This post is a little different than what I normally write about, but it’s been on my heart, and I need to put it into words.
I turned 33 at the beginning of October. I’m still trying to process the fact that I’m 33 when I feel like I’m 3 or 13 on many days. But I’m also embracing it. As I neared my 30th birthday, I was frequently told that your 30s are the best. You figure out who you are. You care less about what other people think. You find this new empowerment. And you know what? They were all right.
I don’t think I really knew who I was until I turned 30. I had lived in a bubble of privilege and wasn’t faced with the reality of how life can suck for many people (or to be realistic, I didn’t acknowledge this) until I came to North Carolina for my job. I teach at a high risk, high need public school and a lot of these kids really aren’t prepared for college-level writing, and I’ll be honest, at first I hated it. And I still get incredibly frustrated. But I also know that’s where I need to be. They resist me, and they sure don’t like when I push and challenge them, but I feel like I’m doing important work because so many people gave up on a lot of these kids a long time ago.
But my 30s have also been hard. My heart breaks every day for people, and I’m filled with rage every time I look at the news. It seems like every day I find something new to be in disbelief over. I have lots of opinions and statistics on why that is, but I’ll save you my rants. I teach early and nineteenth-century American literature, so I can also show you that Americans have a past of being pretty terrible. You’d like to think that we’ve evolved and improved since the 1800s, but as I keep telling my kids, the issues we read about are the same issues we’re battling today.
Trigger warning (assault). These last two weeks have been especially hard. I’m dumbfounded at the number of women I know who have been raped and/or assaulted and have told their stories in response to the Kavanaugh nomination. My stomach has been in knots for those who have to carry and relive this trauma and also because of all the women who keep saying things like, “another woman who’s going to ruin the reputation of a good man.” ARE YOU SERIOUS. How does reputation compare to living with the trauma of assault??
A friend of mine posted an article on Facebook that really summed up the feelings I and probably many of you have. The article is an opinion piece from The Washington Post titled, “It is very difficult to get the train to stop.” I highly recommend that you give it a read.
I know misogyny is deeply ingrained in us and in our society. And I know many of you, like me, feel so helpless. Our country and our government have basically told us that women’s experiences don’t matter as much as a powerful white man’s reputation, and I’m not ok with that. And I am so angry.
BUT, there are also some really strong, amazing people out there. I heard from one last Friday. She stated that “we owe the world our witness.” She asked who has the duty and who doesn’t when it comes to standing up to things and then explained that the people who live it and experience get a pass because they live it and experience it. I, however, do not.
“Women are powerful and dangerous.” – Audre Lorde
So my 33rd year of life is dedicated to women. To the strong women in my life who have influenced and inspired me – there are so many, and for that I am so grateful. To the women before me who sacrificed to give me the life I have, and to the women who will come after me and hopefully be the train instead of the train track. To the women who haven’t found their strength yet or who don’t have women to look up to, surround you, protect you, or love you. For women of color, immigrant women, trans women, women of different nationalities, ethnicities, sexual orientations, abilities, and religions. And even to the women who have intentionally hurt me – you made me stronger and more resilient. I promise to work for all of you.
Let’s raise each other up.
And remember, I see you. I hear you. I BELIEVE YOU.