My personal favorite of their books continues to be Jane Eyre. Charlotte Brontë intentionally wrote her character as a plain and rough-edged woman as well as strong-willed, forthright and devoted. One of Jane's statements is the quote on the image:
"I am not an angel," I asserted; "and I will not be one till I die: I will be myself."That statement epitomizes what consistently endears the book and its heroine to me, wrapped particularly in those last four words: I will be myself. Born into a middle-class urban family with many privileges, the fact remained that I was a female in a decidedly androcentric world. Being as intelligent as any of the young men in my class and surrounded by young women with the same level of intelligence and potential, nevertheless, we females were not encouraged to express our full selves. The expectations were different; the focus askew, never quite the same.
Now, decades later, as I stride forth into retirement, I am again confronted by that sentiment: I will be myself. How has that expressed itself through me over the years?
- Opposing the attempted anonymity of my neighbors when their prejudices frothed ugly when my not-like-them friend showed up on my doorstep.
- Standing beside an ostracized newlywed couple whose husband chose to leave the priesthood for love of his bride.
- Attending the NGO Forum before the 4th World Conference on Women.
- Participating in the extraordinary ordinations of women to the priesthood.
- Honoring the individuality and capacity for self-determination of every person.
- Marching in the Women's March the day after the inauguration.
How has your presentation of yourself in the world changed over your life? What interferes with you being yourself? Where are you most challenged to fit in? How diverse are your connections? Where are you most comfortable in being yourself? Where are you least comfortable?