The Yarn That Dreamed of Becoming a Pussy Hat

My suitcase was open on the bed, half full. My best friend was in the room with me, telling me to stop packing. I wanted her to shut up. I was becoming angry, and it was that particular anger that comes when someone tells you something you already know.

We were both juniors at Indiana University and I was soon to catch a flight for London to do a semester abroad. It was my dream, I’d lined up a program, and I had the student loan to pay for it.

Except that, as my friend kept reminding me, if I spent my loan money on this trip, I wouldn’t be able to pay for my senior year. I wouldn’t be able to finish my degree.

I didn’t want to think about that. This trip was too important. It was my turn to do something special, to be special. I was planning my life on my terms, and no one was going to take that from me. My dream was within reach, and the aftermath would have to work itself out.

I didn’t board that plane. Instead, I cried a lot. I railed about life being unfair. I didn’t understand why sheer will wasn’t enough to make things magically fall into place.

And then I came around to the truth: I was not a victim of anything. I was simply having to choose between opportunities.

I went back to school and had a wonderful senior year. I had all that I needed to earn my degree. And after graduation, I sold my car for $600 and used it to buy a ticket to London, where I worked for three months as a receptionist.

That story sticks with me because there was a thread there that would continue unspooling through my twenties, thirties, and forties: it’s the tension between wanting to be empowered and in control of my own life, and learning to trust in a bigger plan.

On the day of the 2017 Women’s March, I saw that thread blossom into beautiful pink hats worn by thousands of women just like me, women who want to be taken seriously, who want to chart their own courses. And though it would be easy to slide again into a story of unfairness and victimhood, I would rather see perfection and opportunity in current events.

Many women looked to Hillary Clinton as one who would open a conversation around equality and feminine power. Despite her loss, that’s exactly where we are. We just arrived via an unexpected route.

Years ago, I filled my suitcase with high hopes and idealism and a big roll of rebellion, and at the time it felt like those things were zipped up and put away. But there was more hiding in there, like discernment, patience, maturity, self-respect, and resilience–the same traits that are knit into today’s pussy hats. We can wear them, as long as we remember that there is no one coming to save us but ourselves.

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