I see you: International Women’s Day 2018

I spend a lot of time talking about the women in my life on an everyday basis who are doing incredible, powerful things. I’ve been fortunate to learn from some of the amazing difference makers, story tellers, lamp-bearers, and activists. But one of the women who has made the biggest difference in my activism journey is Linda Sarsour. She changed my whole outlook on the work we do day in and day out and the lives we live in general.

I met her the semester after we walked out of class at USC. I was attending a YP4 conference that I almost skipped but was talked into by another incredible woman (hey Mercedes!). Anywho, I was exhausted. I was holding in so much emotion I was basically a ticking time bomb. The entire YP4 experience is one part therapy, one part inspiration, and one part activist training ground. But this day was special. Linda Sarsour spoke directly to me. It was like everything I’d ever wanted someone to say, everything I’d ever needed validated, here she was telling me the truth about myself. Have you ever been so far gone you didn’t realize you were weeping? That’s where I was.

I looked up and discovered that I was in a full-blown ugly cry. When her talk was done, she stuck around to chat with us. And everything she said in her talk she summed up in 3 words. She looked me in my eyes and said: “I see you.” I wept in her arms. She let me. While she was holding me, she repeated herself a few times. I tried to pull it together. I couldn’t. Seemingly without explanation, I was a mess. The truth is, there was an explanation. I needed to be seen. So often we as women get so busy doing it all, we forget to exist for ourselves. I was living on autopilot. Doing what other people needed me to do. I didn’t have a personal life. It was all professional. It was all work. It was all in the name of making a difference. It was too much. And I needed to be seen. I needed time to be me. To be a woman is to be superwoman all the time. But that day I was reminded that it’s ok, no, necessary to be just regular old you sometimes. Because regular old you is awesome. And regular old you is the reason you are superwoman.

Every day is a good day to celebrate the superwomen in your life. But it never hurts to look at her humanity and remind her you see her. It might be exactly what she needs.

Love, light, and yours in activism,

Karli Janay

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