Where I Belong

Something’s been on my mind lately…

Throughout high school, I’ve always had my 3 best girl-friends. We were all very involved, very enthusiastic and very high-achieving. Every day lunch would start off as a hang-out-session with friends, but would inevitably end in a heated discussions about religion, the education system, abortion, the precise meaning of a word, etc.

Surrounded by these empowered young-women, I never had a doubt in my mind that I was on the right track in my pursuit of higher education. I always felt exactly in the right place.

I’ve always been a “girly” girl. I like clothes, makeup, shoes, accessories, etc. I get a thrill from putting together an outfit that looks classy and unique. I like having my own style. I like playing up the colour of my eyes with mascara. I like wearing my hair in new ways.

Unfortunately, these things have been making me feel a little uncomfortable lately. I’ve been feeling as though there is little room for femininity in a lecture hall. I can’t say ALL the students in math and Computer Science are boys, but many are. And for the first time in my life, the majority of my friends are male… This is strange… I’m used to having my 3 girl-friends.

I’m not sure if I’m formulating myself entirely right. I don’t mean that there is a hostile environment towards women in university. What I mean is, in high school I fit in seamlessly with my group of girl-friends, while in University, I’m very aware of the gender differences between me and my friends.

In University I feel unique, but not always in a good way. Sometimes I feel like an outlier, a little bit like Elle Woods in Legally Blonde. As if nobody is going to take me seriously because I’m a girl who wears a pretty jacket and wears lip-gloss.

Now, in case any of you ladies (or gents) who are reading this might ever have felt similarly, here’s what I have to say:

Peer pressure is difficult. We’ve all dealt with it. Whether it’s talking a certain way, or looking a certain way, or going to a certain place, we’ve all done things because they were “cool” or “appropriate” or “normal.”

Except now the pressure is different.

Math has always been a male-dominated field, and stereotypes still dictate that there is little room for women. While dolled-up hipster girls in giant scarves, carrying pretty bags, frequent my English Narrative course, I can’t say the same thing about Calculus or Linear Algebra…

But don’t let this hold you back!

ALL girls should pursue ANY academic path they choose, and not feel obligated to dress like everyone in the program.

I’m saying that it’s okay to be different.

It’s OKAY to be a “girly” girl.

It’s OKAY to NOT be a “girly” girl.

It’s OKAY to be an androgynous boy.

IT’S OKAY to be YOURSELF!

1)      I can do math.

2)      And I can paint my nails.

And those two facts can coexist happily.

I’m a girl and I’m exactly where I belong.

Has anyone else had any similar feelings on the topic? Leave me a comment.

I really like this video on the subject of negative labels holding women back. Check it out!

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