A Wild Tongue
We learn to give presentations about topics so closely linked to our own marginalized identities and traumatic experiences without flinching. Rehearse and rehearse until you perfect it. The audience wonders how you do it. Some thank you for your contributions. Others invalidate your work as “me-search,” putting it on a lower rank and overlooking its importance as academic work.
“What do you mean? This is a good date outfit.”
I read the question out loud from the New York Times’ “36 Questions That Lead to Love,” as a bonding exercise for our small group of leaders. As we prepared to welcome freshmen to campus, some of us prepared to enter our last year of college. Reality was hitting that we were now seniors and we’d have to figure out post-grad plans.
I saw my older sister succeed with her Chemistry degree and thought that was the path I would be following. This was the path our parents wanted for us. They came to the United States with us so that we could have more educational opportunities. They could see their success vicariously through us.
I give advice to first-years now that I wish I had been able to give to myself two years ago. I see them getting overworked and remember myself in their same spots when I felt empty as I spread myself so thin I didn’t have enough time for myself. Harvard promotes this culture as students get involved in multiple things and the pressure often falls on multiply-disadvantaged students as we feel responsible to take on all of the issues.