My Voice Is Valid, Damnit.

I have always considered myself a girl with a loud and strong voice. Growing up I had an opinion about everything. Everything from what we were eating for dinner to not understanding why I wasn’t allowed to play tackle sports, like the boys were; I voiced what I thought no matter what. As I grew up my voice about women’s issues, politics, gay rights, environmentalism all got stronger. The voice about what I want for dinner and which movie to watch began to get smaller. That was okay–I typically felt and feel indifferent about those things. Or if not indifferent I felt that I could deal with whatever choice was made because I didn’t and don’t want to make the wrong choice and upset someone else.

Recently I’ve been put in the position where I have to ask for what I need. It seems like it should be easy. You have a need from a source that is supposed to be giving you that need and you ask for it. You ask for what you need. Simple. Period. Simple. So why am I struggling with this?

My friend Nikki Nigl is a huge proponent of the term “My voice is valid”. She makes a living by reminding women this fact. So why do so many of us battle with this? Why am I sitting at a coffee shop binge drinking my favorite dark roast anxiously awaiting a response to an email I just wrote. An email where I stated facts that I believed to be true about what I was told I was to receive and what I actually need?

921375_1677166012553958_8744941091693101075_o

Where did my self supporting voice go? Where did that little 9 year old girl with red cheeks, tears spilling over and a voice so sure of herself end up? Memories of tears, and plea’s, and absolute absolutes that I needed to have this or that toy or adventure, where did that go? Did I use all of it up? Is there a finite amount of confidence we’re allotted and I just used mine up before I became a teenager?

I still have a voice. I know that this voice can be loud and proud and angry. I get tears of frustration and anger that well up in my eyes when I hear on the news that my lesbian or gay friends could be fired for being who they are, I give a small amount of money to the Human Rights Campaign monthly to have a voice and support it. I call bullshit when Planned Parenthood’s funds are threatened and will fight tooth and bone with anyone for women’s right to chose. I also find myself defending co-workers and friends to people starting rumors and talking crap.

But ask me to stand up for what I need and I crumble. I sit in therapy for an hour and half and talk about how XXX isn’t working for me. I’m not getting what I was told I would get and I cower, hide and cry. I cry because I’m scared to say what I need. I cry because I’m afraid of how I’ll make the other person feel. I cry because I don’t want to be attacked and made to feel wrong. I don’t cry out of passion and stand up and shout what I need. I cry and curl up and whisper I don’t want to rock the boat and cause issues. 

Nine year old me is unimpressed. 29 year old me is frustrated and working on it.

 

 

 

 

 

A New Definition on Necessity

I’m having a hard time connecting. I remember in college going shopping and finding cute clothes that I wanted, trying them on, buying them, loving them for the shear idea that they were cute. A new purse, earrings, jeans…etc., all of these things didn’t mean anything to me besides the fact that they fit, they looked nice or they accessorized my life a bit more. I’ve lost that.

            Recently, I truly only buy most things out of necessity. Well, I mean, necessity used in a loosely translated way—I suppose I don’t absolutely need a new candle or book, but both of these things brighten my day and help me pass the time with out turning on the television, helps me learn, and makes my room smell delicious. So necessity is what I buy for.

            I’ve been on the hunt for a new purse lately. I have one great, leather purse that I bought in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I love it. I cherish it, it’s something that I will literally have forever. I met the man that sewed it together and hand picked the hardware that goes so perfectly with the construction. This bag has a story. When I go to the store, the mall, Target, I don’t feel anything when I see the bags there. I see them as cheap, wrinkly, pieces of fabric that won’t do anything for me. So I wander the earring section—looking for a new pair of dangly earrings that might give me that bit of rush because of that instant, quick purchase. All I end up seeing are pieces of plastic that realistically, make me kind of sad sitting there on the shelf.

            The earrings that I bought in Vietnam were hand made by a tribes woman’s father. I spent all day with this woman. They wear the same pairs that I bought from their hands. The bracelet I wear (and haven’t taken off since) was given to me by the same hilltribe woman in Sapa, Vietnam, same with my ring. These pieces of jewelry have soul, have memories. They have stories. Even my silly costume jewelry has a memory of wandering Kao San Road at midnight while I dodged tourist eating fried scorpions and I haggle with the shopkeepers in broken Thai.

 

I’m down to necessity and stories. But even, the word necessity is being stretched. I like having little. And the little that I have have stories that I love to tell.

 

 

 

Necessity: wanting or needing something that will make your life a bit easier, more comfortable, fun or exciting.

            Example: a new book, some lush lotion or a new sports bra in a fun color.

A lovely smelling candle while I read my book is a necessity.

 

 ImageBelow: Thai costume jewelry. Above: Vietnamese ring

Image

Need Vs Want

I have an on going list of things that I need to buy when I return Stateside. With every goal I think I’m setting comes another large purchase.

  • A smartphone. To text, facebook, and tweet.
  • A new computer. To facebook, tweet, email and maybe write.
  • A juicer. To try and replicate the juices I’ve had in SE Asia.
  • A car. To jam out to tunes when karaoke bars are not readily available.
  • A down payment on an apartment. To store all my new purchases.
  • A bike tune up (x2, I have 2 bikes.) I guess for safety.
  • Plane tickets. To see my best friend get married.
  • Micro brew beer. To drink.
  • New running shoes. To run.

The list continues on with things like a new wardrobe, shoes and other things. Which is what all of these objects are, things I need. Wait. Need? Need or want? Realistically, I’ve been living out of a backpack for months and have done just fine with out any of these things. Need vs. Want. When you truly narrow it down, what do you actually need?

 I spent the day trekking through the mountains of Loi Cai with a Vietnamese Hill Tribe woman for hours, she welcomed me into her home and cooked me lunch while her family wandered in and out of the small building. Her kitchen was a pot, a hole in the floor for fire and a spicket outside. Her living room was a dirt floor void of furniture. The most extravagant things she owned was her clothing and jewelry—most of which was made either by herself or one of her village people. This was truly minimalist living.

I asked her if she was happy. Happy bringing travelers like me into her village for the day, living the way she does—her genuine smile answered the question without words.

Image

Image

Image

CIMG1393