It's an Explanation, Not an Excuse
As a kid, I wrote.
I daydreamed, drafted scenes, doodled features. I rushed off the bus to knock knees under my desk, where I romanticized the blank page and the blinking cursor. When words trickled out of my fingers -- drip, drip, dripping like rain sputtering out of an almost empty cloud -- I cursed my lack of talent that I couldn't rattle words like Roald Dahl.
I didn't choose to write. I couldn't recite the moment I picked up a pen for the first time, or the first story I fumbled over at our kitchen table. I remember it always there as gracious background noise, like a heartbeat or leaves changing on the maple tree in my backyard. I didn't question or deny, and I couldn't shy from it no matter my efforts.
I once wished I could choose something else. A doctor perhaps, so I could help cure the world in a concrete, easily unmasked way. Something that held weight and that when mentioned would cause nods and not head cocks accompanied by sighs of, "oh, you must be broke." I would have chosen something with seriousness.
A lot of feelings swirl around writing, past and present. I never thought I'd chalk "being female" into that resume.
Gender wasn't a topic of conversation at my family dinners. We were all just people.
My favorite bedtime stories were hearing about the badasses who shared blood -- my aunt who grew tired of mechanics screwing her over so she learned how to build a car engine herself. My great-aunt who won Star Search but said, "nah" and opened a law firm with her husband. It went on to become a top five firm in the country. Badasses.
And my favorite movies were watching my parents kill it every day. My father started a business at 28. He didn't laze for handouts, but garnered knowledge and success by hitting the streets. He still steers that business today, 31 years later. Badass.
My mother functioned for forty outside our home on a slow week, handled the financials of my father's business after hours, and didn't once try to drown me in a well. Badass.
I was not an easy kid.
I struggled with depression and anxiety (amongst other party tricks) almost from day one. And almost from day one, my mother lovingly ordered that it was all "an explanation, not an excuse."
My issues were an explanation for why life may be hard for me. They were not an excuse to sit this round out. They were not an excuse to not work two, three, four times as hard if that's what it took. There were no excuses in my home, only saying, "screw you" to the odds.
Thanks to this, whenever I encounter a challenge my reaction is, "okay, but it hasn't met me." Throw mud on my face, booby trap roads, twist and crumple the map until I can't tell ocean from land. I'll find a way anyway. Let's go.
That mentality has served me well. It served me when I received my diplomas against damning evidence otherwise. It served me when I dropped a suitcase on a hostel floor 3,000 miles from home with no real plan. It serves me daily when my demons knock at the door to play and I say they're not welcome anymore.
That mentality hasn't served me well when it comes to being a woman. It never had to.
When I hear buzzes of women's inequality, I'm generally confused.
Surely, those whispers reference the past? Surely, women aren't still seen as such. That's absurd.
And yet, when presented with a woman, we elected a candidate who is the two-footed equivalent of hate. And who, as an extra slap, offers no relevant experience.
Let's go over that again. Door number one: a woman. Door number two: hate. We opened door number two. We trusted hate over a woman.
This election stopped being standard the moment one candidate brought hate to the party. It became about human decency. It became about love. It became about learning how much bias still pulses through our society.
This election became about women being seen as less valuable than hate.
I'll allow that to sink in. In 2016, our country considers hate to be of more value than a woman.
My pen has no eloquence for that. That's fucked up.
If you too relayed too much credit to the voting world, please don't dismiss this.
Please do not read this and think, "she doesn't know what she's talking about." Please do not be like my friend's intern who said on the morning of the results, "who doesn't make comments like he has behind closed doors." Please don't. This is real.
Growing up like I did, where I never encountered a reason to question views on women, is the explanation for why I didn't provide it much thought. It is the explanation for why I believed in universal cries of positivity.
This election is not an excuse to assume hate isn't happening because it isn't happening to you in this instant. It is not an excuse to forfeit because hate scored a few points. It is not an excuse to hate.
Stop with the excuses. We're out of time for that.
This election is an explanation for why the world needs more work. It is a reason to stare hate in the eye and stick up the ol' middle finger we'll re-dub love. Love is still the only victor I know.
Those with creative bones: we need you.
It doesn't matter what you master. Comedies, essays, snapshots. Sonnets, brush strokes, beautiful notes. It doesn't matter if it's extravagant or elegant or silly stories.
What matters is that it exists. What matters is that you do it.
So as an adult and a woman, I write. I no longer wish I could choose something else. Writing is serious and matters, always and especially in a time when we elected hate.
Art will always matter. Love will always matter.
Do your thing. Be an explanation for why the world is a little better.