On Saturday, I attended my first meeting as part of a women’s collective. After the long and arduous process of counselling my way through shitty past experiences, I was invited to attend these meetings to contribute to the collaborative work that is being done in the world of feminism.
I was nervous to take a seat at a table with a bunch of women who have been meeting regularly to discuss a topic I’m passionate about but have yet to learn so much on. I’ve considered myself a feminist for many years now, but I’m realizing that my feminism is an ever-evolving characteristic that changes and grows with me. I’ve experienced the most rapid changes in the past year and it has left me with a feeling of emptiness and fullness at the same time. As I learn more and change my perception of the world, I feel more full. However, as my perception changes, I see my connections with others fade as my values no longer align with theirs. This is where I feel empty. I’m craving to have the right people in my life to fill that space. The people who don’t think I’m too opinionated or irrational. The people with whom I to grow by keeping my senses aware and my eyes open.
Sitting at a table surrounded by only women talking about women’s issues while being firm and open is a completely new experience for me. Though I have had similar experiences before, nothing truly compared to this moment as these women all held the position of “we’ve had enough, it’s time to do something”. Some women’s physical appearance was gender fluid and others were openly gay or queer. I felt an energy in the room that was overwhelming at times as I tried my best to keep in mind that strong women are good and it’s okay to be outspoken. Of course I know these things, but in public spaces, women are so often expected to be quiet and about their opinions. To witness women speaking in tones and frequencies that usually indicate that something is wrong only to have it be completely normal was something I knew had been socialized into me.
Throughout the meeting, I realized that I’m a total newbie to all of this. I have my foundation in feminism, which is what makes me fit, but I didn’t have even close to the connections and fierceness that they women surrounded me have. I can feel change coming and I’m so excited to discover what this piece of me entails.
At the end of the meeting, we went back and forth appreciating one another. So often, women acknowledge and praise one another based on their appearance rather than their actions or intelligence. By sharing what we appreciate about one another, we are acknowledging each other in a way that is more meaningful and powerful. I shared that I was (extremely) appreciative to be able to sit on the committee and be surrounded by women who don’t look at me weird when I talk about feminism. They all laughed but I was actually fighting back tears. I hope they didn’t notice the quiver in my voice and just attributed it to the nerves associated to public speaking. I appreciated my counsellor who sat next to me and invited me to participate in something like this that I have craved for so long.
As I left, two women waited for me at the exit and asked to exchange numbers with me. It’s so fucking weird to try to make friends as an adult. I awkwardly talked about being from SK and experiencing trouble with meeting new people in Vancouver without seeming like a poor, lost little puppy. I fumbled for a pen as I realized that it’s 2015 and people exchange numbers through their portable cell phones. In a world where your connections are at your fingertips, making human contact and exchange can feel so foreign.
As soon as I got to my car, I immediately started to cry. I wasn’t sad or happy…okay, I was super happy, but these tears held no connection to either of those feelings. I was overwhelmed. Through months of guilt, pain, tears, fear, anger, and confusion, I’m finally here. I’ve been able to transform all of those feelings into a journey of self discovery. To realize where my journey has taken me was a moment of awe. I can now look at my life in Vancouver as yet another pivotal moment of growth and self-actualization. I can feel my layers shedding as I transform into a new and improved version of myself. At the same time, I can feel myself letting go of things that are no longer needed in my life and that weightlessness is blissful.