The Revolutionary Act of Being a Woman
“A woman’s place is in the revolution.”
We live in a time when being yourself is a revolutionary act.
In America, many of us today—and if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you did too—chose to have children or not to have children, we chose our careers, we chose our spouse, what brand of milk to drink, the outfit we’re wearing (and the nonverbal implications of it), even if we ended up spending the whole day thinking about how much we hate that outfit. We get to choose these things, every day.
And yet, sometimes, we let what we choose control us. We start to operate under the expectations that surround these words of what we’ve become: Wives. Mothers. Entrepreneurs. Homemakers. DIYers. Daughters. Democrats. And instead of simply seeing these things as descriptors, they become dictators of our lives. We don’t do something that is important to us because we let society’s definition of a role we’ve taken on make the decision for us. (“I can’t do X because what kind of a [wife/mother/businesswoman/homemaker] would that make me?”) Instead of allowing “mother” to simply mean “a female parent” as denoted in the dictionary, we cling to society’s “hardworking, multitasking, endless-laundry-doing, non-shower-taking, take care of everyone else first, mascara-on-only-one-eye Superwoman—and absolutely under no circumstances forgot-to-pick-up-son-after-band-practice” connotation of “mother.”
To be yourself is truly revolutionary because you must be able to experience the amazing freedom of detaching from the labels of who you are. At the core of each of us is a being that cannot be labeled, nor should it be. (And believe me, as a writer, that’s a really hard truth to accept.)
Let me tell you the descriptor that dictated my life: Writer—and all the baggage that comes with that: artist, dark, moody, serious, poor, alone.
But here’s the thing, I was never really any of those things. (Except maybe serious. People constantly ask me what’s wrong, and I’m startled by the question—and out of my train of thought—because I’m just thinking. I’m often lost in thought.) But I let a lot of these things control my life and make me believe I wasn’t really a writer, because I actually laughed a lot and used humor, especially sarcasm and snark, and was in general a happy person. And though I loved solitude, I realized I led myself to believe I was alone, though if I looked, I always found my support system.
But then I discovered something that definitely didn’t fit with the so-called writer type: Zumba. Oh yeah, Zumba. I started dancing. I started to allow myself to have fun, to relax, to loosen up. I allowed myself to get caught up in the movement, even staying in a dance sequence a few counts too long until I did my little spin and saw that everyone else had moved on without me. And I started to discover how many great ideas came from movement, from being in a room full of people and allowing myself to be vulnerable, from getting out of my head and into my body. (I tried to grasp hold of the idea that I looked cool while dancing, but gave up on that very quickly.)
Dance was something I never really had in my life. No childhood ballet (I was a farm girl). In my 20s I’d close all the curtains and pop in a dance-fitness DVD or jam out to Led Zeppelin or Rolling Stones like the wannabe flower child I am and essentially convulse to the music. I finally took my first dance class in my 30s, classical ballet. And I had to admit to myself that I might have missed out on a possible career. Small, slender, but muscular, and a neck that goes all the way up, I was the Balanchine epitome of grace—though I confess I don’t think I ever had any.
I loved dance. But, as can happen in life, I got away from it for a while. I got away from a lot of things I cared about. And chronic neck pain took their place.
I tried Zumba after moving and finding a new gym. I was hooked. It was fun, and it was one of the only things I had found to reduce the pain. I can’t remember now if Zumba came first or the epiphany that it could fix my neck pain, but the pain had become so great that I had to find a way out of it. And so Zumba was one way I found to free myself.
But it was also through Zumba that I started down a path of discovery and understanding that only the universe seems to know how to plan. I started to piece my life together again. I attended a workshop led by my Zumba instructor who was also a life coach (and poet!). I stopped fighting my writer self. I started seeking out people who could help me instead of thinking I had to do everything on my own—and I found them, or they found me. And so it was through a combination of movement and words that I found myself again. I found my rhythm.
Now as a writer and as an editing coach, the first and sometimes only thing I tell everyone to do is to know yourself. Know what you want in your life, what you want from your writing, in what ways you most enjoy expressing yourself.
Because this is what it will take to truly fit in this world. And the world is about to get a whole lot tougher for a while. We’ve made a lot of breakthroughs in the past several decades, but we’re coming into a time of women in power. Women are and will be at the forefront of movements, activism, and conversations. The way things have been done before are not the way we will be doing them anymore. And this is exciting, but this is also very scary, as is any revolution where we fight for our freedoms. Women who have come before, and women now, have realized how much we’ve given up of ourselves and that we’re not going to do it alone. We are not meant to do this alone.
We have to learn—and allow—that every day the role of “mother” and “wife” and “entrepreneur” is going to change. Every day the priority given to mother/wife/entrepreneur is going to shift.
We are in the midst of a wave that will cause the sea change. And as we know, whenever we try to make a change, the most energy is exerted at the beginning.
In November, just a few weeks away, we will have the chance to vote for our first woman president. We will exercise our revolutionary right to vote. We will choose congressional members who represent our ideals, city officials we trust will get something done. We will vote for measures we believe to be fair and just. We will vote to create a world in which we feel safe and free to live.
We will vote our conscience, or we will vote our fears.
As we move into this election, we will have to know what we want, what we’re willing to give up, and what we never will. We will look for strength deep within, and we will look for support from others. But now is only the beginning. Don’t think it’s over. After the elections, we will still wake up, every day, and make the most important decisions of our lives. But they might be a little bit easier, because as we exert the energy needed these next couple of months that will lead into years, we will also have others we love, trust, and honor with us, and we will ride the next wave of Our Revolution.
Peggy Capps is the owner of all capps llc, offering women entrepreneurs and independent writers possibility and potential through words, punctuation, and poetry. She uses editing, writing, and publishing practices to help you find your voice, but more importantly—Free Your Voice.