i have two sisters, so i have always grown up surrounded by women. but although my closest support came from my sisters and mother, i found that my social network brought the opposite: it was difficult for me to find friends, and even more so to keep them. as an extreme introvert in my youth, the social landscape was a treacherous place, one into which i rarely ventured, because invariably the experience was turbulent and hurtful. i was averse to even applying to wellesley for college, because of my past hurtful experiences with women, but i am so very thankful that i listened to my overprotective father! once i arrived at wellesley, my hesitations and reluctance vanished as i found myself among strong but kind women, all of whom were eager to not only learn but also to build friendships. i discovered that other women could be sincere and kind while also being driven and focused; i discovered that i was valued for my own ideas and voice, experiences and goals. i came to value when others' viewpoints differed from my own, to see them as opportunities to grow, to widen my scope, to share my own thoughts, to have confidence in my contribution and to value the voice of others. seeing myself and others as equals in society, while simultaneously humbly recognizing what can be learned from our differences in experience and ideas--for me, this is the wellesley effect.
i actually had decided not to contribute an entry to the wellesley effect campaign, feeling that others' statements reflected my own viewpoint adequately. but then i realized that my opinion, or rather my story behind my viewpoint, is unique, and i should not hesitate to share mine just because it may sound redundant. and that decision process in itself is a demonstration of the wellesley effect!