it’s time to get up.

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This starts with a family legend of how Flanagan women throw up on dates and ends with how you should vote today. Walk with me for a minute…

Back in ancient times, the third date was the make or break date. Your first date jitters are done, you’ve tested the waters of the second date, and the third date is when you’ve got to decide if you’re diving in or ducking out. The stakes were high when my mom agreed to a third date with this guy she had known for like, ever.

Unlucky for her, she got carsick on the drive home and had to force her suitor to pull over so she could ralph on the side of the road instead of all over his shiny car. Luckily, that guy was still so into her that even a little vom didn’t keep him from asking her out again and again and again. That dude is my dad and they’ve been married for almost 30 years.

The tradition is still alive and well when we swiped our Movie Passes (R.I.P.) and settled in to watch Eighth Grade. I expected it to be an awkward movie, because you can’t think about middle school without cringing. What I didn’t expect was to find so much of myself in the main character that I physically felt what she felt.

There is a scene in the movie where this girl is trapped in a car with an older boy who acts like he is a predator and she is his prey. My heart raced, my mouth became too dry, I leaned over and thought, “I think I might throw up.” The movie ended soon after and the fresh air from that summer evening kept me from vomming into my date’s popcorn tub in the middle of a Regal Cinemas. 

The queasiness triggered by that movie scene in the car is the same nausea I felt watching Dr. Christine Blasey Ford tell her story of sexual assault on national television is the same spinny remembering of my own experiences with different outcomes than these girls (thank God) but with the same feeling of being so small and trapped and afraid.

The last few weeks have been hard.

It was heartbreaking to watch this accomplished, poised, smart, courageous woman not be able to mask her 15-year-old self’s terror every time her voice quivered during her story. I believe her. I believe she was the butt of the joke of two stupid teenage boys. I believe she carried this trauma with her for years. I believe that she did her best to speak up without the circus. I believe her because even if we have different experiences, I am her.

The world we live in requires women – or anyone who is marginalized for that matter –  to sit down, stay calm, smile pretty and play nice EVEN THOUGH it’s okay for the ones in power to be loud, yell, and scream about what they believe to be an injustice. It will say “Shame on you for making up stories that defame good men!” EVEN THOUGH you tried to play by their rules by coming forward in anonymity just to be ignored ignored ignored until it was already too late. We are expected to put on a brave face and come forward when wrong things happen to us, EVEN THOUGH we will be dismissed. EVEN THOUGH no change will actually happen. EVEN THOUGH we remember every detail, sound, face from that day that changed our life forever EVEN THOUGH it was just an average day in a calendar for everyone else involved.

And so being a woman makes me tired.

It seems pointless to think that the outcome of all of these sexual harassment stories will be different than the same cycle of coming forward only to be made the enemy for someone else’s sin. It’s exhausting to keep explaining to coworkers why certain jokes aren’t funny. I am tired of looking over my shoulder and locking my car doors and running without headphones and being told I’m “not fun” at company events for the sake of my own personal safety. Because I’m really fun. And I like listening to music when I run. But I am tired.

After watching the Kavanaugh Hearings all I wanted was to take a nap. I was swaddled in a blanket and was just about to drift into a light snooze when it came back to me:

Taking her by the hand, Jesus said “Talitha koum!” (which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!”) // Mark 5:41 ESV

In the middle of my tired submission to the way things are, Jesus says to me, “Honey. Take my hand. It’s time to get up.”

And this Jesus – this low-income, refugee Son of Man born to an unwed, teenage mother with no access to proper healthcare grew up to be a brown man who was murdered as an enemy of the state for daring to love thy neighbor – is who informs who I give power to in this democracy I find myself in.

If you are a girl who was wronged for the sake of someone else’s pleasure, joke, or bonding experience, then I am so sorry. I know how tired you are. I know that it is easier to fall asleep to your trauma and deal with the weight of it in flashes while the world keeps spinning. I know it seems too big on some days, and on others you want to squash it so small that it doesn’t make you feel at all.

But girl, it’s time to get up.

This might look like seeking out trauma counseling. It might be as simple as putting on pants today. For me, getting up looks like voting. Opting out of participating in democracy because it’s easier to remove yourself from the conversation is just another way to remain asleep to everyone else’s pain. Stop numbing. Get up.    

Awaken, love. Getting up out of our safe, warm blanket cocoon isn’t comfortable. It’s disorienting at first and it’s cold out there. But still you rub your eyes and arise, because the world needs your voice. It needs your perspective and experience. You matter here, no matter what the actions of others say. And no matter what happens, we’ll still wake up on November 7th and try again.

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my car insurance broke up with me.

a story about why what you call yourself matters

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My own mother likes to gently remind me that I am good at many things, so I need to hold close the things I am terrible at. This is so I will stay humble and actually have friends who want to spend time with me. Good moms do that. They slip in subtle criticism next to a reminder that they think you are the most special, amazing human being that ever existed ever in order to preserve your self-esteem and have their own contingency plan in place for the amount of issues you will likely bring up in counseling years later. I hope to be exactly like her one day.

It is with this advice in mind that I have become a great passenger. I know how to AUX-cord-DJ for the specific company in the car, I always bring snacks, I can talk about anything in order to stay awake with the brave driver on long road trips, all because I loathe driving. Lucky for me, driving dislikes me almost as much as I hate it.

For years I’ve been in denial, telling myself that I am a good driver but I just don’t like driving. Because I should love driving! It means freedom: it’s a major rite of passage to turn 16 and get your driver’s license. And I didn’t even fail the test my first time! Therefore I must be a great driver. And then one month ago this little narrative was shattered by a seemingly harmless piece of junk mail.

My car insurance sent me a Dear John letter effectively ending our nearly 10 year relationship. It started off sweet by thanking me for my years of commitment but it took a turn when I noticed the kind introduction was soon followed by a list of “incidents” that have occurred over the past three years. When you lay them all out, it really does look like a rap sheet straight out of Mario Kart’s Rainbow Road that all points to one truth: I am a terrible driver.

But I should be a good driver. I drive more often than most for my job, I’m a relatively safe driver (despite my extensive list of offenses, the majority were very minor) and, most importantly, I’ve told myself that I am a good driver for years. I wonder if I didn’t live in a society that says freedom is having a driver’s license and a car if I would even have discovered this part of me wasn’t true? Or what if I took public transportation my whole life, would being a bad driver even define me if I never experienced it?

That letter helped me piece together a little more of my identity: I am Emily, a really bad driver.


It has recently come to my attention that the way I refer to myself when I first met people is not actually the way I move through the world. In the past, I used terms like “awkward” or “embarrassing” or to self-describe personality quirks in social situations. Which everyone does. People can laugh and deal with awkward. It’s the selfishness, fear, and pride I want to distract them from noticing.

Maybe you can relate. If I can get ahead of the flaws, then it would keep the world from being disappointed in my other very real and very not-so-desirable character traits. People like us, we put all of our junk right out in the open so that when we inevitably mess up in front of others we can say, “See?! I told you when we met — I’m the worst. This shouldn’t surprise you. You can’t be disappointed because I already gave you the heads up that I’m imperfect and WILL let you down because this is who I am.”

This is two gross realities wrapped up in one broken-identity burrito: (1) these words are a self-fulfilling prophecy and (2) they just highlight how much of a fraud you’re making yourself. You do what you say you are, and if you aren’t what you’ve been telling people then you also have the difficult task of keeping up appearances or risk being exposed.

If you want to avoid accountability and rejection, you quickly learn how to operate based on the rules learned in middle school on the bus, at home, in church, on a team. For me, this looked like having the personality version of a classic 2000’s throwback playlist – a definite crowd pleaser in the churchy circles I ran in, but when you listened too closely the lyrics they never quite match up with what you believe. I experienced acceptance and success when I was told I should self-identify as the type-A, perpetually positive achiever to feel like I had a place in the communities I called home .

No matter how many times I told myself that being this kind of “leader” was a good thing, this wasn’t the identity that should define my life. It got tiring always having to pretend that I like being in front of people and making decisions. That’s normally the last thing I want to do. That stage held up by the label “leader” fueled my pride and being seen made me want to tell lies to make sure people liked me. Just because I should be a leader and that should be good doesn’t mean that it was what should define me.

It is a beautiful, hard, never-ending process of getting to know yourself apart from the experiences that have told you who you should be.

After my fraudulent identity was exposed last year, I learned how sorry these attempts to be accepted were. Belonging requires you to be yourself. Not some version I think will gain the most amount of admirers, not the version I tell myself I am because I get a front row seat into my own cynicism, but the realest of the real version of me. Uncut, live, on the couch watching Golden Girls, and likely going on my 4th day of unwashed hair.  The person who aims to please no one but her ever-present, unseen Jesus friend. The one whose name was whispered by an unseen, unfamiliar God way back in 2009 when I was still operating under the label of “nice, responsible girl” by day and “bitter, angsty, know-it-all” by night.

I love that this is the way God gets his kid’s attention. He called their names: Abraham, Jacob, Martha, myself. I love that God shares his name with us and that name is self-descriptive. Did you know that? What God calls himself is exactly who he is. He doesn’t bait and switch to get us to like him. He is unapologetically, totally God and I think that’s one of the biggest privileges of being in relationship with anyone – loving them exactly as who the were made to be. Might as well start with yourself.

I spent time trying on words like “follower” and “dreamer” and “good” and many more this year.

One of the different names I’ve tried on this year is “creative”. I’ve never seen myself as creative, which is wild considering this little blogosphere exists and I suppose that’s creative enough. But I do have a creative energy that needs air to make me feel more like me. The more time and energy I devote to making something – a meal, cutting a pair of thrift shop denim jeans to a length I like, writing copy for a marketing project – the more I can breathe easy. My sleep comes out of a day’s satisfaction instead of exhaustion. So I’m Emily, and I’m a creative.

What you call yourself matters because you become what you say you are. And the names that seemed forever like tattoos were just temporary. You belong. You were always invited into the party, but you have to be honest about what name is on the list.

I’m Emily.