Help me become a better person with inspirational women
July 25, 2018 3:03 PM   Subscribe

I feel like a petty, insecure child stuck in an adult female body. I’m looking for inspirational interviews or pieces about interesting, compassionate and/or unconventional women to inspire me to be a better person.

I have an extremely bitchy judgmental side that’s very prone to jealousy and pettiness.

I want to change. I work from home so I don’t have much social interaction on a daily basis (this can change but not until after this summer). Compounding this is my horrible hobby of obsessing over reality tv forums and then getting into obsessive, stupid tiffs with Internet strangers. I’ll often get my rocks off feeling superior to people and proving how they're wrong. I’m also really sensitive to criticism (even from Internet strangers). It’s stupid, I know.

Reading the news doesn’t really get me out of my crazy head but sometimes seeing inspiring people helps snap me out of my self-pitying/angry cycles. One video that inspires me is this video of Zina Nicole Lahr.

I’d love to see more interviews or footage about interesting and down-to-earth women like her (please no politicians or Youtubers) who are just passionate about a project or otherwise. I’m pretty sensitive and turned off to people who give off a “fake” vibe (TED talks come to mind…).
posted by anonymous to Society & Culture (13 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Do you have a way to interact with people in person? That might help you get out of your bubble —and your head—a little better.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 3:12 PM on July 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

Seek out and spend more time with down-to-earth women who are empathetic, non-judgemental, and don't engage in toxic gossip. Changing behaviors and thought patterns is easier when you have someone to emulate. Cut out the people who do the opposite and bring out the worst in you.
On the flip side, stop watching reality tv and following toxic internet forums that attract this type of behavior.
posted by blueberrypuffin at 3:40 PM on July 25, 2018 [6 favorites]

And sorry - to address your original request - looking to non-tangible sources for this type of inspiration doesn't work for me, I find that reading about a really great person, while still inspiring, doesn't feel "real" and makes applying these changes to me personally less attainable. Having a friend that I interact with regularly who shows compassion and doesn't default to petty judgement is much more influential in shaping my own behavior.
posted by blueberrypuffin at 3:45 PM on July 25, 2018

Shauna Coxsey springs to mind - World Bouldering Champion, straightforward, genuine, exceptionally talented and dedicated.

If it's inventing/creating that you love, Allie Weber is pretty cool. She's a teenage inventor (that vid's a few years old, from when she was 10) and just super-keen and interested in what she does. She's on Twitter and apparently going to be on Mythbusters soon.

(Also: Totally not what you asked so feel free to disregard, but in case it helps, I find volunteering to be a massive leveller for me and I think would be super-useful for the self-pity/angry brain glitch. It does two beneficial things simultaneously:
* Makes you realise, gently but firmly, that other people are actually dealing with shit stuff that is real, and makes you want to shut up, listen to them and help make things better for them without making it all about you. Quiet humility on a plate, I guess.
* Makes you feel good about yourself for the right reasons, not out of snide superiority. I always come away feeling like a more worthwhile, useful person, and in a calm, peaceful way, not an arrogant way.
Also keeps you away from the computer for a few hours a week.
I guess it's another route to exactly what you're suggesting - you'll likely find some authentic compassionate people in person among both the other volunteers and perhaps the folk that you help; and you'll also become one yourself, so you are your own travelling source of this stuff and don't have to look for it on videos of other people. Good luck!)
posted by penguin pie at 3:52 PM on July 25, 2018 [4 favorites]

Oh - another one for the video side of your quest - go down a rabbit hole and find out about Mo Mowlam, if you don't already know about her. Much-loved politician (how many of those are there?) who helped bring about the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland, was frank and brave and kind and tragically taken from us in 2005 by a brain tumour, which had first been diagnosed nearly 10 years before. Wiki article for background - videos are a little thin on the ground because she lived before the internet was at its current scale, but it's worth hunting around. Just be aware that some of the vids you'll find are from a biopic starring Julie Walters, not the actual Mo.
OP: Just realised you said no politicians. But she was one in a million and worth seeking out.
posted by penguin pie at 4:17 PM on July 25, 2018

Along these lines I liked the Notorious RBG movie (might be too political) and, although he's not a woman, the Mr Rogers movie. Through this thread I found the Kind World podcast which includes episodes about passionate and compassionate women (also some men). Listening to that is helping me today.

It took time for this to happen, but at this point in my life I'm lucky to know in person a lot of amazing women who are changing the world in lots of ways, who are really generous about building other people up instead of tearing down. Spending time around them really helps me reframe things. I start to notice "Hmm, X is super-effective but she doesn't really spend a lot of time arguing on FB - she educates, ignores people who don't want to be educated, and gets shit done. Maybe I will try something like that." So if that interests you then - when you have time - getting involved in stuff you care about and looking for role models who have a healthy non-judgy attitude towards life might be good.
posted by bunderful at 5:04 PM on July 25, 2018

From the Blue yesterday, I found this interview with physicist Sau Lan Wu pretty inspirational.
posted by heatherlogan at 6:04 PM on July 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

Have your read Bad Feminist? Roxanne Gay’s whole bit is “I’m flawed and you could totally judge me, but fuck you.” I found it very refreshing.
posted by Grandysaur at 10:55 PM on July 25, 2018

No one has chimed in to recommend Hannah Gadsby's Nanette yet, so I'll be the one. Ticks the "interesting, compassionate and/or unconventional women" part of your brief.
posted by pink_gorilla at 11:36 PM on July 25, 2018 [4 favorites]

It sounds like you are being weirdly hard on yourself. Please read Joan Didion's famous essay On Self-Respect. Also, I know you said no TED Talks, but Brene Brown's TED Talk on listening to shame can help with some of that as well. And she gives off zero fakeness vibe.

And this one is kind of out of left field, but a Jenna Marbles youtube video about Sluts on Halloween was really life-changing for me, helping me be less judgey about other women broadly, but also helping me learn to give a slow-clap of respect for people who really "go for it" and commit to their choices even if those choices aren't ones I would make for myself.
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 2:14 AM on July 26, 2018

The music part of their work may or may not grab you but I want to recommend listening to some musicians who collaborate and are super successful, but not super famous. I love this interview with Neko Case for several reasons — she’s honest about retrograde ideas she used to have, the fact that making art is work, and that it’s difficult but rewarding to work together with people when you’re used to running your own show. She hits the down-to-earth note you’re looking for, I think.

I can’t make a timestamp link work on mobile, but start this video about six minutes in to get to a good part, and then if you like it watch the whole hour and a half. It’s Dessa talking about making an album, and she comes off hypercompetent but also human and vulnerable.

(Neko Case and Dessa also both run their own Twitter accounts and are really good at it. Neko talks in the above interview about Twitter being a tool for listening to people who are different from you, and Dessa, as in real life, is very generous with her time and attention — she’ll @ reply fans just to say thank you for tweeting something nice about her work or going to a show. She almost never spends time dunking on fools, and like, look at her, she’s cool as shit.)

I’ve only listened to a few of these episodes but I’ll bet just about any of mathowie’s Hobby Horse interviews with women would fit the bill. This one with Erica Baker is amazing.

(I spend a lot of time irl with a socialist feminist group and I wish I could upload them for you. The nature of what we do is such that we don’t get anything done unless we work together, and we’re constantly shouting each other out and backing each other up because it helps and it feels awesome. Whew this sounds super cornball earnest but it’s really true.)
posted by clavicle at 6:34 AM on July 26, 2018

You could try the podcast Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls. Inspiring women telling stories about inspiring women. Designed for kids, but I enjoy it myself.
posted by MillyMath at 8:54 AM on July 26, 2018

Arriving a bit late with this answer, but the Guilty Feminist podcast might be a good antidote.
posted by wavelette at 1:27 PM on July 29, 2018

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