Positive Reinforcement

“This is me and this is how I’m going to dress.”

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Transcript for Positive Reinforcement

I’d say where I’m from is this little small farm community in Illinois, a little town no one’s ever heard of. It’s a very conservative town. Though, for me it was very restrictive. I never felt like I could be myself there especially in high school.

High school was terrible. I had to hide a lot of who I was, and I watched so many of my peers come out of the closet, and I was like, “Man, those people are brave because they got harassed every single day, and it was terrible.”

It was also conservative, in that, there was an expectation of what you would wear. The majority of people my age wore Abercrombie & Fitch or Hollister. I however took it a little differently. I entered a punk/goth phase, and I got taunted for that. I had people who would come by me, and they’d tell me to get a better wardrobe or they’re like, “You obviously missed the memo,” or “Why don’t you just go cut your wrists already?”

At first it was hard. I went home and I cried, but finally I just got over it cuz it’s like, well this is me and this is how I’m going to dress. Of course it’s very hard not to take into account what people are saying, but my friends just kept telling me, “You know the people who were talking about me, they weren’t important because I didn’t consider them important. Therefore, I shouldn’t take any stock in what they were saying.”

So that really helped once that sank in. Whenever I came to college I thought it would be completely different. I thought, “Hey, it’s somewhere where I will feel comfortable being myself because there will be others like me, and people will be more open minded.”

My first visit to Valpo, I fell in love with the campus on that tour because I had never felt more welcome. Everybody was just very friendly and warm, and they wanted to help me. They just weren’t there to show another student around the campus. They wanted to do it because they wanted you to be as in love with this campus as they were.

Um, I do believe I am a little different than I was when I first got here. I’m a little girlier. I like to wear dresses more. Everything the color blue cuz it’s my favorite color so I started wearing more blues and more purples, and I would get compliment from people. They’d turn and they’d go, “You look so beautiful today.”

And sometimes it would be complete strangers or people who worked in facilities that would just be like, “You look so nice today,” and aside from my friends and parents and such I had never gotten positive reinforcement on the way that I dressed before. The fact that I was getting positive reinforcement for dressing girly it was just like, oh this is how I look nice, and it made me feel better about myself.

I just took it as a sign that I was growing out of who I was in high school and just becoming another facet of myself. It’s odd and I might be contradicting myself. I don’t know. It was, it really is different thinking about how it didn’t matter so much in high school, but it, it matters to me here at Valpo.

  • Yusuf Rabbani

    It is usually true that one experiences transformation in college. But it seems to me that this speaker was able to understand herself in a way she never did back home, where she was taunted.

  • Maria

    I think that community makes a huge difference, and this speaker, who discusses how they like the community, finds that what other people think matters in some ways in a place you feel welcome. It’s an interesting distinction, because the speaker tries not take the opinion of those who are unwelcoming as personally.