Taylor Gale

// Life Under the Scope
Recognizing one’s privilege equals a life full of service and love - read how Taylor’s journey of self-fulfillment will lead her to taking care of the next generation.
Volume 01 Issue 09
May 7th, 2019

I grew up in a very privileged “normal” family household. The kind of lifestyle that people often take for granted, the kind of lifestyle that is comfortable and kind and welcoming. That is, until my parents’ divorce.

The following years were full of transitioning and the constant changes of people coming in and out of our lives—my life. I found safety and comfort in the closeness of my mother’s side of the family. My whole life was flipped upside down after the divorce. My family was no longer economically stable or “well off,” my sister and I became estranged from our father for years, and my mother faced the challenge of having to raise and provide for her daughters alone.

I attended a private Catholic school my entire life and learned to have strong values and understandings, yet the climate of such an education kept me sheltered from a lot of realities. My time as a student at Loyola University of Maryland has shown me the impact that privilege has—it was not until I first started college that I began to see how privilege fit into the grand scheme of things. I felt very blessed to have found strong support systems on campus, which were rich and intense because of the diversity in the community I found. Most times, it felt like I was one of the five broke students at Loyola. This experience taught me to seek out friends that focus on the important things in life—obtaining a good education and making the most out of it, being a support system for loved ones, having fun while doing the little things—instead of solely focusing on what flavor vodka to mix with lemonade on a Thursday night out.

Growing up I always wanted to be a kindergarten teacher. I come from a family of teachers. I love working with children, so naturally, it was easy to find myself gravitating towards that career path. It wasn’t until my senior year in high school that this dream I had always convinced myself was the dream, shifted. This change was born from my acceptance into the Page Program for the Maryland General Assembly. Although it was only two weeks, I was given the opportunity to work with senators, delegates, and even the governor himself, Larry Hogan.

This experience sparked a desire to change my career path and major in political science so that I could make a more effective change in the world. To me, it made sense that getting involved in politics would be the route to making a change as visible and concrete as possible, but I soon realized how naïve I was. During my freshman and sophomore year, I worked for a local campaign and quickly saw the corrupt short-sightedness of the ‘sophisticated adults’ I interacted with daily. It seemed grim to realize that the change I sought to enact might not be possible and that the career I had intended might not be the most effective way of addressing the proper channels for fostering the change to ignite. But people often get caught up in the idea that change can only happen at the topmost level of politics and law; however, change does not necessarily only occur on the global level through politics, but it can begin and accomplish great things at the local level.

My campaign experience spawned within me a passion for helping others, but having the opportunity to study abroad in Thailand during my junior year only further intensified this drive. Going into the study abroad program in Bangkok, I knew that the country was poor but I had not realized the extent to which life was so different from that of the United States. Most days, I would see people in the streets selling handmade goods at ridiculously low prices that were unfair to the effort, energy, and money they had put into it. These people were willing to do whatever it took to make just a small amount of money. In certain places the children lacked proper attire and, by the looks of it, a healthy diet— yet they always had wide smiles on their faces and a shimmer in their eyes as they greeted every new person with open arms. This is when I finally began to see where my journey would take me. I finally figured out what I want to do and achieve with my life. I still hope to make a difference in the world, but by making a difference within the lives of those who I encounter. I hope to make small differences in people’s lives, small differences that will build into small impacts that avalanche slowly, but beautifully, from person to person. I may not be able to change the entire world by myself, but I can work to change the worlds of others by bringing light into their lives and offering myself to them wholeheartedly.

After graduation, I plan on taking a year to teach English in Thailand. Afterward, I will get my Masters in Social Work. I want to work as a social worker for nonprofit helping children who come from broken homes. For me, this is the path to helping others on a local (and personal) level, which could possibly turn into helping children overseas who lack guidance and the means necessary for leading the most enriching lives possible for themselves. I am passionate about helping those who aren’t given the same opportunities that I was automatically given either because of my race, socio-economic status, or where I was raised, etc. I believe that all beings are interconnected and we will all be united together in some form or another even if it is not visible or comprehensible in the present moment. So why not embrace the love I have for others and share it within every part of my life? For this reason, I have so much love to give and plan to build my career around this capacity to love that I am so grateful to have.

I really just dream of a future where I can work with children all day and be the person to show them the love they deserve when they may not have been shown any throughout their entire lives. I believe it changes the child’s outlook on life, changes their personal dreams for the future, and makes them feel safe and wanted— which are some of the most important and necessary things in life, especially during a child’s development towards becoming an adult. This craving to help others is what pushes me to keep going despite any trials and tribulations I may face. Life can never get too dark when I know that love exists and that love is hoping to find a home in the souls of innocent, beautiful children that are so deserving of everything I can offer them and everything the world has to offer them. I cannot imagine a life where such comforts are not readily available, so I will do whatever is in my power and beyond to ensure that no one else will ever have to.

Ikechukwu: From the FAC to walking the graduation, we’ve come a long way haha. Time really does fly.

Taylor: !!!!!! seriously, my dude. We’re gonna be so old in the blink of an eye.

Right?! I find it crazy that this time last year I was in your shoes, handling graduation plans and scrambling to have some sort of plan set together. How would you describe your Loyola experience?

Being a student at Loyola has definitely made me grow as a person due to its core curriculum. I think that I have gained lasting friendships and fun memories, but most importantly I got to see firsthand how professional relationships play out and how one’s socioeconomic status affects how one reacts to situations and people. My time at Loyola opened my eyes to the suffering and struggles that thousands and more people endure every day. Loyola’s education burst my bubble and made me more aware of social issues, which I would never trade-in.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love to go to concerts and listen to an eclectic assortment of genres. I also love to practice yoga and meditation, which keeps me centered and grounded.

Can you speak more about your Thailand experience? From the talks we’ve had the story you just shared, this experience changed your life. Were there any specific moments that happened or was it the overall experience of being in a world so different than America?

The whole experience of living in Thailand for five months definitely opened me up as a person to advocate for others. In particular, towards the end of my abroad experience, our group went to Hong Kong. During this time, a few of us were out drinking at bars. A lady with a disfigured face and hands approached us begging for money. The woman clearly had endured a tremendous amount of pain, emotionally and physically, yet no one in the group thought twice about helping her financially. I ended up giving the lady money, but the situation definitely opened my eyes to the isolation and disregard many people endure every day since they are not afforded the same opportunities as I am.

What are some fun activities to do in Thailand that you can’t get anywhere else?

One of my favorite things to do in Thailand is riding on the back of motorbikes. Sometimes I would just go off on my own to go eat or study somewhere by calling a bike. The transportation was cheap and oh so exhilarating. It felt like I was a local at times while being able to enjoy the beautiful scenery. The hiking spots are also unreal. We got to take a hike in Chiang Mai through the mountains. This experience was unlike any other I have ever had before. I was in complete awe with the scenery and the hospitality afforded to me by the local villagers. The serenity that you experience when you are hiking in the middle of Thailand is unlike any other.

You are making a big leap to go to Thailand - I love it. What’s going through your mind? I know you’re excited!

Even though it is a big leap, the minute I arrived in Thailand, I knew I belonged. The people are so friendly and genuinely want to offer anything and everything they have to you. I did not even apply to any other jobs because I knew that I wanted to go back to Thailand so that I could teach while gaining the opportunity to travel to all of these beautiful locations. Honestly, I have been just going with the flow with everything in life and trusting the process of life itself.

Any shoutouts to people in Thailand you look forward to seeing again?

I do not know if I will be seeing the same academic people, but I definitely plan on returning to some of my favorite food spots. In particular, I want to see the nice families that run Mountain Kitchen and Grandma who is in charge of feeding the Loyola students. Grandma is the kindest lady I have ever met and she always made me vegan meals when she herself had no clue what veganism entailed. Grandma, I am coming for you!

What are you most looking forward to in this next chapter of life?

I am looking forward to making connections with new people. I feel like I have been very closed off during my time at Loyola in regards to making friends. I plan to step outside of my comfort zone by saying yes to more opportunities, people, and experiences. Although it can be nerve-wracking at times, I look forward to being fully independent and navigating how to become a full-on adult.

While working for the local campaign, what is the corrupt short sightedness you saw firsthand?

I got to see how greedy people are. A lot of the times, people disregarded talking about social and humanitarian issues, and instead focused on how to increase their personal profits. The adults I conversed with were also very judgemental. Since I have piercings and tattoos, many men made jokes about it and how it will inhibit my life, which is so far from the truth. I also saw a lot of sexism unfold. Men held the majority of the higher-ups positions of power and made it known frequently. I learned a ton, do not get me wrong, but the way in which people conversed and did business unethically turned me off from politics.

What do you think it is about America compared to other countries that make us unhappy despite the privileges we have?

I definitely think that the high standards we and society place on people contribute to the dissatisfaction we as a collective endure. The villagers in Chiang Mai, Thailand had nothing but minimal food, one or two outfits, and a beautiful view - yet they were happier and friendlier than most Americans I have ever encountered. Social media plays a big part in America's unhappiness. We are constantly told what we should look like, how to act, and that with hard work you can achieve anything, but due to society’s constructions, these objectives are unattainable, leading to further dissatisfaction.

Would you create your own non-profit?

Absolutely!! I plan to work for non-profits all throughout my life. Creating my own would just be the cherry on top. I love when hard work pays off in visible ways, so creating my own non-profit would mean that no corruption would take place and I would be able to say that I am doing my part in the world to help others directly.

As humans, we’re very consumed with ourselves and our lives that we forget that we’re all connected, as you mentioned. How do you think we could spread love in our day to day lives?

Being present is the first step to realizing and showing the interconnectedness of all beings. When someone is having a conversation with you, give them your full attention. This is how to show love to someone else. I think, for the most part, doing small acts throughout your day is better than doing one big generous act. Smile and be overly kind to your local barista, server, or fellow person walking down the street. Giving direct loving-kindness to those you encounter is what really matters.

Do you plan on taking your Masters in Thailand as well? Or do you want to come back to America and create change here?

No, I plan to get my Masters back in America. My plan is to work for a non-profit that also has affairs in other parts of the world. I would like to be stationed in America for the later years of my life but would love to be able to travel all around during my youth while working for a good cause.

You also have great music taste - what are your favorite artists and albums?

I love The Arctic Monkeys, Cage the Elephant, Fleetwood Mac, The Beatles, Sza, The Arcs and many more! I have a very eclectic taste in music, so I go back and forth from listening to jazz and reggae artists to listening to indie or Rock and Roll. I personally love George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, Tame Impala’s Currents album, as well as Sza’s Ctrl album.

How would you describe the importance of veganism and abstaining from meat? What made you be a vegan? How has the journey been?

Being vegan is a lifestyle, not a diet. Being vegan is critical especially in today’s climate--literally. In the beginning, I transitioned to being vegan because I saw a video of the inhumane treatment of animals in factory farming. As the years went on, I learned how the meat industry has an immense impact on the environment and human health. I did not and do not want to support an industry that harms others in the process and becoming vegan is my part in creating a better future for humanity. My older sister, Alyssa, has been vegan for roughly seven years, so she was a huge influence on my transition to healthier living. For this reason, I already understood a lot about veganism, what to eat, and eventually gained support from my family. The journey has been a learn along the way type of process. In the beginning, I did not understand what was healthy to eat, how to cook, and what to order out at a restaurant, but again, it is a learning process that becomes very easy if you become vegan for the right reasons. Oftentimes, people who go vegan in order to lose weight do not remain vegan, but people who go vegan for the animals make the connection between what is on their plate and where it came from. After going vegan I assumed that I would miss a lot of the foods I used to eat all the time--cheese and chicken nuggets--but those temptations never cross my mind. Each day and with the influence and interactions from my internship at the Vegetarian Resource Group, I have learned so much more about the movement and how to create tasty and nutritious meals!

What would you recommend for someone who wants to practice veganism and what are common stereotypes that are way off in reality?

I would definitely recommend having patience. In the beginning, the hardest part of being vegan is going out to restaurants with your non-vegan friends. Trust me, you will learn what foods are tasty and what exactly you can have as being a vegan. I recommend doing a lot of research about how to create tasty meals and the effects the meat industry has on human health and the environment. When explaining this lifestyle choice to others, remember many people do not know what veganism entails and the point behind it, so remain calm but speak your truth. A lot of the times, people stereotype vegans to be hippies who are delusional, they eat like rabbits, veganism is a trend but is not practical, vegans do not get enough protein in their diets, and many many more. Again, educating yourself can prepare you on how to have conversations with people who know nothing about the lifestyle by backing it up with scientific facts and information. Be patient with yourself, others, and the process.

What was it like teaching your own vegan class?

It was an awesome experience! I got to teach a couple of men how to create cheap but nutritious meals. I really enjoyed being able to have conversations with the men to see how they eat, what products they are able to obtain, and what types of foods they enjoy eating. The class taught me how to take charge of a situation and to be more confident in my abilities as a leader.

You are right in saying that change can happen at the “lower level.” Little by little, if we change the life of one person, that amounts to a generation of love and relationships.

// You plan on living a life of service and love, and I am in awe of you. Keep crushin’, and I can’t wait to visit you in the future.

Love, love, love you Ike!!! You are one of my biggest supporters and I appreciate our friendship immensely <333

Update #1
January 16th, 2020

A Year In Review: Taylor Gale’s 2019

2019 was a great year in every possible way. I graduated from University, got to travel all over Southeast Asia while living and teaching in Thailand for a year, made new friends from all over, and gained a ton of patience. The greatest thing I learned from this year was to stop taking everything so personally. I often catch myself thinking that others actions are a reflection of my own self-worth, which is a thought process that I think many people can relate to. At the beginning of my teaching career abroad, my students and coworkers were very vocal about what they thought of me through a barrage of unkind comments and critiques. These comments festered into negative thoughts in my head leading to many moments where I would spiral. Luckily, I had the guidance of my wise mother and friends to pull me out of that deterring mindset.

Once I retrained my mind to accept things and not let whatever it was to affect me personally, I began living my life exactly how I wanted to. It’s truly freeing once you refrain from listening to others’ opinions. It made me become a happier person overall. I practiced being kind and gentle with myself and others, which helped me foster a stronger sense of self-love. I was able to laugh off most things and my students began to notice. They got closer to me because I was able to joke around with them more. I could write about a lot of life lessons I have learned from this Thailand experience, but the biggest take away for me has been to see and accept everything for what it is, as it is and to be confident in myself by no longer taking things personally. Now don’t get me wrong, some things still sting, but as long as you are putting in the work to better yourself, that’s all that matters.

Xo 2019
Taylor Gale