Column: The year of the email


Photo credit: Azel Al-Kadiri

As the senior class begins their final semester and starts rocking their red, “class of 23” t-shirts, we have a responsibility to voice the emotions we feel and welcome the feelings of others, through this incredible chapter of change.

By Azel Al-Kadiri, Columnist

The other day I was sitting in class, and on an assignment, I wrote the date as 2022. My classmate quickly corrected me: “it’s 2023,” she laughed. As I erased the past year off of my page, I began to feel tears rushing down my cheeks. 

It’s 2023, the year of the email. 

Our Archer usernames are a constant reminder of the year we graduate. Just yesterday, our class dean Ms. Nicolard was handing my daunted ninth-grade self a slip of paper containing my username, password and graduating year on it. 

2023 was years away, miles ahead and a time when I would have it all figured out. 

As an underclassman — heck, even as a junior — I was convinced that every girl who graduated was a princess ready to be crowned and a woman ready to enter the world. Today, I stare at the calendar in a state of terror and concern. 

Where did the time go? Most importantly, how do I stop it from moving so fast?

I find myself rummaging through old Archer yearbooks. I flip the pages covered in the graduating girls before me; these girls thought big and stood tall. I suppose they weren’t girls at all; they were women.

I’m the same second-semester senior that I used to stare enviously at. She looked like she knew what she was doing, but now that I’m her, I’m starting to wonder if she ever did. 

I get angry at myself for being so emotional, nostalgic and overwhelmed. It’s the very reason that women are denied positions of power and respect in work environments. While men have so conveniently claimed the persona of “stability” and “emotional strength,” women are continuously stereotyped as hysterical, sensitive and “hot-blooded” creatures. 

There is no research to corroborate this. Both men and women possess the same emotional capabilities; the sexist myth is just another weapon that society has utilized to make women feel inadequate alongside men — it’s as ridiculous as it is unscientific. 

Men and women, by nature, feel the same range of happiness, sadness, anxiety and anger. However, we are nurtured to such a varying extent that it becomes inconceivable that men could feel half of the emotional turmoil that women experience every day. As they are socialized to perceive crying and the expression of emotions as “weak,” our own tears as women become a symbol of our inferiority, all because we feel comfortable in our vulnerability. While their emotional suppression and inevitable depressive habits are praised, women are deemed irrational. 

I, like many women, have considered my quality of being “emotional” as a weakness. 

For a long time, I believed it to be one of my greatest faults. I felt burdened by the unwavering awareness of the feelings of both myself and those around me. I cry when I am happy, and I cry when I’m sad — how unbelievably annoying. 

Women aren’t awarded for being in tune with the world around them. Instead, we face the motherhood penalty, the gender pay gap and the oh-so-familiar question every woman has been asked:

Are you on your period?

I tear up at the sound of my best friends giggling, my heart aches at the sight of graduation dresses and I feel crushed by the talk of college futures. In a time that I was told was going to be “perfect,” I struggle to not feel emotionally overwhelmed in this transition. Those moments of fear lead me, and the women around me, to resort to the same shame and feelings of weakness we have been conditioned to feel. We were supposed to feel “ready” for this. 

Maybe I’m hormonal, maybe I’m irrational and maybe I’m just an emotional girl. 

Or maybe the year of the email was never supposed to be easy. Maybe, we are allowed to feel every second of fear, happiness and heartbreak that we wish. Not because we are women, but because we are experiencing change. After all, we are only human. 

So no matter what grade you are in, I wish you a Happy New Year full of joy and laughter. To my senior class, I’m so excited for 2023, the year of the email.

We will laugh and cry together.