But by the time online public fury and political discussions became a thing, I’d shed the brashness of my teenage era, and honestly, though I’m embarrassed to admit this, it didn’t occur to me to scream into the post-dial-up void.
Surprisingly, it didn’t come. (It later would—just check my Twitter feed now! ) Instead people messaged me asking if they could share the post, so I changed the privacy settings to public, and soon it had taken flight into the communal space of the internet where maybe a friend of a friend or a friend of a friend of a friend might reconsider his viewpoint. And that felt powerful.
I was scared of being told my opinions were wrong or unformed; I was scared of being told I was offensive or getting into an online spat that would stress me out the rest of the day; I was scared of being told that I was sophomoric or uncouth or that I should just shut up and stick to writing because, well, I already thought that maybe I should shut up and stick to writing.
I embarked on a freelance writing career—I spent seven years writing a variety of “ways to live your best life” service pieces for high-profile glossy magazines, where being well-liked and saying yes to frantic deadlines and so-so pay and ending my emails with exclamation marks meant that I got more work.
I was encouraged to think critically both at school and at home, where my pie-eyed political beliefs didn’t always align with those of my more prudent parents, and we spent many a dinner engaged in loud debate about the state of the world.
By the time online public fury and political discussions became a thing, I’d shed the brashness of my teenage era.
I was angry all the time; I was appalled all the time; I was terrified all the time, and this terror of what the future of our country looked like for my kids and for women and for the already marginalized scared me more than my terror of looking dumb or being disliked by speaking out.
To revisit this article, select My Account, then View saved stories. “I like myself much more in a state of public outrage than in a state of private complacency.
I was a white woman living in a white person’s world, and though being a woman didn’t make me a protected class, being so many other things—financially stable, employed, well-educated—did.
What I didn’t realize, and what I’d only come to understand in hindsight, was that in taking the step to speak up, I was beginning to take the necessary steps of finding my voice, and in doing so, finding my power.
In college I further honed my voice and my feminism, volunteering for various women’s groups and using my outsized confidence to snap at Wharton boys who said things like: “Wow, I didn’t expect you to actually be smart. ” (Really, they said this. To me. On group projects.