Thursday, February 14, 2008

When I Grow Up

I love literature. I love philosophy just about as much, maybe a little bit more. I love feminist thought and all the ways it's taught me to look at life. So I thought that when I grew up, I would probably teach feminist philosophy at a university somewhere. However, as I've been looking at the social issues that feminism has opened my eyes to, I've been feeling the need to take responsibility for this knowledge and go into something that will allow me to effect real change. I didn't study much sociology, but I'm thinking something along those lines would allow me to get into the ugliest parts of the fray where I could closely observe, assist, and analyze the roots of some of these problems. I've also thought about going into law (something I would have laughed at had someone suggested it even a year ago). But law would allow me the language tools I need to not only understand how things are currently set up, but also how to change them. I've also considered politics. That way I can be in the thick of the decision making process--whether at the local, state, or national level. Really though, I think that these different fields are all rather inter-dependent (whether any of them would admit it or not). But I don't really have the time and money to go about pursuing each of them. So I'm having a hard time figuring out where I want to go next in my life.

I'm also aware of the endless list of problems that need to be addressed and I'm having a hard time settling on one. I want to help women and children who have been victims of domestic abuse: I want to help educate women; I want help women brake the wage barrier that still exists in the lower income levels; I want to help women learn to love their bodies for what they are and not fall pray to our horrendous beauty culture; and I want to help with the plethora of other issues that I didn't address in this paragraph. The thing is, I know that if I spread myself that thin, I'd never really be able to make a significant difference to anyone. However, I feel bad "turning my back" so to speak, on the other issues that I end up not taking part in.

Right now I'm full of idealism, full of energy that's driving me crazy, but what happens after I've actually encountered the evil, the ugly, the hopeless? What if I don't have what it takes? What if I waste a lot of my and my family's time towards the goal of trying to help only to find out that I was too weak. Worst of all, what if I wind up a cynic (although I already have strains of that from time to time)? And yet, I don't want to risk raising boys who think that it's okay to feel sorry for the bad things around them and yet not do anything. I don't want them to get too comfortable with life. I want them to see their mother actively involved in changing the bad things that happen in this world. I just don't know where to start. And the immobilization is killing me.


shukr said...

I think this is where a bit of voluntary work can be helpful, since you get to try it out, see if you can hack it where you thought you wanted to go. I've been amazed how much I can deal with that I thought I couldn't. Voluntary organisations also provide training and often a way into the paid workplace. You can look for scholarships etc to fund your studies once you've found your slot - the experience you've picked up along the way is invaluable to helping make sense of the theory.

Remember you can do an hour a week in some places, or less, so it doesn't have to be time sapping. Plus, you might even find a sponsored training placement in a place you love. I know that happened with a lady where I work as a volunteer. She is now paid and progressing with her career.

Lessie said...

Friday I finally called my local women's shelter. I'm going to do a little bit of childcare (which I find incredibly ironic) and also go through the training to become an advocate for the women--which means I'll be in charge of the hot line that the women can call when they need help immediately. I've also recently gotten involved with my local political party, so I can get a taste of what politics are like from the inside. Thanks for your ideas on volunteering. You've mentioned it in your other comments and your ideas are part of what have led me to finally taking the leap.

shukr said...

oh wow - that's exciting! i work at a rape crisis centre, so along similar lines in terms of women support.

there's lots of irony in life - enjoy it. hehehe.

( i'm also a breastfeeding supporter and doula from time to time. it all ties in quite well, since rape and abuse has such an impact on childbearing years, but positive childbearing years can be very healing, plus women can learn to safeguard their children to prevent cycles continuing, and when children grow up attached and secure, there tends to be less incidence of deviant behaviour when those children grow up themselves...this is my thinking and observation at any rate!!!)

shukr said...

ps: politics - minefield to me, but you might get in there and secure more funding for your organisation. bonus!