findingmyvoice

Thoughts on Rights and the Women’s March

I’m sitting here watching the Boston Women’s March online, one day after the inauguration of our new president. I was planning on going to the march, but as the numbers of people expected crept up past 90,000, I bailed – knowing me in large crowds, in a post-bombing Boston, with tweets advising you what to do if you get arrested – and stayed home, but am watching a live stream, and keeping up with the hashtag #boswomensmarch on Twitter. A bunch of my friends are there, and part of me really wants to be there (total FOMO), to be part of history today, but it’s not like I was super dying to go. I thought it would be an interesting thing to witness, and my friends were going, so I figured I’d tag along.

See, I’m new to this whole politics thing (what a time to get involved!). In the past few years now I’ve been taking a step back from my life and taking a hard look at what I actually believe and value, to determine if it’s mine or what someone else has told me. I’ve done a complete pivot on my political views, and have been having so many conversations with my politically-minded friends to figure out what I belong in my beliefs. See, my Dad was into politics (I remember he would watch the MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour growing up), but he passed away when I was a young teen. My mom has had nothing to do with politics, and is very much of the don’t-rock-the-boat mindset; she’s also a very conservative Christian whose black and white opinions significantly influenced my beliefs. My dabbling in high school in human rights and equality she didn’t know how to handle, and in my twenties I wrestled with and eventually considered myself a Christian, and so aligned with the conservative right, taking everything I was told at face value. Because when you align with a religion, you have to believe what they tell you, even if it doesn’t feel right to you…right?

I’m coming around. I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine about how I’ve come to understand and value what Black Lives Matter mean. I’m recognizing what privilege is. I’m doing my research on the big issues. I’m listening to other voices and stories. I’m trying not to judge people different than me, people who I’ve been convinced are “going to hell” because they’re different. I’m also learning that I’m a person who matters in this world, rather than I’m someone who is absolutely nothing, a sinful person deserving of hell, without a saving God. I’ve always been a little bit of a feminist, and I’m learning now that it’s Ok to be one, even encouraged to be one, standing up for women and our stories and our plight and our fight, though I’m slowly coming to understand all the nuance that entails. I never liked being involved in a religion that discounts women’s voices and says you don’t matter unless you’re married with kids.

I’ve been super privileged to not have a lot of these issues touch me – I work at a place that is 95% women, run by a woman, I’ve never gotten whistled at or viewed as a sexual object (once back in high school, and I’m in my mid-thirties now), I haven’t had to navigate health care, I’ve never been pregnant, etc. The only real issue I’ve had is the bias against women in the church. But for our president to come out and degrade women publicly felt personal; for a friend of mine – a Trump supporter – to write a post about how making derogatory comments about women is Ok “up to a certain point” felt personal, like I wouldn’t be protected by him. To hear all the issues and the stories and the concerns coming out in these recent days is starting to feel more personal. To even be on social media watching coverage of the Women’s March and seeing men make comments about “whining women” and “What rights don’t they have?” is starting to personally infuriate me.

So yes, there is a lot of work to be done. And if this administration wants to turn the clocks back on thirty years of progress, then there really is a lot of work to be done.

Which Voices Are You Listening To?

I had an interesting thought this evening. Sometimes you get into those moods, where nothing is going right, and then you have a glass of wine and everything just slips into terrible-land? Yup. I’m in a bit of a career crisis right now by virtue of the fact that the day job is colliding with the afterhours passion. For instance, right now I was supposed to be at the big yearly writing conference in LA because writing is what I do. I had it all planned out: It wouldn’t interfere with work, because the big event was last week, I could get that done, and then take some time off to go network with my fellow writers and get in some great talks, live blog for my blog, and meet new friends. And then they moved the event at work to…today. Opening day of the conference. And such is the nature of the event that I have to be around for the next few days to tend to things. So. No conference for me. Read the rest of this entry »

Stopping the Voice

I found myself thinking back over an email I sent the other day with regret, guilt, concern. See, I had sent an email to a colleague asking him to keep his ears open for a position that might be a good fit for me. It’s the first time I’ve ever blatantly networked. I’m not currently doing a job search (though this past year at work has been a low-grade hell), and it was just a “keep me in mind” kind of email. But then today, when I thought about it, I felt guilty.

Guilty. Regretting. Afraid I did the wrong thing. Afraid of it backfiring. Thinking I should just stay put. What would he think of me? Would he wonder why I was asking? Would he blow it off? Would there be something? What if he said that he did have something, come talk? I should just stay put. Why am I reaching out when it’s not completely dire? What was I thinking?

I quickly identified my thoughts. And I asked myself, Why am I not worthy of a new job opportunity? Why do I think I’m not important enough to want some new projects, a new atmosphere, a new way to use my talents? Why was I afraid that I would be judged and have to explain myself? Did I feel inferior somehow? Why do I feel I need to stay in a situation I’m not 100% happy with?

I have some thoughts on why I think this way. But I had to say no. I am worthy enough to take a chance. In fact, I don’t take enough chances. I shouldn’t be ashamed that I asked someone to keep me in mind for a job opening, at all. At all! I have also been thinking that I need to think about my career. Right now I serve the ends of others. What about my ends? What about what I want to achieve?

Still a long way to go, but at least I stopped the voice in its path.

Breaking Out of the 9-5

I just figured that’s how the world works, that’s how everyone else is. That everyone has a passion and unique interests, but that they have to figure out a way to do “normal work” first before they can work on their passion. That side passions and interests are somehow hobbies that you have to fit into the few hours you have outside the 9-5 job. That the 9-5 is the most important because that’s what pays the bills, and side passions don’t pay bills. You can’t earn money from ____. It just won’t happen. So put in your time for someone else and work on the passions on the side in the little time you have left, and someday, when you’re retired…

I have a lot of dreams, and my interests laser focus around literature, writing, American history, and the sea. I’ve been doing the side hustle for a while now, working on novels, working on blogging, trying to figure it out, but all around my 9-5, which is a great 9-5 and utilizes a lot of my talents, but at the end of the day I’m furthering someone else’s vision. I’m not furthering mine. Do I have vision?

I think I do. I want to write books. I want to lead discussions on great literature. I want to take the Boston Book Blog as far as I can go. I want to connect in the literary community. I want to talk about story and storytelling. I want to be a Melville scholar, a Transcendentalist scholar, a 19th c. America scholar. I want to go to academic conferences and present, go to writing conferences and connect. I want to think deeply about symbolism and metaphor, and meet others who do as well. I want to be part of a tribe that I genuinely feel connected to. I want to learn more about the sea and ships, and learn to sail, and maybe even sail on a tall ship. I want to create a legacy under my own name, and not under someone else’s.

Maybe there are some people who are perfectly content to do the 9-5 – after all, there are so many great positives about a 9-5, so much room for advancement and opportunity, if you happen to really dig what you’re doing. Maybe it’s just me who needs to find an alternative way.

Burnout

Are you stuck, or burned out? I feel ya. Are you moving and living and doing your thing only to realize that you’re looking over a space and watching someone who looks a lot like you live the life that you intended to live? Do you feel like that, as much adjusting as you’re doing over here, you’re still supposed to be over there, like you’re rearranging deck chair and changing cabins on the ship, but you’re on the wrong ship?

That’s my life right now. I’m in this really difficult median space where I realize that I can’t keep going like I have been (work, school, trying to hustle a side career), but I have yet to move into what I want my life to be.

I think a lot of that is about finding your voice as well. Are you working to pursue your dream of writing a novel or starting a business or being a reenactor or volunteering with the elderly, but you’re stuck somehow, giving too many hours to others’ voices that you work for or that control you, and you’re not even really sure what your own voice is? Have you ever asked, Who am I? What are you putting first in your life, what are you prioritizing? What are you giving to others?

What happens when you hit a wall? What happens when you’re trying to balance the reality and the dreams and you burn out? What then? That’s what I’m trying to figure out right now, as I have zero work/life balance in my life, and everything is all out of whack. I have so many projects I want to pursue and use my training and my talents to do so, but I’m chained to a job that, with the commute too, takes 11 hours out of my day. 11 hours. Then I get home and have homework for my master’s, I’m trying to edit a novel I wrote, I have writing and a giant website that is going untouched because I don’t have the time, and forget hanging out with friends. A large portion of my friends moved away, so I’m in a place where I also have to put in the effort to make new friends, too. Where is the time for that? And it’s been a long time since I’ve been to the gym, as someone who used to go every day. I’ve gained a lot of weight due to stress in the past year and would love to get rid of it, but when?

Survival mode.

And I have no idea what to put first, and no idea if drastic measures need to be taken, or if it’s just little tweaks. All I know is that life right now isn’t sustainable, and I fear that I’m just going to keep getting further down the road and still have none of my dreams realized. It’s been so long, and I’m still waiting.

Irony

WordPress just emailed me and said that due to a glitch in the system no one was able to find this blog. No one could find a blog about finding a voice.

Leaps and Bounds

I saw this quote tonight on Pinterest: “Wake up early. Drink coffee. Work hard. Be ambitious. Keep your priorities straight, your mind right, and your head up. Do well, live well, and dress really well. Do what you love, love what you do. It is time to start living.”

I needed this quote tonight. I feel like my life is hitting dead ends, or culs-de-sac, where I’m going around and around. I’ve known for a while that my job is not long-term sustainable for my mental health anymore, and I have this vision that I’m over here doing life, watching the life I want to have over there. And how do I bridge that gap?

This week has been especially challenging, and there’s this frustration and longing I have to do something else, something specifically else, with my life. Most people don’t have a whole second career they’re pursuing outside of their day job. I do. And more and more I’ve had confirmation of that. I need to make a change, a transition, and it’s going to be hard, but I don’t want to get another five or ten years down the road and still only be merely steps ahead of where I was before. I want leaps and bounds.

Presence of Self

Part of finding my voice, I’m realizing, is becoming convinced that I am a person who has her own ideas and preferences and vision, things that are able to be realized. This is in opposition to doing what other people express, or living life to please others. I hate the term looking out for Number 1, and I come from a moralistic background that taught never to look out for Number 1, but I’m slowly finding that it’s true. It’s not selfishness or pride – it can be, but shouldn’t – it’s simply recognizing that you are a unique individual who has a voice.

It’s Not Science Versus Religion

I’m always confused, and a little perturbed when folks pit science against religion. Having been engaged in a religious community for a while, I know those inner workings, I know those beliefs, and when someone comes along and says, “I believe in science,” I can’t help but think about comparing metaphysical thought about existence, purpose, and morality against my high school chemistry experiments!

Let’s just call it what it is: Reason versus faith. Or, empiricism versus rationalism. But “science” versus “religion” is a little too juvenile.

Reason versus faith? Now we have something to talk about.

Finishing 2015

How was your year? Did you jump forward in your dreams and goals? Did you lose a lot or have a difficult year and you’re glad it’s finally over with? Did you drift, or just keep the status quo? I feel like I did that. It’s New Year’s Eve and it seems like last year’s New Year’s Eve was just a few months ago. I remember having a few specific goals that I said, “When I come back home for New Year’s next year, I’ll have completed them.” Well, some of them didn’t get completed, and here I am again. I tend to enjoy New Year because it gives me a chance to start again with my goals and projects, and get some new hope.

The biggest accomplishment of this past year was writing a novel. I finished my 400 page first draft a few days ago, and since I began writing it Oct. 2014, the bulk of it was written in 2015 – while I was working full time and doing a master’s degree. I have no idea how I did that, but I did! I shouldn’t discount that accomplishment, even though I am a writer and it’s just the thing I do.

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