Kirsten Sochinski, age 21

Albuquerque, New Mexico 

“I Am Powerful, Always”

Growing up, I was the one to choose activities that were mostly “fitted” for the boys. To this day, even the career path I want to take on and the specialties that I have interest in has a majority of men. I started experiencing sexist comments at a very young age up until now. I always chose to shun out the negative comments about women that were said either directly to me or about women in general. I chose to do this because most of the time when a comment was made, there were usually an overwhelming amount of boys compared to girls, and I did not want to be outnumbered in an argument, I did not want to be wrong.

This time of my life of being silent came to an end not too long ago. But hey! Better to be late than to never do it right?

Junior year is when I made a stance. I was sitting at a table around my university until a guy who is in some of my classes comes up to me. The conversation started as “how is this class going for you?” and “how did you feel about our most previous test?” and the more that the dialogue opened up into “what do you want to do after graduation” I told this guy that I want to apply to medical school and become a doctor. His response was pretty normal, he wished me luck in my endeavors but then slowly he started letting out sexist and outdated stereotypical comments:

“You do understand that a doctor was and always will be a job for men right?”

“Men pay much closer attention to detail than women and will always get the job done better”

“Nobody prefers a woman to be their doctor because they know women are too emotional”

“Women are distractions to men in that kind of workplace”

“Men are the superior gender”

For the first time ever, I raised my voice to a man I barely knew. It felt amazing. I was stern and I felt so damn powerful to prove him wrong and to watch him have no argument for what I had to say. I started imagining how much more satisfying life would be if I started doing this earlier, for myself and for other women. Everything I said made a weight come off my shoulders, watching his face turn red, not make any eye contact and get ready to quickly leave made me realize what it meant to be a woman, that I have power, I am heard and that I have a choice.

I chose to do the quote “I Am Powerful, Always” because I realized that in these situations, I can be either silent and submissive or I can be my own advocate as well as be one for all the women in this world. To do the latter, I must be powerful, always.