My love for sociology developed when I first took my first sociology class my senior year in high school. I had always loved people and felt fascinated by how various groups of people were structured and interacted with other groups of people. However, besides it being an absolutely enthralling subject, I have over the years come to appreciate more and more how absolutely necessary I believe the study of sociology is to making our world better, kinder, more tolerant, and more equitable for everyone. Before taking sociology, I honestly didn\’t understand the systemic prejudices that permeate our society. Racism, sexism, classism, ageism, etc. are not just \”personal\” issues that people need to get over individually because our culture perpetuates inequality at a very base level. For years of my life, I truly believed that I was the one who was defective or shameful; that there was something wrong with me. Sociology gave me an avenue to question that assumption and see that maybe my flaws have less to do with me and more to do with a defective system in the first place. I believe in my heart that if we want to end violence, hatred and inequality, we need to learn about how these systems function in our world and with that, sociology becomes an invaluable tool for enacting meaningful change.
It is for all of the above reasons that I got both my bachelor\’s and master\’s degree in sociology. My particular areas of interest are on the topics of gender and religion, which both have a very dear place in my heart.
I\’m one of those girls who went to college and came back a feminist. While I was considered\”liberal\” in high school, I was only liberal compared to my peers (born and raised in a conservative suburb outside Houston, Texas). However, I was a conservative Catholic whose views on gender were largely shaped on traditional roles. In fact, I didn\’t even really understand the depth of gender inequality because I never thought about my life under that particular lens. For me, being embarrassed about \”girl\” stuff, playing dumb to flirt with boys, and having an immediate dislike towards the term \”feminist\” had nothing to do with sexism. I thought it was completely normal, biological even. In fact, once in high school, I even outwardly refuted the horrible accusation of being a feminist with an inappropriate remark about how radical I perceived feminists to be. Now, I see these things as being examples of the patriarchy\’s influence on our everyday lives which has negative effects on both the individual men and women that unknowingly perpetuate it.
Religion has always been a huge aspect of my life. I was raised Roman Catholic and it soon became my main source of friendships and social interaction. I\’m not going to lie, I started getting involved in church because I wanted to talk to cute boys and do fun things like go to Galveston without my parents, but as my involvement got more intense, I became very invested in Catholicism as a religion and later as a fascinating topic of study. Throughout college, I was involved at the University Catholic Center and began associating with the Schoenstatt Movement (a Marian spirituality) soon after. The Schoenstatt movement was interesting for a number of reasons on a sociological level. 1) The men and women were split up until they got married, so, in college, there was a clear distinction between the approaches of the women\’s groups vs. the men\’s groups. The men\’s groups were much more structured and had access to more resources than the women\’s groups (access to the main priest, a more legitimate reputation, help in forming and sustaining groups, etc.), but the women\’s groups had a lot more freedom to do as they pleased. 2) Because this is a Marian movement within the Catholic Church, you have this interesting cross-section of a patriarchal leadership structure with a high level of devotion to a feminine icon. The women\’s groups often felt connected to Mary as a woman while the men saw her only as the most perfect disciple. To acknowledge Mary as a central figure in the movement means to subvert the very patriarchal structure the movement exists within. I found this to be an extremely interesting topic and ultimately wrote my thesis on the gender construction within this religious group.
I learned about enneagram when I was 17 years old at my confirmation retreat, the last retreat I went on in high school (as opposed to staff). The enneagram was a major component to that retreat and we were all encouraged to see what our personal gifts were (in relationship to the gifts of the holy spirit) and how Jesus encompassed all of the types. I am very lucky because mine was the last confirmation retreat to include the enneagram as we got a new youth minister who denounced the enneagram as being new age and completely revamped the structure of confirmation retreat. At the time, I erroneously typed myself as a Seven (who doesn\’t want to be the life of the party?) and while I found the system to be fun and interesting (and did a significant amount of reading), I didn\’t really have the self-reflection skills to use it meaningfully at the time.
Fast forward a couple of years and I\’m in college. There is this new movement called Schoenstatt spreading at the UCC and some of my friends have even gotten sucked into it. Some of those friends, began learning about the enneagram as a way to foster self-education (a major component in the Schoenstatt movement) and began sharing their new found knowledge. Something clicked for me during that time and I realized that I wasn\’t actually a Seven, but a Six (albeit with a strong Seven wing). This realization started shifting my understanding of my world. For the first time in my life, I understood on an intuitive level that my belief about what it meant to be a \”good Christian\” was misaligned. I believed that to be a good person meant you had to be Christian (Catholic even) which meant you had to fiercely believe in what is \”right\” and avoid what is \”wrong\” like the plague. It meant that you had to be so confident in your beliefs that you would literally die for them if it ever came down to it and anything less than that total, unwavering, perfect devotion was unacceptable and would land you in hell. I envied people who just knew, who just \”had faith\”. That\’s what it meant to be a true \”Christian\”. Meanwhile, faith is actually something I struggle quite intensely with. I continuously question, doubt and waver back and forth. I never feel confident or steady. As much as I proclaimed to know and love God, there has always been, at the back of my mind a voice of uncertainty that any of this is real at all. For years I thought of this as a spiritual weakness, a sin, evidence that \”I\’m just not trying hard enough\”. The enneagram allowed me to see it as a perfectly reasonable strategy for survival and that maybe instead of trying to force myself to be like a one (whose motivations just weren\’t that motivating to me), I could focus on being a better version of a six (whose motivations were driving me everywhere anyways).
It opened up a whole new world for me. I became a self-professed enneagram geek. I started reading more about the deep intricacies of the integration/disintegration patterns, wings and subtypes. I learned about how the enneagram types relate to psychological patterns and neuroscience. I used the enneagram to make sense of my romantic relationships and why I struggled the way that I did. I painted artistic expressions of how each type resonated with me. I listened to podcasts with some of the most influential enneagram teachers in the world and eventually joined the enneagram community in Austin who help me apply the knowledge I\’ve accumulated over the years to do my inner work. Currently, I am in the process of being trained to teach the enneagram in the Narrative Tradition and part of the leadership team for the Young Adult Enneagram Community in Austin.
But, for me, the enneagram is more than just a fun hobby or a potential career pathway. It\’s about freedom: freedom to choose how you want to be, freedom to be exactly who you are with no expectation or mandate, freedom to pursue your own authenticity, freedom from the confines of your type pattern structure, freedom to discover and play and make mistakes, freedom to see yourself the way you really are and freedom to grow wherever you are planted.