I'm excited to have Nicole from Gypsy in Jasper here with me today. Her desire to empower girls and women through her writing is truly an inspiration. Thank you for sharing more about your passion here, Nicole! You're pretty awesome.
What is your passion?
I've been asked this question before and honestly, I don't know that I've ever had a concrete answer. For some people it's so easy to narrow it down. But, for me, I always find it tough to say "THIS IS MY PASSION!!" because I have so many. I guess, if I had to choose, I would say my passion is writing. But, it's not just writing about anything. It's writing things that make a difference – things that matter to me. So, I write. I write about inequalities in the world. I write about the blatant sexism and misogyny that's all around us. I write about gender, race, sexuality – things that I believe are important. And then, I put my work out into the world, either on my blog or in print (I'm a newspaper reporter by day), and hope I just might enlighten one person. Who knows if I've succeeded thus far. But, either way, I'll never stop writing about the things that truly matter to me.
What is the story behind finding your passion? Where has it led you?
Growing up, I lived a very sheltered life. I was raised in a small village of 1,500 people in the middle of the mountains on Vancouver Island, so it wasn't until I moved to a "big" city of 110,000 people that my eyes were opened to what is really going on the world. In part, that personal growth was due to being in a larger place and seeing different types of people everyday, but it was also because of my education. You see, when I began my undergraduate degree, I asked my older sister what classes I should take. So, she recommended ones that were integral to her own growth – classes like women's studies, sociology, women's literature, African American literature, and so on and so forth.
So, I took her advice and in my second year I took women's literature with the most amazing professor I've ever met, Jodey Castricano. Jodey specializes in gothic literature, so much of what we read had a gothic flare. It was in that class that I first learned about what it means to be "the other" – a concept that has since stuck with me in everything I do. Because of my upbringing, I was fairly narrow minded in my youth. There were very few minorities in my community, so I had never really thought about race or sexuality. I hadn't even given gender much thought. So, sitting in Jodey's class, listening to her lectures on gender inequalities, literally blew my mind. For me, that was the beginning of my journey. And, following that class, I found myself opening my eyes and raising my voice on issues I had never before understood. I joined the women's centre on campus, I volunteered with the pride centre, and I wrote stories for our campus newspaper.
What are some of the challenges that you’re encountering in pursuing you passion?
I'm often the token feminist amongst my friends, which at times can be challenging. I mean, of course equality for all people is something I'm passionate about and of course it's something I want to talk about honestly and openly, but when people use my passion as a way to start meaningless debates, it can sometimes be frustrating. It's also challenging when people write off my views because I openly identify as a feminist. I think, the way people view feminists in pop culture is probably one of the greatest barriers in pursuing a passion that involves fighting for equal rights for all people.
How is your life different since you’ve started pursing what you’re passionate about?
I'm a lot more aware of people's language and behaviours. I'm more aware of the treatment of others. And, I spend a lot more time reading, writing, and just thinking about the inequities in the world. I also find myself standing up for women more often that I used to. It's amazing how often in everyday life I hear men and women making sexist or misogynistic remarks. And, nowadays, I find it harder and harder to let those remarks slide. I guess that's another challenge of pursuing such a passion – I can quickly make a social situation tense and uncomfortable. I don't do it on purpose and I don't spit fire when I speak up, but, even so, people don't generally take it well when I point out those sexist or misogynistic remarks.
What is your legacy going to be as a result of pursuing your passion?
Since my ultimate goal in life is to report from every province and territory in Canada (I've reached six of 13 so far!), I hope my legacy will be inspiring young girls across the country to stand up for their own rights and the rights of other women. I want to inspire them to become educated. I want to inspire them to never take no for an answer. I want to inspire them to pursue what it is they are passionate about – whether it's something that's socially acceptable for a woman or not. And, I want to inspire them to feel confident in their own skin. And, I like to think, getting stories into a community newspaper is one of the best ways to accomplish my goals. Everyone reads a local paper, especially if they're in a small town.
What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned while pursuing your passion?
I've learned that although the women's rights movement has come a long way, there is still a lot of work to do before women and men are truly equals. When I was younger, I thought I'd see the day when woman could walk comfortably at night without fear of an attack or the day when women would be paid equal wages for equal work, but now that I'm older, I realize that these changes happen slowly. They're going to take years. They'll come. They have to come. But they likely won't come in my lifetime.
I've also learned that young women these days are a lot brighter than I was when I was a teenager. They're already aware of the all the things that I waited until university to learn. For instance, earlier this year, a 14-year-old girl fought Seventeen Magazine, demanding that it stop Photoshopping its models. And, last year, a 14-year-old girl in Pakistan spoke out defending the right of girls to go to school. These are only two examples, but they're important ones that show young girls aren't just going to just quietly stand aside while others tell them what they can and cannot do and what they should look like while they're doing it. That is incredibly inspiring to me.
How would you encourage others to find and pursue their passion?
That's hard. I found my passion in university, so it would be easy to say, "Go to school!" But, that's not right for everyone. So I'd say, if you find something that interests you, dive deeper. Read everything you can get your hands on. Ask questions. Take part in meaningful discussions. Find a mentor – someone who will challenge you and point you in the right direction. And, ultimately, once you've found something you love, hold on tight and make it work for you. Find your niche. And, have fun with it.
Are you interested in reading more about Nicole's passion? Check out these links: Thankful Tuesdays: The Body Edition, Things I Don't Understand: Treatment of Female Olympians, Womanifesto, Stand Up for Women, Stand Up for Equality and Go Girl Empowers Young Women. What's your passion? Do you know someone changing the world through pursuing their passion? I'd love to hear your story and maybe even share it here! Please contact me at seitblog[at]gmail[dot]com.