I Am Strong Because The Women Before Me Were Strong

I Am Strong Because The Women Before Me Were Strong

Here's to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them.

One of my favorite quotes actually has an unknown author: "Here's to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them."

I have low self-confidence, but I have always prided myself on being a strong woman. As I grow as a person, I continue to become stronger and stronger; I take shit from no one, I stand up for myself and my beliefs vehemently and passionately, and I use my privilege to stick up for those who don't share that privilege. With all that being said, I never would have become the strong woman that I am without the other strong women who came before me.

Representation matters - strong women will only grow when other strong women are in their lives. In 2017, we should stop demonizing strong women in the media. Language matters - calling outspoken women anything other than outspoken is an insult to strong women everywhere. As women's history month comes to a close, I want to talk about another kind of trailblazer: the women who have lead by example, the strong women who are the perfect exemplification of feminism and the way strong women can be. I would never have been the strong woman and feminist I am today without the women who came before.

I come from a family of strong, passionate, and big-hearted women. My mother is one of the most passionate people I know. She never half asses everything, putting her entire heart into everything that she does. She defends my brother and me, sticking up for us when we can't do it ourselves. She taught my brother and me how to be the best people we can be, taught us morality, selflessness, philanthropy, being a good friend and to emulate the qualities of our heroes and role models. She taught us that being ourselves was the most important thing, and taught us how to find people who would love and appreciate us, and push us to grow. She has never tried to stifle our dreams or tell us that our dreams were stupid, impossible, or not worth pursuing. My mother defends the rest of our massive family in a similar fashion, and even people she hardly knows. She will always find the positive in everything and inspires everyone around her. She is always smiling, laughing and cracking jokes. On more than one occasion, she has laughed so hard she's peed herself, which she then, of course, blames on having two children. A massive piece of who I am is because of my mother. If I become half the woman my mother is, I will be lucky. My mother paved the way for me to become the strong woman I am.

My Aunt Kerry has surpassed the title of "strong woman" and moved directly into "complete and total badass." She raised four boys on her own, survived stage four breast cancer, and then decided, at the age of fifty, she was going to have twins. Like, does that not scream badass? My aunt Kerry has never been bitter, never been negative about her situation. It is what it is. She has built this beautiful life with her four boys and the twins, who are the sweetest little babies anyone has ever seen. My aunt paved the way for me to become the strong woman I am.

My great-grandmother was an Italian immigrant who raised five children in the '40s. She was married at 19, and her first child (my grandfather) shortly thereafter. She was the matriarch of our family. She had her "throne," a massive armchair that was her chair specifically, that she would sit in and order everyone around. "Kate, go put the bread in the oven." "Joey, we're going to make an omelet in a bag. Chop some vegetables." She would tell hilarious stories and would claim that no one had visited her in days because a visit doesn't count unless you've had coffee. She was progressive for a woman in her '90s and hardly flinched when my mother told her that my Aunt Lorie had married a woman, and sent her congratulations. She passed away right before my freshman year, and I thought my world had ended. She is the largest reason that I found religion this past year because I can feel her there with me during mass. My mom told me about how proud my Nani would be that I was going through RCIA (basically how you become a Catholic as an adult). My Nani paved the way for me to become the strong woman I am.

I am a proud Gamma Phi Beta, and our philanthropic mission is to "building strong girls." We do this a number of ways, but it was what made me want to be a Gamma Phi Beta with every fiber of my being when I went through formal recruitment last spring. Like the women before me who have paved the way for me to become a strong woman, I will continue to pave the way for others to become as strong as I have become.

Cover Image Credit: Kate Marlette

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Thank you, Mom and Dad.

To the ones who were always there from day one (literally).

A “parent” is defined as a person who is a caretaker of a child. But, you guys were so much more than that. Since it’s hard for me to verbally tell you, here is my “thank you” and “I love you” in writing.

First, thank you for choosing to sacrifice your life, family, and friends in Korea by coming to America to provide me with a higher standard of living and education.

Thank you for encouraging me to accept my Korean heritage and for not cringing when you heard my Americanized accent when I spoke Korean.

Looking back, I honestly did so many things that I can’t believe you patiently took and dealt with. I’m sorry for being angry with you for so many trivial, petty things. Thank you for being there to deal with my cranky attitude in the morning. Thank you for calling me out for being a brat, and I’m sorry for my stubbornness. When we got into fights, thank you for remembering how stubborn I am, for reaching out to me first, and for fixing our relationship again.

Thank you for taking care of me when I was sick, and I’m sorry for getting both of you sick in the process.

Thank you for all the late-night shifts you took to provide more for me. As I get older, I’m realizing how important money is, and I’m sorry for complaining when I didn’t get what I wanted (basically, sorry for being a brat, again).

It’s easy to believe that you guys will be here for the rest of my life, but as I see the wrinkles and the white hair, I am reminded that life on this earth is temporary and fleeting. I am reminded that there are not many more years left like this. However, I rest easy knowing that a better, pain-free life exists for us after this earthly life comes to an end.

Thank you, umma and appa. Thank you for being such amazing parents and for showing me what unconditional love looks like.
Cover Image Credit: Lauren Yu

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Yes, I Know I Don't Say It Enough, So Here's A Huge 'Thank You' To My Parents

Thank you for showing me unconditional love.

Thank you.

If there is a word that describes more gratitude than just a simple “thank you,” I would express that 100 times. I know I do not say it enough, and I know that I never will, but thank you for everything.

Thank you for giving me life.

Thank you for being the most loving people.

Thank you for supporting me.

Thank you for the countless hours you spent driving from different activities, having to sit through sporting events, and supporting my variety of different career paths. Never once did you let me know that I was terrible at a single thing, even though I was.

Thank you for always giving me the best piece of advice, “when you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.”

Thank you for allowing me to spread my wings and go to school over 1,500 miles away to Texas that gave me a need for traveling. My anxious feet could not thank you enough for shipping me off to Europe for an entire semester to let me travel the world, considering I have now been to over 10 countries.

Thank you for letting me learn from my failures. Or when I would never listen to you guys, even though you have always been right from the beginning.

Thank you for showing me that nobody's perfect, but with hard work, dedication and love… you can come close.

Thank you for always being there when I need it the most.

Thank you always picking up the phone whenever I call.

Thank you for knowing that all the times I say “I hate you,” “You’re annoying,” or any other negative words, it is just code for “I love you.”

Thank you for showing me unconditional love.

Most importantly, thank you for giving me a voice to allow me to become the person that I am supposed to be.

P.S. Amanda and Zack, try topping that to be the favorite child ;)

Cover Image Credit: Zoe Wright

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