A Room of One’s Own
At the end of January, I wrote a post about the simple things that I’m trying to keep up this year. Things like making time for hobbies, exercise, and even basic things like sleep. Another thing that I’ve been making time for is writing blog posts. It’s a pretty well-known fact that if you don’t plan for something, you probably won’t end up doing it. So every week I try to set aside time to do all the things I know I need to do. (I’ve been using my Bullet Journal for this and it’s working really well so far). So last week, as per usual, I set aside my time to write a blog post.
Unfortunately, right before I sat down to write, I ended up getting involved in a rather hurtful and upsetting conversation. Even though I tried to block it out and put my phone and other distractions away, I couldn’t quite focus on what I was trying to say. I did write up a post, but when I read over it, I wasn’t happy with it because I knew that firstly, it was simply substandard, and secondly, it wasn’t offering anything to you, my reader.
I always try to offer something to my readers in every post I write. Unfortunately, it’s a very common problem in many artistic and creative fields for the artist, or writer, or creator to enter into a sort of solipsistic, self-gratifying parade because it can be a solitary job. I think that it’s an easy thing to let happen. Anyway, for this reason, I try to make sure that what I’m writing will somehow encourage, add value, or provoke thought to everyone who happens to read it. Obviously, sometimes I’m more successful than others, but I try to keep it as my goal.
So when I produced a post that wasn’t living up to this goal I was even more upset, and I obviously chose not to post it.
Since that day, I thought ahead to this week. I allocated more time to writing this post and I made sure not to speak to anyone who may upset or interrupt me while I’m writing. This got me thinking about Viriginia Woolf and her (arguably) feminist manifesto A Room of One’s Own. How obvious it seems to us modern, millennial women that we need space to work; whether that be writing, painting, business, whatever it is. It’s hard to imagine the demands society had on women back in Virginia Woolf’s day, that even to ask for space to work on something other than watercolour or embroidery would’ve seemed absurd.
And yet, although we have more physical space than our predecessors, how much emotional and mental space are we allowing ourselves?
I set aside the physical time to write, because I know it’s a priority for me at the moment, but right before I sat down I allowed myself to get waylaid and weighed down by a conversation that I should’ve known wouldn’t have been beneficial. The ability to set aside time for ourselves is crucial, but it seems that time isn’t the only issue. Making sure to surround ourselves with people who build us up and encourage us in our endeavors is just as important, and the second step in the process. However, making space, whether emotional, mental, physical, seems to be the tiny, yet vital, key that most women are missing.
As women: mothers, wives, daughters, sisters, others depend heavily on us. For their physical wellbeing, for their emotional wellbeing, for help, advice, sometimes even just a chat. And they depend on us because we’re capable of constantly giving. But my question is this: if there is no space for us, no room of our own, so to speak, whether physical or not, what is the quality of the help or love that we give?
I’m not necessarily referring to abandoning the kids and husband to go to a spa (although that would be nice too!) but simply margin. A thirty-minute walk to clear the head, switching the phone onto aeroplane and just sitting in silence, a hobby. To be honest, I think that we need space to just be. It can be easy to fill up our time with activities and tasks but making space to simply be seems to be just as important.
As important is making sure that harmful voices are kept in their place. It’s not always easy to do because often the ones that are capable of hurting us the most are the closest to us. However, it’s important to make sure that those conversations and relationships aren’t taking away from the space that we need in order to succeed. Writing is a priority for me at the moment and making sure that I’m creating the space to do it is as important as finding the time. I know for a lot of women time is a luxury, but I don’t think that it should be. I think that the best gift you can give to those around you is to be satisfied and realised in whatever it is that you’re doing, and you aren’t going to get there without sectioning off some space for yourself.