After last year's election results, I felt stuck. I walked around in a grief-stricken fog for a few weeks, but nothing seemed to help. Talking to friends and family made me feel a bit better, but I still felt sick in the pit of my guts. Usually I'm able to deal with everyday troubles with humor, but suddenly joking about the desecration of the planet, my country, my niece's future seemed ineffably wrong.
I felt helpless
Though I lived in a Germany, I worried about my friends and family who had to endure the insane whims of an orange tyrant.
I wanted to fight back and join the resistance, but what the hell could I actually do from an entirely different continent?
Luckily, I didn’t have to look much further than the end of my arm.
I have always kept a journal. Since the time I was old enough to hold a pen, I scribbled my thoughts and feelings on whatever paper I could find. I hid journals around my room. I dealt with growing pains internally. I wrote advice to my future self. I complained about the outside world. I versed my heartaches and elations.
Sometimes the thoughts rattling around in my head became so loud, I’d have to get up in the middle of the night to release them onto paper. Only then would the anxiety in my gut diminish so I could finally fall asleep.
After graduating college, I moved to LA and took a gig copywriting for a vintage furniture company. Though there was some creativity involved, it was still “work”. Little did I know, that this part-time gig would be the beginning of my career as a freelance ghostwriter (hint, it’s as hollow as it sounds). I wrote press releases for restaurants, eBooks for tax consultants, and blog posts for lawyers (which eventually led me down a murkier “creative” path of editing dog food labels and crafting social media posts for a softcore porn site.) Sure, my talent for writing was paying my bills but it wasn’t fulfilling me. Not at all. I continued to scribble my frustrations with the world in the middle of the night when the rest of the house was asleep.
After leaving my relationship of five years and buying a one-way ticket to Berlin, I got a once in a lifetime opportunity to start over with a clean slate. I faced many frustrations and hurdles along the way, including having no friends or knowledge of the German language. Instead of returning home with my tail between my legs, I started collecting humorous stories that made my friends and family back home laugh; such as the time I had to buy something at the grocery store because I couldn’t figure out how the hell to get out otherwise, or thinking that something was wrong with me when I went to a club and not one boy tried to hit on me (Germans have a funny way of flirting.) I reached out to a popular lifestyle blog in Berlin (called iheartberlin) and sent some pitches to the editor. The gig wasn’t paid, but for the first time, I had an outlet to share my stories, in my own voice. It also gave me something totally unexpected... a fuck ton of confidence.
Publishing my stories in a public sphere was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. It’s like publishing your most inner thoughts or pages from your journal. But, at the same time, it was strangely addictive. A fire was lit. Once I realized that my stories were relatable, that my voice was valuable, and that I had a special skill that others didn’t, I began to hold my head higher. I became aware of my own self-destructive behaviors and worked hard to adopt healthier patterns. I started to be kinder to myself. I became a better friend; empathetic, generous, supportive. At the same time, I cut ties with forces in my life that were merely energy zappers, mind fuckers, or placeholders. My new found confidence radiated from every pore of my body, and even infected others around me in the subtlest of ways. I discovered something deeply fascinating about myself in the process -- writing was as important to my well-being as breathing. I had to keep writing as much as possible, but just writing any old thing simply wouldn't do.
And that’s when it hit me one night (while tossing and turning in bed). Writing was my weapon. I would start a blog that showcased women writers, woman-run companies, and woman-made products. I knew so many great women just in my circle alone.
I would feature women who were working hard to empower others. I would feature women who were changing the status quo.
I would feature women who were using their gifts (be it writing, crafting, coding) to positively impact their communities.
I hoped that the women who were featured on the site (either as writers, creators, or owners) would then empower their friends, their families, and their communities. The effects had the potential to be exponential. By changing the narrative and focusing on all the positive things these badass women were doing, I could inspire other women to live more purely, to have more confidence, to forge new paths over accepted “truths”, and to lead the resistance (not just join it.)
A special note about Mischi, the co-curator of the Persist playlist.
I met Mischi at an ihearberlin Christmas party. Like myself, she was also a frequent contributor to the site. She was familiar with some of the articles I had written and began to ask me questions about writing and freelancing. Though she was a few years younger than I, I felt a fondness towards her immediately. Not only was she a great writer, I absolutely loved her enthusiasm and curiosity. I was also impressed by the fact that she wrote all of her articles for the site in English (not exactly an easy feat when your mother tongue is Polish.) To speak another language is one thing but to be able to articulate yourself (well) and tell stories in a language besides your native one is fucking incredible. The more I get to know her, the more I feel inspired by her passion and lust for life-- which is why I offered her a space to write for ReproJustice with complete creative reign; “Write about anything as long as it’s in the realm of feminism." Lucky for me and the rest of the ReproJustice community, she jumped at the opportunity. I am so thankful to have her voice on the site.
The Persist List
You may have noticed that all of the artists featured on the Music to Persist to are females. We promise it’s not because we don’t love and appreciate male musicians, we just happen to think there aren’t nearly enough outlets to showcase all of the badass lady singers out there. For centuries, women haven’t been given anywhere near the same amount of opportunities that males have. Despite that inequality, these female artists have inspiringly managed to carve out a creative space for their lyrical stories.
We hope this list inspires other women to continue forging paths, even when they’re repeatedly interrupted, thwarted, and diminished by the omnipresent male ego.
Nevertheless, she persisted.