30-Day Writing Challenge · Blog 365 · Bookish Delights

The Truth About Being Lizzie Bennet

30-Day Writing Challenge

Day 11: Something you always think “What if …” about

What if I had been born in a different decade? A different century?

What if I wore long dresses and did my hair up and went to balls and had gentlemen suitors?

What if I spoke with a British accent and drank tea at 3 and had a maid to help me dress for dinner?

What if I rode in carriages and “came out” and was married by age 19 or 20?

What if I walked across rolling British hills, traveled to London on occasion, and went on holiday at the sea?

Isn’t that what I always wanted as a young girl (or grown woman)? Didn’t I always feel like I belonged to another time period and that I was an “old-fashioned girl”? Doesn’t my soul still thrill to those novels and dramas?

Except.

What if I was forced to marry someone I didn’t love because that’s the only way I would be supported in life?

What if education and careers were denied to me because I was a woman?

What if I wasn’t the genteel middle or upper class, but instead the poor lower class, breaking my back with intense labor?

What if I had dreams, but wasn’t allowed to pursue them?

What if I couldn’t think for myself, but was always subjected to another’s opinion, most often that of a man?

What if I did love to write, but I wasn’t allowed to do it publicly because I was a woman?

The reality of those time-period dramas that we girls love to swoon over was a much different one than the slice that the novels and movies portray. Marriages were more often than not for financial or political reasons, and you were expected to marry – or be a burden on someone else.

Society was arranged in a way that didn’t allow for women to have their own dreams, pursue them, or support themselves.

We like to think that it always turned out the way it did for Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy – which it did for some. But then for others – like the author of said story, Jane Austen – they did not find love, and ended up being “old maids,” pitied by society. Others simply married when the first proposal came along, afraid they might not get another one – and ended up in a marriage where they simply tolerated each other.

Despite the romantic appeal of the books and movies set in early nineteenth century England, I still must come to the conclusion that I’m so grateful to live in the 21st-century. I’m grateful that I am not forced by my parents to marry someone I don’t love. I’m grateful that I get to do the things I love in life – teach, write, and lead HYPE. I’m grateful that God has given me a job to support myself, with extra blessings besides.

Truly, it’s a privilege that many women around the world, even today, do not get to enjoy. When I think of the oppression and abuse of women in other countries, my heart hurts for them and their broken dreams that haven’t had the chance to flourish. It makes me want to support organizations that are helping those women escape from poverty, the sex trade, and other injustices. It makes me want to speak up for them so that their voice can be heard and valued, too.

I can always dream “what if” about magically getting to travel to another time period. But in the end, my heart is incredibly thankful to be alive right now at this very moment. It might not be the “best” time in history, but there are some benefits to this age in which we live – benefits I don’t want to take for granted, and benefits I want to work to extend to those who currently don’t have them.

I will always love my Jane Austen stories. The women in them were bold, courageous, and independent thinkers – much like Jane Austen herself. But instead of wishing that I, too, lived in their time, I’m going to go out there and live their same kind of life today – a life of integrity, commitment to convictions, and passion for my dreams.

The kind of life that could live on in the pages of a story for the next generation.

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