I was sitting criss-cross applesauce on the color-dotted rug with my favorite gray sweatpants and hair a little frizzed up with my hot pink headband. It felt like any other day, the same routine going over the daily classroom rules. Once the meeting concluded, we stood up and approached our seats. That is when my classmate proceeded to let me know about the red stain on my butt. I went to the nurse’s office and she gave me a pad along with a hoodie from the lost and found to wrap around my waist. I remember my mom telling me that my older sister got hers after her 11th birthday party, so I thought, “Okay, now I guess it’s my turn.” Here I was, at ten years old, at my elementary school, being in a vulnerable state and feeling hopeless. I had to break the news when school was over.
Starting my period at such a young age has made me feel more mature than most preteen girls. It has given me a sense of independence because I was able to learn and navigate my body’s changes throughout the years. I had to take care of myself, whether it was putting on or learning how to dispose of the pads, and even figuring out the timing on when I should use the bathroom to change.
Getting my period was a lot of work. I would always be scared when the new cycle of my period started each month because I would never know which exact day I would get it. I would fear for a leak, especially at the most inconvenient part of the day. My period would be so heavy that I had to wear two pads. I did not wear tampons until my sophomore year of high school because I felt uneasy about them. By wearing pads for most of my life, I had to always plan what I was going to wear that week with certain articles of clothing, such as avoiding leggings or tight pants that my pad would show through. In the beginning, however, I did not take that into consideration. I just wore whatever, until I got more in tune with my body and noticed.
My grandma nearly confined me from talking about my period publically. She believed it could only be talked about to her, my mom, or my sister. She did not see a reason why I should tell other people because it was personal, yet filled with stigma. So, for a while in the beginning, I felt like there was shame in getting your period and it should be a private matter. However, I learned that it does not have to be this way. It was eventually nice to talk it out with friends and have someone to relate to. I’ve even gotten to validate that period syncing is true when you spend enough time with someone.
As I prepare each month to have my cycle all over again, I am reminded of how empowering women are. We go through so much in our bodies and minds. The pain at times can be unbearable, from cramps to backaches to sore breasts. Although so many people get their period, each individual has a different experience or story to express it. To this day, I own up to my periods and even use my period as a conversation starter with my friends. How our body works each month amazes me. Although periods are personal, they should not be pushed into secrecy. Periods should be talked about because they are a strength. Through experiencing my period, I have gained a new and unique perspective of the world around me.