An Open Letter To My Freshman Year Self

chloe-pic-edited.jpgBy Chloe Treat

I’ll start by saying congratulations. Congrats for making it through what could have quite possibly been the lowest 4 years of your life. Not the worst, but the lowest. You had highs, plenty of them, but when those lows hit, they hit hard. I’m not exactly writing this to fill you in on all the things you’ll eventually learn, but to ease your anxiety on how those things are going to go, and to let you know that you’re doing fine.

You’re 14, so I hate to tell you, but that boy you met, it’s not going to work out. He’ll become your “whole world”, and that world is going to get thrown upside down and turned inside out. I also regret to inform you that the friends you have now are going to be long gone come senior year, so cherish them while you can.

So yes, you’re going to lose a lot, family even, the people that kept you going day and night, but these losses are going to bring you some pretty amazing gains. You’re strong. The universe and God will never burden you with something you can’t handle. It is NOT going to be easy, but it will be damn good in the end.

The Hyphen? Yes you made the staff, and believe it or not, you’re the Editor-in- Chief. This is going to stress you out more than you’ll ever know, but you’re going to win first places and find something within yourself you didn’t even know existed. You’re going to become opinionated and educated, and you’re going to find your voice in this loud world. You will debate, argue, and shed some tears over the things you’re passionate about. Keep your head up, because one of these days you might just change the world.

You’re going to have to grow up a little faster than your peers, and junior year is going to make you question everything you thought you knew. About yourself, your family, your faith, and the universe in general. Some really messed up stuff is going to happen, but you’ll make it through with the help of some genuine people.

Senior year is going to start off strange, but you’ll quickly fall into place. Football games and late nights at IHOP are going to become the highlight of your week, soak in the moment. You’ll soon become friends with girls that you never even imagined you’d talk to, and one of them is going to become your best friend.

I know what you’re thinking, “I will never have a best friend, I’m just too different”. Well think again because you’re going to find someone that may be just about as different as
you, her name is Lizzy, and you need to keep her close. You won’t be able to do it without her, but she isn’t the only one.

I know this is a lot to take in at once, but you need to know that all of the pain and hardships you go through truly do pay off. Stay true to yourself, be respectful yet skeptical. Find something to believe in and carry it close. Speak out and up when the room is silent, because someone has to. Keep fighting for social justice, gender equality,
and for this earth, even when it isn’t the cool thing to do. But most importantly, stay you. Stay loud, weird, and somewhat annoying, because as you know, well-behaved women seldom make history.

Commentary: This is America

A flag, a song and a nation divided by racial tensions and injustice; this is America.
For some, the freedom and pride that comes along with being American is represented through our flag and our national anthem, but I’m here to break the news to you: it is so
much more than that.

Sitting and kneeling during the national anthem is nothing new in America, yet it has created one of the biggest divides among people in this country to date. But the divide isn’t caused specifically by kneeling before a football game or sitting during the pledge in first period. The divide is due to the reasoning. Quite simply, everyone has a different perspective on life in America.

Both the American flag and the national anthem are symbols, and no great country is founded on symbolism. America was founded on freedoms, liberties and the privileged right to have a choice. In some places around the world (North Korea, Venezuela, Syria,
etc.), simply having an opinion is illegal and can even get you killed.

In the past year, the media and society in America have become a dangerously divided place of hatred, and our once “united nation” gone. The idea that not participating in the worship of a flag or song being is disrespectful to America is outlandish.

To anyone who asks, “why don’t you stand?”, the answer is everywhere around you. We live in a country that takes such pride in all men being equal when, in fact, there are stipulations and inequality. That is wrong. Not until every person is treated the exact same, no matter their physical appearance, will all of America stand.

From Martin Luther King, Jr. to Colin Kaepernick, the road to change has been paved. From urban cities to suburban neighborhoods, injustice will end and equality will
arise.

Whether you sit or stand, always remember: “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.” – Colin Kaepernick

 

By Chloe Treat

“No means No”

Story by Chloe Treat

Harvey Weinstein, Al Franken, Kevin Spacey, and Matt Lauer — these names are just a few of the many well-known men accused of sexual misconduct in, or out, of the workplace.

While all of these men have varying jobs (producer, Senator, actor, and national news anchor), they all hold one thing in common — power.

For years, there has been harassment and assault in the workplace that has gone unnoticed, simply wiped under the rug due to fear and shame. But recently, dozens of accusations have surfaced.

After a crime such as sexual assault, victims are left feeling small, vulnerable, and full of fear. The severity of the attack, and the person that commited the crime can be a major factor in deciding whether or not to come forward. Men of power, such as the names mentioned above, were people whos crimes didn’t come to light for months — some even years.

For these victims, coming forward changes their lives forever. It is important to understand that making accusations, especially towards men in powerful positions, does not benefit these victims. There is no closure, only the hope that it will never happen to anyone else.

Another common misconception is that sexual assault and sexual harassment is something that only happens against women by men, but that is not the case.

Men can be abused by women, or even other men. It is said that about one-in-six men will be sexually assaulted in their lives, a fact that is too often overlooked. Actor Kevin Spacey has been accused of more than a dozen assaults against other men, some even teenagers at the time.

While it might not turn physical, another too-often overlooked problem (and perhaps most prevalent) is sexual harassment. It is something that has possibly happened to your mother, your sister…maybe even you. It happens in schools, in stores, and even on city streets. As a teenage girl, I know I’ve experienced it myself.

Cat-calling, one of the most known examples, is not okay. It might seem to some as if it isn’t a big deal, but for women and girls everywhere, it destroys self-esteem and creates an overwhelming amount of discomfort.

Coming from a female’s point of view: whistling, or calling out, to girls as they walk past, whether it’s because of what they’re wearing or because of how they look, is never a compliment.

As a publication, and as the future leaders of our country, we must take a stand and make a change. Whether it’s speaking up when witnessing this take place, or even just being there for anyone you know that’s gone through these horrific crimes, there are many ways you too, can be an advocate for speaking against sexual assault.  

If there’s anything that you’ve taken away from this, hopefully you realize how far behind our country is in terms of sexual misconduct, and hopefully you do as much as you can to prevent it.

Tully and Treat’s High School Help

What is it like to grow up as a female in today’s society?

Chloe’s Answer:

Being a girl in general is not easy, but being a teenage girl is even harder. It feels like there’s a constant expectation that has to be met: look this way, feel that way.

When I started high school, I was always comparing myself to other girls, and sometimes I still do. If you live your life trying to be like someone else, nothing will ever feel right.

Our high school years are some of the hardest mentally, too.

Obviously gender doesn’t determine whether or not one suffers from depression or anxiety, but it is more common in teenage girls than boys. Some doctors say this is due to girls maturing faster; therefore we are more vulnerable to these feelings.

For me, I think it has a lot to do with the social stresses put on girls. As humans, we want validation and acceptance from those around us, and that can affect our self esteem and confidence in a  major way. For us girls, I think we try really hard to be good enough, pretty enough, and smart enough.

For as long as women can remember, they have been seen as inferior to men. This has caused women to have to prove themselves to anyone that sees them as different. You’re only a teenager for so long, so you can’t waste your time trying to prove yourself to people who probably don’t even care.

I think you have to reach a point where you love yourself for who you are, and you realize that you are good enough, in every way.                                                      

 

Emily’s Answer:

Growing up as a girl in today’s age is obviously easier than it was for the women that came before us. We don’t have to fight for the right to vote, for equal education, or any “real” barriers keeping us from our male counterparts.

However, this does not mean that growing up as a young girl is a walk through the park. There are a plethora of societal barriers that are holding young girls back from their full potential.

Throughout my entire life, I’ve felt a pressure about having to be a certain way. I have to be smart and level headed, but not smart enough to threaten my femininity. I have to wear clothes that are in style and that are flattering and feminine, but I have to make sure I’m not showing too much of any part of my body.

It took me awhile to actually realize these inconsistencies in the standards for boys and girls. I can thank my parents for that, for always encouraging me to be unapologetically me, and to not necessarily have to fit to these stereotypes.

Just because I was in this environment at home, doesn’t mean that it’s like that everywhere. Some of my earliest memories of this unfamiliar judgement were in a school setting. Being told to act “ladylike” was a very common statement that was pushed upon myself and my friends.

At the time we were embarrassed and ashamed. Were we not ladies anymore because we would rough-house and play pretend outside?

It’s taken me an extended amount of time to realize that women, as a whole, are held to societal standards that are dangerous and detrimental to one’s vision of themselves.

One of my favorite sayings is, “There is no wrong way to be a woman.” I try to remind myself of this consistently and empower myself and other girls to continue to encourage each other to be the best we can be at whatever we want.

No matter the connotation it comes with.