"If I wasn't afraid, I would travel solo -- across the country, or even the world. Even though I'm a very independent person, I'm constantly reminded that traveling alone as a woman is unsafe. I hope that in my lifetime, people will be able to live their most adventurous lives without being hyperaware of, and concerned by, their gender."
-Bella Grace Rivera from Tampa, Florida, Psychology '18
"I'd say 'no.'
So often, I find myself agreeing to whatever anyone asks of me, even if I don't particularly want to do what they're asking. I suppose it comes from a place of wanting to be liked and to be loved - if I say 'yes,' will this person see me as someone they can turn to and rely upon? If I say 'yes' enough times, will I earn this person's seal of approval, as though it's a level I have to unlock with a quantifiable amount of points collected every time I say 'yes' to them? As though saying 'yes' is some form of currency that I can cash in after I amass a certain amount and then redeem a friend, a confidant, a lover in return?
I used to think saying 'yes' to everything was a purely positive way to live your life - saying 'yes' means I get to try everything, I get to meet so many people I otherwise wouldn't have met. Saying 'yes' can be beautiful and powerful in its way of creating possibilities where there weren't any.
But I have limits.
Saying 'yes' to everything means I am stretched so paper thin that I can snap at any given moment. And it's exhausting, and it's unsustainable, and it's devastating to feel as though I'm disappointing anyone when I end up flaking or backing out or saying 'sorry, I can't anymore.' I love saying 'yes.'
But I'm learning that it's okay to say 'no' every once in a while."
-Rachel Kim from Westlake, Ohio, T'20
"If I wasn't afraid, I would tell society that I am more than the stereotypes placed upon my blackness."
-Maryam Asenuga from Rhode Island, Public Policy/Arabic '20
"If I wasn't afraid, I would say 'I'm not fine.' We are conditioned to reply 'I'm fine' or 'Good' to every passing 'How are you?' If I wasn't afraid, I would express my vulnerabilities and let my friends know when I am actually not fine."
-Kelly Cheng from Long Island, New York, Economics '19
"If I wasn't afraid, I would tell society kiss my a**. We all to some extent feel the pressure to meet societal norms. But I shouldn't have to live within the limits set by others. Nobody should!"
-Jackie Park from Seoul, South Korea, Public Policy/Computer Science '20
"Taking an unconventional path and pursuing entrepreneurship is a scary thought. With so much uncertainty, how does one find the courage to make the leap? One day, I hope to become a social innovator and work toward building more inclusive classrooms by expanding arts education for Black girls—helping them to find their voice and claim their space."
-Amir Williams from Raleigh, North Carolina, Public Policy '18