Don’t let them stop you

Always do what you are afraid to do.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is a topic I’ve touched on before and one I’ll touch on again in the future.

I’ve had my fair share of people yelling shit at me while I was walking or on a bike. I’ve had guys stop their cars and turn around to heckle me again.

I don’t let it stop me. No whistle, shout of “Imma beat your ass!” or “Get off the road!” is going to stop me. At least, no shout of “Get off the road!” while I’m supposed to be on the road.

Once you let the fear get to you, once you let them frighten you out of doing something you enjoy, you let them win.

I walk no matter what they say. I walk alone, fairly regularly after dark, and occasionally as late as midnight. You can threaten me, but I won’t let it stop me. Most of it is just that, threats. Empty, for the most part. My walking paths and times are impossible to predict…even if someone intended on harassing me during a walk, they’d have to wait until they by chance found me again. Waiting for me at my usual paths would take hours or even days…and that’s if you have a fairly good idea of my schedule.

It’s not fun being heckled or harassed. And sometimes it can be very scary. I’m biologically female and was raised as such. And like most other females, I was raised to be scared. Scared of men in general, strange men in particular, and being alone and vulnerable. It’s taken a long time to sort out how much of that is healthy and how much isn’t. A lot of it limited me. It kept me from doing what I wanted to. Until fairly recently, I did not walk at night. I would itch and itch to walk, but didn’t because I was working ten and twelve hour days and got home after dark. Then one day I said “fuck it” and walked anyway. Now I walk when I want to, not when someone else says it’s safe to. If I listened to everyone else, I’d never leave my apartment.

No, I don’t take stupid risks. I stay aware, even with headphones on. I know the paths I walk very well. At night I stick to a fairly well-lit road traveled almost constantly by car, foot, and bike traffic. There are some places even I won’t walk around in after dark unless I’m with someone else. I do intend on getting a dog when I can afford one. A big one. My last dog was a Saint Bernard. I like BIG dogs. I’d rather have a visible deterrent than a can of mace.

But if a can of mace makes you feel like you can go out at night, by all means take it. If a dog is what you need, go for it. Eventually you may find you don’t need it, but if it empowers you, do it. Just don’t let anyone stop you.

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