Defining Myself for Myself: My Journey as a Correspondent

Pheonix Pittman
October 12, 2019

During my study abroad journey, I have become a blogger, aspiring Instagram guru, and olive oil connoisseur. None of these titles were anticipated evolutions and only one is something that I would have believed could be me a year ago. 

At the end of my last semester before coming abroad, I was afraid about all that I might miss on my campus, so I knew that maintaining a connection to Spelman would be very important for me. As all of my Buenos Aires cohort can tell you, I love Spelman College very deeply. In fact, it was this love for Spelman and desire to stay connected that encouraged me to apply to be an IES Abroad Correspondent. I knew that I was skilled as a writer, but I didn’t think that my personal ideas as an undergraduate would be worthy of posting on anybody’s website. Then, because I wanted to be accessible to more of my Spelman community, I decided to go out on a limb and apply to be a Social Media Correspondent as well. Now, this venture was going to be challenging. My feelings toward Instagram have always been tinged with a bit of fear and doubt. Fear that I might start thinking less of myself because of all the beautiful people I follow or that what I posted wouldn’t be well received. Doubt that I had the ability to take quality pictures or that the positive comments on my posts were genuine. Even with the fear and doubt that came with my use of social media, I was optimistic that being a Correspondent could help turn that around. 

As is happens, my Correspondent journey has greatly enhanced my study abroad experience. Because I know that I have to write about my life abroad, I have been much more mindful about everything that I do which has, in turn, helped me savor every moment. Usually, when I travel I try not to be “that girl” that wastes everyone’s time trying to get the perfect picture. However, taking pictures with posting as a Correspondent in mind has helped me bring out a creative side of me I didn’t know I had. While not everything I post on Instagram is for my Correspondent position, just using the app more has opened me up to new ideas. My favorite Instagram activity has been my #bonnetchronicles in which I take a picture in all of my travel destinations with the bonnet that Spelman Student Government Association made as giveaways last year when I was a member of the board. The #bonnetchronicles sometimes feel a little silly, but for me, it has been a fun way to assert my appreciation for everything unique and beautiful about Spelman College. 

When I first lept out of my shell and became more active on social media, my college friends were shocked by this “new person” they were seeing on Instagram. In my head, however, I felt that I was just being the most carefree version of myself. It was then that I realized that the college campus I love so much had also caused me to settle into the introverted part of my personality that I don’t like. When I got to Spelman freshman year, I was suddenly surrounded by a lot of big and beautiful personalities, and I struggled to see where mine could fit in. Instead of working to really figure this out, I allowed myself to crawl into my meek shell, even keeping quiet around my closest friends for about a year. Even though I love being at Spelman, being in Buenos Aires has allowed me to find myself again and open my full personality to my community back home and in Argentina. Audre Lorde, an activist queer woman of color once said: “If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.” During my first two years of college, I was defining myself based on the people around me, but being a Writing and Social Media Correspondent abroad has revolutionized my outlook. Now, I have begun defining myself for myself; I am a blogger, aspiring Instagram guru, and for fun, an olive oil connoisseur who is also living her best life abroad and optimistic about what is to come.  

P.S. if you'd like to keep up with my Instagram journey and the #bonnetchronicles, follow me @pheonixnotarizona

Pheonix Pittman

<p>I am a third year student at Spelman College double majoring in International Studies and Spanish. I claim Boerne, Texas (right outside of San Antonio) as my home, but I have lived in over 10 places both in the U.S. and abroad as I am an Army Brat. This however, is my first time going abroad without friends or family, so join me on my journey of learning how to tango, bonding with my cohort, and learning to love Buenos Aires!</p>

Home University:
Spelman College
Boerne, TX
International Studies
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