I am taking rather than any of my previous classes. This class that has opened my eyes considerably has given me new ideas, ways to change myself for the better, and most importantly: it's given me the power to value myself more as a woman and a successful human-being.

Coming into my Representing Women Across Borders and Contexts class has given me the strength and power to see myself as more than just a woman. It has also given me and my peers a reason to request more than respect from our social counterparts. Being a woman with a successful past and future, I had never realized how many things a woman is subdued to until I listened to the stories of other women. Women just like myself. These women have inspired me to be stronger in my daily life challenges and to live above discrimination and victimization.

Prior to being in a class with women just like myself, I had never questioned the uncertainty and true value of a woman until I had learned to open my eyes. Daily, I often find myself looking at things differently. I realize the smallest things in public when I'm doing simple things such as grocery shopping. Walking into a store with my boyfriend today and looking at his dress and pant sizes which were measurements made me realize the confusion that women face when shopping for clothes. Men look at pant and shirt sizes with measurements, while us women guess on what size we may be in one store (most likely we were another size in a different store). What does this say about the society we live in? It lets women across our country know that confusion between dress sizes is only because we aren't certain about our weight. We may feel slender in some dresses, but heavy in another one. Therefore, we stick to the smaller size and never shop elsewhere. Our weight follows everywhere. It is calling us to look at  ourselves as objects rather than consider ourselves as beautiful, empowered women with educations.

By looking around in the same store I was able to notice the availability of business attire in the menswear section. Perhaps maybe I'll find a plain white button up dress shirt for myself? Who am I kidding? Not one in plain sight. The message that department stores relay is the message that women aren't meant to be in professional jobs. For clothes that are appropriate enough for business attire, we've got to shop in expensive clothing stores to look professional. There are no dress pants, dress shirts, or suits in department stores for women. The normal man is a businessman, while the normal woman is a stay at home mother. Those women in the professional field looking for a suit must make far more money to be shopping in a department store.

These subtle hues that markets relay to the public is what shapes us into the way that we think. We should be thinking that we are overweight. We should be thinking that we should be stay at home mothers instead. We shouldn't be looking at professional attire in a department store that offers it only for men. Is this all true? Should it be true? Should we justify our weight to that of supermodels in magazines? Should we objectify ourselves to find a man who will want us?

More importantly, should we objectify ourselves to live a happy life?

My answer is no. Women are not here for the  purpose of objects, to deliver babies and raise them. We are here for God's purpose and only his purpose! To be happy. To be happy with whatever it is we WANT to do and whatever it is that HE has planned for us.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

leave the drama for your momma.

It's been a long time since I've posted anything and I figured why not start a fresh new post about my goals for the new year. They're very realistic and aren't utterly ridiculous.

After re-evaluating my life today several times, I decided that it's time for me to grow up. I'm not talking about being financially independent nor shifting my weight to purchasing a house or anything. But truly and honestly, I have taken the authority over myself to stop involving myself in worthless drama and unnecessary stress. Most of the time, the culprit stems from drinking.

Drinking has never been a friend of mine, it has always led me to awful and unexplainable situations I can't bear to think about sometimes. After the instant hangover I am sporting today, I write this in hopes that the life of a future college graduate will change 180 degrees.

Drama isn't hard to find, it's always lurking around the corner waiting to find you. The problem with me is that I'm always found and give it some attention; I try to run away, but then I realize it's too late and I'm pulled back by this little black cloud.

After talking to my mother it really started to dawn on me that you must surround yourself with the people you would like to be like. And vice versa. Never forget that you must also be the person that you would want to be friends with. Never underestimate the power of image. Your image can make you or break you. The brand that you make for yourself will be the brand that you carry for the rest of your life. Similarly, drama will be another thing that can follow you for the entirety as well. It's safe to say that there will always be people who choose to engage in drama because that is the only thing that makes their life exciting. Steer clear.

To keep your life exciting, you must remind yourself that excitement is about what you can do for yourself. This includes being happy with the things that make you happy. Always be grateful for the people who make your life a little easier. Never choose the easy way out. But more importantly, live your life like the Lord would want you to live it. This includes being kind, forgiving, and slow to speak.

The last key point is very important in my own life in this very moment. Be slow to speak and quick to listen. Never underestimate the power of words. Words are something that can never be taken back. Your thoughts may carry on in your mind, but never let them affect the image you make for yourself, nor destroy another person's well-being. Lastly, the key to being happy is to always remember that forgiving is easier than living with a burdened heart.