Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for mature content.
NOTE: I've gotten into one college (so far) with this essay. Hopefully more. Knock on wood.
When asked my favourite colour, people are disappointed with my go-to answer: I don’t know. My family and friends hear similar responses to hundreds of questions. On social media, my bio states that I am “a human being on planet Earth”, as parts of myself have never been definable.
What I have always known is, geographically, ethnically, and physically, I was born without barriers many people around the world face. People call my hometown a bubble, isolated into a perfect world where safety can easily become ignorance. To counteract this I always proclaimed I wanted to help people.
What I didn’t realize until high school was one disadvantage I was born with. As a girl, I face struggles left behind from centuries of patriarchal society. So when I learned the meaning of the word feminism, I knew I had to believe in it, but as a freshman in an American high school, I was protected. I was interested in equal pay and education for girls in developing countries, but I didn’t face those issues on a daily basis, leaving me feeling separate.
That year, my English teacher assigned a paper on whether we considered catcalling to be sexual harassment. After a debate in class, I was certain. Starting my paper with “The catcalling of a person, no matter the gender of the recipient or the perpetrator, is a form of sexual harassment” and ending with “Sexual harassment is unacceptable even in minor cases because any person should feel safe where they are, no matter how they look or want to dress.” Still, I felt separated because, although I had seen and been under the subjugation of catcalling, it felt minor.
Within the next few months, my clear cut understanding of these issues and my separation suddenly disappeared. Only months before the #MeToo movement, I found myself a victim of sexual assault. A part of me knew help was out there, but there was also the ever-growing pile of issues. Suddenly days became hopeless and my dreams of helping others were so overwhelmed that I started to forget who I was.
When people discuss recovery from an injury or event, the words “back to normal” commonly come up. The part they miss is that much of the time normal has been reset. Trying to go back to who I was before didn’t help me; instead, it fueled my problems by encouraging denial. So I changed, and more importantly, even though bad things happened, I’m a stronger person now because I’m happy with myself.
As I learnt to heal and discovered this new me, I still hit bumps: one’s created entirely by the world around me. I’ve studied many movements for equality, but I see people remember these movements as the end, that the goal has been reached, and it’s time to move forward. That’s false. Slavery within the US ended in the 1860s, but the civil rights movement wasn’t for another century. This begs the question: if there are still problems, isn’t there a point where enough is enough?
I see my story as proof that we should never give up. Equal protection of all from sexual offences hasn’t been perfected, and it may never be, but we can improve. Over the past few years, I have seen advances, but I have also seen weaknesses remain, weaknesses I want to help solve.
When asked my favourite colour I tell people I don’t know, but not because I’m afraid to pick one. It's ok that I’m not certain, and it's ok if I don’t know tomorrow or next year, that’s me. I do know what is important. I want to solve problems, even when people give up on them. I’m not perfect. The world isn’t perfect, but improvements can be made. It's worth the time and energy to make them because even if perfect isn’t possible, happiness is.