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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

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Women’s spring soccer comes to an end this weekend
Lily GouinApril 19, 2024

Opinion — I can do both

UP AND DOWN — Sometimes I can feel very strongly in opposite directions. Societal pressures and guilt can pile onto us, but nobody should be ashamed of being themselves.
Molly Birch/NW
UP AND DOWN — Sometimes I can feel very strongly in opposite directions. Societal pressures and guilt can pile onto us, but nobody should be ashamed of being themselves.

My coworker and I were standing in the carport, talking in circles about our troubles a month or so back. 

“Women have a lot of guilt,” he said before he took a drag from the dart dangling from his fingertips. “What’s up with that?” 

I chuckled before I answered quietly, “Yeah. Yeah, we do.” 

I didn’t know what else to tell him in that moment. Our conversation moved on from there, but I’ve been stuck thinking on the subject since. 

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I am a person whose mind often works in dualities. I am a hard worker, I am a couch potato. I am a perfectionist and I accept the fact that I am not the best at everything. I like to go out and have fun with my friends, and sitting in my armchair with a book in my apartment makes me the happiest person in the world. 

I am also a person who lives very intentionally. I was raised Catholic, and though I no longer practice, growing up the way I did shaped the way I am today. My obsession with stained glass windows didn’t materialize from thin air. 

I make time to do all the things I want to do. I get my homework done on time and as well as I can. I study for exams and I spend time with my friends. I clean my apartment and wash my dishes and do my laundry and find some time to recharge in my armchair. 

I do all the things I am expected to do as a functioning adult and I do them with a smile. 

However, sometimes I feel guilty when I sit in my apartment alone. I feel guilty when my work isn’t the best it could possibly be. I feel guilty when my apartment is dirty. Hell, I feel guilty when it’s slightly messy. 

And when I can’t do all the things I am expected to do to the best of my abilities, I still have to do what I can with a smile. 

In her book, “Fear of Flying”, Erica Jong wrote: 

“Women are their own worst enemies. And guilt is the main weapon of self-torture …. Show me a woman who doesn’t feel guilty and I’ll show you a man.”

Society puts an immense amount of pressure on us ladies to be the perfect woman, and we put even more pressure on ourselves as we seek to become her. Guilt is a very easy byproduct of this pressure dichotomy. 

Of course, putting pressure on oneself is not inherently a “woman’s trait” by any means. However, I do think the kinds of pressure we put on ourselves are dependent on the kinds of societal pressures we feel. While the pressures I feel as a cisgender woman are not going to be the same pressures everyone else feels, I think my experience isn’t necessarily unique to me. 

Over the last few years I’ve spent time reflecting on this whole school of thought. I realized it’s so much more important to do what makes me happy than dwell on the things I cannot change. 

Sometimes I don’t do things with a smile. Sometimes I do things with the most menacing scowl plastered on my face. I may be a woman, but I am also a human being. 

Nobody should have to feel guilty for simply existing the way they want to.

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About the Contributor
Molly Birch
Molly Birch, Editor-In-Chief
My name is Molly, and I am in my second year at NMU. I come from Midland, MI, probably one of the most boring places on earth. However, we do have the only Tridge in the world, so that’s pretty nifty (google “The Tridge Midland, MI”; it’s worth it, trust me). I enjoy reading, writing, knitting, and learning new things in my free time. I speak fluent-ish German, and I’m naturally a blonde. I’ve always loved journalism. I started taking journalism classes in my freshman year of high school and immediately fell in love with everything about the field. My favorite stories to write are profiles of everyday people because I love the intimate personal aspect of telling their stories. I am also an avid photographer.