Take Up Space

I’m an introvert.

I never wanted to be, and I think that’s why it’s taken me so long to really accept that part of myself. Only recently have I been able to accept this trait for what it is.

Growing up, I wanted to be loud. I wanted to be that person that walked into a room of strangers and was best friends with everyone by the time she left. I wanted to be the life of the party. I wanted to be the “fun girl” that everyone always wanted to be around

But whenever I tried to be that girl, it never worked. I felt awkward. I knew it wasn’t me. But I thought that was the only way to be… the only way to be seen, to get attention, to be heard.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized being loud isn’t necessarily always the answer, and you don’t actually have to be loud to be heard.

In a world where women’s voices continue to be subdued and drowned out by our male counterparts, our efforts to express them are incredibly important. But so is the way we project them.

This has become especially interesting to me since I’ve decided to enter the field of politics, which has long been dominated by old, white men.

I’ve never had a problem with thinking that a goal or dream of mine was not achievable because of my gender. From a young age, my parents instilled in me the ideal that I could do anything (“just not everything”, as my dad would say). I’ve continuously dreamed these big dreams without fear that being a woman would inhibit me from reaching them. Without worry that my voice would be muted. And I acknowledge, too, that I was born into a situation that made this even more believable — an upper middle class white girl raised in Suburbia, USA. So I am lucky, and I am grateful for and humbled by that privilege.

But as I enter the “real world”, the path I thought would be so direct to the life I dreamed for myself has become littered with small but meaningful instances in which I have realized that it’s not so easy.

Perhaps this is best exemplified when looking at the state of our current presidential race. I could go on and on about this, but most of you probably know already where I stand in regards to the candidates (#ImWithHer, for those that didn’t know), so I will keep it short. But it is so incredibly clear that we are choosing between the least qualified candidate to run for president and one of the absolutely most qualified candidates to ever run. Narrowed down to these two choices, Hillary comes out on top in every aspect of what it takes to lead this great nation.

Yet here we sit, giving Trump a pass on every disparaging, racist, misogynistic comment he makes while simultaneously demanding that Hillary be “more soft” or “smile more”. We ignore the fact that Donald Trump has made millions off the appearances of gorgeous women and has had three separate wives, yet condemn Hillary for standing by her husband that cheated on her — and meanwhile shaming her for his actions.

When we are quiet, we are not heard. Yet when we are loud, when we stand up, when we challenge societal norms, when we reach for things women before us have not yet reached — we continue to be silenced.

So we have embarked upon the journey of crafting a balance between the two extremes.

The women in my life that I look up to most are the ones who’s presence attracts attention the minute they step into the room. She who carries herself with such confidence that people immediately hang on to every word she says — even when she says them quietly. She who’s knowledge is starkly visible through her demeanor, so much so that she doesn’t have to ever raise her voice.

And I think that is what makes us special. While most men feel entitled to raising their voices, to talking over anyone who gets in their way, to being the loudest person in the room… we as women have the ability to command attention in a subtle yet effective manor.

It is in this realization that I become that much more okay with being an introvert. Because oftentimes, my silence is simply observation. It has allowed me a keen sense of understanding my surroundings… the ability to see much, much more than those that are always loud.

We all have our strengths and weaknesses. And we can all use both to our advantage.

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