It’s hard to write a short and simple post on how much light LUCES brings into my life. Gratitude does not seem to suffice; when I think of LUCES, I think of warmth and light, as its name denotes, but love, compassion, strength, courage, happiness. Self-care.
When I entered Loyola, nothing could prepare me. As an 18 year old, I truly believed I was ready for the world, and these four years were simply another barrier to that. My first year felt like the end of the world. I was desperate for a community, for a purpose. I joined dozens of organizations, tried desperately to make friends, develop relationships, but I never felt sufficient.
LUCES taught me bravery. From the beginning, LUCES was there, but my first gathering left me intimidated and nervous. These women were self-loving, compassionate, driven individuals; didn’t seem to make the mark. It was bravery and courage that allowed me to continue attending, to discover that the space was welcoming, safe, and inclusive.
LUCES has the ability to show and teach every individual who enters the space what it means to be a leader and to combat the imposter syndrome that prevents us from being strong, and brave. LUCES speaks on identities and encourages you to embrace them so that you can use them as tools of strength, rather than as debilitating. When it came to my racial identity, I thought I knew exactly who I was entering Loyola. For the first time, I was able to find the word that defined who I felt I was: multiracial. I didn’t have to pick one identity and leave the rest at the door. When I questioned my sexuality, LUCES held examples of what it meant to be queer as well as a woman of color, identities that are often mutually exclusive. I felt the courage and the strength to embrace my identities, even if the world around me didn’t.
LUCES also taught me that the identities you did or did not grow up in do not define who you are. Identities are fluid, they constantly change, and I learned to ride the tide of those identities. And with those tides of identities comes radical self-love.
To love yourself each and everyday is a daily challenge, and there are days you will no doubt feel hatred, guilt, or shame about yourself. But with the support of my LUCES cohort, I know that I can do anything. Though I have only one more year with LUCES, I know that it will forever be in my heart, and the women always there to support, nurture, and care for me. Thank you, LUCES, for my strength.