During the last few months, I’ve been getting back into a running routine- slowly upping my kilometres on the beautiful forest trail that winds along the stream flowing from the tops of the mountains into Lake Okanagan (it definitely helps running here and not in my old neighbourhood in Manitoban suburbia). After getting past the first month or so of feeling like every step was a small form of torture, running became easy again- kind of like breathing- and those runs through the trees in the fresh, crisp air became a time of meditation, reflection, and today- a time to leave a lot of bullshit on the path behind me.
After pushing myself an extra couple of kilometres, I finally neared the end where the trees thinned and the main road came into view, car and people sounds drawing me closer. With the endorphins coursing through my veins, I was feeling not only accomplished but felt a wave of empowerment- a moment of critical realization that only happens in the most present of moments- a realization of my own strength and abilities; not only in running, but in everything. In that moment of awe of my own capabilities, I vowed to leave the bullshit that weighs me down on the path behind me- particularly the crap that the world dumps on women.
The sometimes implied and sometimes obvious “you are not enough”s: our bodies that carry us through life and house our spirits are not enough if they don’t look like another woman’s who has been deemed the ideal, our intellect is not enough because if comes from a hormonal and emotional woman, our work and our time and our talents are not worth the same pay as a man doing the same thing. I vowed to never let those twisted, archaic, and just plain UNTRUE ideas that society has suffocated me with my entire life to dilute my potential.
I am not saying differences between genders- or more accurately between people- do not exist. I am also not saying that if you fall into a trend or a stigma that its bad. I am saying that the world is losing out- we are not and will not reach our full potential as a society if we do not hear the voices or value the work and efforts equally of women. By under-representing women in politics and business, by sexualizing women in the media and the music industry to the point of creating objects of them, we as a society are missing out on potentially game changing ideas, as well as the representation of over half the humans on the planet (If you still think we don’t need feminism- well). How can we expect to establish equal rights for women, people of different race, the LGBTQ community, when we have primarily straight, white men making virtually every important decision (including the laws that determine what women can and cannot do with their bodies- does that make sense to you?).
So if you ever feel inadequate as a woman, please remember- YOU are not the one without the potential or the ability, you have been conditioned by a society full of barriers and glass cielings full of insecure men and unaware women who don’t have the self-assurance to lift you up. You can be different. You can encourage and inspire and believe in PEOPLE. You can encourage and inspire and believe in YOURSELF. It is so easy to never understand your own power. Write your own story, not the one society has laid out for you that keeps those with power comfortable and stifles your brilliance. Never let yourself be dragged down to the level of immaturity and insecurity that keeps women silent.
Together- women and men aware of this crucial imbalance- can keep the shift of the scale going. Without settling, without turning a blind eye, and without crumbling under the pressure, we can use the doubt as fuel and we can start our own fires; because as long as you don’t doubt yourself, you can not be stopped. Running taught me that.