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A Beckoning that I Don't Yet Understand.

There is heaviness inside my chest. It’s a bomb that is going to explode. It’s a magnet that’s looking for steel. It’s an unsung song, unwritten book, a blank painting canvas. It’s a calling, but I don’t know what it’s calling me too.

As a child, I was invisible. I learned it was best to be silent and stay out of the way. I learned to hide while adults did drugs; hide while fights broke out; hide while my mother was getting hit. I spoke up once. But, decided that strategy did not work when the rage of the 6-foot man my mom called sweetheart turned towards me. And so, as a child I learned to remain quite.

As a young woman I desired security and a home. I traded my innocence to a man that could provide both. By the age of 19 I brought two amazing children into the world. I found my joy in nurturing them. I was invited to play for the first time without worrying if I looked immature. After all, I playing with kids; finger-paints, necklaces’ out of noodles, reading at night and playing tag in the afternoon. Few knew that these games were healing me.

But, I could feel a calling that was beckoning me. It wasn’t until I read that Martin Luther King Jr. had also earned a college degree that I felt that I might have a right to more education. I started with one night class, terrified that I was stupid. Despite the protests of my husband, I enrolled in English 101. The evening came for my first class and I eagerly gathered up my writing binders and drove across town. I naively thought there would only be one class that night in the English building and neglected to take note of the room number. Of course, the building was full of students, teacher and classes. Afraid to ask questions, I drove home without finding where my class was located. I cried and all the way home saying the words again and again “ I am stupid. I am stupid. I am stupid.”

The marvel of life is that there is always another day and another chance to change your mind. The next week I took note of the room number, came early enough to introduce myself to the instructor and figured out how to learn what I had missed. My final grade in my first college class was an “A.”

Today I stand on my own two feet. I am creating the life I want to live. I am visible! I am strong! But, it's not enough. I hear a new calling, have a new hunger. I cannot yet understand the words. I am again drawn to something; to the stories and thoughts of women from worlds I have never seen. I am moved. I long to tell them to keep studying, keep believing. I long to tell them that every day is a new chance to change your mind.

Comments

Mei Li's picture

"i hear the mermaids singing each to each"

Perhaps it is because I have been reading T.S. Elliot's The Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock nightly to memorize it, that I remembered this line when reading your entry "I have heard the mermaids singing each to each," he goes on to write, "I do not think they will sing to me."

But I had a lovely image in my mind while reading your words of hearing you sing and singing back.
I think we have heard the calling deep inside of us. Within us, we are hungry, what do we crave?

When I facilitated women to write poetry, I learned about how entrapped they felt in the myths society told to them. I am happy to read of how fulfilled you feel as a mother, but even happier to know that there is still something more that calls to you. My friend and I were just porch-sitting and I told her how elated I was to know a woman who loves her kids dearly, but that her children do not dictate all conversations. What I mean is...she is more than just a mother. I feel my mother was trapped in the fairy tale of a woman only being a mother and wife - that this was the only fulfillment assigned to her. Now, at 52 years old...she is divorced and searching for herself again.

You are visible, strong, loud. As you feel compelled to keep telling the women of the world to keep studying, keep believing - I tell you the same, just as I tell myself the same. Education is something that cannot be taken away. Your home can burn down. All of your material possessions lost. We lose loved ones. We sometimes lose ourselves, but education empowers us and teaches us of worlds beyond our own backyards -

I will take Elliot's words and shift them a bit

I hear the mermaids singing, each to each,
I know that they will sing to me.

I loved your post, keep writing and sharing, your voice is as powerful and necessary as any other voice out there.

"...our compassion is the practice of unconditioning." Jakusho Kwong Roshi

Mila's picture

Feedback on Assignment 2

Hi Renee,

Thank you for sharing your personal story with all of us here on WorldPulse. I found your writing honest and inspiring. You had a wonderful introduction that pulled the reader into the story and your conclusion tied back into your intro-great job! I was really touched by your telling about your journey to Voices of the Future. I am so proud of you for having the courage to go back for the second English class. By reading your assignment it really shows that your English class paid off. Out of curiosity, why did your husband protest to you going to English 101? Your saying that there is always another day and another chance to change your mind-so true and motivating.

I'm looking forward to hearing more from you,
Mila

Renee White's picture

Thanks!

Thank you for the response Mila.

My husband was not opposed to English 101 - he was opposed to me attending college in general. I believe he was both concerned about the time it might take away from our children and about our finances. I think we would have rather had me working than going to school. I think it's tough for men to let go of the power and control in a relationship and feel threatened by empowered women.

I have found that to be true in my professional life as well. It's twice as difficult to earn a man's respect for me as a female.

But, after attended a few night classes, I earned a full ride scholarship. I completed my degree both while being a great mom and still contributing financially to our family. I was the first in my family to attend college, but I was not the last. My daughter graduated last May!

Best,

Renee

jap21's picture

Hi Renee

You are the kind of hero I love to read about!

Love,

Jackie

Jacqueline Patiño FundActiva
Tarija - Bolivia
South America
www.jap21.wordpress.com

One of Many's picture

I hear your self empowerment

Dear Renee:

I can tell from your writing that you have applied yourself strongly to your studies, and that your self-empowerment has built in you a longing to empower others. Way to go!

I wonder – what happened between telling yourself you were stupid after your first frustrating evening at school and the next week, when you had a decisive, empowered plan? And also, did your husband change his tune? Of course there were only so many words you could use – one reason for my questions here is to show how you have engaged me in your story through your evocative writing.

Another is the “you“ that made that shift between the weeks. In future writings I’d love to hear some introspection, or some streams of passion (from the ‘against’ self in blame to the ‘for’ self in going back early) or shifts in thinking that you undergo. What did you decide about your self, about the interaction between you and your professors and classmates, that motivated those choices? And what exactly brought you to WP?

Your use of images in your first paragraph is poetic, and brings your reader quickly into your essay with the desire to know more about what’s going on inside you – what has provoked those strong feelings. The contrast between the images there (that start out violent, then move to story or picture – there is some inconsistency there) and the first sentence of your personal story let the reader know right away that s/he will have to pause before answering the questions you provoke in your intro.

Thanks for developing this thoughtful essay, Renee! Please know that the delay in hearing from me (a listener) was from an unexpected medical need on my part – nothing to do with you. Thank you for your patience.

Anna

Speaking my Peace

ruth_terry's picture

Listener feedback

Hi Renee,

I am a Listener for this story. This piece was very personal, and yet so relevant to women everywhere, from all walks of life. It never ceases to amaze me that so many women, all over the world, at some point internalized these messages: they should be invisible, they are stupid, and they might not have a right to education. Of all the things to transcend culture, time, and place...

Your opening was solid and the rest of the article was very cohesive. I really appreciated your subtlety in addressing the assignment questions, too. After reading this piece, I knew exactly why you were drawn to VOF, even though you never gave me a checklist of reasons why. Nicely done.

Ruth

"A writer’s job is to tell stories that connect readers to all the people on earth... Passionate and well-articulated ideas can and do change the world." ~~Mary Pipher

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