People Pleasing In The Wake Of The Women’s March

Last weekend I took part in the Women’s March on the capital in St. Paul, MN with a group of inspirational women I’m lucky to call my friends. Everything about the experience was rewarding, and seeing footage from marches around the world afterwards brought me to tears. I was so proud to have been a part of something so big.

Less than 24 hours later, thanks to my people pleasing tendencies and a little social media, my pride had taken a tumble.

It started that night after the march, at my sister’s house in the town where I grew up. This is a rural community where much of my immediate and extended family still reside. It’s the town that shaped me, and in many ways I still feel like I belong there. I’ve lived in the Twin Cities for well over a decade now, but I can still shotgun a beer faster than lightning and husk a cob of corn like nobody’s business. I have my small town upbringing to thank for that.

That night at my sister’s house when a pair of headlights I thought might belong to my dad pulled into the driveway unexpectedly, I leapt out of the recliner and sprinted to the bedroom with the athletic prowess of Simone Biles after a hearty breakfast. All of this just to remove the Nasty Woman sweatshirt I had been wearing before he walked in the door.

Why, you ask?

Here’s the deal. My dad is – for countless reasons – the most wonderful man I’ve ever known. He’s humble, funny, smart, and kind as the day is long. My dad is basically Tom Hanks, except way better because he’s my dad.

My dad is also a Trump supporter. He has his reasons, and I respect them. I didn’t want him to see me in that sweatshirt, because I didn’t want to disappoint him. Deep down I know he respects me too, but I didn’t want to challenge that respect without being able to back it up with an explanation, and I didn’t have the energy to explain myself.

It was a false alarm anyway. Not my dad. All of that adrenaline could have been reserved for the gym.

I laughed it off and went on with my evening. Read some books to my nephew, socialized with my sister and our mutual BFF for a bit, then put myself to bed early. It was an exhausting day of marching, after too many nights spent crocheting pink pussyhats way past my bedtime. I slept like a babe.

When I woke up the next morning I reached for my phone, and with one eye still closed checked for activity on the increasingly popular picture I had posted to Facebook from the march the day before. By then, the social media ranting had set in.

Whomp whoooomp.

Buzz kill.

Avoiding Facebook probably would have been the right move at that point but - let’s be honest - I’m a slave to my cellular device. Eventually, enough of my family members and acquaintances had shared gripes about the march that I started feeling like more of an annoyance than an activist.

Was I pissed about it? No.

Should I have been? Maybe. But I wasn’t.

Once again, I was consumed with the feeling that I had disappointed somebody I respect. And then, disappointed in myself for allowing it to affect me in such a way. I found myself at the top of a shame spiral working my way down.

After some forced self-reflection, I concluded that in order to move past this shame and trudge forward with my pride, I need you to know that every reason I marched that day came from the best places in my heart.

Before I begin, I should note that I have zero interest in writing about politics. I’ve seen enough Scandal to know that what goes on behind closed doors in Washington is stressful and out of control in a way that makes me all sorts of uncomfortable. I know how divisive politics on the internet can be so that’s not what this is.

Now that that’s out of the way…

My decision to march wasn’t selfish. Like it or not, I did it for you.

For your children who might be judged someday by their sexuality or who they choose to love.

For future generations of your offspring who will have to deal with our impact on the environment long after we’re gone.

Because the immersion of different cultures is enriching and rewarding for everyone, and Donald Trump’s rhetoric is succeeding in silencing minorities for fear of discrimination.

Because none of us can fully embrace our heritage without fully embracing immigration.

I marched for me, too. For my reproductive rights, because my body is MY BODY. I don’t believe that forcibly taking my rights from me will make anybody else a better Christian.

Because Planned Parenthood’s preventive services arguably saved my best friend’s life.

Because if two American chromosomes inside of a human incubator deserve humanity, Syrian refugees do too.

Because my niece is innocent and precious, and it infuriates me that she’s living in a country led by a man who has spoken so repulsively about the parts of her body that I’m desperate for her to be proud of when she grows up.

I marched for equality. It sickens me to think that the growth we’ve achieved in terms of equality as a nation over the last several decades is dangerously close to being tugged back by a handful of power-hungry swamp creatures with dollar signs in their eyes.

I marched because I’m far from perfect. I have selfish tendencies. I might drink too much. I probably eat too much. Sometimes, I swear around impressionable children.

I’m far from perfect, but I know that being born into a middle class white family has made my life a lot easier than it could have been, and the older I get, the more frustrated I become when anybody near me tries to argue that fact.

I marched because it was a peaceful protest, and it brought me some peace. It may have clogged up your newsfeed for a couple of days, but nobody got hurt. You might think it didn’t accomplish anything but I promise you, for the people involved, it did. The fact that nearly 100,000 cold, wet Midwesterners packed in on the capital lawn with plummeting blood sugar still managed to be kind and uplifting to one another is an accomplishment in itself. Beyond that though, it offered a sense of community and empathy in a world that for many has felt so divided since November 9th.

I marched because bullies don’t deserve to come out on top. In my opinion, Donald J. Trump is a bully above all else. A dangerously powerful one, who is paralyzed in the face of criticism and lashes out when he should be listening. Progress absolutely cannot be made in that kind of environment.

Like many of you, I fought to overcome bullies for the better part of my life. Today, I understand the importance of rising above them. I can’t allow myself to give this man the respect I should for the office he holds, because that would give him power over me, and put my self-worth in jeopardy. So, it’s not happening.

Say what you will about me being dramatic. Heck, the spider that has been trapped for weeks in my bathroom inside of a tissue box under the heaviest book I own would probably agree with you.

I might be dramatic, but this is my truth. You can take it or leave it.

…but I’m a people pleaser so I really hope you decide to take it.