I find myself fairly voting rights oriented these days, and it is after all, national women’s history month, so it seems only fitting to salute those who made it happen, the awesome, awe-inspiring suffragettes.
Most of them are little-known. Many didn’t see voting rights achieved in their lifetimes. I get to voice my opinion at the ballot box because of them, and that is really really great. But I think what I’d like to say about them is that they went, they did, they fought, and they prevailed.
I think those of us in the under 30 category can learn from them especially, because I think one of our greatest challenges is the crisis of confidence. A veteran of crises of confidence myself, I know there can be nothing more debilitating than simply being unable to start something: to be sure that it won’t nearly be as great in practice as it is in your head; to be sure you aren’t nearly smart or savvy enough to pull it off; to convince yourself, before you even get to the part where you tackle how to do it, that it’s too big a project anyway. I’ve been there, I’ve done that, I’m probably doing it as we speak.
But here’s the thing. If you don’t start, it definitely doesn’t happen, and if you talk yourself out of it, you deprive the world of what might have been. Sometimes I just need to hear that, to remember that those people who do great things are just people. Sure, they’re brilliant, creative, determined people, but they had to eat three times a day, go to the drugstore and keep up with their mothers too. They had to sleep sometimes, and sometimes they woke up with a headache. That things were frustrating and uncertain before they were exciting and victorious and sometimes it probably seemed overwhelming to them too. I read recently that if you can’t fail it doesn’t count. I don’t know if that’s true (maybe more on that another day), but I do know that big, important things, and small, important things too, can be scary and risky and that might just be what makes them important and worth doing.
I’m not trying to radically change the nature of the US electorate, but I am trying to live my little life to the fullest and maybe help somebody out along the way. Even that can feel insurmountable. So there are times when what I need is to remember with respect those who have gone before. And do likewise.