IF YOU WERE WONDERING…

My last blog post was about Impostor Syndrome and which book I would choose if I lived in a world where books were banned. I discussed my experience with Impostor Syndrome at a predominantly white institution as a first generation Latina. I want to talk a little bit more about my approach to choosing “For Brown Girls with Sharp Edges and Tender Hearts” by Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodríguez.

As a first generation student who grew up in an immigrant household, my parents instilled the importance of education to me from a young age. My father, when he would get home from work, would ensure that I completed my homework before I could have “fun time” (also known as watching tv). If I did not have my homework completed, he would not allow me to watch television until I completed homework. As a child, I knew it was for the best that I completed my homework so I could have the chance to watch tv. As I began learning about worldly issues and experiencing the adversities as a person of color (such as racism), I began to wonder how this world even came to be in the first place. I immersed myself into reading anything that I could get my hands on. I was never into my educational journey until I prompted many questions about the world: “Why is an animal going extinct?” “What does this mean for our ecosystem?” “Can we have economic growth with sustainable resources?”

These were some of the questions I posed to myself before coming into Lehigh. When I got into Lehigh, I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. I knew my parents and family members were counting on me to do well at school- especially since I am the first person in my immediate family to have advanced this far into academia. Coming into Lehigh, I knew I was invited to eat at the table. One insecurity I found myself having was: it seems like I’m one of the few who did not know everyone was going to wear blue. I was wearing purple. I questioned: because I’m wearing purple, does that mean I’m worthy of being at this table? It seems like a silly analogy to think of- but that’s the way I can describe my experience. I was invited to sit at the table- this institution- where most people came from upper-middle class backgrounds with parents who went to college. I did not fit the mold of the stereotypical student.

One day- when I was feeling the most impostor syndrome ever- I decided to cheer myself up with a coffee at the bookstore. I looked around the aisles of books that I could read. There it was: For Brown Girls with Sharp Edges and Tender Hearts. I read a page before deciding if I wanted to invest in the book. I decided to purchase it after reading a couple of pages. Since then, the book has been a comforting ice cream on a hot summer day. It is a book I reference when I feel like I need to know my experiences are seen.

Impostor Syndrome is a challenge people will face in spaces that were not traditionally catered for. Women in STEM can face impostor syndrome, BIPOC in predominantly white institutions can face impostor syndrome, low income students can face impostor syndrome in elite, wealthy institutions… a person wearing a dress that is not similar to other dresses can face impostor syndrome at a party. Impostor syndrome is something I know I will deal with sometimes, but understanding and remembering that I am worthy of the spaces I have been invited to, is something I hold closely to myself.

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If I lived in a world where books were banned…

I would memorize the book For Brown Girls With Sharp Edges and Tender Hearts by Prisca Dorcas Monica Rodriguez. Rodriguez covers a diverse amount of topics such as voluntourism, colorism, and toxic masculinity. An important discussion she highlights is the struggles of Impostor Syndrome in a new system. The system for her happens to be a predominantly white space in education. From Florida International University (a predominantly Hispanic institution) to Vanderbilt University (a predominantly white institution), Prisca soon experienced the infamous Impostor Syndrome. One of the challenges she experienced with getting into an elite institution was the historical demographic the institution was catered for: white males. As a woman of color, she questioned whether she was worthy of attending an institution where the majority of the people do not look like her. She grew up in an immigrant household and was surrounded by a large Hispanic population in Florida and she was not accustomed to the predominantly white spaces such as education.

As a woman of color and first generation student, I have felt impostor syndrome in the classroom and outside of the classroom. Lehigh University is a predominantly white institution where the majority of my classmates are white and/or have parents who went to college. When I first came to college it seemed like all my classmates understood the jargon of the institutional space such as “elective” or “credits”. It seemed as if I was the only one who did not understand the simple concepts that should be known as a college student. In certain classes, I found myself being quiet in discussions I would feel eager to participate in. I felt my light was dimmed, as I thought my contribution in the classroom was not valuable. After all- some individuals throughout the United States seem to think Hispanic people and other people of color only get into elite institutions because of affirmative action.

I believe Rodriguez brings up a valuable word of encouragement to those in spaces where they experience Impostor Syndrome:

“Living with impostor syndrome does not mean that I cower in a corner whenever I am in primarily white spaces. It means living fully even when I know I am not supposed to. It means living fiercely. Living with impostor syndrome means doing what I can to provide positive representation for little Brown girls in white cities.

I stand proud and strong, for them. Because teeny Prisca got to see proud Brown people around her, and she got to dream because of it. Even when the current version of me struggles with keeping my lips from trembling when

I speak, I still hold myself up and adorn myself with pride. I will take up space, even when it hurts. I will stand with my head held high, even when I doubt myself. I will prove them wrong, even if I have to prove it all to myself first.”

Rodriguez’s words of encouragement are powerful to me because as of lately, I have begun to understand why I was admitted into Lehigh. I am a smart, capable person who has potential of doing anything I put my mind to. I am deserving of the space and opportunities I have been provided at Lehigh, as I can proudly say I am a resilient individual. Throughout my academic career, I have always strived to perform well in class beyond grades. I have strived to learn. I am curious and I am excited to learn more about the world. If I do not complete a math problem correctly, I will keep working on it until I understand the process. If I do not understand why too much carbon in the air is bad for the environment, I will keep asking questions and looking for answers.

I stress to anyone in the world experiencing impostor syndrome to consider this: you are there for a reason. You are worthy of taking a piece of cake, especially when you were invited to the picnic. Reach for the goals you strive to accomplish, even if you come from a different identity or background than those who accomplished the same goals prior.

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Fahrenheit 451: My Response

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury is a Dystopian novel that takes place in a society where books are banned. The belief that books make people less happy because of the potential opinions humans can create is the reason for why books are banned. Because books are seen as an enemy to society, they are burned by firemen. Guy Montag, a protagonist who works as a fireman, challenges the idea of the value books bring to individuals, as he is compelled to salvage a book one day. Montag is initially challenged by Clarisse McClellan for his happiness, which leads him to ponder over what he is missing in his life. He finds fulfillment in reading books and embarks in a new path with the value of books.

Ray Bradbury’s imagined world where books are banned leads me to wonder how my life would be like without books. From a very young age, I found myself being immersed into books and the world created by writers. My initial challenge with connecting to books was my reading comprehension because my brain could not process reading English or Spanish on a physical paper. Once I got the hang of comprehending books, my imagination boomed. I could not credit writers enough for the amazing childhood that I had. From reading the Froggy series, to the Junie B Jones series, to the Wayside Stories series, to the Dork Diaries series, my childhood would not have been as memorable as I would imagine it to be without books. As I have gotten older, I acknowledge reading has not made me as happy… listen…. its not the writers fault! It’s the world becoming more and more complex and brutal. We can touch on all of the sadness and pain this world is enduring in this blog post- but I’d rather just let you know that reading about how many sad things happen today- I’d say ignorance is bliss for those who do not read about current events or read textbooks. But seriously, I still find grand value in reading! Without books, I believe my ignorance would definitely be bliss. With books, I have been able to observe and learn more about our world. Insight on the way our world has functioned, functions, and will function in the future is the value books have brought to me. Needless to say, Montag and I both feel a sense of happiness and fulfillment in certain aspects because of books. The world would definitely be dull without them (contrary to what the dystopian society believes).

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WELCOME TO MY BLOG!

Hi! My name is Emely and I am from Illinois! I attend Lehigh University and I am currently thinking about studying Earth and Environmental Science. I might double major or at least minor in International Relations. I love love love learning about the world and how it works! After Lehigh, I plan on pursuing law school! Some of my hobbies include writing, painting, producing music, and binge watching any popular tv show on Netflix! One of my current personal projects is a podcast on being a first generation student and navigating college. I will share more details about it in the future!

My blog will be about censorship! I am currently taking Research and Argument at Lehigh (ENGL002) with Professor Doc Chuck. He is an amazing professor here! The class’s theme of the semester is censorship. We explore the various histories of censorship of literature and analyze the reasons for banning and why books are so important to our society. What I hope to gain from this class is to learn more about works of literature that have been banned as well as build my argumentative writing skills. I have learned about argumentative writing here at Lehigh and I hope I can continue to learn new approaches to my writing!

Thank you so much for reading more about me and my blog!

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