They are my stars

by Sarah Chang

They are my stars

When we look at the stars, we get a glimpse of the past. During the long nights of a pandemic in the winter, I find myself constantly looking upwards. Every star is like a miracle in the sky. They are thousands and thousands of lightyears away, shining across the universe, somehow making their way to me.

I often struggle with feelings of uselessness. It’s like I am constantly running into a wall when I talk about women’s issues. The people who need to hear what I have to say the most are not the ones who want to listen to me. Someone once asked me what the point of teaching a womens’ empowerment course at Duke is if only women already interested in the topic are going to take it. At the time, I honestly didn’t know how to respond, because I had been wrestling with the same issues.

I look into the stars and see the past. I can see back thousands of years every single night. I watch history in the sky. That light had no idea it was going to fall upon me when it was released those thousands of years ago, and yet, the glimmers and the constellations fill my nights with beauty. As if the stars were releasing light just to make me happier.

I want to be a lawyer. I want to be a lawyer who prosecutes sexual assault crimes. I know the pain of adults deciding you’re not worth protecting, you’re not worth getting justice for, you’re not worth anything. The justice system, the reporting system, the way society views sexual assault and harassment, the way the victims’ character and actions are put on trial by the public and by the court, the way sexual predators and rapists have power over me politcally, the way I wont’t be able to get justice for the majority of survivors. It’s all wrong, and it’s all so screwed up. And yet, how can I change it? I want to dedicate my life to fighting sexual assault, but what will I accomplish? Can I change so many systems pushing against me?

That star I’m looking at might be gone. It could have blown up several hundred or thousands of years ago, and I’ll have no idea. That star doesn’t know the beauty it holds, even after it’s gone. It doesn’t know of Earth, much less me, but each star impacts me nonetheless.

I feel like I won’t ever be able to make a change.

Night after night contemplating the soft glow of the starlight, I realized that these stars don’t know the impact that they have had on my life. The nights have always been hard for me. Being alone in the darkness with only my thoughts was always scary. Still, the stars give me hope and beauty to hold onto even at the worst of times.

I don’t have to always look to the sky, though, I see stars in my own life all around me. Women who don’t know the impact they’ve had on my life. My tenth grade math teacher doesn’t know she’s the reason why I had the courage to study math. She made me believe in myself, just in her actions. In the way she believed in me. I once told a woman in my life about being sexually assaulted, and she immediately tried to get justice for me. However, the system was against me, and I was retraumatized throughout the entire process. Person after person, even women, showed me he was more important. His story was valued over mine. However, there was one woman who believed me and wanted to protect me. Even though she only did one thing, her reaction told me I was worth something. Last semester, I almost had to quit a team because they refused to kick off a boy who had sexually harassed me and several other girls on the team. Though it felt like the team was against me, some of my friends told me that they would quit with me. I can never express my gratitude to them. They reaffirmed my value. It only took one sentence from them to bring me to tears of gratitude and happiness to have people like that in my life.

I want to be a woman like them. They are my stars, and I want to be that for other girls. I want to grow up and fight my hardest everyday to get justice for survivors so that they know they are worth my all. And I’ll make sure to tell them they are worth even more than all I could ever give. I might not be able to change the system. I might not be able to change the way society views and deals with these issues. However, I can make an impact.

Stars have no idea where their light will go. They just shine outwards, day after day till the end. Even after they’re gone, their light still reverberates through the universe, and somehow some beams find their way to me. Just like the stars, I might never know my impact. Some days I might feel alone in the universe, but I can’t give up. I can only do my best and have faith that it spreads. Even the smallest things, like little circles in the dark sky, add up and can change lives. I would not be the person I am today without all the stars that have made their way through my life, without all the women shining upon me. They are my stars, and I could be someone else’s.

They are my stars
They are my stars
They are my stars
They are my stars