Little Victories

Stephanie Czmar '19, Managing Editor

The most surprisingly pleasant thing happened to me the other day. I was at the water fountain filling my water bottle and as I was capping my water bottle, a male student came bustling by me. I had to shrink aside to ensure that I did not get bumped. The man slowed down and for a brief moment, I could hear the wheels turning in his head as he processed that he had just intimidated me, whether intentional or not, to move aside. He then said “Excuse me” and continued on his way. I was dumbstruck. A man had actually perceived that he had perpetuated my internal fear of male strangers in public spaces that I have developed from living in an oppressive patriarchal society and tried to correct it. What progress!

Not to say that this is anything to get overwhelmingly excited about, but I think it is important to note when these types of encounters happen. I do not think that this is a perfect example of improvement. I think the best-case scenario would have been for the man to have acknowledged me immediately and moved to the other side of the hallway. I am not trying to excuse mediocracy by any means, just noting that while there is room for improvement I do think some people are trying. Knowing that some people are attempting to improve themselves gets me up in the morning some days.

I’m also working on myself every day. A more personal victory of mine is that I have begun to say “sorry” when I have done nothing wrong less frequently. This improvement is due largely to Associate Professor of English Claire Seiler. She has been an amazing inspiration to me in my pursuit of becoming a strong and confident person. Professor Seiler always made sure to remind my senior seminar not to apologize for no reason and I made it my personal mission for this academic year to break this habit. I think I have accomplished this for the most part and that is something to be proud of.

It can be very draining to live in a society that is continuously repeating its oppressive history, and to be constantly reminded by the media and your everyday life that history is repeating itself. These upsetting reminders are why I think it is important to try and notice the potential improvements in your day to day encounters and routines. It is the little victories that make me feel like our society has the potential to be better, and also motivates me to continue educating myself and help share information with others.