Love On Top

Hi! Haven’t written in awhile (cricket noises), just slammed this out and any ideas/constructive criticism for a second draft would be fantastic (will definitely update/work on)

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Killing time while studying for finals, I noticed that a friend of mine had tweeted that “womanhood sucks” because, while listening to “Love On Top,” she realized she would never be as perfect as Beyoncé.

I feel like there’s this weird dichotomy inherent to being female in the 21st century where, since we’re no longer expected to be silent housewives, we’re expected to be everything- that just because we can be strong and beautiful and “successful” in the financial, societal sense we suddenly are placed under this immense pressure where it’s no longer even that we can be successful, but that we have to be the whole package to be feminists and fully take advantage of the freedoms our foremothers fought to give us. Basically, we have to do what Beyoncé did a few days ago: we each have to be a successful businesswoman who, without promotions or help, makes millions off of her own work that she appears plastered all over, a glowing, perfect supermodel, while still being married and raising a child.

I am currently working towards an English degree at a liberal arts college and intend to join the workforce once I graduate, either in publishing or teaching (I think). Sometimes, though, since I’m not on the track towards med or law school or anything with a guarantee of money or even a normal grad program, I get this crippling fear that whatever I’m doing doesn’t really matter, because no one will ever want to read anything I write or think my opinions are intelligent enough to influence young minds or literary thought. That my parents will begrudgingly (but lovingly) take me back in, and I’ll never find a way to really leave. However, the person I talk to fairly often when this sort of thing bothers me makes a big difference: she was a stay-home mom.

After college, my mother worked as an artist and in communications at several newspapers and hospitals, while also supporting her med-school husband both financially and emotionally. Moving away from her dream job at the Star Tribune to stay with my dad, my mom spent time in Portland, OR, and the couple finally settled in Duluth, MN, just before I was born. Did my mom instantly seek a job? To my knowledge, no, seeing as she decided to spend her days pushing me in a stroller as she trained for marathons, taking me for walks outside and playing stuffed-animal games, teaching me to read out of hand-drawn books, and raising me with the love and support that has made me strive to be strong and confident and disciplined and kind, and brought me to this dorm-room desk far from home where I sit today.

This woman is not a business executive, an underwear model, or, like Beyoncé, someone extremely successful in her business while wearing little more than underwear. And, don’t get me wrong: I LOVE Beyoncé. I do. But Beyoncé didn’t wipe my tears or scraped knees when I was in elementary school, give me the encouragement I needed to even leave the house in middle school, or run into my room screaming when we found out that I got into an elite university I never even dreamed I would apply to.

I have no idea what I’m going to do with my life, or how I’m going to make it meaningful. I know that it won’t come easily, and that I’ll definitely gaze longingly at some Beyoncés, or even some girls in my classes at school, and be insecure about my difficulties with sequential thinking and math, my squirrel cheeks and my dented front teeth, my lack of social graces, and my mediocre grade-point average that I work my hardest for on a daily basis. What I do know, though, is that I can’t be everyone’s everything, but I will definitely be someone’s something. As a writer, editor, teacher, parent, and/or who knows what, as a feminist and a friend and a daughter and a human I vow to do something good. I think “Love on Top” is fantastic, but now I’m going to take my headphones off and go for a run.

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