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viewpoint

To my sisters

| Friday, March 18, 2016

“Here’s to strong women — may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.” — Unknown

I want my sisters, Caroline and Alexandra, to know that it isn’t about being women. For my last column, I wrote about how we are O’Grady’s and therefore we “try, don’t cry.” But it is fundamentally important to clarify what I mean by that — it should never, ever hold you back.

To my sisters, there is nothing you cannot do, and I do not mean that in a classic, cheesy way. I do not mean you should ‘shoot for the moon, and if you fall, you will land amongst the stars.’ No. You will not ‘land amongst the stars’ if you fail. You will fail. It will hurt. There is no protecting you from any of that; I can’t tell you it won’t absolutely kill you when you don’t get into that college, or you didn’t get that solo in the dance.

I can’t tell you it won’t hurt. I can’t tell you that you won’t be devastated. I can tell you that it will pass.

You both know, more than anyone, the amount of rejection I have faced in my life. You two will likely never face that level of rejection, and for that, I am incredibly happy for the both of you. But things will hurt in this life, and I want you both to know no matter what, you can make it through it.

Beyond that, however, I want you to know being a girl does not disqualify you from anything. Go for whatever you want in this life. You deserve everything. You are incredible, and there is nothing you cannot do, and I don’t mean that in a cliché way, I mean that sincerely. There is nothing you cannot do, and I do not want you, for any second, to think you are not wholly capable, particularly because of your chromosome pair.

It is continually amazing to me that we, three girls in a family of all girls, have not turned out to be entirely feminist. Surprisingly, the complete opposite has been the case, and for that, I am proud. Do not let your chromosome set define you. Do not be held back by anyone, or anything. Do not let any feminist movement cause you to think you are not able to do anything you want.

Even as I write this, the cliches pain me, because I can feel you rolling your eyes and reading this in your sarcastic voices, but if I could impart one piece of advice to you, it is to not be afraid, of anything. I know both of you have not experienced this struggle yet, particularly because we all have not been raised in the way to think ‘the world (or men) are against us.’ But as you continue in your lives, I cannot overstate the importance of fearlessness, and the degree to which you actively need to express that throughout your life. You both make me so proud to be your sister on a daily basis. You are both so smart, talented, capable and moreover, incredible beyond words. Continue being like this. Continue living the life you are meant to live. Continue fighting the odds and winning.

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About Rachel O'Grady

Rachel O'Grady is a senior Political Science major living in Ryan Hall and is currently serving as an Assistant Managing Editor. Hailing from Chicago (actual Chicago, not the suburbs) she's been a Cubs fan since birth.

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  • Abby

    Love the quote, for starters.
    I just wanted to point out that, except for the part that intriguingly says “do not let any feminist movement cause you to think that you are not able to do anything you want,” which is the exact opposite of everything the feminist movement stands for, you a practically defining feminism. Feminism is the belief in strong women, the idea that women can do anything they want (as you tell your sisters) and their “chromosome set” shouldn’t define them, as you put it. The message of female empowerment that is expressed throughout the article is perfectly in tune with feminism and it’s ideals. Women are great, men are great, and all are able to accomplish anything they set their minds too, given equal opportunity and treatment.