I will be the first woman in four generations to finish college.
As the final months of my college years loom over my head, it has become even clearer to me that—between my great grandmother, grandmother, mother, and myself—I will be the first one to receive a baccalaureate degree.
However, despite such knowledge, I can’t help but recount the memories of the women in my life who have raised me to be the person I am today.
My great-grandmother taught me to love to the greatest extent and to live with no regrets. Despite having lost the opportunity to finish her degree, she was granted a source of love that would surpass lifetimes: her family. Growing up, she always told me to be passionate about what I do and to avoid regrets. After all, what is life if you live it begrudgingly? I don’t believe I ever took this to heart fully until she passed, but I live every day to the fullest and choose to not hold grudges now.
My grandmother showed me that there is light amid the thunderclouds that can overshadow our lives. Nothing is ever bound in gloom. If you search and work hard enough, there will always be light to guide you—something that pulls you back into humanity, something enough to save you. As I grew older, especially during the few years I lived away from my parents and with only her to take care of me, having her by my side always pulled me from the depths of darkness.
My mother gave me everything that I have today. Although she chose not to finish college in order to raise me, her wisdom has always shown me paths I never thought I would take. When my parents decided to separate, she became both my father and mother. She was the one who comforted and strengthened me whenever a boy dragged me down. She taught me that there is more to life than just academics. When I would fall down rabbit holes, she was always the one who reached out to help me back up. She helped me see that although the world out there may be cruel, you can always be the one to show and to spread kindness.
“In times that you feel down,” she would say, “remember that you have so many people to support you in getting back up.” And at the end of the day, despite all of the bickering and fights we get into, she is the one who is eternally at my side. She is the shoulder I cry on, the rock to my unstable self, and the guiding light in my life. My mom, above all, is my best friend.
And much more than that, my aunts, cousins, and friends played—and continue to play—a great role in shaping me into the person I am today. When I was lost, they found me and guided me through whatever I needed to face. When I was scared, they faced and fought the dragons alongside myself. When I had something to celebrate, they were right there, celebrating, dancing, and singing along with me.
Whether or not these women took the privilege of receiving college education, they taught me more about life and the real world than anyone or anything else ever could.
These very women have empowered me throughout my entire life. They are my greatest cheerleaders, and when they need me to be theirs, I am and I always will be. Because who are we if not each other’s greatest supporters and lifelines?
When it is in good faith, us women must cheer each other on and support one another. We experience and feel many of the same things. When we search for someone who relates to us, someone who understands us, it is almost always a woman in our lives that we turn to. So what is the point of tearing each other apart?
This Women’s Month, I dedicate myself and my gratitude to the women who have supported me and allowed me to grow into the woman that I am today. I would be nothing without any of you. I hope many of our readers feel the same about the women in their lives, whether it be their family or friends.
And if you have not found those that will support you just yet, you will find them soon. The kindhearted are abundant after all.
To all the women reading this, especially to those who have played great roles in my life, I hope you know how loved and appreciated you are—if not by the people around you, then at least by me. I hope to empower you as much as you do me.
To all the women reading this, this is an ode to you.