I tell my baby sister not to be afraid. Not to be afraid to be herself, not to be afraid to chase her passions, not to be afraid to let people know how much she cares. I tell her that people and trees should be hugged, that she should walk down the street with her head held high, that she should never let herself feel less-than or not-quite or restricted by silly things like social norms or rules or which colors do and do not match.
I don’t use these words of course. She is fourteen and I am, by nature of her being fourteen and my existing, anything but cool. I tell her these things though. Slip them into quiet moments and the way I try to live around her. I tell her these things because fearlessness is a lot like light but our hearts are not. Fearlessness comes and goes like the earth rotating around the sun, sometimes here and sometimes gone again, but our hearts. Our hearts, loyal readers, are nothing like the light. Our hearts are less glamorous, are made of ventricles and arteries and buried under our skin, are always there.
I tell her not to be afraid because our hearts are always there. Because she is beautiful and strong and funny and, sometimes, smarter than I can begin to believe. Because she is fourteen and the world tells fourteen-year-old girls many, many things that are and are not true. Because whether or not she lives congruently her heart will be with her everywhere she goes, whispering follow me. Just do it.
I am telling you this because in the same breath I have told her to be careful. Especially at night.
This week women, and men, at Ohio University will be taking back their nights. This Thursday the night will be taken back collectively, for my sister and your sisters and for us, for all the folks amongst us that feel uncertain as they walk at night.
Join us this Thursday. Join us because we shouldn’t need to tell the children amongst us to live fearlessly, carefully. Join us if you’re tired of walking home uncertainly. And join us because you live through these nights too, the nights which come after the days when it feels ok to walk unafraid to cafes or libraries or friends’ homes.
Join us, loyal reader, in taking back the night.
–Shea Daniels, Volunteer