All my life, I have wanted to be a hero. This may have been a fallout of reading too much fantasy fiction and Greek mythology. My life was shaped by too many stories about princesses and too much magic.
Even when I left behind the Disney royalty of my childhood, stories of children begat by gods or chosen by destiny to do amazing things followed me and haunted my imagination.
We do not live in times of heroes and gods, of ancient runes and monster slayers. Books of the sort I grew up on made me dream about times such as those, when a person’s name demanded loyalty and obedience, and where a person’s face on polished silver was a currency.
My blood is neither gold nor blue.
Authority is not given easily to faerie boys and command is not natural to pixie girls.
Knowing this has never daunted me.
I wanted to be a leader but all I am, and all I ever was, is a girl taking a walk. No followers, essentially.
Leadership should be about what you believe in and what you say. Not how you look or sound. It ought to be granted to people who make sense, not people who seem to be born with a charisma that’s almost magnetic in its intensity.
I’m a lover of the grandiose.
It was never fair that my high-pitched soprano voice cancelled out my words, which were powerful in every way except for delivery.
I want to be a hero.
I want to be respected.
I want to be looked up to.
I want to be taken seriously.
But as much as I am attracted to inherited power, I have always related more to the second prince clawing for supremacy than the heir apparent, with his future mapped out as well as his family tree.
I have always been more Hermes than Athena, more Loki than Thor. And because I want to stay this way, I have reconciled myself to the fact that all the greatness I want to achieve will be hard-won.
I will have to prove myself over and over again, because I am more court jester than queen.
Outside, I am an easy target, highly strung and comical.
Inside, I am fierce and passionate and proud.
Outside, I like being the court-jester and I wear my tricorn well. But sometimes I want to wear the crown.
I do not want one or the other. I want both.
I may seem stubborn. If I were queen I would be called driven, persistent, and brilliant.
Inside, there is no conflict; it is all me, after all.
I still want the grandeur that fascinated me as a child. I know that laurels and victories will give me the arenas and stages that will listen to me. I know that greatness will let me be heard.
And I want it on my own terms. I will not deepen my nervy voice so that I’m listened to. I will not tone down my feminism to make my peers comfortable. I will not pander to people who cannot handle me. I will not let my anger about sexism, bigotry, and violence be downplayed.
I will speak up, and I will speak for people who can’t. I will call out authorities and the powers that be on their injustices. I will keep asking questions and demanding answers until I am satisfied. I will keep talking even if my crowd wants me guillotined.
I will admit my mistakes when I am wrong. I will try to be humble. I will be myself bravely so that others feel they can do it, too. I will admire other people and tell them how awesome they are. I will be vulnerable and that will be the only armor I choose to wear. I will love freely, trustingly, unhesitatingly. I will make people laugh.
It may seem that my refusal to change myself will only be worth it if I achieve what I dream of. But what about the striving, the wanting, the dreaming, the desiring, the hard work, the struggle, the determination and the intensity of my ambition?
The time spent railing against the limits put on me, the days I asked for what I deserved, the times I stood up for myself.
I am the sort of person who would rather break the wall down than change my square peg into a round one.
There is a kind of glory in that. ♦
Rhea Talitha is a wearer of many hats. Literally and figuratively. You can see some of them on her Instagram @r_talitha.