Find Your Girl Gang and Conquer the World

Ever since high school I have always been the friend whose been a little extra “fluffy”.

My lack of height gave me no room to gain a few pounds without it being noticeable; the weight can’t go up, so it only goes out. With that being said, my lack of knowledge on the healthy balance of food and exercise, no positive body image and no real sense of community, led me down a pathway full of insecurities and sadness. I was constantly worried about what others thought of me.

I wondered if they liked my outfit; if they could see my belly when I sat down.

Was my shirt too tight to show my muffin top?

Was I trying too hard?

Was I not trying enough?

I believed that my worth and potential were dictated by the thoughts and feelings of others. It’s sad that it has taken me this long to figure out that that is far from the truth.

Along with my physical insecurities, the lack of confidence hindered me from having successful encounters with others. My friendships and relationships were controlled completely by the other person. I would never speak up, never disobey. I never had a voice.

This lack of confidence showed in my interactions with people; no respect, no one listened to what I had to say, no voice. I hated the way I looked, the way I behaved… I hated myself.

I knew deep down this wasn’t who I was supposed to be. I knew there had to be something more.

Joining Gamma Phi Beta in college was something completely out of my comfort zone. I felt out of place and awkward, but I started working out with a couple of my sisters and found a pretty awesome group of girls to guide me in finding my confidence. They lifted me up and helped me find my voice. I think finding that girl gang is crucial for a woman. They taught me to love myself for exactly who I am, always strive for something better within myself, and to never lose sight of my dreams. I would never have been able to come to this conclusion without them. Once I found self-love, things kind of fell in place from there. I started volunteering more, I took on positions within the house, branched out more. Before I knew it, everyone in every house, on campus, in class, and in other Panhellenic organizations knew who I was. They asked me for help in the gym and in academics. I had found my confidence and my calling to help others. This all started with that group of girls.

Community: It’s something every person looks for, no matter who they are. A feeling of belonging to something. I found community with this group of girls.

They held me accountable to work out and eat healthy. When I wasn’t feeling confident and talked negatively about myself, my most extreme sister Kayelah showed me tough love and would literally chase me around the house with my paddle and hit me until I told myself I was beautiful, smart, or whatever was the opposite of what I had negatively described myself as. They fiercely loved and protected me, as I did with them. Establishing this sense of community and friendship honestly saved me from myself. Building this foundation helped my mental health, my physical health, and eventually my spiritual health when they took me to church with them. We aggressively loved each other and supported each other. We were each other’s hype-women.

By educating women on personal development, the importance of philanthropic platforms, and building strong lifelong friendships, we can create a solid foundation for success, help young women find and build their confidence, understand their struggles, and uncover their purpose. It’s important to find a balance in life, between health, emotional and mental well-being, academics, philanthropy and building relationships that promote the best outcomes for your future. All of these things have the potential to lead to a solid foundation where young women can go forth into a future built on love, labor, learning, and loyalty and, ultimately, make a positive impact on the community around them.

I had found my girl gang and we began to take on the world. We started helping other girls in the house with their confidence, their voice, and we led by example. We had new members coming to us for advice and telling us how scared they were to join a sorority because of the whole “mean girl” stigma.

I was nervous coming to PNWU. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t. A new environment, new people, new curriculum… everything was different. But seeing a room full of just as many women as there were men was awesome. Well, honestly, at first, I thought, “How am I ever going to find my future husband here with these kinds of ratios!?”

I quickly realized how empowering it was to see such passion, drive, and grit in each and every classmate. The stress of school and life just seems to be heightened when in medical school, so having these women here to motivate me and tell me I can do this, even when I think I cannot, is honestly life changing. I’m not just saying I am in this made up all-girls club here by any means. I have made many friends with my male counterparts, but there is something about the passion of successful, compassionate women standing in your corner rooting you on that just changes the whole outlook.

By loving and supporting each other — not tearing each other down — we can take so much stress and pressure off of ourselves. A lot of stress and hindrance of our mental health as young women comes from this idea of what we should be like instead of embracing the beautiful women that we all individually are.

So, I urge you: find that community; find that group that pushes you to constantly be better and do better.

Find your girl gang and conquer the world

Haley Heitzman

Osteopathic Medical Student - 1st Year (OMS I)

Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences

Haley Heitzman