Today’s post is going to be about something I find very interesting and prominent in the society I have grown up and flourished in—feminism and self-doubt. The other day I decided to pick up an old book (wasn’t sure which one) and give it a second read. There is something comforting about delving into a fictional world for a second time and I figured that I had already spent too much money on books in the past couple of years to be buying more.
I was instantly drawn to an old favourite from my second year of university where I was first truly introduced to Canadian literature and important female Canadian authors. From the neon arrow on the cover, almost directing me to choose this particular novel, to the simple yet evocative title I couldn’t resist. Reading it once again I have been pulled back into the mindset of the main character, Rachel Cameron, and her struggles with self-esteem and the way she believes others perceive her. The book is riddled with quick, erratic jumps from what someone will think if she does this or what she thinks about people who do that, and this brought back a lot of memories of my youth and how I (probably many young women) perceived myself and how I was seen by the rest of the world.
For the longest time it was hard to be who I was because of social perception and peer pressure. Looking back at it now, it seems silly and trivial to have even concerned myself with anything other than what I loved to do/wear/watch/read. The person I have become now is a bi-product of all the different personas I have once tried on and decided weren’t for me. What makes me especially interested in this novel and the topic it presents is that there is awareness amongst us that we are plagued by self-conscious and judgmental thoughts, but can never break out of that mindset because of the same judgment forced onto us. I am looking at this issue from a female perspective, but can easily understand men being conflicted by something like this.
We are taught to always be in competition with one another, which means that we have to be better than someone else at one specific thing. But what if I’m not interested in the thing they are good at? I have struggled with this growing up, knowing that if I didn’t like something I was “supposed” to like, then that meant I wasn’t acceptable as being a ‘girl’ or being part of my culture or being in a certain clique. Rachel Cameron’s plight and self-doubt is something I have experienced a lot and has made me distance myself from others as it has her. No one should have to feel that way and in an ideal world (although I hate to admit it) books like this wouldn’t exist because we wouldn’t need to bring awareness to a topic that wouldn’t affect so many people.
Of course, there are many more themes I can write about in this novel, but this is one that resonated with me the most, and one that I felt strongly enough about to dedicate and blog post to.