You are strong enough. You are beautiful enough. You are enough. A panel of professors, advisors, students and alumni women spoke this message over a group of sophomore women in the ARC on Wednesday, October 11. Discipleship Ministries, Res Life and the Center for Women’s Studies all came together to create this momentous event.
Within the first ten steps through the door, I was greeted by hugs and hellos by both friends and complete strangers. “Welcome to ENOUGH. Please sign in” was written in large letters on a chalkboard at the entrance. The aesthetic was already spot-on.
The sign-in sheet had name, year and major printed across the top. As I scanned the majors, I saw signatures from those in nursing, applied health, writing, social work, political science and of course, journalism. This event seemed to attract all types of majors and personalities.
Strewn across a large table in the center of the room were bowls of M&M’s, pretzels, popcorn and chocolate chips. Clear, plastic baggies were there ready to get stuffed with all sorts of goodies. At the end of the table sat a large container of hot water ready to pour over dried chocolate powder and floral pouches of tea.
Melanie Wolf, director of Spiritual Life, started off the night by informing us that Women’s Night had been going on for 12 years. That night marked the thirteenth year. The chosen audience was sophomore women because this is typically a time of stress and struggle with self-image.
“We recognize that can start to be a difficult time in college, so it’s a good time to get together and have that conversation,” said Dr. Kelli McCoy, a PLNU history professor and interim Director of Women’s Studies.
After Wolf was finished speaking, Dr. McCoy started to explain why “Enough” was chosen as the theme for Women’s Night this year.
“The main message we want you to walk away with is you are enough and you are loved,” said McCoy.
She then invited up the eight panelists and started asking them various questions. Alyssa Gergins, assistant coach for the PLNU women’s volleyball team, shared her struggles with the pressure of finding a boyfriend by sophomore year and getting married by senior year.
“I didn’t have a guy and I felt I wasn’t good enough,” said Gergins. “Now I have a guy, and I still feel not good enough. It’s a constant battle.”
These sorts of issues can lead to a long journey of trying to find desires that appeal to us as women and loving ourselves, but it also comes with recurring self-doubt.
Gergins added, “That feeling of rejection, it still comes back.”
These struggles become especially evident sophomore year because it’s a transitional time of finding new groups of friends, solidifying majors and starting to figure out what we want to do after college. Issues as little as shopping can cause insecurities as M’Lynn Martin, senior biblical studies major, explained.
“I wasn’t enough with what I had,” said Martin.
She goes on to discuss how when our insecurities grab hold of us, it’s easy to drag others down with us.
“In the midst of our shame, we tend to put others in shame, too,” said Martin.
McCoy moved on to ask, in addition to what makes them feel “not enough,” what the women are saying “enough” to. Lisa Raser, a communications professor, started to speak about how she turned one of her weaknesses into something beautiful.
“I’ve seen sensitivity as my weakness for a long time,” said Raser. “Now, I can be strong in my sensitivity.”
Alyson Schultz, senior nursing major at PLNU, discussed her struggles with the stress of not feeling “perfect enough” to be in the nursing program.
“But we have to fail in order to learn,” said Schultz.
After the panel was finished, Dr. McCoy pointed us in the direction of a wall lined with necklaces. The necklaces had the word “ENOUGH” engraved on each of them.
Hailey Quiroz, sophomore Christian ministries major, grabbed her necklace and, like most of us in the room, was pleased with the whole night.
“I loved it,” Quiroz said. “It was exactly what I needed to hear.”
This night was filled with laughs, serious tones and life lessons. But it wasn’t a night to teach us to be perfect. It was a night to show women that our best effort and the right support make us truly enough.
“It’s okay to be okay,” said Gergins.