A Tiny Revolution

 

"What didn't you do to bury me / but you forgot that I was a seed" - Dinos Christianopoulos

Last year saw a distinct shift in my life in a way that I don’t feel I’ve fully mapped the edges of. In ways both tangible and not, I simply know that what has been can no longer be. It’s a difficult feeling to articulate, something like knowing you’ve outgrown your shoes. I feel the limits of the person I’ve imagined myself to be, and I am learning to imagine anew.

 

My father’s parents passed away last summer, just 85 days apart. It’s the first time I’ve experienced the passing of a generation, and it’s been strange to recalibrate to a new idea of family structure where now my parents’ generation is the oldest and my generation is in the middle. It’s been strange to see their home transition into just a house. In death it feels clear that the meaning of one’s life is in the way it touches the lives of others, and that in many ways the physicalities are almost incidental. It doesn’t matter if your clothes were nice or if your house was clean; it matters if you were kind. It’s somehow easy to forget that.

Last year I also crossed into my late twenties, which made me feel irrationally “old”. Up until now I’ve never taken on the title of full-fledged “woman,” always opting instead for lighter things like “girl” or “lady.” Even though I’ve been both an adult and a woman for many years, I’ve somehow been reluctant to fully own that power. It feels too serious, too responsible, too weighty, and in some ways I think I’ve been afraid of how taking that on will change me. I will have to become more assertive and get over my aversion to conflict, and that sounds unpleasant. I will have to be more intentional about the role I want to play in the world and in creating the world I want my children to grow up in, and making those decisions is overwhelming. But the thought of someone else making decisions for me is unbearable, and I know that I have to claim that power before someone else claims it over me.

After the election, I wanted to be shocked by the level of misogyny, racism, classism, and general disrespect for the humanity of others that we’d apparently just signed off on. I was deeply disappointed, sure, but it wasn’t all that shocking. I was 11 years old the first time I remember experiencing sexual harassment, and I’ve been experiencing it with some regularity since then. It didn’t matter who the president was. I was once in an embarrassingly long relationship with someone who made racist jokes and convinced me that I was not a worthy person. It didn’t matter who the president was then, either. These dark undercurrents have always been present in more ways than I can list, and I appreciate that I’m deeply fortunate to have not experienced more than I have. I have failed to gauge the pervasiveness of the thought that not all people are equal and deserving of equal love and respect, and I have failed to fight back.

 

I am a woman. I am grown. I am growing still. There is strength in my voice and in the work of my hands, and so long as I can summon that strength I believe that I have a duty to use it for good. I will be clumsy and awkward and say the wrong things because my experiences are limited and I’m new to this. But know that my heart is with you, know that I believe in your value, and know that I will do my best to stand with you.

 
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