Being back in Alabama has given me a sense of purpose I so longed for in New York. But with great purpose comes the heavy weight of responsibility. I spent so long working out the kinks in my brain, I didn’t have much room to dedicate to work. And now, with a seemingly better-functioning psyche, I’ve run head-first into my work as a local journalist. I feel immensely lucky to have been able to tell stories for a living for going on five years now, something I know is not a common occurrence for many in the media world. But I have to keep reminding myself that it’s more than luck. I did this on purpose. I chose this career and worked my ass off to get where I am.
I’ve known I feel more than most ever since I could remember. My brain is hyper aware of the world around me, the people who inhabit it and my own place in it all. My feelings have gotten me into trouble countless times, so quick to fall in love and so lost without it. They’ve cost me lots of money in therapy and pushed friends away. Once when I was feeling stuck and couldn’t convince my brain to feel much of anything, I got an impromptu tattoo to jump start the process. But they’ve also and inspired me, forced rather, to create. When I was on stage in high school I could pretend to be someone else entirely, feeling through someone else’s brain. I painted and wrote in college to make something tangible out of my feelings. I created a blog to tell the whole world about every minute feeling I’ve had since I was 19. So I guess it’s no surprise I made a career out of it.
I write other people’s stories, mostly women. And it’s made me feel so acutely, I’ve had a hard time coming up with a place to put these emotions. For the past couple of months I’ve listened to women tell stories of sexual assault in hopes of encouraging others to feel. I’ve documented their strides in politics and highlighted laws threatening to take away rights the’ve so passionately fought for. And I’m feeling it all. I can feel the fight in my bones. I can feel their tears on my cheeks. And it hurts.
It’s weird to think about the many, maybe even majority, of people who aren’t emotionally attached to their job. I asked for this, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think I could step back if I tried. I think my soul now runs on the stories of others. My own feelings just give me the drive to propel them out of my fingers and onto a page.
These photos were taken by Allie Hulcher on November 7, 2018. Voting day. I was hopeful, as I always am on voting days. Last Friday I wrote a story that made me lose it. I’d been fighting to tell the stories of young women in Alabama for about six months, but it was piece of possible legislation that made me question why. Why am I encouraging women to speak up and speak out, bare their deepest traumas for the world to see if in the end it doesn’t matter? All I know is that I can’t stop.