This IWD, these are the women who inspire me.

What inspires us can change over time. As our thinking develops and changes we seek new heroes who speak to the things we come to value. Every girl* should have more than one hero: your interests, values and pleasures are formed by your unique experiences, and you should have an idol for every one of them. A style icon; a political hero; a favourite character. Here are just a few of mine – you should definitely follow the links to be inspired.

the activistviola-gregg-liuzzo-370152-1-402
Viola Liuzzo has been a hero of mine since I first read about her. She is the ultimate ally: impassive, helpful, dedicated. As a cis-gender, middle-class white educated woman most fights for injustice are not mine – as a person who lives in the world, though, all injustices are mine. Luizzo used her power in the most effective way to benefit a cause. She didn’t step into the spotlight, she didn’t gain from it as an individual. Her actions taught me the lessons I hope to embody and shown me that the consequences of occupying that space can be profound and worth it.

the researchers200_karen.chapple
I don’t know much about Karen Chapple’s work. I’m not a geographer or a city planner – her academic interests don’t even fall into the same school as mine let alone overlap. But her fascination is fascinating to me, and her self-evaluation as she goes about her business is something I want to embody. Academia is not a high castle in which we can objectively state this and that, and Chapple’s attitude reminds me of this. It also reminds me that sharing your passion widely is more valuable and interesting than keeping it to yourself.

the entrepreneurCaitlin_Doughty_in_red_evergreen_background
Caitlin Doughty is, really, more of an activist or a philosopher than an entrepreneur. I hate entrepreneurs. I hate businesses that build themselves from nothing on the backs of workers just to stick a plaster over some problem they have noticed in the world. Doughty wants nothing more than her own business to fail due to a radical shift in mainstream Western attitudes. By asking profound, scary questions (and giving answers with warmth, humour and no judgement), Doughty gives control to people who never knew they were missing it. Using new medias she has shone a light into the strange (peculiarly interesting) area that is her home territory, and taken us with her.

the fictional characters

 


Being a girl used to mean liking pink or liking football. I remember that when I was growing up, liking makeup or sports or good grades were, by and large, considered incompatible, and it hadn’t yet dawned on me that hating ‘urban’ music or Kristen Stewart were performative (and unhealthy) cultural behaviours. Since last year’s IWD, though, we’ve had cultural behemoths showcase women with contradictions: girls who are cheeky and intelligent, women who are strong and sensitive. We have seen characters whose contradictions make them unique and dynamic and powerful. The reason I loved Shuri and Diana so much was that showed me the dichotomy within themselves. Real women don’t choose a single aspect of themselves, let us remember that.

the writerRankine_2016_profile-200
Claudia Rankine is, I think, our greatest living poet. Citizen is amazing, and thoroughly deserves all the praise that is heaped on it, but her book that speaks to me at the moment is Don’t Let Me Be Lonely. Like Citizen, it categorises itself as ‘An American Lyric’, and it walks the line between prose and poetry and fiction and truth. It amazes me that these feelings from the beginning of the Obama era are so resonant with me now, but the power of Rankine is that her words depict both specificities and general feelings which can reach out and grab you any time. The creeping sense of dread in her work is something I am just coming to truly understand, and she is helping me come to terms with the world as it is.

*Girls, boys and non-binary children are included in this sentiment, but for IWD I will condense people to girls. These people can be your heroes whoever you are – even if you are a grown up like me.

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today is a day for trepidation and celebration.

Well. Despite having to cut nigh-on 1000 words from it (including the entire idea of society’s fear of women’s sexual agency being linked to the sublime, alas I am still not over this), my Gothic essay has served me well and I have passed the module with flying colours. I’m a mite worried about my other module – Modernism – but the grade for that is in the pigeonholes at uni so I will have to fret about that until I can go get it tonight. How well I’ve done overall this year mostly hangs in the balance of a piece of work I only submitted recently and whether a) it’s as shit as my anxiety thinks it is, and b) whether anxiety with a doctor’s note is good enough for the mitigating circumstances board. I don’t think I have a hope with it, but other people do, so we will see. I would hate to have fucked up my academic career because I was too afraid to hand in a piece of work I considered sub-standard (but was of a higher calibre than others in the class…)

I am now prepping solidly for next year – I have a stack of books, have ordered an even bigger stack of books (you honestly don’t want to know my expenditure on German poetry and Enlightenment philosophy this month – nobody should be spending that percentage of their income on Kant and chums), and made myself a bullet journal tailored specifically to the needs of my dissertation. I have begun my reading with Terry Eagleton and a new history of Germany and am making notes of everything I find interesting in the hope that a question or theme will present itself to me.

To-do

  • Pray / sacrifice / chant to any and all gods for some level of leftish success in today’s GE (if Cthulu wants blood to take away Theresa May, he shall have it)
  • Pray / sacrifice / chant to any and all gods for DREAM JOB to interview me (they said they would announce shortlisted candidates this week)
  • Stay away from the television, news and all but the most superficial social media until tomorrow. It’s not worf it, mate.

Four Weekends.

I have four weekends until my next uni essay is due in. Two bank holidays. One evening of plans in all of that, and yet… I am irrationally worried that I won’t get my work done. The anxiety is creeping up on me like a sitcom kiss, present in all my conversations like a season finale, making the hairs on the back of my neck rise at the slightest thought of anything I ought to be working on.

The problem is – and that is if this can be called a problem – I care. This is the first thing in my life that I have felt really driven to succeed at, the first that I have felt that it is possible to succeed whilst actually wanting to. In my mind, that has manifested as a demon that whispers ‘if you fail it’s your fault‘. I know I’m capable, but I’m scared of finding out I’m not. When that’s combined with ambitions for a top grade, normal job/social life pressures and the fact that everybody else I know graduated years ago, it stops being just about procrastination and getting my fucking act together, it feeds off my poor brain chemistry to cause crippling inertia and several interconnected and irrational fears.

meta-chart

Essentially, what anxiety is telling me to do is cancel all my plans and curl up into a ball. That part of my brain wants me to cancel my plans so that I can work on my essay, whilst knowing full well I will not be able to work on my essay in this time due to mind being all over and regrets and fear of failure and mania. Fear of incorrect citations is new, and I’m not super sure what to do about it, other than ignore it and check it at the end.

Usually what I do in this time is go to the library – you can’t watch Drop The Dead Donkey re-runs in the library because people would glare at you, and it’s much more compelling to work than it is to stare off into space so I end up getting (some) work done, even if I’m not in the right frame of mind. But the library is closed for Easter, and it’s cold in my room and easy to be distracted.

If anybody has any motivation tips, I would really appreciate it. This is my big bug-eyed first-world-problem demon, and I need to stab it in the neck.

darth-mauls-death-o

Whilst I was writing this, the friend I was supposed to be seeing tonight cancelled our plans and gifted me a free evening. To work! At my nice clean desk that I tidied yesterday! Yes! Work! I wanted to see the friend not the theatre production anyway.