Feather & Flint

Why I Marched, in Spite of Anxiety—and What’s Next

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January 24, 2017 31 Comments 9 Photos

On Wednesday night, I texted three friends: “You’re going to a march on Saturday, right? Are you feeling anxious? How are you dealing with that?”

I was sitting on my kitchen floor with a cup of chamomile tea, holding back tears and taking deep breaths. My screen lit up with incoming messages.

“I know exactly how you feel,” one message read. “I tell myself that there are always safe places I can go to get away from the crowds, and that I’ll be with people, and that I won’t want to have missed out on what is our generation’s March on Washington. But I’m solidly 50/50 right now. I’m worried my friends will be disappointed in me if I don’t go because I’m anxious.”

“I’m anxious as hell,” another said. “I think this is going to turn out to be one of the most important protests in a very long time. But also, it’s perfectly okay if you decide this isn’t the way you can express your solidarity. That being said, in all the protesting I’ve been around, I always look back and think, ‘Damn, what was I so worried about!’ at the end of it. From a human perspective, it’s really beautiful to witness the power, energy, and spirit that protesting generates.”

I wanted to go. I wanted to be surrounded by thousands of women who were just as furious and bewildered and terrified as I was about everything that had transpired in the 2016 election. I knew that the crowd would be made up of individual people who had each decided to show up, no matter how inconvenient or daunting it might seem.

But I was afraid. Along with thousands of other Bostonians, the footage of the 2013 Marathon bombing was indelibly burned into my memory. The concept of public gatherings had been sullied by a sense of imminent danger. As I tried to picture myself marching elbow-to-elbow with thousands of others, my chest grew tight, my heart began to race, my breathing became shallow, and my eyes filled with tears. I had been on the edge of a panic attack all day, and I wasn’t sure if I could move past it.

In most circumstances, my conscience would tell me to prioritize self-care over all other considerations. If it was causing me mental anguish, I wouldn’t be doing anyone any good by attending. But in this circumstance, I wondered, should my own comfort take precedence over the opportunity to be a part of something so much bigger than myself? And which would be worse—my anxiety over going, or my regret and shame over not going?

In talking to my friends—two of whom would be marching in Washington D.C., in spite of their anxiety—my resolve strengthened. I had been feeling helpless and dispirited since November—and here was a concrete way to translate those emotions into a meaningful message. Here was a chance to stand with countless others in the pursuit of positive, critical change. If I felt at all uncomfortable once I was actually there, I promised myself, I could leave–as long as I’d heard Elizabeth Warren speak first.

Why I Attended the Boston Women’s March

When I woke up on Friday—Inauguration Day—I knew that I’d made the right decision. I walked to work that morning with a defiant smirk that I couldn’t hide. Donald Trump could go ahead and take the oath of office—but come Saturday, we’d be out there on the streets of every state in the country, ready to show him exactly what he’d gotten himself into.

On Saturday, I laced up my sneakers and headed to the train. It was packed by the second stop. In other Boston suburbs, the trains grew so crowded that they couldn’t accommodate any more passengers. The energy continued to build as we neared the city and hundreds of women climbed aboard.

Boston Women's March

I would compare standing in a crowd of 175,000 women to standing in the ocean: Powerful, passionate, and omnipresent; yet deeply supportive, positive, and calm. It was breathtaking.

Boston Women's March

I marched because I wanted to be a part of history as it unfolded on a national scale. This country’s revolutionary spirit was born in Boston, and I can attest that it was alive and well on Saturday.

Boston Women's March

I marched because I have little to lose in comparison with many, many other people under the Trump administration. I’m a woman, and I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety from a very young age—but apart from that, I’ve had every privilege this world has to offer. Nothing is at risk for me when I speak up for our collective rights—so it’s my responsibility to do so.

Boston Women's March

I marched because I needed to translate my growing sense of fear and disgust into a physical action. It revived me to be surrounded by people experiencing the exact same emotions—and it fueled my determination to do something to change what’s happening in this country.

Boston Women's March

I marched because I believe in the equality and freedom of all human beings. I believe that all people should be empowered by their government to make their own decisions. I do not believe that we have the right to dictate the actions that another person should take, so long as they are not impeding another’s existence. If there’s anything that I can do today to hasten this reality across the country, that’s what I need to do.

Boston Women's March

Frankly, I marched because I’m tired of having conversations about how bewildered and furious and despondent we all feel. I’m tired of the sentiment of helplessness—my own and others’. I’m tired of ideologically opposing things without taking action to prevent them from being signed into law. I’m tired of not knowing what the path looks like between where we are and where we need to be as a society—and I’m tired of hoping that someone capable will figure it out soon.

Boston Women's March

I don’t know what my next step will be just yet. But I do know that the future is female. I also know that women hold themselves back by waiting until the conditions are perfect—until they’re perfect—to raise their hands.

Boston Women's March

We’re each endowed with unique talents and insights that allow us to contribute to the world in a way that literally no one else can. I, for one, pledge to use my gifts and my perspective to enact positive change for all of us. This begins now, with my choice to speak honestly about the most controversial issue of our time, because I simply refuse to stay quiet when millions of lives are hanging in the balance.

I pledge to continue to use my voice to bring attention to the things that truly matter in life. I pledge to approach every opportunity to make a difference with empathy, intelligence, candor, and unwavering determination. I pledge to not just ensure that I’m on the right side of history, but to change the course of history in any way that I can.

Boston Women's March

 —

Who’s with me? Share this post on social media, then tell me your story in the comments. I’d love to hear why you marched on Saturday and how you plan to forge ahead in the coming months. I’ll be right there with you.

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31 Comments

  1. Reply

    Sherry Scribbles

    January 24, 2017

    This was so inspirational. You should feel darned proud that you were a part of this.
    http://www.sherryscribbles.com

    • Reply

      Robin

      January 26, 2017

      Thank you SO much, Sherry – I totally agree!!

  2. Reply

    Sarah

    January 24, 2017

    What an inspiring blog post! I think we all deal with anxiety in one way or another. It takes a lot for someone to even admit they’re going through anxiety or depression. Thank you for this post! Loved reading it 🙂

    Xo,
    Sarah

    Instagram: @paperdollsarah_

    • Reply

      Robin

      January 26, 2017

      Thank you so much, Sarah – I’m so glad you liked it! It is hard to admit to feeling anxiety & depression because our society has cast it as a personal weakness for so long. I’m really hoping to change that, because frankly, it takes a whole lot of strength just to get out of bed in the morning when you’re feeling down – and that deserves to be acknowledged!

  3. Reply

    Jessica schneider

    January 24, 2017

    Thank you for your words, and thank you for marching for me, as well as all the women in this world.

    • Reply

      Robin

      January 26, 2017

      Jessica, you’re so sweet. You are SO welcome. <3

  4. Reply

    Leah

    January 24, 2017

    Wow, what a powerful experience. I am one who regrets not making it.

    • Reply

      Robin

      January 26, 2017

      There will be other opportunities! Now we know that it’s possible to mobilize such a giant crowd in such a short amount of time, and for it to be 100% peaceful!

  5. Reply

    Divya

    January 25, 2017

    Friday, I was miserable. Saturday, we rose up. I was in awe of the numbers. By the message we were sending in a completely peaceful, passive (yet OH-SO-VERY-ACTIVE) way. And my marching will not stop. It will continue. For the next four years.

    • Reply

      Robin

      January 26, 2017

      Divya, I love your comment. I was so miserable on Friday, too – I literally spent my lunch break wandering around a Revolution-era graveyard in the rain. Dramatic, but it makes me feel better to stand in historical places to remind me that we’ve been through difficult things as a country before.
      I’ll continue marching for however long it takes, too!!

  6. Reply

    Marcie

    January 25, 2017

    I marched in Seattle and it was an awe-inspiring experience. I’m glad you were able to march in Boston. I’m introverted and I needed to recoup a bit after, but it was totally worth it!

    • Reply

      Robin

      January 26, 2017

      Yay for marching!! I literally stayed in bed all day on Sunday and Monday to make up for it – being part of something so incredibly powerful is both energizing and exhausting for us introverts! <3

  7. Reply

    KatrinaJeanCarter

    January 26, 2017

    I know of a few who went to the March and it must have been such an exhilarating experience. I’m glad you took this step of overcoming and not succumbing to anxiety. Keep it up and soon you won’t notice it anymore 🙂

    • Reply

      Robin

      January 27, 2017

      Thank you so much, Katrina 🙂 It truly was!!

  8. Reply

    Mal

    January 27, 2017

    Good job! You must always follow your heart and fight for what you believe in! Keep being awesome!

    • Reply

      Robin

      January 27, 2017

      Thank you, Mal, you’re so sweet 🙂

  9. Reply

    Kirstie

    January 27, 2017

    Thank you for marching, for facing your fears to help raise the collective consciousness, and for pledging to continue to raise your hand before conditions are perfect in order to help make them so. This is by far my favorite post I’ve read on the marches. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    • Reply

      Robin

      January 27, 2017

      This means so much to me, Kirstie – thank you so much for your comment! (It might be my favorite I’ve ever gotten. <3)

  10. Reply

    Julia

    January 28, 2017

    I would definitely be anxious too! Kudos for overcoming it!! I don’t know if I could!!

    • Reply

      Robin

      January 29, 2017

      Thank you, Julia! 🙂

  11. Reply

    Neha kumari

    January 28, 2017

    This is so inspirational. Thanks for sharing your amazing journey and efforts.

    • Reply

      Robin

      January 29, 2017

      Thank you so much, Neha 🙂

  12. Reply

    Kelly

    January 28, 2017

    Thank you so much for the honest post. I think it is a beautiful testament to your courage to face te fear and do what you feel is right anyway. I was in NY that day and it was very powerful. Glad to know that women like you are out there and talking about it. Kudos!

    • Reply

      Robin

      January 29, 2017

      Thank you so much, Kelly – I truly appreciate that!

  13. Reply

    nicole steinthal

    January 28, 2017

    Good for you for marching…I am sure you were anxious but it seemed to all be worth it…..Its important to stand up for what you believe in and what a memory to tell your children and grandchildren!!!!

    • Reply

      Robin

      January 29, 2017

      Thank you so much, Nicole! I was thinking about that the whole time – I hope in the context of history, it was seen as having an impact!

  14. Reply

    Rebecca

    January 29, 2017

    This is such an inspiring post! I commend your strength. I feel you. The power of an all female crowd is overpowering. In the UK we can only begin to imagine what lies ahead for our relationship with trump. Keep doing what you’re doing!

    Rebecca x

    http://Www.londontoeverywhere.com

    • Reply

      Robin

      January 29, 2017

      Hi Rebecca – Thank you so much for saying that, it means a lot! Oy, it pains me to think about other countries witnessing this shameful period of American history… Fingers crossed that it won’t last long 🙁

  15. Reply

    Samantha

    January 29, 2017

    You are such an inspiration . I missed my march in OKC due to work but I wanted to be there so bad . Thank you for sharing your “why” for marching !

    • Reply

      Robin

      January 29, 2017

      Thank you so much, Samantha – I truly appreciate that 🙂

  16. Reply

    Alex

    January 29, 2017

    You’re a brave woman, Robin! What you’ve done and this article are very inspirational. We earned the right to be free women and we should be able to keep it.

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