I have been having a really hard time sitting down and writing lately and, I think it's because I've had something weighing on my mind. I've been asked a lot - I mean I always get asked: What's it like to be a woman at sea?
My answer is different every single time.
Sometimes I laugh through my response. Sometimes I'm a little more serious. Sometimes I barely acknowledge the question was asked. Sometimes (when I'm with my best girl friends) I'll let my guard down a bit and open up.
Mostly I stick with a standard answer: the one where I say, 'yes there have been some challenges but I've really never had any issues'.
...and that's mostly true.
I'd like to talk more about being a Lady Sailor but, I really just don't know what to say.
The closer I look at my situation the more I'm convinced that it's really not as different as it seems.
There are days when it's hard and I cry. There are days when I feel like I'm doing everything alone - I feel completely overwhelmed - I feel like there is no way anyone could possibly understand what it's like. There are days when I wake up full of energy and feel like I can take on the world. There are days when I feel so incredibly blessed to live the life I do. There are days I think I've made a terrible, terrible mistake.
Not so different from any other 30 year old trying to find her way in this crazy world, right?
Here's the thing...
Being a Lady Sailor has irrevocably changed me. It's shaped who I've become and is currently shaping who I'm becoming.
Between the ages of 22-27 I was the only female sailor on my ship. For six months a year I'd work solely with men however; I think the greater impact (on myself personally) was that I was completely devoid of female companionship. Sometimes, I'd go up to three months without seeing another woman. (I chose those years because I feel those are the ones that affected me most. I've been the sole female at other ages / times as well. I should also mention there are times when I've sailed with other women but, thats a different story for a different day.)
How could that not change the way you view the world? How could that not change how you view male / female relationships? How could that not change how you view yourself?
The problem is: being a woman at sea isn't too different from being a man at sea in most regards and certainly, being a woman at sea is no different than a woman pushing herself to try new things and places herself in unchartered waters except, people don't want to hear that. (Did you like the nautical play on words there?)
It seems like when I get asked The Question people want The Answer.
They want me to say, 'I'm a tough, strong, capable woman. You should hear me ROAR. It's loud. I have a really LOUD ROAR. Louder than the average Woman's ROAR. My ROAR is louder than others because I am extraordinarily fierce...because I work with ALL OF THE MEN!'.
They want me to be a feminist. They want me to believe that women can do anything and be anything. They want me to tell them that I have to work harder than others. They want me to tell them that I go out there and kick some sailor butt.
Except, for me personally, those things aren't all true. I can't (in good conscious) tell them that.
I don't think that I've had to work harder. I don't have to kick sailor butt. I think that I'm not more of a feminist than a stay at home mom. Here's the doozy....I don't think sailing is a good fit for most women.
In fact, most times, my ROAR probably sounds more like a meow and....who the 'eff cares?!
What's it like to be a woman sailor?
It's like you have a job. It's like you wake up when your alarm goes off and you have to get your ass out of bed. It's like you're hungry so now you better go get yourself something to eat. It's like this guy is a dick gosh, it sucks to work with dicks. It's like I like to paint my toenails pink - so I do. It's like who the 'eff cares.
I'm going to start talking more about being a lady sailor because it's time. Because I know now, more than I've ever known before, that being a lady sailor is just another thing to talk about. Because I know now, that being a lady sailor doesn't have to make you a poster girl for feminism. Because I know now, that being a lady sailor doesn't have to mean anything I don't want it to.
Because I know now more than I've ever known before that it doesn't matter whether you can ROAR loudly. Sometimes I meow and it's 'effin fierce.
This was one of those posts. The ones where you can't stop writing but you are super duper nervous about what people will think when they read it....so you don't proofread it and you hit publish anyways. This was one of those posts where you have to make an italic disclaimer that these thoughts / opinions / feelings are yours alone and should certainly not be confused as anything other than just that - I'm sure there are many, many lady sailors that would totally disagree with everything I've just written.