I work alone. Think, create, and write alone. It is ideal for productivity, not so much for water cooler chat. So recently, when I made some statements that were a bit provocative (which I wholly stand by) in the big wide public of the internet, it felt a bit scary to be standing alone in my office receiving the reactions—good, bad, and ambivalent. But I have such an amazing team that I never felt alone. They all support me and have helped make this amazing work we do at Girl Museum happen. Because we live all over the world, someone is always awake.
We all read, day in and day out, about the atrocities and challenges facing girls, and it can be overwhelming. In fact, it’s probably quite unhealthy. An individual struggle is one thing, but taking on a burden of thousands is not what our fragile psyches were made to do. When I get down about how hard it all seems, I think about the girls for whom we work, and I smile and snap out of it. But it serves as a stark reminder that without our friends, our families, and our communities we are pretty rudderless. But I disagree that alone we can do little. I get so much more done when I am alone. And yet it is true. Greta Thunberg, Malala Yousafzai, Emma Gonzalez: they may stand out, but they are bringing everyone along with them. This is what girls do. This is what we are trying to do, in a quieter, more “in a library” kind of way.
But the reality is that increasingly we do not have friends close by all the time. We move away, we have busy lives and careers. Whether you want to start a movement or just have a chat, we have become reliant on this beastly Internet. It is fraught and makes me uncomfortable, but still we go on. One thing I do–which may be a bit weird–when I just cannot connect with a friend, is have an imaginary conversation with a woman who inspires me and makes me feel strong. It is really a kind of affirmation role play. It lets me critique myself constructively and play out possible scenarios in an imagined voice of someone whose opinion I would care about if she knew me. But it is all really me, because I know myself best, and it can break a self-sabotage loop. But would it be BETTER to talk to a real person? Of course. We just don’t always have access to those in this hyper-modern world. So keep your heroines in mind and close to your heart, they will help you in moments of fear or weakness, and you may just be your own hero.
Speak again in 2020!
-Ashley E. Remer
Girl Museum Inc.