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Recently I heard probably one of the most brilliant comments I've ever heard in my entire life. As I was driving to work and listening to NPR, a very delightful woman with a strong British accent named Helen Simpson was being interviewed about her short story written for Granta, a British literary journal. She was speaking about the genesis of her idea. Her piece, entitled, "Night Thoughts" is in a summer issue of the British literary journal. The issue is going to be called "The 'F' word" and the "F" stands for feminism. Simpson's short story is beyond clever. In it, she flips the world on its head, putting men in stereotypically female roles and vice versa. Men are up at night worrying over the physical and emotional health of their children, their families, work-life balance, etc.
While I am desperate to read her work and find it fascinating that she conceived of this as a short story, I was ultimately amazed by the simplest comment that she made during this interview.
(You can actually hear it here: http://www.npr.org/2011/05/25/136611339/flipping-the-script-man-in-a-woman-shaped-world)
What she said was, essentially, that women tend more to stay up late at night worrying over things. The interviewer then engaged her in a conversation about worrying. She asked if Simpson really believed that women worried more than men do. In my entire life I've always been told and have internalized the belief that worrying is a terrible thing, that it can be self destructive, that people don't want to be bothered with hearing of your worries, that they are manufactured and self created, and not, somehow, real.
But what Simpson said was, in so many words, that the worrying that women do is the work. She said you don't really know what to do if you don't worry over it--in other words, the seemingly useless, endless worrying over finances, work-life balance, family, and so forth isn't useless at all. Quite the contrary in fact, worrying can be a productive process, bringing issues to light that would otherwise stay hidden.