I've been feeling a lot of feelings lately, especially about being a woman and growing up and standing up for myself. I've been trying to figure out who I am, which is a mixture of strong and unapologetic and considerate and open-hearted and many other things. I've been trying to navigate a world that is interested in labelling me and telling me what I should and shouldn't do. Because I'm a woman. Which is stupid. (As my mother told me the other day, "Stupid is too sophisticated a word for such behavior!" I couldn't have said it better myself.)
I'm grateful for the women that inspire me every day. I'm grateful for their examples and the way they live their lives, because I couldn't navigate these difficult things without them. I'm grateful for my favorite directors of photography. I like to refer to these women (and all women) as queens or rockstars, because that's what we are and we shouldn't forget that. I feel so uplifted when I watch their films, and I feel excited about my future as I observe them live their lives and make movies and raise families.
I'm grateful for parents that have such an incredible relationship, one where they treat each other as equals in every way, and for my father who raised me to have the VanDerwerken work ethic—a thing that will serve me well as I enter an industry where saying I will need to hustle is an understatement. I'm grateful for my mother, who is intelligent and brilliant, and an incredible a writer/teacher/doctor/Renaissance woman. My mother who let us dress up as whatever we wanted to be—a dentist, Amelia Earhart, Anne of Green Gables—for Halloween, and showed/continues to show me every day that I can do hard things and great things and important things. My mother who surrounded me with stories of incredible women as I grew up and also for letting me watch her be one herself.
I've been feeling more vocal about this as my own personal catalog of experiences as a woman begin to grow. A plethora of adjectives could describe these experiences: supportive, patronizing, lovely, condescending, angering, annoying, discouraging, uplifting. The negative experiences usually seem to carry more weight than the positive ones.
But you know what carries the most weight of all? The inspiring women I have the opportunity to look up to. Incredible queens that are changing the world and my world and encouraging all of us to do the same, simply by doing it themselves. So guess what, universe? My energy is better spent on being a queen and celebrating my ladies who are busy doing the same. My ladies who inspire me to keep on slaying left and right, just like they are. My ladies who are fiercely strong and capable and uniquely themselves.
So, Happy International Women's day, Queens. Wait—isn't International Women's Day every day? It is to me!