A Setback.

My heart is heavy. My heart has been heavy since Tuesday night. My reasoning should go without saying, but I will say it anyway.

The unthinkable happened. The seemingly impossible became reality. The threat to minorities and the screeching halt to progress unfolded before our eyes. Donald Trump became our president-elect.

This bothers me on so many levels for so many reasons. It breaks my heart knowing that the hatred this man has spewed was backed up and supported by half of this nation’s voters. This isn’t to say every Trump voter is racist, homophobic, xenophobic, or sexist. But it is to say that many are. And it is to say that many of his voters are, and do not see that. It hurts my heart to see fathers of daughters potentially jeopardize the progress women have made in this past century by electing a man who is so candidly okay with acts of sexual harassment/assault. It hurts to see how little value some people place on other human lives for the simple fact that they don’t think or look like them. It hurts to see this abhorrent behavior normalized, when it should be renounced. This nation has come too far to be represented by someone who shows so little concern for the well being of, well, just about anyone that has historically been oppressed.

It also bothers me because Hillary Clinton (who, for the record, won the popular vote), despite her prolific resume of service in the United States government, despite her tireless efforts, despite her unparalleled competency, she still lost to a man who has absolutely no political background and has made heinous assertions of hatred. Do y’all get that? She did everything right while he did very little, and yet — She. Still. Lost. Is that not just the most ridiculously accurate depiction of the reality of women? She was the most qualified, poised, prepared candidate, and an angry, hateful, prejudiced, unqualified beat her on the premise of making a country “great” again when this country has never been great for its entire population. Is that not what it’s about? Liberty and justice FOR ALL? Where is the liberty and justice for the entire demographics that this man has threatened?

I have hope for this nation. I believe in equality, justice, freedom, and perseverance. I believe we will overcome every obstacle in time. Even this one. I have to believe that. To the people who voted for Hillary Clinton as well: my heart aches with you. I know this is a devastating blow. It’s okay to mourn. To the people who voted for Donald Trump: I sincerely hope your elect proves me wrong. To the little girls who watched this election: you can do anything. I promise. Do not let this keep you from chasing your dreams. It is us, the little girls grown into passionate fighters, who will change this world. And we will create the world we deserve. I know right now it looks bleak.We have to keep fighting anyway. I believe in us. And Hillary believes in us, too.fullsizerender-1

A Heartbreak.

As a precursor, I want to make it known that no, this isn’t exclusively a feminist topic. But it is one that’s been weighing heavily on my mind, and it is one that I’ve found common ground with between my experience and the feminist beliefs I hold so dear to my heart.

Look. Heartbreak sucks. It hurts. It’s painful and it’s weird and it makes you question a lot. But a huge component of heartbreak, a defining outcome that determines whether you let it defeat you and keep you in a state of hurting or if you’ll rise from the ashes like a phoenix, is resiliency. When life breaks you down, will you be resilient? Will you use the pain to create strength? Will you stand up, dust yourself off, and become better from it?

The person who broke my heart isn’t a bad person. He’s a really good person, actually. Which SUCKS. I kinda wanna hate him, but I can’t, because he doesn’t really deserve it. Things just didn’t work, and I respect and accept that. However, that doesn’t mean coming to grips with that didn’t hurt like. a. bitch. It still kind of does every now and then. But I’ve learned so much about myself and life in general from it.

Being with him was fun. We laughed a lot, ate a lot, wasted time, and just generally were together a lot. But a strong relationship that does not make. It takes emotional compatibility, and that just wasn’t something we had.

Breaking up hurt. It does for everyone. It took a lot out of me, and I’m still trying to reach a point of being completely comfortable again. But one thing that has helped me an unbelievable amount has been my friends.

It’s been a few weeks of late night crying. Deep talks. Hugs out of the blue because it was apparent that a hug was needed. Silent understanding. Going on Tinder (yikes). Typical post-breakup affirmations like “he totally doesn’t deserve you” and “you’re gonna find better.” Not believing the post-breakup affirmations. Being physically threatened when I don’t believe the post-breakup affirmations. (Thanks, Kayla.)

But it’s also been a few weeks of ice cream, laughing, laying around in each other’s company, having a really good time and making friends with people I really didn’t see myself being friends with before the breakup (like his ex before me, who is actually really cool and sweet). It’s been self-discovery and realizing things I couldn’t have realized if I were with him. It’s been surprisingly good, and despite the occasional wave of emotion, it’s been happy. A kind of happy I didn’t think would exist without him.

I’m a deeply emotional person. Ask any one of my friends, and they’ll confirm that. I have so much love in my heart to give, and I didn’t understand any other way to use it besides to give it away to a boy. But this has proven to me that giving that love away to a boy shouldn’t be my first priority, or even my second or third. I should be pouring this love into myself. My friends. My family. My life. Creating a stronger, better me with that love. And one day, maybe someone will come into my life and share it with me. But until then, I will grow into someone who is independent, strong, capable, and dauntless, someone that embodies the feminist belief. As feminist icon Maya Angelou said, “I can be changed by what happens to me, but I will not be reduced by it.” I will blossom into a human manifestation of empowerment.  I will rise.

 

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Role Models.

Any feminist can attest to the strong influences that powerful women hold in their lives and beliefs. Over the course of my life, I have had the privilege of knowing so many brilliant, passionate, profoundly beautiful women, and having them shape and mold my outlook on life. It would be simple to dote on my female family members, as they are undoubtedly all of the adjectives listed above, yet I feel my strong familial attachment to them hinders my ability to separate their impact on me as a whole rather than my perception of feminism as it stands today. That being said, I’ve decided to speak of two women who have taught me invaluable lessons in empowerment, strength, and fraternity: my second mom Billie, and my eleventh grade history teacher, Mrs. Humphrey.

Billie, or as we’ve all come to lovingly call her “Dolla Billz”, is my best friend’s mother. She is without a doubt one of the strongest women I have ever met. In all of my emotional distress, she has been there to offer me kindness and advice, whether it be “kick his ass, who needs him?” “ice cream will fix this,”or what have you. She pushed me to never settle for less than I deserved, to always seek out the best life I could achieve, and to certainly never take shit from anyone. In all she’s seen in her life, she is still one of the most vibrant, goodhearted women to ever grace my life. She’s raising four fiercely brilliant young women to be as strong and fearless as she, and doing a spectacular job at that. For personifying girl power and constantly encouraging passion, I hold Billie to be one of the greatest personal influences in how I view womanhood.

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Me and Dolla Billz on Graduation Night.

I started coming into my own as a vehemently opinionated – while undoubtedly timid – young woman around the same time I got into Mrs. Humphrey’s dual credit U.S. History class my junior year. She had such an amazing reputation within the walls of my small high school: you were seriously hard pressed to find a single soul that didn’t at least admire her, if not adore her. Everyone spoke of her kindness, her compassion, and her genuine love for each of her students. I have never met a person more perfectly fit to be a teacher. It didn’t take long in her class to learn that. The thing about my hometown is that, as I’ve mentioned, it is largely conservative. However, she wasn’t, and she quickly saw that neither was I. She saw the insecurity I had in speaking up for what I believe in and in her own little way, she encouraged me to no longer fear what anyone has to say about what I believe to be right. It was from her that I developed one of the governing principles of my life: speak nobly about what is right and true, and speak it loudly. She pushed me to participate in class debates and from her, I found my voice. Walking out of her class, my heart was broken with the knowledge that she was retiring, but also full for knowing her and for her touching my heart as she did. She pushed me to do and be better, and from then on, I’ve owned my bold outspokenness with pride, empowered by the knowledge that my passion is an asset rather than a flaw.

These are just a couple of the bold, strong, passionate women who have taught me valuable lessons in empowerment and standing together, which are some of the strongest foundations of feminism itself. I have so much to owe to them; more than I could ever express in a simple blog post. I know that now that they’ve helped raise and nurture me in their own different ways, it’s now my responsibility to make something of these lessons they’ve taught, of this love they’ve given, and make them proud of who I’ve become from all they’ve done for me. Dolla Billz and Mrs. Humphrey, this is for you.