I grew up basically feral. I mean that in a good way. I was outside more than I was inside. I climbed trees and caught frogs and careened at high speeds down hills on bikes with no helmet. I was dirty, I was happy, I never thought about belonging, or gender, or what I could or could not do. I simply did it. I cared nothing for others’ expectations of me as a woman, as a person, as a being.

 

Now, in my late thirties, things are different. Whether I want to or not, I care. I’m talked over in meetings, I’m judged for my interest in monster trucks, I’m told to be something other than what I am. I’m told to be warm. I’m told to smile. I’m told to cooperate. Deference is an expectation, challenging ideas is seen as being difficult, boldness is viewed with suspicion. At times, it feels like people are so busy telling me what I don’t know, that they’ve forgotten to observe that I *do* know it, I just know it differently than they do. Thus, I can’t possibly know, right? So they should tell me how to do it their way. And if I resist? It’s to be expected because I’m uncooperative. I don’t smile enough. I’m difficult.

My goal for #4YOS is to challenge these feelings and the behaviors that make me feel them. I hope to challenge these environments for others as well. I’m going to speak up more, not less. I’m going to amplify good ideas as I hear them, and amplify them until they are heard, not until I get tired of trying. I am fortunate to live in a community that is welcoming in this regard.

One of my #4YOS projects will be working with the local makerspace (at their request) to open more spaces and opportunities for women to try new, often male-dominated skills and hobbies. In the immediate future, I will be contributing monetary donations and needed goods to MSU Safe Space to contribute to the continuation of a literal safe space for women in need.