Struggling with Feminism while Still Considering Myself a Feminist

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*NOTE* I identify with feminism in that I believe that all men and women should be treated equal insofar as being given the same human dignity and respect. I find nothing odd about that at all. Don’t pay me less because I am a woman. Don’t tell me that I am “stupid” because I am a woman. I don’t think that you are “stupid” because you’re a man. Like me, you are a human being who deserves dignity and respect.

Okay, that being out of the way, let’s talk about my issues with feminism.

I don’t use birth control. I am not sexually active. I am Pro-Life. I don’t hate men. I want to be a mom one day. I DON’T THINK ANYONE WHO USES BIRTH CONTROL OR IS SEXUALLY ACTIVE IS A BAD PERSON. It’s just not my choice.

I feel that’s what feminism is all about – being able to choose what works best for you as a woman. But sometimes I feel like we still look down on the choices women make, like you want to be a stay-at-home mom so you put feminism back 50 years. I used to be guilty of this, and I think that’s partially because that’s how I was conditioned as a feminist, that if you’re not in the workforce, you’re demeaning everything our Founding Mothers ever worked for.

Then again, I have also seen the opposite. I have seen women looked down upon because they needed to work for whatever reason. People say, “God will provide, you need to stay home with your kids.” Meanwhile, the woman with the bedridden or deceased husband is saying, “Forget that, God provided me a way to feed my children, so I’m going to take it.” The difficult thing is that everything is a case-by-case basis. There is no one-size-fits-all for what a family should or shouldn’t do. But either way, it’s not for us to judge that.

As a librarian, I work in a primarily female field. And honestly, sometimes I feel like I am not doing much for feminism in this way because women have held this role for decades. The campaigns to get girls involved in math and science are well-meaning, and I’m not saying anything negative about them. However, I chose this field, but indirectly I feel like I am looked down upon for it. Maybe it’s all in my head, but I can’t help but feel that way sometimes. But even more than that, I’m scared if I leave the field for a few years to raise a family, that no one will let me back in, by virtue of the fact that I committed a feminist sin. However, I am also afraid of quitting the field entirely. I would be okay with taking a job part-time if my husband had a good enough job. I’m the kind of person who needs to keep working, just because I love my job.

I’m terribly conflicted right now, caught between two worlds, the world of the family (which society puts down) and the world of the career (which society praises).

Who Says You Can’t Go Home?

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“I spent 20 years trying to get out of this place. I was looking for something I couldn’t replace. I was running away from the only thing I’ve ever known.”

That Bon Jovi/Jennifer Nettles song stuck with me when I first moved back to Pittsburgh. Except in my mind, I was singing about Ohio, the place I just left. That I would go home to Ohio and everything would be okay. That I was never really leaving it.

However, as time went on, the more I realized I was singing about Pittsburgh every time that song came on the radio and I cranked it up as loud as I felt comfortable. “There’s only one place they call me one of their own.”

And that’s this tiny town in Western Pennsylvania.

Tonight, I went to Theology on Tap, where basically you drink beer and talk about God. Sounds like a pretty cool gig. Well, I always put it off because I didn’t want to enter back into that world again, the world I tried for 18 years to escape. Plus, some past hurts and grievances played into it that I didn’t want to confront. But tonight, I actually had an open Wednesday, so I decided to go.

I had a blast. The speaker talked about love and fear and how his life’s journey took such a long-winded path and eventually led him to faith. I took a lot from that talk. But even more than that, I connected with people I haven’t talked to in a long time. And I learned something. I can try to run away from my hometown, and I can try to run away from the Pittsburgh area. But the reality is that even if I end up moving back to Ohio, I am still from Pennsylvania first.

Who says you can’t go home?

If Only I Was Beautiful and Other Lies I Tell Myself

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Daily, we’re accosted by photos, media images, and commercials telling us we’re not “beautiful.” For the longest time, I stared at myself in the mirror and thought, “If only I had less acne, if only I had a smaller nose, if only, if only, if only.” Then last summer, I decided to stop using make-up on a daily basis. No foundation covering the blemishes I tried so hard to hide, no mascara or eyeliner to frame my eyes (I was always rubbish with eyeshadow). And then I made a valuable discovery. I was still beautiful. I looked less like a doll and more like…me. I looked the way God intended me to look.

There are always days I feel rejected, when a guy doesn’t notice me or when it seems like all these girls walking by me have flawless hair. But the reality is that I am beautiful. My hair looks better shorter because it’s thin and fine, so I rock that look. My face is fine the way is is, so I don’t wear make-up, except on special occasions, like friends’ weddings. I’m even learning to accept my body for all its imperfections and to scoff at people who tell me I need to eat (I eat all the time). It only makes me self-conscious.

When I don’t feel smart, I remind myself how much I learned from reading books over the years and all the random trivia I can spout. When I feel like I’m not beautiful, I smile (I love my smile, if I do say so myself). When I feel like I am not good enough, I remember that God put me here for a reason. I also remember the Doctor Who quote that “in nine hundred years of time and space and I’ve never met anybody who wasn’t important.”

You are special just the way you are. Don’t ever change who you are just because someone thinks you should be a certain way or because you don’t live up to our culture’s “beauty” standards. You are important. You are necessary. You are beautiful. 2014-09-20 04.42.26

The Virtue of Waiting

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Everyone always says it to the point you want to punch them: “All good things come to those who wait.” Yeah, you need to wait a couple more seconds until I slug you.

2014 was a year of learning contentment, learning about appreciating life in Pittsburgh, and understanding that nothing ever goes as you think it will. The grass is always greener on the other side, but if you are happy with the way you cut your own grass, you don’t notice what others have except to congratulate them for getting their lawn so green.

2015 is going to be a year of waiting. Waiting to finish grad school, waiting for a job, waiting to know what’s going to happen at this stage of my life. Waiting stinks. I am a naturally impatient person. I want it NOW and if no one gets it for me, I’ll get it myself! But that’s not the way life goes sometimes. Some things are worth waiting for. The right job is worth waiting for. The right romantic partner is worth waiting for. Wait, but don’t forget to appreciate the stops along the way. Those are where you make your memories.

Love Isn’t All I Need, But I Do Need It

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Last night, two of my coworkers and I had a movie night. Like any sensible 20-somethings, we watched Frozen (don’t hate). Olaf is my favorite character (and Sven). Olaf is one of the sweetest characters in that whole movie, and for all his goofiness, he is packed full of wisdom. For example, let’s just talk about the entire scene when Hans has left Anna to die of cold. Olaf shows up to save the day, lighting a fire at risk to his own personal safety. Anna laments that she doesn’t know what love is, and Olaf says, “Love is putting someone else’s needs before yours.” That’s big stuff for a little snowman that hasn’t been alive very long. And then he tells Anna, as his nose drips off his face, “Some people are worth melting for.”

When I got home after the movie night, still pondering these words, I thought about my whole anti-romance kick that I’ve been following for years. I kept saying, “I don’t want to get hurt again.” I love people. I love my parents, my siblings, my grandma, my extended family, my friends, and my dog. But all that love comes with a risk.

Angel died last year. I loved her with all my heart and that was the first time she left me. It was a tempestuous (I love that word) year with my family. My friends are scattered all over the country. Anyone can leave you, anyone can be gone in an instant.

When I moved back to Pittsburgh, I tried not to get close with too many people. I would just be gone soon anyway. But I’m still here, and now I have so many people that are becoming close friends the more we hang out. Katrina came line dancing with me a few times and is one of my confidants, Shannon and I have adventures, Kristin understands my love for Jane Austen’s Persuasion and Disney movies, Alaina and I talk about children’s books, John texts me to see how I’m doing, Alex recommends books, and Phil helps me grow as a person. And those are only some of the amazing people I met in Pittsburgh.

Inspired by Olaf, I opened my Bible to 1 Corinthians 13. Everyone knows it: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Love is patient. I am not a patient person. Could I be patient for another person? I don’t know. Love is kind. Can I be a beacon of kindness for another person and treat them as he or she deserves? I don’t know. Love protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres. Can I do that? I don’t know.

Love is a risk. It’s always a risk. And the probability of falling in love again means I most likely will get hurt. My goal is to work on my trust issues to figure out if I can be the kind of love that trusts and isn’t ready to give up after five minutes. Or expect the man in my life to give up after five minutes.

So I asked myself, is love worth it? Is it worth the pain and heartache again? Yes, because I am better prepared. Yes, because I am more honest with myself. It probably will blow up in my face. But the chance to love and to open my heart to others is worth more than never having taken that risk at all. If it makes me a better person, it is worth it.

I need love. I want love. Falling in love is like jumping off a cliff when a pack of snarling wolves is after you: Sometimes you just have to do it.

Come Home, Little Angel (A Poem for My Dog)

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In memory of my Westie, Angel, who passed away a year ago today, I am re-posting the poem I wrote for her around this time last year. I still miss her like crazy.

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Come home, little Angel

Here’s your purple bed

It’s softer here in Heaven

So come rest your little head

Come home, little Angel

Grandma and Grandpa want to play

They’ve waited for you for so long

Their home is now yours to stay

Come home, little Angel

Come meet the other dogs

You see, Heaven is a lovely place

With lots of sticks and logs!

Come home, little Angel

But don’t forget to keep an eye

On the people you left on Earth

Who daily for you cry,

“Come home, little Angel!

We miss you, our dear friend!”

Remind them not to shed a tear

For good-bye is not the end.

Welcome, Christmas!

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I have not been this excited for Christmas in years. It took all my self-control to not burst into Christmas carols before Thanksgiving (don’t worry, I didn’t – I have standards, after all).

Today is the first day of Advent, a time of preparation for our Lord to come to us on Christmas day. Day one of my preparation involved putting my little tree up in my bedroom and decorating it with my favorite Christmas ornaments (a T.A.R.D.I.S., Rapunzel, Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Mickey Mouse as the Brave Little Tailor, Max from the Grinch, and many others).

Whether you are religious or not, this time leading up to Christmas is a great time to feel thankful for what you have, as well as to think of others. One of my things for Advent is to try and get rid of a grocery bag of stuff a day. It’s amazing how much you don’t need when you really think about it (even though I am horrible about getting rid of stuff). Gazing at a stuffed animal I haven’t thought about in years makes me think, “There is a kid out there who would love to cuddle with this thing.”

So, that’s my challenge for you. Help someone this holiday. Welcome Christmas by being friendly to everyone, even the people you don’t like, which is my least favorite thing to do. After all, there’s so much hate in this world, so let’s make our corner of the universe just a little brighter.