My Letter to Gloria Steinem 01.26.16

Dear Gloria,
 
I recently read your book “My Life on the Road.”   I am sure many women have reached out wanting to understand their experience in the context of reading your book. I am one of those women. I am confused by my generation. We were raised by a generation whose ideas seem entrenched in systems and beliefs that no longer fit.
 
How many people write letters feeling the loneliness of choosing a life of purpose? How many fear being true to themselves and going against the grains of society? How many people feel pressured by visible and invisible forces to have children?
 
I wonder how aware women are of their bodies and the physiological forces that push them to feel like they should have children. How many people are lonely in general? Facing the path of life they choose, brave, alone, and because they believe in something greater. Not in the context of social norms but by stars in the sky above us. This letter to you is asking the question, how can we free people? How can we free people from ideas that prevent them from pursuing their passions?
 
A colleague of mine once told me a story about how she desired a fourth child more than anything in the world. I don’t remember why she ended up not having this child, but I know it was a painful decision for her. She is now pursuing her PhD and passionate about what she does. Her point was, from a physiological viewpoint you need to be aware you may always desire a child.
 
Those simple words freed me. Those words broke down the biology of feelings and the evolution of our bodies. I have learned you can desire something forever. I want more than anything to find a way to place my desires where I can help people break free of ideas that enslave them.  
 
I also wonder how many people are searching for another person to complete them. This idea was revealed by a Shaman I met in Costa Rica. She said, Your partner is a reflection of who you are.”  That freed me in the sense to know if I was missing something to pinpoint what it was, and pursue it on my own.  It was difficult for me to walk away from this idea, of a partner fulfilling me,  because that is all I have known. I grew up in a traditional household with married parents.
 
I like you also had an abortion, when I was 29 years old. At the time I was with a man I loved. He did not want the child, and I could not imagine raising a child on my own making $42,000 a year living in Chicago. I had student loans. Student loans absorb every decision I have made since graduate school.  
 
Your book, along with one of my colleagues has helped me realize my debt should not stop me from doing what I believe. The “practical” side of me is doing what I can to cover my bases financially. The “impractical” side is struggling to leave where I am at and be on the road. I want mobility to help people, by listening to them. I realize that these ideas are neither practical nor impractical. I am labeling, and I am working to figure out a way to break free of these labels.
 
I like you, love to listen to people’s stories. Especially when they are different from my own. I can still find underlying similarities in stories to my own that help me provide empathy.   I have what you have in me, I have the ability to bring very diverse groups of people together. I have lived in several places and brought together diverse communities of artists, friends and seekers.
 
One of my projects in life is running an organization for a research consortium for people all over the world. I know I am a connecting bind, and this could be because I try to place my ego aside. In some odd way, for the need to label things, it is coming out in this letter, although my hope is diminish it as much as possible. I am aware of categories and how they can ruin a people. I hope that I can always bring a listening ear, comfort, and a different perspective to a room.
 
There are a lot of I’s in this letter. I wanted to say thank you. Thank you for giving people room to express themselves. You give people hope that you can live your life any way you want. You give an example that the more true you are to yourself the more your beauty will shine.
 
I am frightened of my generation. People should be fighting for unity like myself are froze by debt, lack of chances, challenges in finding a mentor, and distracted incessantly by technology.
 
I am scared for my generation, because we are fooled with promises made by those who only care for their own power and money. And these people are winning. We sit amidst a war between individuals. We are taught to be individual and it is killing us now, slowly.
 
We are the victims of ourselves and American culture.
 
My question is:
 
How do I follow a path like yours? I want to use my skills to organize people and keep the idea of feminism evolving and alive. I currently have two paying jobs, write on the side, and am working as a volunteer with homeless individuals in Chicago. These jobs aren’t utilizing me in the best way, I organize everywhere, but I want to on a larger scale, and on the road as much as possible, because that is when I learn the most.
 
One thing that is lacking in our communities, is a place where women can safely go to talk about their abortions. I could not believe it, I googled support groups in Chicago and found nothing. How can it be that an issue, where when you start to talk to your friends and realize that so many people have this experience.
 
I am sure you receive many letters, but I want to channel your wisdom and manifest it in my life even if I don’t hear back. You are an inspiration and will continue to be one every step of my journey.
 
Sincerely yours,
 
Amy Kirsling
 
An update to this letter: I quit one of my jobs to have the ability to be on the road. In that process many other opportunities came upon me. I was stronger than I thought and my path laid out before me, I will walk forward with courage.
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