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  • Writer's pictureAlice

The Room Of Your Own Is Not A Physical Place Anymore

Evaluate how much of the external noise affects the quality of time you spend in your head

Moon shining over the forest

When British modernist writer Virginia Woolf talked about "A room of one's own", she was criticising the fact that for women to write they had to have "money" and "a room of their own."


She made of this reflection an essay she wrote under the same name and "delivered" in 1928 at Newnham College and Girton College, women's colleges at the University of Cambridge, and that she published a year later, as we learn in Wikipedia.


I remember when I first studied and read Virginia Woolf at university, back in 2006. The musicality of her words in her stories had that power only great writers have of keeping you not only entertained but also of taking you to a deeper journey inside your head.

Her writing connected with my inner world in ways I could never have imagined before. That's how, without noticing, she became a source of inspiration for my own writing.


Even though things have changed considerably since Virginia wrote that essay, some of the constrains she talks about there are still with us. The only difference is that they come in different shapes now.


WHO DID SHE HAVE IN MIND WHEN SHE WROTE THIS ESSAY?


In her essay, Virgina starts talking about four historical women who, for her, became archetypes of women deprived of their creative freedom. These 16th century women were all Mary Queen of Scots’ Ladies in Waiting, also known as "The Four Marys": Mary Beton, Mary Seton, Mary Carmichael and Mary Hamilton.


Although rich and highly educated with access to books and writing, these women were supposed to fulfil their main duties: wife, breeder and server.


In her essay, Virginia goes on a quest analysing women writers' powerful voices not always heard due to the social constraints of their historical times. What she realised was that. despite the centuries that separated Virginia from these women, she still saw little development with regards to having the same intellectual treatment as men.


Universities only started accepting women in the 19th century and it could vary depending on the country and this, Virginia was very concerned about.


HOW IS THIS RELEVANT TO WOMEN IN OUR TIME ?


You may feel it's been a long time since academic women have had that discriminatory treatment in education. However, in the working space, things haven't moved on equally. I pretty much suspect this has a lot to do with our motherhood, whether it's potential or existent.

How many times have you been asked in a job interview about your marital status and about your progene? I'm not even sure these can be asked anymore, but they still come into play whether we like it or not. Virginia would die again if she knew about this.


Even if you have removed yourself from that rigid working structure and you work for yourself, like is my case, people outside your working space will still make you feel nothing has changed when it comes down to our creative freedom, that simultaneously you are trying to monetise.


While you are juggling with all the personas of wife or parthner, carer, mother and a professional somebody, the outside world keeps making you feel you are still not doing enough.


Even when we create that room for us in our homes, we still feel we are not a hundred per cent in our well-earned space.

Buffy changed the perception of the stupid blond in the 90s by killing vampires. What do the rest of us need to do to earn respect for our chosen careers? I sometines wonder.


STOP THE EXTERNAL NOISE AND GO INWARDS


I'm personally beyond trying to change the world's general perception of me. The change will only happen when we show more and tell less. Oh look, just like in writing!


If there's anything I have learnt to accept after years of fighting against preconceived ideas is that I will never be able to change them.


Acceptance is a magical pill.


My value is not what you think I should charge for my services depending of where I am based.


My value is not what you think I should do with my children.


My value is not my age.


My value is not defined by the type of job I choose to do or how I decide to run my famiy life.


My value is not what you think of me, but what I know I can do and how what I do resonates with others.


My value doesn't even depend on having a space for me to write anymore if that place keeps getting invaded by others.


My value is mine, it's in my head, and nobody can take it away.


The problem about listening to all the outside noise is that it doesn't just invade the room on your own you have created for yourself, it also poisons your inner peace.


USE THE GOTHIC TO FIND YOUR QUITE PLACE


After the realisation of how many of the thoughts that fly about in your head daily are really yours or somebody else's, you start making decisions and implementing solutions.


The best part is when you start taking action quietly. That means that you are implementing the best solutions for you from the inside, and not because the outside world thinks it is what you should do.


During all that time I was listening and trusting the outside world more than myself. I was creating a crack between me and my passion for the Gothic in its reading, writing and research form. I was ashamed of considering myself a writer and a content creator in this space.


But at the moment I quieted the external voices, things started to change. I applied for essays, I submitted stories, I made new friends... and by doing all that I recuperated a spark that had died off, pressurised by economical problems. They are still there, but now I can do something about them without feeling remorse.


The Gothic is a very psychological place and as such it helps you explore your fears and face your shadows, which is a crucial exercise if you are feeling stuck.


Reading those books you have always wanted to read, analysing how they make you feel, investigating where those feelings come from, will help you learn more about yourself and what you really want to do.


In a similar way, hanging around with people that share a passion with you, attending online events and meeting people outside of them are also activities that can enrich your inner world. This will only get destroyed when you try to connect with people who are cognitively inflexible.

Whatever you do, also make sure you can always retreat to that place on your own where nobody influences you. Quieten the voices that keep stopping you from being your real you and embrace your creativity as a gift that can help you in life.


This is probably the most difficult thing you can do, but it's probably the most important in the times we live in.


FINAL THOUGHTS


From 16th century women to Virginia Woolf and from Virginia Woolf to us, having a room where we can go to and be ourselves to let our creative souls fly still comes with a price.


We are made to choose between different identities, but in reality we are all of them, just at different times.


What the outside world think of us is just that, a perception that can turn into toxic speeches if we let them sneak into our brains.


You have the power of guarding that space and making it safe to be you, even if that space is for now just in your head.


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Until next week, stay Gothic my friend!

Thanks for reading,

Alice

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