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Young Women Leaders

Archive for the tag “college”

Partners in crime – what it means to your sanity

Last Sunday I finally got together with my friend A-Conk on Skype. It´s been way too long, you know the way it is when there´s an ocean and six hours of time difference in between. Anyhow, it makes me happy to know how quickly we pick up where we left off, and how much she energizes me in what she does and what we do together (never mind that ocean and time difference).

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I got to know Al at the end of my junior year in college. We were both Political Science majors, but had never taken any classes together until then. Since we were both gone fall semester junior year (she in Washington D.C. and I in Santiago, Chile) we had to take this class called Methodology (or Methods as it is known) in the spring. So we had Methods together, and at the same time one of our honors classes on poverty alleviation with my mentor Welker. During this time we got to know more ABOUT each other but we didn´t hang out. But in the summer we were basically the only people around on campus, and Welker set us up to become friends. Why? Because we are meant to be together!

Look, I come from the cold and ice of Sweden and Al comes from the land of corn and dairy of Ohio, but there are so many things we have in common, such as our interest in politics, hard work, work outs, good food, family, fashion, and saving the world.

I´ve wanted to write this entry about Al all week long but I feel like I am not doing it well enough for how much she means to me. But today I went running and I thought “screw it, the most important thing is that I write it, not how well it is written.” Going running also reminded me how much it means to have a person like Al in my life. When we lived on blocks next to each other last year, we were so good at going to work out together all the time. We did this program called Insanity in Al´s living room or the racquetball court at the gym, we went for angry ranting walks to the country club and back, and we got out there so often together. As much as I need somebody to go working out with, I need a partner in crime in the work that I do. I need Al to bounce ideas with, I need her to listen to what I say and to point out things that I cannot see myself. I need her to dress up with me and go to a presentation and present the living hell out of our material (which we do very well by the way).

I need her to be silly with me and goof around. I need her to go buy beer and sit on a roof/in the honors house to write a thesis together. I need her to remind me that if a person doesn´t like all of me, then he/she is nothing worth spending energy on. I need her to come with me and sit in the waiting room at important meetings, just knowing that she is out there with me.

I need her to come out with me and scare the shit out of people because we make a great team together. I need her to talk about women that inspire us and make up teams such as “Team Rhinestone” in honor of the chair of the political science department. I need her to tell me about her job and life and realize that we are often in the same structures of lowest on the ladder in the workplace.

Having a person like Al in your life is something that I wish everybody had. Just as much as she helped me exercise my body, she helps exercise my mind. She has chops, as Welker would have said. She is a smart, funny, loving, good-looking great friend. With partners like her, you go great lengths in work and you develop yourself as a human being.

This reminds me of Al. This could also be a video we made together, I wouldn´t doubt it.

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To be self-destructive

This past weekend I spent at a volunteer education event for my local girls´ shelter. The girls´shelter isn´t really a shelter, more a support line/chat for young women between the ages of 12 and 25 (ish).

There are so many more details and so many more things to think about when supporting girls that I am aware of now, or at least have considered. There were so many stories in the room, and when talking about super interesting things over lunch with some of the women, I could hear equally as important and interesting discussions all around the room.

One thing that I did think about, that found me there and then, is that we may not be aware of how much damage we are doing to ourselves. We were talking about self-destructive behavior, and I have automatically just put physical harm in the category, such as cutting yourself, starvation or obsessive eating.

But come to think about it, this behavior stems from psychological instability (as far as I have understood it), and there are many other things that we do yo cause ourselves harm because we are not feeling good on the inside. I came to think of the fact that I battle negative thoughts about myself that are mentally beating myself up. Negative thoughts about my looks, social skills, intelligence or likeability and loveability. I am considering this beating myself up mentally, and that is also a type of self-destructive behavior.

Another one is the use and abuse of alcohol and drugs. One may not think of somebody that drinks “a little too much a little too often” as somebody who is mistreating themselves, and having a self-destructive behavior, but I think they are. I have absolutely had too much alcohol to drink during the periods in my life when I have felt the worst. So maybe don´t just laugh at your friend next time she has too much to drink, be aware of the signs and patterns and act on your instincts when you feel you are right. Your friend needs you.

Much love,
Hanna

The importance of your own space

When I was in college I shared a room during two years. Freshman year, half of junior year and half of senior year. I was relatively lucky because I got along pretty well with all of my three room mates, but I am happy that this time of my life is over. When I was 6ish I also shared a room with my brothers, but since I was 9 or so and all the way up until college I have had my own room. 

I understand the positive sides with sharing a room with somebody in college, at least during your first year. It got a lot easier for me to meet new people since I always had B to talk to, and I got to meet the people she knew. I don´t think I could have had a better room mate than her my first year, because she was able to feel my mood and relate to me. We also did a lot of things together, ate together, bough booze together, went for spring break, etc. 

The thing though, with room mates, is that you are never sure when you will be alone. I am a social person, but in order to function well with other people, I need to be alone and recharge at least some part of my day. Since I spent a lot of time at the library, I was able to be alone there, even though it was always associated to studying. 

During sophomere year I was an RA (resident advisor, in charge of a floor with 20ish girls), which gave me the benefit of my own room. To be able to close my door, lock it, and spend as much time as I wanted alone in there was truly awesome for me. It is powerful to get to decide what one should do, not have to care about laying in bed an entire Sunday, watching tv shows and indulging mac´n´cheese and popcorn. 

I agree with Virginia Woolf, a woman (or any human being) needs her own room and space to be able to gather her thoughts and work, to rest and come out of there as a new person. I know many people that claim that they hate being alone, and always want to be around people. But I think we could all benefit from bein on our own, because it makes us get to know ourselves and to relax in our thoughts. (Photo cred: aroom.org)

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Having your own room also makes it possible to do things that you want to be alone doing: draw, eat candy, masturbate, make out (this one includes partner), lay in your bed facing the ceiling, etc. All things that are good for you, and makes you take care of yourself. 

Spend some time alone today, doing nothing or doing something. After all, it´s Sunday. 
Hanna

How to scare the shit out of bros by being a strong woman

I am giggling a bit when I write this, mainly because I think it´s a funny story but it´s part sad giggle because this story does make a little sad (and a wee bit angry). I will say to all the bros out there: don´t be offended if this story doesn´t apply to you, be happy.

Me being stereotypically Amurrican in 2011.

Me being stereotypically Amurrican in 2011.

Imagine this: summer of 2011, it´s friggin´ HOT every day in Ohio, USA, we keep sweating, staying inside for work and occasionally going for a drive to the nearby reservoir. I have just begun making friends with this fellow student, we can call her Al (mainly because that is her name). So Al is this awesome woman, she´s smart and funny and powerful and good-looking. She can, like me, see that being a senior woman in college will not really offer any chances of romance/dating/relationships because all guys are… well, let´s say more interested in beer and being bros. (Not all of them, I promise, but the grand majority of boys at our college.)

We talk about our grand dreams of taking over the world and being able to make it all happen, despite the claims on us as women to take care of a family, raise kids and such. I mean, how do you really do this if you want to start a career??? And mind you, in the US it is much harder than in Sweden. We planted the seed of this organization called WIP (that this blog is named after) with our friend Layzoor on a roof of a dorm drinking beer (yes, I can now admit we did this). We talk about the hookup culture and binge drinking at our college that really doesn´t do anybody any good. We can see all these amazing young women in leadership positions on the weekdays – turning into very drunk people and making decisions they regret on the weekends.
Look, no judgments on women wanting to have fun and hook up, but I saw more women being dissatisfied with this way of living than satisfied. There´s a difference here, the women were often hoping that these encounters on the weekends would lead to something more than just the casual hookup. The boys in general seemed happy with it (not saying that they were.)

So we did occasionally frequent the local bar (one of three bars within walking distance to campus), not so much because of their scary dangerous drinks, but to show that we´re around, meeting up with friends and mostly avoiding alcohol. It´s hot and humid out there, and people are mostly just sweaty 24-7 (this has no point to the story, just providing you with the feeling of stickiness we had most of the time).

So, we´re at the bar, sitting outside at some tables, having a Blue Moon, me and Al. Talking about why gender stereotypes are bad for both men and women, and how we could somehow change this, but struggling with the HOW? (I can´t exactly remember what we talked about, but general stuff that concerns strong women, go figure, haha)
Enter: the bros.
(For those of you that are not super aware of American college life, the bros are basically male students, generally either belonging to a fraternity, an all-male club, or some kind of sports team where you spend a lot of time hazing each other and being stereotypically “manly.” They´re very common and for those of you that are more interested I would recommend reading “Guyland – the perilous world where boys become men” by Michael Kimmel http://www.guyland.net/ Look, they´re not all bad, but a lot of the culture they bring is not exactly great.)

The bros are sitting down with us because we know them. They get a beer or something and we welcome them. They are pretty loud. Me and Al are super interested in the topic we are discussing (again, gender and equality), and continue talking, making sure to not leave these people out of our conversation. After an extremely short period of time (we´re talking 15 second here, friends) I feel a tension in the air. The bros (there´s about eight of them) seem slightly uncomfortable, they are turning in their seats and looking around for nobody in particular. They become quiet. One after another they make excuses to get a beer or “I HAVE to go play pool” or just simply disappear. They do not return.

We continue talking, trying to figure out why these guys left. Was it because they were threatened by the topic? Because they did not find it interesting? Because they thought we were nuts? Or maybe because they just went to the bar to play some pool and wear their shorts low and their hats backwards and drink a lot of beer and HANG OUT WITH THE bros DAMMIT and all you can talk about is gender equality???!!!

Hey, yes, this was one of the first things me and Al did together in our friendship, and yes, we would look back at this throughout the year (and laugh) and really pinpoint it as an example of why we didn´t really see any men during our last year of college. But it saddened us too because we wanted to have this conversation with our peer male students and talk about it as an issue for ALL students. Unfortunately, I only met a few men in college that were comfortable discussing these questions.

What do YOU think? Is masculine and feminine stereotypes hurtful to society?
H to the A to the NN to the A

PS. I am still looking to meet a man that is capable and interested in discussing gender stereotypes, inequality and what the roles of masculinity and femininity does do our society. A man of quality is not threatened by (talking about) equality. 

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