I often think about where I fit in the world as a woman. I contemplate feminism and understand that there can be stereotypes associated with the word and I ask myself if that knowledge has an affect on my words, actions or behaviors. I’ve determined that it might, to a certain degree. Behavior neutrality is what I will call it. “We can’t offend the masses” is the motivation. This desire to not make waves can have a huge impact on someone’s willingness to take a stand, whether that means expressing an opinion, choosing a side in politics, or being willing to acknowledge that feminism is the very thing that fights against this meekness and removes the veil of “perfect” neutrality.

It is hard to say where insecurity in girls first takes place and what makes it turn into a rolling monster that only gains strength and complexity as the years go by. What feeds the feeling of helplessness and lack of belief in your ability to succeed in things that other people have succeeded in? I feel that this is a good venue to bring this up, and maybe bringing it to light can help to lessen the strength of the monster.

Maybe the monster of insecurity is fueled by not knowing where to turn for support. There is a gap between the secure and the insecure, similar to the gap between the haves and have-nots.  The secure have a strong support network and confidence in their ability to accomplish, and as a result have less difficulty with motivation. It seems to come easily. A dichotomy exists that is confusing to those it doesn’t come so easily to. The confidence and success of “secure” girls and women seem to be in line with feminism, but often there seems to be an insecurity related to appearance, which results in an idealistic front of visual perfection.

I confess that I also have insecurity related to my appearance, but I am annoyed that I can’t achieve goddess status in the eyes of others and I long to have men worship me for my appearance and my delightful personality, but alas, I am flawed. What I don’t understand is why someone who is beautiful must try to go above and beyond that so that there is no way anyone can come close to that unless they too are willing to take very calculated and deliberate steps to fight nature. What is most troubling is how distracting it is when the yardstick that you measure yourself against is perfection. That goal can be very problematic in that it can encourage someone who is insecure to try to be someone that they are not. It is sad when it reaches the point where someone has spent so long looking to others in order to establish their own identity that they suddenly realize they are not only a failure at emulating that ideal but they are also a failure at identifying and expressing their own thoughts and feelings about life and the world. When trying to emulate what is seen in others, identity becomes a surface and actions become imitated behaviors and an effort to behave as others would prefer you to. Mentality is stuck in a childlike state as approval is constantly sought from others who must be wiser in the ways of the world.

Discovering your voice can be a challenge after years of practice using a pretend voice. It is difficult to tell yourself that you don’t need to worry about what other people think. That instruction has been repeated to us over and over: “Don’t worry about what other people think,” but I haven’t believed it and hearing it over and over made it lose its meaning.

CALYX was immediately symbolic to me when I learned of this internship opening. It represented a chance for me to be exposed to women who have been brave and have expressed something about their experiences as women and it represented an opportunity for me to gather the things together that have reminded me of my own voice over the years and put them to use again, because sometimes you need a reminder to help you take that next step.

Sometimes the truth can be healing, though it may seem to others that you are asking for help. Sometimes what you are seeking is an opportunity to be heard.

Jennifer Overholser

Calyx Intern

My opinions do not necessarily represent those of CALYX.