• The Falconer

I'm Publishing My College Personal Statement Because It's More Important Now Than Ever

By: Ana Palazzi

PTS Falconer Contributor

January 16, 2019

" 'How is it so easy for you to be kind to people?' He asked. Milk and honey dripped from my lips as I answered, 'Cause people have not been kind to me.' "

I stand with many other strong women, united in the fight against sexual assault. Although we are bound together by an unsettling bond, our individual stories are unique.

My story began when I first moved to Miami and involves a close-knit family member. How could a 13-year-old girl know that it was wrong to be touched by a much older man she trusted -- that her discomfort was valid? Fearful of being called a liar, I kept this to myself, only to disclose it three years later. Yet, in those three years, I learned how to use my voice, and I became stronger than ever before. Using this newfound power, I have become a lifeline to my loved ones and friends, never resisting the opportunity to aid them through struggle, provide sanctuary, or offer a shoulder to cry on.

I have been subject to a deep sea of painful experiences; I've drowned in the cruel taunts and disapproving gazes of my peers, the deafening silence after a maleficent touch, the fear of my actions and those of others, and the endless bottles of Lexapro and Clonazepam, struggling to breathe and keep my head above water. Now, a survivor and a conqueror, I look inward to help others keep their heads above water.

Some days I find myself listening to the song “Still Breathing” by Dig the Kid. Though simple, the song has been one of my lifelines through my own challenges. It reminds me to let life unfold, that “stepping into the flame” -- that we would call difficulty -- strengthens us, and that all the pathways and people we encounter kindle the strength of our flames. Building a community is as important as being strong within. I have learned that speaking and listening are both marks of strength. More often than not, friends realize you're suffering before you do, listening to the loudest roars: your silence and pain.

Through my journey to overcome my circumstances, I have devoted my life to helping others. My journey has amplified my gratitude for my own power, voice, and abilities, and I wish to be a voice for all who currently struggle. Society often causes women to fear their own voices, to be afraid to dissent with public opinion, argue, and fight back. Yet it has been proven that, as poet Audre Lorde suggests, “Your silence will not protect you.” Her words inspire me to fight for my beliefs; I will not call myself free until every woman is free, despite the hardships she faces. Women are powerful, dangerous, and capable of making tremendous impact. This concept threatens a largely male dominated world of politics, but as Sheryl Sandberg teaches, we must continue to “lean in” and fight the good fight.

Fear of consequences often precipitates silence, yet it is important to ask: What are the consequences of staying silent? If we remain silent, we will remain afraid. We will lose many battles, but the weight of those we win will be astronomical. As people become more empowered to speak their mind, I am concerned for those who are unable to rise to the challenge. Yet there is power in community; people with similar perspectives will find you and together, you will make a change. Even crowds with different views will enrich you. I want nothing more than this. Audre Lorde once said, "When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid." I am ready to start this movement, are you?

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