For years, I’ve mostly defined myself in terms of my almost single-minded focus on my ambitions and goals. However, I wasn’t always like that. I don’t know when (probably sometime in middle school or early high school) but, at some point, I came to the conclusion that if I wanted to achieve all of the goals that plenty of people seemed to enjoy telling me were unachievable, I would have to be completely devoted to making those dreams a reality, especially as a woman. Admittedly, I never felt discriminated against at school based on my gender or felt denied anything because I’m a girl. Yet it always seemed to me that boys were taken more seriously than girls. Toughness came easily to them; it was expected of them. As a girl, I had to choose between being seen as sweet and funny or smart and driven. I felt like an either/or situation, despite my identification with aspects of both. I knowingly chose to try to achieve my goals, academic and otherwise, which, in my opinion, left me appearing “serious” and unfeminine.
I spent the first semester of college carrying on this persona. In a sense it paid off: I got great grades. And yet, in order to achieve those grades, I felt I had completely blocked myself off from other important college experiences. I realized that I should be happier about my academic accomplishment. Instead, I just felt hollow, like I was missing out on something more. Keep reading »