Breaking Stereotypes, Diving in the Happiness!

Seattle and I have been friends ever since we met after my birth. And so have been the wonderful people I have been blessed to know while growing up in the city. My parents, my friends, my teachers—everything was in place…or so it seemed.

I was lucky enough to be raised in very fortunate circumstances. I can assure you that I had everything it takes to create the perfect recipe for a happy childhood. But sometimes, the privileges I was bestowed didn’t matter. I had to learn to embrace my own identity, my own aspirations. The very first and most prevalent hardship I faced came from pushing myself too hard and not being satisfied with what I was doing. Whether it was grades, my appearance, my dance skills…everything! I tended to be very hard on myself, and I set unrealistic standards that I could never seem to meet. Even if it wasn’t a struggle, I made it one for myself. I was pushing too hard rather than enjoying the experiences and opportunities that came my way.

I had high expectations from my parents, too. I always felt like I was being compared to my three older siblings. Of course, they served as great motivators, pushing me to excel in every field I set my mind to, but even if I had an opinion or an idea, I often did not value it enough to share it across the hall. I almost never crossed the line to be heard. I just had the feeling of not being enough deeply engraved in my mind and self-esteem. But I knew I was so much more than my restrictions. I was vibrant.

This is something I have worked hard to get over through the years. I finally understood that my parents were pushing me because they knew I could do great things, not because they would punish me if I failed. I realized that my opinions were important and should be heard. To get to this thought process, it took effort, as well as a lot of motivation; and of course, I have been extremely lucky and privileged to have a lot of support from the people I love.

Growing up, my situation with my self-esteem was also aggravated due to the challenges I faced as a woman pursuing STEM. All throughout high school, I took competitive AP classes while also following my passion for dance. I was often made to feel incompetent in my academic classes since I was a dancer, which is not supposed to be in sync with science and technology. Just because I was a dancer and a woman, people thought I would not excel in the classes I was interested in.

I am astounded to know that this happens to so many girls, all over the U.S. and globe. While it pushed me to prove the popular opinion wrong, it inhibits so many girls from pursuing things they are truly interested in. Millions of aspirations and dreams, or even identities, get dissolved in the staining ink of stigma…and we haven’t even started to wash it off.

I see it all the time in college. People won’t want to be my partner or will disagree with my ideas merely because of the stigma our society holds against women. And I want to see this go away. I want to be able to do something about it, crushing popular opinions that keep women stuck or scared to pursue what they want. I am so excited to see women across the borders pushing off this stigma. I am happy to be a part of that movement in any way possible.

Pursuing STEM, joining the University of Washington, and being able to live life per my choices, I know that I am living the dream, so to speak. Yes, I have my shortcomings and I struggle with improving myself on a daily basis. But, hey! Isn’t life about making different choices—with each day better than the previous ones? I’m up for the ride. Bring it on, life!

Allison Bennett

About the Author | Allison Bennett

Allison Bennett will be entering her sophomore year at the University of Washington and is happy to crush the stigma around women pursuing STEM and dance. At 19 springs, she stands out to be the most lit-up in the crowd of happy people she finds herself among at any given moment. She'll be the happiest person to know about your personal "breaking barriers" stories.

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