On Taking Up More Space

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I'm not really sure where my compulsion to take up less space started. Maybe when I was a runt of a kid always being squeezed into small spots? Or attempting to fit on a church pew with 8 other girls in my high school's chapel? Who knows.

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I've never been one to seek attention. In fact, if you ask anyone who doesn't know me well what I'm like, I guarantee they'll say "quiet" within the first three words. Growing up, I rarely, if ever raised my hand in class, and wasn't one to disagree with even my friends if it didn't feel important enough. Speaking up, which I'd say is a big part of taking up space, was just never my jam. It's only in the last couple of years that I've started to speak my mind more - which is a difference multiple people have actually commented on in the last year or so. I was always a writer, never a talker, and while I'm not sure what's finally got my mouth going more than usual, it's a welcome change, and an important one.

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Style is an interesting part of taking up space too. I always had my hair to contend with growing up. When you're the kid with the massive head of red curls, it can be hard to blend in (shoutout to the kid who told me I looked like a clown on the preschool playground) so I've always tended towards taming my hair and sporting neutral colors so as not to be visually too loud. I've grown out of that somewhat, but it took a long time for me to embrace neutrals because I genuinely liked them and be able to throw on color without feeling self-conscious.

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I know a lot of young women who echo that compulsion to take up less room. Whether it's literally being physically smaller, or just leaving room for others to do as they will in their work lives and personal lives. I think society and the media often present this idea that women should sacrifice their wants and needs for others. There's a reason why man-spreading is a thing and woman-spreading isn't. There's also a reason why so many women complain about constantly being interrupted by men. A built in idea that women should just, well, take up less space in every way.

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That's why I love outspoken women, women who don't care what others think of them, women who do care but still speak up because they know it's important to. Women who wear bright colors, women who wear their hair as big as possible, women who wear what they want, when they want. They are all, in their own ways, important role models for us to see and hear. They show us that it is more than okay to take up space in this world.

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So today I want to encourage all of my fellow women to take up a little more space in your lives. Be unapologetically you and let your voice be heard. Because even if you think what you have to say or to offer isn't important, I promise it is. So get out there and shine!

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