My Narrative is Mine

“A feminist is any woman who tells the truth about her life.”

—Virginia Woolf

Don’t let someone else interpret your narrative. Recently, another writer told me (my apologies for not remembering who it was) that “writing is a way to get the narrative to be your narrative.” I don’t want anyone else to tell my life story. I get to do that. Just like no one else gets to be the main character of my story. You do you and let me do me. 

GOSSIP

This is exactly why writing matters. We all have a story. In my experience, there are many people who believe they have the right to tell the stories of others. That’s called gossip. It also reminds me of the adage that “history is written by the winners.” Let’s tell the truth. Let’s stick with our own stories. 

I need to tell my story because I want to be understood; because I don’t want others to fail the way I failed; because I want to help others in the way I know how; because I want to understand both myself and the larger world. I try to take the ugly parts of life and make something beautiful from them. We all need to tell our own narratives because we are human beings and it is our very essence, sharing stories.

SILENCE & SICKNESS

Too often I have been forced to choose between silence and expending an inordinate amount of energy to be heard. It can be exhausting. Sometimes what takes the most energy is remaining calm, holding my breath, thinking carefully about my words and demanding quiet attention. Too often, I have lacked such self-control. 

As women we are practiced in holding in thoughts, feelings, ideas until they build up and fester into a physical representation of that frustration. In the meantime, our stories are being told for us. Women’s voices are still under-represented meaning we only get half the story. This includes the mundane daily life of humans as well as world events and, well, everything. Story-telling is what makes us human. Taking away that opportunity is an attempt not only to silence us but to make us less than human. 

DON’T

Don’t allow others to speak for you. Don’t allow others to feed you their own fears. Do not allow them to impose their dreams on you. Don’t allow others to interpret your history for you. Be confident, take care of yourself, evaluate your own circumstances. Only you know your own needs and dreams and desires. 

TOOLS

That’s a lot of don’ts. The thing is, throughout history we, women, have allowed others to name us, claim us, shape us. Not me. Not anymore. I want to shape my own sense of self. My entire life I have struggled to make this happen, but I lacked the tools. I struggled in all the wrong ways, only making my situation worse. I know that now. For the remainder of my life, I will seek out those tools and I will use them. I will live my own story, my way. I will tell my own story. My narrative is mine to tell.