About Being a Woman in College

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Nikki McCurry

Lover of words, but more importantly, hater of bananas.

I’ve been in college approximately six months.  I have at least one embarrassing story for each of those months, cried at least twice that much, all the while making an extraordinary amount of memories (some of which I’d like to forget.)  Last semester, I sure as hell didn’t learn enough French and I didn’t study biology enough, but I learned important aspects of being a woman that didn’t cost me a $150 textbook.

I no longer have a place for the words slut and whore in my vocabulary.  After being surrounded by girls of all walks of life participating in all kinds of activities, I realized I had no idea what those words even mean.  They’ve been integrated into our vocabulary so nonchalantly we’ve accepted them as alright, but both words are worthless adjectives to describe another person with. In the words of Ms. Thornberry from Mean Girls, “You all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores.  It just makes it okay for guys to call you sluts and whores.”

As much as words matter, my self-worth does not rest in the shrewd vocabulary of a boy.  I’m learning that there is huge difference in being appreciated for gain and just being appreciated for being myself.  In high school, I wanted nothing more than a boy to show me attention in that way, but when I got to college and boys expressed sexually motivated interest in me, I convinced myself this was what I wanted.

I’ve heard the line “Don’t compare yourself to other girls” a hundred times over the course of my life, but only when I made a conscious effort to stop making comparisons did I realize how it was affecting my life.  I walk into a room and immediately compare myself to every other girl in the room.  Am I fatter than her?  Should I wear more makeup so I can look like her?  I gradually realized how exhausting this game was; spending the day comparing your flaws to the perceived perfections of others will wear you down thin.  Society pins us against each other enough as it is, I don’t need to add another level of girl-hate.    I don’t know why it took me so long to realize this, but comparing myself to others benefits me in no way.  In order to grow as a woman, I have to learn that not every situation is a greater than or less than situation – not every situation demands that I find a woman I believe I am greater than.

Being a feminist is a key piece of my identity as a woman and an aspect of my life that I am not willing to sacrifice.   I go to one of the most liberal universities in the south, yet declaring yourself as a feminist will still get you an exasperated sigh and a perplexed look.  I’ve learned that there are a lot of people who have a very negative definition of feminism, but there are plenty of women helping to shine a positive light on feminism.

College is absolutely ridiculous and I don’t know how people survive four plus years of this.  But I’m ready to attempt the next three and a half years with an open mind, an accepting heart and a party-ready wardrobe.