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(Dani Toriumi)
(Dani Toriumi)

With about one month left before graduation and reflecting on my experiences here at Mills, a new thought occurred to me: While Mills is not a perfect institution, other places will not have as many open spaces or communities for me to be a part of. There will be organizations and groups no matter where I go, of course, so long as I am active in learning and participate in them. However, these spaces will no longer be as close as the social and academic groups here at Mills that I have been a part of.

Since I am white passing, I will be able to find more groups than my friends of color, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want a space for people of color, women of color, first generation students, etc. One of my biggest fears is that I won’t find a job or a career that will offer these kinds of spaces for me, spaces that won’t be inclusive, intersectional and “woke.” I am going to leave Mills and enter “the real world” that I have always imagined entering, but now that the day is coming closer and closer, I am almost dreading it.

The thing that keeps me going is this: I came to Mills for a reason. My friends and mentors have provided me with more than enough tools to stay woke and to educate others. If I don’t find a space for people of color, then there is going to be a need and I should take the extra step to create a space. I can’t just stop at people of color though; the space needs to be intersectional, for all people who are going to be oppressed, silenced and neglected wherever I go. I have to remember my privileges and experiences to give space to others when it isn’t mine to take. I need to do my part in creating a space for myself and others whether that’s starting from scratch or joining an existing one.

I am still scared of rejection, of people who are going to try to abuse their higher power, of not being able to find or create a space. I worry that people will try to break me and strip away everything that I learned at Mills.

What helps me handle these fears is recognizing that just because I won’t be an official college student anymore, it doesn’t mean I have to stop reading and teaching myself. I can continue to stay educated and continue to look to my friends and mentors for guidance or support when I need it. I also realize that I will be graduating with a number of other people from Mills, including my friends, who hold the same values and overall goals as I do. Like the alumnae who graduated before us, who are out making differences both small and large scale, I will find a place on that spectrum and make a difference.

I think we are told so often to do this and that to make the world better or to make a difference, and we sometimes forget what exactly our goals are, where our passions lie. We also forget that our goals, like us, can change over time. There is no one right way and no perfect job for us all. All that we can do, all that I can do, is my best. To take care of myself and help as many others in need that I can is all I can ask of myself. I can challenge and push myself to try different angles and approaches but I also have to be aware of my limitations.

I fear the unknown and I don’t know what’s coming next in life. I don’t know if any of us ever really do sometimes, but I know that my experiences at Mills have taught me to keep going, even when I fall, to keep pushing and I’ll find myself exactly where I need to be when I need to be.