5 Women who Made Me

Friday, January 12, 2018

Hi guys, and Happy New Year!

I'm so buzzed to get up my first post of 2018-which in hindsight should have been this one but I got trigger happy and posted it early, so here we are!

When I first sat down to think about all the women who have shaped the person I have become, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of amazing women I could conjure up off the top of my head.
Then I remembered that this post was supposed to be the first in a series of "Top 5's" and I was going to have to figure out which 5 had made the biggest impact, over the course of my 30 years. That's when it all became a lot more difficult. I got there in the end though, and I can't wait to introduce you (in chronological order) to the 5 Women who Made Me.

Donna (my mama)

I am so lucky to have a good relationship with my mother. We haven't always been close, but she has always been there for me. Now, I know I am lucky to have a good relationship with my mother-so many people do not have this luxury-but we weren't always that close. I definitely wouldn't say I am a mini version of my mum (not least because I'm taller) but the older I get the more I see her influence in myself.
I think the biggest thing that my mum did to shape me, was not telling me how to live, but instead just living her life and allowing me to live mine.
She taught me that young, bubbly women who apparently "have it all" can and do still suffer from depression- and subsequently that I should never be ashamed of my mental health problems.
She taught me that having it all isn't as important as being happy. She showed me that adults are allowed to be flawed, and none of us has everything figured out.
The thing that really made me sit up and start appreciating everything my mum has given me (both figuratively and literally) is the fact that no matter how shitty I was, how disrespectful, horrible, secretive, or generally teenaged and horrible I acted, her love for me never once skipped a beat. I may have felt unappreciated, or misunderstood but I never ever felt unloved. That has made me work harder to make sure the people in my live always feel the love I have for them, and for that I am grateful.

Mrs Harper (3rd year English Teacher)

You know those teachers who leave a lasting impression on you, the ones who long after you've left school you still remember fondly? They may not have been the best teacher but they did something that implanted them firmly in your memory? Mrs Harper was one of those teachers for me.
Mrs H joined our school when I was 14 and she wasn't with us long (maternity cover) and to be frank she was a bit "wacky" which in the early 00s was still a new concept for teachers in our little city. But wacky or not this was the woman who took me from secret writer to proud poetry reciter.
Mrs Harper is also the teacher who introduced me to To Kill a Mockingbird, and the one who had a full on argument with our rector (headteacher), about the lack of Maya Angelou in the school library and curriculum. She was the one who when told "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" was on the list of banned books, because it contained a graphic scene, decided to teach us instead about a great woman, who had written a great book, that would gain everybody who read it, in their own time, an extra folio mark.
She made me feel talented, appreciated, and like I could do anything I wanted to, at a time in my life where all I thought I was good for was older boys, booze, and skipping school to get high with my friends.
I really hope she's still teaching!

Fiona (best friend)

I've had many best friends, many fair weather friends, many acquaintances, many two-faced losers who pretended we were pals, and many boyfriends/girlfriends, I only ever had one sister though, until I met Fiona.
I spoke a little about Fiona here but this time I'm talking about how the person Fiona is has shaped me into the person I am. I believe that her friendship has made me a better friend to everybody.
When we first met I was a total bitch. Not necessarily to her, but definitely in general. When I say bitch I don't mean a bit bitchy I literally mean, if you weren't there to feed me, fill me with drink, or fuck me, I probably wasn't going to make much effort with you.
I was a terrible person, part of which I accept responsibility for, and part of which I lay firmly at the door of the really shitty time I'd been having in the two years before we met. I'd been crushed, and made to feel like I didn't deserve love, so I acted like I didn't care about it anymore. If I didn't care I couldn't be hurt right?
Despite all of this Fiona decided she wanted to be my friend anyway, and I'm so glad she did. I haven't always been the best friend she deserved but she is still the person I have given more of myself to than any other. And in return Fiona has taught me how to be a better friend, especially to other women. Which is why I'll love her forever and always.

Dr. Sarah Pedersen (University lecturer)

Wow did Professor Pedersen do a number on me! My very first day in her class "Women and the Media" she asked us "hands up who is a feminist?" and maybe two people raised their hands. I was not one of them because I had this notion that of what a feminist was (man hating shrew mostly) and that definitely wasn't me. Then over the next 6 months something happened that changed me fundamentally. Prof.P taught me more about the world, society, and my place, as a woman, in both than any other person had taught me in my entire life. I walked out of her classroom a changed woman, a woman who believes in feminism, one who believes that if your feminism isn't intersectional it isn't worth shit, and one who would proudly raise her hand if she got to do that first class over again.
I still don't know exactly who I am but thanks to Dr. Sarah Pedersen I do know that I am a feminist.

Tara Costello (Cattitude & Co)

Check out more of Tara'a photos on her Instagram
Now, if Prof P taught me that I was a feminist, Tara is the one who has taught me how to own it. Through her blog, twitter, and overall online presence she has taught me how to be unapologetic. How to learn from others, and how to learn more about myself. She has shown me that minority voices need to be uplifted, that even our heroes make mistakes, and that white feminism is not my feminism.
Just like me, Tara is still learning but the greatest thing about her is that as she does she takes the rest of us along with her. Without a doubt Tara is one of my feminist heroes, and one of my favourite people in internet land.
Back in September Tara made the decision to stop blogging, which left a large hole in my blog loving heart, but it's just another sign that she is stronger than some of us who carry on doing things that aren't making us happy. If you want to get to know the Tara that I admire check out her Twitter and Instagram. Oh and if you are looking for a social media manager check out her website! P.s. scroll to the bottom of her site homepage and you can check out her awesome blog archives.

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