Take Up Space.

 Image Credit: Dylan Spitz

Image Credit: Dylan Spitz

"Y recordar que la vida, es solo una no hay dos. Al cuerpo lo que le pida y al que dirán un adiós. Y celebrar que está viva, explotando en libertad. Para sanar las heridas, con pura electricidad"

Once, I asked for permission. Next, I looked for approval. Then, months later, I said “cool, but I’m gonna go do this anyway.”

Because sometimes that’s the difference-maker — time. Time to understand that the wildest, strongest force is a woman who doesn’t hold back her power, her needs, and her own story.

I stand tall, and short, at 5 foot 2 and I’ll be damned if any inch of me will dishonor the woman I’m becoming for the sake of a man’s ego. I grew up in that culture, where calladita te ves más bonita, “you look prettier quiet”, was the norm. It provided a foundation for machista behavior that extended beyond men’s actions by burrowing a home in a woman’s perception of herself, her worth, and her power. For simply existing, she was encouraged to feel less than. More often than not the encouragement came between behind-her-back chatter and subtle captions and translated phrases.

Less than…a man. Less important than…her family’s needs. Less worthy than…she believes herself to be. Less assertive than…she should show. Less owner of…herself, her emotions, her journey.

Describe to me a moment in time and I’ll give you five ways a woman in that scenario was asked, explicitly or implicitly, to water herself down for the sake of someone else. Then I’ll give you five more just for kicks.

In the time between January 1st and today, I’ve navigated that pull — the one that on one hand begs of me to be the woman my family raised me to be and on the other kicks me in the shin every time I cloud my own sunshine just so that I don’t shine brighter than the man standing next to me.

Now don’t get me wrong, I cherish humility as a pillar of my life. But there’s humility and then there’s just speaking the truth. Something as general as admitting that I’m strong and capable on my own two feet, or something as specific as the fact that I make more money than every guy I’ve dated, shouldn’t be seen as offensive or as reasons to call the church elders to determine if I in any way have succeeded in emasculating one man, all the men. But, yet, masculinity so fragile, so go ahead and rally them.

In a circle of condemnation at the hands of fragile egos, I can stand tall and proud because between them and me my strongest defense will always be this: I know how to hold onto my power and self-worth, especially when the daggers are flying.

My entire existence as a woman has trained me for this.

Society left me no other option but to be strong with every time it challenged my strength. The world raised me to know how to stand my ground with every time it tried to push me out of sight. The sirens tried to be louder than my own voice so I learned to scream.

My life experiences, particularly these last few months, taught me about the empowerment that is born when you stop asking for permission and live your life with dignity and in line with your integrity. It’s a magical combination that allows you to speak your truth without any feelings of remorse.

I’ve been taking time to learn to love myself well and to determine who I let into my life after the bar has been set. It’s been a beautiful journey of self-discovery, one that may scare some because the most powerful adversary is a woman with no vendetta, but all the stories. Simple truths, powerful words.

It’s an act of rebellion and revolution to claim a space as mine and to not back down from that space even when it is challenged. To hide in the midst of discomfort would be to perpetuate the belief that my existing and owning my truth is in some way wrong. That somehow, taking my time to learn myself is a personal affront to those who are comfortable with remaining stagnant.

The hiding would be a direct response to someone asking me to hide and…no. No one has that power over me. No one ever has.

We, women, navigate the world on tiptoes sometimes, wondering when someone is going to call us out for our existence and especially for thriving. These last few months I’ve been stomping. I’m making noise, taking names, committing truth to paper, not for anyone’s benefit but my own. I may be ruffling feathers in the process, but it’s to my indifference.

I do this for me and for the shoulders I stand on. To be able to take up space in such public ways honors the women who have come before me and those who will come next. It's my responsibility to not turn a blind eye to toxic masculinity and to the notion that being a woman should in some way lead to my adopting a quiet demeanor.

I get to take up space because I bow to God and no one else. It is a privilege. 

I get to write my way through my pain because the words and the stories, they are mine. “If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.” It is a privilege. 

I get to call out bullshit because three chords and the truth is a truth that is much older than I am. It is a privilege. 

My existence is an act of rebellion and revolution. Regardless of the size of your platform, or the reach of your art, your existence is an act of rebellion and revolution.