By: Rachel Clevenger, IATG Guest ContributorMarch 7, 2016
In high school, I spent a lot of time and energy trying to be cool. I think a lot of people have this stage in their life where they crave the attention of their peers, and this was a big part of my personal identity at the time. I saw this very specific recipe for a cool person – calm energy, sarcasm and cynicism, general apathy – and felt like I had to live up to it. I started to downplay my true personality, started to criticize others for silly things like the music they liked or the clothes they wore, and started to judge those around me. Regrettably, most of those people were young women like me.
In my junior and senior years, I started to let this idea of the nothing-phases-me “cool” person go. I grew up, I became more open minded, I cared a bit less what others thought of me, I found feminism and solidarity with other women. But there was still something inside me that needed to be let out. (Spoiler alert: here’s the part of the story where I AM THAT GIRL comes in and changes the game completely.)
I arrived at Elon University for my freshman year and wanted to find myself. I wanted to find friends with whom I could grow and live and love just as much as I loved my friends back home. I wanted to truly and authentically connect with other people. As I went through my first semester, I found it difficult to connect to someone without letting go of that tiny bit of the desire to be cool.
What I needed to do was let go of what I thought the world expected of me and let myself be who I am.
I heard about Elon’s chapter of I AM THAT GIRL through a friend and went with her to the first meeting. Upon hearing about their mission and values, I was hooked. For the first time in college, I felt like I had found something that my soul truly resonated with. With each meeting, I felt that armor I wore over my true self fall away. I celebrated my badass self and I heart-clapped for my new soul sisters. I was given a space to engage in the conversations my soul needed to have.
I had all this love inside of me that I was scared to let out for the fear of being judged. IATG proved to me there were incredibly kind hearts in the world, changing it for the better. I needed to let go, and this community has come into my life, broken me open, and set me on the path of living my most authentic life.
After dedicating so much of my time and energy to my community as a member, an intern, and now a leader, all I can wish is for this incredible mission to have the same impact on other young women that it did on me.
We have all this love inside us, so why not share it?
Start an I AM THAT GIRL local chapter today...
and join a community of girls like Rachel who are turning self-doubt into self-love, changing competition into collaboration, and shifting girl culture around the world with their voices and their hearts! You can apply HERE! Make sure to tweet us your questions @iamthatgirl using #askIATG during our live Twitter chat this Thursday, March 10 at 6pm PST/8pm CST/ 9pm EST
My name is Rachel and I am a sophomore at Elon University, studying my passion of Music Production & Saxophone Performance. I have recently been made co-Leader of Elon’s chapter of IATG, where I hope to inspire others to live their passions and to continue making honest connections with people!
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