Just a Girl

All of my most recent frustration has steamed from the idea that I am, “just a girl.” It seems to be affecting all the major changes/decisions taking place in my life right now. This opinion has been voiced most strongly by my very loving, but extremely protective and worrisome parents. I do believe that most of this steams from their inability to allow “their little girl” to grow up, but I feel like I am being stifled on a personal level. I understand that I am petite, among other things, but I just do not understand why that should be a factor in stopping me from pursuing the career path I want, living on my own, or just feeling comfortable going out by myself.

I am currently a dance major at Columbia College Chicago – a career path my mother was particularly pleased with. I recently realized though I was not happy with where I was at and that there were other things besides dance that I wanted to be involved in; it would require a college degree in something completely different too. I have applied to University of Illinois at Chicago, and am hoping to be accepted and qualify for the Criminology program, with a master’s afterwards in social work. Both of my parents have expressed deep concern with this choice. They have tried multiple times to try to talk me out of that major with the following arguments:

  • “It takes a very severe emotional toll on you, and it does not pay very much at all.”
  • “You are so creative; we just feel that it will be a waste of your talents.”
  • “You are so good at…. (everything other than my field of interest).”

I have an extremely high emotional tolerance. I was and am still partly planning to be a professional dancer as I am clearly not all about the cash, and one can still be talented creatively whilst majoring in an otherwise “uncreative” department. To me, the reason they are so uncomfortable with my chosen career path is that it has been traditionally considered a man’s job.

The thought of their daughter interviewing, studying, and maybe even counseling criminals strikes them as completely dangerous and nonsensical. I will be unsafe, not taken seriously, etc. My problem with all of this is that I am starting to be convinced that my “girl-ness” and “petite-ness” should be a reason to be scared of that profession. It has led me to believe, on occasion, that I will not be taken seriously and be unsuccessful.

I am disappointed in myself for letting these petty arguments affect me, but when society tells you every day that you are in danger, less adequate and capable at life because you are a girl, while listing all the reasons why that is so, it becomes difficult to feel confident. Two weeks ago I was completely certain in my decision to get my own studio apartment.  I was going to take Chicago by storm and have my own space, but all I hear is this concern for my safety. It is hard not to think maybe I should be that concerned, although I had not seen a reason to be prior.

What I have recently realized is that this is just a stereotype being thrust upon me by concerned but old fashioned adults. I understand there is danger in the world. But people have emphasized my vulnerability so much, that I am under the impression I will be raped, robbed, or harassed every single time I leave my building. I have lived in this constant state of fear that has stopped me from living the way I want to.

The fact that a girl is, in fact, a girl, (something we are all obviously already aware of) is not a valid argument to present to someone as a reason they cannot pursue or take part in something. I am an old fashioned kind of lady. I like to cook my boyfriend meals, I like that he is occasionally authoritative, and I like make-up and high heels, but I do not like being treated differently, particularly by adults because I am a young woman. We need a society that raises girls that feel they can get anything done, become who they want, and not be petrified with fear of all the bad things girls are targets for. I would like to be treated in a way that living on my own, trying to help people, dressing how I want, talking about what I want, and everything else that goes along with being yourself and pursuing your goals is not cute, funny or dangerous, but very realistic and hopefully inspiring.


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