Freshman year to the middle of sophomore year was when I was the most depressed regarding dating and relationships. There were multiple factors that triggered my depression: the transition into high school, the shift in dance companies, social stress, but most importantly my anxiety about my self-image and body. In my mind, I perceived myself as someone who was not built to be a dancer, and I hated looking at myself in a mirror during rehearsals and classes. Additional to my body image issues was the mindset I had about relationships. Just to clarify: I came from a hippie middle school where no one dated because there were only 33 people in my graduating class. There were not many options, and I did not focus on that since I was in a “serious” relationship that lasted a little over a year (I know, crazy right?) and I dated a girl for about 9 months a few months after that ended. People were talking about this new concept called “hooking up,” which was extremely new to me. So, in my mind, I told myself that the only thing boys want from you is to hook up because they are only interested in your body. Freshman Tammy followed this mindset for a while only making the depression worse.
Fast forward to the end of sophomore year when I had a major realization. Inspired by a bunch of feminists, amazing friends, and mentors, and empowering women on the internet, I slowly realized three things: I was more than a body, I am worth someone’s time, energy, love, and that I deserved happiness. If you told me in freshman year that during the school musical junior year I would unexpectedly find love during tech week AND you would find love with someone that you had been going to school with since I arrived there, I would laugh and walk away in disbelief. Despite the fact that we are not together and broke it off 3 days before it would have been one year, my relationship with this guy was life-changing, and I would never trade the memories and time we had together for anything. If anything is learned from this story, it is these few things: 1) to all the women: YOU IS KIND, YOU IS SMART, YOU DESERVE LOVE, AND YOU IS BEAUTIFUL NO MATTER WHAT. 2) Life will throw you unexpected curve balls, good and bad. Learn from the bad experiences and take risks. Open your heart to people you would never expect to have a relationship, friendship, etc with. You never know what will spark between the two of you. 3) Lastly, do not let the current of society take you. Figure out trends and the ways of life for yourself. That does not mean that you should not have support systems because those people are your life jackets keeping you afloat; however, do not let people tell you how you should come across to others and do not change your image just to fit in. Always do what feels right and natural regarding your image. The relationship I had junior to mid-senior year allowed me to understand my worth as a woman and debunked everything I thought about myself at the beginning of high school. I am now someone who feels confident about attending college in the fall, and if it was not for these past four years, I would never be able to say that about myself.