“Weren’t you scared? I would be scared!”
“You’re so brave.”
“Well aren’t you just an independent little thing!”
“You did it by yourself?! * look of approval* I’m impressed!”
“I think it’s great that today’s females are so adventurous.”
These were just a few of the remarks made to me in response to me telling people that I went on a vacation by myself… 9 hours away… And I drove. Oh… and I’m a woman… Almost forgot to tell you that. Not that it matters. Yet apparently it does.
As I’ve gotten older I have become more and more a feminist. Not by choice but kind of by the natural progression of my life. I’m a 31 year old single woman with no kids, no husband, and no prospects… Yet. I went from living by myself in a 2 bedroom apartment to choosing to move into my best friend’s basement… Just because I could. I spend most nights recluse in said basement with my heating blanket, candles and Netflix. When I’m not at home I’m throwing myself into my job, or I go on a date here or there when I find someone that seems worth the discomfort of wearing my “date bra”, or you can find me doing a variety of other activities. Sometimes if I’m feeling extra saucy I’ll actually hang out with real live people! Regardless of where I’m at or what I’m doing, I am always looking ahead to the next thing I’m going to do or the next place I’m going to travel to, and in most cases I visualize myself doing it…. Alone.
Let me circle back to “You’re so brave!”, my vacation, and why I have lived a life that has organically made a feminist out of me.
I went on a vacation by myself to Nashville. I stayed at hostels, used Air B&B, visited with a couple friends for a couple days as well (See… I’m not a total recluse!), but mostly mingled with strangers or roamed the streets solo. I met some amazing people, ate some amazing food, and listened to some amazing music. More importantly I learned so much about how to let peace guide me, about the need to sometimes guard myself from even well meaning individuals, how obsessive planning can steal your child-like wonder, and how I can make a home wherever I am if I go with the mentality of not just “What can I take from this place?” but “What can I give to it?”
I didn’t divulge many of the details of my trip to most family and friends, except for a select few… And by few I mean probably only one. I come from a small town and with most small towns come a small town mentality that usually silently (or loudly) fears the unknown and unfamiliar. I come from a culture where woman grow up to become wives and mothers who support their families from the kitchen, from the PTA, from the church pew, and who always ALWAYS seek to be better for the betterment of your family and friends. If you go somewhere… say off to college… it is usually safe to say that you will come back as an engaged woman. If you didn’t then people would wonder what you did while you were away those 4 years! Don’t get me wrong. The kitchen, the pew, the PTA, the family… I want that. In my heart I want it. Here’s the thing though, currently I have none of that… Not for lack of trying. So what’s a girl to do when she isn’t living her ideal life? She creates a new ideal!
I wasn’t going to wait until I had a boo to travel with or to go out to dinner with. I wasn’t going to just snag the next “nice guy” I met simply because I know he’d be nice to me and keep a roof over my head (like being treated respectfully is as magical as spotting a unicorn and as if my own money wasn’t enough to give me basic shelter). I was going to travel, eat, drink, and play by myself if it meant that I would be able to experience a life full of adventure and discovery!
Doing so definitely pushed my boundaries and comfort zones. I had to get past what I felt people may have been thinking when they saw a woman sitting in a crowded restaurant alone eating dinner, or the pangs I felt in my heart when I felt not empowered but very much alone while I sat next to a couple in a dark movie theater… while also trying to hear the movie over the sounds of their tongues slapping against one anothers (talk about feeling awkward!). I had to create a life which clearly defined the roles of loneliness vs being alone. Taking a vacation by myself was for me the true test. Like a game of chicken between me and my independence. In the end both won the game because I found more of myself when I pushed my independence passed a new limit. Though there is more where that comes from.
The older I get the more I refuse to let my gender or race, my circumstances, general consensus, small or fearful thinking to limit the amount of fulfilment or contentment I have in my life. Regardless of if I’m traveling the world or spending another quiet night on my couch, I will be at home with both worlds within me. The adventurer and the recluse. The social introvert. The single woman with the spirit of a gypsy and the heart of a housewife. I can be it all. I am it all.
That is why as I’ve gotten older I have become more and more a feminist. The older I get the less defined I want to be. The less defined I am the more I do things that people think are brave when really if a man did them it would be seen as “being a bachelor”… When really it’s just “being”. Being in the moment. Being an active participant in your life. Being the creator of moments instead of just hoping that the moments that happen to you are ones you can survive.
Don’t be astonished by the things I’m doing that color outside the lines… I have much more I hope to do… and there have been women doing much more long before I came to exist. Instead create a life that makes you astonished with yourself. That makes you say “Wow! I did that!” That makes you more and more believe that you can do anything you put your mind to because… Well… Look at everything you’ve done thus far… And many of those things you did while experiencing fear and anxiety, and yet you did it!
I’m not brave. No braver than anyone else.
I’m just refusing to stay stagnant waiting for someone or something.
I am that someone. And I’m doing something.