In a room of women furiously scribbling notes on her advice for healthy dating, Elizabeth Schlueter gave a perfection description of the second annual Curate Summit:
“Real femininity is as diverse as particular women.”
A variety of speakers joined the female population of Hillsdale college on Saturday, Jan. 30 to share their passions and give advice. Doctors, teachers, wives, mothers, and businesswomen spoke on topics ranging from physical and emotional health to mentorship, a woman’s role in the workplace, and friendships.
Curate gave students a chance to step away from school for a day and celebrate their unique gifts. Flowers, t‑shirts, and music greeted women as they walked in. In the downstairs lobby of the Searle Center, women got in touch with their creative sides by constructing vision boards, planting wildflower seeds, posing at the photo booth, or simply taking an opportunity to chat with friends over coffee and pastries. There were also stations to write notes of encouragement, or send thank you cards.
Five break out sessions over the course of the day gave women the freedom to choose the topics most interesting to them. Here are my five favorite quotes from the Curate experience:
“Healthy boundaries make generous people.”
Katherine Rick, an adjunct piano instructor at Hillsdale College, explained that boundaries are inherently part of reality, and that good boundaries are born out of love, not selfishness. She contrasted Galatians 6:2, which commands Christians to “carry each other’s burdens” with the message found a few verses later that “each man should carry his own load.”
We have a responsibility to help the people in our lives, but we can’t control everything — only God can do that. Some duties, like getting enough sleep or writing a paper can’t be done for us. Those are loads we need to carry for ourselves.
“Where your God-given gifts intersect with a need in your world, therein lies your purpose.”
In an extremely humorous talk, Hillsdale Academy drama teacher Kathryn Wales shared her experience of seeking mentorship and eventually becoming a mentor herself. She defined a mentor as an experienced and trusted advisor who is farther ahead on a path you would like to go down.
Good mentors teach us to see the world and our gifts accurately. We can be blind to our own toxic patterns, and mentors provide tough love and direction.
“Friendship involves catching people on the bounce, after they’ve hit the ground.”
In a more somber session, alumna Alex Whitford, an account manager at DRTV, spoke about grief. Everyone will experience loss, or witness someone they love struggling with grief at some point, and Whitford spoke about what she learned from her own experience of grieving in college after her father died.
“Pain in life is normal and natural,” she said.
Whitford went through common symptoms of grief, such as difficulties sleeping or eating, feelings of regret, loneliness, and guilt, and avoided her feelings when they became too much. She provided an opportunity for women to talk about grief they’ve dealt with, and gave tips to friends who want to help, such as listening without advising, or doing little things without being asked.
“Real marriages are made and chosen. They are not won.”
Contrary to movie-romances, finding a soul-mate isn’t like drawing the winning card out of a deck; it takes work. Homemaker Elizabeth Schlueter discussed how to date for a healthy marriage. The primary purpose of dating is to clearly know a person, and that before a person can date, he or she needs to develop strong relationships with God, family, and friends.
Strong womanhood means leaving space for men to take initiative, and for a relationship to grow naturally. Each woman, endowed with a “feminine genius,” must be aware that God entrusts the human person to her in a special way.
“Try new things. Own it when you fail. Own it when you succeed. Humility is agreeing with God about who He made you to be.”
Tori Petersen, a non-profit founder and executive, challenged women to be vulnerable. The walls we put up in relating to others only serve to limit our perspectives and create barriers between people. Vulnerability, while uncomfortable, begins to heal brokenness and lead us closer to God.
Peterson emphasized asking hard questions fearlessly, but also being willing to answer those same questions fully and openly.
As the stress of a new semester begins to unfold, Curate gave women across campus a chance to connect with each other and grow in wisdom. Each woman has different gifts and struggles, but, like wildflowers, the woman around me at Hillsdale are unique and beautiful. And Curate was just a reminder of that.