"You would be jealous of how pretty she is, Issa. She also graduated from Harvard," he said.
The comment was two sentences, but what lasted was a stinging feeling that caused teary-eyes, long-winded texts to my mom and a grumpy mood.
In reality, we were just joking with each other. He probably did not mean to be insensitive or to imply I was not good enough. Nevertheless, it hurt.
It was the perfect cap-off to a week of anxiety from managing school, activities and job searching while also trying to balance an enriching social life where I can feign confidence about the "bright future." That is the funny thing about society, about being a woman -- a need to pretend when in reality, you feel shaken.
Shaken from alternating between feeling too busy or not busy enough.
Terrified that you have not achieved what you set out to do.
Self-conscious about the fat on your thighs, wishing you had just eaten a salad instead of snarfing down 10 chicken wings.
Tired of being alone, but scared of being tied down or afraid you wouldn't fulfill anyone's needs.
Tempted to entertain those dangerous voices in your head that taunt you for not being enough --pretty enough, smart enough, talented enough, good enough.
As people and students, we are pitted against each other for competition in regards to class rank, sports, and leadership roles. Sometimes, it can breed ground for insecurity causing us to tear each other down for our successes or feel inferior because one is presumed to be "better" than the other.
Women especially are conditioned to be vulnerable, insecure.
We make-up our faces in attempts to masquerade our flaws.
We are indirectly and directly told our lives would be better fulfilled if there was a man by our side.
We get told to not "let our emotions get the best of us," but make sure we aren't too "bossy," or else we will be perceived as "cold or witch-like."
Overall, we live in a world that breeds a dangerous thinking process that will continue to affect our daughters and granddaughters until we stop it -- the drug of feeling "not enough."
Not pretty enough, smart enough, good enough. And it is when we don't feel enough that we look at other people and immediately, outside sources must assume we are jealous.
The guy immediately thought I had to be jealous of another girl simply because she was prettier and smarter, rather than just acknowledging the strengths that the girl and I both bring to the table.
Instead, I have had enough.
We women work hard. We have minds of steel -- we have the power to be mothers but also politicians, business leaders, attorneys and doctors. We have proven we can manage families and powerful working lives.
But we still have so far to go. We deserve to live in a world where our daughters and granddaughters have paid family leave, earn the same amount of money as their male co-workers and are not defined by their relationship statuses.
We deserve not to live in a society that expects us to be jealous of other females' successes, rather than celebrating or building each other up for it.
We deserve to live in a culture that does not feed off our insecurities and celebrates our confidence, our strengths.
Most of all, we deserve not to be afflicted by the feeling of not being enough, because time and time again, we have proven that we are.