As a Culver Girls Academy graduate, Sarah Freymiller ’09 is plenty familiar with what the girls at CGA – both newly-crested girls and the so-called “Old Girls” – are thinking, feeling and doing. She’s been there.
And she was back here for Sunday’s Crest Ceremony to share a few new rules (because what is Culver without a rule or two) that she has learned over the past few years as the newly minted Old Girls continue their journey through Culver as well as beyond the Graduation Arch.
She shared a story about how she was mean to her sister, Laura ’11, to ensure that she did not make the same mistakes and was always cool. It turns out, maybe those mistakes weren’t really mistakes. The mistake was in perceiving some of her own good qualities as mistakes. In the end, she said, her first rule is to choose being warm over being cool.
Which led into her second point. She lamented the time she spent “caring about things that didn’t matter.
“There are so many more ways to BE in the world than we can see from high school,” she said. “In college, or in life, we aren’t all running for a finite number of spots on CGA Council. We aren’t all measuring ourselves by our test scores and admissibility. We explode upwards and outwards in our own ways.”
They won’t remember what leadership position you had … They will remember how you made them feel.
Freymiller – who works in New York at Bottom Line, which works with low-income and first generation college students – told a story about attending a party thrown by a Culver classmate that she didn’t know really well at the time. What she discovered was that she wished she had gotten to know her better, instead of competing with her.
“Now, as twenty-five-year-olds, we are both doing work that is, hopefully, making the world a better place,” she said. “The world needs both of us in our own ways. As Gloria Steinem said at the Women’s March, ‘We are linked, we are not ranked.’”
She went one to talk about Ann Friedman’s Shine Theory, a theory to which she ascribes:
“She writes, ‘when we hate on women who we perceive to be more “together” than we are, we’re really just expressing the negative feelings we have about our own careers, or bodies, or relationships.’
“Instead of being intimidated by these women, we should befriend them and appreciate them. When they succeed in life, we succeed in life, because they are our friends. When they shine, we shine.”
And the success that togetherness breeds is the important lesson CGA students should take from their experience at Culver.
“As sisters, you make a choice every day. You can be scared, and push back, and shut each other out, and break each other down. Or you can love each other and lift each other and sustain each other through difficult times. This is what we mean when we promise to care for others,” she said.
“When people think back to high school, they won’t remember what leadership position you had … They will remember how you made them feel. You will use these connections as you navigate a world that may be changing rapidly, and in ways we can’t predict. This world needs you, and it needs you to fight for each other.”