First of all, big props to everyone who was out in force over the last couple of days. I especially felt a burst of patriotic people power pride when I saw the protesters out on the streets of London in the grey, miserable, wet weather. Huddled under tarp sheets, adorning huge, heavy soggy, heartfelt homemade signs, shouting their encouragement in battle with the downpour and wind.
(Image from The Guardian)
Last year I flew in from Norway to attend the #FreePeriods protest outside of parliament and had my first proper taste of the real importance of protests like this.
There are tons of articles out there that explain exactly why protesting is important (and I 'aint no professional political activist, just a chick who’s trying to figure out how best to care about the shit she cares about) but the fact that we’re still talking about the themes months after the event takes place is testament in itself.
I also deeply deeply care about the particular themes surrounding these marches recently. My day job, my writing and what I read in my spare time often centres around a lot of the reasons you saw people take to the streets this last weekend.
So, when I found out there was a march happening on my doorstep Oslo it was a no brainer I would attend.
But I didn’t.
Not because I didn’t whole heartedly agree with it, or care or felt it wasn’t important. Quite the opposite.
The last couple of weeks I have, in hindsight, overwhelmed myself with “caring” so much, and in a way that didn’t serve anyone especially myself. I was obsessively following the #MeToo movement, tracking everything online to do with period poverty and finding myself up awake at night with uncomfortable stomach feelings after the Aziz Ansari story broke. When my friends would tell me stories of sexism in their workplace, of which I have heartbreakingly never been in short supply of hearing from them, I would normally be able to transfer that sadness in to rage-fuelled energy but now it was just...well, sadness.
I was constantly thinking about these stories in the news, the toxic reactions (on all sides), the disheartening anti-feminist movement, how I was now re-evaluating all my past relationships and sexual experiences and repeatedly questioning “What can I do to help?”, “How can I make this better?”, “How did we even get here?”.
I thought my day job (of writing about breaking period taboos of all things) and my book writing project was giving me an outlet for this but the uneasy feeling in my stomach just seemed to grow and I found myself being a fumbly ball of tense energy all the time.
My boyfriend would come home (he’s a therapist for people with anxiety and depression, so you can imagine the kind of relaxing, calm home space he deserves to come home to) and I’d practically meet him at the door with eyes-wide rage spouting “WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT THE DISGUSTING PATRIARCHY!!”
This all came to a head when I met some old colleagues for beers and I found myself, admittedly a little on the tipsy side, at a table surrounded by dudes discussing recent events in the news that link to all of the above.
From no intention on their half I found myself feeling very much on one side of the table and them on the other. I felt like I was taking crazy pills.
I cried all the way home.
For the first time I thought that I didn’t want to ever bring a daughter in to this world.
(Note: If any of the said dudes are reading this, please know this was mainly due to the context of my crazy-ass last few weeks).
I felt fucking exhausted.
And to what gain? How did it help anyone?
It didn’t. It just left me with no energy to face any of it at all. So this Sunday when the march was on I stayed home, listened to a podcast and cleaned my apartment (partly for therapeutic reasons and partly ‘cus holy shit that bathroom floor was haunting me).
Focusing on the right stuff
I’m not going to pretend that now I feel just honky-dorey about all of the crazy bullshit going on in the world. But it did give me the time to reflect on how much time and energy I’m maybe spending on the wrong outlets.
Being able go out and protest is a privilege. Having access to information online and a voice through social media is a privilege. But everyone is on their own journey and trying to just fight their own good fights in their own way.
And that’s OK.
I know that more needs to be done to aid the causes I care about. But I know I can be more helpful in those than by stressing over Trump tweets or getting in to heated debates with good friends who 1) actually probably just want the same things as me and 2) would, like me, get more benefit from just enjoying a rare pub trip out with good company and laughs.
And with better focused energy I can concentrate on my projects such as spreading the good word about ditching period shame and researching how to improve access to co-working spaces for potential female entrepreneurs in Oslo (more on that to come!).
Writing my book
Then there’s project-secret-ish-book-writing-mission.
Through the awesome online writing communities I’ve joined I’ve learned that it’s really normal, and downright appropriate, not to want to tell people what you are writing about especially so early in the process. Super especially when you have inner head critics like me.
But the last few odd, weird, downright kinda “bleurgh” weeks have made me more determined to write what I want and in a way that makes most sense to me.
So I’d like to formally introduce you to my Work In Progress called “Things I’d want my daughter to know.”
The title isn’t to be kept and, since I don’t have or may never have a daughter, then that aspect of the theme may change...but it’s my guiding principle.
Each chapter is a new theme (won’t be letting you in on those yet though) and every time I’m brainstorming new ideas, facing a writers block or arguing with my inner critics I’m just thinking to myself “What would I want my hypothetical daughter to know?” and then the words start to happen.
I am writing this not because I have answers to everything (drunk girl crying on the bus home from the pub on a Thursday night doesn't exactly scream “oh wise sensei”) but because I have been so grateful to the books, blogs and words of encouragement that helped me when trying to look for those answers. I want to put more of those positive vibes in the universe.
Also, it's really just talking to the "daughter" part of all of us, no matter how old we are.
And in between all that? Switch off. Watch Parks and Recreation. Take ludicrous amounts of videos of my cats for Instagram. Listen to music from the 1950’s with my lovely, supportive boyfriend and enjoy planning our fun little wedding.