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I was raised in the Southern Baptist church. In my experience, this was a very conservative and very homogenous place. I went to an Episcopalian school that celebrated diversity of experience and thought.
As I grew up in these opposite-seeming communities, it felt like everything was separate; my Sundays and Wednesday nights were Southern Baptist, and my school days were Episcopalian. I became increasingly confused, because I did not realize that I could combine aspects of these to make my own beliefs.
I still feel like I'm navigating my religious beliefs. I want religion to play a large part in my life, but even after exploring different aspects of my faith, I remain confused about where my right fit is with competing ideas between home and my personal beliefs.
My parents put in me in an all-girls private school when I was going into kindergarten. In this environment, I truly never thought anything was out of my reach. My teachers instilled in me that I could do anything I wanted to do and be anything I wanted to be, which I now realize was an incredibly privileged space to be living in.
Middle school was the first time anyone ever challenged my personal understanding that I could do anything just as well as anyone else and that my voice and opinion was valuable. My youth pastor told me I couldn't play basketball with the boys because I probably would slow down the game. My opinions were also often silenced during discussions we had in Sunday school.
Since then, I've realized how powerful and disruptive that the female voice can be. In my current circumstances, I know that I have the privilege over many other people in society because of my racial and economic background. I also know how impactful my teachers' constant emphasis that my voice and being was powerful was on me. I hope to be one of those people for my students.
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