Being a woman at Davidson is hard sometimes, at least for me. I do not intend to speak for everyone who identifies as a woman in this article, but I have found many of my experiences, thoughts, and feelings echoed in the stories of other Davidson girls. These stories are important, because many times I have felt alone in thinking these thoughts, when so many other people have been thinking the same things. We could have been supporting each other instead of isolating ourselves.
Many women feel pressure here. Pressure to hook up (but not with too many people). Pressure to get involved. Pressure to do well in classes (but still have time to go out and party). Pressure to go out and party (even though you need to do well in those classes). Pressure to look good, stay fit, and be happy (even though you’re stressed from all these other pressures). It seems like finding a balance between all of these is nearly impossible. I did not have a good balance my first year at Davidson. Learning to say yes, and learning to say no, and mean both of them, helped me find a better balance (I am still on the quest for the elusive perfect balance).
My high school health teacher told us to always put ourselves number one. If we are not looking out for ourselves, who will? You have to be your own best advocate. These words have always resonated with me. Yet, I have found myself putting others’ feelings and wants in front of my own, merely because I do not want to create an awkward conversation or situation. I do not like confrontation or inconveniencing others, nor do I enjoy rejecting people. For these reasons, I do not say no very often. Once, my adviser took my phone away from me to text the people I was supposed to be meeting with to tell them I could not make it because I had a stats test I needed to study for. She knew I was putting their priorities ahead of my own. In this case, and in others, me not saying no created difficulties and inconveniences in my own life.
I have found that saying “no” can take many forms other than those two letters. It can take the form of getting yourself out of a one-sided friendship with a girl on your hall. It can look like saying “I only want to make out tonight” to a person you have been hooking up with. Or it really can look like “no.” Saying yes can look like getting involved, hooking up with someone you’ve been crushing on for a while (consensually, obviously!), or leaving the library to go get a milkshake at campus summit by yourself when the pressure is getting to you. I’m still learning, but aren’t we all?
If you are a first-year woman at Davidson, I invite you to attend the event Meaning Yes/Meaning No: Finding Balance and Finding Yourself at Davidson. Come talk about pressures, finding a balance, and in the process, finding yourself, with some pretty amazing upperclassmen girls this Thursday, September 17th in room 209 the Union during Common Hour.
Hailey Klabo `16 is a Gender and Sexuality Studies major from Iowa City, Iowa. Contact her at email@example.com.