The Superpower of Self-Acceptance

The Superpower of Self-Acceptance

By Alice Kanitz-Sanchez, Bud Class of 2014

In one of my favorite genre flicks, insecure bassist Scott Pilgrim finally obtains the Power of Love in the form of a sword and battles it out with the villain to win the heart of Ramona Flowers. However, in a crucial moment, his sword of love is broken and he is killed. Thankfully, he had an extra life (it’s a weird movie), and it’s with the Power of Self-Respect that he ultimately prevails.

The power of self-respect and its cousin, the superpower of self-acceptance, were two of the hardest things for me to obtain. I came from college as a Third-Culture Kid—someone who has spent significant time outside of one’s parents’ culture during their formative years. I wasn’t quite Brazilian like my birth certificate said, I wasn’t really Mexican or Venezuelan like the past seven years of apartments would indicate, and I sure as hell wasn’t Texan. Of course I knew certain norms of politeness and friendmaking, but I didn’t know how to relate to kids who lived their entire lives within the same block. I hyperfocused on how different I was from everyone: my accent slipped, I knew no one aside from my boyfriend, and I didn’t realize everyone went to school in fleece jackets and leggings instead of skirts and plum lipstick.

So I did my best to mimic what everyone else wore. I pivoted conversations from “what do you mean you’ve never seen The Office?” to “yeah, that one party was crazy!” I deleted all the Facebook pictures of my high school pink hair, and I stopped telling people where I was from if I could help it. I chose a specific major that didn’t spark for me because I thought I probably should. I was never content with who I was, watching my back to see if anyone would figure out I wasn’t cool like I pretended to be.

Then several things happened. My sophomore year, I met a group of friends who loved me for who I was, and they accepted me. My junior year, I leaned into WOE with my whole heart, coming away with friends who I am sure will turn into bridesmaids. I never knew I was likable without putting on a costume. Maybe I was worthy of the power of love; I would die for any one of the people I cherish. So why was I still unhappy?

There are many things I don’t like about myself. I can be inflexible and self-absorbed. I can be irresponsible and reckless at times; I can be an absolute downer at others. There are also wonderful things about me: I love unashamedly and unabashedly. I like to think I’m funny. I like to think I’m good at empathy. And I couldn’t have worked on the darker aspects of my character if I had not first gained self-respect and sought help—not to please others, but because I owed it to myself. Finally, I gained the superpower of self-acceptance.

Now, I walk with a skip in my step. I am secure in my identity, my story, where I come from and where I hope to be. I am studying a major I love, surrounded by friends I love, going on seven years with a man I love. I deserved to be happy, and I fight tooth and nail for that happiness with the Superpower of Self-Acceptance.

Dangerous Dating

Dangerous Dating

By Caitlin Smith, Bud Class of 2016

I binged Netflix’s You over winter break and, like any rational woman, was instantly confronted with my worst nightmare: dating a seemingly perfect guy with the kind of double-life true crime fanatics fawn over. I saw myself in Beck, a writer completing an MFA in New York City. She was living the dream! She even met Joe in a bookstore—the one fantasy my mind always returned to in Barnes & Noble. Their relationship from her point of view was incredible. Supportive, thoughtful, and just plain fun. Anything that seemed questionable was brushed off as Beck overreacting.

That’s a trap women fall into all the time.

I’ve been on my fair share of bad dates. Ask any of my friends—for a while, it seemed like I was straight-up cursed. Thankfully they haven’t been as deceptive as Joe, but I’ve still had moments of second-guessing myself and trying to rationalize disconcerting behavior.

Take my Bumble date with a brain-damaged guy: We’d matched and exchanged very polite messages, and I had no idea he’d been hit by a drunk driver two years prior when I got in his car. Immediately, I was on guard. He looked different than his pictures (not totally out of the ordinary) and spoke as if English wasn’t his first language (not a problem, just not what I expected). Then he started talking about the different euphemisms for “penis” and I thought he might just be passionate about the male anatomy.

It wasn’t until he told me point-blank that he was recovering from a traumatic brain injury that I let myself be well and truly alarmed. After all, he drove us downtown! But even then, I wanted to be polite. So what if he kept talking about prostitutes? I wanted an open mind. Open enough to learn that victims of these kinds of head injuries often act out sexually as part of the recovery process. Fine. Until he asked me if I was a virgin at dinner. In a crowded restaurant. Next to people who were definitely listening.

That’s not to say that anyone with a brain injury is automatically off the table for dating. It’s just an unfortunately universal experience amongst women. Granted, the specifics are probably different, but I don’t know a woman who hasn’t been made uncomfortable by a man but tried to play it off as an overactive imagination. Maybe you do have a bit of a runaway imagination, but it’s likely your fears are valid on some level.

Beck’s case is extreme in its outcome (spoilers ahead!), so you probably won’t die if you go out with one weirdo. But even not wanting to spend an evening in uncomfortable silence is reason enough to listen to your gut. When the guy or girl is right, you won’t have to convince yourself of anything.

Yoga & Me

Yoga & Me

By Alison Welch, Bud Class of 2017

One of the most rewarding experiences I have had while in college has been my part-time job. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true! I work at SunstoneFit, a yoga/fitness studio in North Austin. I have been with Sunstone since December of 2015, when I took a 90-minute hot yoga class with 6 of my best friends from high school. I was immediately hooked! I signed up for a membership and began avidly taking hot yoga classes for the remainder of my senior year. I loved the way hot yoga made me feel — strong, resilient, confident. I loved the heat and the sweat and the way my body was changing. I also saw improvements in my mental health during a challenging period of my life: the end of high school. My life was about to change so radically — I was soon to leave my hometown and all of my friends and my family, and I was absolutely not ready to do so. But yoga centered me; it kept me grounded and grateful for my life and health. I loved Sunstone and its classes so much that I began working there during the Summer of 2017 at one of the Dallas studios. My sophomore year, in the Fall of 2017, I transitioned to the Sunstone franchise studio in Austin so I could continue to work while attending school at UT. I was so worried about balancing work with school, and, indeed, it has been challenging — but it has also been incredibly rewarding. The people in the studio — my coworkers, the clientele — create a loving, supportive, and healthy environment and provide a much-needed respite from my chaotic life on campus.

Here’s a little about Sunstone: it is a yoga and fitness studio based in Addison, Texas. We have 13 locations in the DFW metroplex, and one location in Austin, about a 15-minute drive from the UT campus. Sunstone has a wide variety of classes, including hot yoga, HIIT (high intensity interval training), pilates, and barre. Every Sunstone studio I have been to is warm and welcoming — the teachers and Operations staff (that’s me!) love what they do and truly care about the students and their fitness goals. A typical day at work for me doesn’t even really feel like work, because I truly love spending time in the studio. My main task is to enter students into class on our computer system, and greet them/chat with them as they come in. I also conduct orientations — which consist of a studio tour and a walk-through of classes and memberships — and sell memberships to new students. It turns out I can be a pretty good salesperson when I am passionate about the product! Another important component of my job is to clean the studio — vacuuming, cleanings mats, and mopping. These tasks are all the same when I work; nevertheless, every day at the studio is unique. Every student that walks through the door has a unique story to tell, and they all bring a special energy to the class and studio. These students and my fellow staff inspire me with their dedication and passion — every time I leave work, I feel inspired to bring positive energy into my fitness routine, my school work, and my social life.

I would love to introduce all of you to Sunstone, because it has such a special place in my heart! If you ever have an itch to try hot yoga or one of our fitness classes, reach out to me.