Making Her Own Path

by Meghan Powers '04

I have no personal stories yet, but I still feel the prompt is applicable to my life. I am at the point in my life where there seem to be two paths. One: graduate school, marry, have children, and work a job if necessary (not a career). If not, stay home and raise my children while my husband takes on the traditional breadwinner role. Or two: graduate school, continue my education and be a “career woman.” What if I do not want either? Or what if I want both? I want a third, fourth, and fifth path to choose from. Wait, no, I want to put on my hiking boots, stomp through the streams, climb trees, and make my own path.

The thing is, making your own path is not acceptable in contemporary American culture because socially constructed roles of femininity (and masculinity, for that matter) are imposed on women and men. When women do not conform, they are shunned, looked at with questions and criticisms, and are plagued with guilt because they have “failed” to live up to their role (i.e., perfect wife and mother). Women who have thrown convention to the wind and attempted to make their own path are now second-guessing themselves because books and articles by people like Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Phyllis Schlafly, and Danielle Crittenden are telling them that they are not happy and are not complete. It’s like the Women’s Movement never occurred and the term “feminism” doesn’t exist. Who gave these people the prerogative to strip women of their autonomy, and why is their mission to instill fear of “failure” in women so successful?

I am one of the few people in my generation to label myself a feminist, and I do it proudly. I will not allow others’ expectations of me to determine my life. I will decide what determines my femininity, and I can tell you it will not be based solely on my reproductive and nurturing abilities; I feel that I have the potential to achieve great feats and make a difference in the world (thank you, Scripps College). I have been given the privilege and strength to choose how I want to live my life, and I will choose. Children? Career? Both? Neither?

Honestly, I do not know what I want in the future, and even if I thought I knew, I would probably change my mind, and you know what? I think that is okay. I am going to work hard, be true to myself, and do what makes myself happy. It’s time to get dirty…