My Sister Kaity is a very strong, opinionated, and beautiful being. With a sharp wit and a unique perspective, Kaity lives her life on her own terms. I have seen her grow up so much since we’ve gone to college together at Columbia. Each day she is faced with a new challenge and never shies away from seeking help. I’m grateful to have her as a sister and as my blonde sidekick.
What is your personal mantra?
An adventurous soul with the name of Christopher McCandless once said “Don’t hesitate or allow yourself to make excuses. Just get out and do it. You will be very very glad that you did.” I am inspired by these words lately because they serve as a reminder to chase what you love with no regrets. As someone who spends too much time thinking I use this quote as motivation to let go of all things that hold me back and to take a chance for once even if I do not know where it leads me.
It also reminds me that I shouldn’t take life too seriously or I’ll miss out on the opportunities leading me to greatness.
What has the college experience taught you?
The world is embodied by billions and billions of people, each and every one living with the fear of something. Yet the scary part isn’t the fact that fears exist, what’s scary is the process of coming face to face with that fear, peeling away the layers in order to confront it. What do I fear? What am I afraid of? Well believe it or not, the college experience has taught me just that. I have never been good at describing myself, my passions, my strengths and my dreams. Why? Because I have never truly known who I am or who I want to be. My fear is finding the answer to that question because what if there is no answer? What if I remain stuck, standing still forever? When I first stepped foot onto the Columbia College Chicago campus I was forced to define myself in everything I did. Not only did this scare me, it intimidated me. I was surrounded by students who encompassed a sort of confidence that I have never been able to relate to. People were sure of themselves, their work and their creative passions and me? I was still trying to piece my identity together. College is supposed to be this adventure, one that allows us to explore more than our major but for me college was a portal into the one thing that leaves me conflicted: figuring out who I am. Being at Columbia has taught me that trying to fit the perfect mold of life isn’t always the goal. The most important objective is finding what you love, whatever it is that makes you happy and then building yourself off of that. I still struggle with understanding who I am and what I have to offer the world around me, but I know something amazing is supposed to come my way. Finding the patience and confidence is needed for me to cross paths with what I am meant to do. I have learned that hardships occur more than we would like them to, struggle forces us to make mistakes which eventually shape us and dreams continue to guide us. In just 2 years college has changed the way I see the world, it’s still too colossal for me to wrap my head around but now I understand it’s okay to feel lost because there is a journey within finding yourself. I still have the second half of the race to finish and I have no idea what the next 2 years have in store for me, but I hope to break loose of my fear by finally answering the question I’ve spent most of my life hiding from… Who am I? You’ll just have to wait and see.
When you are having a bad day what things do you do to ease your mind?
Life is full of unexpected moments that have the power to change us but every now and then in between those amazing encounters we will come across some bad days. For me, a good song can make anything better, even if it’s just for a little while. I love listening to music because sometimes the words of a song speak to me more than anything else during that moment in time. I find that talking to people you count on makes all the difference as well so when I’m not feeling like the best version of myself I reach out to my family members and close friends. Sometimes we just need people to look a little deeper for us and bring a new perspective to the table.
How has social media affected the way you think about yourself?
Social media is so fascinating in the way it connects people to one another granting us the ability to start a conversation with substance. The conversation however, is where the issue resides. Social media has so much potential to be a platform that fuels positive change yet it is the source for such dangerous elements. The various social platforms have affected the way I think about myself very heavily in the category of self-image. I won’t lie, I am not a very confident person when it comes to my body. I spend more time pointing out my flaws than I do recognizing my unique features. Why? There is this standard of being perfect but even worse it’s expected. I spend hour after hour comparing myself to other girls as I scroll through a feed of endless photos, questioning why I do not look like them while wondering how I can. This is not healthy but I am still exposed to it every single day. Social media has most definitely contributed towards making me a self-conscious individual because most of the time it celebrates the wrong issues and shares the wrong photos. I work hard to think positively and inspire myself but we all have those days when negative energy gets the best of us. My hope is that one day social media can be an outlet that recognizes all people regardless of their physicality because the day we stop judging and defining women based on the way they look will be a day that brings magic into the world.
What advice do you have for young girls growing up in this social media age?
I could go ahead and respond to this question with a million different pieces of advice but it’s not about quantity here it’s about the quality behind my words.
The most essential piece of advice that I want young girls to absorb is: Don’t ever compare yourself to others. Despite all the pressures and hardships you will be up against that is something you need to keep in the back of your mind. Beauty is not tied to one look, one size, one color, or one person. Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and you are more than what is exposed on the outside.
Just remember… no matter how tough life may seem, you are tougher.
What pressures do you experience that lower your self-esteem? (The way you think about yourself)
On a daily basis I face a multitude of pressures that force me to feel as though I fall short in everything I do. This mindset that I have to fit an incredibly narrow definition of beauty in order to please those around me weighs down on my self-esteem in many unfortunate ways. The pressure to be perfect turns me into someone I don’t want to be as I start to pick at my reflection in the mirror and second guess the clothes I put on my body. This is a burden all girls become aware of at a very young age, being judged based on the way we look rather than what level of intellect we have to offer. Young girls and women eventually become immune to this stereotype and it will never be fair because why should we be expected to fit the mold of something that will never quite fit?
Even though these pressures and challenging experiences knock my self-esteem to lower levels I have learned that I will always find a way get it back up. Women are motivated, strong, powerful and beautiful individuals. Together we have the ability to fight back against the forces that work so hard to knock us down.
How has being a feminist inspired you?
“Whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not to be a lady. I hope you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there. And I also hope that you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women.” –Nora Ephron
Being a feminist has inspired me in numerous ways but most importantly it has greatly influenced the way I see the world. Over the years I have grown into a young women who truly believes human rights and equality are the factors in which carry enough power to change the world in astonishing ways. Women are capable of so much more than they are credited for and I am proud to be a part of something that finally takes women into account. When women come together in order to support a cause or fight for something they believe in amazing outcomes come to life! This is what really inspires me, knowing that when women stick together, work together and take the world by storm together, new paths are created.
It’s time to show the world that women are not secondary issues, they are the secret weapons linked to monumental change.