I was born upon the slowing tide of women’s rights.
Surrounded by the dying breath of poems about Rising and art work depicting womanly strength.
I was inundated with perfect ads for perfect hair and perfect skin and perfect weight and perfect clothes and perfect teeth and perfectly perfect perfectness.
I ate a steady diet of lists depicting The Sexiest Woman Alive and how to look ten pounds thinner.
I keep afloat while the swells of what society decided I ‘should be’ ebbed and flowed.
I was tossed about in a pubescent tornado while grandmothers insisted reliance on a male was still a girl’s best option.
Directionless ideas itched and pushed, attempting to break free from stagnant casts. Tempting me to stand.
I dug my heels in and closed my eyes and screamed inwardly as I endeavored to dream pioneer dreams. As I tried to go the way none of my ancestors before me had gone.
I was enlightened by Maya and Gloria and Virginia.
I was inspired by Susan and Zora.
I was emboldened by Rosa and Marie and Oprah and Madonna.
I was educated by Ursula and Margaret and Madeline and George.
I was scared. I was wobbly. I was frantic.
Still…I took stuttering steps forward. Forward. Forward.
I was set free by Toni and Jane. By Alice and Silvia. By Willa and Lucy.
I have fallen. I have been bruised. I have been kicked. I have been shunned.
I have given up. I have sinned and repented.
Still…I go forward. Forward.
Judy and Frida, Georgia and Alice taught me about beauty.
I have toasted dreams and basked in the glow of laughter at a table designed for life.
I have been violently supported by my mother.
I have been treasured by my sister.
I have been held up by dear friends.
Forward was the only way to go.
I have fought. I have raged.
I have prayed. I have won.
I am not a success. I am not a failure. I am not a commodity nor a product. I do not need to be patted on the head or demonized. I am not more and I am not less.
I am a breath of life in an infinite space.
But of all the things I am and am not.
Mostly, I am not sorry.