A candle. At first glance, they appear to be sweet and simple. People tend to treat me as a candle at first: A sweet and simple girl. Maybe they would even go as far to say a “pushover.” However, as you approach a candle, you discover how powerful they can be. Those flames from the candles, so delicate. So lethal. They provide light and warmth when left alone. When the wick of a candle is first lit the flame isn’t big enough to melt the wax right away, but once lit, nothing is stopping it from melting.
Both my parents immigrated to the United States from Mexico, bringing rich cultural traditions with them, but also antiquated, rigid ideas about gender norms. My Mexican relatives instilled gender stereotypes in me: As a woman, I should assist with cleaning, learn to handle laundry, and prepare meals. These beliefs didn't sit well with me, but I was alone and didn't have anyone to guide me so I was obedient. But slowly I have begun to question these ideas. In Mexico, education wasn't a big factor in a woman's life, but education is extremely important to me. My aspirations do not involve doing the laundry, but stretch beyond my household walls. Growing up in the United States has provided me with other models of gender norms and fueled career ambitions. I want people to see me for me, not the sweet, shy pushover that I’ve been all my life. I am a girl with big dreams. In a darkened room, illumination has such a powerful effect.
It was challenging for me to grow up and realize that I had different ideas than my parents. I know that a homemaker lifestyle would not satisfy me. I adore my parents, but many barriers are preventing us from truly connecting. I've been working with them to change their old ways of thinking, but it's difficult to teach someone a new perspective when they've spent their entire lives conforming to preconceptions. However, I have convinced them to support my pursuit of higher education and a career. It isn’t always easy, but they are beginning to support my dreams. Seeing all of the women in my life stuck at home without any financial independence, makes me want to do better. I am especially aware of my influence on my little sister and hope to be a positive role model for her.
A candle. I want to be a candle. Not just light but with a purpose. The candle must offer everything it has to reach its full potential. I want to demolish the sweet, simple image and demonstrate that I, too, am capable of greatness. I am most interested in pursuing a career that is a part of the STEM field. Women are still breaking into STEM fields, which is one of the reasons I'm so driven. I don't want to see other girls feeling trapped by gender norms. I want to help dissolve these cultural beliefs and stereotypes and show how powerful women can be. I want to be the woman I never had in my life. Not only to light up, but empower others around me.
The wick slowly burns down, turning to ash. The wax melts, losing its lovely shape and aroma, and becomes unrecognizable as it was before. The flame slowly burns away, along with everything it was meant to be. It simply leaves a recollection of those flickering moments of warmth and protection behind. Those memories, which can be offered by the candle, are never forgotten, offering consolation, learning, for all time. Like a candle, I'm willing to give it all to pave the way and help build a bridge that divides minorities and better education.