I have been the Mennonite girl who doesn't come back from Rumspringa.*
I have been a negotiator at stand offs, called in because no one else can do the job and I am good at talking people down.
I have been an assassin. Sneaking through the buildings, no one hears my approach.
I have been a top notch archer, my bow as tall as me, my arrow true.
I have been so beautiful all stop and stare as I enter a room and yet invisible when needed.
I have been strong when faced with family arguments and always winning them.
I have been a white savior to those downtrodden. Racing in and saying the right things to shut up the terrible racist making the attack.
Books gave me a way to picture all the things I ever wanted. An escape when I needed it and a place to put my dreams. Books are safe. Inside the world brought forth in words, nothing can hurt me and I can do anything. Then I have to stop reading and face the reality that books have shown me how to be strong but not how to have courage. Beautiful words full of heroic deeds and yet never how to be an ally. The pages I've read so far in my life tend to focus very much on one person doing all the saving. It's rare for it to be a group effort (exceptions are there of course**). The stories read have never been about putting aside my goals, ambition, and pride to let someone else stand up. To not only let that person stand up but to support them without overbearing or taking the spotlight. In short books have not shown me how to be an activist, they have prepared me to wait for someone to come be the savior while I wait in the background. Or pretend I can be the person saving everyone else from the evil bad guy.
When it comes to major issues (the feminist movement or black lives matter for example), my voice needs to be silent but my actions need to be loud. There is far too much white privilege speaking over the voices of others. I need to adapt and become part of the resistance without harming others. At some point I am going to have to make a decision regarding how far I am willing to go. Am I an activist or am I a bystander?
I live in the brilliance of my imagination. But I do not know how to make it a reality and that has got to change.
* I am aware that Mennonite and Rumspringa don't actually go together. But that's the great thing about stories built in your head, you can mix the story lines to fit what you need. As a teenager wanting to run away I mixed the Rumspringa I read about and my religious background. Creating a fanciful version like Jeannette Oaks tales.
** I can think of two exceptions; The Ranger Apprentice series by Joseph Delaney and Graceling series by Kristin Cashore. Though I am sure there are more.