As 2012 winds down, we're all looking back on the year and reflecting on where we started and where we are now. It was when I was 16 that I decided to take control of my life and actually make a change to it. Three years later, I am still working to become a better person. I've narrowed down my 3 strengths of 2012 and thought I'd share them with you (I'll also be sharing my 2 resolutions/goals!). Although I made Urban Tease to be a "fashion" or "personal style" blog, it's become more and more of a "lifestyle" blog or a blog of "ramblings from a hormonal teenage girl" and thus, I find it more and more appropriate to talk about life beyond my clothing choices. So, with that being said, the first of these 3 strengths:
I spent part of my July in Guatemala. I never talked much about it on the blog because it was so impossible to put words to. It was an experience which I still struggle to explain to people or even to myself, because it was so strangely soulful and the English language - or any language - couldn't possibly do it justice. One thing that inspired me when I was down there was the strength of the town we worked in. The town had been a major part of the bloody civil unrest in the '80s and '90s in Guatemala and they are still deeply affected by poverty. But through all of this, the town still manages to smile and to get stuff done, which is largely because of their faith in God. After being in Guatemala, I felt immensely strong. I was filled with a passion to be strong and to, more importantly, use this strength.
When we suffer some sort of hardship, I think our first reaction is to feel bad for ourselves, to feel hopeless and desperately alone. I've dealt with a lot of hardships in this way and although it's easy, it also makes us miserable and causes us to fall deeper and deeper into a hole.
Being in Guatemala really inspired me to feel passion, to work hard, and to make a change. The past 3 years have been so focused on changing myself, but when it comes to larger problems, I've never had too much care. I get sad that the polar bears are dying or that childhood obesity is a growing problem. I'm discouraged by how technology has taken over our lives or over how paranoid our culture is because of the harmful media. But I never actually do anything. I just feel sorry for our society and never make a change.
2012 was the year of making a change. For the first time, I stood up and spoke out on rape. We live in a society where women are categorised and marginalised into prudes or sluts and when rape happens, not much results to make a change. The topic of rape is something which has deeply affected me for a few years now and I never knew how to deal with it or how to channel the confusion and hurt of the subject into something productive. I began to read books on rape culture, blogs on how our media promotes women as objects, and essays on how to make a change. It was scary, but I focused my public speaking speeches on the subject of rape culture. I advocated for my classmates to quit using gender based slander and to facilitate dialogue about it with their friends. It was me standing up and demanding change and furthermore, being a part of that change, for the first time in my life. And damn, it felt good.
The change I advocate for may not have anything to do with the situation in Guatemala, but it was the Guatemalan people who taught me to be a part of the change. There's that tacky quote credited to Ghandi which is slabbed on a million things from coffee mugs to bumper stickers to bracelets - "Be the change you wish to see in the world." It's time to quit advertising the cliches and to actually follow them.
If 2012 was the year of starting to make change, 2013 will be the year of making my voice stronger and of never backing down on making this change happen. I could say a lot about being strong. I could write an entire book about strength. I already wrote an entire blog post about it and see more in my future (and thus, yours too). I absolutely urge you to feel passion towards something, enough passion that it leads you to want to make a change, even if it is only changing a single person's viewpoint. I urge you to take your own hurt and pain and suffering and use it to better the world or the people in it. If there's one thing I will walk away from 2012, and walk into 2013, with, it is that strength is more than changing yourself, but also having the courage to speak up for the better of what lies around you.