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On Pulling Up Your Big-Kid Bloomers, and Running for the Hills

A timeless problem-solver if ever there was one, Emma Goldman dishes out life advice to 21st-century women. In her responses to letter writers, the legendary anarchist, freethinker, and feminist offers up pearls of wisdom and a no-holds-barred approach to life. Send your questions and quandaries to Emma!

Dear Emma,

A friend I haven’t seen for over a year is planning to visit my city and stay for two weeks. Last time she stayed with me, we ended up fighting (and then didn’t see each other for over a year). Since then, we’ve talked a couple of times but haven’t really seen each other. She called yesterday to see if she can stay with me. Do I have an obligation to host her? How can I suggest she stay elsewhere without breaking up our friendship?

––Unwilling Host

Dear Unwilling,

I believe in women’s emancipation in all forms, and especially emancipation from others’ expectations. Plus, most relationships, both platonic and romantic, benefit from time apart! If you don’t want to host your friend, don’t host her. Tell her what you told me: her last visit was kind of a disaster and, in the interest of preserving your friendship and enjoying her visit to your city, you’ll help her find a place to stay––but it won’t be with you. Then, ask your network for available guest rooms/couches or do some research into local Airbnb options. You’ll be letting her know that you look forward to her visit and aren’t leaving her in the lurch, while also maintaining some healthy (and sanity-preserving) boundaries.

Emma

Dear Emma,

My mom insists on commenting and putting emojis on all my Facebook posts. My friends think it’s hilarious, but I’m mortified. How do I unfriend her without starting WWIII?

––That Eggplant Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means

Dear Eggplant,

At some point, we all need to pull up our big-kid bloomers and set boundaries with our parents! This may be done lovingly or bluntly, depending on your relationship with them and just how controlling they can be. (My own parents tried to control my life and then threw me out of the house when I stood up to them, so be prepared: it doesn’t always go well.) Your break with your parents also needs to happen on social media. It’s your life and persona on your FB feed, so if Mom is creating unintentional hilarity, you’ve got two options: tell her she can’t comment on/adorn your posts anymore and hope she takes it well; or block her and hope she doesn’t find out. Set the emojis free!

Emma

Dear Emma,

I’m 28 and I feel like life is passing me by. I’ve got a good job, a wonderful partner, and loving friends and family. But I long to chuck it all, live out of a car, and be free to take advantage of anything that comes along. Should I appreciate my stable but boring life, or should I allow myself to live for the moment?

––Tied down

Dear Tied,

A woman after my own heart! After spending much of my youth blindly trying to please and appease others around me, I finally learned that the greatest pursuit in life is personal freedom. And I believe that pursuit benefits the larger society: when you live your life fearlessly, you inspire others to do the same. You may well end up motivating the people who care about you, and whom you leave behind on your travels, to live their own, more fulfilled lives. There’s plenty of time later to toil for the economic machine and the family ... so you’ve got my blessing: head for the hills, sister!

Emma

Dear Emma,

I’m a Jewish woman with a problem. My spouse, kids, and I belong to our local synagogue, which is a very nice place with very nice people … but I don’t feel like I fit in. They’re always trying to get me involved in committees, the religious school, Sisterhood, etc.––but I have the same anxiety about “joining” that I did in high school! I feel guilty that I’m not participating more in the life of this place that provides my family with positive Jewish engagement, but I also feel like I’m going through the motions when I try to do more there. It’s the only congregation in the area so I can’t just look for a better fit … what should I do?

––Synagogue Sissy

Dear Sissy,

I’ve never been a fan of organized religion myself (I consider it part of a system that subjugates the individual), so I’m sympathetic to your plight. But I have to admit, 21st-century synagogues actually provide some good opportunities for social action. Don’t join in for the sake of joining, but do consider getting involved in projects that move you and speak to your soul. If those are within the synagogue, great: throw yourself into the cause and feed your hunger for social change. If you find causes that are outside the synagogue, you might try to enlist some other justice-minded synagogue members to join you in the cause. Either way, you’ll be nurturing yourself with meaningful work––and you might just get the added bonus of finding some likable comrades along the way.

––Emma

Want to learn more about the real Emma Goldman? Visit JWA’s Women of Valor Exhibit and our encyclopedia!

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How to cite this page

King, Emma G. "On Pulling Up Your Big-Kid Bloomers, and Running for the Hills ." 5 June 2018. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on June 23, 2018) <https://jwa.org/blog/on-putting-on-your-big-kid-bloomers-and-running-for-hills>.

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