I've been a dreamer and a doer all in one ever since I was young. I never let my gender stop me from doing anything, and I will never start.
I remember it vividly. It was a summer's day and I was outside on my bike with my brother playing cops and robbers – I was about 8 years old. If you don't know how the game works, if you were the cop, the goal of the game was to hit your bicycle tire on the robber's tire to make them stop and basically fall over, and if you were the robber, you had to escape. This doesn't make a difference to the point of the story, but it's a piece I remember sharply.
Well, my brother and I played that game for hours. I'd crawl back to the house with scrapes and bruises from falling over too many times because he (who is 2 years older than me) was always faster at getting away and better at catching me. One day, I got so sick of the game and always losing that I used all my might to ride as fast as I could away, and by doing this, I went around the block alone.
That was a big no-no. As I was on my escapade, my brother went inside the house to tell my mom that I broke her rule of not leaving the street without him. When I came back from my joy ride, I saw her standing there on the front lawn, arms crossed, hip to the left, and in my youth, with steam blowing from her ears. I got pulled inside, plopped down on the couch as she knelt in front of me with a finger wagging in my face as she said, "You know you aren't allowed to go around the block alone."
But it felt unfair. I was 8 years old and my brother was allowed to ride around the neighborhood alone when he was my age... why couldn't I? So I asked her, ballsy as hell, why can't girls be treated the same way boys are? Of course, my mother was disappointed not in me but society and said that it's just the way it is.
It turns out that just around the block from my house, a registered sex offender had moved in and my mom was worried that her little girl would be a target. She had warned my brother to steer clear of that area and trusted that he would, but it was different with me because I was a girl. I don't blame her because she was trying her best to take care of me, but it's terribly sad that girls are seen as weak links and too emotionally fragile to deal with the hard facts.
And so I decided to become a journalist where my profession would be based on those facts. This revelation came many years later, but I do think it stems from this experience in one way or another. Ever since then, I've always tried to change the dialogue in any way I can by talking to people who have a very one-track mind when it comes to gender roles.
Recently, I was having a conversation with someone when she asked me what my plans are for after I graduate in the spring. I told her that it's my dream to get a job in New York City so I can live up there, be back by my family and be in an area that I've always felt the most comfortable in, and she asked me if I had a boyfriend who I would be moving up with. I told her our plan is to go up together as long as everything works out and she said, "That's great, at least you can have someone to depend on."
That's where the defeat starts to settle in again. There's this aura of doubt that a woman can do anything on her own, especially something as big as moving to a big city. Of course, it's going to be easier having him come with me, but it could be equally as easy to move in with a friend who is a girl. I told her that I definitely understand the sentiment, but I don't depend on anyone other than myself. She nodded and wished me the best of luck as most people would, and I left.
I normally would have let the comment go, but if we don't stop them from happening, people will never learn how much their words have an impact. Women do not need to depend on men to survive. It's been made very clear that they are more than capable, so this essence of doubt needs to diminish.
I'm the girl who will never stop pushing boundaries and I don't care what anyone has to say about it. You can think I'm crazy for dreaming big and for pushing to get there, but I'll be the one to show you that I can do anything.