Thanks to @iambeauchamp for messaging this to us via twitter. This piece was written by current Wellesley student Emily Loftis and it highlights the realities of classism at Wellesley College from the perspective of a first generation student. Please share your experiences as well by submitting here or emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Growing up, my parents always told me that I could be and do whatever I wanted. I always believed them, but what I was never told was how angry I’d feel every day of my life.
No one told me about the anger I’d feel when 90% of my class raises their hand when the professor asks who has visited country x, y, and z when I’ve never left the country. Or how frustrating it feels to have to check my bank account before every purchase while my classmates receive money week after week from parents’ seemingly bottomless bank accounts. The anger that springs up when I’m searching for a summer internship because they’re all unpaid and I don’t have enough experience for the paid ones because I spend my summers working. The anger from spending my holiday breaks cleaning houses while my classmates take trips around the world.
I have to attend the 5am punishment meetings at my school when my hall-mates leave dirty dishes all over the floor because I can’t afford the $25 fine for skipping it. I take their dishes down to the dining hall to avoid the need for the meeting in the first place and it reminds me of our differences. These girls never ask who took their dishes down, but if they looked hard enough they could see the chip on my shoulder from doing so.
Home is never a break, I feel even angrier because my achievements have only made home harder. Since attending Wellesley I’ve been emotionally and physically harmed when I return home. No one wants to hear about someone who made it out, who has done better. I’ve had things stolen, comments made, and punches thrown. Sometimes I wish I wouldn’t have ever wanted to do more with my life because the stress and pressure becomes too much.
I need to get this out, in the hopes that by putting it down in writing and out into the world, I might finally be able to let go of the anger that I still feel. In Limbo, Alfred Lubrano mentions anger as one of the most defining emotions of a blue-collar kid trying to bleach her collar white. My anger is something that’s holding me back from all the opportunities I’ve made for myself.
My mom tells me that I should be grateful because I have so much more than so many people. I know she’s right but I can’t help but feel pissed at every kid who’s had their future set before they were even born. My anger is the unspoken side effect of social mobility, what no one ever talks about, but I need to talk about it.