Wendy’s World: Shaping Our Lives?

This past semester, I had considered transferring from my college.  Wait, correction.  I had tried to transfer from my college.  However, things didn’t work out, and I will be completing my remaining two years at CMC without any regrets or hard feelings (I promise :)  ).  Since my plans didn’t work out though, I have been speaking to a few friends and administrators to see whether or not living off campus is a possibility, and one of the most encouraging comments I received was that although my plans didn’t work out, I had the power to make and shape my own experience and can do so in Claremont.  Hearing those words was not only reassuring but empowering.  Thus, I wanted to write my post for today about each of us having the power to shape our own destinies.

Yet as I tried to write this post, I struggled.  I kept erasing and starting over, leaving and coming back to it, and staring at my words on the screen.  After reading someone else’s blog post though, I finally realized why I couldn’t write on this matter.  It’s because I don’t believe in those words.  I believe that there are some people who have the power to create the life that they want and that there are many people who just can’t.

The thing is that there are many people who have the privilege and the power to shape their own lives, and they should definitely do so.  On the other hand, there are many who are limited by their environment and can only do so much.  This past semester, I briefly worked with a few incarcerated women, and I assure you, as much as they wanted to change their lives and pursue higher goals, the likelihood of them working at McDonald’s or a similar job was quite high.  There is nothing wrong with those jobs, but lets be honest, the pay and benefits aren’t exactly great.  In Vietnam, I have encountered a few women who are married, under intense social pressure to “be a good wife” and are unhappy, but if they leave their husbands, they will most likely land in poverty with their children.

Everything comes with a cost–a sacrifice.  For those that come from privilege, they have the luxury to endure that sacrifice.  Maybe a woman from privilege can leave her husband or risk the insults from her in-laws, and many privileged people can risk foregoing that job at McDonald’s to seek a higher paying job.  For the underprivileged, making such a choice can be too costly, and they may just have to make do with what they have.

I am a strong advocate for being in control of your own life, but I acknowledge that there may be times when certain aspects of your life may be out of your control.  I know that whenever I expressed my discontent about CMC, I occasionally received looks of judgment and skepticism.  I suspect that these responses are worse for those that are trapped in their situation.  It’s not okay, but unfortunately, it is how it is. For those from a privileged background, please just remember this:

Appreciate what you have:

Definitely try and take control of your life and do what makes you happy.  Don’t take it for granted though.  You are really fortunate, and you should know that.  Don’t waste it.

Don’t judge:

Although we all judge to some degree, try not to.  We aren’t the other person.  We don’t know what their life is like or what they are going through.  Just be open and have good intentions.  Not only will you feel better from not thinking negative thoughts but the other person probably will as well.

Don’t forget those that are less privileged than you:

Remember that there is someone else out there that is restricted to the point where they can’t be entirely in control of their lives.  Not everybody can enjoy the same luxuries, even what we consider the most basic ones.

As we all get older and become leaders, hopefully more doors will open for women and we can support others in establishing autonomy and choice in their lives.  To read the post that inspired me, click here.

–Wendy Tran

Lead Her Intern, Campus Calm™


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