People ask me why I am the way I am. All the time, my character is question and reflected upon. I do it to myself. And the only reason I can explain the way I am is the way I grew up.
I grew up among only women. I have a very estrogen dominant family. There are 11 grandchildren on one side and 5 on the other. There are only 2 boys, one on each side. Even all my close friends are girls. I grew up in choirs and musical theatre, both of which are female dominated activities. When I got to UBC I joined a sorority, just to top it all off. It’s not to say that I have no male friends now. But my life is filled with women, and that makes me the way I am.
My life is filled with kind women. My mom is the kindest person I’ve ever met, almost to a fault. She is the kind of person who feels your emotions alongside you. She told me that no matter what she does in this life, she will be happy if she is a good mother and she lives that everyday. She puts my sisters and me above everything and asks for nothing in return. If I asked her to fly to Vancouver tomorrow, I know she would, no questions asked. She listens to every story I tell her, even if she’s heard it before. She told me once she likes listening to me talk because when I’m in a good mood I get chatty, so hearing me talk makes her smile.
My best friend is the same. I speak the world of her because she is the world to me. Every bruise I wear I know she wears too, and I can’t thank her enough for all the love she has given me and the bullshit she puts up with from me over the last 13 years. For my entire first year and half of university she put my contact on “push notifications” because I didn’t have any friends in Vancouver, so if something went wrong while I was out here, I would have her to talk to. The women in my life are kind.
My life is filled with smart women. My god, that is true. The women in my family are so intelligent it’s intimidating; I grew up amongst doctors, lawyers, physiotherapists, and engineers. But not only that, all the women in my family are smart. The kids in my family major in engineering chemistry, finance, and economics. Right now, I have one cousin getting her PhD in clinical psychology (at 22 years old I might add) and another finishing up her residency to be a doctor. Part of the reason I’m getting a degree in behavioural neuroscience is because I can’t go home with a bachelor’s degree in general arts, I would get sent back to school.
My friends at UBC are wicked smart. The kind of smart that makes me feel dumb. My friends are working in labs and getting published in scientific journals, while I’m getting published on my own damn website. Without them I would not be in school right now. UBC would have given me the boot ages ago, but they hold my hand and coach me through complex topics like autoreceptors on noradrenergic neurons and the default network in the brain (which is a lot more complicated than it sounds). The women in my life are smart.
My life is filled with badass women. At 17 years old, my sister moved away to travel the world. Life gave her an opportunity and she took it. She takes more onto her plate than anyone I know and handles it with grace. She values hard work and that shows in everything she does. There is nothing in her life that is halfway and that includes being an amazing big sister. She chairs the board of a charity, was the president of a women’s leadership group and is in an incredibly competitive program at UBC and I genuinely don’t know how she pulls more than 24hrs out of a day.
Both my grandmothers were and are badass. My dad’s mom was the breadwinner in an era when that just straight up was not a thing. And my mom’s mom not only lived through WW2 and survived but got stuck in soviet Germany after the war and had to escape under the floorboards of a milk truck. There is no story I can tell to top that. No matter what I do in this life, in any life, I will never beat “I escaped soviet Germany under the floorboards of a milk truck”. My life is filled with badass women.
My life is filled with funny women. My younger sister is the funniest person I know. She is the only person to make me pee myself from laughing. But she doesn’t make humour at the expense of others; she is witty and sharp, and it shows when she makes you laugh. She is a character actor and a stand-up comic and your favourite sitcom star all in one. I smile until it hurts when I’m with her and she damn well knows it.
My friends from Toronto are hilarious. I’ve laughed in my living room in stitches with a glass of wine and a handful of cards from “What Do You Meme?” telling stories of dates gone wrong. I’ve howled at kitchen dance parties and choir jokes and Indiana Jones drinking games. My friends make me laugh when the whole world frowns. My life is filled with funny women.
And I can’t imagine my life without these role models. I grew up knowing I could be anything because the women in my life were everything. They were stars in their own rights, and they taught me to shine like they do. The women in my life shaped me into the person I am, and they continue to allow me to grow. Anytime I am kind, smart, badass or funny, know it is to the credit of the women who raised me. It takes a village to raise a child, and they are my village.
From me, with love, to you,