My ninth grade English teacher walked into class on the first day of school, writes her name hastily on the white board, and smiles warmly. She looks at the class and says simply, “This is going to be a challenging class.”
My cousin pulls on her sunglasses and blasts rock music, as she hits the gas pedal in the car.
“What kind of music do you like?” She asks, turning her head towards me.
My older sister comes home from college, sets her backpack on the floor, and falls to the couch.
“I’ve just spent five hours talking about recycling,” she says. “I’m ready to eat.”
My best friend quietly slips a piece of paper to me in math class. “Tell me what you think,” she whispers.
A few hours later, I cry after reading some of her first words of poetry.
My mother practices her dancing in the living room. Thirty years later, she still knows every step like the back of her hand.
“Come practice with me,” she says.
Ask me who my heroes are, and these are the first images that come to mind. They are the feminists who have shaped my life. They are not Nobel Laureates or Pulitzer Prize winners, but they have molded me into the person I am today. They helped me discover my passions, and also help me feel unafraid to be ambitious and curious.
I feel lucky and fortunate to have these women in my life, who through conversation, have helped me learn more about who I am. They are the first storytellers I’ve really known. Years later, I realize now, I have taken for granted the meaningful presence of my mother, my sister, my teacher, and my friends.
It seemed normal for me to have female role models also be the people I interacted with every day. However, when that is not the case, and when there are fewer women to look up to in your immediate community, it can feel a lot harder to find them. This notion, too, translates to a grander, global theme; as women remain underrepresented in the narratives we see day to day, especially in media, film and writing.