2017: the year I became me
tl;dr — I feel more myself then ever and grew closer to feeling whole. thank you to everyone who has been a part of this.
this was a year of growth. all of the opportunities 2017 brought me have helped me become closer to the person I want to be. I didn’t expect to grow in the ways I did, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
let’s start from the beginning. I finally excelled in academics for the first time since middle school. I earned a 4.0 in my spring semester of my first year of college after enduring a hell of a fall. I expected to feel whole, but instead I felt empty. I felt drained. I was balancing too much while working too hard, and I failed to treat myself kindly. I wanted my academics to fill something I now know can never be satisfied with a gpa.
on the other side of the balancing act was my activism. I was involved with clubs on campus surrounding planned parenthood & the lgbtq+ community, throwing myself into events and projects. I was able to lobby in Sacramento for the first time with planned parenthood and was able to use my voice for advocacy. that experience propelled my involvement in reproductive rights and justice.
all while that is going on, I’m working at Santa Ana Unified School District coaching speech and debate. 2017 gave me my first job, and the best job I could ask for. the meaningful connections I’ve made with students of various backgrounds and experiences will stay with me forever. it often feels weird to know that I’m a female mentor for young girls while I still feel like I’m in search of a mentor of my own.
summer. I found out I would be an organizer for the 1 in 3 campaign if advocates for youth in june. I would find out in september that this would be a pivotal part of my growth this year. I worked at the sausd speech and debate camp in the mornings, and my afternoons, evenings and weekends were for campaigns and planned parenthood events. I began volunteering on a congressional campaign (vote for Dave Min if you’re in the 45th district) and volunteered at as many planned parenthood events as I was able to. I spent my summer learning from my own students, and learning from the people around me in the world of orange county politics and activism.
fall 2.0. the good, the bad, and the growth through it all. I honestly don’t know where to begin with this semester, so let’s go month by month.
september: I started off this semester sick. the worst flu I have ever had. I couldn’t walk across campus without stopping for breaks ever 10 steps. I began this semester feeling defeated. I was enjoying my classes and felt confident in them, but felt like I was already falling behind after not being able to be at school from having a fever. thankfully, I got better by the time of Urban Retreat.
this is where I grew the most, in a place I have so much love for, washington, dc . I have never felt supported in my activism, mainly because I will never have the support of my conservative parents. All I felt at urban retreat was support, and I still feel it today. I came in very intimidated. I doubt myself a lot, and I was surrounded by strong activists and truly felt like I didn’t belong there. I felt small. that quickly changed after the conversations and presentations throughout the conference. I learned so much that I needed to learn, not just about the movement, but about myself. I saw the intersections of my life make sense for the first time. I was having open and honest conversations that allowed me to work out my own trauma surrounding my adoption and identity without even realizing it. The most important conversation I had was when I unlearned my academic elitism during the mentorship workshop. I’ve always had so much anxiety surrounding academia, and I always attached my self worth to my success in academics because of the pressures of my dad growing up. I felt validated in my various identities and found growth in the understanding of my gender, sexuality and experiences as a biracial femme in this weird world. I found my voice while lobbying with the best people I could ask for, and felt safe and empowered the entire way through (even at mimi’s office). I found friendships and truths that will stay with me forever.
I was able to go to seattle for a planned parenthood conference just a week after urban retreat. this absolutely spoiled me. I was in the most supported and authentic environments in a very short time. I learned a lot and spent quality time with people that have helped me grow into my activism more and more here in orange county.
advocates for youth and pposbc are the organizations that helped me grow the most. they saw in me what I never saw in myself, and wanted to help me grow into the advocate I am today. I’ll forever be thankful for these opportunities.
october: emotional trauma & uncertainty. I left people and organizations. I felt anxious at school constantly hoping I wouldn’t run into someone. I almost had a panic attack when I just saw them from afar. I didn’t have a clear path with my on campus organizing. I didn’t know how I would succeed. the same week everything went down I was on a plane to new orleans for sister song. this was the best thing that could’ve happened to me. this conference taught me the most about healing and self care through multiple experiences and conversations, not just in the workshops. I got a new piercing with new friends in a new city. the best chinese food is in nola, can confirm.
november: say hello to my academic downfall. I did not do well in my honors course, and that’s okay. I prioritized self care, something I didn’t do last fall. I was in a much better place than I was last year, even though I was more successful academically last fall. I felt empty and numb and the most not myself I had ever been. I was scared to death this time last year. this year, I treated myself kindly and allowed myself to hurt and heal, despite ignoring my academics. I believe that self care saved my life.
december: I picked myself up. I ended my honors course with A’s on my last assignments (which was still not enough to make up for november’s decisions) and I felt proud of myself. I still feel proud of myself. I can be proud of what some people would consider a failure. I ended the semester content.
I fell in love with speech and debate continuously this semester. I found my voice through this activity and have implemented the skills learned throughout my forensics experience in all aspects of my life.
I resigned from student government this semester. I love what sgocc can do and the people in it, however I couldn’t justify dedicating my time to it. I joined advocacy committee to give me a policy perspective to my grassroots activism. After losing and taking a step back from activism and organizations, I didn’t have anything to supplement with policy.
I’m ending this year interning for the oc women’s march, another opportunity I am so very thankful for. this has given me a new perspective on events, organizing and the inner workings of a non profit. I’m so excited to see all of it come together on jan 20th in downtown santa ana, hopefully alongside many of you!
if you read this far, hey. this is just my ramblings of a year that meant the most to me. my last full year as a teenager has prepared me for the experiences I haven’t faced yet. I don’t feel scared about the future anymore. I debated posting this because it’s so long, but I’ll want this later. I want to remember 2017 and it’s feelings, experiences, opportunities, and authenticity.