Pinning Positivity

At first glance Aleksa Warren ‘21, looks similar to others walking in the hallways of our fluorescently lit school. If you get closer, however, you will see the unique pins on her jean jacket that convey messages that she tries to keep with her everywhere. Describing herself as safe, Warren is breaking stigma around the LGBTQ+ community and getting closer to her Lithuanian heritage.

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 To Warren, a big part of her life has been spent working on how to see the best in others – especially when you are in a world where everyone seems to think that their opinion of you will make a drastic change. “To change the world’s negativity, you need to teach people, especially children, to have a more positive outlook on life and to not assume everyone’s intent is negative,” Warren said. 

One of Warrens main goals is to be seen as safe by her peers, family, and friends. She wants to be able to help whoever she can and is “open to talk with others about what they need, I would never want to give of the energy that you can’t be yourself around me, or that you can’t say what you want around me.” 

One way that Warren likes to show people that she is a safe person is by wearing pins that show things she believes in or things that she likes, “Some of my favorites is this one pin that is rainbow, which kind of shows the LGBTQ+ flag and that’s pretty cool. Another one says ‘feminine feminist’ on it and I think its really cute.”

Helping to facilitate this, Warren works at a summer camp where she works with kids trying to help them see more positively. A lot of Warren’s beliefs stemmed from things she learned in middle school.

 We have all experienced feeling like the people we were around didn’t want us around; “It’s better for you mentally to not hyper fixate on these issues where they probably meant no harm,” Warren said. For Warren, this realization came at a time that was important in her life: when she was figuring out her sexuality. Warren identifies as lesbian and has been a part of the LGBTQ+ community as an ally and identifying as lesbian. 

In middle school and during freshman year she would go to United Action for Youth meetings downtown and developed a community of friends and family there. Feeling included and being sure of yourself and feelings is a huge part of what they do there, through these experiences it has only helped Warren grow her love for helping and being subscribed to the idea of being kind. She says that because of living in Iowa City she hasn’t experienced a lot of backlash for being openly lesbian but she has experienced microaggressions through “stares, dirty looks, and things people say,” but through it all, Warren moves on. It is then when her positivity and confidence in herself comes in handy the most. 

Somewhere that her confidence may be beside her is when it comes to half of her family being Lithuanian. Her mom and relatives from that side are Lithuanian, however, her and her brother, Andreas’, family is not as close to that heritage. “I actually feel like an outsider when it comes to being Lithuanian. A lot of my cousins and relatives were exposed to being Lithuanian at a very young age, I was not, so I’m trying to become part of the culture.” 

Some ways that the Warrens are working to get closer to their culture is trying to learn to speak Lithuanian and cook foods from there. 

“I try to be empathetic and kind person, I do my best to stay positive.”

 

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